'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, May 17th, 2011
Read the transcript to the Tuesday show
Guests: John Heilemann, Nick Carey, Andrew Gillum, Jeffrey Shapiro
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST: Who‘d thunk it. Newt Gingrich, the king of bling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newt Gingrich, the king of bling?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They‘ve done some very expensive shopping. Lots of bling. Revolving line of credit with Tiffany‘s.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: It‘s helping the economy, what can I say?
O‘DONNELL (voice-over): Republicans smack Gingrich for breaking Ronald Reagan‘s golden rule.
NEWT GINGRICH ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I clearly have done things that were wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Outside the Republican orthodoxy to criticize the Ryan plan.
GINGRICH: I clearly have to seek God‘s forgiveness.
MARK HALPERIN, MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Unless he says something so dumb that it‘s disqualifying, he has a good chance. Let me check my BlackBerry to make sure he hasn‘t said something so dumb.
O‘DONNELL (on camera): Where will he drop out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He‘s a joke of a candidate.
O‘DONNELL: His candidacy is over. David Gregory ended Newt‘s candidacy on Sunday on “Meet the Press,” when he got out of him his historic support for individual mandate in health care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You‘re not always ready for every job and every opportunity.
O‘DONNELL (voice-over): Gingrich shops on credit, but Romney can pay cash.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt‘s money.
MITCHELL: More than $10 million in just one day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten million dollars in one day.
MITCHELL: The 2012 Republican field is slowly coming into focus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can take your time getting there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is close to deciding.
MIKE HUCKABEE ®, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: All the factors say go; but my heart says no.
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: The factors say, go, but my heart says, no, why? Because it rhymes?
COLBERT: What about the Republican field is a mess so my heart says yes?
O‘DONNELL: But can the Republicans survive the damage done by Republican political amateurs?
MITCHELL: And we managed to do this whole Republican segment without giving more publicity to that reality TV person.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Nothing surprisingly subdued reaction, I would say.
O‘DONNELL: He was never running, ever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arnold asked that the attention be put on him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The secret love child for 10 years?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An event which occurred before he even announced.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He never pretended to be a squeaky clean candidate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who knew he was such a great actor?
O‘DONNELL: Good evening from New York.
Newt Gingrich officially announced his presidential campaign only six days ago. On that day, I asked how soon he would drop out of the race. I did not have the audacity to imagine that his campaign would not last a week.
It is now functionally over for Gingrich. He will linger in our midst. He will have enough money to continue traveling for months, and if he so chooses, actually wait for some votes to be counted in Iowa or New Hampshire or even South Carolina.
But when the history of this campaign is written, it will show that the Gingrich collapse occurred on the set of “Meet the Press.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe all of us—and this is going to be a big debate—I believe all of us have a responsibility to help pay for health care. I think the idea that you—
DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”: You agree with Mitt Romney on this point?
GINGRICH: Well, I do. All of us have a responsibility to help pay for health care. And I think that there are ways to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy. I‘ve said consistently, we ought to have some requirements—you either have health insurance or you post a bond, or in some way, you indicate you‘re going to be held accountable.
GREGORY: But that is the individual mandate, is it not?
GINGRICH: It‘s a variation on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: No, Newt, those things do not make libertarians happy. There is nothing more important for a Republican to oppose than an individual mandate in the health care bill. Opposing all tax increases is mandatory for Republican candidates, but it is no longer enough. An absolute unyielding opposition to the individual mandate is essential.
David Gregory‘s coaxing of the Gingrich confession of sympathies for the individual mandate was enough to end the Gingrich presidential fantasy.
But David Gregory continued to lead Gingrich down a path littered with self-destructive opportunities for the former speaker of the House that he did not seem to realize were there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: I don‘t think right wing social engineering is anymore desirable than left wing social engineering. I don‘t think imposing radical change from the right or left is a very good way for a free society to operate. I think we need a national conversation to get to a better Medicare system with more choices for seniors.
GREGORY: But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting which is completely changing Medicare?
GINGRICH: I think that that is too big a jump. I think what you want
to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes,
better solutions, better options. Not one where you suddenly impose upon -
I don‘t want—I‘m against Obamacare which is imposing radical change.
And I would be against a conservative imposing radical change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: And so, the Gingrich political funeral began led by Rush Limbaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I am not going to justify this. I am not going to explain this is—the attack on Paul Ryan, the support for an individual mandate in health care? Folks, don‘t ask me to explain this. There is no explanation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Then came today‘s “Wall Street Journal” headline, “Gingrich to House GOP: Drop Dead.”
Then in a morning radio interview in Chicago, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor coined the phrase “tremendous misspeak” in his funeral oration for Newt Gingrich.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: To sit here while all but maybe three House Republicans voted for the Ryan budget—to somehow then portray that as a radical step I think is a tremendous misspeak.
I think that many have said now he‘s finished. I haven‘t had a chance to really dissect with him as to what in the world he‘s thinking, calling our plan radical. So, I probably would reserve judgment on that. Perhaps he can come out and say he misspoke and get back on board with what we‘re trying to do.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Also this morning, Gingrich, who will be the last to know that his political career is over, went on conservative Bill Bennett‘s radio show thinking he could talk his way back to life.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BILL BENNETT, RADIO HOST: We heard you equate Paul Ryan‘s plan to Obama‘s plan. Right wing social engineering versus left wing social engineering. Why the hit on Ryan? It was clearly and unambiguously a criticism of Ryan?
GINGRICH: That‘s not a criticism of Ryan as a person.
BENNETT: Not as a person, as a plan.
GINGRICH: It is a criticism—what I said was you shouldn‘t impose radical change.
BENNETT: He‘s not imposing radical change. How‘s he imposing it? He can‘t impose it. We don‘t have the Senate and the White House.
GINGRICH: OK. So, since he can‘t, then you can say we can all relax because he can‘t do it. I was asked the question, would you do that? Now, the question I was asked was, I wasn‘t asked a question about where I stood on Ryan, I was asked the question: should the Republicans pass a plan that is unpopular?
BENNETT: Ryan‘s in the fight of his life and you‘re shooting at him from behind, saying this is just right wing Obama-ism. This is what I think really rankles people.
GINGRICH: I don‘t think it‘s right wing Obama-ism.
BENNETT: Well, it‘s right wing social engineering was your phrase.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: New Republican star Nikki Haley, the governor of the all-important primary state of South Carolina, whose endorsement is being begged for by every Republican candidate, said today what was already obvious—Newt has no chance in South Carolina. Quote, “The people of South Carolina support conservatives who are trying to push real change and the people of South Carolina expect their presidential candidates to back them up when they show courage.”
The most devastating video of the day is one that carries the Republican man on the street reaction to Gingrich in Iowa—the first state where votes will be cast in the Republican presidential nominating process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: What you just did to Paul Ryan is unforgivable.
GINGRICH: I didn‘t do anything to Paul Ryan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you did. You undercut him—you‘re an embarrassment to our party.
GINGRICH: I‘m sorry you feel that way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don‘t you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Even the White House could not resist a little dance on the Gingrich political grave. Jay Carney chose to remind any moderates or independents who might choose to vote in Republican primaries that in Gingrich, they would not find a candidate anymore protective of Medicare than Paul Ryan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARNEY: Without wading into a dispute between Republicans, I would note that the former speaker of the House once said that he hoped to see Medicare wither on the vine, yet his position now is seen as too far to the left by some people in his party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: The cherry on top of the Gingrich story was provided this afternoon in breaking news delivered by “Politico,” news that was, in fact, sitting right under all of our noses in the congressional disclosure forms filed by Newt Gingrich‘s wife. Jake Sherman (ph) of “Politico” had the presence of mind to take a look at those disclosure forms whereupon he discovered that Newt Gingrich owed six figures to Tiffany‘s.
“Callista Gingrich was employed by the House Agriculture Committee until 2007, according to public records. She listed a revolving charge account at Tiffany and Company in the liabilities section of her personal financial disclosure form for two consecutive years and indicated that it was her spouse‘s debt. The liability was reported in the range of $250,001 to $500,000.”
So, the family values and serial polygamist candidate Newt Gingrich has a Kobe Bryant-sized Tiffany bill. We now know a bit more about the Gingrich family values than we did yesterday. That is one Republican family that values some heavy bling.
Joining me now: John Heilemann, national affairs editor at “New York Magazine” and the co-author of “Game Change.”
John, thank you for joining me tonight.
I said there, presumptuously, that when the history of this campaign is written, it will show that the Gingrich campaign ended on “Meet the Press.” You will write the history of this campaign. Have I predicted your Gingrich chapter correctly?
JOHN HEILEMANN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Yes. We have a title. It will be called “Meet the Blingriches,” right, which is what they should henceforth be called.
You know, on that same interview with David Gregory, Gingrich said this thing that was often been, the foreshadowing was just kind of overwhelming. He said there will be a huge test they have to face which is whether my judgment and my discipline on the campaign trail will be tested. And literally within that interview, his judgment and discipline went totally off the rails—and as you say—have put him in a position that I think is pretty unrecoverable from.
O‘DONNELL: And, you know, his image as the candidate prior to that was he‘s the smart guy. He‘s the guy who really knows the policy inside out and he knows the politics. He‘s the smart guy.
So, that turned out to be a mirage. He was the least prepared guy you could have sent on to “Meet the Press.”
HEILEMANN: Yes. And, you know, look, I mean, I think that reputation has always been overstated. And, Lawrence, you will remember, back in the day, he was more—he was brilliant if you thought to Albert Tatler (ph) was Albert Einstein.
He was a Albert Tatler of the Republican Party in ‘90s. He was a futurist, self-styled, but not a genius, I think. On this subject, he‘s kind of proven that to be the case. I mean, he is—the Paul Ryan thing is devastating because as “The Wall Street Journal” editorial pointed out, every House member who voted for this is now going—for the Ryan plan, is going to have an ad run against them that‘s going to tag them with right wing social engineering.
And so, he has lost many the one town where he‘s lived, for most of his professional life, he‘s lost the support of all Republicans there and at the same time alienated the natural base that he might have had out in the country, which is the anti-government Tea Party type people. I don‘t see where he goes from here.
O‘DONNELL: Now, the mirage that is Mitt Romney, a big deal of him that he raised $10 million, or says he raised $10 million the other day, reminds me of Phil Gramm in the 1995-1996 Republican field. He was the big early money raiser. He ended up dropping out before the New Hampshire primary and endorsing Bob Dole.
HEILEMANN: You remember back, Phil Gramm‘s great line which was that “I have the best friend that you can have in American politics,” and that‘s ready money.
HEILEMANN: And it turned out that there‘s actually a better friend you can have, which is a winning message, a winning platform, a winning personality. Phil Gramm did not have those things. And as you say, drop out very quickly.
I mean, Mitt Romney‘s money raising is a real asset for him. It‘s a very weak field. And it‘s weak on a number of different levels. And one of them is it‘s hard to see anybody who‘s running against Mitt Romney who can raise $10 million in a full quarter, let alone raised $10 million in one day. So, it may be enough to help camouflage some of his weaknesses and prop him up. Whether it will be for let him win the nomination, I think that‘s a more dubious proposition.
O‘DONNELL: I‘m still betting on my boy, Pawlenty. The Republicans are going his way. Michael Gerson‘s column yesterday saying Pawlenty may be the strongest Republican populist who can also secure his party‘s nomination. The thinking Republicans are surrounding Pawlenty.
HEILEMANN: Well, let‘s see what happens with Mitch Daniels and with Jon Huntsman.
O‘DONNELL: OK. John Heilemann of “New York Magazine”—thank you very much for joining me tonight.
Coming up: the Tea Party‘s inevitable disappointment in the House GOP leadership as the speaker admits that the debt ceiling must be raised.
And the head of the International Monetary Fund is now under suicide watch as he sits in a New York jail.
O‘DONNELL: Saying you can govern is very different from actually governing. That‘s in tonight‘s “Rewrite.”
And up next, the Tea Party is tired of Speaker John Boehner‘s tears.
O‘DONNELL: According to a just released “Reuters” special report, behind closed doors, House Speaker John Boehner is telling the Tea Party something they really don‘t want to hear. Speaker Boehner has publicly said that Republicans will not vote to raise the debt ceiling without trillions in spending cuts.
But on April 25th, during a private meeting with local Tea Party leaders in Ohio, a Tea Party constituent asked whether Republicans would vote to raise the debt limit. Boehner admitted, yes, and we‘re going to have to raise it again in the future. That admission prompted one Tea Partier in attendance to tell “Reuters,” “If we could find someone good to run against him, I‘d campaign for them every day. I am sick of the tears.”
Joining me now the “Reuters” correspondent behind that report, Nick Carey.
Thanks for joining me tonight, Nick.
NICK CAREY, REUTERS: Thank you for having me, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Nick, one Tea Party leader told you the Republican establishment suffers from a weird belief that somehow the Tea Party will fall in line because it is an adjunct of the Republican Party. But the Tea Party is not and never will be an arm of the Republican Party.
Nick, how does the Republican Party deal? How can John Boehner deal with a group that says, “We are not part of you”?
CAREY: Well, that‘s a good question, Lawrence. To tell you the truth, at this point, that‘s probably up to Speaker Boehner. What I‘ve been hearing from Tea Party people around the country is they‘re very unhappy.
During the midterm elections, the Republicans told the Tea Party what the Tea Party said that they wanted to hear and since the elections, they‘ve not really seen the results that they wanted. The $100 billion in spending cuts that the Republicans promised in the fiscal 2011 budget didn‘t materialize. And, now, they‘re beginning to doubt to the Republicans are going to hold the line when it comes to the debt limit.
O‘DONNELL: Now, Nick, in your conversation with these Tea Parties, these people who are in that private meeting with Speaker Boehner and others, do you get the sense that they actually understand what the debt ceiling really is and what might happen to them, what might happen to the value of their own homes, their inability to sell their homes, their inability to get mortgages if they—if somehow the Republicans did not allow the debt ceiling to be raised?
CAREY: I think they understand very clearly what the debt limit is. I think they don‘t believe what they‘re being told by economists as to what will happen if the debt limit is breached.
I think they‘ve reached a point where they want to take to it the limit. They don‘t believe what they‘re hearing from economists. What they want to do as they keep telling me is have the credit card taken away from the federal government, and that once the debt limit is reached, then force the government to start cuts, cutting spending and what a number of people have said to me, is we all have to take our lumps. It‘s time to start cutting the spending—regardless of whether or not we‘re told that breaching the debt limit will be bad for the economy.
O‘DONNELL: Nick, I want to read you one of the other Tea Partiers told you in your article. “Let‘s face it, we have people very solidly unqualified for dogcatcher, let alone the office they were running for. The other thing we are learning now is what happens when naive people get into high office. So, we are learning how to vet candidates properly.”
So, they‘re obviously talking about Christine O‘Donnell in there and probably some others. But given the extreme positions that the Tea Party has taken, how do they expect to get more reasonable and competent candidates to take more extreme positions?
CAREY: Well, I think what they‘re hoping for is to find people with -
conservatives with a track record who have name recognition and can raise money and hope that in general election year where the turn out is generally higher than many the midterms, that they‘re going to be able to reach a broader electorate. Certainly, having unqualified people made it very difficult for them to persuade a lot of voters in the case of Christine O‘Donnell as you mentioned.
But they‘re hoping they can find people who can reach those voters and could persuade them that cutting spending is the best thing for America‘s future.
O‘DONNELL: Nick Carey of “Reuters”—thanks for bringing this story to us tonight.
CAREY: Thank you for having me.
O‘DONNELL: Coming up: how a nonprofit is helping for-profit companies benefit from laws like Arizona‘s “papers please.”
And why do entertainers think they can govern? That‘s tonight‘s “Rewrite.”
O‘DONNELL: Fifty-seven years ago today in 1954, the United States Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka. The landmark civil rights case marked the end of the Separate but Equal Doctrine.
Thurgood Marshall, then-chief counsel for the NAACP, led the legal team. They twice argued before the court that segregation could not provide equal protection under the law, and that segregation by law was detrimental to the development of black children. The prominent African-American socialist Kenneth Clark provided the court with evidence that segregation nurtured a negative self-image in most black children.
A majority of young black children in Clark‘s study preferred to play with a whites doll over a black doll. And when asked to choose a doll that looked bad, they chose a black doll.
The study was cited in the opinion endorsed by every member of the court—nine men who were divided when they first heard the case. One did not believe blacks had been thoroughly assimilated. Two were concerned about judicial activism. One thought the case should fall back to the states. Four believed it was time for Separate but Equal to be overturned, among them a man who was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Yet divided as they began, together they built a historic unanimous opinion with the guidance of the ninth man, Chief Justice Earl Warren.
It was unanimous because they knew that only a unanimous opinion would stand in the face of the strong resistance to change. Chief Justice Warren wrote the opinion and when he read it aloud in court with every member present, he added the word unanimously, “We conclude that in the field of public education, the doctrine of Separate but Equal has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we unanimously hold that the plaintiffs and other similarly situated for woman the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprive of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.”
May 17th, 1954 was a day the Supreme Court achieved the nobility envisioned for it by the Founding Fathers by transcending our politics and our prejudices.
Still ahead in this hour: a Republican group even more powerful than the Koch brothers—the story of the American Legislative Council and had it‘s had a hand in writing some of the most conservative state laws.
And later, Donald Trump and Arnold Schwarzenegger, both entertainers, both their own brands, and both wrong about government. That‘s in “The Rewrite.”
O‘DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, democracy bought and paid for and corrupted by corporations. In 1973, a group called the American Legislative Council, or ALEC, was created by large corporation for the purpose of writing model legislation that favored their interests.
Tonight, in a LAST WORD exclusive, People for the American Way is releasing a report that shines a light on the previously low profile group. In 2009, 826 of ALEC‘s special interest model bills were introduced in state legislatures, and 115 of those bills were enacted into law, in some cases almost word for word.
ALEC‘s board of directors includes Parma, AT&T, Johnson and Johnson, Walmart and the Koch Industries. Its membership includes major oil companies like Exxonmobil, Chevron, Shell and Texaco.
While Democrats were not prepared for the well organized wave of Republican legislation across different states this year aimed at ending collective bargaining rights for public employees, rolling back environmental regulations and diminishing campaign finance reform, a Latino activist group called Cuentamepsa is pushing back on ALEC‘s role in crafting Arizona‘s new immigration law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is an extreme right wing membership organization comprised of state legislators and powerful multinational corporations, including the Corrections Corporation of America.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ALEC is the most active private prison lobbyist group pushing for anti-immigrant laws like Arizona‘s SB-1070.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Russell Pearce, like CCA, is an ALEC member, one with obscure ties to national white separatist neo-Nazi groups.
During an ALEC meeting, CCA and Pearce crafted a model legislation that became almost word for word Arizona‘SB-1070.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whether people are undocumented or not doesn‘t matter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As long as they fill the detention facilities for days, months, or even years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: SB-1070 and their copycat laws sprouting up across the country represent the perfect money machine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Joining me now is Andrew Gillum, director of leadership programs at the People for the American Way Foundation. Thank you for joining me tonight, Andrew.
ANDREW GILLUM, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: Thank you for having me, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Andrew, I am a at least half alert political observer. How is it that this group could exist since 1973 and I‘m just hearing about it today?
GILLUM: Yes—no, It‘s an amazing phenomenon. I tell you, ALEC has been around since 1973 and has been an integral part to the web of conservative organizations being pushed by—you‘ve already mentioned the Koch Brothers, but also well known foundations on the right, the Bradley‘s, the Coors, the Scathes, and obviously the Koch Brothers.
But in ALEC‘s case, they have over 300 corporate private entities who come together, assemble, create legislative play lists, if you will, that become pull in play legislation for the legislatures that they get to influence in all 50 states.
An incredibly powerful organization that has been able to fly in many ways below the national radar.
O‘DONNELL: Andrew, the first sense I ever got of anything like this was in 1995 after the Republicans had won the Senate and won the House of Representatives. And I was working in the Senate at the time. We were starting to get word that lobbyists were very heavily involved in writing legislation, especially in the House of Representatives.
But it didn‘t even then seem as extensive and coordinated as this is. We seem to have only picked up this pattern this year with Wisconsin and these other states doing these similar activities at the same time. Has it been going on that much longer than we realized or did the group finally just get its act together in a much more effective way more recently?
GILLUM: No, absolutely. It‘s been going on, again, since 1973, its founding. So much of our national attention around politics is focused on what happens in the Beltway and in Washington, D.C. Well, in 2010, there were nearly 700 state legislative seats lost in state Houses and Senate chambers around the country.
Now Republicans in pretty—pretty attractive position right now to draw the next ten years worth of what our congressional and our state and even municipal legislative seats are going to look like. ALEC has pushed forward legislation that will adversely effect, as you‘ve already mentioned, those of us who are proponents for comprehensive immigration reform.
It will impact what happens for teachers and other government and public employees, and public employee unions around the country. They‘re forwarding interests and actions that are, quite frankly, at the end of the day, contrary and not in the best interest of the average working people in this country.
It does serve their 300 corporate members well. But it doesn‘t serve the average working person in this state and in this country well.
That‘s why we‘re producing this report, to make sure that people know that this shadow organization that‘s been out there existing, with an over 600 million dollar a year budget, plus assets, is weighing in heavily in state legislatures across the country.
O‘DONNELL: Andrew Gillum, People for the American Way, thank you for joining us tonight.
GILLUM: Thank you for having me, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Coming up, Donald Trump and Around Schwarzenegger both tricked people into thinking they knew something about politics and governing. One of them actually got elected. You saw how good he was at governing. That‘s in tonight‘s Rewrite.
O‘DONNELL: After the “Los Angeles Time” revealed that Arnold Schwarzenegger had fathered a child out of wedlock, former Governor Schwarzenegger released this statement. “After leaving the governors office, I told my wife about this event which occurred over a decade ago. And I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friend and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry. I ask that the media respect my wife and children through this extremely difficult time. While I deserve your attention and criticism, my family does not.”
And then Maria Shriver released this statement: “this is a painful and heartbreaking time. As a mother, my concern is for the children. I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal. I will have no further comment.”
“As a mother, my concern is for the children.” I can‘t help but note that phrasing the children incorporates a concern for all the children involved in this story, including the child we are all just learning about for the first time.
“I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal.” Her children seem to be more than lucky to have the mother they do to help guide them through this change in their lives.
The Rewrite is next.
O‘DONNELL: It is time to Rewrite the meaning of the Trump brand. I don‘t mean the Trump brand as it relates to the various businesses that carry Donald‘s name. I mean the Trump brand as it relates to the fictional character Donald presents publicly as himself.
I don‘t know the real Donald Trump. He may be a perfectly good person in most ways we measure that. I don‘t know the person his children know as their father. I don‘t know the man his wives have known as their husband. I have no idea how kind and good hearted and indeed lovable he may be to the people closest to him and to the people most important to him.
I know only what I see in the fictional version of himself that he delivers on TV screens. As I‘ve said here before, the people you see inside this glowing box you‘re watching right now, including me, all present a television version of ourselves. No matter how often you watch me read this teleprompter, you will never get to know the real me.
The real me lives outside this box and doesn‘t wear makeup. OK, doesn‘t wear as much makeup as I do now. So we can never get to know the real Donald Trump by watching him on TV. On his fake reality show, he plays the fake boss of mostly tragic former celebrities who pretend to try to please him as he methodically, following the ratings appeal of each former celebrity, sequentially pretends to fire them.
When she hoes up on “the Today Show” and other venues to promote his businesses and TV show, he delivers a fictional version of himself full of bravado that he hopes is conveying confidence, boldness and toughness and truth telling.
But as every psychiatrist and fiction writer knows, inside every braggart is a desperately fearful coward. I for one never had any interest in Mr. Trump until he stepped into this show‘s jurisdiction by talking about politics and governing. Along with many others, I remarked on the obvious, ugly racial elements in much of what he was saying about Barack Obama, which left little room for comments on the few things Mr. Trump occasionally had to say about government.
The Trump message on governing was that it‘s easy. Just let the tough talking Donald Trump have a few minutes alone with OPEC and you‘d be back to paying three bucks a gallon at the pump tomorrow. If the Chinese don‘t do what President Donald says, President Donald will slap a 25 percent tariff on everything China sends to the United States.
The sad truth of the governing is easy message is that view is actually shared by something close to 50 percent of the electorate. Some 60 million people who vote in this country are at least as ignorant about tariffs as Donald Trump is.
Trump, who got caught not knowing how many members are in the House of Representatives, obviously has no idea that tariffs are set by Congress not the president. He also obviously has no idea who would pay a tariff set on Chinese products.
The 25 percent tariff he would set on Chinese products would be paid by Americans. A tariff is simply a sales tax imposed by the federal government. Trump was actually advocating a 25 percent sales tax on everything we import from China.
No one who liked the idea of Trump‘s 25 percent tariff on Chinese goods understood that. It sounded to them like a penalty on China instead of a penalty on them. Every single thing Donald Trump suggested about governing was as simplistic and harmful to Americans as his 25 percent tariff idea.
The Trump fake candidacy performance was inspired in many ways by this man. He ran for governor of the biggest state in the union claiming that governing was easy. California was then running a debt of 22 billion dollars, with an annual deficit of 14 billion.
This great body builder turned bad actor told Californians they could make that debt and deficit go away just by electing him. It would be that easy. He would go to Sacramento and clean up the system.
He campaigned with a broom. He actually had a broom at rallies. He would use the broom to symbolize how he would simply sweep clean the mess of California governance.
During his campaign in 2003, he literally dropped a wrecking ball on an Oldsmobile spray painted with the words “Davis Car Tax,” an oversimplified demonstration of what we would do to California‘s so-called Car Tax.
And at the end of this amateur‘s time as governor, California was in much, much worse condition than when he lied his way into office by convincing enough Californians that governing was easy. The debt went from 22 billion dollars to 34.7 billion dollars, with the annual deficit jumping from 14 billion dollars to the unimaginable 26.6 billion dollars.
The California voters‘ reaction to their Governor Schwarzenegger mistake was a return to competence. Instead of electing another well financed amateur to the governorship, they reached back not to the more competent Democratic governor who Schwarzenegger replaced, Grey Davis, but to the governor who 24 years before actually hired Grey Davis as his chief of staff in his governor‘s office.
Two-term California Governor of the 1970‘s and 1980s Jerry Brown is now governor again at the age of 73. He is using his hard-earned governing expertise and experience to try to repair the damage California voters did to themselves by believing the dangerous lie that governing is easy.
What is true of both of these men, the movie star and the reality TV star, is that they were ignorant enough about governing to actually believe what they were saying about it.
No one, no Republican or Democrat who has ever taken an oath of office as mayor, governor, senator or congresswoman believes that governing is easy. Office holders who both—who know better in both parties have trafficked in that lie.
Their political sin is much greater than that committed by Trump and Schwarzenegger. The Trump and Schwarzenegger character brands are actually strikingly similar: bravado, confidence, boldness, toughness. We now know better about both of them.
Historically Trump has viciously attacked anyone who has publicly criticized him in any way. Who can forget his from the gutter attacks on Rosie O‘Donnell?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, “THE APPRENTICE”:: I‘ve known Rosie for a long time. I‘ve always felt—to myself, I‘ve always felt she is a degenerate. She shouldn‘t—
TRUMP: I really understand. I‘ve known her.
DAVID LETTERMAN, “THE LATE SHOW”: You can‘t just say she‘s a degenerate.
TRUMP: Oh, no? Just watch her? Did you ever watch her act?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: That‘s classic Trump. He doesn‘t even seem to know what he really means. It doesn‘t seem to come from a real place of hatred. It just seems to come from what he thinks is a zone of entertainment. Rosie O‘Donnell is, by the way, one O‘Donnell I do not know.
If we are distantly related, we might have to go back 1,000 years to find a link.
During his fake campaign period, Trump eventually gave up his fight against every word of criticism against him. He has never tried to respond to a single thing I have said about him publicly. We now know the toughness in the Trump brand is fake.
This man was tough enough to run for president. Donald Trump isn‘t.
We now know the confidence is fake, too. Donald Trump will never again be able to create a blip on our political radar screen. But a Trump like candidate, a Schwarzenegger-like candidate will present himself or herself again.
And that is the only reason I am revisiting the Donald Trump candidacy yet again tonight. It is simply to make this point: that the Trump-Schwarzenegger like candidate who comes along next will offer simple sounding solutions to very complex problems that that candidate does not and cannot understand.
That candidate will brand himself or herself as confident, bold, tough and truthful. That candidate will not have the experience to be able to tell the one simple truth we know about government: to govern is to choose and the choices are never easy.
These men have taught American voters everything they need to know to never, ever make the Schwarzenegger mistake again.
O‘DONNELL: The man at the center of an alleged sex crime involving a maid at a midtown Manhattan hotel is now under suicide watch. Sources tell NBC that the International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Straus-Kahn now wears a special gray jumpsuit and shoes with no laces, and will be checked on every 15 to 30 minutes as a precaution, given the nature of the case.
The IMF chief is being held without bail at New York‘s Riker‘s Island Jail until his next hearing this Friday. Strauss-Kahn is charged with the attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment.
Joining me now, attorney Jeffrey Shapiro who is representing the maid at the center of this case. Thank you for joining me tonight.
JEFFREY SHAPIRO, ATTORNEY FOR MAID IN STRAUSS-KAHN CASE: Thank you.
O‘DONNELL: First of all, how is she doing under this incredible situation that she faces?
SHAPIRO: Well, I would say as good as possible under horrible circumstances. Namely, her whole world has been turned upside down. Following being the victim of this hideous act, she‘s literally been deprived of her life.
She‘s spent time at the New York City Police Department, the District Attorney‘s Office. She can‘t return to her home. She‘s been separated from her 15-year-old daughter. Her life has been turned upside down.
She doesn‘t know what she‘s going to do next. She doesn‘t know where she‘s going to live. Aside from the fact that she has all these problems, she‘s yet to have time to herself and some sort of peace to begin to deal with what the effect of this horrible assault has meant to her personally.
O‘DONNELL: Is her employer being helpful in this situation?
SHAPIRO: Well, yes. Her employer has supported her, but there‘s a strong question in her mind whether she feels that she can ever return to this job.
O‘DONNELL: And the sequence that‘s being reported in the press as of today is that this incident occurred around noontime. And she virtually immediately reported this to her supervisors.
SHAPIRO: That‘s right.
O‘DONNELL: Is this correct?
SHAPIRO: Yes, she did. Following that, the New York City Police Department arrived, spoke to her.
O‘DONNELL: How quickly after the event were police officers on the scene?
SHAPIRO: I don‘t have that information, but I believe that given the nature of the claim, they arrived very quickly, time enough so that everything in terms of evidence could be preserved.
O‘DONNELL: Now you are hearing suggestions made that there was something other than a crime—the crime of rape that occurred in this hotel suite, suggestions that there might be some French grand conspiracy here from one politician trying to bring down another politician.
SHAPIRO: Let me tell you something, the reality of this situation, despite what somebody wants to spin in the media, is the fact that when she went into this room, she had no idea that he was in there. When this event occurred, she had no idea who he was.
In fact, it wasn‘t until the next day that she finally found out who this man was and what he meant in the world. So to suggest that she was a part of some form of conspiracy, or that she had some idea of what she was getting into is absolutely absurd.
Essentially what that amounts to is blaming the victim for being raped.
O‘DONNELL: Can you confirm the reports we have that DNA evidence has been obtained, very clear forensic evidence from the scene that is a clear description of what this crime was?
SHAPIRO: All I can tell you is that the Manhattan District Attorney‘s Office has investigated this case. They are in possession of all the evidence, including all forensic evidence. Everything is within their possession. I can‘t comment on any portion of that.
O‘DONNELL: Attorney Jeffrey Shapiro, thank you very much for joining us.
SHAPIRO: Thanks for having me. >
O‘DONNELL: You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog, TheLastWord.MSNBC.com, and you can follow our Tweets @Lawrence.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” is up next. Good evening, Rachel.
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