'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
Guests: Jon Soltz, Joe Conason, Jacob Philadelphia, Carlton Philadelphia, Roseane Philadelphia, Isaac Philadelphia
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Good evening from Los Angeles -- where
tonight President Obama is trying to preserve his lead in the California
polls by helicoptering around town and minimizing L.A. presidential traffic
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: What`s going to happen in November?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I think it is essential to re-
elect the president.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: You want Bill Clinton at your side.
CLINTON: His economic policy is dramatically better.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Twenty-seven straight
months of private sector growth.
MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: We have actually been gaining
private sector jobs.
MATTHEWS: Republicans have completely distorted what Clinton said
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wasn`t saying that he favored the extension of
the Bush tax cuts.
MATTHEWS: Total, utter dishonestly, starting with John McCain.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I want to thank you for having
President Clinton on.
MATTHEWS: And Thune and Boehner.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: The same argument actually that
former President Bill Clinton has been making.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Even Bill Clinton
came out for it.
MATTHEWS: Who writes this crap?
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Which implied that Clinton was for extending
the Bush tax cuts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard it the way he meant it.
MATTHEWS: Well, was he clear?
CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN: Remember me, I`m the guy who gave you four
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely clear.
O`BRIEN: That`s not what we remember you for.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) GOP.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitt Romney makes an economic pitch to Hispanic
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re a patriotic people.
We love this country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans say one thing to Latino voters and
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s very awkward when he tries to speak
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But another thing completely to English speaking
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s the same pitch he makes to women voters.
It`s the same pitch that he makes to black voters, the same speech he makes
to minority voters.
ROMNEY: I met a guy yesterday, seven feet tall. I figured he had to
be in sport, but he wasn`t in sport.
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Sport? That`s what I`m supposed to say.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he`d be better off speaking French to
ROMNEY: Bon jour, je m`appelle Mitt Romney.
MATTHEWS: Isn`t he, Romney, supposed to be the tough, smart business
ROMNEY: Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave.
MATTHEWS: Born on third base, claiming to hit a triple.
MATTHEWS: As the stock market headed for its biggest gains of the
year today, President Obama headed to Los Angeles to attend a fundraiser
that had to move to a larger venue because the demand for tickets was so
high following the president`s announcement that he supports marriage
The event at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, which is within walking
distance from where I sit in this studio at this moment, although no
Angelina would ever consider walking that far, is one of four fundraisers
the president attended in California today and will feature remarks by
Ellen DeGeneres and a performance by Darren Criss, one of "Glee" cast
Here is White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today responding to
criticism from Rush Limbaugh that the president spends way too much time
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: Rush Limbaugh is referring to him as Barack Kardashian, I
believe. What is the response to that?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Two words, Donald Trump.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And moments ago, both candidates appeared during the
Country Music Television Music Awards in a sketch on whether Toby Keith or
Kristen Bell should host the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you have a decision?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is one of the
toughest decisions I`ve had to make since in office. I want them both.
ROMNEY: Oh, I thought the presidential election was a tough race, but
it`s nothing compared to the politics at the CMT Music Awards. I think I
have a solution though. I propose Toby and Kristen co-host the host. See,
I just put two people back to work. You`re welcome, America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: See, there`s something they can agree on. Today, the
Obama campaign dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to North Carolina to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Four million new jobs.
BIDEN: Four million new jobs, private sector jobs. Not enough. Not
enough. Not enough.
And it`s up and it`s down. But it`s been constantly forward, but not
enough. We have to do more. We have to keep fighting through this period
of transition and this God awful recession we inherited.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: This was Mitt Romney`s jobs message today.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ROMNEY: The president spokesman said, you know, Mitt Romney was in
business, but he was trying to earn a profit, not just try to hire people.
It`s like -- well, I have to tell you, that`s sort of what business is
about. The free enterprise system is about people taking a risk to earn a
return, to earn a profit. If they do, they`re able to hire more people.
Profits and people go together if you`re talking about creating new jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: A new Pew Research national poll shows President Obama
leading Mitt Romney. The president polls at 49 percent, seven points ahead
of Romney`s 42 percent.
Joining me now is MSNBC`s Joy Reid and Steve Kornacki.
Thank you both for joining me tonight.
Joy, we finally have a poll where the margin is bigger than the margin
of error. It looks like the president actually has a real, if small, lead
over Mitt Romney in the Pew poll.
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, and I think those numbers are
fairly stable, Lawrence, because if you just think about it, the generic
Republican is going to go into the general election with a 42 to 45 percent
floor and the president is somewhat higher, around 48 percent, 49 percent.
So, it`s a good look for the president. I`m sure he`d rather be at
50, but it`s not a bad place to be if you`re an incumbent running into the
head winds of the economic situation that`s been delivered for President
Obama. I think it`s actually a good place to be at this stage.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Mitt Romney on the issue of the government
subsidies gong into business. He has said that taxpayer money should not
be spent that way. He`s been very, you know, adamant about that.
But in fact, the Bloomberg reports today that in California, taxpayer
money built one Bain company, a conveyor bridge between two of its
buildings. New York City gave another Bain company tax breaks and lower
energy bills to discourage it from moving to New Jersey. In Indiana, a
county government issued bonds to help buy new equipment for a Bain-owned
steel plant, a business success featured in a Romney campaign ad touting
his private sector success.
Now let`s listen to how Mitt Romney talks about that sort of thing
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: It should not be investing in a setting where if the business
does well, the government just gets its money back. The taxpayers just get
their money back. If the business does poorly, the government loses. That
kind of "heads, the cronies win, tails, the taxpayers lose," is not the
right way to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Steve, there seems to be a shocking failure of consistency
between businessman Romney and politician Romney.
I just don`t know what to make of it.
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Yes, this is the theme. If you`re not
used to it yet, get used to it. We`re going to be getting this for the
next five, six months, where there`s going to be a basic inconsistency in
Mitt Romney`s message because he wants to bring everything back to some
sort of "blame Obama" point, even if that means contradicting himself.
He did another one today that was kind of going -- he was railing
against Obama today for not having a plan, for not having presented a plan
to create jobs. He says, you know, the economy is in such a bad place.
You know, we`re not growing jobs. The president hasn`t even tried to
present a plan.
Well, the president did present a plan. You know, the American Jobs
Act. He went to Congress, delivered a prime time speech. He put this
thing piece by piece in front of Congress and asked them to pass it, and
the Republicans sat in their hands, died of a filibuster, never gotten
anywhere in the House.
He absolutely put a jobs plan together. But again, in Romney world,
he`s running against a president who doesn`t exist. He`s taking the
economic conditions that make people very uneasy, make people very anxious,
and he`s just looking for every way he can to say blame Obama for that.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Rush Limbaugh today trying to actually
encourage racial separation in this country. Let`s listen to what he had
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If you want to know where
Oprah`s not on television anymore, it`s because she supported Obama. Oprah
decided that she would let her racial association take precedence over her
television and broadcasting knowledge. It was at that point that Oprah`s
audience began to ask themselves, maybe suspect, you know, maybe race
matters to her more than all this other stuff that she talks about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joy, Rush Limbaugh actually supported the white candidate
for president last time around, and I don`t remember people saying that
that was a racial decision that Rush Limbaugh was making.
REID: Yes, and I think this was also the guy Rush Limbaugh, who did a
skit on his radio show called "Barack the magic Negro." I think we tend
not to go to Rush Limbaugh for wisdom when it comes to racial matters in
this country. He`s incendiary.
But, again, look, Rush Limbaugh`s job is to speak to lower middle
class white America and to say, that guy thinks he`s better than you.
Anyone like him thinks he`s better than you. Those people are taking your
stuff. And those people tend to turn into racial and ethnic groups that
Rush Limbaugh likes so much, or that he feels -- too close to the
Democratic Party, let`s put it that way.
So, I mean, you know, Rush Limbaugh is doing what Rush Limbaugh does.
But it does show Limbaugh is so influential. Entertainers like him and
Donald Trump are so influential in the Republican Party that poor Mitt
Romney can`t really assert himself as the leader of that party because
those guys keep talking.
O`DONNELL: Well, Steve, I think that`s what the point of this is.
Limbaugh and Trump together just constantly go at racial politics. They`re
constantly playing with it in different kinds of ways.
And now, Trump is running around with his new racial shield, his new
defense against any such accusations saying, hey, come on, on my game show
I picked a black man to be the winner, Arsenio Hall. So you can`t possibly
suggest I have any negative racial feelings.
KORNACKI: Right. No, I mean, I think there is something to -- there
is something to -- this is a complicated subject, but you look at what
Trump it doing, you look at what Limbaugh is doing. Then you look at these
polls, you know, take Obama where he was now and in `08. He`s basically
gained a little bit among women, that seems to have happened in the last
But where is he really down? He`s really down with white men who
don`t have college degrees. He`s down with sort of blue collar white guys.
To a lesser extent, sort of blue collar white women, but really blue collar
white men. And a lot of that is economic anxiety.
But when you listen to this Limbaugh stuff, when you listen to this
Trump stuff, you wonder, how much of it is it that too?
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki and Joy Reid, thank you both very much for
joining me tonight.
REID: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, we all remember this picture of the boy who met
the president in the oval office. He`s 3 years old tonight, and he will
join us to tell us what that moment was like for him.
And later, the latest deep, dark Romney secret to be revealed. Mitt
Romney has a thing for men in uniform. Joe Conason joins me with his
exclusive reporting on Mitt Romney`s uniform fetish. I`m serious. This is
real. This is the weirdest Romney story yet.
And in the rewrite tonight, Mitt Romney rewrites himself from
Republican to communist. That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: No politician rewrites himself more than Mitt Romney.
Tonight, you will see him rewrite himself from Republican to communist.
And Joe Conason is here with an exclusive report on yet another Romney
secret. It turns out Mitt Romney has a thing for men in uniform. It`s
kind of a uniform fetish. And in his case, it`s actually more than a bit
I know how insane this sounds. This is true. It`s coming up. Just
when you thought Mitt Romney couldn`t get any weirder.
O`DONNELL: Tonight, Republicans want you to believe that Bill Clinton
is opposed to the Bill Clinton tax rates because he said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They will have to extend -- they
will probably have to put everything off until early next year. That`s
probably the best thing to do right now.
But the Republicans don`t want to do that unless he agrees to extend
the tax cuts permanently, including for upper income people, and I don`t
think the president should do that. That`s what they`re fighting about. I
don`t have any problem with extending all of it now, including the current
The real issue is not whether they should be extended for another few
months. The real issue is whether the price the Republican House will put
on an extension is the permanent extension of the tax cuts, which I think
is an error.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So it`s very clear that Bill Clinton opposes the permanent
extension of the Bush tax rates that Republicans want, and all Clinton was
referring to there is a possible legislative tactic to achieve what both he
and President Obama want, which is an extension of the Bush tax rates for
all, except the top tax brackets.
But this is what Republicans claim they heard Bill Clinton say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: Extending all of the current tax rates for at least a year
is really important if we`re going to help job creators gain a little more
confidence and put Americans back to work. Even Bill Clinton came out for
THUNE: I would make the same argument. It`s the same argument former
president bill Clinton has been making. And that is that we need to extend
these tax rates.
REP. JEB HENSARLING (R), TEXAS: President Bill Clinton gets it. He
knows in this economy you should not be raising taxes on anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
O`DONNELL: So it took a while, but Republicans in Congress finally
realize that bill Clinton gets it. Which I guess means they agree with him
when he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much is Europe and how much are the
CLINTON: Well, I don`t think -- the thing that`s cost jobs here has
been the Congress policies. The Republican position is they want austerity
now and they`ve enforced it in the House. So, while we had 4.3 million
private sector jobs in the last 27 months, we`ve lost 600,000 teachers,
firemen, other state and local jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the tax policy today fair?
CLINTON: First of all, a minimum tax of 30 percent is not all that
high. Most Americans agree if we could have a long-term debt reduction
plan that the people had got to -- most tax cuts in the last decade should
give back a little and contribute to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now are Richard Wolffe, an MSNBC contributor,
and Karen Finney, former DNC communications director and an MSNBC
Richard, I said last night that this is much ado about nothing and
Republicans are just pretending that Bill Clinton said this stuff. But
they`re continuing it and pushing it, and it is a strange new tactic. I
haven`t seen this before where they simply lie about what someone has said
saying, oh, no, he`s on our team now.
And they take someone as prominent and as publicly opposed to their
position as Bill Clinton. How far do they think they can get with this?
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, look, you`ve got a
candidate, a presumptive nominee who doesn`t mind misrepresenting his own
opinion. So, why would any of them care about misrepresenting a former
Look, there are a couple of things that are being wrapped up together
and obviously distorted and lied about here. There are a couple of things
-- first of all, what former president Clinton was talking about was a
legislative need knowing that all of this stuff is building up towards the
end of the year, spending cuts, the tax cuts being extended, all of that
There`s a sort of gasp among the people you used to work with saying,
can we write that legislation in the brief time of a lame duck Congress?
That`s one part of it. Another part of it is can an economy sustain
everyone looking at each other in this staring game and everything going up
in flames? Right, the fiscal cliff they all talk about.
And the third piece is, what`s the politics of addressing it now? So
the Republicans are not saying extend all the tax cuts permanently.
They`re saying, we need certainty, but only for a year or six months. So,
just give us a little bit more.
So, they`re all jockeying around that. Then you have President
Clinton noodling out in public. And so, easy to distort it in a
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Jay Carney had to say about it today.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CARNEY: President Obama has been clear about his position and has not
changed. We should not extend and will not extend the tax cuts, the Bush
era tax cuts, for the wealthiest 2 percent of the American people. We
absolutely should extend tax cut cuts for the middle class. We should not
-- he will not extend tax cuts for the highest income Americans.
He will not support extension. He will not support extension of the
upper income Bush tax cuts. He could not be more clear.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, being that clear doesn`t seem to get you
anywhere when you`re talking to Republicans.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that`s true, but, you
know, there`s another part of the equation here that`s a problem. That is,
frankly, my Democrats. We should not be seeding the ground on this.
It is very obvious what the Republicans are trying to do and why it is
in their interest to try to spin Clinton`s comments and Lawrence Summers`
comments to try to suggest that they`re saying something they`re not. We
don`t need to buy into it. That`s part of what bothers me about this.
From the perspective of a political tactic, why we`re accepting
letting the Republicans tell us what time it is, letting Rush Limbaugh tell
us what time it is, is ridiculous. There is no daylight between what the
president is saying, what President Clinton was saying, what Lawrence
Summers was saying.
You have both Clinton and Summers saying time and time again, there`s
no daylight between us and the president. So why this is still a
conversation? I mean, let`s let the Republicans have that conversation
among themselves. Why the rest of us are legitimizing it is a huge
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to the Rush Limbaugh take on this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: The smart thinking, conventional wisdom, is that Clinton is
simply giving Obama cover to extend the Bush tax cuts. That Obama would
pay a price if he did it himself without any support. If he wins re-
election, the Bush tax cuts are not going to be extended. I don`t care
what he can extract from the Republicans for it. It isn`t going to happen.
And that`s why Clinton running around and saying he thinks they should
be extended is such a big deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, there`s Rush Limbaugh on the smart -- on
the smart thinking about this.
WOLFFE: Look, the smart thinking.
What`s going on here right now is obviously this prepositioning for
the big discussion, the big negotiation, the grand compromise, if you will,
at the end of -- after the election. What`s interesting here is really the
Republicans have one card to play, which is the debt ceiling, yet again.
And so, that`s all they have. The president has two cards, which is
let the tax cuts expire and let the spending cuts, especially defense cuts,
So, he has two things to negotiate with, and here you have the
Republicans saying, actually, I think it`s a kind of weak move from their
part, where they`re going, just give us six months and that`s enough.
I think there`s jockeying going on here.
O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe and Karen Finney, that`s the last word on
it tonight. Thank you both for joining me.
WOLFFE: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a moment captured on film that we can never
forget. The little boy in that picture with President Obama will join me
later and tell us what that felt like.
And in the rewrite tonight, Mitt Romney talks like a communist, a hard
core communist. And no one notices. But it has landed him in tonight`s
And next, something even stranger about Mitt Romney. Joe Conason has
an exclusive report for us on Romney`s very peculiar relationship with
uniforms. We`ll show you the one he loves or at least used to wear, and
we`ll show you the military uniforms that he and his father and his sons
have avoided wearing. That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney is weirder than you think. I mean, like, way,
way weirder than you think. He actually has or certainly used to have a
uniform fetish that could have gotten him thrown in jail if his father
wasn`t governor at the time. Joe Conason is here with an exclusive report
on the uniform Mitt Romney used to love to wear.
And while we`re at it, we`ll consider the uniform Mitt Romney did
everything he could to avoid wearing -- an American military uniform during
the Vietnam War.
O`DONNELL: And in tonight`s episode of how weird is Mitt Romney, Mitt
Romney has a thing for men in uniform. He has always wanted to be one.
No, not that kind of uniform. And no, not that kind of uniform. Nope, not
a military uniform.
Mitt Romney`s fetish is police uniforms. This one is his favorite,
the Michigan State Trooper uniform. That`s the Michigan State Trooper
uniform circa 1966. When Mitt Romney wasn`t gay bashing kids whose hair he
didn`t like, Mitt Romney`s other favorite sick thing to do was to
impersonate a police officer.
In an exclusive article just released tonight by the "National Memo,"
details emerge of a Mitt Romney who as a college freshman at Stanford
University allegedly admitted to fellow dorm mates that "he sometimes
disguised himself as a police officer. And laid out on his bed was a
Michigan State Trooper`s uniform.
One of the people who saw the uniform said "he told us that he had
gotten the uniform from his father, George Romney, then the governor of
Michigan, whose security detail was staffed by uniformed troopers. He told
us that he was using it to pull over drivers on the road. He also had a
red flashing light that he would attach to the top of his white Rambler.
We thought it was all pretty weird. We all thought, wow, that`s pretty
creepy. And after that, we didn`t have much interaction with him."
Hundreds of thousands of Mitt Romney`s -- of men Mitt Romney`s age got
uniforms in those days the old fashioned way, by being drafted into
military service. Mitt Romney avoided that with four consecutive draft
deferments that he obtained that allowed him to, like his father before him
and his sons after him, avoid combat in the war of his era, the Vietnam
Joining me now on Mitt Romney`s love/hate relationship with uniforms,
Joe Conason, editor in chief of the NationalMemo.com, and Jon Soltz,
chairman of VoteVets.org.
Well, Joe Conason, you have the single weirdest report about Mitt
Romney so far in this campaign year. This is as strange a thing as I`ve
read. What was the legality of -- that Mitt Romney was flirting with by
using this uniform that his father got for him?
JOE CONASON, NATIONALMEMO.COM: Well, Lawrence, our research shows
that impersonating a police officer is at least a misdemeanor in both
California,, where he went to college for a couple years at Stanford, and
in Michigan where he was in high school, apparently doing the same thing,
according to reports in "The Real Romney" by the two "Boston Globe"
reporters and in "The New Republic" in 2008.
If you do it more than once in those states, it becomes a felony. He
seems to have possibly done this more than once. So if he had been caught,
he would have been in a lot of trouble, putting on a state police uniform
and pretending to be a state police officer.
Just by putting on the uniform, if you`re not doing it for a
theatrical presentation, you are committing a crime in the state of
Michigan. So, you know, you could go to prison for a year, possibly
longer, pay a big fine, and have a big blotch on your record. But worse
than that, from the point of view of Robin Madden (ph), who spoke to me
about this, who was in his dorm at Stanford, they all thought this was
bizarre and were creeped out by it, as you said.
O`DONNELL: Joe, I have a feeling that if he had gotten caught in the
state of Michigan in that uniform, there was a phone call he could have
made that would have gotten him out of trouble pretty fast.
CONASON: Yes. And, you know, I mean -- yes, his dad was the
governor. And I guess one doesn`t like to think of special justice for
special people, but he probably would have been able to get out of it. I
don`t know that he ever put the uniform on in California. It would have
been even stranger to be driving around California in a Michigan State
Trooper`s uniform in your white Rambler.
But, yes, I guess if he had been caught, he would have gotten away
with it. But he apparently did this and didn`t get call caught.
O`DONNELL: Jon Soltz, this brings up, by proximity, especially in
time, the uniforms that so many men Mitt Romney`s age were wearing at that
time. We showed photographs at the beginning of this segment of John Kerry
in his military uniform at the time, of Bob Kerry in his military uniform,
John McCain, all who went on to be members of the United States Senate.
What do you make of Mitt Romney`s avoidance at that time of doing his
military duty, especially as someone who was publicly in favor of both the
draft and the Vietnam War?
JON SOLTZ, VOTEVETS.ORG: Well, I think it`s simple. Obviously the
Associated Press has been digging in on this. And the article has been
floating around a lot of publications. But it`s real simple. I mean, Mitt
Romney didn`t go to Vietnam because Mitt Romney didn`t want to go. Yes, he
did go to Europe. He served his church there on a mission.
I personally have no problem with that. I mean, a tremendous amount
of people of his faith have served our country honorably. But he did get a
deferment in 1965, where he at that point he was for the war and against
the protesters. And then later on he came home and he got another
deferment. He basically waited this thing out over a five-year period,
until the draft essentially changed in 1969. His lottery number came up as
basically like a number 300.
It`s a question of entitlement. And this is sort of the core issue
that affects him. He didn`t serve because he didn`t really want to. You
know, at the time he was for the war. In 1994, when he ran for the United
States Senate, he was then against the war. Then now in 2007, he again
wished he had served in Vietnam, but solely he didn`t go to Vietnam just
because he felt he was entitled and didn`t need to.
O`DONNELL: Jon, I was in high school during this period and watched
the draft end, actually. My number would have come up, except they ended
the draft before I got there. I can tell you people who weren`t around
during that era, there wasn`t a single able-bodied man in America who
wanted to go to Vietnam who didn`t. Everyone else avoided it, including
all of my older brothers and everybody in my neighborhood. There were a
couple people who went.
Everyone else did everything they possibly could to avoid it. Many,
as a matter of conscience, refusing to participate in what they believed
was an unjust war, many as a matter cowardice, many as a matter of a
combination of conscience and cowardice. The willingness to go into combat
is rare among men anywhere. And it`s very rare among men in this country.
There wasn`t a single willing person left behind during Vietnam.
SOLTZ: Well, I mean, in my generation, the people I served with in
Iraq, we`re the volunteer force. So plenty of us don`t agree with the way
the president`s handling Afghanistan right now. Plenty of us didn`t agree
with the Iraq War and we still went. So boo woo hoo to Mitt Romney. The
bottom line is he didn`t want to go.
He was afraid. That`s OK if you`re against the war. I think the
problem for Mitt Romney is the fact that he was for the war. It`s one
thing to be against it and say, I don`t want to go. It`s a different thing
to say, you`re for it when you want to extend U.S. forces in Afghanistan,
when you didn`t want to get out of Iraq, and when you essentially want to
start another war in Syria. That`s a whole other ball game.
O`DONNELL: Yes, listen, I think it`s all about honesty. I think it`s
all about if you`re afraid to go to war, say you`re afraid to go to war. I
can tell you, Jon, right now, I`m afraid to go to war. I would have been
afraid to go to any war at any time during my lifetime. You can also be
principally opposed to it. Just tell the truth about your relationship to
the war of your era. Romney has not done that.
Joe Conason and Jon Soltz, thank you both very much for joining me
CONASON: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the weirdness of Mitt Romney continues into
tonight`s Rewrite, where you will hear him talking like a hard core
communist. He, of course, does not realize that because Mitt Romney
doesn`t listen to Mitt Romney either. That`s in the Rewrite.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s episode of Mitt Romney Rewrites Mitt
Romney. This time Mitt Romney renounces Republican conservatism and
becomes a communist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: A stimulus approach has not worked. The idea of item by
item, looking for a quick solution, throwing a little gasoline on the fire,
that hasn`t worked. The first stimulus of almost 800 billion dollars
didn`t create private sector jobs.
The president needs to put all aside these stimulus plans and instead
work to restructure the foundation of America`s economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So Mitt Romney wants the president, quote, "to restructure
the foundation of America`s economy." That is a purely communist idea.
That was exactly what the Soviet Union`s dictators were trying to do every
day. And of course they failed to do it because totalitarian communism of
the sort that Romney is suggesting simply does not work.
But Romney doesn`t even know that he just proposed a communist idea
because Romney doesn`t even listen to what he`s saying when he spews that
kind of nonsense. He actually thinks he`s delivering nice sounding
rhetoric that doesn`t mean anything. That`s what he`s trying to do.
But his word is taken literally, which he doesn`t want you to do,
because he doesn`t actually mean them, are actually pure communism. But
Mitt Romney the communist is just an accident of rhetoric. Mitt Romney the
double talker, Mitt Romney the Rewriter of Romney, is the work of a very
deliberate politician, a politician who is determined to say at every
moment of his career exactly what his voters want him to say in that
As a result, Romney has left the longest self-contradictory paper
trail and quote trail of anyone who has ever run for president. And
Republicans who attacked John Kerry because John Kerry said he was for a
bill before he was against it now support a candidate who was once for
everything that he is now against.
Tonight`s case in point is stimulus. In 2008, when the economy fell
off the cliff in the months after the presidential election, Mitt Romney
thought something had to be done right then. And though we had a lame duck
president, George W. Bush, and a lame duck Congress, Mitt Romney thought
our economic situation was so dire, so severe, that we needed action from
On December 19th, 2008, he wrote this breathless exhortation in "The
National Review," "what is Washington waiting for? The Inauguration is
less than five weeks away. At the rate we`ve been going, another 500,000
jobs will be lost by then. The downward spiral is deepening and
accelerating. Congress and the president must act now."
See? Mitt Romney once knew how bad the economy was just before Barack
Obama became president. What did Mitt Romney want Congress and the
president to do right then, right at that moment on December 19th, 2008?
"This is surely the time for economic stimulus. A stimulus plan is needed
without further delay. On the spending front, infrastructure projects
should be a high priority. We should also invest to free us from our
dependence on foreign oil."
By invest, of course, he meant spend, government spending. And he
says so in the next line, where he advocates, quote, "funding basic
research in renewables." So there is Mitt Romney in 2008 urging the
president to invest, to fund renewable sources of energy like, maybe, solar
energy, the kind of investment that President Obama tried with, say,
Solyndra, the now defunct company where Romney went last week to argue
against exactly, but I mean exactly what he was arguing for in 2008.
And it wasn`t just Romney who advocated that in 2008. As he correctly
stated in his article, quote, "during the 2008 campaign, virtually every
candidate agreed on the need for an Apollo-like mission to achieve energy
independence. Now is the time to start."
Romney closed his "National Review" piece with this dramatic order for
Congress, especially Republicans in Congress," the Democrats may want to
wait for Obama, but the country needs action now. Republicans can and must
play an important role in shaping a stimulus bill that makes sense for
America and lays a foundation for future prosperity and growth."
Well, the Democrats did wait for Obama and the Republicans did too.
The Republicans waited for him to take the Oath of Office, so they could
then oppose every single thing President Obama tried to do, starting with
the stimulus that Mitt Romney advocated, the stimulus that Mitt Romney said
Republicans must play an important role in shaping.
Mitt Romney, an American politician like no other, the only one who in
four years has talked his way from being a classical Keynesian advocating
stimulus to a communist.
O`DONNELL: White House photographers often capture history in the
making. But sometimes they capture images that have nothing to do with the
burden of the presidency but can still be among the most important images
of that presidency, images that tell us something personal about the man in
the Oval Office. And those are usually the unforgettable ones.
This is one of those. Chief White House Photographer Peter Souza said
this, "as a photographer, you know when you have a unique moment, but I
didn`t realize the extent to which this one would take on a life of its
own. That one became an instant favorite of the staff. I think people are
struck by the fact that the president of the United States was willing to
bend down and let a little boy feel his head."
The photo inspired Jonathan Capehart to recently write this, "Obama
gets a bum wrap for not talking more openly about race. Some critics think
he ignores the issue, either out of fear or lack of real concern. But what
they don`t get and what the Souza photo perfectly illustrates is that the
president addresses so much about race without ever opening his mouth."
Joining me now, the young man in that photograph, Jacob Philadelphia.
He`s joined by his parents, Carlton and Roseane, and his brother Isaac.
Thank you all for joining me tonight. Jacob, what did you say that made
the president do that and let you reach over and touch his hair?
JACOB PHILADELPHIA, PHOTOGRAPHED TOUCHING PRESIDENT OBAMA`S HAIR: I
asked him if I could touch his hair.
O`DONNELL: And why did you ask him that? Why did you want to do
J. PHILADELPHIA: I want -- because I was wondering if we had the same
haircut and was in common.
O`DONNELL: And what did it feel like when you put your hand over
J. PHILADELPHIA: It felt the same.
O`DONNELL: Carlton, dad, you have unpredictable kids, it seems. Did
you have any feeling in the Oval Office, a place where you`d been before
working in the White House, that Jacob might do something like this?
CARLTON PHILADELPHIA, FATHER OF JACOB: Oh, it was surprising. I knew
that his mother had told me that every time he goes me to the barber, he
always tells the barber he wants a haircut just like President Obama. So
on the way there, you know, I said, hey, if you guys have any questions,
just make sure you raise it with the president.
It was very surprising that he actually raised that question. But it
was memorable. I never expected a president to actually bend over and
allow him to touch his hair.
O`DONNELL: Well, you were observing a White House tradition. You
served on the staff of the National Security Council. You were leaving
that job. It`s traditional for people to get a family picture with the
president on the way out.
Isaac, what was it like for you to be in the Oval Office with the
president that day?
ISAAC PHILADELPHIA, MET PRESIDENT OBAMA: It was special. I believe
that it was a certain moment that I`ll never have again or possibly will
O`DONNELL: Roseane, your family, and thanks to Jacob`s request,
actually, now has a place in the cultural history of this country. That`s
a moment that, as Jonathan Capehart has pointed out, speaks volumes, says
things beyond anything any reporter could have composed in words. What
does it feel like for you to be part of a moment like that?
ROSEANE PHILADELPHIA, MOTHER OF JACOB: Very special. It`s surprising
that the president would have stooped to a child`s level and have my son
touch his hair to make sure that they had the same texture. It`s one of
the most precious moments in our family that I think -- and in other
families, because it touched so many people.
The president did not look at this child as a child but as an equal.
That`s what I think was so special.
O`DONNELL: Jacob, you know, as your dad can tell you, they are
constantly changing the pictures that they put up on the wall in the White
House that the White House photographer takes. Your picture has stayed up
there since it first went up a few years ago. How does that make you feel
knowing your picture is still there?
J. PHILADELPHIA: Makes me feel amazed that it`s still there and it`s
not there anymore.
O`DONNELL: Are you hoping maybe to work in the White House yourself
one day, like your father or like President Obama?
J. PHILADELPHIA: Yeah.
O`DONNELL: Isaac, how about you? You think you might go back into
that building some day with a job there?
I. PHILADELPHIA: Yep.
O`DONNELL: Well, your father has led the way. You got to take notes
from your father. Pay attention to him. He`ll tell you exactly how to get
there. Jacob, Carlton, Isaac, and Roseane Philadelphia, thank you all
very, very much for joining us tonight.
C. PHILADELPHIA: Thank you.
R. PHILADELPHIA: You`re welcome.
I. PHILADELPHIA: Welcome.
O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.
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