Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Guest: Michelle Goldberg


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Republicans running for president have a
rule to never ever publicly agree with President Obama, especially when
they actually agree with President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s not just a lot of
ear bashing.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He grew up in a
privileged way. He never had to really work for anything.

OBAMA: There is a lot of ear bashing sometimes. That`s a good one,
ear bashing. I can use that in Washington.

O`DONNELL (voice-over): Rick Perry and Mitt Romney are desperate to
find new ways to lie about the president.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He said Americans are lazy.

OBAMA: We have been a little lazy, I think, over the last couple of
decades.

PERRY: Do you believe that?

ROMNEY: I just don`t think that president understands America.

PERRY: Americans are lazy? That`s pathetic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s not what he was saying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those remarks that President Obama said are being
taken out of context.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What he was saying was that the U.S. has gotten,
sort of, soft about selling itself overseas.

OBAMA: We aren`t out there hungry trying to attract new businesses
into America.

(MUSIC)

O`DONNELL: Newt Gingrich is busy looking for new ways to lie about
himself.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did no lobbying of any
kind.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I have never profited, never
profited from public service.

GINGRICH: If you are not tough enough to withstand this kind of
scrutiny.

NIXON: I welcome this kind of examination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, wait, there`s so much more.

PERRY: His thinking that he`s the smartest guy in the room has hurt
America.

GINGRICH: Written 24 books and made seven documentary films.

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a leader, not a
reader.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: OK. You just are not going to believe what Mitt Romney
actually said about you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Americans are lazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Can you believe that? That`s what the leading Republican
presidential candidate thinks is wrong with America, that Americans are
lazy. That`s pathetic.

But he`s not the only Republican presidential candidate who thinks
that. You know the "oops" guy, the guy that can`t finish a sentence or so-
called thought in a presidential debate?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: The third agency of government, I would do away with
Education, Commerce and let`s see -- I can`t. The third one, I can`t,
sorry. Oops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Yes, yes, that guy. He actually said pretty much the same
thing Romney did and it wasn`t one of those off the top of his head,
unscripted crazy moments. It was actually scripted and performed by him in
a campaign commercial. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: Americans are lazy? That`s pathetic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: OK. I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, OK,
maybe Rick Perry is stupid enough to say that but Romney definitely isn`t.
You are thinking that I`m manipulating the video here.

All right. Let`s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Sometimes I just don`t think that President Obama understands
America. Now, I say that because this week, or was it last week, he said
that Americans are lazy. I don`t think describes America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: OK. That was kind of sleazy to just pull out the words
Americans are lazy from Romney`s full quote in which he`s actually saying
that President Obama said Americans are lazy.

Yes, you got me there.

Let`s take a look at the full context of the Rick Perry quote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We have been a little lazy I think the last couple of decades.

PERRY: Do you believe that? That`s what our president thinks wrong
with America, that Americans are lazy. That`s pathetic.

It`s time to clean house in Washington. It`s time for a balanced
budget amendment that forces Washington to stop overspending. If Congress
balks, cut their pay, send them home.

Obama`s socialist policies are bankrupting America. We must stop him
now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Oh, I guess that was pretty sleazy, too. Cutting that
Rick Perry thing to make it look like he said that Americans are lazy and
they are pathetic and that was, you know, I guess some pretty serious video
manipulation on my part.

And now that you have caught me, I just want to apologize to the
nation and hope we can move on.

Joining me now -- what? OK. We got to move here by the crew to
actually take a look at the full context of what President Obama said in
the Rick Perry ad.

Let`s see exactly why the president thinks Americans are so lazy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking at the world from the Chinese side, what
they would characterize as impediments to the United States. And so, how
are you thinking about that?

OBAMA: There are a lot of things that make foreign toward see the
U.S. as a great opportunity -- our stability, our openness, our innovative
free-market culture. But, you know, we have been a little lazy I think
over the last couple of decades. We have taken for granted, well, people
want to come here and we aren`t out there hungry selling America and trying
to attract new businesses in to America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Whoa, whoa, wait a minute. "We have been a little lazy I
think over the last couple of decades. We aren`t out there hungry selling
America and trying to attract new business into America."

He`s not saying the American people have been lazy. He`s saying the
American government has been lazy about attracting businesses worldwide to
come to the United States.

And it turns out there`s more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: And we think that we can do much better than we are doing
right now. You know, because of our federalist system, sometimes a foreign
investor comes in and they have to navigate not only federal rules, but
they`ve also got to navigate state and local governments that may have
their own sets of interests. Being able to create, if not a one-stop shop,
then at least no more than a couple of stops for people to be able to come
to the United States and make investments. That`s something that we want
to encourage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: OK. This is absolutely clear now. He`s just talking
about what state, local and federal government can do in a coordinated way
to attract business to the United States, to do what China and India are
doing right now, to do what all governments should be doing in a
competitive world economy.

He`s saying our government has been a little bit lazy about that over
the last couple of decades. It`s actually a very Republican-sounding idea
that government is, to some extent, standing in the way of new business
coming in to this country and that government has to make the business
climate in this country more welcoming to business. It`s a classic
Republican pro-business statement with a little insult to government thrown
in there.

Is there a Republican out there who doesn`t think that the government,
the government, is a little bit lazy? Is there a Republican out there who
doesn`t think that every single government worker is a little bit lazy? Is
there anything in that statement a Republican would disagree with? Of
course not.

But if you just cut out a few words in the middle of it and show that
to people, just like I just did with Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, then you
have got yourself the makings of a Republican campaign ad. And yes, the
campaign ad is based on a purposeful, and absolutely pure lie. And
Republicans now want to make it the big lie of this campaign, the big
Orwellian lie that President Obama thinks that Americans are lazy.

Rush Limbaugh will be saying that for the rest of his life. And they
are making some headway with it in the mainstream media. "Politico`s"
article about it begins this way: "A video clap of President Obama calling
America a little bit lazy is quickly becoming a focus of Republican
campaigns."

There`s the lie right there in the first line of the much-respected
"Politico," read closely by all of us who follow politics. Now, "Politico"
does quickly, of course, in that article, go on to point out that Obama was
talking about America`s pursuit of foreign investment, but the context may
not matter as much as the punch line.

The context won`t matter at all if the news media does not do its job
and provide the context that makes what Rick Perry and Mitt Romney are
saying an outright lie.

The headline of the politico piece should not be Obama`s lazy remark
catches fire. It should be: Romney and Perry lie and plan to continue to
lie.

"You will definitely see more of it," said Carl Forti, a former top
official at the National Republican Congressional Committee who is a
founder of political consulting firm Black Rock Group, "It`s definitely
something campaigns will use."

That is the story. The Republican campaigns openly plan to lie about
what President Obama has said.

The question for the news media will be when Rick Perry and Mitt
Romney lie, what will you call it? Now, at FOX News, they will call it the
truth. They will simply allow them to do it at will, as will the right
wing Web sites. Complaining about that is like complaining about the
weather. It`s a condition we can`t do anything about. That`s going to
happen.

But when Romney and Perry face fair-minded debate moderators, will
those fair-minded debate moderators allow them to tell the lie that
President Obama thinks Americans are lazy?

The candidates have announced, have publicly announced that they plan
to lie. They are like students who have announced that they plan to cheat
on the SATs. Any debate moderators who allow this lie to be told about
President Obama will immediately in that moment become complicit in that
lie.

Joining me now, editorial director for AOL/"Huffington Post" and MSNBC
analyst Howard Fineman. Also, Alex Wagner, host of "NOW WITH ALEX WAGNER,"
weekdays at noon on MSNBC.

Thank you both every much for joining me tonight.

ALEX WAGNER, "NOW WITH ALEX WAGNER": Thanks, Lawrence.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Alex, it was fun to do your show this afternoon.

WAGNER: Thank you for coming on.

O`DONNELL: This is the kind of thing they get away with. They just -
- it becomes part of their folklore. Republican folklore has its own kind
that President Obama says Americans are lazy. They will say it forever,
these candidates will say it forever as long as the media allows them to.

WAGNER: Well, the Republicans have proven adept at myth-making. I
mean, we have -- keep in mind that this is the same party that put the mime
out there that President Obama wasn`t born in the United States.

I think with the lazy thing, there are two sort of objectives at play.
One is to paint President Obama as being sort of anti-business, which is
something they have long sought to cement in the minds of the American
public. And the other is to present him as fundamentally outside of the
United States, and anti-American. And he doesn`t understand what goes on
here and is not representative of our democracy and our needs and can`t
lead us forward.

To the degree that this comment can be used throughout the 2012
campaign, I don`t know but, certainly, you are seeing an amount of efficacy
in terms of the fact it is being picked up at state level and on the
national level.

O`DONNELL: Howard, I want you to weigh in here as our senior
authority on journalistic ethics and standards.

What is journalism to do -- objective journalism so called -- to do in
the face of outright lies? This is an outright lie. President Obama never
said what these two men are saying he said.

How should journalists handle that?

FINEMAN: Well, you have to explain it. One of the things we`ve done
at the "Huffington Post," in addition to putting our own reporters on
stories like this, is to team up with factcheck.org which is a terrific
nonpartisan academic-based, independently funded organization of really
sharp people who break down everything on the Democratic and Republican
side in terms of the accuracy of ads and stories and so forth.

They tore this thing apart. We have a link to it on our site on the
"Huffington Post". I think a lot of other media have done the same.

I think everybody has to be his or her own editor, Lawrence, as a
citizen with the assistance of whatever sources they trust, including this
show or the Web sites we work for and MSNBC and others. We have no market
on the corner on the truth either here at MSNBC, but I think we try hard to
get the facts straight.

And I think this campaign all the way through is going to be about
using these distorting ads. What Carl Forti said in that quote, where he
said the facts, you know, mean less than the punch line -- I think that`s
what he said or the writing said -- is emblematic of so much of American
politics and political discourse today. We ought to be vigilant about it.

I think the horse race story here, though, is both Mitt Romney who
hasn`t moved in the polls in a year and Rick Perry, who got bucked off the
bronco faster than any rodeo cowboy in history, desperately trying to keep
or revive their campaign based on attacking Obama.

Out in Iowa, the caucus-voters aren`t going to say, gee, that Obama is
really lazy. So, I`m going to vote for -- I`m going to vote for Mitt
Romney, or I`m going to vote for Rick Perry. They are not going to vote
for either in the end, I don`t think.

O`DONNELL: Alex, would America come to an end if one of these guys
says during a debate, President Obama said Americans are lazy and I just
thought -- and if the moderator stopped the candidate and said, sir, that
is a lie?

WAGNER: Look, Lawrence, I think there are a couple of Republicans on
the stage, Jon Huntsman, is one, who`s tried to sort of put truth and fact
out there and he`s basically been slapped to the bottom of the polls. To
Howard`s --

O`DONNELL: Yes, there`s no reward on that.

WAGNER: What is there to win? I mean, again, half truths and
falsehoods are served this field incredibly well. And I think mimes
populated on the Internet and otherwise are very much the flavor of the
day.

So, unfortunately, the trend is not towards, you know, transparency
and accuracy but it`s towards convenience and messaging points.

FINEMAN: Actually, Lawrence, I don`t think it has served them very
well because these candidates keep going up and down like yo-yos on a
string. Now, it`s Newt Gingrich`s turn to sort of rocket to 25 percent of
the total. I think a lot of Republicans out this, and I talk to them all
the time looking to see where they are going, they are -- they don`t like
this field at all. They think they are either flip-floppers or they`re
liars or they`re inaccurate or they can`t be trusted.

A lot of really smart Republicans are incredibly dispirited and
unhappy about this Republican field and maybe this kind of advertising,
which, you know, so condescends, so demeaning to the average Iowa
Republican caucus-goer could backfire on all of them. Somebody has got to
stand up and tell the truth out there I think, because the Iowa voters are
smart and they are well-informed.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a listen to what Rick Perry said. This is
another line of attack on President Obama. This horrible problem President
Obama has of just being plain too smart.

Let`s listen to what Rick Perry said on FOX News about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: His thinking that he can go and negotiate because of his great
debating skills any place in the world, where you`re seeing a number of
examples of that where it`s just been an abject failure. And as a matter
of fact, his thinking that he`s the smartest guy in the room has hurt
America around the world, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. I
think that mentality of "I`m the smartest guy in the room and therefore it
couldn`t be my fault" is really hurting America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Alex, I take that as a promise from Rick Perry to never
think he`s the smartest guy in the room.

WAGNER: And to always be the dumbest guy in the room, a Rick Perry
promise for 2013. I mean, it`s practically an ad.

Look, it is all an effort to rehabilitate his image. He`s got a long
climb ahead of him. I think attacking President Obama for being smart and
intelligent to me seems like a losing proposition. But when you are Rick
Perry, at this point, you are sort of grasping at anything.

O`DONNELL: Howard?

FINEMAN: Well, yes, to be fair to Rick Perry, he didn`t say that
Obama is the smartest guy. He said that Obama thinks he is the smartest
guy. I think it`s more troubling if Rick Perry has that low of an opinion
of himself.

And I actually think foreign policy, if you stand back is one of the
president`s strong suits in many ways, in terms of some of his foreign
policy accomplishments, I think the president would love to run on foreign
policy. Unfortunately for him he can`t. He has to run on the economy.

O`DONNELL: Howard Fineman of AOL/"Huffington Post" Media Group, and
Alex Wagner of MSNBC -- thank you for joining me tonight.

And, Howard, someday, I want you to explain to Alex and me just what
it feels like to be the smartest guy in the room.

FINEMAN: I couldn`t do it, I`m sure because I`m not.

O`DONNELL: It`s a burden we`ve never had to suffer.

FINEMAN: Me neither.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Thank you very much for joining me.

The improving poll numbers for Newt Gingrich`s campaign also mean more
questions about how he made the kind of money that allowed him to run up
big bills at Tiffany`s. "Meet the Press" moderator David Gregory is here.

And, today, the Occupy Wall Street movement is two months old and
things turned chaotic for the protesters in New York City. Michelle
Goldberg was there and she`ll join us later.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: When you are Rick Perry and you are the worst debater in
the history of televised presidential debates, what do you do? You wish
you were debate challenged, of course, you just have to make sure you
challenge someone to a debate who will never ever debate you. That way,
you`ll actually get to claim there is someone out there, somewhere, who`s
afraid to debate you.

That`s why Perry wrote this letter to Nancy Pelosi, who`s running for
re-election as the representative of the eighth congressional district in
San Francisco which does not normally involve debating Republican governors
of Texas who are engaged in losing presidential campaigns.

"I am in Washington on Monday and would love to engage you in a public
debate over my overhaul Washington plan. Should you choose to not respond
or engage in such a healthy discussion, I will take it to mean you will
continue your obstructionist ways in the face of much-needed Washington
reform."

Pelosi chose to respond today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Monday, I`m going to be in
Portland in the morning. I`m going to be visiting some of our labs in
California. In the afternoon that`s 2:00, I can`t remember what the third
thing is I am going to be doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Just ahead, I`ll talk to NBC`s David Gregory about the
newest controversy surrounding Newt Gingrich and his extraordinary
interview with Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist who was convicted and
served time after a federal investigation into his influence pedaling
schemes. David Gregory gives us Jack Abramoff on Newt Gingrich, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: For the second day in a row, a new poll shows that Newt
Gingrich is the leader of the Republican presidential field. The
Economist/UGov poll has Gingrich at 23 percent, followed by Herman Cain at
21 percent, Mitt Romney is third at 19 percent, Ron Paul is at a distant 7
percent, Rick Perry is at 6 percent. Michele Bachmann is still there at 5
percent.

As Newt Gingrich knows, a surge in the polls means more scrutiny. He
acknowledged as much in a warning to a Tea Party crowd in Jacksonville this
afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the next three weeks, I
predict, we`ll have all sorts of questions about me, and it`s fine. I will
cheerfully answer every single question they ask, and at the end of it, you
will be relatively convinced, I believe that I did no lobbying of any kind.
I did no influence-peddling of any kind.

But the truth is if you have the reputation, and I`m not going to use
the words because then they`ll distort them and take them (INAUDIBLE), but
if you just take what people say about me in the debates and say to
yourself, gee, is that a person someone might have hired for advice? I
think it is hard to argue they should have hired somebody who was truly
dumb.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Newt Gingrich`s way of addressing a "Bloomberg
News" report that said that Newt Gingrich made between $1.6 million and
$1.8 million in consulting fees for two contracts with mortgage company
Freddie Mac between and 1999 and 2007.

Joining me is David Gregory, moderator of NBC News` "Meet the Press."
Thank you for joining me, David.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: My pleasure. Good to see you.

O`DONNELL: David, this is the latest bubble. We`ve seen a series of
them, the Gingrich bubble. Is it is your sense that this is, once again,
some sort of exploration of -- is there a Romney alternative and that it
has built in to it all the curve that all the bubbles have had a few week
and it`s gone.

GREGORY: It`s remarkable. I mean, the thing I come back to is if you
are Mitt Romney, you are looking at the rest of the field and you are
saying, who`s the complete package? Who puts it together? The anti-
establishment, Tea Party base, populist, anti-Washington type, who puts all
that altogether? It was Perry. He was the one that was supposed to do it.

Newt Gingrich was not the leading man for that role in that movie.
What he`s done here is attack the media. He`s positioned himself in
debates where he`s not really going after his rivals. He`s going after
Obama and he has caught a little something here, largely because of the
debates.

What is he doing? He`s challenging the moderators. He`s challenging
the predicate of questions. And he is saying some pretty, to a lot of
ears, pretty outrageous things -- going after the Fed. He`s drafting a lot
of these movements to be close.

I know he`s thinking about Herman Cain is not to go after Herman Cain.
They have been buds in the campaign trail, but is to be there. When I know
people close to him believe that Cain`s support will evaporate and they
hope they inherit the earth at that point.

O`DONNELL: One of my favorite things today was I will cheerfully
answer every question they ask.

GREGORY: There is a -- there is a self awareness about Gingrich, the
candidate, who says privately and publicly, I lose that sense of awareness
that I`m a presidential candidate now. I have to be more disciplined.
When I interviewed him a couple of months ago, for our "Meet the
Candidates" series, he said, I`ve got to be more disciplined. I`ve got to
be tempered in the things I say. I`m a presidential candidate now.

And yet we have this latest example.

O`DONNELL: And we now have this big question of what did you do to
make all of that money in consulting fees or whatever you want to call
them. Some people are saying lobbying fees from Freddie Mac. You did the
most fascinating interview yet on this subject with Jack Abramoff, the
convicted former lobbyist who knows dirty deals when he sees them.

Let`s listen to what Jack Abramoff had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK ABRAMOFF, FORMER LOBBYIST: He is doing, he`s engaged in the
exact kind of corruption that America disdains. The very things that anger
the Tea Party movement and Occupy Wall Street movement and everybody who`s
not in a movement and watches Washington and says why are these guys
getting all of this money, why did they become so rich? Why do they have
these advantages? Unfortunately, Newt seems to play right in them.

GREGORY: You call that corruption, though.

ABRAMOFF: Yes, indeed.

GREGORY: That`s a heavy charge.

ABRAMOFF: Well, what is it? It is corruption. At the end of the
day, I say in the book, I believe now although I didn`t believe then,
unfortunately, that any provision of favor or any provision of anything to
members of Congress and their staff is bribery. And any cashing in on it
by them coming out later is corruption.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Very powerful stuff. I should point out he was a
Republican lobbyist, virtually, all of his work was done with Republicans.

GREGORY: And he also broke the law and not everybody is doing that.
A lot of people recoil at him casting these kind of dispersions now,
essentially who is this guy? And I know Gingrich`s camp is saying, isn`t
he in jail?

He`s out of jail anymore, but he`s making a serious point.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And part of the point is, yes, what I did was
criminal, but if you think that there`s some white and black area where
this is the criminal stuff, if this is bad stuff and this is the good stuff
in lobbying, that`s not true. He`s saying the whole thing is some shade of
gray, some degree of gray, and that Gingrich was involved in using his
former position for money in effect. That there`s no way on earth they
would have come to him and said would you advise that if he didn`t have
that job.

GREGORY: Well, background is important. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
is quasi-public/private agencies. They survived and they made a great deal
of money because they worked the Hill. But they went beyond working the
Hill. They had the Hill by the throat.

This is Republicans. This is Democrats. Both sides of the aisle made
a lot of money through these companies. So, that`s the backdrop.

Newt Gingrich said in the Bloomberg debate, the real story, after
saying that Frank and Dodd should go to jail -- he said the real story is
how close the politicians got to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, including him.

I mean, they reached out to him. He was a former -- the web of
business dealings -- the enterprise of Newt Gingrich after he left Congress
is one that I think journalists will explore. Speaking fees that were
about Reagan. As he says, he was a small businessman. But he was also a
consultant or a strategic adviser, somebody who gave advice. That`s a
fact.

If he wants to talk about that in terms of being valuable, because he
had some sort of wisdom, he had acumen, and he knew the ways of Washington,
fine. But that is what he was decrying in the course of that debate,
politicians being close to those companies.

O`DONNELL: David Gregory, host of "Meet The Press," thank you very
much for joining me tonight. You have on "Meet the Press" this Sunday --
Senators John Kerry and Jon Kyl will be joining David on your local NBC
station.

Coming up, patriotic millionaires go to Capitol Hill and demand that
their taxes be raised. That`s in the Rewrite.

And the late-night comedians give us their take on the week in
political comedy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Violence and mass arrests mark the two-month anniversary
of the Occupy Wall Street protests today, which culminated in a rally
attended by more than 5,000 people. It started this morning when
protesters swarmed the area around Wall Street, in an attempt to
effectively shut it down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Through the side streets around the stock exchange
they have amassed. As usual, the police have set up these neutral areas
and they hold them, the protesters, as you can see, all around the stock
exchange, beyond these neutral areas.

There are arrests. If you look closely, you can see these people
have, I assume, been arrested. They`re certainly on their knees. They
have their hands tied with plastic handcuffs at the back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was the first of several clashes between protesters
and police today. A police officer had his hand sliced by a flying object
and was taken to a hospital for stitches. A protester with his head
covered in blood was walked out of Zuccotti Park by police. And a reporter
covering the protests for the conservative website "The Daily Caller" gave
this account of being beaten by police.

"The police officers were beating the protesters with batons and were
also beating the media. They hit us with batons. They hit other members
of the press in order to get them to move out of the street. When I fell
to the ground, I said at one point, I`m just covering this. I`m just
covering this. And the officer just said, come on, get up. Get up, before
pulling me up by my jacket.

"The protesters came up to me right away and asked if I needed my
medical assistance. They were actually kind and helpful. It was the
police officers who were very aggressive."

Joining me now is Michelle Goldberg, a senior writer for "Newsweek"
and "The Daily Beast." Thanks for joining me today.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, "NEWSWEEK": Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: You were down there?

GOLDBERG: Yes, I was down there and I think the police in the city
might really wish that the protesters had been left in Zuccotti Park,
because they kind of showed that they can cause a lot more chaos and
disruption when they are actually trying to Occupy Wall Street, as opposed
to occupying this single square block, concrete expanse.

O`DONNELL: On that first Saturday, where they had that violent
episode, where the pepper spray guy was caught on tape and then ended up
getting transferred to Staten Island, as is the normal procedure with guys
who get in trouble in Manhattan -- that was outside of the Zuccotti Park
zone. That was more up toward Union Square, like today.

So you would think that there was something in the original strategy
of Zuccotti Park, on the police side, that said it`s better for us if it is
here.

GOLDBERG: What`s bizarre is that the protests almost seem to be
petering out. The weather was getting worse. Various kind of vagrants and
sketchy characters were moving in. It was -- started to seem less safe.

I think a lot of people thought that if the police had left it alone,
it would have just kind of gradually dwindled. What you have seen again
and again in these protests -- I mean, first with the pepper spraying
incident, no one was really paying that much attention to these protests
back in September. Then that pepper spraying incident got it tons of
attention. It started to grow.

There was a big march over the Brooklyn Bridge; 700 people are
arrested. All of a sudden, it is on everybody`s radar. It grows still
bigger. Then it starts to fade away. The police go in with this
completely over-the-top raid, where they not just are kind of roughing up
protesters, but roughing up journalists, arresting journalists, refusing to
let NBC cover it from the helicopter.

And then all of a sudden, it is completely reinvigorated.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Mayor Bloomberg had to say today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAY. MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK CITY: We will ensure I that
everyone has a right to exercise their First Amendment rights, as well as
the right to go to work, go to school, ride the subway and go about their
day. We take enormous pride in the fact that people in New York City can
express themselves freely and openly.

But we also take pride in the fact that they can do so safely, civilly
and with respect to each other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The mayor`s team has made it kind of clear they want to be
judged compared to other mayors. If you think he`s handling it badly, take
a look around the country.

GOLDBERG: Yeah. I suppose right -- if you compare him to Giuliani,
in terms of his approach to dissent, it is a pretty low bar. Nevertheless,
the approach to protest and dissent in this city and other cities around
the country --and these raids were coordinated, we now know -- has been
increasingly militarized. It is increasingly overwrought.

Whatever you think of the protesters` message or their tactics, it is
a non-violent protest. And you see police coming in with riot gear and
batons and just overwhelming force.

O`DONNELL: Quickly before we go, what do we know about the nationwide
coordination of mayors and police chiefs on this?

GOLDBERG: We know there was a conference call. We know there was a
conference call between the different mayors who kind of talked about their
sweeps. I think what we don`t know, and what there are a lot of rumors out
three about, is whether there was any involvement by the Department of
Homeland Security.

O`DONNELL: Michelle Goldberg, thank you.

Coming up, the one tenth of one percent decides to lobby Congress for
higher taxes on themselves. That`s right. They want Congress to raise
their taxes. That`s next in the Rewrite.

And the late-night comedy writers, once again, owe thank you notes to
the Republican presidential candidates for another week`s worth of
material.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, A group called Patriotic
Millionaires Rewrites the image of the American millionaire, emphasizing
generosity over greed. They think their taxes should be raised. The
Patriotic Millionaires, who represent more than 200 people making more than
one million dollars a year, met yesterday with super committee members, Tea
Party caucus members and Grover Norquist.

The Patriotic Millionaires asked everyone they visited to consider
raising taxes on them. Grover Norquist`s response was, of course, they can
write their own checks to the Treasury if they really want to. Norquist
also said, quote, "if I don`t have to pay any taxes for it, I would forego
all of those things."

The things Grover is willing to forgo include police officers,
firefighters, public school teachers -- the list goes on and on. Grover,
you see, is at heart not just anti-tax. Grover Norquist is an anarchist.

One of the Patriotic Millionaires, Eric Shoenberg, told the
"Huffington Post" his response to Norquist was "government is not a charity
and we can`t rely on voluntary contributions from people to support the
things that government does."

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Patriotic Millionaires.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUG EDWARDS, PATRIOTIC MILLIONAIRES: President Kennedy said, ask not
what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. To
our elected leaders, we say, it is time to ask us, America`s most fortunate
citizens, to do what we can do for our country.

ERIC SCHOENBERG, COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL: Our position here today is
we ought to return to at least the levels that were in existence before the
tax cuts of 2001, and that were part of a very successful society. The
economy was doing a lot better in the `90s with tax rates at that level
than they have been over the last ten years.

EDWARDS: This week, the super committee has a job to do. We will ask
them to do something that will affect us and our fellow 0.01 percenters
about as much as a dead fly interrupts a picnic.

CHARLIE FINK, FORMER AOL EXEC: Each of the people standing with me
and each of the 200 Patriotic Millionaires we represent believe that the
very first step that Congress should make -- the very first step should to
take toward this goal is to immediately end the Bush tax cuts for incomes
over one million dollars a year.

DAVID DESJARDIN: People earning over a million dollars a year, and
they pay lower tax rates, on average, than the middle class.

SCHOENBERG: The country over the past ten years, through two unfunded
wars, through tax cuts to its wealthiest citizens, has dug a hole that is
bigger than the hole dug by World War II.

PHIL VILLERS, FOUNDER, COMPUTERVISIO CORP: The economy is in trouble.
The national debt is in trouble. We don`t have the jobs we need to sustain
the economy.

FRANK JERNIGAN, FORMER GOOGLE SOFTWARE ENGINEER: We have actually
undermined the employment gains our economy made in the private sector by
firing thousands of workers in the public sector. Just to emphasize this
point, we have been firing people who work for us because we are unwilling
to ask a few of the more fortunate Americans to pay exactly what they were
paying just a few years ago in taxes.

Are these people necessary and important for our society? Yes,
absolutely. And they have to get paid. And because they work for us, they
must be paid by the people through taxes. Because we made a lot of money
from our society, more money from using these functions, we should invest
more in maintaining it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We hear at THE LAST WORD are happy to provide equal time
to any of America`s greedy millionaires who would like to come here and
explain why they just can`t afford to pay one more dollar in taxes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The week in campaign comedy actually began at the end of
last week at Saturday night`s Republican debate. And the candidates have
given the late-night comedy writers new material every day since.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": It`s no surprise, I`m addicted
to all of the Republican presidential candidates. They are like crack, in
that they way will devastate black communities.

But folks, I got my fix on Saturday with yet another debate.

JIMM FALLON, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Listen to this, Ron Paul
only got 89 seconds to speak. Seriously? Rick Perry gets more time than
that to try to remember something.

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": How do you know if you have had too
many debates?

Here`s a clue. Saturday night`s 3,000th Republican debate was an hour
and a half. But CBS only aired one hour of it, so that they could still
bring you, the viewer, a fresh NCIS rerun, probably because CBS wanted the
people to learn something about how the government can work.

But the first hour still provided the opportunity to follow some
compelling story lines. Would Newt Gingrich`s recent poll surge continue?
Does me saying poll surge make you think of Herman Cain?

DAVID LETTERMAN, "THE LATE SHOW": And Newt Gingrich is doing very
well. And Mitt Romney -- both apparently tied. That`s a tough decision
right there. It is funny, because Romney is the Mormon. And Newt Gingrich
is the one with three wives. It`s odd.

COLBERT: It makes sense Gingrich is rising. He`s the only candidate
who appears to be made of dough.

CONAN O`BRIEN, "CONAN": Mostly people think he is moving up in the
polls because he -- his strategy has been to avoid mistakes and play it
safe. A lot of the other Republicans have been making mistakes left and
right. And he`s just been avoiding gaffes. But judging by Newt`s latest
ad, I think maybe he is maybe being a little too cautious.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m Newt Gingrich. I
worked with President Ronald Reagan.

O`BRIEN: Herman Cain having a rough couple of weeks. Yes. Yesterday
-- I don`t know if you saw this. It was all over the news. Yesterday,
Herman Cain couldn`t answer a basic question about Libya. Yeah. All Cain
could say is I believe it is part of the Vulva.

LETTERMAN: Here`s what happened to Herman Cain`s brain. Watch.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: So you agreed with President Obama on Libya or not?

CAIN: Okay, Libya.

STEWART: Two nights ago, the powers that be in New York City answered
the people`s call and reclaimed Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, AKA the
park no one, even those who live across the street from it, had heard of
until the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Apparently it is a park in Lower
Manhattan where people from Wall Street would go to smoke around noon.
Anyway, we got it back.

As for the movement, protesters have vowed to retake the park, if only
to erect a monument to what was perhaps the original Occupiers biggest
challenge.

LETTERMAN: We have to hurry up because Mayor Bloomberg is threatening
now to clear the theater. I`m sorry.

O`BRIEN: Police in New York are reporting that any individual who
enters with a large backpack may be refused entry to Zuccotti Park. Yeah.
And in a related story, police have just arrested Dora the Explorer.

Occupy Wall Street protesters are planning to occupy the subway in New
York City. Because if there is one place to confront the nation`s
wealthiest one percent, it is on the subway.

LETTERMAN: But the mayor said that the reason people were thrown out
of Zuccotti Park because the conditions were hazardous. They were
dangerous and they were unsanitary. I`m saying, if that is a reason to
throw people out of their park, I mean, we`d all have to leave New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The comedians get tonight`s LAST WORD. You can have THE
LAST WORD online at our blog, TheLastWord.MSNBC.com, and you can follow my
Tweets @Lawrence.

"THE ED SHOW" is up next.

END

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2011 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2011 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>

Watch The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET


Sponsored links

Resource guide