'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, June 13, 2011
Read the transcript to the Monday show
Guests: Howard Fineman, David Corn, Dana Milbank, Daniel Ellsberg, Joe Kort
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, HOST: Well, now we know what the president would do if he got caught sexting.
BILL MAHER, TV HOST: It won‘t go away, and now I‘m taking pics of it.
THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Off to rehab, that is for Congressman Anthony Weiner.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What he did was highly inappropriate.
O‘DONNELL (voice-over): Anthony Weiner goes away, but not for along.
And now, the president responds for the first time.
ANN CURRY, NBC NEWS: Should Congressman Anthony Weiner resign?
OBAMA: He‘s embarrassed his wife and his family. If it was me, I would resign.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just when we thought it couldn‘t get any worse.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Even more pictures, where apparently he used the House gym mirrors as a backdrop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Endless photographs of his magnificent torso.
MAHER: Ridiculous bulge in my shorts now. Want to see?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It‘s just so juvenile and so disgusting.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: If I‘m not mistaken, every member of the Democratic leadership had told him to step down.
O‘DONNELL: While House Democrats try to deal with Weiner, the president is trying to focus on jobs.
OBAMA: It is good to be back in North Carolina.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today‘s topic is our number one topic, and that‘s jobs, jobs, jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is taking action on jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Focusing today on jobs, North Carolina will likely be a key battleground state.
TODD: The Obama campaign thinks demographics are going their way.
O‘DONNELL: North Carolina isn‘t the only swing state the president is focused on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President traveling on to Florida.
TODD: I call Florida and North Carolina the sort of the Ohio insurance policy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘m from O, so I understand what‘s going on on the ground there.
TODD: They‘re very nervous about Ohio.
O‘DONNELL: And this day in history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This day in 1971 --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secret Pentagon report on how the United States got into the Vietnam War.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After the Pentagon papers were leaked --
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: “The New York Times” defied the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The formerly top secret Pentagon papers --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forty years to the day --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The government is releasing the entire 7,000-page report.
MITCHELL: And how the U.S. got into the Vietnam War.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Presidents Johnson and Kennedy misled the U.S.
TODD: Top secret documents leaked by Daniel Ellsberg.
O‘DONNELL: Daniel Ellsberg is here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Henry Kissinger said that Dr. Daniel Ellsberg was the most dangerous man in America and he had to be stopped.
O‘DONNELL: Good evening—good evening from New York.
The House of Representatives reconvened this afternoon without Congressman Anthony Weiner, who left New York on Saturday for an undisclosed location, quote, “to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person.”
Today, for the first time, President Obama commented on Congressman Weiner. Here‘s what he had to say in an exclusive interview with the “Today” show‘s Ann Curry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CURRY: Should Congressman Anthony Weiner resign?
OBAMA: Well, obviously, what he did was highly inappropriate. I think he‘s embarrassed himself. He‘s acknowledged that. He‘s embarrassed his wife and his family.
Ultimately, there‘s going to be a decision for him and his constituents.
I can tell you that if it was me, I would resign, because public service is exactly that. It‘s a service to the public. And when you get to the point where because of various personal distractions, you can‘t serve as effectively as you need to, at a time when people are worried about jobs and their mortgages and paying the bills, then you should probably step back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: As the House Ethics Committee initiates a preliminary inquiry into Congressman Weiner‘s activities, the Democratic leadership continues to encourage him to resign. Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel all called for Congressman Weiner to resign on Saturday after he announced he would be seeking paid leave in order to get treatment.
Sources tell NBC News that Congressman Weiner is telling friends and colleagues he will make no decisions until his wife returns from her foreign trip with Secretary Hillary Clinton, which could be as soon as tomorrow.
Just yesterday, TMZ posted 11 new photos of the congressman at what they say is the House of Representatives‘ members‘ gym. TMZ says Congressman Weiner sent those photographs to at least one woman.
Joining me now is Howard Fineman, editorial director for “The Huffington Post” and MSNBC political analyst. And David Corn, MSNBC political analyst and Huffington bureau—and Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones.”
Howard, we just heard the president say that if he was in Anthony Weiner‘s situation, he would resign. Are those the magic words, “I would resign,” from President Obama that will determine the outcome here?
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they have a lot to do with it.
I just spoke a little while ago, Lawrence, to a pretty high-ranking member of the House Democratic leadership, who told me in no uncertain terms that he thought Representative Weiner would resign, that it would happen some time in the next several days, that the House gym business, as silly as it sounds, is yet another reason, in the view of members of the House, many whom use that gym. It‘s official territory and it‘s sort of a sanctum sanctorum for many members.
And they found that again—as I say, trivial it may seem—is it‘s particular outrageous and dumb, and this particular person said he thought Weiner was going to be out within a few days.
O‘DONNELL: Howard, just to follow up on that, there was a meeting of the House leadership in the last hour or so, wasn‘t there, specifically about this Weiner situation?
FINEMAN: Yes. And my understanding is it comports with what you were just reporting, which is that Weiner has been talking with friends about resigning, about the possibility, likelihood, however you want to state it. He hasn‘t had official conversations with the leadership, other than to say that he‘s going to wait until his wife returns.
But this member of the leadership I spoke to made—it‘s only a prediction, but said to me he thought Weiner would be gone within a few days.
O‘DONNELL: David Corn, the Democrats have been closing in on Anthony Weiner for days now, and what he has needed, according to the previous versions of these kinds of things that we have seen is a couple of days of quiet. He needed to string together a few days of no story in order for this to eventually become no story, for it to quiet down long enough so that he could then hang on. It doesn‘t look like he‘s going to get a quiet day in this story.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what happens, too, is the media has been asking every Democrat every chance they get what Anthony Weiner should do, and it culminated today with Ann Curry talking to the president about it. And it may be that, you know, you go through the five stages of grief after an event like this, and it may take Anthony Weiner a couple of days to get to the point where the Democrats want him to get to.
But you have to say this, Lawrence, that anytime sex enters the national discourse, hypocrisy is just nanoseconds away. Republican who didn‘t say anything about David Vitter, you know, are champing at the bit to making this a political partisan issue, to bash Democrats over the head with. And if you look at how Democrats rallied behind Bill Clinton back in the ‘90s, arguably, you could make the case if you want to, that what Bill Clinton did was more wrong than what Anthony Weiner did, and he had more of position of responsibility, and yet Democrats, you know, put pressure on him to resign.
And, you know, I like President Obama. But as a thought exercise, I would follow up the question from Ann Curry and say, well, do you think that President Clinton should have resigned, you know, back then? I mean, it‘s an interesting exercise. There are a lot of political calculations in this on all sides.
O‘DONNELL: Well, you know, David, as I stare at the president‘s response to Ann‘s question, here are a couple things I wonder about. Does he mean, if I was a member in the House of Representatives in a New York delegation from an outer borough, or does he mean “if I as president of the United States, in my office, I would give up this office over this kind of controversy.”
And, Howard, I think that‘s what David just pointed to with the Clinton question, which would be an interesting follow-up for President Obama.
FINEMAN: Well, I think Bill Clinton was a little bit more indispensable to the Democratic machinery in the ‘90s than Anthony Weiner is to the Democratic machinery in 2011.
In talking to Democrats up there, they don‘t dispute what David Corn just said. And David Vitter, case number one in hypocrisy, you could go down the line with Republicans, all the way, and you could cite Democratic bravery, if you want to call it that, in the past.
But right now, the Democratic leaders want to focus on jobs, as the president himself said. They want to—they thought they were on the attack over Medicare, that they had the Republicans pinned back on Medicare. Within the echo chamber of Washington and the sort of political commentariat, nothing else has mattered over the last 10 days than Anthony Weiner, and that‘s what the Democratic leadership is furious about.
Maybe they should have other things to talk about on their own, but they can‘t seem to get away from this and it has them absolutely furious and frustrated.
O‘DONNELL: David Corn, it seems to me there are two differences in the Anthony Weiner case and the other scandals that have preceded it, especially on the Democratic side, which I think are the ones to compare them to, in terms of Democrats not being asked to resign by their fellow Democrats, including President Clinton, Gary Studds in the House of Representatives during his controversy, and that is that the word—these pictures didn‘t exist that keep coming out, and you get the feeling sitting here tonight that we haven‘t seen the last pictures. You know, we just saw the House gym pictures and you just have the feeling that there are going to be more.
O‘DONNELL: So, there‘s something in the power of these photographs that hasn‘t been present before. But then, also, the House of Representatives is a very narrow margin majority, functionally. The Democrats are in a spot where they can actually win it back.
And when I think back to 1983, when Gary Studds was censured by the House of Representatives for having a gay affair with a page, a 17-year-old page --
CORN: Underage page, yes.
O‘DONNELL: -- the congressman had sex with, it was discovered 10 years later when it was discovered, but he was not run out of the Congress by the leadership. In fact, he stayed in the House for another 20 years, but they had a massive majority in the House, more than 100 more Democrats than Republicans in the House. And no one in the House ever dreamed the Democrats could lose that position.
CORN: And, of course, Gary Studds went on to help enact lots of great legislation, particularly about conservation off the coast of Massachusetts, where he was from.
You know, it‘s kind of interesting, if you compare that case, the Bill Clinton case, those are cases where there was actual sex involved. Here we have a sex scandal without real sex. Yet, because of the political dimensions and factors right now, people are going kind of wild over it. And I understand the political calculations.
And I just wonder if there ever will be a time when we can sort of come up with a sex scandal of any sort and keep it in proportion. My answer is probably—my guess is probably not. And therefore, Anthony Weiner and others will become victims of hypocrisy or whatever you want to call it.
But the political calculation of the moment always trumps, I think, you know, whatever standards you want to try to impose on these scandals or any form of Washington behavior.
O‘DONNELL: Howard, if Nancy Pelosi was speaker and she had if a Tip O‘Neill-sized majority of 120 Democrats more than Republicans, would they be trying to kick out a congressman from New York City over something like this?
FINEMAN: And if that congressman was from her home state, the way Gary Studds was from Massachusetts—yes, that world is gone, Lawrence. That world is gone. It‘s gone in terms of majorities, it‘s gone in terms of technology, it‘s gone in terms of the media and the balance of numbers in the House. It‘s just gone.
And we do need to recalibrate. We have to rethink all this, because as David said, you know, there may be some contact with underage women here. That‘s possible. But again, it‘s only through the Internet and so forth.
I mean, there are lots of calculations that are required in an age where everything is in your face. In Gary Studds‘ case, as you said, it had been 10 years earlier, there weren‘t pictures, there wasn‘t Twitter, there wasn‘t cell phone cameras or any of that stuff.
I guarantee you, if there had been cell phone cameras back in the day of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, things might have been entirely different in 1998.
O‘DONNELL: It seems that in each of the digital sex scandals we‘ve had so far, the congressman has lost his seat. We saw that with the texting scandal involving the pages, and then with the guy from Upstate New York --
CORN: Chris Lee with his shirt.
FINEMAN: -- with the picture.
CORN: Yes, with the old-fashioned scandals, David Vitter, who was, you know, implicated with a prostitute; Larry Craig, who was caught in a bathroom in an airport; John Ensign, who had, you know, a torrid affair with an aide and there was money involved, sort of the old-fashioned scandal, people seemed to kind of survive, although John Ensign probably won‘t in the long run.
So there is something of this—you know, the visceral quality of these photos and of the idea here that‘s making it seem rather new. And I think Howard is right, in-your-face—there‘s an in-your-face quality here that‘s hard to run away from or avert your eyes from.
O‘DONNELL: MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman and David Corn, thank you both for joining me tonight.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.
CORN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Coming up, 40 years ago today, “The New York Times” began publishing the Pentagon papers. Our guest, the man who leaked the Pentagon papers, Daniel Ellsberg.
And why is President Obama choosing to play golf with not one but a couple of Republicans? From Ohio.
O‘DONNELL: Coming up: President Obama is set to hit the golf course for a round of golf with House Speaker John Boehner and Governor John Kasich.
And later, Daniel Ellsberg joins me. Forty years ago today, “The New York Times” published the Pentagon papers after Ellsberg leaked them. And today, the government is finally and officially releasing those documents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I was watching one of these cable programs over—must have been Saturday morning, when they were talking about this golf match that‘s come about. And somebody said, well, you know, if president won strokes from Boehner, Boehner ought to say to the president, Mr. President, you can have all the strokes you want, it will just cost you $1 trillion a stroke.
BOEHNER: I thought it was a very good idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: That was House Speaker John Boehner last week with saying something about strokes and I guess, golf, about which, of course, I know and care nothing.
For reasons not obvious to me, President Obama and Speaker Boehner are going to get together this Saturday and play golf. A game invented in Scotland.
The White House has not disclosed why they will not be playing the president‘s favorite game, basketball, which, of course, was invented in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The president and the speaker will be joined by Vice President Biden and to round out the foursome, Speaker Boehner has invited Ohio‘s Republican Governor John Kasich.
Governor Kasich had this to say about the president after President Obama offered disapproval of the Ohio state legislation limiting collective bargaining rights.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH ®, OHIO: The president of the United States has, I think, a $13 trillion debt. Why doesn‘t he do his job? When he does his job and gets our budget balanced and starts to prepare a future for our children, maybe he can have an opinion on what‘s going on in Ohio.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Leslie Stahl, of all people, seems to deserve some credit in bringing these golfers together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESLIE STAHL, 60 MINUTES: You play golf. The president plays golf.
You‘ve never played together, right?
STAHL: How come?
BOEHNER: I don‘t know. But, usually, what happens is the president invites you.
STAHL: And you‘re a much better golfer than he is, right?
BOEHNER: He understands that.
STAHL: And that‘s why he hasn‘t invited you?
BOEHNER: No, I don‘t know. But, listen, playing golf with someone is a great way to really get to know someone. You start trying to hit that little white ball, you can‘t be somebody that you‘re not, because all of you shows up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNEL: Joining me now, “Washington Post” columnist, Dana Milbank.
Thanks for joining me tonight, Dana.
DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: Hello, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Dana, if—if they do anything other than just try to hit that little white ball. If they actually end up talking about matters of governance, they will probably be talking about some of the things that the president discussed with Ann Curry.
Let‘s listen to some of Ann Curry‘s interview with the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CURRY: House Republicans are threatening to not allow the debt ceiling to be raised. If you don‘t agree to deep spending cuts, do you think they‘re bluffing, given how financially disastrous it would be for the United States not to have the debt ceiling raised?
OBAMA: I am absolutely confident that we can move forward on a plan that gets our debt under control, gets our deficit under control, but also make sure that we‘re making the investments in the future that are going to help us put people back to work. And there‘s a way of solving those problems that doesn‘t require any big radical changes. What it does require is everybody makes some sacrifices, and we make these changes in a balanced way.
So far, at least, in the conversations that I‘ve had, and that the vice president‘s been hosting with leaders from both the House and the Senate, we‘ve seen some progress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: So, Dana, obviously, they‘re going to solve the debt ceiling problem on this foursome.
MILIBANK: Lawrence, I don‘t think you want to have them discussing contentious issues out there on the golf course. These guys have bags full of irons, a sand wedge is not something you want to have in the opposition‘s hand, the Secret Service might have to get involved.
No. Look, I think they said from the start, they don‘t expect to deal with much of anything here. The really interesting part is: why you have to go through this elaborate preparation like we‘ve got some international summit going on for a simple round of golf to get people talking, as they should be doing on a regular basis anyway.
But it‘s become a simple golf game, which presidents in the past have done as a matter of routine, has become a highly charged political occasion.
O‘DONNELL: And do we have any information or insight as to why Boehner invited his Governor Kasich instead of someone else in the Republican leadership in Washington? Was there no one else in the Republican leadership in Washington who was willing to be seen in a friendly situation with President Obama?
MILBANK: Nobody with as low a handicap as John Kasich.
I think—I think this is a lot about testosterone and bragging rights out here on the golf course. So, you‘ve got Kasich, you‘ve got Boehner, and you‘ve got Biden, who are all in sort of the single digit handicaps. Good golfers. And then you‘ve got Obama, who is only a slightly better golfer than he is at bowling.
So, I agree with you, he should have had them out there on the basketball court. And hopefully we can use this as a way to pivot to friendlier terrain and get them playing a game of horse next.
O‘DONNELL: It seems like this is imagery that both sides are going to want to use as they approach a standoff over the debt ceiling and over the budget. Each side is going to want to look like they‘ve been reasonable, that they‘ve been talking to the other side, that they‘ve been as friendly as they can with the other side, but they‘re just stuck in some sort of philosophical disagreement or disagreement of principle.
Who do you think is going to win that imagery contest?
MILBANK: Well, even if everybody could get together, say, on the ninth tee, they‘d have a hug and say, “all right, I think we can work this out,” they wouldn‘t be able to say anything, because, of course, the actual deal of the debt limit can‘t be done before early August, because that‘s when the deadline is. If anybody comes out and say they have any sort of agreement before the way the politics is now, you‘re not playing the proper amount of brinkmanship.
The right would accuse the Republicans of caving, the left would probably accuse Obama of caving.
So, even if they make progress, they couldn‘t appear to be making progress. I‘m not sure why either side sees it to their advantage to be out there playing a rich man‘s game with 14 million people out of work.
O‘DONNELL: A rich man‘s game, indeed.
Dana Milbank of “The Washington Post”—thanks for joining me tonight.
MILBANK: Thanks, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Just ahead: four decades before WikiLeaks, came the Pentagon papers. The man who thought you had a right to know, Daniel Ellsberg, is here on this historic night. Forty years to the day after he leaked the Pentagon papers, the government now officially releasing them.
And later, Tea Party members of Congress have found socialism they can believe in. In fact, it is the government‘s most purely socialistic program and it has paid some of the Tea Partiers hundreds of thousands of dollars. That‘s in “The Rewrite.”
O‘DONNELL: Still to come this hour: Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon papers. They were first published 40 years ago today in “The New York Times.” Ellsberg will tell us why it‘s important the government is finally declassifying the Pentagon Papers now.
And later, with Congressman Anthony Weiner seeking professional help with his sexting compulsion, we‘ll talk to an expert on sexual addiction who will explain the kind of treatment the congressman should expect.
O‘DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the National Archives has declassified and released, for the first time, all 47 volumes of the McNamara report on Vietnam, now immortalized as the Pentagon Papers. The explosive top-secret report was painstakingly smuggled out and photo copied by a young defense analyst named Daniel Ellsberg, who had become disillusioned with the Vietnam War.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL ELLSBERG, LEAKED THE PENTAGON PAPERS: In June of 1967, McNamara ordered a comprehensive study within the Pentagon on the history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. I began Xeroxing the McNamara study in the fall of 1969.
At the end of the day, working at Rand, I would put several volumes into my briefcase to take with me. Walking past the security guard, I could feel my heart beating. I couldn‘t help thinking about the dozen or so secrecy agreements I had signed over the course of my career in government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Daniel Ellsberg, who Nixon adviser Henry Kissinger considered his most brilliant protege, gave the top-secret study to “the New York Times,” which first published portions of it on June 13th, 1971, 40 years ago today.
The report exposed the systematic effort by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to lie to the American public about the escalating war in Vietnam. Its publication triggered a retaliation campaign by then-President Richard Nixon against the media and Daniel Ellsberg, who Nixon saw as a, quote, “son of a bitch thief, who had committed treason against the United States.”
Nixon first assembled his infamous his break-in team, which would later be caught burglarizing Democratic campaign headquarters at the Watergate hotel, to steal personal information from Daniel Ellsberg‘s doctor‘s office that could be used to smear Ellsberg.
In the Peabody Award-winning documentary “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” which is available free online today and tomorrow at PBS‘ “Point of View” website, Daniel Ellsberg describes what happened after the Pentagon papers went public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELLSBERG: I gave up my job, my career, my clearance, and I staked my freedom on a gamble. If the American people knew the truth about how they had been lied to, about the myths that had led them to endorse this butchery for 25 years, that they would choose against it.
And the risk that you take when you do that is that you‘ll learn something ultimately about your fellow citizens that you won‘t like to hear. And that is that they hear it, they learn from it, they understand it, and they proceed to ignore it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Today, in an op-ed in London‘s “Guardian” newspaper, Ellsberg urged more officials to follow his path, writing, quote, “don‘t wait until a new war has started in Iran, until more bombs have fallen in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Libya, Iraq, or Yemen. Don‘t wait until thousands more have died before you go to the press and to Congress to tell the truth, with documents, that reveal lies or crimes or internal projections of costs and dangers. The personal risks are great. But a war‘s worth of lives might be saved.”
Joining me now on the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg. It‘s an honor to have you here tonight, Mr. Ellsberg. Thank you for joining us.
ELLSBERG: Thank you. Good to be here.
O‘DONNELL: There are many lessons to be learned from the Pentagon Papers. But what do you make of the official release of the papers now? And is there something important in them being officially released?
ELLSBERG: Well, if it attracts attention to people to re-read the portions of the Pentagon Papers, which is most of it, that have been available for 40 years, I think that‘s a good thing right now. Better, even, than it would have been maybe 20 or 25 years ago.
Because we are in the midst right now of two, three, several Vietnams, but one in particular. The Afghan war is almost a replay of Vietnam. And I think people don‘t understand it as well as they could, if, actually, they re-read the Pentagon Papers.
I didn‘t declassify those papers today, or the government didn‘t declassify them, I should say. “The New York Times” and 18 other newspapers declassified them, effectively, 40 years ago, most of them, and all the important parts.
But the body of the study that was released then by Senator Gravel in the Beacon Press Edition, the Senator Gravel edition, are worth reading right now because they show us really the background of a decision that Barack Obama will be making this summer. And they predict rather sadly, I think, how he‘s likely to make it.
And they also show what Congress could do if they put their mind to it.
O‘DONNELL: You say that you—“I staked my freedom on a gamble. If the American people knew the truth, they would choose against that war.
It seems to me that the release of the Pentagon Papers is one of several things that speeded up the end of American involvement in the Vietnam War. As long as American was involved in it, it could have gone on longer, were it not for this kind of action.
Do you feel that way? Do you—from your end of the experience, did it feel like it was an important contribution that slowed down the war making?
ELLSBERG: Yes and no. It certainly affected public attitudes and public opinion. But public opinion, the majority, were already against the war. The Pentagon Papers raised those polls somewhat. They were even more against it.
But Nixon wasn‘t paying any attention to public opinion by that time. He continued the war. He intended to continue it. In fact, the heaviest bombing of the war came the next year after the Pentagon Papers. The heaviest bombing ever of two weeks was the Christmas bombing a year and a half after the Pentagon Papers.
And at that point, when people ask me what this had accomplished, I had to say, nothing. The whole anti-war movement seemed to have had come to nothing. Well, that was wrong. And here‘s the other part of the answer.
Nixon was so worried that he had here someone, Daniel Ellsberg, who could not be deterred by a threat of prison from putting out more secrets. And he was so concerned that I had information and documents on his own administration, which went beyond the Pentagon Papers, which ended in 1968, before he came in.
He was afraid that I had information on his nuclear threats against North Vietnam, which most people aren‘t aware of even to this day, and his threats of escalation, like mining Hai Fong, and other matters, which he hadn‘t yet carried out.
And he was afraid that I‘d put those out, and they would be as unpopular as he feared. He was determined to present them as fate accompli eventually and not have me raise any opposition to them. So he took acts that were illegal. They‘re all legal now, actually.
Going into my former doctor‘s office with a White House team of buglers, that‘s legal under the Patriot Act. But for him, it was a crime. He wiretapped me—or overheard me, I should say, on warrantless wire taps, which were illegal. He set the CIA to work on me, helping that burglary and doing a psychological profile.
That was then illegal against an American citizen. Now legal under the Patriot Act.
And finally, he brought a White House hit squad from Miami, Bay of Pigs veterans, up to, quote, “incapacitate Daniel Ellsberg totally, or kill him, put me out of action, May 3rd, 1972.
All those crimes then were—endangered him if they were found out. And when John Dean, during my trial, began to spill the beans on those to a prosecutor, he knew he faced impeachment. That had a lot of effects.
Ultimately, he was facing impeachment, had to resign, and the war was endable nine months earlier. I don‘t think it would have ended if he‘d stayed in office.
So, in the end, I was part of a chain of events, with a lot of other people, that did, in fact, shorten the war.
O‘DONNELL: You know, thank you very much for answering a question I‘ve always wondered about, which is why was Nixon so angry about a report, the Pentagon Papers, that referred to his predecessor‘s negatively and didn‘t really include him. Just a final quick question, Daniel Ellsberg—
ELLSBERG: He wasn‘t. He wasn‘t.
O‘DONNELL: What was it like to turn against your friends in this world that you had been working in?
ELLSBERG: Nobody‘s asked me that. I‘ve had to think a lot that. That was a very anguishing part of the experience. I think the hardest part all together was knowing that my closest friend, actually, Harry Rollin, the president of Rand, would inevitably suffer professionally, as he did, just through having been associated with he.
My closest friends and others involved as well. But he in particular. And I hated that. All I could do was to assure that he could say truthfully that he had no inkling of what I was going to do. Otherwise, he was the sort of person I told everything to, I confided in. But I didn‘t tell him anything of this.
And it did, in fact, cost him his job. However, there was, as you earlier quoted, a war‘s worth of lives at stake. And I think that shortening the war was something that I did the best I could.
O‘DONNELL: Daniel Ellsberg, thank you for your bravery 40 years ago, your service to this country. And it‘s an honor, as I say, to have you join us here tonight. Thank you.
ELLSBERG: Thank you.
O‘DONNELL: Free market Republicans never admit how much they like socialism or how much some of them profit from it. We will name some of the Republicans who have received direct government cash handouts. That‘s in the Rewrite.
And tonight, Congressman Anthony Weiner is seeking treatment at an undisclosed location. We‘ll talk to a sexual addiction expert about the type of therapy Congressman Weiner will likely undergo.
O‘DONNELL: Time for tonight‘s Rewrite. Republican freshman who rode to office on the support of free market worshiping Tea Partiers now have a little problem, which—no surprise here—is how much they really love socialism.
As we‘ve discussed in this space before, there is good socialism, like Social Security and Medicare, and there is bad socialism, wasteful socialism like agriculture subsidies. There are 15 Republican freshman on the House Agriculture Committee, the group of lawmakers who will have to deal with the 15 to 20 billion dollars this country spends every year in handouts, agriculture subsidies.
And as first noted in a report by “Politico,” several of those 15 Republicans have actually received hundreds of thousands of dollars in farm subsidies themselves over the years. Farm subsidies have only one purpose, to protect farmers and only farmers from the cruelties of the free market.
But Tea Partiers and Republicans like to pretend that the free market has no cruelties. Sure, it has winners and losers, but the losers, they‘re not entrepreneurial enough. They don‘t really want to work. That‘s why Tea Partiers and Republicans oppose extending unemployment benefits in a recession when the cruelties of the free market leave millions of people out of work.
Missouri Republican Congressman Vicky Hartzler, a freshman, crystallized Tea Party limited government philosophy during her campaign in 2010.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VICKY HARTZLER ®, MISSOURI: We are a people who honor life, support the individual liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, and believe in the government taking from us in the form of taxes only the minimum required to safeguard our freedom and families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: “Only the minimum required to safeguard our freedom and families.” It turns out there is absolutely no one elected to federal office now—no one—who believes that. No Republican has introduced a bill to abolish all of the government programs that do not safeguard our freedom, but do make life more livable.
Congressman Hartzler and her husband have received nearly 750,000 dollars from the federal government for their farm. How much money did the federal government give you for driving a taxi or running a dry cleaning business? Nothing. Not a penny.
In fact, the federal government took money from you to give directly, and without any questions, to Vicky Hartzler.
Another Republican freshman congressman, Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, sounded like he was ready to kill farming socialism when he was running for office. He said, “we cannot continue to spend on pet projects when our country, children, and grandchildren are going to be facing massive amounts of debt. Even considering the spending bills like the Farm Bill and the stimulus package, we have to stop spending.”
This was an especially brave statement for a guy who personally collected nearly 180,000 dollars in farm subsidies from the federal government. And yes, of course, as a candidate, Stutzman said what Republicans always say, quote, “we need to get back to a free market mind-set.”
Easy for him to say after collecting 180,000 dollars in a purely socialistic payoff from the government, but not so easy for him to do now that he‘s in office.
Now Stutzman says, “I believe we need to make sure we have a strong crop insurance program, a safety net in place.”
A safety net? This from the party that is trying to rip apart the social safety net for senior citizens by destroying the Medicare program? Marlin Stutzman, who has enjoyed the farmers-only safety net, now is in favor of preserving the farmers-only safety net, after he said he was against it.
And so the most pure form of socialism America has, agricultural socialism, a direct handout from the government, will continue. And it will continue with the support of Democrats and Republicans, including Republicans who have inveighed against farm socialism and have fervently preached the, quote, “need to get back to a free market mind-set.”
Regular viewers of this program know that the reason American agricultural socialism will continue is, of course, because it is simply yet another example of why “Newsweek” was right when it said “we are all socialists now.”
O‘DONNELL: Congressman Anthony Weiner has asked for a temporary leave of absence from the House while he seeks treatment for his Twitter problem. His spokeswoman said, Weiner‘s treatment will focus on, quote, “becoming a better husband and healthier person.”
The statement did not actually specify what he will be treated for. If Weiner enters treatment for a sex addiction, he will be following in the footsteps of celebrity sex addicts David Duchovny, Russell Brand, and Tiger Woods.
Joining me now is Joe Kort, a sex addiction therapist. Thanks for joining me tonight, Joe. The Tiger Woods scandal gave us our first look into how this rehabilitation world works. How long would Anthony Weiner be away at a facility and what would he expect—what would be the treatment you‘d expect him to be getting now?
JOE KORT, SEX ADDICTION THERAPIST: He‘ll be gone for about 30 days. And they are going to help him look at the driving behaviors. What drove him to act out in these ways? And often these men are looking at a past of trauma and looking at how that is influencing their sexual behaviors.
O‘DONNELL: Now, you‘ve said that this is a classic case of the kind of cybersex addiction that‘s out there now. Having these handheld devices and being able to communicate this way, nonstop, has created a kind of new level of intensity for some people.
KORT: It‘s incredible the number of referrals we‘re getting these days of people who are even checking themselves into therapy, into treatment, without even being caught, because they‘re so caught up in the Internet. It‘s endless.
You know, I talk about—we know about the AAA engine. We call it affordability, anonymity, and accessibility. It‘s 24/7 that you can be out on the Internet, having sex with different people.
O‘DONNELL: I think the whole phenomenon of obsessive attention addiction to Internet porn is now a few years old. But this phenomenon seems relatively new, this texting, this nonstop actual communicating with real people in this obsessive and relentless way.
Is this the latest wave of kind of digital excess that‘s going on in sexual addiction problems?
KORT: Yes, it absolutely is. And in sexual addiction, in the model, we call this the crack cocaine of sex addiction. What would take people years before the Internet, before all this texting to come to terms with it and have negative consequences could now take months or a year.
And they‘re coming in through being discovered and through not being able to stop.
O‘DONNELL: Are there specific behavior modifications that occur in the kind of treatment that Anthony Weiner is getting?
KORT: Yeah. He‘s going to learn—first, they‘re going to ask him about all of his sexual behaviors. They‘re not all going to be unhealthy. He‘s looking at what is going to be healthy, what is unhealthy, and then they‘re going to talk about stopping all of his sexual behaviors, not permanently. People get worried about that when they hear about sexual addiction treatment.
It‘s not to anthologize sexuality. It‘s to help him understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy sex for himself and for and his wife. So he‘ll be asked to stop all of his behaviors. Then he‘ll be looking at what he can continue to do that is in healthier ways.
O‘DONNELL: Some of us have said this is the sex scandal with no sex. But is this kind of activity actually what these people regard as sex? Is it sex for someone in Anthony Weiner‘s position, who‘s actually doing all this texting?
KORT: Yeah. You know, the thing about sexual addiction that we know in the field is it‘s about the chase. It‘s about the hunt. It‘s not about the catch. And so, this is—what‘s happening with the Internet and texting and Facebook and all these live chats, you know, that‘s how the acting out happens. That is sexual for them.
That‘s as far as a lot of them go. They actually don‘t meet up, a lot of them with the actual person.
O‘DONNELL: And so you would classify as what he‘s doing as sex. To call it not sex isn‘t really the way you‘d see it?
KORT: It is definitely sexual, absolutely, yes.
O‘DONNELL: OK. Joe Kort, sex addiction therapist, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
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