Guests: Scot Ross, Bob Herbert; Susan Rice
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Ed, it is great to see you here in the 8:00
Eastern slot. I`m looking forward to our new flow (ph) here in the
evening. I think this is going to work out great. Thanks a lot, my
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: I do, too. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has already published a
memoir of her life. A book about growing up in segregated Alabama, her
rise to prominence as a Russia scholar, her involvement with Republican
politics, her eventual ascendance to the highest ranks of the George W.
Bush administration. That book is already done. She published that book
But now, Condoleezza Rice has published another one -- a 734-page new
book of which all 734 pages are apparently about her time in the Bush White
I have not read this book yet, you haven`t read it yet either. We do
not have it yet. It is not out yet. I will read it as soon as it comes
And, Condoleezza Rice, please do an interview with me on this show
about your book. I promise I will read the book. I promise it will be
fun. I know you won`t come.
But "The New York Times" did manage to get a copy of Condoleezza
Rice`s book early. And the headline of their review of the book reveals
the secret of all Bush administration officials trying to ensure their
careers do not die with the end of the George W. Bush presidency.
Like basically all Bushies not named Cheney who came before her,
Condoleezza Rice is trying to secure her future and place in history as a
not too bad person by explaining that she, too, fought with Dick Cheney
during the Bush presidency. See that? Rice tells of clashes with Cheney.
See? She wasn`t on his side. She was against him. That`s the way
you have to make your case for yourself if you are in the Bush
administration. I wasn`t with Cheney, I fought him every step of the way.
The post-White House memoir in which a senior White House official
says how screwed up the White House was -- except for them, of course, they
were fighting it the whole time -- that is a great and rich modern American
political tradition now.
But the godfather of that genre, the mother of all "I worked in that
White House and, boy, was that White House screwed up" memoirs, was
actually from the Reagan era. It was from Ronald Reagan`s chief of staff
back in 1988. His name was Don Reagan.
Don Reagan resign/got fired in 1987 and, by 1988, he was already out
with his book. His book about the Reagan White House in which he broke the
bombshell news that the first lady, the president`s wife, had been
controlling President Reagan`s schedule based on advice from an astrologer.
Joan Quigley, astrologer, would read the heavens and tell Nancy Reagan if
that day would be a good day, a bad day or an average day -- astrologically
speaking. And then president`s day would be planned accordingly.
Conflict between the astrologer`s advice about the president`s
calendar and what the president`s chief of staff thought president Reagan
ought to be doing was ultimately part of what led to the chief of staff
resigning and to him writing this astonishing book with its astonishing
astrologer in the White House scoop.
Now, for all of the Reagan worship among today`s Republicans, the "I
believe in magic signals from the sky" thing. That`s one of the things
from the Reagan White House you would think today`s candidates might not
try to emulate. But you would be wrong.
As Michelle Cottle of "The Daily Beast" noted recently, Republican
front runner Herman Cain`s new book devotes an entire chapter to magic
power of a specific number, the number 45. Not kidding. Chapter nine of
Mr. Cain`s new book is titled "Forty-Five`-A Special Number."
"Mr. Cain notes that his conception, gestation and birth all occurred
within the year 1945. He then launches into a detailed account of how `45
keeps on popping up as I go about the business of being elected -- you
guessed it -- as the 45th president of the United States.` In some cases,
the digits 4 and 5 are only part of the figure, like the times when one of
Cain`s weekly commentaries ran to 645 words, or when the final leg of a
campaign trip took place on Flight 1045 traveling at 45,000 feet. At
times, the 45 in question is tangentially related to Cain, as when he cites
a Las Vegas campaign event where he met a couple celebrating their 45th
In 2013, the year the 45th president will be inaugurated as president,
Herman Cain and his wife will be celebrating their wedding anniversary. Do
you know which year it is? Forty-five. Oh my God.
Herman Cain is apparently an obsessed numerologist. I mean, think
about it. The title of his book is "This is Herman Cain." five syllables.
Multiply five by the chapter number where he writes about his obsession
with the number 45. Chapter nine, five times nine equals 45.
Also, where do you think the 9-9-9 plan came from? Four plus five
equals nine -- 9- 9-9. Four plus five, four plus five, four plus five, 45.
It`s all about 45.
So, that Herman Cain is an out and proud numerologist, that the number
45 is apparently an organizing principle of Herman Cain`s life, is one of
the things about Herman Cain that makes it hard to imagine him as a viable
mainstream candidate for Republican nomination for president of the United
It is not the only thing, though. Mr. Cain is out and proud about not
wanting to know the names of leaders of other countries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When they ask me who`s the
president of Ubecky, ubecky, stan, stan, I`m going to say, I don`t know.
Do you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When asked what he thinks bout the defining feature of
Republican foreign policy over the last decade, which is, of course, neo-
conservatism, Herman Cain said he was unfamiliar with the movement.
And, then, of course, there`s Herman Cain on abortion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAIN: My position is I`m pro-life, period.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So abortion should be legal?
CAIN: No. Abortion should not be legal. I believe in the sanctity
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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)
MADDOW: When I saw that clip on the Bill Maher show Friday night and
they moved the camera to Ellis Henican and he was going like this, I
thought that was something that the Bill Maher people put in there to be
funny. No, that really happened.
But you know what? It is possible to extrapolate too much from Herman
Cain on the abortion issue. I mean, there is inherent awkwardness in
Republicans advocating small government and also advocating government big
enough to intervene in every pregnancy in America. There is an awkwardness
And Herman Cain being so awkward about it sort of perfectly manifests
the intrinsically oxymoronic nature of wanting a small, weak government,
that monitors every pregnancy in the nation to force American women to give
birth against their will.
There`s also the political issue of whether the Republican Party would
ever nominate someone who said abortion wasn`t government`s business,
someone who`s effectively pro-choice. So, you can extrapolate it to those
But, really, I think the most important thing about Herman Cain on the
abortion issue is the simplest thing about it. He does not seem to
understand that if abortion is illegal, if there is a law against abortion,
then government is the one that makes that law. Government makes law. Law
forces people to do stuff they don`t want to do.
When Herman Cain says abortion should be illegal but it`s not the
government`s choice, Herman Cain appears to not understand why we call
members of Congress lawmakers. Government makes law. Law -- never mind.
Despite all of this, despite all of the reasons it seems like Herman
Cain cannot possibly be a real viable candidate, this has been going on for
a long time now. This is not a flash in the pan. Herman Cain persists in
The latest poll out of Iowa shows Mr. Cain leading Mitt Romney by 10
points. "The Real Clear Politics" average of all polls across the country
now shows Herman Cain out in front of everybody. This is not a flash in
And that has even led the Beltway press to notice something glaringly
strange about the very successful Herman Cain campaign. And that is that
he doesn`t really seem to have a campaign.
In "Time" magazine today, quote, "Well-connected GOP operatives in New
Hampshire, Florida and South Carolina say they see little or no evidence of
Cain`s campaign in those key early states." A New Hampshire Republican
strategist says, "If you said, tell me who was running the effort here, I
could not even give you that person."
In Florida, quote, "there is almost no organization to speak of. If
there is a local group who wanted to invite him to speak, it is unclear
whom to call."
In South Carolina, quote, "We see nothing to resemble a real
Herman campaign doesn`t have a campaign organization. He does not
really have any organization, any on the ground staff anywhere across the
country, including in the early primary states. Maybe he doesn`t need it.
Herman Cain is essentially a popup candidate. This is a ready-made
candidacy. Remember the big mega-funded conservative group Americans for
Prosperity funded by the billionaire Koch brothers? That organization it
turns out is the Herman Cain presidential campaign.
Herman Cain`s campaign manager, the guy that recruited him to run for
office supposedly, is the former head of Wisconsin chapter of Americans for
Prosperity. Mr. Cain`s former campaign spokeswoman -- excuse me, Mr.
Cain`s campaign spokeswoman, the Americans for Prosperity coordinator in
Louisiana. Mr. Cain`s economic adviser, the guy who came up with the 9-9-9
plan was on Americans for Prosperity board of advisers from 2006 to 2008.
At least six other current and former paid employees and consultants
for Cain`s campaign have also worked for Americans for Prosperity, this
Koch brothers group.
While the other Republican presidential candidates are going to be
appearing at an Iowa Republican Party dinner on November 4th, where is
Herman Cain going to be at that night? He`ll be at American for Prosperity
summit in Washington.
Herman Cain`s entire campaign structure in so far as it exists appears
to be basically the Koch brothers, big conservative activist group,
Americans for Prosperity.
What was Herman Cain, himself, doing before he started running for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAIN: Hello. I`m Herman Cain. You know, there are some people in
this country that are trying to make the word "prosperity" a dirty word.
But it is not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Before running for president, Herman Cain was working for
Americans for Prosperity. The pizza thing, that was a while ago.
As AlterNet first reported, Herman Cain was tapped to be a public face
of something called Prosperity 101 -- it is a workplace seminar program
that businesses use to educate their employees about the dangers of things
like health reform and taxes on millionaires and regulations on businesses.
So your boss tells you to sit through this lecture, you sit through the
lecture. Message received. Your boss essentially just told you how to
In other words, this Prosperity 101 thing is yet another way the Koch
brothers are funding a means by which business interests can get their way
politically. Intimidate your employees into voting for the boss` interest,
And if billionaires like the Koch brothers can spend infinitely on
elections and if most of what the Koch brothers want is for business
interests like theirs to get their way in politics, if you can spend
infinitely, why not just buy a ready-made presidential candidate? Pick a
guy who already makes for you, give him a ready made Koch brothers-built
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What do you think of David Koch?
CAIN: David Koch?
CAIN: I think David Koch is a patriot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You know what else David Koch is? D-A-V-I-D K-O-C-H. Koch
four, David five -- 45. There it is again.
Joining us now is Scot Ross, the executive director of One Wisconsin
Now, which has had a lot of experience with the Americans for Prosperity
organization there, mostly for being on the opposite side of most issues
Scot, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
SCOT ROSS, ONE WISCONSIN NOW: Good evening, Rachel.
MADDOW: Herman Cain`s campaign manager, his named is Mark Block. He
was most recently the state director for the Wisconsin chapter of AFP. How
much overlap do you see between that experience, the AFP experience, and
running Republican election campaigns?
ROSS: Well, I think from top to bottom, whether it`s the staff that
Herman Cain has hired to run his campaign, the Astroturf way in which
they`re running the campaign, and most importantly and most sinister the
message of the campaign: this pro-corporate, pro-regressive tax policy.
One of the worst ideas that this nation has ever seen in terms of really
taking money out of the pockets of the middle class and poor people and
putting it in the hands of corporations and billionaires like David and
MADDOW: This "Time" magazine report now says Republican operatives in
New Hampshire, and Florida and South Carolina, they see few signs of an
organized Herman Cain campaign staff in these early primary states. But
with the backing of the Koch brothers and AFP behind him, from what you
have seen in Wisconsin, do you think Herman Cain needs a traditional
campaign apparatus or could AFP and the Koch brothers money sort of render
ROSS: Well, he`s defining the message right now when it comes to the
Republican primary. I mean, you know, Rick Perry just came out with his
flat tax proposal. This is -- you know, Herman Cain is the first corporate
spokes candidate and he is articulating the gospel of David Koch when it
comes to regressive tax policies.
MADDOW: From what you have seen about how this group has operated in
your state, what do you predict -- you describe there as an Astroturf
campaign -- what do you predict this Astroturf campaign for Cain might look
like as the primary season keeps going?
ROSS: Well, I think they`ll continue to push the 9-9-9 plan because
that seems to have all the attention of the media. They`ll continue to
have problems when it comes to Herman Cain articulating specifics on the
issues as we`ve already seen. And they`ll continue to preach, again, that
pro-corporate, anti-corporate accountability, anti-middle class, anti-
working families agenda.
And, you know, I`m in Wisconsin and I see the way that it`s working.
I mean, we have a governor who`s passed $2.3 billion in tax breaks for
corporations and rich people. What`s happened 10 months in? Well, our
unemployment rate has risen 5.5 percent and that we`ve got 14,000 more
people looking for employment.
MADDOW: Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now -- thank
you for helping us see how this worked on the ground in your state.
Appreciate your time tonight, sir.
ROSS: Thank you.
MADDOW: The interview tonight is our nation`s ambassador to the
United Nations, Susan Rice. That`s very exciting.
We`ve also got "Debunktion Junction" coming up tonight.
And Bob Herbert is here.
Please stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED KID (singing): Oh who are the people in your
neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood? Oh who are the
people in your neighborhood? The people that you meet each day
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I come from California, but frankly I am made of "Sesame
Street." One of the classic bits is the song about who are the people in
your neighborhood? And it`s the tennis player, it`s the mail carrier, it`s
the firefighters who come to save you when you call and the teachers who
show you all about the alphabet.
Your neighborhood if it`s like a lot of the neighborhoods in this
country has been rearranged a bit since Wall Street blew up at the end of
the Bush administration and we got the great recession to show for it.
Flint, Michigan, for example, is a tough neighborhood right now -- one
of the murder capitals of the country. Flint, Michigan, has laid off most
of its police force there.
Paterson, New Jersey, same story. After a year in which violent
crimes surge, Paterson sent a quarter of its officers home this spring.
The tiny town of Alto in Texas just eliminated its whole police force.
We talked about that before on the show.
If you do a Google news search on police layoffs, and you can read
about towns from Wenatchee, Washington, to Newburgh, New York, to the port
authority of Virginia, all considering or going through with massive police
layoffs. The thin blue line is getting still thinner across America.
The Justice Department still reporting today some 12,000 police
officers will lose their jobs this year, maybe more. It`s the first
decline in law enforcement jobs in America in 25 years.
When President Obama sent his American Jobs Act to Congress, it
included $35 billion for keeping teachers, cops and firefighters on the job
across the country. Republicans in the Senate blocked the jobs act --
although Americans overwhelmingly say they want Congress to keep cops and
firefighters and teachers on the job. When last week President Obama put
that one super popular pr provision into a new smaller bill, the Senate
rejected it yet again.
So, showing every sign that President Obama gets that Congress is not
going to pass his jobs act either in big chunks or bite-sized pieces, the
White House today rolled out a new agenda for trying to help the economy --
a new agenda that can get at least some things done without the help of
Republicans in Congress.
President Obama announcing in Las Vegas today that he`d use his
authority as president to change the rules so more homeowners can rework
their mortgages to make them more affordable instead of getting foreclosed
on by the banks.
Later this week, the president`s expected to make changes that will
help people deal with outsized student loans. Again, he`s not asking
Congress for their cooperation on this, he`s just going for it by the power
he has as president.
White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer writing, quote, "Using the mantra
`we can`t wait,` the president will highlight executive actions that his
administration will take. He`ll continue to pressure congressional
Republicans to put country before party and pass the American Jobs Act.
But he believes we cannot wait, so he will act where they won`t."
It`s pretty clear challenge to Republicans. And Republicans today
bit. They bit hard.
The head of the Republican Party replying today, quote, "We can`t wait
to make Barack Obama one-term president." He actually said that -- Reince
Priebus out of the RNC.
A year ago almost exactly, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
making President Obama a one-term president the Republican Party`s number
one priority for the nation. And they mean it. A year later even, they
mean it, and they are doubling down. So, now, at least everybody agrees on
the two sides America has to choose from.
We can`t wait to work on jobs. Or we can`t wait to oppose the
In the self-declared terms of both parties, that is your choice,
America. Both sides agree that is your choice.
Joining us now is Bob Herbert, former "New York Times" columnist, now
a distinguish senior fellow at Demos, and a contributor to policyshop.net.
Bob, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for coming in.
BOB HERBERT, DEMOS: Great to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I feel like it is a slur against the Republican Party to say
their number one priority is getting rid of this president. And it is
their self-identified raison d`etre, their self-identified reason for being
right now. I almost feel guilty saying it.
What explains why they would be claiming this as their -- the thing
they want to be nationally known for?
HERBERT: You know, they`re so obsessed that they almost don`t care.
They`ve been consistent as you just pointed out. They will -- they will do
anything. They want to get rid of Barack Obama. They want to recapture
the White House.
I don`t think they care about the economy. I don`t think they care
about this job situation. Obviously, they don`t care about the problems
that will come out if the cities and towns keep laying off police officers.
MADDOW: One of these things -- this feels to me like one of these
things where maybe it`s Republican voters in the Republican base are not
horrified by hearing it`s not jobs, it`s Obama who`s the problem. But the
rest of the country sort of sees that as crass.
Is this one of those things where there is sort of a Republican set of
mores and the rest of the country just really sees things differently or --
HERBERT: You know, it`s hard for me to believe that the Republican
electorate in total would follow this line. I mean, I assume the majority
of Republicans are in favor of this, otherwise the leadership, you know,
would maybe have a change of tune. They`re looking at polls and that sort
But, you know, the elections are generally decided by the so-called
middle of the road voters, many of them suburban independents, and that
sort of thing. The real craziness that we see going on in the Republican
Party, some of which you were detailing at the top of the show, I think
tends to frighten these voters and that tends to play toward Obama who is
seen as a reasonable person, whatever one thinks about the policies or some
of the things that the administration is doing.
MADDOW: You know, that has been -- we`ve heard that again and again
from the White House I think in some of their more candid moments that even
in the face of progressives pushing them, pushing the president to be more
combative, more pugilistic toward the Republicans, really calling them. We
have seen some of that. I think they see the downside of that is the
president stopping, seeming as reasonable as he does, that it`s scary
HERBERT: Yes, I think that`s true. I mean, I`m one of the ones who
wish the president had been more combative, you know? But then you look at
the Republican field and you almost can`t believe, you know, what you`re
seeing with the Rick Perry craziness and Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann -
- although I guess Bachmann is over by now.
But the real problem is -- I mean, we know how combative politics has
become. But the real problem is that a lot of the stuff the Republicans
are dealing with now is really harmful to individuals and harmful to the
national interests overall. I mean, the economy right now is in a very
delicate situation. And economists tell us there`s a danger of another
recession coming up over the next year or so.
You start throwing these people out of work in state and local
governments, for example, when in fact you could do something to prevent
that, that just weakens the economy more. And then, you know, I know
there`s controversy over the way, over Joe Biden`s recent comments.
But the simple fact of the matter is, when you start slashing police
forces the way some of these towns and cities have been doing lately, you
do endanger public safety and crime does tend to go up.
MADDOW: In terms of the White House`s approach here, I would have
thought that first responders, that breaking out that first responders`
money would have meant that the first responders` money would have passed.
I was actually surprised that it did not get through the Senate because of
the Republican filibuster there.
But, now, the White House laying out steps that President Obama can
take on his own -- some smaller steps, frankly, on student loans and
potentially a larger step on housing.
What do you make of that strategy?
HERBERT: I think it`s the only thing he`s got left to do. I think
it`s smart. But I think it`s primarily political. I don`t think it will
save a lot of jobs or create many jobs. And I don`t think it will do much
for the economy.
But I think that what we`ve been watching recently has mostly been
political. It`s all about the presidential race. I mean, the truth is,
the Republicans were never going to pass the president`s jobs bill.
Whether, you know, even now things can get so bad that they might pass one
component or another. You know, I don`t know.
But I think the Republicans have shown that they are willing to play
chicken all the way and do things that are just out and out harmful to
people if they think that it will help them capture the White House next
MADDOW: Bob Herbert, former "New York Times" columnist, distinguish
senior fellow at Demos, and a contributor at policyshop.net -- Bob, thank
you for coming in.
HERBERT: Great to see you.
MADDOW: Good to see you.
All right. Susan Rice has one of the most difficult jobs in the
world, particularly on days like this. She`s America`s ambassador to the
United Nations. Right now, she`s one of the best people in the world for
me to get a chance to interview and she is the interview on tonight`s
program. That`s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve had every
official in Hawaii, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has
investigated this, confirm that, yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August
4th, 1961 in Kapiolani Hospital. We`ve posted the certification that is
given by the state of Hawaii on the Internet for everybody to see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ah, yes, the president`s elusive long-form birth certificate.
It is back in today`s political news if you can believe it. And for this
show, that can only mean one thing -- "Debunktion Junction." We will meet
you there in just a moment.
MADDOW: A few weeks ago we bestowed a deserved but admittedly
slightly sweary nickname on an American diplomat, on Robert Ford, the
American ambassador to Syria. We decided he should not be called
ambassador but rather ambadassador.
The Syrian government, President Bashar al-Assad`s regime, had been
trying to keep Robert Ford from leaving Syria`s capital, they did not want
him visiting and thereby bucking up anti-government protesters in Syria
cities -- Syria cities like Hama, where tens of thousands of people have
been protesting Assad`s government for months.
As we reported, "Ambadassador" Ford went to Hama anyway. Protesters
greeted him by throwing flowers on his car and extending to him actual
physical olive branches.
Suffice to say, the Assad government was none too thrilled with the
ambassador. Government loyalists attacked the U.S. embassy in Syria. They
also attacked Ambassador Ford`s house to which the ambassador responded by
going out and showing his support for protesters again -- hence the
But today, our government decided that credible threats to Robert
Ford`s safety in Syria decided that, bad ass or not, he should now come
home. So, Ambassador Ford is coming home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Ambassador Ford has
been asked to come home for consultations. He has not been withdrawn. He
has not been recalled. He`s been asked to come home for consultations.
I want to take this opportunity to call on the government of Syria to
immediately end its smear campaign of malicious and deceitful propaganda
against Ambassador Ford.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Following the news today that our ambassador is coming home
from Syria. Now, Syria has responded by calling their ambassador home from
Joining us exclusively tonight for the interview is someone for whom a
circumstance like that is not unusually complicated or fraught. It`s just
Our nation`s ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.
Madame Ambassador, thank you for being here.
SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: God to be back.
MADDOW: The Syrian situation is one of many complicated situations
right now in the U.S. But because I started with it, let me just ask you
if this is -- this is serious thing. Does this constitute a really
escalation and tensions between our two countries?
RICE: No, Rachel. I think the reality is that Ambassador Ford is
coming back to have the opportunity to consult with colleagues and
officials in Washington. We obviously take quite seriously the threat
information that we`ve had, and we want to ensure that he has all of the
protection that he needs and deserves when we returns and that the Syrian
authorities assume their responsibilities to first stop inciting violence
against him, stop inciting attacks on our embassy and our personnel, and
ensure as they`re obliged to do under international law, that he and every
diplomat have the protections that they are deserving of.
MADDOW: When we look at the changes that happened in the Middle East
in recent months, in just the past year -- I mean, in Syria, our
government`s position is that the Assad regime should go. In Libya, our
position was we would intervene militarily to protect civilians there. But
it was not a military aim of that intervention to replace Gadhafi.
The people of Libya did that themselves, but with significant military
help from us. We`ve also got a complicated relationship with Bahrain.
We`ve got a complicated relationship in Iran. In Egypt, obviously, our
support for Hosni Mubarak has transferred to support for the people who
overthrew Hosni Mubarak.
Is there a way we should understand in what way the United States will
get involved in conflicts abroad? How does our government now decide that?
RICE: Well, first of all, Rachel, each of these situations is
obviously different, not just within the Middle East in context of the Arab
spring, but around the world where the same question pertains. We`ve been
very consistent in adhering to some bottom line core principles. We will
stand up for people who seek to assert their basic human rights, to
assemble freely, speak freely, form their future governments.
And we have done that throughout the Arab Spring, throughout north
Africa and the Middle East as we frankly do around the world.
Now, we do that in different contexts, obviously, has varied,
according to what we think will be most effective and desirable in that
So, in some places like Iran and Libya, we`ve employed tough
sanctions. In some places, we have used real strong diplomatic efforts to
try to affect the situation. Yemen is an example of that.
In other places, we`ve been very forthright in saying leaders have to
go. As we have in Syria, as we ultimately did in Egypt.
In the case of Libya, which was quite unique, we ultimately led an
international coalition approved by the United Nations to protect civilians
-- but that was, as you pointed out, not a coalition that`s aim was regime
Why did we do that in Libya? What made Libya particular? Well, in
the first instance, we had Gadhafi who after 42 years demonstrated on
numerous occasions his readiness to slaughter tens of thousands of his own
people in one day. We had him on the doorstep of Benghazi, threatening to
go house to house and kill his people like rats -- language which is
reminiscent of genocides that we`ve heard in other contexts.
We knew he had the ability, and was ready and on the doorstep to do it
and had the history of doing it.
At the same time, we had the Arab League, the countries of the region,
as well as the people of Libya literally begging the international
community to intervene. We were able to get clear cut international
authorization through the United Nations Security Council for collective
action to protect civilians. And we were able to mobilize a coalition to
accomplish that, that included not only NATO countries but Arab countries -
- and to do so on short notice.
All of those things came together and President Obama made the
judgment that it was in our national security interest, as well as
consistent with our principles and values, given that we had the ability,
we had the support and it was dead urgent that we do so to intervene and
that was an enormous success. We not only protected the people of Benghazi
and throughout the east, but with the support of NATO and Arab partners, we
were able ultimately to see civilians now throughout Libya protected. And
as you point out, a nonmilitary aim, removal of Gadhafi achieved.
MADDOW: I think a lot about how much the United States uses military
force. We are obviously the inheritors and the builders and custodians of
the greatest military force the world has ever known, at great expense.
That`s something about which we have great pride and also comes with a
Is there no bright line about deciding whether or not to use military
force? Is there nothing that`s different about military force as compared
to all of the other options that the United States has?
Tough language, diplomatic confrontations, sanctions and all these
other things. Is there one thing that makes it possible for the U.S. to
use military force that isn`t true about the other kinds of things that we
RICE: Well, certainly, the decision to employ the military forces of
our country and send men and women into armed conflict is the most solemn
decision that any president has to take. I think President Obama has been
very clear that he is exercising that judgment very judiciously and wisely
and has only employed the use of force on one occasion, under his
presidency, other than conflicts that he inherited. But --
MADDOW: That`s, I mean, that`s not true. I mean, we`ve just sent 100
combat armed trainers into Uganda with a notice they would fire back if
RICE: No, Rachel, there are 100 advisers and trainers.
RICE: Of course, armed for self-defense. And the rules of engagement
are purely for self-defense. They will not be engaged in combat. That`s
been explicit from the outset and explicit in their rules of engagement.
Why have we sent 100 trainers and advisers to Central Africa,
particularly Uganda? To help finalize the defeat of the Lord`s Resistance
Army -- one of the most brutal, heinous terrorist organizations on the
planet that has been going around for 15, 20 years and literally kidnapping
children, killing their parents, raping their brothers and sisters and
impressing them into conflict.
I`ve been up to northern Uganda, to Gulu, during the height of the
conflict. I held a 1-month-old child who was left for dead on the side of
the road where her family was slaughtered and her brothers taken off to
fight. That is one of the most brutal, horrific conflicts on the planet,
and through the concerted efforts of countries in the region, particularly
Uganda with American support over many years, they have shrunk enormously
the size of the Lord`s Resistance Army.
There is a remnant of a few hundred that are still marauding around
the Central African region, including in south Sudan, Congo, Central
Africa, and republic parts of Uganda.
The president took the decision on a basis of a bipartisan piece of
legislation coming out of Congress that if we could help through advice and
assistance, not putting Americans into combat, to help the countries of the
region end this threat once and for all, then that was a worthwhile
So, we need to make the distinction where we send advisers and
trainers, which we have in many different parts of the world that are not
engaged in combat, as is the case here, from actual combat.
And in the case of Libya, let us also recall that not a single
American soldier was deployed on the ground. Not a single boot on the
ground. All that we accomplished, and it was a great deal, was
accomplished in the first instance by diplomacy and second instance by a
coalition of NATO and Arab partners that employed air power and we
contributed enormously to that in the early days and subsequently with
intelligence throughout, and accomplished a mission that some said couldn`t
be accomplished without boots on the ground.
So, there`s more than one way to use the U.S. military to achieve our
objectives, not all of which necessitate putting U.S. force into combat.
MADDOW: In terms of how we -- even if you don`t think about the way
the other countries perceive us, but in terms of we as citizens perceive
the way we`re using force around the world, this is something about which I
know you will not say anything, but I have to ask you anyway. We use the
CIA as essentially a military force in our country now. CIA drone strikes
are essentially disavowed by our government but are a means by which we use
When can Americans as a citizenry expect to ever have accountability
for that? If our own political elected officials will not explain to us
what we are doing, what they are doing in our name, because it`s the CIA,
how can we ever have a say of whether we ought to be doing that or not?
How is that not just autonomous action?
RICE: The American people had a say when they -- when Congress passed
the authorization to use force following 9/11, to go after al Qaeda. And
that`s what we`re doing.
MADDOW: Does that ever expire?
RICE: There isn`t a deadline in that law. But hopefully it will
expire as we continue to weaken and trite al Qaeda, and we`ve made enormous
progress over the course of the last several years, but particularly the
last year where we have seen the -- we`ve seen Osama bin Laden and many of
his most senior deputies taken off the battlefield, Awlaki off the
battlefield, and people in places that we don`t often discuss including
some very important cases in Somalia.
So, look, al Qaeda is a global force. Its aims have not changed.
It`s morphed somewhat since 9/11, but it remains dangerous. And President
Obama is committed to protecting the American people in the ways that are
And he has done it with remarkable success. He`s done it with limited
engagement of U.S. forces outside of Iraq and Afghanistan. And I think
that`s something that the American people respect and appreciate -- given
that we are safer when we have fewer adversaries sworn to kill us and with
the means to do it.
MADDOW: Our nation`s ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice --
I -- you have an impossibly complicated job and I appreciate your
willingness to talk with me about it even when I ask you stuff that I`m
sure isn`t the most comfortable conversation making. Thank you for being
RICE: I always enjoy being on your show. Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Thanks very much.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL" is at it`s new time
tonight, which is right after me. Tonight, Lawrence`s guest is Apple`s
cofounder Steve Wozniak. Here to talk about the late Steve Jobs.
Coming up next here, "Debunktion Junction" starring Rick Perry,
Michele Bachmann and a whole lot of bunk.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: "Debunktion Function," what`s my function?
First up, true or false?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Apparently, it is going to be another year like that.
Birtherism is dead. Long live the accusation of the president`s secret
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A couple of months ago on this show, I said that by releasing
his long form birth certificate, President Obama had killed overt
birtherism as a campaign strategy, only to be replaced by a subtle strategy
by saying that the president doesn`t love America.
The birtherism itself, the idea that the president`s birth certificate
is a fake, birtherism is dead. Is that true or false?
MADDOW: False. No need for subtlety apparently. Birtherism is not
Republican hopeful Rick Perry in an interview with "Parade" magazine,
quote, "Governor, do you believe President Barack Obama was born in the
U.S.?" "I have no reason to think otherwise."
"That`s not definitive." "Well, I don`t have a definitive answer
because he`s never seen my birth certificate." "But you have seen his?"
"I don`t know. Have I?"
"You don`t believe what I`ve been released?" "I don`t know. I had
dinner with Donald Trump the other night." "And?" "That came up." "And
he said?" "He doesn`t think it`s real."
"And you said?" "I don`t have any idea. It doesn`t matter. He`s the
president of the United States. He`s elected. It`s a distractive issue."
A distractive issue -- but I do you want know if I have seen his birth
certificate. That is how birtherism is done.
Then sure enough today, a statement from Donald Trump. Quote,
"Despite releasing what is alleged to be his birth certificate, serious
Actually no serious questions remain. Donald remains as does Rick
Perry, but nothing serious remains here. Amazing.
We got more "Debunktion Junction" just ahead.
MADDOW: OK. "Debunktion Junction." True or false? Voting for
president this year could start as early as next month? Is that true or is
MADDOW: False. The New Hampshire Republican Party freaked everybody
out about this a week and a half ago when they put out a statement that
they were thinking about holding their presidential primary in New
Hampshire on December 6th.
Since Iowa`s caucuses are held at least eight days before New
Hampshire`s primary, that meant we were looking down the barrel at the
voting for president starting in November of this year. So, that worry
that voting for president would start at roughly Thanksgiving this year
that was well-founded worry. There was reason to worry.
But now, they have caved. The reason New Hampshire was going to go so
early was because Nevada Republicans had moved their voting date way up.
But now, Nevada has caved and moved back.
Now, the schedule is Iowa, January 3rd; New Hampshire, January 10th;
South Carolina, January 21st; Florida, January 31st; and then Nevada comes
four days later on February 4th.
So, we as a nation will be voting for president for only 10 straight
months instead of for 11 straight months. Whoopee.
Next up, according to Michele Bachmann`s national campaign, her
campaign staff in New Hampshire did not quit. No matter what you might
have heard. That`s what her national campaign said on Friday when reports
surfaced of a New Hampshire for Bachmann mass exodus. Quote, "We have a
great team in New Hampshire and we have not notified that anybody is
leaving the campaign."
So, did Michele Bachmann`s entire New Hampshire staff walk out on her?
Is that true or false?
MADDOW: True. They really, really did. But because her national
campaign either did not have its act together enough to know it or because
they did not want to believe it, Michele Bachmann`s team -- get this -- had
to release a glorious adjective-laden press release over the weekend to
prove that they had quit since the national campaign was denying it.
The New Hampshire folks called themselves Team New Hampshire. And
under that name, the Bachmann staffers wrote, quote, "The manner in which
some in the national team conducted themselves against toward Team New
Hampshire was rude, unprofessional, dishonest and at times cruel. But more
concerning was how abrasive, discourteous and dismissive some within the
national team were toward many New Hampshire citizens. These are our
neighbors and our friends, and some within the national team treated as
more a nuisance than as potential supporters."
Even after that press release, the Bachmann national campaign still
refused to admit that its New Hampshire staffers had quit, saying this
afternoon, quote, "The unauthorized news release was sent by person who
doesn`t even worked for the campaign and has never had the authority to
speak on the campaign. We are not responding to comments by a person who
was not even a staff member in New Hampshire."
So, they`re dismissing the allegation that they are being dismissive.
You also need apparently need permission to quit the Bachmann campaign.
And if you don`t get it, you`re not allowed.
We put in a call today at the woman listed as contact on the Bachmann
Team New Hampshire press release. Her name is Karen Testerman. She ran
for governor of New Hampshire last year. Ms. Testerman told us that she
was happy to be the person point for the staff that all quit in New
Hampshire and she says she finds it odd that Bachmann`s national campaign
manager says she`s not a viable person to speak for the campaign since he`s
the same guy who called her up and ask her to file the paperwork for
Michele Bachmann to be able to run in the New Hampshire primary.
She`s not filed that by the way. The paperwork is due by the end of
the next month.
And it sounds like if the Bachmann campaign does actually intend to
run in New Hampshire, they are going to have to make some New Hampshire
friends -- very, very fast.
That does it for us tonight. Now, it is tonight for "THE LAST WORD
WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL" at this new time. Have a great night.
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