Guest: Rep. Peter Welch
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks, man.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
You know what was a really bad time? The George W. Bush presidency
was a really bad time. And not just if you were a liberal and you
disagreed with George W. Bush, just if you were an American.
The George W. Bush presidency, the Bush/Cheney years were bad years
for us as a country. The national unemployment rate went from a little
over 4 percent when he took office to nearly 8 percent by the time that he
left. We went from a budget surplus of more than $200 billion to a budget
deficit of more than a trillion dollars.
After decades of U.S. household income climbing during the 1980s and
1990s, household fell off a cliff during the Bush years. After poverty
declined in the 1980s and declined in the 1990s, in the Bush years, poverty
By the time George W. Bush left office, 6 million more Americans were
added to the rolls of Americans who did not have health insurance. Wall
Street in the Bush years collapsed. The country was plunged into the worst
depression since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
The Bush/Cheney years were a disaster. They were also a series of
embarrassments. Remember when they were going to but Harriet Miers on the
Supreme Court. Remember when they were going to put Bernie Kerik in charge
of Homeland Security? Remember that? Remember Bernie Kerik? Before he
went to jail?
Remember when they trolled the reject list of interns from the
Heritage Foundation to find people to put in charge of a nation named Iraq.
You, college student, the one who applied to be an intern, are you against
abortion? Good, do you want to run the Iraqi stock exchange?
Do you remember soldiers in Iraq having to salvage hillbilly armor for
their Humvees from junkyards? Do you remember when Cher -- Cher, the
celebrity, Cher -- had something called "Operation Helmet" because Bush and
Cheney never got around to getting soldiers bullet proof helmets before
they started the war? So Cher had to do it, instead. Seriously? Cher,
she had to care of that because the government didn`t.
In the Bush/Cheney years, American`s approval rating among our allies
dropped by 20 points, by 30 points, by 40 points, and those are the people
that like us.
You know, there was the start of two of the longest wars in American
history. Both of which were started by the Bush administration, one of
which was started under false pretenses and both of which were still raging
when they left. It was the drowning of a great American city during
Remember mission accomplished? Remember 9/11, torture? Remember
Armstrong Williams? Remember the presidential adviser caught shoplifting
repeatedly from Target? Remember that guy?
Do you remember the vice president of the United States shooting a guy
in the face?
There`s a reason George W. Bush left office in January 2009 with the
lowest approval rating for an outgoing president since Gallup started
asking that question back in the 1930s. And frankly, the vice president,
Dick Cheney, would have killed to get numbers that high. His approval
rating was 13 percent when he left office.
I mean, part of the headwind that John McCain had running in 2008,
trying to run as a Republican after George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. I
mean, the country was happy to see them go for pretty understandable
So, now, four years after the Bush/Cheney administration, the new
Republican Party nominee, Mitt Romney, has made precisely zero public
appearances with George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. And, you know, this is at
a meta-level. This is still the most interesting thing in American
I mean, the reconstruction of the Republican Party post-George W. Bush
and post-Dick Cheney is as yet incomplete and it`s still the most
interesting thing to watch at a meta-level in our politics. What`s the new
Republican Party going to be after that?
What`s the new Republican Party leadership going to be after them?
All of this has led to some very awkward moments on the campaign trail this
year for the Republican Party`s new nominee.
I mean, the first President Bush, Poppy Bush, George W`s dad, is much
more highly regarded than his son is. But he is a little older and a
little unpredictable in public now. Previously, that has manifested as
some unexpected crying jags at public speeches and things. Nothing that
would harm his image, but there`s an element of unpredictability to him in
In his photo-op with Mitt Romney, it manifested in this very, very
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Governor, have you met with George W. Bush while you`ve been
here and have you sought his endorsement?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I haven`t met with president
George W. Bush, we speak from time to time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to get that.
ROMNEY: Now you see why.
BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: We speak all the time.
ROMNEY: You speak all the time.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Has he endorsed you?
ROMNEY: No, no.
BARBARA BUSH: We`ll talk about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, no.
At that point, George W. Bush had not endorsed Mitt Romney, which
maybe ideally would not be discussed in front of a room full of reporters.
But two months after that very, very awkward moment with the more
popular of the two President Bushes, the younger one, the less popular one,
George W. Bush did finally endorse Mitt Romney. This is how it went.
Quote, "I`m for Mitt Romney," Bush told ABC news this morning as the doors
of an elevator closed on him.
That was it. That was the George W. Bush Mitt Romney endorsement.
There was no follow-up event. There was no joint appearance. There was no
press release from the Mitt Romney campaign about it. No press release.
I mean, they press released an endorsement from Christine O`Donnell,
the I am not a witch lady. They did not press release the George W. Bush
The immediate past president of the United States which again was
delivered from the behind closing doors of an elevator with no cameras
So, no, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney have not appeared together.
They do not want Americans to look at Mitt Romney, Republican presidential
nominee, and think about the Bush/Cheney years for obvious reasons.
But then this spring, somebody at camp Cheney apparently called up the
Romney campaign folks and told them that Vice President Dick Cheney was
going to do them the favor of doing a Romney fund-raiser.
Can you imagine the Romney folks getting that call? Oh, great.
That`s awesome. Super kind of you. Are you sure?
The Romney campaign did not say no to the Cheney`s offer. It`s really
going to happen, in fact, it`s going to happen tomorrow. Foster Friess is
apparently going to be in attendance. Remember Rick Santorum`s billionaire
who said that women should use aspirin for contraception by holding it
between their knees? He`ll be there.
Lots of people who you might describe as the Romney`s base are going
to be there. People who described in today`s "Washington Post" story about
this fundraiser as the beef company executive, as a president of a private
equity firm with large oil investments, as a banker who is one of Dick
Cheney`s closest friends and fishing buddies.
Also, Dick Cheney`s oldest daughter Liz who would be my choice for
Mitt Romney`s vice presidential running mat. But that is the biggest for
another day. I promise I`ll explain.
But the big attraction, of course, is Dick Cheney himself who will be
there in person at the Teton Pines Country Club and hosting him afterwards
at Mr. Cheney`s multimillion dollar fund-raiser dinner at his home.
If you think the wealthy donors complaining about there being no VIP
inference at the Mr. Romney`s Hamptons fund-raiser this weekend was an
awkward thing in the press, I need you to look at the acrobatic lengths to
which the Romney campaign is trying to go right now to explain why Mitt
Romney is doing a fund-raiser with Dick Cheney tomorrow. You think the
Hamptons`s thing was awkward?
They`re trying to explain now that Mitt Romney and Dick Cheney are
doing a fund-raiser tomorrow together, but Mitt Romney and Dick Cheney
should otherwise never thought of as never having anything to do with each
other. This is comical.
I am a fan of a "Washington Post" as a newspaper of national regard,
but they ought to be embarrassed for the news piece they wrote on this
subject today. Romney advisers fed to "The Washington Post" and "The
Washington Post" then dutifully rote down what the Romney adviser said,
which is that Romney and Cheney, quote, "speak infrequently and advisers
said there`s little evidence of Cheney`s influence or that of Cheney`s
close associates on Romney`s policies and politics."
We swear, they don`t even recognize each other. They walk past each
other on the street and it`s like, I don`t even know you. They don`t even
From "The Post", people who know both Romney and Cheney, who were
talking to "The Washington Post" for, I don`t know what reason, said they
have contrasting leadership styles. Where Cheney comes off as sharp
tongued, Romney often projects a sunny optimism.
They`re not quoting there. That`s just "The Washington Post".
Really, "Washington Post"? Is that what the people who know Mitt Romney
and Dick Cheney told you to say?
Oh, but wait, there`s more reporting. Here`s "The Washington Post"
Where Cheney`s beliefs and policies are rooted in conservative
ideology, Romney`s tend to be driven by analytical problem solving. This
is crack "Washington Post" reporting -- emphasis on the word crack, based
on what they have been told by Romney sources. Trust us, he has nothing to
do with Dick Cheney. Pay no attention to the fund-raiser they`re doing
My favorite is from a former Republican congressman named Vin Weber of
Minnesota. He`s a senior policy adviser to Mitt Romney. Mr. Weber insists
with a straight face to the "Washington Post" who dutifully wrote it down,
quote, "This does not look to me like Bush/Cheney redux."
What evidence does Mr. Weber have that the Romney campaign is not a
repeat of Cheney and Bush. Well, the same guy, Vin Weber, tells "The
Washington Post," at the broader advisory level, everyone who was around
Cheney and Bush are around Romney.
Oh, but wait, back to the talking points. Quote, "I don`t see a lot
of overlap there." So they have nothing to do with each other, they`re not
even advised by the same people except for all of the same people who are
But aside from that, please pay no attention to the connection between
these two people or any attention to this fund-raiser tomorrow.
"The Washington Post" even tries to do some of the awkward spinning
themselves without just writing down directly what Romney advisers told
them to say. This is particularly nice. This is in "The Washington Post"
-- not a quote, this is "The Washington Post" explaining to you the reader
while there`s no connection between the horrible Bush/Cheney years and this
sunny, optimistic Romney guy, the Washington Post says, "Many Cheney allies
who shaped policy in the Bush years have no roles in the Romney campaign."
They specifically highlight Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley, who
were both national security advisers. They have no roles in the Romney
campaign -- although "The Post" then has to note, Stephen Hadley did
endorse Romney in April and Condoleezza Rice has been speaking at Mitt
Romney donor retreats, which we were going to call them having no role for
Also, it should be noted that many political operatives are lower
ranking policy officials from the George W. Bush administration are deeply
enmeshed in the Romney campaign, including the senior adviser, foreign
adviser, economic policy adviser and the chief strategists who are running
the whole campaign. But other than that, be assured by an adviser to Mitt
Romney that Mitt Romney is definitely his own man. He brings his own
approach. There`s no reason to say the words Dick and Cheney when you talk
about what Romney is doing tomorrow in some old guy`s house. The old guy
just had a heart transplant, isn`t Obamacare awful?
"The Washington Post" helpfully closed out this objective piece of
journalism on this subject today by quoting a friend of Mitt Romney`s who
said there`s no reason to think that Dick Cheney and Romney have any
relationship, quote, "except that they`re in the same party."
Well done, "Washington Post". Tomorrow, that party will be a party at
Dick Cheney`s house, Mitt Romney will be raising money, hoping nobody
covers it and people only talk about how different these guys are, even
though for example on the issue of foreign policy, Mitt Romney`s advisers
are pretty much the Bush/Cheney foreign policy team and on and on.
The mess that Mitt Romney is trapped in is the great meta story of
American politics in this decade. How does the Republican Party remake
itself after the disaster of the Bush/Cheney years? What is the party going
to be like? Who`s going to be the face of the party? What happens in
terms of reckoning with the legacy of catastrophe that is the last time
Republicans were in charge of the White House?
I mean, if you`re a rising Republican, it`s awkward and difficult to
ask people to look back to previous Republican leadership, to previous
Republican politicians, to previous Republicans in the White House because
there`s Dick Cheney and George W. Bush grabbing you before you even have a
chance to put on your rose color glasses, throwing a black bag over your
head and extraditing you to a secret torture prison in Romania to
experience a stress position.
So, on the eve of their Dick Cheney fund-raiser, the first appearance
of this year`s Republican nominee with either George W. Bush or Dick
Cheney, first of all, the amazing thing is they picked Dick Cheney, not
George W. Bush. And second of all, the Romney campaign has decided to try
to draw everybody`s attention away from this by doing something amazing.
They have tried to draw everyone`s attention instead of looking --
instead of looking at the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney era, while they`re
doing this thing tomorrow, they`re feeding a story from "The Washington
Post" telling everybody to ignore, instead of telling everybody to look at
that era of the recent Republican past, the Romney campaign has decided
instead to direct everyone`s attention to a different period in Republican
As of last night, they have just debuted at the Romney online swag
store a new item of historical commemorative Romney and Republican regalia.
It is this pin showing the Romney guy currently running for president
sitting with his dad who was also running for president in 1968.
And by doing this, they have accidentally perfectly dovetailed the
Romney campaign with the unusually disciplined Democratic talking point of
the week, which is why won`t Mitt Romney be like his dad? Why won`t Mitt
Romney release his tax returns like his father did when he ran?
Hey, everybody, look at Romney`s dad`s run for president. He was
comparatively responsible and decent. What`s wrong with that guy`s son?
Why won`t he be like this dad?
That`s the Democratic Party talking point of the week, which the
Romney campaign has stepped on like a rake by putting out these Mitt and
his dad buttons this week.
Somebody was smart to tell them to distract with the look-back with
the fund-raiser tomorrow, but the way they did it is probably not the way
they should have done it.
Joining us now is Steve Kornacki, co-host of MSNBC`s new show, "THE
CYCLE," and also a senior writer at Salon.com. Steve, thank you for being
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Is there a Republican era in modern history other than the
exalted Ronald Reagan, which is a given, that it would make sense for the
Republicans to harken back to, right now? They`ve got a little problem
harkening back to Romney dad and they`ve got a big problem harkening back
to Bush/Cheney. Is there safer territory for them somewhere?
KORNACKI: No, I don`t think there is. I think there`s really sort of
two invented things you`re dealing with. You know, one is sort of -- one
is the invented Reagan legacy, which they like to fall back on. The guy
who would never raise taxes, even though he did 11 times.
But the second time is sort of how they came to terms with the Bush
years, with the 2001 and 2009 Bush years. And it`s basically what they
decided to do was engage in a retroactive accountability campaign that
kicked in about 2009.
When they looked back at the Bush years and they said, oh, by the way,
we were offended by the way how this guy governed, and the way he governed
sold out conservatism as we understand it and set the groundwork for Obama
to be elected in 2008.
So, therefore, the answer to this -- the response to this for a
conservative is to be even more absolutist, to be totally pure, to be
totally ideological, and totally a Washington, D.C. outsider. And that`s
what gave rise to the Tea Party movement, that`s what give rise to sort of
the ideological fervor that`s taking hold of the Republican Party.
And the problem for a guy like Romney is, you look at his father, you
look at the picture of him there with George W. Bush, Sr., there`s this
sense that Romney at a certain level was a secret moderate, a secret
technocratic guy who is secretly smarter maybe than he sometimes makes
himself sounds. But this is the Republican Party that he`s leading and
that`s the most important thing.
The Republican Party in this demanding purity, and Mitt Romney, every
time his supposed moderate instincts have come up against those demands,
those demands have won out. So, you look ahead to his presidency, you look
ahead to the question of foreign policy, and oh, he`s going to be much
different than Dick Cheney, much different than George W. Bush -- well, no,
because Cheney vision of foreign policy, the neocon vision, the very
hawkish vision, that still prevails in the Republican Party.
So, listen to what Mitt Romney is out there talking about -- tight
alignment with the Israeli right, absolute belligerence on Iran, listen to
him talk about Syria, if you listen to Mitt Romney talk right now, you`re
listening to Dick Cheney talk.
MADDOW: And when so -- when we look at the political decision to ally
the nominee, again, he`s made no public appearances up until to this point
with Bush or Cheney, to be making his first public appearance not with Bush
but with Cheney, you think that`s because George W. Bush has been
retroactively defined by the Republican Party as a liberal?
KORNACKI: Defined and then let`s never talk about it again. So, it
gave rise to the Tea Party and but now, it`s George W. Who?
And I would say, in fairness, part of this, too, is the Bush family
does -- he did get this from his father. His father decided when he left
the White House, I`m really going to be quiet about Bill Clinton for a few
yours, and I would say George W. Bush decided the same thing about Obama.
So, that`s in there, too.
MADDOW: But don`t we -- why don`t we get George W. Bush loyalists?
Whom there are a lot, and a lot of them are working for Romney, I mean,
really, especially on issues of foreign policy, but also on economics, also
a lot of his major policy advisers, jut people who`ve just inherited from
the Bush administration, why aren`t George W. Bush loyalists stepping up in
saying, no, you know, the guy you should be allied with here is George W.
Bush, not Cheney?
KORNACKI: Right. Well, I think they recognize the poison. I think
the Cheney thing, there is a sort of recognition, you know, you`re not
going to hear too many people on the Republican side saying, hey, let`s
bring back the Cheney days. You also they`re not going to hear them
saying, let`s bring back the W. days, because there is a recognition that
this is basically political poison right now.
There`s a team of political scientists, I think they have a book
coming out soon that looked at presidential approval ratings for the last
60 years, and they tied it to, you know, sort of economic conditions in the
country. And they found that for the first three years of his presidency,
and it probably extends into this year too, Obama`s numbers have
consistently been much higher than they should be just given the economy.
Given the economy, he should be in the low 40s.
What they suggested that is a result of is that people remember the
KORNACKI: The memory is so strong, the association is so strong with
what happened in 2008 and the meltdown, that Obama is getting a benefit of
the doubt that really no president in 60 years has gotten. So, I think
Republicans do at the certain level understand that and it`s why you don`t
hear them talking about Bush, and yes, there will be this Cheney event, but
I don`t think there`s not going to be Dick Cheney night at the convention
MADDOW: So, how does he handle the Cheney overture? Right, I cannot
-- I cannot say definitively that the offer for the -- the offer for the
fund-raiser came from Cheney and not from the Romney campaign, I should
It`s hard for me to imagine that the Romney campaign would go out of
their way to try to evoke Dick Cheney in this way. How do they handle this
I mean, the reason I singled out "The Washington Post", I don`t mean
to pick on them, but the white wash they have run today by people saying,
yes, there is a joint event here, but please pay no mind to the connection
between these people. They are nothing alive. They have never met. They
have nothing to do with each other, their advisers that they overlap with,
we don`t even understand what that means.
And "The Washington Post" ran an incredible piece of non-journalism on
this today. I wonder if that`s the Romney campaign`s best strategy for
handling this, just hoping for reporters who will run trash like that.
KORNACKI: And there`s that, and there is -- I have seen this a few
times. There`s sort of a conclusion or a calculations, a few days out of
this campaign cycle, they say we`re going to take it on the chin. And I
saw that with the Supreme Court ruling on immigration for instance.
You know, when Romney was sort of telegraphing that he was going to
move to the middle on immigration earlier this year, eventually he was
going to endorse this Marco Rubio version of the DREAM Act, and Obama kind
of stole his thunder.
He had not way to get back to the middle and there was just sort of
decision there, OK, I can`t mimic Obama, I can`t turn on my base right now,
so I got to just sit here and take it on the chin.
And I think it`s the same. You know, you got to do this -- I agree
with you, but I would guess it`s an overture from the Cheney side. You got
to do it because you can`t insult his loyalist in the party, but you want
to downplay it as much as you can and you don`t want to do it after
MADDOW: Right. So, send something over to "The Washington Post," hope
they run it with that changes and hope for the best.
MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, host of "THE CYCLE," now daytime on MSNBC --
Steve, it`s great to have you here.
KORNACKI: Sure. Thanks.
All right. Do you remember yesterday when I said there was going to
be a big, important decision out of Mississippi today? That happened
today. We had a producer there when it happened. We`ve got the details
MADDOW: As much as we tend to think of the presidential election as a
national race, it is of course won state by state. The map of states that
are considered to be up for grabs, the map of swing states for 2012 looks
more or less the same now as it looked in 2008. I mean, give or take a
Michigan or a New Mexico, these are the states that both campaigns think
might be winnable by either side.
So these are the states where they`re fighting it out and where they
plan to keep fighting it out. President Obama`s re-election campaign
expect to be outspend by conservative super PACs and quite possibly even by
the Romney campaign itself. President Obama has been saying his campaign
is likely to be the first ever by a sitting president to be outspent by the
other side, ever.
But where Democrats are spending the money they do have on ads,
they`re saying they are pleased by the impact their ads are having.
Specifically the leading super PAC on the Obama side has been running ads
in swing states about Mitt Romney`s record at Bain Capital, about how Mr.
Romney made all his many, many, many, many, many personal millions of
dollars and whether the way he made those millions for himself was good or
bad for the company and good or bad for the people who worked at those
companies where he was the financier getting very rich.
That Priorities USA super PAC today released a memo stating that ads
about Mr. Romney and Bain Capital appeared to be worth several points in
the polls. That`s hair argument for making more money to buy more air time
to run more of these ads in more of those swing states.
Mr. Romney`s record in the private sector which the Republicans
thought would be his greatest asset in 2012, Democrats are now choosing
that as their main target against Mr. Romney. But when they`re not running
ads on Mr. Romney`s business career, you know what the other thing is
they`re hitting him on?
Look at this -- the Obama campaign is running this ad now in eight
swing states. Eight states, and it`s not about Bain Capital. Look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Every woman who believes decisions about our bodies and our
health care should be our own is troubled Mitt Romney supports overturning
Roe versus Wade. Romney backed a law that outlaws all abortion, even in
cases of rape and incest. And that`s not all.
ROMNEY: I`ll cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Obama campaign started airing that ad last week in eight
battleground states. That`s a big buy for a campaign that needs to choose
its battles and its issues and it`s spending very carefully right now.
Democrats may be right to bet on that one. Judging from the response
from Karl Rove`s not totally coordinated with anybody super PAC.
Karl Rove`s group today released this as a rejoinder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Some people say there`s a war on women. We agree. It`s a
war being waged in our economy. Under President Obama, the number of women
living in poverty has skyrocketed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: War on women, you say? I rubber, you`re glue. Also, please
let`s talk about the economy instead. That`s what we`re prepared to talk
But as Democrats go on the offense on this, on the national level, and
Republicans at the national level try to muddy the water and change the
subject, what`s happening at the state level is that Republicans are on the
precipice of achieving a goal they have sought since Roe versus Wade, a
complete ban on abortion in an American state. They`re this close.
A federal judge today in Jackson, Mississippi, agreed to let the
state`s only remaining abortion clinic stay open. This is a story we have
been following closely. Mississippi did not lose its last abortion clinic
today although they could have. Thanks to this judge`s reprieve.
How long is the reprieve good for? The judge did not say, but he did
extend his own temporary straining order from last week on a new
Mississippi law that would make it impossible for the last abortion clinic
in the state to continue to operate there legally.
Attorneys for the state of Mississippi had asked the judge to ignore
the open admission by Republican elected officials in Mississippi that they
meant for their new law to end abortion in the state by closing the state`s
The judge today said he had not seen that kind of thing before. He
said other states had tried to regulate clinics out of business, but they
had not been so frank about it.
But for now, this federal judge said he need more time to read these
new rules that the state has issued for enforcing this law, which the state
issued just hours before today`s hearing. The judge is reading the rules
and we don`t know how the stay lasts. But for now, Mississippi`s only
clinic will stay open.
One of our show`s producers, Rebekah Dryden, was in Jackson,
Mississippi today covering the story for us. After the hearing, she spoke
to the clinic owner, with Diane Derzis. Ms. Derzis runs the only abortion
clinic left in the state of Mississippi and she told us today that if the
court lets this law get implemented or if her clinic finds a way to imply
with the impossible regulations, she says she thinks that Republicans are
still just going to back and try again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE DERZIS, JACKSON WOMEN`S HEALTH ORG. OWNER: If we meet this law,
next year, they`ll have an even more creative way of attempting to shut us
down. I think most of the people in Mississippi like most of the people in
the country are probably pro choice. They`re just silent and it`s time
they realized what`s at stake here. This is a major war against women, but
Mississippi, you just see it a little clearer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A major war against women, the clinic`s owner says, but
Mississippi`s last abortion clinic stays open for today, for now.
Mississippi is not a swing state. Mississippi is not a state the Obama
campaign has any hope of winning, but as we teeter on the edge of the first
American state banning abortion despite Roe versus Wade, the Obama came
pain may end up winning on this issue -- at least in part because of what
is at stake there, because now the whole nation is watching, swing states
MADDOW: Today in Congress, the Republican-controlled House of
Representatives was hard at work on their laser-focused agenda of jobs,
jobs -- just kidding.
With the Republicans in the House of Representatives actually working
on naturally is contraception, blocking access to contraception through
health insurance because you know, jobs, jobs, jobs. They also
symbolically fake repealed health reform for the 33rd time. Laser focused.
I`ll have more on that ahead.
MADDOW: The governor of Maine, Paul LePage, was elected as part of
the great red tide of the Republican mega wave election of 2010. In any
other year, it`s frankly hard to imagine this particular man being elected
to a job title that starts with go-and ends with overnor
But in the crazy red days of 2010 elections, Paul LePage was elected
with just over a third of the vote, and now the great state of Maine has a
governor who says things like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. PAUL LEPAGE (R), MAINE: The only thing that I heard is if you
take plastic and put it in the microwave and heat it up, it gives off a
chemical similar to estrogen. And so, I mean, in the worst case, some
women might have little beards, but we don`t want to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The women, they may have little beards, but Paul LePage does
not care. Congratulations, Maine. This is the guy you picked to be in
charge. The crusading Republican who prioritized as soon as he was elected
scrapping the child labor laws in your state. This was Governor Paul
LePage`s contribution this weekend to the national discourse about the
Supreme Court upholding health care reform.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LEPAGE: This decision has made America less free. We the people have
been told there is no choice. You must buy health insurance or pay the new
Gestapo, the IRS.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: The new Gestapo, he says, as in the murderous Nazi secret
police, from the holocaust. It`s just like that said the Republican
governor of Maine, this health reform thing. After being criticized for
those remarks for obvious reasons, this week the governor released a
statement saying, quote, "Clearly what has happened is the use of the world
Gestapo has clouded my message. Yes, words like Gestapo had a way of doing
As you might expect the governor`s statement about the clouding did
not make this any better.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Ask you about your comments from Saturday?
LEPAGE: No, you can`t.
REPORTER: I just did.
LEPAGE: And I`m not going to answer you.
REPORTER: You`re not going to say anything. People are upset about
LEPAGE: Talk to this lady.
REPORTER: She said you guys were not commenting today. Will you
LEPAGE: To who?
REPORTER: To the people who are upset?
LEPAGE: Who`s upset?
REPORTER: The Anti-Defamation League is upset. There`s a group of
Jewish people down in southern Maine.
LEPAGE: It was never intended to offend anyone. And if someone is
offended, then they ought to be goddamned mad at the federal government.
REPORTER: Is that an apology?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You know, even if you don`t refer to Hitler`s Third Reich in
your message about health reform, Republicans broadly have a more
pedestrian problem when it comes to the signal legislative achievement of
the Obama administration. And that is that voters are starting to like it.
Look at this, the latest polling on health reform. After the Supreme Court
ruled that the law was constitutional.
"Washington Post" and ABC finding that support for the health reform
law now equals opposition to the health reform law. That is a big change
because look, this is the same poll from April from before the Supreme
Court upheld the law, when a majority, a clear majority opposed the law.
After the Supreme Court ruling, that majority opposing the law is
gone. I think that`s in part because people like winners. People like
things that win. And honestly, they like being able to buy insurance and
go to the doctor.
But ever since health reform passed, people have frankly liked the
component parts of it, the elements of the policy that are scribed to them,
no lifetime caps on your insurance and keeping your kids on your insurance
and all your preventative care having to cover. People have always liked
the component parts of the policy. What they didn`t like before and are
starting to like now is the idea of health reform as a law overall and that
puts Republicans in a weird spot.
Today in Congress, today in the House, Republicans voted to repeal the
suddenly more popular health reform law again. House Republicans today
made their 33rd totally symbolic, practically pointless vote on fake
repealing health reform.
In the past 18 months, they have voted to fake repeal the law 32 times
already. Not one of those votes has ever had any effect, and none of them
ever will. So of course after doing it 32 times, to no effect, today they
did it again.
We know how many times they have voted to symbolically repeal health
reform, because the Republican leadership publishes a list. Their list
says, look, we have done it 32 times already. Here`s a list of all the
times we have done it. And what do they say their plan is after doing it a
33rd time today?
At the end of the list, they say, what can be done? They say, quote,
"House Republicans will continue to dismantle Obama care through more votes
They`re not actually dismantling anything. They`re just having more
votes and hearings that have no practical effect.
Here`s the question, now that voters are starting to like this law, a
lot more than they used to, do the Republicans just keep doing this 33 more
Because meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Democrats are
adjusting to the new political ground on which they`re standing. Democrats
are adjusting to the fact that people are starting to like this law now.
Greg Sargent at "The Washington Post" reporting that Democrats are
planning on using the pointless symbolic anti-health reform votes by House
Republicans in campaign ads against those House Republicans, even in bright
red states. Democrats think they`re winning here. They think the ground
is shifting in their direction.
Joining us now is Vermont Democratic Congressman Peter Welch.
Congressman Welch, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to have
you here tonight.
REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: Thank you.
MADDOW: As Republicans continue to do the symbolic votes on repealing
health reform, more Americans are starting to like this law. Right after
the Supreme Court confirmed the constitutionality of it, we talked about a
window opening up in which the administration and Democrats could again try
to sell the American people on the idea of health reform.
Do you think that window exists? Is that window open?
WELCH: It`s getting open. I mean, what you`re seeing as you say, 33
times of fake repeal, is that there is lost in the hearts of Republicans to
beat this issue. They want to do it, but there`s no passion to provide any
One of the challenges they face aside from doing these pointless
exercises is that what they`re trying to repeal is what Governor Romney
passed in Massachusetts. And you know what, it`s very popular in
So you`ve got this upside down situation where what Governor Romney
could trumpet as a contribution to health care and a success in his
administration, he`s running from, even as Americans are starting to say,
you know, this is pretty good. We keep our kids on health care until age
26. Pre-existing conditions, we can still get health care. If you`re a
senior on health care, you can get free preventative health care.
And another thing that happened is the insurance companies that have
been ripping us off, if they are getting more than 20 percent of your
premium dollar going into fat CEO salaries, that has to be rebated to the
rate payers. That has been a tremendous success in arresting costs in
So, you know, I think this is time for Democrats to stand their ground
and every time Republicans do this pointless thing, they hit number 34,
they`re going to maybe hit 50 before we`re out of it, that`s going to be
something we can use and ask the American people whether this is a serious
problem or a run for political cover.
MADDOW: It was the Senate campaign arm of the Democratic Party today
that floated this idea that Republicans in the House took this vote today
who might be trying to run for the Senate this November, people who might
be trying to move over to the other part of Congress, those will be the
Republicans against whom this vote could pop up in an attack political ad
from the Democratic side. Do you think it`s possible even in red states,
some of these 33 symbolic votes against health reform would resonate
against Republicans who took the votes?
WELCH: If we can stand the ground and say this is what we did, this
is why we did it, and we defend it, and then we contrast that with this do-
nothing approach the Republicans are taking, repealing something
repeatedly. People know that`s not a policy, and when we start putting the
question to our Republican colleagues, where is your plan A? Where is your
plan to provide coverage for folks, kids until age 26, and to provide
preventative care and to claw back these excessive fees?
So people want us fundamentally to get things done. The folks who are
not just ideologically blinded on either side but have as a goal that
America make some progress, that we revive our economy, that yes, we have
personal responsibility, but we understand that we`re all in it together,
those folks want us to get things done.
And when there`s one side that`s trying, making an effort, trying to
improve things that need to be corrected and there`s another side that
says, you know what, we have done it 33 times, let`s go for a 34th, people
get it. That`s just -- that`s beyond gridlock. That`s just
MADDOW: Your state of Vermont has taken an aggressively progressive
position on health reform, Vermont has talked about pursuing single payer
at the state level. On the other side of the ideological number line, I
guess, you`ve got Texas with Governor Perry there saying that his state is
going to opt out of Medicaid even to the extent it`s going to cost them
money, put them at odds federally -- put them at odds with the federal
government, potentially, in legal breach of what their responsibilities
Do you think we`re entering into a position where the red states and
blue states are going to diverge fundamentally on what it`s like to live
there -- whether or not you have health care based on whether or not your
governor is a Republican or Democrat?
WELCH: Well, Vermont is different than Texas. And Governor Shumlin
is certain different than Governor Perry. So, yes, so there`s a diversion.
And, you know, the decision in Vermont, when we embraced essentially
the effort, to move towards Medicare for all, that was bipartisan. And why
were able to move ahead is a lot of the Republicans were arguing, you know
what? We`ve got to get the cost down.
Democrats traditionally argue we`ve got to have access for everyone,
then we`ve got together and we said, you know what? We`re both. The only
way we`re going to have sustainable access for all Americans is to have
lower cost health care and we achieve that by trying to have accountable
care organizations, better delivery of care, best practices -- things that
improve the delivery of the health care system.
So that`s the approach that Vermont is taking, many states are taking,
Governor Perry is headed in a different direction. I`ll take the Vermont
MADDOW: Congressman Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont -- thank you
very much for your time tonight, sir. It`s nice to see you.
WELCH: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right, I promise, good news. Nothing but good news for
the rest of the show. Seriously.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: I just said there`s nothing but good news coming up for the
rest of the show, and I meant it, but we just got in this breaking news in
the last few minutes. It just counts as news.
Earlier today, you may have heard that Mitt Romney appeared at the
annual convention of the NAACP in Houston, Texas, and he was booed loudly
during his speech when he said he would end Obamacare when he was
president. Mr. Romney seemed sort of startled by the booing at the time.
He diverted from his prepared remarks, it seems like he was taken aback.
But just a short time ago, at a fund-raiser in Hamilton, Montana, we
just had word that Mr. Romney has now responded to that booing, that
reception that he got at the NAACP convention. According to the pool
report from this event in Montana, Mr. Romney said this about the reception
at the NAACP today.
He said, "Remind them of this. If they want more stuff from the
government, tell them to go vote for the other guy, more free stuff. But
don`t forget, nothing is really free."
If they want more free stuff from the government, tell them to vote
for the other guy. Mr. Romney talking about supporters of Obamacare,
specifically in reference to getting booed at the NAACP this morning.
It seemed like Mitt Romney wanted to get booed at the NAACP this
morning, wanted to wear that around his neck like a badge of courage, looks
like he is not wasting anytime in doing so.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: When it`s wildfire season, and we are having a doozy of a
wildfire season this year, the ranks of local and state firefighters have
bolstered by federal help, by the Forest Service. And the Forest Service
bolsters its own ranks by hiring extra firefighters for the wildfire
And those firefighters working incredibly dangerous jobs, under
conditions that can be life threatening every day, do not have health
insurance. As temporary employees, these heroes have been considered
ineligible for health coverage from the Forest Service. That`s about to
When President Obama went to Colorado Springs last week to see the
wildfire response there, he met with firefighters who told him about the
health insurance problem for temporary firefighters. "The Denver Post"
reports that when the president returned to Washington, D.C., the following
day, he told his cabinet he wanted to find a way to fix that problem, and
now the president is fixing that problem.
He is ordering the relevant federal officials to offer these seasonal
firefighters the option of buying into health insurance, of the same kind
that other federal workers get. How often do we get news like that? Real-
world problem seems like it should be fixed, person in charge hearse about
problem, problem gets fixed, in a way that is kind of as simple as it ought
to have been, given what the problem was.
That just happened. Simple as that. Good news!
And more good news. It happened on another problem that was driving a
lot of people nuts for understandable reasons. A recent Supreme Court
ruling that has infuriated a lot of people has just kind of been fixed,
simply and easily in the way you expect it ought to have been fixed. It`s
We`ve got that next.
MADDOW: On the same day that the Supreme Court ruled on health reform
this year, they also ruled on what was called the stolen valor case. It
was a case about the First Amendment and lying.
Congress had passed a law saying it`s a crime to say you`ve earned a
military honor that you have not earned. The Supreme Court, 6-3, said
actually it can`t be a crime. It may be contemptible, they used that word,
contemptible, to lie about having a military honor you don`t have. They
also used the word "pathetic," but it can`t be a crime, because the First
Amendment protects even contemptible and pathetic speech.
And it`s true. If you only had the right to say things that don`t
upset people, things that don`t want people want to shut you up, then your
ability to say those things would not have to be protected by the
Constitution. The First Amendment protects everyone`s right to say even
horrible things. That`s the point, and it is a truly horrible thing to say
you won a military honor you didn`t win. Like the guy who gave rise to
this case who said he was awarded the Medal of Honor even though he`s never
served in the military.
So how can you stop the real harm of a guy like that lying about a
fake metal while still abiding the First Amendment?
Justice Kennedy had an idea. In the majority opinion in this case, he
said, quote, "The facts of this case indicate that the dynamics of free
speech, of counter-speech, of refutation can overcome the lie." He
suggested, quote, "a government-created database that could list
Congressional Medal of Honor winners. Were a database assemble through the
Internet, it would be very easy to verify and expose false claims."
Right. How do you stop the harm caused by a liar? Not by trying to
ban him from lying, but by exposing him as a liar. Nobody would getting
away with lying that they had a distinguished Service Cross or a Medal of
Honor if everybody could easily check whether or not that was true.
And so now, two weeks after the court ruled, the Pentagon has
announced that they will build a database of major military awards that
people can check. "The Military Times" has been doing this anyway
unofficially as a labor of love for years, thanks mostly to one devoted
archivist named Doug Sterner. But now prompted by Doug Sterner`s private
example and the stolen valor case, in a Supreme Court ruling that said,
hey, this would solve the problem, the Defense Department is finally going
to do it, officially.
And that feeling you`re having right now is the Venn diagram overlap
between "I`m so glad they`re doing this" and "I can`t believe they didn`t
do this before." That overlap, that sweet spot is called good news -- our
country is fixing a problem that needs fixing in a way that makes sense to
And between that and the seasonal firefighters finally getting health
insurance, that means we`ve got two of those stories in one news day today,
which I think officially makes today a good day and should officially make
tonight a good night.
Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Thanks for
being with us tonight. Have a good one.
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