'Up w/Chris Hayes' for Sunday, September 9th, 2012
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
UP WITH CHRIS HAYES
September 9, 2012
Guests: Michelle Goldberg, Peter Beinart, Jacob Hacker, Tulsi Gabbard, Jeremy Scahill, Sasha Issenberg, Bob Shrum, Walter Shapiro, Chris Hughes
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Hello from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
New polls suggest the Democratic national convention gave President
Obama a still growing bump. Yesterday`s Gallup tracking poll put him at 49
to 45 against Mitt Romney.
Romney`s problems gaining altitude are not just metaphorical. After
campaigning yesterday in Virginia, Romney and his campaign had to find a
flight home when the campaign plane was grounded due to technical problems.
Right now, my story of the week, what the president didn`t say in
Charlotte. This was, I think, my favorite moment in the president`s speech
on Thursday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My plan will continue
to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet because climate
change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a
joke. They are a threat to our children`s future, and in this election,
you can do something about it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: A-fricking-men, I say! Climate change was only invoked at the
RNC as a laugh line and hardly mentioned at all for the DNC, save for three
references. So it meant a lot to hear it from the president`s own lips.
But there was also something distressing in that line, something that
haunted me and haunted the entire Democratic national convention. It was
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And in this election, you can do something about it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: "And in this election, you can do something about it."
After the spectacle of dysfunction and obstruction over the last two
years, it`s hard to take that proposition at face value. Remember, in
2009, Barack Obama had a House majority by a 79-vote margin, a Senate
majority of 60 votes. And to his credit and the credit of him and the
Democratic Party and especially Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they worked
tirelessly through a long, hard legislative slog to produce a bill that
would cap carbon emissions. The Waxman-Markey bill passed Congress in the
House by 7 votes.
In the Senate, Lindsey Graham had once been a co-sponsor of a similar
cap-and-trade bill. He even argued for the need to address carbon
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Our country doesn`t have a
vision on carbon. We need one. And we need to lead the world rather, than
follow the world on carbon pollution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Ultimately, Lindsey Graham did what nearly every Republican in
his cohort has done, which is to conveniently forget his previously beliefs
and instead commit himself to opposing any and all major legislative
initiatives that bore the president`s mark. And so cap-and-trade died.
Now, keep in mind, all this was before the Republicans took over the
House in 2010. Since then, things have only gotten worse. The record of
Republican opposition and obstruction is legion at this point -- the record
number of filibusters, the unprecedented foot-dragging on judicial and
executive nominees, and of course, the explicit threat to provoke a
possible new financial crisis by holding the nation`s full faith and credit
hostage in pursuit of a savage austerity agenda.
In fact, since the emergence of the Tea Party and its electoral
success in the 2010 elections, the central political story of our time is
of Republican obstruction, the ways in which, with remarkable discipline
and fervor, the Republican Party has overturned the previous norms of
congressional behavior in order to create a country that is nearly
This is a reality that looms over this election. And yet the GOP
opposition was almost entirely absent from the president`s speech. Unless
the Democratic Party manages to retake the House, a possible though not
probable outcome, the president`s second term will face precisely the same
obstacles it now does, a Republican Congress bent on his destruction and
The president, however, told "Time" magazine that if he wins in
November, the stark choice voters will have made would, quote, "pop the
blister of polarization." If you`re skeptical of that line, I don`t blame
you. But of course, whether the president believes that or not, he kind of
has to say next time will be different. Otherwise, all of his articulation
of his vision for the country in his speech on Thursday is more or less for
The cruel irony of the Mitch McConnell plan to sandbag Barack Obama is
that it creates a devilishly cynical implied reason for voters to elect a
Republican president because it`s the only way to restore the country to
normal governance. The Republican Party is so wildly irresponsible, so
sociopathically maximalist, that it cannot be trusted in opposition. You
can only get compromise when Republicans have the power and the Democrats
are the ones doing the compromise. Republicans won`t let it work the other
It would be a true low point for American democracy if this argument
were persuasive, but the president and Democrats need to acknowledge it
head on in the remaining two months of this campaign. You can`t simply
ignore the tanned, weepy elephant in the room.
If the president and Democrats are going to lay out their agenda for
the next four years, they have to make an explicit case either that it is
vital the president be given a Democratic Congress -- my strong preference
-- or some new set of policies, tactics, approaches, innovations to
overcome or run an end (ph) around (ph) past (ph) Republican opposition.
The decision to offer Dream Act-eligible youth a former of administrative
reprieve was a great example of what this would look like.
Whatever the case is, whatever the solutions are, we need to hear them
because the Republican Party and its agenda of political destruction cannot
be ignored or willed away. Nor can the politics of self-immolation be
perpetuated by rewarding them with electoral success.
The president himself has suggested he will use executive powers, as
he did with the Dream Act, to circumvent an obstructionist Congress. But
that is only the second best way to deal with Republican obstruction. What
President Obama did not say in Charlotte was that the best way to stop
Republicans from holding them hostage is to strip them of the power to do
so in November.
I`m joined now by Peter Beinart, senior writer for "Newsweek" and the
DailyBeast and founder of the blog OpenZion, Michelle Goldberg, also at
"Newsweek" and the DailyBeast, where she`s a senior contributing writer,
Tulsi Gabbard, Democratic congressional candidate in Hawaii, who spoke last
week at the Democratic national convention in Charlotte, and Jacob Hacker,
a professor of political science at Yale. It`s great to have you all here
I want to start -- I want to play a clip because we wrote this -- we
were working on this this week, and then "Meet the Press" is airing an
interview with Mitt Romney today, and this is a section of it that I want
to show you because to me, it just perfectly hits home this point.
This is Mitt Romney speaking to David Gregory. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I want
to maintain defense spending at the current level of the GDP. I don`t want
to keep bringing it down, as the president`s doing. This sequestration
idea of the White House, which is cutting our defense, I think, is an
DAVID GREGORY, HOST: Republican leaders agreed to that deal to
ROMNEY: I thought it was a big mistake. I thought it was a mistake
on the part of the White House to propose it. I think it was a mistake for
Republicans to go along with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right, so let`s just keep in mind the context here. The
Republicans held the debt ceiling hostage, a completely routine thing.
Over the last 40 years, it`s been the -- the debt ceiling has been raised
something like 90 times, average of twice a year. That`s routine posturing
around it. This is totally unprecedented departure from norms.
The only way to get them to vote to maintain the full faith and credit
of the United States was to agree to this deal in which both parties bound
themselves to these cuts, which is called sequestration.
This was the deal. This is what everyone agreed to after this
climactic battle. This was the Democrats basically appeasing the
Republicans, who had exempted themselves from the normal procedures of
governance on the deal of sequestration.
And now Mitt Romney is saying, Oh, this deal is terrible. We have --
I think -- the president -- what a terrible person the president is for
signing onto this deal, and my running mate, who approved the deal -- awful
person. And John McCain is running around saying terrible deal. Terrible
deal. They want to cut defense spending.
I mean, to me, it`s, like, Wait a second, if you can`t even -- they
can`t -- if they won`t even live up to the deal they themselves made months
ago, how can we govern? Like, what -- what is the second term going to
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: Isn`t this -- I mean, isn`t
this part of the problem that Obama was facing in this speech? I mean, I
think a lot of people were disappointed in this speech because one of the
things that we all loved -- those of us who loved Obama in 2008 loved the
fact that he seemed to level with people. He seemed to speak to people
like adults. He seemed to forthrightly face our problems.
I`m not sure that our political culture has gotten to the point where
a presidential candidate can forthrightly speak to the fact that...
HAYES: The truth about the nature of the Republican opposition.
GOLDBERG: Yes. Exactly.
HAYES: And you know, the person that did do that...
HAYES: ... was Bill Clinton. And I think the reason that Clinton
speech was -- people liked it so much was he was just talking about the
obvious elephant in the room, the obvious taboo.
Here he is just talking about this preposterous asymmetry between the
two parties in the way they`re approaching cooperation in government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the main
reasons we ought to reelect President Obama is that he is still committed
to constructive cooperation.
We all know that he also tried to work with congressional Republicans
on health care, debt reduction and new jobs. And that didn`t work out so
CLINTON: But it could have been because, as the Senate Republican
leader said in a remarkable moment of candor two full years before the
election, their number one priority was not to put America back to work, it
was to put the president out of work!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: Well, wait a minute. Senator, I hate to break it to you,
but we`re going to keep President Obama on the job!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I think the feeling of exaltation people felt was, Thank you
for just stating the obvious thing about the nature of our politics,
particularly domestic politics, I would say, in the last two years.
PETER BEINART, AUTHOR, "THE CRISIS OF ZIONISM": Yes. For me, the
failure of Obama`s speech was he still didn`t really explain to Americans
why we`re in this mess. I never felt that President Obama has spent enough
time trying to explain the financial crisis to people. Like, what actually
happened, and how did it affect your life?
(INAUDIBLE) what Clinton was always really good, at connecting what
was happening in people`s lives to what was happening in the world. And
then the second part, first to explain the financial crisis, but why the
bottom fell out of so many people`s lives, and second to explain why Obama
wasn`t able to do more about it. And I feel like he didn`t do those
GOLDBERG: Well, he didn`t really get into the fact of public sector
job loss, or nobody gets into that, which is amazing to me.
BEINART: Which is important to say, that the stimulus was part of
what kept things from going even further by...
HAYES: I disagree, actually. I think he has -- I mean, I think if
you look at the speeches -- he gave this speech at Georgetown early on that
was a pretty long evocation of what the -- you know, he talked about the
pillars built in sand. And he`s not...
HAYES: But in the case of the -- the problem with his Republican
opposition issue, and I think the reason that Bill Clinton was able to talk
about it and the president isn`t is that they have laid this trap for him
because they have created this -- what I was talking about at the top of
the show, right?
If he talks about Republican obstruction, it just reminds everyone
what a dysfunctional mess Washington is, and that -- that cynically aids
the opposition. That`s what`s so maddening.
GOLDBERG: And also, he can`t -- I mean, Bill Clinton can say it`s all
their fault. I`m not sure that Obama can say it`s all their fault.
JACOB HACKER, YALE UNIVERSITY: I don`t think that talking about how -
- what a political mess it is is necessarily against Obama`s long-term
interests. I mean, he was pretty articulate in the 2008 campaign about how
our politics was broken. And if he was saying, Look, we`ve got major
economic challenges, but our politics isn`t living up to it, he reprised
some of those themes, he talked about how we need to have continuing
political reform, I think that would resonate with a lot of people, so...
TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), U.S. HOUSE CANDIDATE: I think it would. And
that`s what I`ve been hearing from people post-convention, people who don`t
live within this political world that we live and breath, that they really
appreciated President Clinton`s speech because it just spoke the facts, it
laid it out in a way that everyone can understand, people who are working
every day and don`t have time to pay attention to the day-to-day slog of
the presidential campaigns.
HAYES: Tulsi, you`re about to -- barring some big upset -- I don`t
want to count your chickens before they hatch -- but likely to be entering
Congress next year, the least trusted institution in American life, below -
- approval ratings below Paris Hilton and the U.S. going communist. And
I`m curious, when you think about what life is going to be like come
January, what it looks like.
Let`s talk about that after we take this break.
HAYES: Well, projecting into the future and talking about what the
campaign argument looks like as we enter the stretch, and particularly what
it says about what the future of governance will look like in Washington.
And Tulsi, you`re a candidate in Hawaii`s 2nd district. You won the
Democratic primary, a big come-from-behind upset.
How do you think about what you`re going to be going into in January,
should you be elected?
GABBARD: There`s a couple things that I saw in my race in Hawaii, but
I think that are very reflective also across the country, that I saw at the
convention when I had the opportunity to meet some of the other Democratic
candidates from other states, is people are really looking for that fresh
People are looking for real people who will speak as we`re speaking
today, just having real conversations and actually listening. I think
that`s been the key thing there. And that`s where I have hope and I`m
optimistic because of this very real energy that I think will be coming in
with the crop of new legislators who are looking towards bringing back the
statesmanship that I think a lot of our longtime elected officials say has
been lost, especially in the last few years.
For us in Hawaii, we have Senator Akaka, who`s retiring, Senator
Inouye, and they have constantly talked to us about how the statesmanship
that they saw when they`ve been in office, about working with both sides
and maintaining your principles and your values and actually getting things
done, is what is causing such an exodus.
And I think that many of us who are looking to come back, if we have
the privilege of serving, is looking to bring back that ability to work
together for the people.
HAYES: You`re part of a class of Democrats running for Congress. And
one of the things we`ve noted here -- and it`s something that we have done
ourselves and are now trying to correct -- is the presidential race takes
up so much oxygen that the down-ballot races aren`t getting much attention.
And I thought the Todd Akin moment was really revelatory because it`s,
like, Todd Akin said that, and I was, like, Why were we not paying
attention to Todd Akin before he said this? Because his views were sort of
awful before that anyway.
Do you feel that there is the money and grass roots support and the
infrastructure focused on getting a Democratic House? Because that, to me
-- it seems within reach, though very difficult, an uphill climb, and also
just crucially important when we`re thinking about what that next term`s
going to look like.
GABBARD: That`s a great point. And it is. It`s absolutely critical
when we`re talking about if President Obama is reelected, about having that
cooperative relationship and actually being able to work together to get
I know that the Democratic leadership in the House is very excited,
but optimistic, but realistic, as well, about the challenge of being able
to hit that 218 magic number and are really focused on putting the
resources into those races that are on those targeted lists. So I think
that the opportunity is there.
HACKER: Yes. I mean, I think that what we know as political
scientists is that the down-ballot races in a presidential election are
determined by presidential coattails, whether there`s significant turnout
for the president.
So it`s important -- the presidential race is important, but also, I
think the money matters a lot more on the down ballot than at the
presidential level because presidents, you know, and presidential
candidates get a lot of news, a lot of attention already, and there are --
both -- you know, Obama is a formidable fund-raiser. Even if he`s
outspent, he`s going to spend a lot.
But on the down-ballot races, that`s where I think the real concern
should be about, this huge amount of outside spending. And you know, I
think that we`ve seen a real decline in competitive races over time, and
this is one of the reasons.
GABBARD: I think turnout -- you mentioned turnout -- that is a
critical, critical factor in some of these races, like in Hawaii, we have
Mazie Hirono challenging Governor Linda Lingle, and it`s turnout...
HAYES: Mazie Hirono`s the Democratic nominee. Linda Lingle is the...
GABBARD: Republican nominee...
HAYES: ... Republican.
GABBARD: ... to the seat that Senator Akaka is leaving. Turnout is
going to be the key. There`s going to be a substantial amount of money
nationally that`s going to be dumped into this race. But really, it is
going to come down to turnout and getting out the vote.
BEINART: I think one of the interesting things, I think, is how much
Obama is going to run against this money. You know, I mean, how populist
will he go? I mean, he could -- if he wanted to say, Look, Wall Street
turned against me. They`re the guys who got us into this. I made some
effort to change things, and now they`re basically trying to unseat me. I
think it would actually be quite a powerful message. I wonder if he
decides to go there.
GABBARD: And that`s -- that`s one thing that I saw that I had hoped
he would talk about in his speech was about the lack of true Wall Street
reform, and what you mentioned earlier about how that has really been one
of the major causes of our, you know, high unemployment rates and really
the downed economy, and how there really hasn`t been action taken or people
being held accountable for that.
HAYES: Let me say that I thought that -- you know, people panned the
president`s speech, or some people panned the president`s speech because it
wasn`t this sort of high-flying bit of oratory. I mean, I think -- one of
the things we`re going to talk about later in the show is the cutting edge
of science of campaigns. And it seemed to me that what people wanted from
the speech and what they were trying to do is as a sort of strategic block
in a wall that they`re building for the campaign might have just been very
different things, that there were certain marks they were trying hit.
And I thought one of the things that was striking to me about the
Democratic convention was it felt very deftly as if it was hitting certain
strategic marks. It was hitting certain marks on choice. It was hitting
certain marks on marriage equality and veterans and women and women`s
choice. And it sort of went through those. And sometimes, it could feel
like, Well, there`s no real uplift, uniting theme here.
But that may just be the most effective way of going about and
marketing because the amount of voters that were -- when you`re talking
about designing a Democratic convention, the amount of voters that that`s
really for in terms of persuadable universe is a very tiny subset of the
electorate, at this point, right?
HACKER: Yes. And it was -- I think it was skillfully set up so that
as the day went on, you would get the sort of base mobilization speeches,
and then as you moved to the primetime speeches, they focused much more on
that small segment of voters that really are persuadable.
And so I think it was very well-run convention, and certainly
contrasted sharply with the Republican convention in terms of the
discipline on display and the organization of the themes.
My own view on the president`s speech is that it was a good speech, it
wasn`t a great speech. And the reason it fell short of great, in my view,
is it that it is really, I think, important for him to what`s going to
happen after the election, how I`m going to address that concern about both
the immediate jobs problem and the long-term economic challenges of the
middle class, and he got close to that.
But ultimately it felt to me like he was, you know, falling back on
sort of the familiar idea of invoking hope, rather than setting out an
HAYES: Well, we have -- we have -- we have this fiscal cliff that`s
coming up, which is going -- which is going to force things in a certain
way. I want to talk about how -- what the dynamics on that might look like
in terms of this persistent obstruction problem right after we take this
HAYES: So we`ve had this situation now, we`ve had tremendous, I think
really unprecedented Republican obstruction. I mean, I think it`s really
just important to kind of keep in mind that, like, the debt ceiling deal
was this real break with the norms that had ruled Washington for a very
Obviously, the opposition party is going to oppose. That`s what
they`re there to do. It`s not surprising. But we have this totally
unprecedented form of obstruction. Now we have the debt ceiling deal --
you know, the debt ceiling microcosm, you know, with much higher stakes in
the fiscal cliff that`s going to happen, which is all the Bush tax cuts
expire, the sequestration goes into effect. It`d be a huge, huge horrible
shock to the economy if everything just -- all the taxes went up, the
spending went down, we`d have this big effect.
And there`s an argument to be made that that`s going to give the
president leverage to deal with Republican obstruction, and I`m curious
what you guys make of that argument. I want to be persuaded by it.
HACKER: Well, I think it will give the president leverage. How that
will be used is another question. I mean, we learned during the last fight
over expiration of the tax cuts that the Republicans were actually willing
to do a lot to get the upper-income tax cuts. They agreed to extensions of
unemployment insurance. They agreed to a continuation of the payroll tax
cut. So strategically, the president has an opportunity he wouldn`t have
The problem right now is that everything he wants to do, like the Jobs
Act, requires congressional action. With the Senate filibuster, there`s --
nothing will happen. But this has to happen, right?
And most of the observers, I think, now believe that the president
would be in the best position if he just stuck to his guns and waited until
December 31st, the expiration, and said, you know, Republicans can give up
on their desire to have $800 billion in tax cuts for the rich...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
HACKER: ... and when they`re ready to talk, I`m ready to deal.
Now, it`s still the case that -- you know, that this could be
politically damaging to Democrats, as well as Republicans, and the fight
that`s going to take place is going to take place still on terrain that I
think is favorable to Republicans in terms of some of their larger goals.
But here, I think he has a lot of leverage.
HAYES: It should also be pointed out that if the president is
reelected and he`s making these -- I mean, you know...
HAYES: ... he`s at the peak of not -- I mean, first of all, he`s in
the second term.
HAYES: It`s in the lame duck session...
HAYES: ... after he`s just been reelected.
HAYES: So in terms of his own political capital, I don`t think he has
to worry in the same way about its erosion.
BEINART: Yes, and we don`t -- you know, it`s hard to know what the
psychological impact of the election will be the day after, you know? The
Republicans were remarkably disciplined after Obama`s victory.
But I think that the mood -- you know, the Republicans I know talk --
they really believe Obama`s victory was a fluke because McCain had been a
bad candidate. I think after losing an election that they should have won,
given how bad the economy is, I think you`re going to start to see the
process of some people saying...
BEINART: ... wrong side of the country here. Now, maybe it`ll take a
third loss. Maybe -- maybe we`re still...
HAYES: Nine losses, and we`re sitting here at the table in 2060!
BEINART: But sooner or later, we`re going to have a Republican
version of the Democratic Leadership Council, and a struggle inside the
Republican Party of the kind that the Democratic Party had in the late
1980s and early `90s.
GOLDBERG: But I think you`re not going to have that until you have a
candidate that actually represents the Republican Party losing, right?
Because I was already hearing at the convention and you`re already seeing
in the right-wing media that they`ve made the same mistakes that they made
in 2008, that they nominated a kind of squishy moderate. When you nominate
a squishy moderate...
HAYES: But they put Paul Ryan with him! And that makes it harder...
GOLDBERG: Right, but they put -- no, no. They put...
BEINART: They put Sarah Palin in...
GOLDBERG: ... Sarah Palin in with McCain!
BEINART: Yes, but they doubled down on the Medicare stuff.
GOLDBERG: They`ve already made these arguments to themselves.
HAYES: All those arguments are, like -- are basically in the cue and
they`re ready to, like, fire them out!
HACKER: I would not -- I don`t think you can -- I don`t think you can
underestimate the degree to which the Republicans are going to -- or
overestimate the degree to which the Republicans are going to find
confirmatory evidence that their agenda should continue to be pursued.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
HACKER: So I think it`s very unlikely that you`re going to have a
kind of reckoning within the party in the near term. For one thing, this
is a lot more conservative party than we had after the 2008 election.
And for another thing, you know, there is going to be this sense,
Well, Obama is the incumbent president. You know, things were bad, but
they weren`t bad enough. So I think the best opportunity for action is the
action-forcing mechanism of the fiscal cliff.
HAYES: And they put -- you know -- please.
GABBARD: Yes, no, it seems just like, you know, there are the hard-
core Republicans who have their minds made up, hard-core Democrats, minds
made up. And really, the results of this presidential election are going
to be with that group of independents who I think are really looking for
leadership, true leadership. And you know, we`ve got the partisanship on
both sides but...
GOLDBERG: No, but it`s not on both sides. I mean, come on. You
know, I mean, we have -- we have -- we have, you know, certainly partisan
Democrats, but you don`t have these kind of, like, revanchists, you know,
kind of bitter-end...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s true.
GOLDBERG: ... Democrats who would rather destroy the country than see
the Republicans have any political victory. You certainly didn`t see that
with Bush. And so- and the idea -- you know, genuine independents, like
persuadables as opposed to people who say that they`re independents but
have kind of strong ideological leanings -- I mean, correct me if I`m
wrong, but it`s a pretty...
HACKER: It`s very small.
GOLDBERG: ... small and disengaged part of the population. It`s not
as if they`re the, kind of, reasonable ones and everybody else is...
HACKER: I just don`t think -- I think the other thing to remember is
that the -- you know, the electoral fight is only part of it. After the
election, the same kind of organizational barriers to action are going to
There`s going to be an enormous amount of money, lobbying money to be
protecting the -- the status quo or trying to push back against financial
regulations and health care reform. So you know, the challenge of just
trying to implement the existing achievements of the administration will be
But I think the other problem with this idea that the independents are
going to be pressuring the Republicans is that, you know, to the -- to --
we, you know, political scientists have been looking at this, and
increasingly -- I mean, we`re very surprised, right, because the parties
are moving asymmetrically apart. The Republicans are going way to the
right, the Democrats are moving modestly to the left.
How can this be if the independent voters are roughly in the center?
You know, they haven`t moved dramatically right or left. And we`ve been
struggling through that.
And what I would say is that political science has reached a couple
conclusions. One is that this is clearly activist-driven, right? So --
and the activists on the right are the Tea Party, as you suggest, are
HAYES: Hold that thought. I also want to note that you compare the
first thing that the Democrats did when President George W. Bush was
elected was work with him on No Child Left Behind, versus what -- how
Republicans responded. So there was really -- there was this honeymoon
period back in 2000.
I want to pursue this question more because it`s going to affect what
that Congress looks like that you`re going to possibly be going into in
January right after we take this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: There`s something I`ve noticed lately -- you probably have,
too -- and it`s this. Maybe it`s just because I grew up in a different
time, but though I often disagree with Republicans, I actually never
learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party
seems to hate our president and a lot of other Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I love that phrase from President Clinton -- never learned to
hate them. That phrase "learn to hate" is a really powerful phrase about
our politics in general.
Jacob, you have -- you`ve written a report about -- a document that`s
really interesting about what a second term agenda might look like. And
I`m curious what the kind of contours of it. And is it any good if we have
the same -- you know, it`s easy to write a document saying, This is what
things should be like, but when you`re facing the kind of political
challenges of this Republican opposition, how do you get from here to
HACKER: Well, I should say first I wrote it with this Yale law
student, Nate Lowenthiel (ph), who is great, and that made it relatively
easy. But it was still a big challenge. I mean, we decided that wanted to
really lay out what it would take to create -- to get the economy moving
again in the short term and to help start moving in the right direction to
restore the middle class in the long term.
And you know, there really isn`t a kind of vigorous agenda that`s on
the other side from the kind of austerity agenda of Ryan and now Romney.
And so that was our goal.
And we had a second goal, which was to get some of the major grass
roots progressive groups on board. And so ultimately, it was endorsed by
the AFL-CIO, the SEIU, the National Council of La Raza, the National
Leadership Coalition of Civil Rights, the Center for Community Change,
which all told how, you know, millions of members who are out there at the
grass roots talking about this.
And that would be the other thing I would just say, is that after the
election, you have the leverage that comes from this and you have the
leverage that comes from having outside groups that are pushing for
something else. And so that`s what gives me hope over the longer term.
You know, the president obviously has his own challenges. He`s
articulated some of these ideas, but he really hasn`t offered a kind of
bold set of prescriptions. So someone has to be out there kind of opening
up some space.
And so, you know, if AFL-CIO and SEIU and other groups are saying,
Look, we have to have a -- you know, a set of solutions that are up to the
scale of the challenges we face, I`m hopeful that that will at least open
up some broader discussion in the next few years.
HAYES: I want to turn this to you, which is that we -- you know, this
is a close race. It looks like the president is really kind of pulling
ahead in the wake of his convention. And Nate Silver`s been tweeting about
this, and there are some -- there are some promising signs from the
standpoint of the president`s reelection campaign this convention did what
it needed to do.
Quickly, if the shoe is on the other foot, you go and serve in
Congress in January with President Mitt Romney, how are you going to see
yourself interacting with the Republican administration?
GABBARD: The work is going to be tough, to say the least. There`s a
lot of things that would concern me in that scenario, one of which is
that`s very personal to me. I have some friends who are on their way to
Afghanistan now from the Hawaii Army National Guard.
Mitt Romney`s positions on foreign policy, his position on
Afghanistan, really, that would be open-ended, who knows how long we would
end up staying there, is something that worries me tremendously. I
HAYES: That`s one of his many positions.
GABBARD: One of his many -- yes, exactly, which is -- which is the
point, right? It`s hard to know exactly how things will be if his
positions keep changing. And I think the burden on the Democrats will
really be to communicate. We have to really work hard, I think, better
than we have been, communicating to people, middle class families across
the country, about what it is we`re trying to do to be able to get that
kind of broad-based grass roots support.
HAYES: I should end on this note, which is that, you know, for
whatever obstruction there is in the future, the things that have been
done, and particularly the Affordable Care Act, right -- it will die. It
will be killed by President Mitt Romney...
HACKER: That`s right.
HAYES: ... very early on. He`ll kill it using budget reconciliation.
They`ll -- you know, if there`s -- if Mitt Romney is elected and there`s a
Republican Senate, it doesn`t survive. The most remarkable, in some ways,
achievement of domestic policy for the center left of this country, the
Democratic Party and progressives, since Medicare, I would say, is on the
table. Forget any forward-looking obstruction. I just want to leave on
I want to thank Jacob Hacker, professor of political science at Yale
University, for joining us this morning. Great to have you here.
All right, Democrats take it to Republicans on foreign policy, when we
HAYES: While much of President Obama`s domestic agenda has been
stymied by an obstructionist Republican Party in Congress the last two
years, he has been much more unfettered on foreign policy. Democrats at
the convention were eager to point out the president`s victories in that
area, notably, the success of the operation ordered by President Obama that
killed Osama bin Laden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Osama bin Laden is
dead, and General Motors is alive!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... take out bin Laden...
TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: ... bin laden...
GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: ... bin laden...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... bin laden...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... bin laden...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... Osama bin Laden...
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: ... Osama bin Laden...
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: ... bin Laden...
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Ask Osama bin
Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In a video played to introduce President Obama on Thursday
night, former president Bill Clinton further emphasized President Obama`s
singular role in ordering the operation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: That`s one thing George Bush said that was right, the
president is the decider-in-chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: President Obama`s foreign policy and national security
credentials were served up as a stark contrast to the relative lack of
foreign policy experience on the Republican ticket, something the president
himself pointed out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: My opponent and his running mate are -- new to foreign policy.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: But from all that we`ve seen and heard, they want to take us
back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly.
After all, you don`t call Russia our number one enemy -- not al Qaeda,
Russia -- unless you`re still stuck in a cold war mind warp.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining us now is Jeremy Scahill, my colleague at "The Nation,
where he is national security correspondent. Great to have you here.
It was really striking. Yesterday, we talked about the sort of
classic culture war issues and how aggressive Democrats seemed on things
that they had previously been on their heels about, things like marriage
equality and choice for women and the immigration Dream Act. They seemed
to be leading with that.
And the same dynamic, I think, seemed to be true on foreign policy and
national security -- the invocation of Osama bin Laden, the ridicule -- I
mean, there was almost this amazing reversal -- if you look at the 2004
Republican convention to the 2012 Democratic convention -- here`s -- I want
to show -- here is Dick Cheney in 2004 employing this ridicule against John
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even in this
post-9/11 period, Senator Kerry doesn`t appear to understand how the world
has changed. He talks about leading a more sensitive war on terror...
CHENEY: ... as though al Qaeda will be impressed with our softer
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And now here`s John Kerry, who, of course, was the butt of all
those jokes eight years ago, being the one who`s doing the mocking in what
was by far the biggest "dis track" of the convention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: Folks, Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska.
Mitt Romney talks like he`s only seen Russia by watching "Rocky 4"!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Tulsi, I want to -- I want to come to you on this because
you`re of a generation of Democratic politicians that came of age during
this era of long war. If people are not familiar with your bio, you were
elected to the state house at 21. You then signed up for the National
Guard, and not just signed up for the National Guard, after you`d been
doing some training, volunteered to deploy to Iraq, went to Iraq, came
back, did another deployment, that one was in Kuwait, and have continued
your political career.
You`re still a member of the National Guard, if I`m not mistaken.
HAYES: And my understanding is that that experience changed your
politics quite a bit. You were a conservative, I believe, quite
conservative, conservative on social issues, certainly, when you were 21,
and your deployment changed your politics.
And I want you to talk about that and then talk a bit more broadly
about what you saw from Democrats in this convention.
GABBARD: Absolutely. You know, my deployments both to Iraq and
Kuwait absolutely were life-changing in so many ways. Specifically, you
know, with regards to social issues and kind of my politics in general,
seeing firsthand the extreme, really the extreme negative effects of what
can happen in societies where the government tries to be a so-called moral
arbiter for its people, and drawing that link from extremists in the Middle
East to some of the conversations that we`re having here at home, places
where our government should have no presence -- you know, whether it`s in a
doctor`s office where a woman is making difficult decisions about her
future and her reproductive rights, or about who to love and who we want to
spend our lives with.
And I think that`s an important perspective, even when we talk about
separation of church and state. We hear a lot of conversations here about
so-called morality within government, but there are these positions that
really need to stay within the realm of your religious beliefs, your
church, your culture, your personal lives, your family.
And that`s really what my experience in the Middle East taught me and
caused me to really reflect on the values and beliefs that I had grown up
with and my own views now about government`s role within our personal lives
here in a place where we celebrate freedom.
HAYES: To fill in the context for people who don`t know, your father
is a state politician and extremely prominent in advocating against
marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.
GABBARD: So needless to say, we have some very colorful dinner
conversations at home.
HAYES: Yes, I mean, and this is -- this -- in Hawaii, this is a big
deal. I mean, he`s very well known. He`s known for that. He was probably
the singular spokesperson the first time the issue came up in the late
You were one of a number of veterans that took the stage. We have a
little "B" roll of that. And I`m curious what you thought the -- what was
the foreign policy message, the national security message, of this
Democratic convention to you?
GABBARD: I think, clearly, the message was delivered by many
different speakers throughout the convention, the appreciation and paying
tribute and honor to veterans and those who serve, and understanding their
contributions to our communities and our country, and also understanding
how what our presence is overseas, basically, the shrinking global
community that we have and how important it is.
And I was glad that they brought this up because this is an issue that
does rise above the partisan politics and it`s an issue that affects
families all across the country. And I think that we need to actually do
more to express this sense of urgency, where every single day that we are
at war, people are losing lives and families here at home are being
HAYES: I think there`s sort of three -- three -- three lanes this was
happening on. There`s the appreciation of veterans, celebration of
veterans and talking about veterans` issues, which was very prominent.
There was the operation on Osama bin Laden, which was obviously very
And then there was kind of everything else, right? Foreign policy --
how long are we going to stay in Afghanistan? The drone issue that -- and
I want to talk about that everything else and maybe what focus on the first
two didn`t highlight so much on the third right after we take this break.
HAYES: Jeremy Scahill, what was your impression of watching this kind
of -- the posture from the Democratic Party at this convention on national
security issues, which is what you cover?
JEREMY SCAHILL, THENATION.COM: Well, I mean, you know, regarding the
way that, you know, Osama bin Laden`s name was used by the Democrats at the
convention, it really felt like we were watching a parade of jingoism that
belonged in a sports bar.
And you know, I think the fact is that there has been no serious
analysis of the president`s foreign policy in all of the coverage I`ve seen
of the Democratic national convention, including MSNBC.
There has been no serious, hard-hitting critique of the president`s
foreign policy from the issues that actually are real or that distinguish
him, you know, from the Republicans because the fact is that the Democratic
foreign policy is distinguishable from the Republicans` only insofar as the
president took some of the worst aspects of the Bush-era foreign policy and
pushed them forward.
BEINART: Wait a second. That`s not entirely -- that`s not entirely
fair. I mean, there`s some truth to that, but if you look at what`s
happened on Iran over the past few weeks, I think, where I think the
administering has quite skillfully pushed back on pressure that was
mounting on them to set a deadline by which they would take military action
-- I think that was a pretty significant difference.
SCAHILL: But we have -- we have -- we have a president who in a two-
week period authorized the assassination of three U.S. citizens in Yemen,
including a 16-year-old boy, who was killed while he was having a barbecue
with his teenage friends, named Abu Rahman al Awlaki. They have never been
able to produce who the target of that strike was...
HAYES: We do not know that he was the target...
SCAHILL: Well, he -- the president authorized operations over a two-
week period that resulted in the deaths of three American citizens,
including a 16-year-old boy. And if you`re going to use Osama bin Laden`s
killing as a football to spike on the national stage, I want the president
of the United States to explain to the American people...
GOLDBERG: At his convention?
SCAHILL: ... why -- why -- if you`re going to use it in such a
SCAHILL: Yes, if you`re going to use it in such a cynical way...
GOLDBERG: Basically, I agree with you about the drone policy. But it
would be political malpractice to, A, not kind of milk the bin Laden thing
on the national stage when you`re running against a Republican. And
SCAHILL: I`m talking about countries where -- where in -- where these
drone strikes happen. I`m not talking about political malpractice, I`m
GOLDBERG: Right, but we are talking about the convention, so there`s
two different things. There`s the discussion about the president`s foreign
policy, but then there`s also the discussion about kind of how they`re
using that foreign policy to win a very important election.
SCAHILL: But many of the media discussions, including here on MSNBC,
about foreign policy during the convention felt like we were watching an
Obama for America meet-up, not an actual serious critique of this
president`s most egregious aspects (ph) to his foreign policy, where you do
see that of the Republicans.
There`s all of this going after Romney, and I think it`s completely
legitimate, but some of the core issues of this president`s national
security policy are not being debated.
And I`m sorry, but watching John Kerry and Joseph Biden criticizing
the war in Iraq -- they voted for the war in Iraq! Joe Biden was the chair
of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and shut down debate about Iraq
when it was being debated in this country!
I mean, there`s revisionism. There`s jingoism. To me -- I`m not
thinking about this from a cynical political perspective. I`m talking
about life-and-death issues that cut to the heart of, Are we going to
follow the Constitution when it comes to due process for American citizens!
HAYES: We should disaggregate some of the issues, right, because I
think a lot of things are getting bound up in that, right? There`s -- so
there is the ending the war in Iraq, right? It -- the status of forces
agreement was negotiated by the Bush administration that we adhered to.
There was even some evidence we were trying to get out of it, but at the
end of the day, the end result was the president did end the war, right? I
mean, we`re going to keep quite a large force of essentially paid
mercenaries behind. There`s a huge embassy. But combat troops have been
brought home. And I think that is in one column.
There`s extension, there`s a surge in Afghanistan, right, the
increased troops -- we have 87,000 troops there -- and the deadline for
that. There`s the decision to order the strike against Osama bin Laden.
And then there is the massive drone policy and all of the engagements
that we`ve engaged in, in terms of bombing and drones across other theaters
that you`ve been covering. So I just want to put those out there as
distinct things. And then there`s Iran.
GOLDBERG: And then there`s Iran.
HAYES: Right. So let`s sort of look at some of those individually,
rather than as a sort of full portfolio. And Tulsi, I`d like to get your
thoughts on it when we come back.
HAYES: Hello from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. With me this morning,
I have Peter Beinart, author of "The Crisis of Zionism," Democratic
congressional candidate Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Jeremy Scahill from "The
Nation" magazine and Michelle Goldberg of "Newsweek" and TheDailyBeast.
We are talking about the national security policy and foreign policy
both articulated and performed at the Democratic convention, I think what
would be the two ways of thinking about it, right? What were the actual
policy positions, what were the atmospherics about what the Democrats`
posture on these positions are?
And Jeremy, you levered (ph) a pretty scathing critique of what you
thought was jingoism, the sort of constant invocation of Osama bin Laden,
which we showed.
Michelle, you were saying that you -- it would be political
malpractice not to essentially celebrate the fact that Osama bin Laden is
As a politician, Tulsi, I`d like to get your response to this, how the
death of Osama bin Laden was treated at the convention, what you thought of
how that was...
GABBARD: There`s no question that it was highlighted tremendously, I
think really as an example of President Obama`s leadership in being able to
be decisive at a time, you know, where we spent a lot of time looking for
Osama bin Laden post-9/11. And as a soldier who was deployed to Iraq,
obviously, that was pretty significant for many of us.
But I think also the issue of Afghanistan was not really talked about
enough, and in my view Congress and the president really needs to take a
stronger role in that and not just gloss over, where we`re saying, OK, hey,
we`re going to end combat operations in 2014, but what does that really
mean? What happens after so-called end of combat operations? How many
troops are going to be on the ground there doing noncombat operations?
When I was deployed to Iraq, something that I`ll never forget, I was
serving in a medical unit, and on one of the gates there, we had a huge
sign that was mounted that said, "Is today the day?" And it caused all of
us to reflect -- if anyone was being complacent about the reality of the
situation we were in, but I think it`s also very relevant about the sense
of urgency that we need to have here in this country about every single day
our troops are down range, it`s affecting them, it`s affecting families in
our community and for what?
HAYES: Yes. And that question I think the -- you know, the
president said I ended the war in Iraq and in 2014, we`re going to end the
war in Afghanistan. And the question I think that naturally rises when you
hear that is why 2014?
GABBARD: Exactly. And what`s going to be different? And this is
the question I have is what`s going to be different in 2014 than it is
today? We`re still going to be dealing with a corrupt government. We`re
still going to be dealing with the tribal form of leadership there, and
we`re still going to be dealing with al Qaeda that is moving around
different places and looking to go back at any time.
PETER BEINART, AUTHOR: The amazing thing is Joe Biden had that
powerful moment where he gave the number of people who have died and been
injured in this war, and I was thinking, part of some of those are because
you decided -- this administration whose White House --
HAYES: Against Joe Biden`s counsel --
BEINART: I don`t think Biden believed that. I don`t think Obama
believed in it. Basically decided to send more troops.
And the amazing thing is because I think in large measure, they felt
political pressure, but the reality is there`s no political pressure. The
Republican convention cheered Clint Eastwood when Clint Eastwood said we
never should have gone into Afghanistan. This thing is so mindless at this
HAYES: Yes. What`s remarkable about Afghanistan is there is --
there`s essentially -- we don`t really know what Mitt Romney thinks about
Afghanistan, but --
BEINART: Or if he thinks about Afghanistan.
HAYES: There`s a huge --
GABBARD: We know he`s criticizing Obama for even saying he`s going
to put out in 2014, which is what is frightening, if Mitt Romney gets
elected, what is the plan going to be? How long it`s going to be, 10
years, 20 years, 30 years to work toward a so-called stable Afghan
government that can really only be accomplished if the Afghan people start
making some pretty tough decisions about what direction they want their
country to go in.
JEREMY SCAHILL, THE NATION: I mean, you know what`s interesting is,
you know, one of Mitt Romney`s main foreign policy advisers is this sort of
notorious gangster-ish thug named Cofer Black who said bin Laden`s head was
going to be brought back in a box with dry ice. He was sort of obsessed
with corporal mutilation, we`re going to put their heads on pikes.
And he was the guy who really ran the whole torture program at the
CIA. It was kind of his brainchild. And he`s one of the main foreign
policy advisers of Mitt Romney.
I think these guys are sort of salivating at how effectively Obama
has convinced liberals that the sort of kill list thing is a good idea or
that the drones are a good idea. You see that the poll numbers on drone
strikes among liberals are pretty disturbing, how many liberals actually
support these drone strikes.
And when you talk about the case of an American citizen, my views are
apparently in the minority, the radical minority in this country because
people -- you know, two-thirds or more of Democrats support this. But
Romney -- I mean, are we comfortable with Mitt Romney controlling that hit
list around the world and someone like Cofer Black coming back in and
potentially being national security adviser?
HAYES: This is the question. So, I mean, I think the flip side of
the projections of decider-ness, right, decisiveness that we saw is that
the conceptual core of that, right, and obviously there`s a political power
to that. I mean, I`m the president, I have to make these decisions, and
that`s true at a certain level.
I think the thing that is a dangerous, seductive element of that is
investing more and more power in the executive, right? Because that is
going to endure past President Obama and what we have seen the trend be in
the United States since basically the passage of the War Powers Act back in
the wake of Vietnam and Watergate is more and more power being invested in
the executive, particularly in the war on terror.
SCAHILL: It`s Cheney`s life`s work.
HAYES: Right. I mean, it`s Dick Cheney`s life`s work and much of it
is continued in certain ways with this president. And in terms of handing
that power off, there is this video, John Cook with Gawker at the DNC going
around asking Democrats the question that you just posed. Would you feel
comfortable trusting Mitt Romney with this power? Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN COOK, GAWKER: Americans trust Mitt Romney to make the call
about which U.S. citizens to assassinate with drones? Is he ready to
handle a kill list?
Mr. Mayor, can Americans trust Mitt Romney to decide which citizens
get killed in drone strikes?
MAYOR CORY BOOKER, NEWARK N.J.: Again, my point is right now I`m
focused on President Barack Obama and his stance.
COOK: Can Americans trust Mitt Romney to decide which American
citizens get extrajudicially assassinated and which ones don`t?
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Let`s see. I don`t think he`ll
do that, but I think there are a lot of other issues they shouldn`t trust
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right. So you`re going to be in Congress, so I have to
ask you this question. Do you feel comfortable with from what you know --
these are public reports, the program is classified but there`s been leaks
and stuff we have read from "The New York Times," the power the president
has right now in the White House to create this kill list. Do you feel
comfortable with that as a mainstay of executive authority going forward
if, say, Mitt Romney is the person who wields it?
GABBARD: The short answer is no. And I think what you touched on a
few minutes ago was really about how Congress has given up or not really
stood up for the job that it has of actually being the decider on where we
go into battle, where we send our troops, and this is something we`ve seen
now for many, many years and something that I think is important for
Congress to really take a hard line, especially if Mitt Romney is elected.
But just in general, it`s critical for us to stand up, should I have
the privilege of serving in Congress, to do our jobs and actually decide
these difficult decisions.
SCAHILL: You know, not too long ago interviewed Senator Ron Wyden,
who`s on the Senate Intelligence Committee. And I was asking him about
this issue, because, you know, they have a right to have access to this
information. They`re supposed to be briefed about many of these sensitive
operations. I was asking about this process for how an American citizen
ends up on a kill list.
And what Wyden was saying is that he believes that the intelligence
committee hasn`t actually had that fully explained to these people with
these special security clearances. Moreover, he said that the American
people would be shocked if they were allowed to access the administration`s
interpretation of the same laws that the American people can read publicly.
In other words, Wyden said there are two sets of laws in this country --
one that the American people are allowed to read and then one which exists
in secret which is the administration`s interpretation of those laws.
That`s a pretty sobering thing to hear from someone who`s been on the
intelligence committee since 2001.
HAYES: I should note. To me, you know, there`s two distinct issues
here that we should be clear about.
One is the substantive policy, right? The existence of the kill
list, the ways in which we`re using both Special Forces and drones as a
tool of counterterrorism that means engaging in hostile activities,
sometimes in a few cases against American citizens in countries we haven`t
declared war with as the means of fighting the war on terror actually. As
a means of going after al Qaeda, and whether that`s a justifiable policy
from a strategic standpoint in terms of whether it`s actually in the best
interest of U.S. national security; from a legal and constitutional
standpoint, whether it actually adheres to our basic principles of
constitutional due process.
So, there`s the substantive issue. And then there`s the secrecy
issue, right? Before you even get to that issue, it`s what do we know
about what our government is doing? Will they even admit to and address
the fact that, say, Anwar al Awlaki who was an American citizen was put on
a kill list, was clearly, evidently killed by an American drone.
And that is almost primary to the second order issue. I mean, it
seems to me that it might be possible that under conditions of more
transparency, I could be persuaded about the substance of the policy. But
under the current conditions, you can`t really even get to that argument
because of the amount of secrecy that surrounds it.
GABBARD: I think we need to have that argument though about
strategically what kind of tactics we as a country will employ against this
modern-day threat. I think if you look at what the options are on both
sides, you look at this unconventional warfare where you have small special
force strike teams, quick insert/quick exit versus kind of the conventional
where we have close to 100,000 troops plus over 100,000 DOD civilians
really staying and plunking down in a country for over now 10 years.
And I think that`s something we need to talk about because we`re
dealing with such an unconventional threat, an enemy in al Qaeda that knows
no allegiance and loyalty to a specific nation, highly mobile, and we need
to be able to respond in kind.
HAYES: Do you foresee a time when we can -- I mean, I think the
thing that I think about is 9/11, authorization of use of military force,
declaration of a war on terror, the invasion of Iraq, the continuing war in
Afghanistan, now this new counter-terrorist front for Special Forces and
drone strikes -- do you envision as someone who served in theater a time
when we can declare it over? I mean, do you imagine some day when we just
say, this period of war won`t be permanent, this is over?
GABBARD: I would like to say yes, but I think it`s going to require
us as leaders and a nation to really look at this in a modern warfare
concept and really look at the modern threats and where we say, well, now
we are at war, or we`re not at war. I think we`ve got to really just
change the whole dynamic of how we look at this and we can`t look at it in
the traditional sense that we have, you know, for the last 50 or 100 years.
SCAHILL: See, I think you were talking before about the -- what a
second term of Obama would look like. I mean, I think that there`s going
to be a return to the kind of military policy that we saw under President
Clinton where it was sort of cruise missile liberalism in a sense where you
had these air wars, you had the Kosovo air war, you had the strikes against
Sudan following the embassy bombings in 1998, combined with the use of JSOC
and other Special Operations forces.
I would look for a bleeding of the conflict in a low intensity way
into Mali, Mauritania, Somalia heating up, Pakistan I think will continue
to be there, Yemen as well, and trying to move away from large-scale
deployments. I think --
BEINART: Because they don`t have the money for those large-scale
But there`s another factor, too, which is I think -- and to me,
almost the most remarkable thing when historian looks at it, is no
discussion in this convention about China. It seems to me this very Middle
East-heavy American foreign policy cannot continue that many more years.
Foreign policy -- China is going to be the dominant issue --
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, NEWSWEEK: There is a question about China but
it`s only in terms of outsourcing.
BEINART: That`s right. But it`s never talk about -- there is an
emerging geopolitical game going on in China which is now rivaling the U.S.
control in the Pacific, which is going to dwarf all of this stuff and it`s
still not on the political radar.
HAYES: Jeremy Scahill of "The Nation" magazine, national security
correspondent, my friend, thanks for coming in.
SCAHILL: I look forward to the ad hominem attacks on Twitter.
HAYES: Oh, yes, they`ll be there.
The secrets of how to win the presidential elections and who`s
explaining those secrets. That`s up next.
HAYES: We are now just two months away from the presidential
election, and in those two months you are likely to be inundated with
campaign ads. Spending of those ads will reach historic levels and if the
trend so far continues, almost all of them will be negative.
The day after President Obama`s acceptance speech, the Romney
campaign announced a massive new ad buy of 15 different ads in eight
different swing states, like this one airing in Ohio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This president can ask us to
be patient. This president can tell us it was someone else`s fault. But
this president cannot tell us that you`re better off today than when he
NARRATOR: Here in Ohio, we`re not better off under President Obama.
His defense cuts will weaken national security and threaten over 20,000
The Romney plan reverse Obama defense cuts, strengthen our military,
and create over 450,000 new jobs for Ohio.
ROMNEY: I`m Mitt Romney and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We should mention that the ad, like many of Romney`s ads, is
disingenuous nonsense. The defense cuts he criticizes are actually not
President Obama`s, they`re the ones in the sequestration we were speaking
of earlier agreed to by both Democrats and Republicans as part of the
bipartisan pact to cut the deficit, which is, of course, what Republicans
Also, I have to note that the implicit idea here is that, you know,
government can create jobs as long as every dollar spent is spent on
defense. Spend it on anything else, it doesn`t create jobs. Obviously, if
you spend it on defense it does create jobs. I can think of no coherent
economic theory that would suggest why that`s the case, but I digress.
The bigger question, the question that will in many ways be central
to the campaign over the next two months is this: will the ad make any
difference whatsoever? The answer, according to a growing body of
research, is no. If tomorrow morning, you were to wake up and find
yourself a candidate for political office, one of the first things you
would do is hire consultants. And if those consultants subscribe to the
conventional wisdom, they would tell you to do basically two things: raise
money and run ads.
Now that the conventions are over, the campaigns are shifting fully
into the second phase, the ad phase. The campaign and media narrative are
going to be dictated in large part about what those ads say and where they
appear. New research into what motivates people to vote and what doesn`t
has the potential to revolutionize campaigns. And if the people who run
those campaigns realize that it in time, that research could fundamentally
alter shape the outcome of this presidential election.
Join us now to talk about this are Sasha Issenberg, columnist for
Slate.com and author of "The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning
Campaigns," a much awaited new book that comes out Tuesday and I cannot
wait to read it.
Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, chief digital organizer of the
2008 Obama campaign, and now publisher and editor in chief of "The New
And Walter Shapiro, columnist of Yahoo! News and "Columbia Journalism
Review" and a former White House speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter.
It`s great to have you all here.
We also have Bob Shrum, a Democratic consultant, strategist, who has
worked for several presidential campaigns, now a senior fellow at NYU`s
Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Bob, great to have you here.
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Chris, I assume I`m over here in
the corner because I was representing the tie-wearing camera --
SHRUM: Then I saw Walter, and he has a tie on, too.
HAYES: I let him go this time but you are at the tie-wearing camera.
So, let`s start with the basic question of, Sasha, this is something
you`re doing research on and one of the -- from what I`ve read of the parts
of your book that have been published, there`s more and more scientific
approach of testable hypotheses, randomization, experimental looks at the
way campaign methods work.
What do we know -- what does that research say about ads and their
SASHA ISSENBERG, SLATE.COM: You know, one of the few times people
have empirically measured the impact of ads was in Rick Perry`s 2006
campaigns where he brought on four academic political scientists and
basically invited them to run randomized control trials on basically every
aspect of his campaign that they could --
HAYES: He said, you guys tell us where to run the ads and you can --
ISSENBERG: Yes, I`m really skeptical that the things I`m spending
money on all these things that I have raised tens of millions of dollars
out of my campaigns are doing anything, I want to know what works. For
three weeks, they randomized his buys across 18 of Texas 20 media markets.
What they found is that ads have been impact but it`s small and it decays
So you can move some numbers, you can move his positive number in
that case, you can move his number in the horse race, but after a few days,
it goes away and after a couple weeks any influence is gone entirely.
HAYES: One of the other things that we`ve seen, and there`s a new
paper I was reading last night by a political scientist, co-authored by a
political scientist named Mike Jones that I know and he looked at
congressional races. And basically what happens is the ads tend to cancel
each other out. The thing that makes an ad effective is a lot more ad buys
than your opponent.
But it`s very hard in competitive races to have a lot more ad buys
than your opponent because competitive races by definition are ones where
people are running roughly the same amount of ads and buying the same
And there seems to me there`s an interesting deeper cultural tension
here between a consultant class that has been navigating by gut and
instinct and this kind of emerging empirical analysis.
And, Bob, I want to get your thoughts on this. I mean, you go in,
what are you basing your decisions on here or have been over the last, you
know, several decades you have been doing this work when you tell someone
that we should be putting money in running ads and this ad is going to
SHRUM: Well, first of all, I`m retired, so I guess I could just join
here in the beating up because I don`t have any self-interest in this.
Secondly, even the piece of evidence you cited that the ads cancel
each other out in congressional races, that means no one`s side is ever
going to unilaterally disarm. So people are going to keep running the ads.
Third, that study focused on congressional races where there is an
awful lot of gerrymandering and so most races are decided in advantages.
Fourth, it`s suggested that it could make a 3 percent difference in
those congressional races. A 3 percent difference is in many cases are
going to determine the outcome, could control the outcome in terms of the
Finally, I can go back to campaigns I was in. I mean, you take the
Kennedy campaign against Romney in 1994, the Bain ads and they didn`t look
like ads, they just looked like people coming on television and talking to
you, had a profound impact on that race. And there was a huge amount of
What Sasha is writing about -- and I`m actually in the process of
reading the book to review it -- what Sasha is writing about is very
interesting. It`s a development that I think gives campaigns a powerful
new tool, but it`s not -- it`s not a secret sauce, but it`s certainly not a
replacement sauce. You know, I think of these guys who -- political
scientists who say campaigns don`t matter.
SHRUM: The outcome for the presidency is predetermined from the
beginning. You know what? We are never going to have the experiment where
HAYES: Well, that`s true. That`s true. That`s true.
But, Walter, you have covered the industry of the kind of what I call
the campaign industrial complex, and one of the things you have kind of
said is, you know, basically people that have the job that Bob Shrum used
to have basically have to say that.
So, I want you to talk about why that is after we take this break.
WALTER SHAPIRO, CJR.ORG: OK.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know campaigns can
seem small, even silly sometimes. Trivial things become big distractions.
Serious issues become sound bites. The truth gets buried under an
avalanche of money and advertising. If you`re sick of hearing me "approve
this message," believe me, so am I.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Very funny line from the president at his speech talking
about the onslaught of ads.
Walter Shapiro, we just heard from Bob Shrum about his view that a
good ad really does and can make a difference. And I`m curious to put this
in the contention of the broader industry of people that make these ads.
SHAPIRO: Well, first of all, a good ad may make the difference, but
most of the ads in this campaign have not been good ads. They are the
cookie cutter things that are boring if you watch them on YouTube. You can
imagine how boring they are, like those Romney ads you showed early on.
If you`re doing it, they come at you unawares while you`re watching
television and going up to go to the kitchen. It`s not going to say, this
is a compelling moment, I have to come back.
Number two, going back to that study, voters have so much other
information in a presidential race as opposed to a congressional race that
the impact of ads I think is a lot lower in a presidential race than even
in a 1994 Senate campaign in Massachusetts.
But the largest thing is that the way the compensation structure of a
political campaign is set up is that in addition to the salaries listed in
the filing to the Federal Election Commission, the ad makers and the ad
team take a certain percentage of the ad buy which is just lumped together
in the FEC reports with the actual TV costs.
HAYES: Explain what that means. Explain what that means.
SHAPIRO: Well, Bob Shrum can probably do numbers better than I can,
but basically it`s a leftover from the early days of commercial television
advertising, and as much as 15 percent of the ad buys, mostly negotiated
down from that, can be called -- can basically go to the ad team as a fee.
HAYES: Right. So the point -- to people who are listening to this,
the incentive structure is such that you`re the person who oversees what
kind of ads to run and how much money to put on ads, and your compensation
is such that the more money you put into ads, the more money you get paid.
CHRIS HUGHES, THE NEW REPUBLIC: What`s really unique though about
this cycle is that we`re seeing the emergence of a lot more digital
consulting firms, particularly on the left and with the Obama campaign.
And they are taking approach where there`s still a belief that ads work but
as television habits shift, the question is how do you get ads online.
And actually we`re seeing the emergence of persuasion advertising
online in the cycle. Whereas in previous time, it was all about get out
the vote and just getting people into the funnel to become field organizers
HAYES: Is that because you can find -- I mean, this sort of
transitions us to this kind of what the next frontier is.
The thing about a television ad, a broadcast ads in general is that
it`s essentially a 1960s technology, which doesn`t mean you shouldn`t do it
-- hi, advertisers -- keep doing your thing, but that there are other more
specific ways to --
HUGHES: Yes. The possibility of targeting particularly online right
now is really incredible. Not only to get potential supporters so that
they become more excited and potentially become donors but to actually find
those people who the campaigns know need to be persuaded in a swing state
while they`re watching a YouTube video and converting them at that moment.
ISSENBERG: It means that generally, had two entirely different
categories of communication. There`s media where you sort of have to talk
to everybody at the same time. And there`s what they call voter contact,
which is usually historically been mail, phones, canvassing, somebody
knocking on your door.
And there you know who you`re talking to and you actually get
information back from them. You know you had a contact.
TV, you get none of that. Radio, you get none of that.
What this cycle in a way that wasn`t true in `08 has done is online,
we`re starting to fuse those two, where you get all the advantages of
broadcast content, video, the sort of full dynamism of a 30-second spot,
but you know who you`re delivering it to and if they saw it.
SHAPIRO: Chris, is the fee structure the same for online digital ads
as it is for over the air TV ads? For example, one of the reasons why get-
out-the-vote was always a stepchild of campaigns is no one ever bought a
vacation house with their fee structure from get-out-the-vote.
HUGHES: It depends on the firm. There are some firms that are more
mature about these things and just charge on conversions -- in other words
the number of people that sign up. And others do it differently.
But the thing that`s really tricky about looking at the numbers is if
you`re talking about the economics of e-mail addresses. Once you get on
the Obama list, Obama can then convert an e-mail address into donor and we
just saw last week, they announced 700,000 donations at $50 a pop, $35
million bucks raised just last week online that was the result of that
online advertising program.
So it`s where voter contact and media merge.
HAYES: Well, and you don`t have to -- you can know who you`re
talking to, which is this big sort of next frontier.
Bob, I want you to weigh in on this incentive question, because it
And, Tulsi, I want you to talk about what your experience has been in
the market for campaigns consultants and how you pulled off the primary
victory you did, right after we take this break.
HAYES: We`re talking about the cutting edge of campaign science and
what we know and what we don`t know about what actually works in
campaigning. I mean, the thing that`s amazing and I have worked a little
bit in campaigns in the past, it always seemed so superstitious to me or
like alchemy, right? There`s this kind of hocus-pocus feel to it. The
question of what do we actually know about what persuades people.
And, Bob Shrum, as someone who has worked on a number of campaigns, I
want you to just respond to the point that Walter Shapiro was making about
the incentive structure and how that does or does not affect the choices
that consultants make and push for campaigns.
SHRUM: Well, here from the pinata corner, let me say four things.
SHRUM: One, there`s nobody unless the candidate is insane who is
getting paid 15 percent in very large major races like the presidential
campaign. That certainly was not true in Kerry. Certainly was not true in
Gore. Was certainly not true in Clinton.
And, in fact, in the Kerry campaign in the last three weeks, we gave
up the entire commission which was considerably lower than 15 percent in
fairly low single digits to try to win that election.
Secondly, I want to say something for the people who are still in
this business and I`ll pick the people who are doing the media in the Obama
campaign. David Axelrod, Jim Margolis, Mike Donilon are generally
honorable people who care desperately about winning this election.
If they thought that the ads didn`t work and there was a better use
of the money, they would use it elsewhere.
Thirdly, Chris Hayes is absolutely right and Sasha added in on this,
we are going it see more and more advertising moving to the Internet
because more people spend time on the Internet and less time on television.
But there`s going to be a compensation structure there.
I think what we`re doing here is tilting at windmills and I think
it`s the wrong windmill.
Look, Bain and taxes would not be an issue in the way it is in this
campaign without advertising.
HAYES: Right. We should make this point about ads, right? There`s
the primary effect of an ad which is you see it and what impression it
makes and there`s this second effect of if it gets picked up by the press,
and becomes a central part of the earned media conversation, and there`s
research that suggests that does have an effect.
SHRUM: Chris, even at the beginning the mainstream media tended to
dismiss the Bain ads. Most of the comment on it was negative, not mine.
But after about two or three weeks, when people saw results in the polling
in those battleground states said those ads were working, then they picked
it up --
HAYES: That`s a serious issue. The polling tells it. You have just
gone through what I would imagine is a daunting process of declaring
yourself a candidate and then you go shopping and basically people come
knocking on your door and they say these are my services and how do you
distinguish the snake oil salesman from -- because there is this --
GABBARD: It`s a good question. It`s a good question, and especially
challenging for first-time congressional candidates like myself because we
want to make sure that whoever we hire is someone who is not only going to
know and respect the individual, unique dynamics of our communities which
in Hawaii is incredibly important but also who I will be able to work with
because ultimately, you know, I think someone mentioned earlier the choices
that the consultants will make.
Well, if you`re the candidate, you better be making the choices.
HAYES: Yes, you got to own all those choices.
GABBARD: Right. And they will give -- and my media consultant was
Joe Trippi. And we had many heated debates throughout the campaign about
what to do, what not to do. But I give him so much credit because he saved
me from myself many times.
And he also came up with ads -- you were talking earlier about the
difference between good ads and not-so good ads. People have come up and
told me, you know, I was brushing my teeth and I saw your ad come on, and I
actually stopped brushing my teeth because your ad caught my interest. I
really wanted to listen and hear what you had to say.
HAYES: That`s your famous "hey you, stop brushing your teeth" ad.
It got a fair amount of play in the media.
Chris, how do you see this -- what do you think of the big
differences between 2008 in campaigning and this year? And then project
out 10 years from now, what are we going to be seeing then? What`s the
trajectory of where campaigns are heading?
HUGHES: Yes, I think the big story perhaps isn`t as sexy as the one
in 2008 because --
HAYES: Which was sexy and got a lot of attention.
HUGHES: It did. But this story is more about data. I`m sure Sasha
can speak to this as well. But the opportunity to create integrated
databases amongst supporters and potential persuadable voters is immense.
It means that you can have a field operative in the Obama campaign and its
offices in all these states, spent four times what the Romney campaign has,
and know very clearly who exactly on a block you need to talk to, exactly
what you should say to them, and then once someone else has talked to them,
get them off the list.
It even goes so far into the iPhone app that they have created and
deployed. It`s not about buzz, it`s not about, you know, just messaging.
It`s about what you can talk to.
HAYES: And what`s fascinate something it`s marrying the oldest voter
persuasion technology which is talking from a human being to a human being
with all this information that`s coming from database and one of the things
that`s interesting is Donald Green, who is famous in this field, political
scientist, who`s book "Get Out the Vote" I read back when I was a field
organizer in 2004, everyone read, because it was the first time political
scientists had done these samples.
And this is a bar graph of votes secured per 1,000 people for each
method of voter mobilization, which they did in these randomized trials.
You know, 71 votes per 1,000 in door to door, 29 in commercial phone
banking. Of course, door to door is more labor intensive, but we`re seeing
that the technology is making that persuasion universe look a lot
I want to find from you, Sasha, what you`re finding, and you, Walter,
after we take this break.
HAYES: The art and science of campaigning. Chris Hughes, you worked
on the Obama campaign, formerly of Facebook, and we`re talking about the
kind of ways you can marry together this really rich data set so that when
you go to someone`s door you don`t just know, oh, this is someone who voted
in the last two Republican primaries or -- but you know they`re 37 and have
two kids and have responded this way and that way.
Is that really where the kind of most advances are being made in
campaigns right now, Sasha?
ISSENBERG: Yes. I mean, I think we`ve in this discussion talked
almost all about persuasion. And we actually learned very ultimately about
what persuades people. How people change their mind, how they moved. What
we have learned in the last 10, 15 years and incredible amount about is
what mobilizes people to vote.
So, the science around turn out and registration also has gotten much
smarter. And so that`s a place where I think that, you know, individual
level data has been useful, campaigns are able to, you know, identify and
predict who they should be talking to, and it`s coincided obviously with
this narrowing of the persuadable universe in presidential elections. So
campaigns are getting much more intelligent. Obama has all those field
offices not just because volunteers are coming out and want to make phone
calls, but because the campaign has recognized the value of doing Geo TV.
MADDOW: Are there -- are there nuggets from this research that would
strike us as surprising about how to get people out to vote?
ISSENBERG: Yes. I mean, you know, the most effective tool
documented is a study by Don Green and Alan Gerber, to send people a copy
of their own vote history, the elections in which they voted, there`s lots
to Republican primaries, and all of their neighbor`s vote histories, people
on their block. And say after the election we`ll send you all an updated
HAYES: That`s a great --
ISSENBERG: Everybody knows how incredibly effective it is. It`s
called social pressure. Behavioral psychologists have talked about it.
No campaign wanted to put their name as a return address on this
thing. It looked people got death threats when they try.
But slowly, people have softened this and said I want to thank you
for being a voter in the last election. I hope I can thank you again.
Everything we`re learning about what motivates people to vote is that
there`s a social dynamic. And, you know, I think the smartest people in
the campaigns are talking less right now about these as being contests of
ideas and issues and opinion and more how you change people`s behaviors.
SHAPIRO: One final thing I want to get in here is last Friday was a
very important date in this campaign. It was not only the end of the
Democratic Party -- the convention, but it was also the day at which the
Romney and Obama campaign qualifies for something the FCC calls the lowest
unit rate for ads and super PACs, party committees, everybody else doesn`t
qualify, which basically means for the next two months, a dollar given to
the presidential campaigns buys you a lot more ad time than a dollar that
Sheldon Adelson gives to a super PAC.
ISSENBERG: And preferential treatment in buying time, you can bump
ad buyers and preferential treatment in the mail, which means a lot in the
last few days. You know, parties and campaigns still have a privileged
place in a lot of the nuts and bolts of sort of election work.
GABBARD: I just want to touch on something Sasha said about all the
-- what have we learned, how do we persuade people. I think really it
comes down to a very basic thing of people are going to vote for who they
like. They`re going to like people who they trust, and it goes back to the
basic thing of relationships.
GABBARD: When you make those personal relationships, and that`s why
I think you saw the door to door success rate is so much higher.
HAYES: Bob Shrum, final thought on this sort of move from persuasion
to mobilization that we`ve seen.
SHRUM: Well, I entirely agree with Sasha about the mobilization, and
I think this is going to be very much in some ways a base election.
But I think we have a false either/or here. The fact of the matter
is that you`ve got to try to do both. We`ve learned so much more in the
last 10 years about how to turn out voters. But you also have to go out
and persuade people. You have to create an overall message.
And, look, the reason Obama could do this and did he it brilliantly
in `08 was because he was outside federal funding.
SHRUM: John Kerry would say the biggest mistakes he made in 2004 was
to take the federal funding --
HAYES: And be locked into it.
SHRUM: Run a 13-week campaign when Bush only had to run five weeks
same amount of money. So we couldn`t do all the stuff we had at our
disposal in terms of turnout and we had to get out of states like Colorado
in terms of media which we could have won.
HAYES: Crucially also in this new world, you can do persuasion and
mobilization at the same time because you can use different tools and
target different communication.
I want to thank Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, Walter Shapiro from
Yahoo News and "Columbia Journalism Review", and Facebook co-founder Chris
Hughes, veteran of the 2008 Obama campaign, for joining us this morning.
What you should know for the news week ahead coming up next.
HAYES: So, what should you know for the week coming up?
You should know who played the role of a disillusioned Obama
supporter in a strange, somewhat creepy and patronizing new campaign ad
from the RNC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Listen this just isn`t working. It`s been four
years. You`ve changed. You`re just not the person I thought you were.
It`s not me. It`s you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The woman is actually a staffer at the Republican National
Committee named Bettina Inclan, who is director of Hispanic outreach and
that we know -- should know if she was tasked for finding a Latino Obama
voter who was disillusioned, and the best she could do was cast herself,
she`s not actually very good at said outreach.
You should know the entire notion that women`s votes for the
president in `08 were the product of an overly emotional, quasi-romantic
infatuation with Barack Obama is a pretty offensive one, and that the
Romney campaign continues to flounder when it comes to discussing issues
that impact women as we saw in an interview Ann Romney gave on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you believe employer provided health insurance should
be required to cover birth control?
ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY`S WIFE: Again, you`re asking me questions
that are not about what this election is going to be about. This election
is going to be about the economy and jobs.
REPORTER: Well, a Pew Research poll shows those issues are very
important to women, ranked either important or very important.
ROMNEY: You know, listen, I`ve been across this country. I`ve been
for a year and a half on the campaign trail. I`ve spoke with thousands of
women. And they are telling me, they are telling me a couple of things --
one, they are saying they are praying for me, which is really wonderful.
And then they are saying, please help. Please help. We are so worried
about our jobs.
So, really, if you want to pull me off the other messages, it`s not
going to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You should note that the latest Gallup poll shows President
Obama moving into a four-point lead over Mitt Romney. His approval ratings
rising to 52 percent and his disapproval ratings are falling to 42 percent,
his best numbers since the killing of Osama bin Laden.
It indicates the Republican`s 2.5-point convention bounce deflated
before it got any traction.
We should also note that Pew Research found that more respondents who
watched the Republican convention cited Clint Eastwood`s conversation with
an empty chair as the highlight, rather than Mitt Romney`s acceptance
We should note that the 2010 BP disaster that spilled hundreds of
millions of gallons of oil still threatens the Gulf Coast. After hurricane
Isaac hit last month, tar balls with the biological fingerprint matching
the spilled oil washed up along the beaches of Alabama and Louisiana, you
should know that Auburn University researcher Joel Hayworth (ph) told the
"Associated Press" quote, "We`re in year three and this is the new normal
for the Gulf Coast. For some unforeseeable time, this is going to be the
new normal for the beach."
And, finally, you should know that the famed enemy of big government,
former President Ronald Reagan, was actually helping himself to the worst
excesses of big brother. You should know that journalist Seth Rosenfeld
obtained previously undisclosed FBI records that confirmed that Reagan not
only secretly reported people in the Hollywood to the FBI who he suspected
of communist activity, but that he and his ex-wife also asked the FBI to
spy on their then 19-year-old daughter Maureen who is living with an older,
One FBI posed as an insurance salesman and other interviewed a maid
at Maureen`s house to get information back to her parents. You should know
the records released to Rosenfeld after a long and costly legal fight under
the Freedom of Information Act and we know so much about our government,
thanks to that law.
All right. I want to find out what my guests think we should know
for the week coming up. I`m also going to ask you, Tulsi, do the honors
here. You brought this. Thank you very much, aloha.
All right. Peter Beinart?
BEINART: I think the thing that people should know is that the most
consequential thing perhaps in the world right now is happening in the
place called the South China Sea, that gets no political discussion
whatsoever in any of these conventions. But there`s a massive, potentially
very, very dangerous increasing, escalating conflict going on between some
very important countries like China, Japan, and South Korea. Hillary
Clinton was there last week trying to maintain the U.S. as a player in
But this is what American foreign policy is about in large measure no
matter who wins in November, and yet it`s barely discussed.
HAYES: Tulsi Gabbard?
GABBARD: You know, we`ve been talking a lot about the presidential
races I think that - with regards to women`s issues, some of the things
that you just talked about there. Some critical races between women
candidates across the country, running for U.S. Senate, which are going to
be very critical to how the Congress and U.S. Senate are made up and what
kind of strategy we take going forward.
We need to pay attention to some of these other races that are going
to be critical, turning points for our country.
HAYES: I would say to our people watching, down ballot, down ballot,
down ballot. Keep paying attention if you`re in the state where the Senate
race in a swing district, congressional race. If you`re not in a swing
district or congressional district, or if there`s one near you, keep your
eyes on that, it`s really important who controls Congress.
GABBARD: Every vote is going to make a difference.
ISSENBERG: I think you should know that not only is technology
fusing what used to be separate worlds of media and voter context, but it`s
fusing sort of field organizing and fund-raising, both campaigns in the
past couple weeks, figure out how to do fund-raising via mobiles over text
message, or a square credit card reader. And that means people who are
knocking on your doors, canvassers are also going to be asking for money.
HAYES: That`s going to be an interesting ask. I guess you have to
get through the first few questions.
HAYES: You want to find out -- you probably don`t want to ask money
of persuadable voters. Find out if they are in their camp. Exactly.
BEINART: How do you feel the economy is going? Well --
HAYES: Michelle Goldberg?
GOLDBERG: You know, campaigning yesterday with Pat Robertson, Mitt
Romney promised that he would fight efforts to take "In God We Trust" off
our money. I think you should know that there are no such efforts to take
"In God We Trust" off our money. But it`s going to be fascinating to see
Romney doubling down on this kind of religious culture war rhetoric.
HAYES: It`s fascinating. He embraced Steve King, who is one of the
-- probably the most far-right congressman, incredibly, virulently,
bigotedly anti-immigrant, and then had Pat Robertson. Right after the RNC
when he`s like making his turn.
GOLDBERG: Right, when everyone thought he was going to turn to the
HAYES: I want to thank my guests today. Peter Beinart, founder of
the blog Open Zion; Tulsi Gabbard, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House
from Hawaii, who also bestowed upon me these lei, which I`m going to sound
like an ignorant boy from New York, but it`s actually made of fresh flowers
and actually smells wonderful.
HAYES: Sasha Issenberg of Slate.com, and Michelle Goldberg from
"Newsweek" and the "Daily Beast" -- thank you all. Thank you for joining
We`ll be back next weekend, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 Eastern Time
with Sam Seder of the "Majority Report", and on Friday, I`ll be on "Real
Time with Bill Maher" on HBO. Check that out at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY." On today`s "MHP",
Pennsylvania`s discriminatory voter ID law is headed for the state`s
Supreme Court this week. But where did it come from? Who is really behind
it? "MHP" follows the methods and the modus.
That`s Ms. Melissa Harris-Perry coming up next.
We`ll see you next week here on UP.
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