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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

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Guests: Bobby Ghosh, Steve Clemons, Shamar Thomas


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: It`s hard out there for a dictator trying
to deal with the United States. First, Ronald Reagan tried to kill
Gadhafi. Then George W. Bush makes peace with him. Then Barack Obama
kills him. Go figure.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(GUNFIRE)

(CHANTNG)

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Wow. Huh!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama is about to make a statement.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Dark shadow of tyranny
has been lifted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The man President Reagan dubbed the "mad dog of
the Middle East."

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This mad dog of the Middle
East.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is one tough,
not-so-nice guy.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Murdered Americans and
others in a tragedy in Lockerbie.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would not have
intervened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a big moment for the president.

CLINTON: I think there`s a big sigh of relief.

BIDEN: Gadhafi one way or the other is gone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rebels reportedly found Gadhafi in a hole.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president was roundly criticized.

GINGRICH: I would not have intervened.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: He took too long to do it and didn`t
do enough of it.

MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: This was a direct action by the American
military.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does this validate the Obama administration`s
policy?

BIDEN: America spent $2 billion total.

OBAMA: We achieved our objectives.

BIDEN: We didn`t lose a sixth life.

GINGRICH: I would not have intervened.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He put us in
Libya.

GINGRICH: I would not have used American and European forces.

BASHIR: No doubt another significant win in President Obama`s foreign
policy column.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He gets to say, I told you so.

BASHIR: Pictures of elated crowds all day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is joy and relief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. right now is very popular in Libya.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can even hear children cheering, God is
great.

GINGRICH: I would not have intervened.

BACHMANN: Now he has engaged in yet another third Middle Eastern war.

GINGRICH: I would not have intervened.

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He`s the president of
Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan-tan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: President Obama congratulated the Libyan people today
after Moammar Gadhafi, Libya`s dictator for 42 years, was killed. And
rebel fighters captured the regime`s final stronghold, Gadhafi`s hometown
of Sirte.

This afternoon, the president stood in the Rose Garden on the heels of
yet another foreign policy success and explained how he did it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Faced with the potential of mass atrocities, and a call for
help from the Libyan people, the United States and our friends and allies
stopped Gadhafi`s forces in their tracks. A coalition that included the
United States, NATO and Arab nations persevered through the summer to
protect Libyan civilians.

And meanwhile, the courageous Libyan people fought for their own
future and broke the back of the regime.

For nearly eight months, many Americans have provided extraordinary
service and support of our efforts to protect the Libyan people and to
provide them with a chance to determine their own destiny. Our skilled
diplomats helped to lead an unprecedented global response. Our brave
pilots have flown in Libyan skies. Our sailors have provided support off
Libya`s shores. And our leadership at NATO has helped guide our coalition.

Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we
achieved our objectives. And our NATO mission will soon come to an end.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: It took less than eight months to overthrow a 42-year
dictator who sponsored the killing of American civilians in a terror
attack. It cost $1 billion -- that is billion with a B, not a single
American life was lost in the battle.

Meanwhile, deposing Saddam Hussein has cost and continues to cost the
United States over $1 trillion, trillion with a T, and more than 4,000
American lives and we are still there.

But don`t expect the Republicans to give this president any credit.
Presidential front-runner Mitt Romney ducked the question on the campaign
trail in Iowa this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Any reaction on the Gadhafi killing?

ROMNEY: It`s about time. Gadhafi, a terrible tyrant that killed his
own people, and murdered Americans and others in the tragedy in Lockerbie.
The world is a better place with Gadhafi gone.

REPORTER: Does the president deserve credit for that?

ROMNEY: Sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Just a short time ago, Romney did better the second time
around when he was asked again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Governor, does President Obama deserve a little credit for
killing Gadhafi?

ROMNEY: Yes, yes, absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Romney had a lot more to say about the president`s
handling of Libya on a conservative radio show in March.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ROMNEY: He is tentative, indecisive, timid and nuanced. He calls the
removal of Moammar Gadhafi but then conditions or action on the directions
we get from the Arab League and United Nations. America has been feared
sometimes, has been respected. But today, America is seen as being weak.
We are following the French into Libya.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Republicans Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is willing to
give credit to the French. Back in June, Senator Rubio didn`t think the
Europeans were up to the task.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: Only when the Gadhafi mercenaries were on the outskirts of
Benghazi, threatening to massacre thousands of innocent civilians that the
president finally agreed to participate. But even that was botched.
First, we ceded most of the operation over to our NATO allies and God bless
them for trying, but they do not have the military capability to finish the
job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: But reacting to Gadhafi`s death on FOX News this morning,
Rubio was certain, certain, that it was Europeans who finished the job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: I`m glad it`s all working out. Ultimately, this is about the
freedom of the Libyan people. But let`s give credit where the credit is
due. It`s the French and the British that led this fight and probably even
led on the strike that led to Gadhafi`s capture or to, you know, his death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Such amateur guess work could not survive this fast-moving
news day. NBC News has learned that it was a U.S. predator drone that
fired on the 15-vehicle convoy carrying Gadhafi as he attempted to flee his
hometown. Gadhafi escaped the attacked fleet and ran to a drain pipe where
he was captured by rebel forces. It is not yet clear if he died from
wounds from the airstrike or at the hands of his Libyan captors.

Joining me now, Andrea Mitchell, and NBC News chief foreign affairs
correspondent and host of MSNBC`s "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS"; Steve Clemons,
Washington editor-at-large for "The Atlantic"; Bobby Ghosh, deputy
international editor for "Time" magazine; and Eugene Robinson, columnist
for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst.

Thank you all for joining me tonight.

Andrea, this is scored by any measure as a victory for President
Obama`s strategy in Libya. He went out on a limb here at the start and
took the position that they were going to have to move in Libya. We have
now a lot of Republican videotape with a lot of embarrassing statements
that do not square with where this situation is today.

How do you grade the president`s handling of this from start to today?

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Well, I think that he has to be given good
marks for this. He was criticized at first for not being in enough for so-
called leading from behind, for letting British and the French take the
lead.

But I think he properly assessed that with spread so thinly, two
fighting wars already, that to join the third and to take a leading role --
and we did take an important role in the initial airstrikes, but then we
began focusing more on refueling intelligence and predators strikes, which
turned out to be absolutely critical as the civil war reached this point of
hunting down Moammar Gadhafi.

I think the Republicans have a lot of questions that still need to be
addressed on the question of foreign policy and they have not really been
questioned very intensively on that subject. In the debate just the other
night, they were talking about getting rid of foreign aid, which is a small
percentage of the budget as you know, Lawrence, and getting out of the
U.N., according to Rick Perry.

This was a U.N.-NATO mission. And this is exactly the kind of
coalition force that many people have been arguing we should be engaged in.
In this case, I think, by any measure at work, the question now is what do
the Libyans do next in the role we play, and that is another whole issue.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the president said in his first
address on Libya, March 29th, after ordering airstrikes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Regime change
there took eight years, thousands of Americans and Iraqi lives and nearly a
trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Bobby Ghosh, do we see in Libya lessons learned from Iraq?

BOBBY GHOSH, TIME MAGAZINE: Yes, absolutely. I think the biggest
lesson learned is you have to let people do it by themselves. Take a back
seat, give them crucial help as NATO bombing operation provided, but let
the people do it themselves.

Whether or not the people in Iraq were in a position to do that
against Saddam Hussein is a different story.

But clearly, this had to be from the beginning something that the
Libyan people did themselves. In that way, it`s actually similar to what
happened in Afghanistan back in 2001. This is like the Northern Alliance
with American support, both on the ground and in the air.

O`DONNELL: In Afghanistan, although we instigated the action, the
actual feat or boots, they weren`t even boots on the ground, were native.

GHOSH: Yes. The Northern Alliance, a constellation of different
tribes that had been fight against the Taliban for a long time, had local
intelligence, local networks, local families. They were the sharp end of
the operation.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what President Obama said today about
American leadership in this mission in Libya.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We see the strength of American leadership across the world.
We have taken out al Qaeda leaders and we put them on the path to defeat.
We are winding down the war in Iraq and begun a transition in Afghanistan.
And now, working in Libya with friend and allies, we demonstrated what
collective action can achieve in the 21st century.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons, the president is trying to set in the
chapters of history that we are seeing unfolding in the Middle East, where
does this fit in the flow of -- from say the invasion of Iraq all the way
through the Arab spring?

STEVE CLEMONS, THE ATLANTIC: Well, we have seen President Obama hatch
a new kind of American involvement. This is a -- people like me that were
concerned that we didn`t know how to have this kind of war, that Pentagon
would see a slippery slope and would just, you know, simply get way over-
engaged and the president was able to hold back, give as -- Bobby Ghosh
just said -- give the rebels an opportunity to win or lose. This wasn`t a
guaranteed outcome.

And I think this is a huge success for President Obama and new model
that`s different from Iraq, different than Afghanistan and it builds upon a
much more organic and authentic kind of revolution. The president is
President Obama and his team would like it take a lot of credit for it.
But subtlety of this doesn`t allow them to.

I just walked by the White House. And, you know, in contrast it
another great villain who President Obama killed, Osama bin Laden, there is
no one there paying tribute or celebrating. This wasn`t our villain in
Libya. It was the people`s villain, those in Tripoli.

I have no doubt that someday, Barack Obama will have a square in
Tripoli named "Barack Obama Plaza." But that`s not going to be here. And
I think the president and his team are wondering why they aren`t getting
more support.

But this was their fight and that is the mastery and magic I think of
what President Obama hatched in this.

O`DONNELL: So, Eugene Robinson, this was tactically in some ways a
victory for subtlety -- a victory for restrain, of military restraint.
This was a way to go in there big. The president decided not to go in
there big. They did not put troops on the ground.

There is a long list of things he did not do and in the end, he got
his way.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He did get his way. And
from the beginning, remember, we first went in to protect Libyan civilians.
But the logic from the intervention from the beginning was that Gadhafi had
to go.

And I think the innovation here is that the president and his military
team found a way to use the predator drones, to use our intelligence
assets, to use that sort of, if it`s not soft power but not boots on the
ground -- but to use that power and toward the end of regime change, which
we kind of denied at first, but that was the only way we were going to
protect civilian says getting rid of Gadhafi.

O`DONNELL: Andrea Mitchell, is this -- American presidents are
frequently accused of going into military situations or going into war
without saying fully what they really intend to do or why they are really
going. Has Gene just touched on the possible version of a liberal
president going to war, not really turning over all of his cards when he is
doing it?

MITCHELL: Well, I do think that there is clear ambiguity, deliberate
ambiguity, in the whole motion of letting Gadhafi out, letting him become
an exile. I think everyone knew, especially with the role of the
intelligence community and predators, that we were targeting Gadhafi. And
the fact that he was apparently executed without any due process today, may
have some ramifications, both domestically in Libya and in the Arab world.
But no tears were shed for him in Washington or in Langley.

But clearly, this was a kill option and they were out to get him.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to be back with more on Gadhafi and his
tortured history with American presidents -- the Republican president who
wanted to kill him, and the Republican president then made peace with him.

But, first, cameras were rolling in Afghanistan when Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton read the first reports about Gadhafi on her
BlackBerry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Wow. Huh!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unconfirmed.

CLINTON: Unconfirmed, yes. No.

Unconfirmed reports about Gadhafi being captured. Unconfirmed. Yes.
We`ve had too many -- we`ve had bunch of those before. We`ve had, you
know, had him captured a couple of times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Coming up, another day, another flip-flop by Mitt Romney -
- no, by Herman Cain. Herman Cain has had a very tough 24 hours trying to
figure out the official Republican position on abortion. And even though
he is a presidential candidate, Herman Cain hasn`t given up his day job.
How Herman Cain is making a living. We`ll talk about that later.

Next, though, why the president, President Obama, killed Gadhafi after
George W. Bush made peace with him. That`s with our panel, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Because of American leadership
and resolve, the world is changing for the better. Last month, the leader
of Libya voluntarily pledged to disclose and dismantle all of his regime`s
weapons of mass destruction programs, including a uranium enrichment
project for nuclear weapons. Colonel Gadhafi correctly judged that his
country would be better off and far more secure without weapons of mass
murder.

Nine months of intense negotiations involving the United States and
Great Britain succeeded with Libya while 12 years of diplomacy with Iraq
did not. And one reason is clear. For diplomacy to be effective, words
must be credible. And no one can now doubt the word of America.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was President Bush during his 2004 State of the Union
Address.

Joining me now, returning to the panel: Andrea Mitchell, Steve
Clemons, Bobby Ghosh and Gene Robinson.

Andrea Mitchell, take us from there to here. Why did we go from
President Bush`s optimism about future relations to Gadhafi to where we are
today?

MITCHELL: Well, we had that optimism and then they move towards
normalizing relations, taking him off the terror list once he agreed to
make the payments to the Pan Am families and gave up those nuclear
components. They were centrifuges. I went down to Tennessee. We did
report there when they were delivered. It was not a full scale weapons
program but they were certainly the parts of the weapons program.

And then Condoleezza Rice went in 2008, she was the first to go to
Tripoli and many, many decades and Hillary Clinton actually went back to
Tripoli two days ago, again the first secretary of state since then -- the
first secretary of state, the highest ranking official since the civil war.

But what happened between 2008 when we were normalizing relation
answers and even 2009, Barack Obama was shaking hands at the U.N. with
Moammar Gadhafi. What happened was the Arab spring. The uprising where
the president and his foreign policy advisors felt that they today side
with the Libyan people and there was very long leadership from Britain and
France pushing in that direction.

O`DONNELL: Bobby Ghosh, how was the United States been seen in its
shifting positions, in particular just using Libya as an example. It would
be -- it seems to me, not clear to people in the region why the United
States shifts its positions this way.

GHOSH: Well, there is often the accusation that the U.S. went along
on this spot with Libya but not so much in Bahrain where people rose up
against their rulers, the king, and the United States did essentially
nothing.

But it`s important to remember that this new doctrine, if you like,
that Obama was able to unleash in Libya was based on four fundamental
things. The Libyan people wanted it, wanted foreign intervention. The
Arab lead wanted foreign intervention. There were allies waiting to go
along and the United Nations signed off on it.

Those four things almost never happen simultaneously in any other
circumstance. So, the president was able to craft this policy because he
had all of that going for him. Now, people on the ground in the Middle
East don`t always see it that way so you are always going to get people
saying, why aren`t we bombing? Why isn`t the United States, why isn`t NATO
bombing Syria?

Well, the Arab League isn`t calling for it. A lot of Syrians are not
yet calling for it and clearly, there is no United Nations support for it.

So, the things that work for -- the formula is very specific. It
worked for Libya. It may not necessarily work in other places.

O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, Andrew Sullivan, a conservative, wrote on
his blog today, "To rid the world of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and
Moammar Gadhafi within six months, if Obama were a Republican, he`d be on
Mt. Rushmore by now."

Yes. It`s -- there is something to that, isn`t there?

ROBINSON: Well, there is. Of course, he`s not going to get that kind
of credit. You saw Mitt Romney`s reaction, this sort of -- well, I suppose
he gets some credit. And you have heard nothing essentially from other
candidates.

Look -- nonetheless, President Obama has a record of foreign policy
success that he will be able to take on the campaign trail within this year
and, you know, not a lot of voters perhaps will make their decision based
on foreign policy. But some will. And so, if you`ve got a horn to toot,
you should toot it.

O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons where do we go from here in Libya?

CLEMONS: Well, I think that we need it encourage as best we can the
National Transition Council to get its act together, to figure out who the
heroes of the revolution are. There are a lot of new players that came in
inside Libya in these last two months that weren`t part of the original
Benghazi coalition. They need to be built in.

And we also need to make sure that we keep this a Libyan story and not
do victory laps constantly, talking about all we did. There`s a very
strong anti-colonial, anti-Western sentiment inside Libya, even with all
that we did, that will continue to be politically palpable and
consequential there. And I think we need to be respectful of that process.

They`re going to have struggles. Their problems won`t be money. It`s
going to be sorting out power. And I think we need to be respectful of
that and try to guide and encourage and hook them up to as many
international institutions and network as possible to try to create some
peer pressure, support for what`s going on inside.

O`DONNELL: Andrea Mitchell, it`s always been -- or maybe not always -
- correct us about this, how difficult is it for presidents to do victory
laps on foreign policy successes and translate them into reelection
successes? I`m thinking of the first President Bush who had a -- for him,
spectacular foreign policy success in the first Iraq war which went easier
than anyone imagined. And then he was easily in effect, in the end,
defeated in his reelection by Bill Clinton.

How does the president use any of this? Is there a way in your
experience, for a way for a president to use any of this in his reelection
campaign?

MITCHELL: It would seem that a Democratic president, especially one
without any military experiencing, has to prove his bona fides on foreign
policy and on the military experience. And certainly, Barack Obama has
done that, and done it in spectacular fashion with Osama bin Laden and some
of the other, you know, military achievements, military intelligence
achievements.

That said, Americans are voting their pocket books right now, for very
good reasons. They did that back in 1992 to a certain extent and
certainly, the victory in the First Gulf War did not help, ultimately help
George Bush get re-elected. And right now, more so than ever, after what
we have all experienced, this is really a domestic policy economic
election.

I think that there has to be sort of a threshold test passed by all of
the candidates, whoever is the Republican nominee and President Obama. But
it`s not going to be the ticket to reelection for this president. It could
be a disabling factor for one of the Republicans, depending on who is the
nominee, judging from the debate so far, unless they really begin to study
up and have a more coherent foreign policy.

O`DONNELL: That will have to be the LAST WORD for tonight. I want to
thank you all for joining me.

Andrea Mitchell, Eugene Robinson, Steve Clemons, and Bobby Ghosh,
thank you all very much for joining me tonight.

CLEMONS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up: the only thing that can sink Herman Cain`s
candidacy faster than his 9-9-9 plan is his liberal Democrat position on
abortion. That`s next.

And Vice President Joe Biden eloquently offers Republicans, a simple
choice: support your local sheriff or support your local millionaire.
That`s in tonight`s "Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSS TALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s video of New York Police Deputy Inspector Anthony
Balogna using pepper spray against innocent women on September 24th during
the Occupy Wall Street protests. According to the website DNAInfo.com,
Deputy Balogna now says he was stunned and shell shocked by reaction to
that video, and says he feels tortured, the typical self-pitying stance of
brutal cops when they are caught in the act.

Deputy Inspector Balogna now says he didn`t mean to target the two
women. Instead, he says he was aiming at two men -- two men who are not
seen in any of the event. And he admits that he has, his phrase, bad aim.
Balogna lost ten vacation days for violating police guidelines, but says he
would do it all again.

And I, for one, believe him. Coming up -- I believe would he do it
again, that is.

Coming up, the retired Marine who shamed police at Occupy Wall Street.
Shamar Thomas joins me.

And Herman Cain tries to keep talking about apples and oranges as he
drowns in a sea of questions about his ridiculous 9-9-9 plan. But his very
reasonable position on abortion is the biggest problem his campaign has
faced yet. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, did Herman Cain just end all
hope of winning the Iowa Caucuses? On Sunday, the Republican front runner
lost the support of some social conservatives NBC`s David Gregory this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wouldn`t seek a
constitutional ban for same-sex marriage, but I am pro traditional
marriage.

DAVID GREGORY, "MEET THE PRESS" MODERATOR: But you would let the
states make up their own mind.

CAIN: They would make up their own minds, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Sorry, wrong answer for Republicans. Last night, Cain
lost the support of even more social conservatives when he said that he was
personally in favor -- he was personally pro life, but he would not impose
that governmentally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: I believe that life begins at conception and abortion, under no
circumstances. It comes down to, it`s not the government`s role or anybody
else`s role to make that decision.

Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidence, you`re not talking
about that big a number. So what I`m saying is it ultimately gets down to
a choice that that family or that mother has it make. Not me as president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That of course, prompted Iowa favorites Michele Bachmann
and Rick Santorum to release statements today condemning Cain`s position,
his liberal position on abortion. Santorum`s statement read, in part, "I
find it gravely troubling that Herman believes it`s a life but that he
doesn`t consider it a life worth fighting for. Herman`s pro choice
position is similar to those held by John Kerry, Barack Obama and many
others on the liberal left. It is unconscionable for Herman to run for the
nomination of the party that stands in the defense of life while showing
disregard for the sanctity of life."

After a day of having the official Republican position on abortion
explained to him, both publicly and privately by Republicans and others,
Herman Cain, of course, completely changed his position to the standard
Republican position on abortion. In a statement to Christian Broadcast
News, Cain said, "my answer was focused on the role of the president. The
president has no constitutional authority to order any such action by
anyone. As to my political policy view on abortion, I am 100 percent pro
life, end of story. I will do everything that a president can do,
consistent with his constitutional role, to advance the culture of life."

Joining me now, Joshua Green, who is the senior national correspondent
for "Bloomberg Business Week" and the author of a just released article
entitled "Herman Cain, Mine, Mine, Mine." Thanks for joining me tonight,
Josh.

JOSHUA GREEN, "BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK": Good to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Josh, you have studied Herman Cain closely for this piece
you have just written. The news of the day, though, is his -- his
unschooled opinion on abortion, what turned out to be the Mario Cuomo
position, the I am against it. Many, many, many Catholics Democrats over
the years have held the position, I`m against it personally, totally pro-
life personally, would not condone any of it.

But as a man or woman of government, I will not get in the way of Roe
versus Wade or the government agreed upon position on this.

GREEN: Yeah. I think what happened, Lawrence, is that we are seeing
that Cain just isn`t a schooled presidential candidate. If you follow him
around on the campaign trail, as I`ve done a bit, he talks a lot about the
bad things about -- the federal government needs to be less involved in
people`s lives.

I think he actually made the sort of rookie mistake for a Republican
of trying to be philosophically consistent. When he was asked about
abortion, the light went off in his head. He said federal government is
bad. That`s what he said in these interviews. He said it emphatically.
He did not recognize that Republicans grant themselves an exception from
that belief on the issue of abortion, where they do want the federal
government to step in and prevent women from having them.

O`DONNELL: And they want to present -- prevent certain people from
getting married, which he didn`t seem to know on Sunday. Let -- this
abortion thing has always actually been kind of confusing when you try make
sense of what Herman Cain is saying. Let`s listen to what he said to John
Stossel about this back in July.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: I`m pro life from conception yes.

JOHN STOSSEL, FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR: Any cases where it should be
legal.

CAIN: I don`t think government should make that decision.

STOSSEL: I`m confused on what your positions is.

CAIN: My position is I`m pro life, period.

STOSSEL: If a woman is raped, she should not be allowed to end the
pregnancy.

CAIN: That`s her choice. That is not government`s choice. I support
life from conception.

STOSSEL: So abortion should be legal?

CAIN: No, abortion should not be legal.

I believe in the sanctity of life.

STOSSEL: I`m not getting -- I`m not understanding.

If it`s her choice, that means it`s legal.

CAIN: No. I believe -- I don`t believe a woman should have an
abortion. Does that help to clear it up?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Josh, no Fox News -- Fox Business News Network audience
has ever been more confused. It was really great listening to the confused
applause of oh, yeah, he said the right thing the first time. Then it`s
like there`s one person who is still confusedly clapping at a certain point
in there. But that`s our guy on abortion.

GREEN: Yeah, I mean, I think Cain holds what for ordinary people
would be a perfectly logically consistent position on abortion. He,
himself, happens to be against it. But, as he said, emphatically and
repeatedly, he doesn`t think the government ought to play a role in that
decision.

That`s fine. That`s just not in fine position to have if you`re
trying to win the Republican nomination, and especially not in states like
Iowa, where there`s a really strong social conservative population that`s
probably going to determine who wins and who loses there.

O`DONNELL: Josh, having studied him on the campaign -- you have
spoken to him -- what is your verdict on the most important question about
Herman Cain? Is he really running for president?

GREEN: Well, I don`t think it`s clear that he is. I mean, Cain is an
incredibly fun, charismatic guy. We have all seen this in the debates. He
is a born salesman. He has pitched the 9-9-9 plan, which has gotten more
attention than any other republican policy from any of the top tier
candidates.

And I think what that is a reflection of -- and this is what I write
about in the new issue of "Business Week" -- is that Cain has really spent
the last decade and a half as a motivational speaker and a book author. He
was the Godfather CEO. He was on the board of the Kansas City Federal
Reserve. That tends to be what people get about his bio.

But if you really want kind of to understand who he is and what he is
doing, you look at what he has done for the last 15 years. He put out six
books on leadership. He gives a lot of, you know, high energy speeches to
corporate executives. And that`s basically what he is doing on the
campaign trail.

O`DONNELL: He is still making money as a paid motivational speaker,
you found in your piece?

GREEN: He is. He told me earlier this week. First, "Bloomberg News"
broke the story earlier this week that Cain is using his campaign funds to
buy copies of his own book. He told me earlier this week that he is still
giving paid speeches at 25,000 dollars a pop to corporations.

O`DONNELL: He is absolutely right. He should not give up the day
job. Joshua Green, senior national correspondent for "Bloomberg Business
Week," thank you very much for joining me tonight.

GREEN: Great to be with you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Vice President Joe Biden teaches a math class
to Republicans and dares them to continue to protect millionaires at the
expense of teachers, firefighters and police officers. That`s in the
Rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s Rewrite. As mentioned here many times
before, though it is now forgotten by all living Republicans, Ronald Reagan
supported raising taxes and signed tax increases, both as governor of
California and as president,

Eleven times as president he couldn`t bring himself to just say no to
tax increases. There used to be a handful of Republicans in the Senate who
were even more open to tax increases than Ronald Reagan was. You can think
of them as Republicans with a conscience, or you can think of them as
practical politicians who, for the right reasons, could find their way to
voting for a tax increase.

I worked with some of those Republicans in the Senate, and had them in
mind when I wrote this scene eight years ago for a short lived NBC series
with Josh Brolin playing a newly appointed senator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH BROLIN, ACTOR: This amendment would a be a substitute for the
Medicare cuts in the bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chair would like to point out to the committee
that the adjustments in the rate of increase of the Medicare expenditures
included in the bill constitute less than one percent of the Medicare
budget for this fiscal year.

BROLIN: Still, Mr. Chairman, this senator has a problem pledging not
to cut Medicare one day and then cutting it the next. Instead of cutting
Medicare, this amendment would raise income taxes.

(LAUGHTER)

BROLIN: Personal income taxes by one percent, only on incomes over 10
million dollars.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The senator from Florida then leans into the chairman and
tells him that a one percent surtax on millionaires instead of Medicare
cuts is a no-brainer in Florida. And of course, as TV drama would have it,
the committee ends up voting in favor of the rookie senator`s amendment.

Joe Biden worked in a Senate where that kind of thing could happen,
where you could set up a trade-off that could overwhelm Republican anti-tax
fervor, not with most Republicans, but with enough -- enough to put
together 60 bipartisan votes at least.

And that`s what Joe Biden was thinking yesterday when he made the case
for what is now called the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act.
It is a rewritten portion of President Obama`s jobs plan. Senate Democrats
have brilliantly chosen to pay for this 35 billion dollar plan with a half
percent -- a one half percent -- one half percent surtax on incomes over a
million dollars.

So Republicans, do you want to support your local police or support
your local millionaire?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So here are the
choices -- and it`s not even a very hard choice. These guys came up with a
solution. If you add one half of one percent surtax on the one million and
one dollar -- in other words, it doesn`t affect anybody who makes 999,000
dollars. It doesn`t affect anybody who makes 999,999.99.

And even when it affects the guy who makes a million and one dollars,
it only affects that one dollar. That`s the only thing the rate goes up
on.

So let me put this in perspective. If you make 1.1 million dollars
when, God willing, this passes, you will pay next year 500 dollars more in
taxes. You got that?

Now the average income for the group of people we`re talking about is
three million dollars, on average, if you take all the people whose income
is above a million to billions. The average is three million dollars.

And you know the really sad thing about it is the millionaires know we
should do this. They don`t oppose it. They know it`s the equitable thing
to do.

So I say to the American people, watch your senator. Watch him or her
choose. Are you going to put 400,000 school teachers back in classrooms?
Are you going to put 18,000 cops back in the street and 7,000 firefighters
back in the fire houses?

Or are you going to save people with average incomes of million
dollars a one half of one percent increase in tax on every dollar they make
over a million?

Ladies and gentlemen, I strongly, strongly, strongly, strongly urge my
colleagues in the Republican party to think hard about this, because
there`s nothing temporary about saving somebody`s life. There`s nothing
temporary about giving a kid a chance.

Thank you all very, very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Last Saturday during the Occupy Wall Street`s movement
call for a day of global protest, police and demonstrators violently
clashed in Times Square, where 45 people were arrested. Former Marine
Sergeant Shamar Thomas, who served two tours in Iraq and is from family
that has served in the United States military since World War II, could not
silently stand by and watch this happen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAMAR THOMAS, FORMER MARINE SERGEANT: Leave these people alone.
They`re U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens. U.S. It does not
make you tough to do this to them. It doesn`t.

Stop hurting these people, man. Why you all do this to our people.
I`ve been to Iraq for 14 months for my people. You come up and you hurt
them. They don`t have guns. They don`t have guns. They don`t.

Why are you hurting these people? It doesn`t make any sense. It
doesn`t make any sense.

How do you sleep at night? There is no honor in this. There is no
honor in this.

I am from New York City and these cops are hurting people that I
fought to protect. There`s no reason for this. There`s no -- there`s no
honor in hurting unarmed civilians. And I won`t let it happen. Have a
good night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is former Marine Corps Sergeant Shamar
Thomas who served two tours in Iraq and took part in the second Battle of
Fallujah. Sergeant , thank you very much for joining us tonight.

THOMAS: Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

O`DONNELL: It is my honor to have you here. I hear you in that video
use the would honor over and over again. That`s a Marine word.

THOMAS: Yes, it is, sir. Honor, courage, commitment, those are --
that`s the motto of the Marine Corps.

O`DONNELL: When you are out there in Times Square and you`re watching
these police -- and it is not all police. It isn`t even mostly police.
But there are those police officers at these demonstrations who you can see
are very clearly crossing a line from serving and protecting all of the
people in New York, to make some decisions that do not live up to what you
would consider the basic honor of a New York City police officer.

THOMAS: Yes, sir. Well basically, they have a thing where they say
courtesy and professionalism. We as Marines consider ourselves
professional as well. So, you know, being in combat operations and having,
you know, faced riots, you know, rioters that were throwing rocks and not
assaulting a crowd physically and then to come home to New York City, where
these cops aren`t under the same stress, it`s just -- I couldn`t fathom it.

O`DONNELL: Yes. I mean, you guys in Iraq had to work under
tremendous restraint. You don`t know who the enemy is and who the enemy
isn`t at any given time. If you react incorrectly to people who are not
the enemy, you`re going to have hell to pay. There`s a tremendous pressure
there.

Then you are watching these guys on New York City streets. No one
they`re facing is armed. Did you see anyone who you thought was really
dangerous to the --

THOMAS: Nobody out there was, you know, presenting any kind of danger
to the NYPD. You know, I will say that I do -- I want people to support
the Occupation in their local states. And I want them to understand that,
you know, police brutality is not -- will not be tolerated. And I need the
veteran community to support me in that, you know, because we can be the
change, you know, that this country needs.

You know, they say that America is the greatest country, but we need
to live up to that title. I think everybody needs a higher quality of
life. We should all be living a little bit better than we are right now.

O`DONNELL: I wrote a book about police brutality a long time ago. I
have watched this subject for a long time. When I was watching you in that
video, I was watching two things. I was watching that those police were
listening, which is something that they rarely do in those circumstances.
I don`t know who else could have got them to listen.

I also could see that under no circumstances, were they going to make
a move on you. They made a decision about you; we`re not touching him.
Could you feel that?

THOMAS: Yes, sir. I definitely felt it. I think it was a good
decision. I don`t think it would have ended that well. You know, I`m a
real United States Marine. I live it to the core. I have no fear. You
know what I mean?

I have the utmost respect for, you know, people that protect my
community. But when you start endangering the people that I put my life on
the line, my family has put their life on the line to protect, that`s a big
problem. It shouldn`t be -- it won`t be tolerated any more.

O`DONNELL: Retired Marine Sergeant Shamar Thomas, thank you very much
for joining me tonight. Again, my honor to have you come in here.

THOMAS: Thank you, sir. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog,
TheLastWord.MSNBC.com. You can follow my Tweets @Lawrence.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" is up next. Good evening, Rachel.

END

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