PoliticsNation, Thursday, December 20th, 2012
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
December 20, 2012
Guests: Emanuel Cleaver; Hakeem Jeffries; Michael Pfleger, Joe Madison
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you
for tuning in. I`m live tonight from Chicago.
Tonight`s lead, the GOP cracks up. In less than two hours, speaker
Boehner and his House Republicans will vote on the tax plan. So what is
the plan from the leader of the least productive Congress in more than 60
years, extending the Bush tax cuts for all income up to $1 million a year.
They say they`re serious about the deficit. But if you make $900,000,
you can get a tax cut. They`re not voting to protect American families,
just the richest of them. And for those making more than a million dollars
a year, they get a $50,000 tax credit. At the same time, the GOP plan
raises taxes on 25 million working families by removing deductions they
rely on. Did Boehner and company miss the election?
Did they manage to overlook the fact that it was all about ending the
unfairness that hurts this country? They must have. Because the Boehner
plan also guts the safety net, it cuts money for food stamps, for the
health care law and for Medicaid. And, yet, somehow they`re acting like
this is the only plan on the table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Senate Democrats and
White House refuse to act, they`ll be responsible for the largest tax hike
in American history.
REP. JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They can support these
measures or be responsible for reckless spending and the largest tax hike
in American history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The speaker well-known to Democrats, have already put forth
a plan that`s balanced.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let`s extend the middle
class tax cuts right now. In fact, the Senate has already passed a bill
doing exactly this. So, all we need is action from the house. And I`ve
got the pen ready to sign the bill right away.
If we can get a few house Republicans to agree, I`ll sign this bill as
soon as Congress sends it my way. I`ve got to repeat. I`ve got a pen.
I`m ready to sign it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That`s the choice now on the table. The president`s plan
that gives tax relief to 98 percent of Americans of the Republicans plan to
help the rich while gutting the safety net. It`s all a question of
And here`s a number for you, the number 11. That`s the approval rate
of Boehner`s Congress. The congress that gives do nothing a bad name.
Here`s another number, 57. That`s the president`s approval rating. Anyone
want to guess who has the upper hand in this fight?
Joining me now is Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Democrat from Missouri
and chairman of the congressional black caucus and Joan Walsh, editor at
large for salon.com and an MSNBC analyst.
Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Good to be with you.
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Thanks, Reverend Al.
SHARPTON: Congressman Cleaver, what is going on here? I mean, does
speaker Boehner not know we just had an election over this and that they
CLEAVER: No. Reverend, this is amazing: it`s one of these situations
where the quarterback calls for a pass, the linemen are blocking for a run,
the wide outs are covering a punt and the coach is going up in the stands
to sell popcorn. This is absolutely crazy.
And I can tell you because I`m walking about talking with some of my
Republican friends and they`re saying it is crazy. I`ve never seen
anything like it. It`s embarrassing because this is the United States of
SHARPTON: It`s chaos, Joan. I mean, you`re seeing this out right
bedlam, as the Congressman is saying Americans have talked about
dysfunction. This is dysfunction with steroids. And they`re acting as if
we can`t count. The only way you can bring the taxes to the millionaires,
really, basically, saying 900 people -- people that make $900,000 a year
can keep their tax deductions. You go on a tax breaks, you`re going to
have to take that from the middle class. You wrote about that today.
Break down what this really will be in terms of making the middle class
have to pay out of their pocket.
WALSH: It`s just a complete sham, Reverend Al. And I`m happy to have
-- thank God we have Representative Cleaver here to enlighten us. But, it
will make me feel better because I don`t understand that if that just means
it can`t be understood. I mean, I really think that more than the middle
class, more than any Americans, John Boehner is looking out for John
Boehner in trying to keep his job. And the very interesting thing is, this
is a real confidence upper-down no confidence vote in him. And he does not
at this moment have the votes. So, you know, we`re going through this sham
to protect the rich.
The other thing that is really interesting is, I do think that they
were trying to do something tricky and look like, OK, maybe we sort of got
that Americans would like to see the rich pay a little bit more in taxes so
we`ll do this one symbolic thing. But the right wing and the caucus demand
that they then gut food stamps, gut all these programs for the poor and for
the middle class. So it`s, you know, it`s kind of like a sugar-covered
Satan sandwich in words of somebody I know?
SHARPTON: I think we`ve all eaten Satan sandwiches, Congressman
Cleaver. I think Satan just got some helpers here, Congressman, because
we`re talking about not only gutting food stamps and gutting other
programs. We`re talking about dealing with deductions that middle class
people use for their children`s education. I mean, they are really talking
about protecting people that make up to seven figures by charging it to
people that really need those deductions and need that income.
CLEAVER: Well, in the past, we`ve had a war on poverty. Now we need
a war of poverty of bad ideas because that`s exactly what we`re facing.
One of the things that you just hit on the head, I hope the people who are
looking at this understand that this whole bill reconciliation that we`ve
been voting on has sequestration on only poor people. Healthcare programs,
at the time we are all talking about health care and mental health, we are
talking about healthcare to the poorest people. We`re talking about
Medicare. We`re talking about Medicaid. These are the programs that will
be impacted by this bill. I`m not sure if they have the vote, but assuming
they have a vote, the American people ought to be outraged that we have the
audacity to bring something like this to the floor at a time like this in
our country when we all ought to be pulling together, trying to feel our
way around to solving this problem of violence and crime that I know you`ve
committed yourself to dealing with, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Now, Joan, what are we looking at here? Are we looking at
the caucus that will not - the Republican caucus that will not lead Boehner
make a deal? And that he`s become a captain of the caucus? Or are we
looking at Boehner acting reasonable in one hand but, in fact, unreasonable
when you look at his so-called plan B?
What`s really happening here when you look at what is going on
because, I mean, look who`s talking? Boehner can`t seem to control his
caucus at all. There are reports that he couldn`t get his own caucus to
vote for the debt deal he offered President Obama. Then he had to make a
personal plea to get votes for even plan B. And even that he had to offer
sweeteners to plan B to drum up support for that.
WALSH: Yes, sweeteners which are really bitter pills for the rest of
the country. No, I don`t know what`s in John Boehner`s heart. But,
clearly, he could never deliver votes for a deal with the president, any
kind of balanced deal even if contain things that people like me wouldn`t
be happy about, you know. I think the president was in good faith
negotiating and there was going to be pain on both sides, but John Boehner
can`t deliver that. So, he went to plan B as a kind of face-saving thing
because they know, they see that the American people are going to blame the
Republican Party if we go over the so-called cliff. And so, they want to
have some kind of face-saving we appear to be doing something and he can`t
get the votes in his caucus to do this. So, I truly think that, you know,
behind the scenes, who knows? People -- I`m sure people are still trying
to talk. But I don`t see how we go over the cliff.
SHARPTON: Go ahead.
CLEAVER: I don`t understand how we can overt this, either. Keep in
mind, Harry Reid has already said it`s dead. He is not taking it up in the
senate. The senators are going to get in a plane, shortly, Saturday,
flying to Hawaii, as they should and then we`ve got holidays. And I don`t
think anybody around here is going to be dealing with. We have a 72 hour
period in the house that we are supposed to have between the time is up
becomes over and the time we take a vote. I don`t understand how we`re
going to be able to do this before the end of the year.
And so, on January 2nd, assuming that nothing takes place, I don`t
think it will, we`re talking about $55 billion cut in non-defense and a $55
billion cut in defense. That is devastating to the economy. And it`s also
going to be devastating to the American people who are sitting around with
those tax extenders falling away from their pocketbooks including
unemployment benefits. Unemployment will go down.
SHARPTON: Unemployment benefits go. We`ve seen the defense and non-
defense kick in in terms of reductions. And, as you said, they have a
colleague who was a longer-serving Senate -- senator`s funeral. They`re
out of there on Saturday. You predict that we will go over the cliff,
CLEAVER: I think we`re walking around on the edge right now. And
we`re not mountain goats. So we don`t walk well on the cliffs.
SHARPTON: All you need is a slip. And we are -- we seem to have on
slippery shoes at this point.
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Joan Walsh, thank you for your time
CLEAVER: Good to be with you, Reverend.
WALSH: Thanks, Reverend Al.
SHARPTON: First they wanted President Obama`s birth certificate. Now they
want o see Hillary Clinton`s medical records. The GOP`s newest sneer
Plus, Newt Gingrich theory about the election? Here`s a hint. It`s
all about Newt.
And the city I`m in tonight, Chicago, is now the shooting capital of
America. But where`s the national outcry? We`re going to try to find out.
You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC live from the windy city.
SHARPTON: This year, 465 people have been killed, mainly by guns, in
Chicago, 465 is the national outrage. So where`s the outrage? That`s
SHARPTON: Welcome back to "Politics Nation" live tonight from
Chicago. The governor here has proclaimed tomorrow a day of mourning for
the victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. Gun violence is
not a suburban issue or an urban issue. It`s an American issue.
Here, in Chicago, gun violence is an epidemic. Take a look at this
map of the city. The yellow dots mark all of the shootings that have taken
place in Chicago this year alone. The red dots represent people killed by
gun violence in 2012. All toll, 465 people have been killed in Chicago
this year including 62 school-aged children. All of these murders and mass
killings are tragedies. We`ve had almost segregated response. Every
child`s life should have equal value. Yet, too many people have been
silent about the murders in places like Chicago. The gun debate has been
raging for a long time, but none of us have done enough. Yesterday, the
president was asked this question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: This is not the first issue of horrific
gun violence of your four years. Where have you been?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Where has he been? Where has the Congress been? Where has
everybody been? Gun violence wasn`t part of the national debate in the
presidential elections this summer when Chicago was turning into the
shooting capital of America. We all allowed this to happen.
Joining me now is father Michael Pfleger, a key social activist here
in Chicago who`s been fighting against gun violence and Congressman-elect
Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Today, he was appointed to the house
Judiciary Committee which is expected to take up the issue of gun control
early next year.
Thank you both for being here tonight.
FATHER MICHAEL PFLEGER, SOCIAL ACTIVIST: Thank you, Reverend.
REP.-ELECT HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Reverend
SHARPTON: Father, why haven`t we done more to combat gun violence in
PFLEGER: I think the number one issue is because the primary victim
of gun violence across America, including Chicago, is black and brown. And
why black and brown continues to be the victim, America stepped back and
said that`s an inner city problem. That`s a black and Hispanic community
problem. So there hasn`t been the outrage.
This is a human problem. This is an American problem, as you`ve said,
that we ought to be embarrassed by in this country. That we`re trying to
bring peace around the country, across the world, and not doing it at home.
And there`s not been outrage. Elected officials in Congress because we`ve
been duped by an NRA who has continued to fear us and we got to be afraid
of each other. Guns protect yourself and make money. They are making
money off the lives of black and brown children.
SHARPTON: Congressman-elect Jeffries, you`ve been appointed to the
Judiciary Committee. And one of the things night before last action
network and I went to Connecticut because we must reach out and not go and
finger point one community is more important than another. We all are in
trouble. How do we get the Congress to move in the light of this situation
that has just happened in Connecticut that has been happening in Chicago,
been happening in New York, as you`ve worked with us, you remember now,
been happening all over this country. How do we get them to move now and
not let the holidays take this off of the minds of the American public and
therefore, your colleagues escape through the stroke of distraction.
JEFFRIES: Well, there`s an epidemic of gun violence, you know
Reverend Sharpton, all across America. It`s been increasingly prevalent in
suburban communities with these massacres, Newtown being the most recent.
It`s something that we in the inner city in Brooklyn and Harlem, and the
south side of Chicago, southeast Washington, D.C., South Central Los
Angeles have been dealing with and it`s become all too familiar.
This summer in New York City was a summer of great violence. As you
know, you helped to shine the spot light on some of the things that were
taking place in New York. The problem now is one that I think can no
longer be ignored by the Congress. And the Newtown tragedy has made a
claim that it`s no longer possible and should no longer be possible for the
second amendment to shield the government`s ability to enact sensible gun
control and gun safety measures.
For too long, the second amendment has been used as such a shield. It
protects responsible gun ownership, but it cannot protect the ability of
people to possess high capacity ammunition clips, assault weapons, that can
unleash mayhem on a community, on a school, on a neighborhood in a matter
of moments. And I think there is going to be a moment in the early part of
the congress, the democratic caucus, under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi
and John Conyers has committed to it. And I believe we are starting to see
cracks in the firewall that has traditionally existed with the NRA that has
been put up that will allow for some movement in the 113 Congress.
SHARPTON: Well, the NRA is supposed to have their press conference.
Tomorrow, we hear what they say. When the second amendment was written, we
were talking about people with muskets. We were not talking about people
walking around with war weapons.
But let me ask you, father Pfleger, as the congressman-elect said,
it`s happening all over the country. But, here, in Chicago, 465 deaths by
gunfight give people a sense. You have been marching, you have been
religious, you have gone to jail, 465 death, including gunfire, 62
children. Give us a sense of what goes on and what it`s like in Chicago
under given these kinds of numbers?
PFLEGER: Well, first of all, when you have communities that suffer
from highest unemployment and poor education and no infrastructure and no
support group, a shortage of afterschool programs, you create a perfect
storm. And then you have communities that have more guns than computers.
And so, children live in fear. Children come and ask me not pray for the
test that they are taking, to pray for them to get to and from school. How
do you study in school if you`re afraid to go home, you`re afraid to come
to school? People have been shot in their homes. Children have been shot
in this beds, shot in their porches, shot in their living rooms. So, there
are - we talk about post-traumatic stress.
Our kids, the new landmarks of our neighborhoods are teddy bears and
yellow police tape. And children -- this past June, I went to high school
graduation, not one high school graduation I went to did not have part of
the memorial service classmates who were killed before they could graduate.
How - what kind of scrawny we are leaving our children?
SHARPTON: Congressman-elect, let me ask you quickly. Do you feel
that the activism that we`re seeing out of what has happened in Newtown,
that we can now have hope and let`s not forget. It`s happened before.
Aurora, Tucson, Columbine, what will make this different?
JEFFRIES: There`s a culture of violence that has to be confronted in
America. And what makes this different is just the imagery of 20 innocent
children massacred. They went to school. They have their whole life ahead
of them. And for parents to have received that call, that they won`t be
able to pick up an alive -- a child that`s alive, but they have to go
identify a dead child, I think, has seared an image in the imagination of
Americans all across the country who realized that we`ve got to confront
this epidemic. It has shaken the conscious of America in a way that is
meaningful and will be different this time.
SHARPTON: And I hope that you are right. And let me say this. The
blame game, whether it is a reporter asking the president, our attack in
congress, we all have failed. Preachers, Black leaders, White leaders, we
all have failed because we`ve not made this -- make this country stop and
deal with the death of children. We need to, in the name of what happened,
in Newtown and what`s happening in Chicago, to define this as the one thing
this country can unite on.
Father Michael Pfleger and Congressman-Elect Hakeem Jeffries, thank
you for your time tonight.
JEFFRIES: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, Newt`s got a new theory about why Republicans
lost. It`s yet another sign the GOP has learned the wrong lessons from the
SHARPTON: We`ve within busy herein the show all year pointing out
hypocrisy from tea party lawmakers. And, now, we have another.
Congressman Tim Scott will move to the Senate next year, bringing with them
a tea party specialty, bashing of program in problem only to try to benefit
from it in private.
Here`s what got said back in 2010 about ear muffs. Lawmakers getting
money for pelt projects.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hear people talking all of the time. We need
more earmarks, hogwash (ph). We don`t need more earmarks. What we need is
courage. We need a backbone and some conversation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Earmarks are hogwash. That`s fun to say. But what do you
know? Turns out the congressman wanted to bring home the bacon. Then
progress report Scott tried to direct federal dollars to projects back in
South Carolina. He signed a letter to the energy department to quote
"express our support" for South Carolina manufacturing who tried to get
money from the energy department. Look. There`s his signature. And the
company he pushed for ended up getting half a million dollars from the
energy department. Did Congressman Scott think we wouldn`t notice that he
bashes earmarks in public but still tries to send the pork home? That`s
Nice try. But we`ve got you.
SHARPTON: Tonight`s vote on the GOP`s ridiculous plan B just goes to
show again how far they`ve fallen out of the mainstream and the American
people know it. In 2010, right before the midterm elections, 36 percent of
Americans said the Republican Party was too extreme. Now, after two years
of republican misrule in the House, 53 percent say the GOP is too extreme.
For the first time, a majority of Americans say the Republican Party has
gone too far to the right.
Well, the GOP doesn`t get it. They`re learning all the wrong lessons
from the election, starting with Newt Gingrich, who claims they lost just
because Mitt Romney was a bad candidate. Gingrich says, quote, "I think
either Rick Perry or I would have probably done better. My impression is
that from the Obama team standpoint, the two candidates they found the
hardest to cope with were Perry and me. Oh, yes, Newt. I`m sure the two
of you had all the folks in the Obama headquarters quaking in their boots.
How in the world could they have handled you guys?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: This is such a cool state. I mean, come
on. Live free or die? And it`s like live free or die, victory of death.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: By the end of my second
term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be
PERRY: I mean, my luck. Today has been awesome, girl.
GINGRICH: I got bit by a penguin.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You went to a zoo?
GINGRICH: I went to the St. Louis zoo and I`ve been bit by a penguin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I got bit by a penguin. Truly words to send tremors of
fear down the spine of every democrat in America. But the sad truth is
it`s politicians like that who says they`re trying to lead the GOP back to
the mainstream but, instead, they`re leading the party right off a cliff.
Joining me now is Joe Madison and democratic strategist Margie Omero.
Thank you both for joining me.
JOE MADISON, HOST, "MORNINGS WITH MADISON": Thank you, Reverend.
MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good evening, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Joe, a majority of Americans say the GOP is too extreme.
What will it take for Republicans to change their ways?
MADISON: No, it takes changing their leadership. You have the
speaker of the house who will probably go down in history as the worst
speaker of the house, I think, in modern political history. There`s a
situation here where he`s the big dog in terms of his title. But the tail
is wagging the dog. You also have a party that doesn`t have courage
because Grover Norquist has them signed to a pledge, other than the
constitution, that now he has thrown them under the bus.
All of this time, do not raise taxes on anybody. And Grover Norquist
just said, OK, I`ll take plan B as long as it screws poor people. Here you
have a president who is transformational. This is what we can say about
President Obama. You have a leader of the Republican Party, at least in
the house, who, at best, is no more than transactional. And he`s not good
SHARPTON: Well, he`s not even transacting well with the members of
his own caucus. But let me go to you with this, Margie. When you go to
the right wing and the lessons they have seemed to have not learned from
the election. George Will wrote a column. Let me go there. We spent a
lot of time this year talking about voter suppression on this show.
He wrote in this column, quote, "A small voting requirement such as
registration, acts to filter potential voters with the weakest
motivations." He goes onto say as indifferent our reluctant voters are
nagged to the polls, or someday prodded there by a monetary penalty for
nonvoting, the caliber of the electorate must decline." I mean, what is
that mean? And how insensitive are we to the democratic principles of
people voting. We have this kind of view among those that are supposed to
be the more enlightened conservatives.
OMERO: Right. It isn`t just any one columnist or any one elected
official or anyone candidate or losing candidate. It`s really the entire
party. An extremist great if you`re a snowboarder or stick a gun but it`s
not leadership. And it`s really troubling in the poll that even a fifth of
Republicans say that their own party has become too extreme. And I think
it`s something that should be part of all the Republicans self reflection
that`s going on here. Certainly not seeing in the plan B where they want
to make cuts to food stamps and foods to hungry children and raise taxes on
25 million American families.
You`re not seeing it on the language on guns where you have a lot of
elective officials say, you know, we should be arming teachers and pretty
more guns in schools and in day care. That`s our solution. And so I don`t
really see a lot of evidence that republican leadership or republican rank
of follow or thinkers are using this election as an opportunity to learn
something about where they are or where voters are.
SHARPTON: Well, Joe, in support of Margie`s claim about which she
doesn`t see, let`s look at a couple of highlights of what the GOP has done
since the election. They walked away from the fiscal cliff deal. They
passed antiunion laws in Michigan, proposed new schemes to rig Electoral
College, planned new anti-choice bills in states like Michigan, Arkansas
and Texas. I mean, it`s almost like the election never happened.
MADISON: Absolutely. And it`s almost like not only did the election
happen but they obviously forgot who won and on what basis they won. Look,
this is one they had during the primary. One of the most tenacious, one of
the most ridiculous -- you just played a lot of clips. I mean, you left
out some of the really good ones, didn`t you? You know, about not
forgetting what departments he wanted to cut. That was Rick Perry.
MADISON: The warfare president, I mean, they had all of those
debates. People got to see and decide, look, all of these guys are
extreme. Every last one of them. And then they claim oh, we didn`t have
the best candidate who, by the way, tried to go to the center and folks
figured that out. They underestimated the fact that, Reverend Sharpton,
that they`re playing to a small minority. They keep playing to this loud,
small minority where most of America has moved on, including, including
their children. The younger generation. That`s where they`re failing.
SHARPTON: Well, Margie, when you listen to Joe say that, those
statistics bear him out. Appalled NBC Wall Street journal poll says, the
favorability among Republicans now is 30 percent. That`s a 10-year low.
And while we`ll dealing with critical issues, we`re about to go over the
fiscal cliff if we`re not careful. We`re on the verge of that anyway.
FOX News, they decide the war on Christmas is the big story and
interviews Santa Claus. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Santa if you will, I understand you don`t like to
say happy holidays. Why?
SAL LIZARD, AUTHOR, "BEING SANTA CLAUS": I can`t find any reference
where Santa has ever said anything other than Merry Christmas.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What do you make of the political correctness
part of our culture?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You have got the biggest belt buckle I`ve ever
LIZARD: I`d like to say that the elves got the idea from Elvis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So, they`re in denial, Margie. They`re arguing about side
issues. I mean, it is amazing.
OMERO: Yes, I mean, look. Ultimately, voters want to see their
elected officials in Washington get to work and not really engage in kind
of the side shows and the political back and forth. Republicans are likely
to pay a larger political price if we go over the fiscal cliff. Poll after
poll after poll shows a majority of Americans were playing rather than the
President. And even Republicans want to see the wealthy play a little bit
more in Texas.
SHARPTON: Well, we`ll going to have to leave it there. Joe Madison,
Margie Omero, thanks for your time tonight.
OMERO: Thank you.
MADISON: Happy Christmas, holiday, holiday, holy day, whatever else.
Just live life. Be happy we`re alive and healthy. And God bless the folks
SHARPTON: Still ahead, when the GOP can`t find a scandal, they`ll --
went up. But why are they attacking Hillary Clinton? And is it really all
Plus, honoring a hero who rose above discrimination to make this world
a better place.
SHARPTON: Have you joined the POLITICS NATION conversation on
Facebook yet? We hope you will. Today, the President tweeted this photo
of himself at the DNC saying it was one of his favorite moments of 2012.
We asked our Facebook fans for their favorite moments. Lisa said hers was
Michelle Obama`s speech at the DNC. Linda said, hers was election night
when President Obama won reelection. What`s your favorite moment? Tell
us. Please head over to Facebook and search POLITICS NATION and like us to
join the conversation that keeps going long after the show ends.
SHARPTON: When the right wing can`t find a scandal, they do the next
best thing. Make one up. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was set to
testify today about the attacks in Benghazi. But while suffering from a
stomach virus, she fainted, hit her head and sustained a concussion.
Doctors told her to work from home this week. And deputies testified at
today`s hearing instead. Clinton will still testify in a few weeks, but
the gang over at FOX are very, very suspicious.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: When you don`t want to go to a meeting or a
conference or an event, you have a diplomatic illness.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How could she got a concussion since she`s been
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: If she`s in the NFL, I wouldn`t let
her play. But I think she can make a phone call.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Charles, you had a good line. Hillary
has severe Benghazi allergy.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes. I`ve been doing a lot
of work on that investigating. She is the first reported the case and it`s
a very, very severe one.
HILLARY: Very, very severe. Let`s see the medical report on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: First, they wanted to see the President`s birth
certificate. Then they wanted to see his college transcripts. Now they
want to see Hillary Clinton`s medical records. Unfortunately, we`ve seen
this movie before. Last year, they -- the right unfairly blamed Attorney
General Holder for the "Fast and Furious" gun walking scheme. Then they
went after our ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice on Libya. And now, it`s
Secretary Clinton`s turn. The Republicans can`t lay a glove on the
president, so they attack everyone around him. And, now, they`re trying to
get in some punches on a potential 2016 candidate as well.
Joining me now is Ryan Grim, Washington Bureau Chief for the
Huffington Post and Molly Ball, national political reporter for the
Atlantic Magazine. Thank you both for being here tonight.
RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Thanks for having me.
MOLLY BALL, THE ATLANTIC: Thanks, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Ryan, what`s behind all of these ridiculous attacks on
GRIM: Well, I mean, part of it is just to have a primal hatred that a
lot of Republicans still have for the Clintons. We kind of forget that
because she now, you know, is bathed in this glow of this 60 plus percent
approval ratings. She`s helped, you know, turn kind of the world`s opinion
around about the United States, you know, more than 50 percent of people
want her to run for president and actually would support her for president
according to a new poll. And so, you kind of forget just the deep, deep
hatred that Republicans had for both Clintons back in the `90s.
And, you know, what you also forget is look, Clinton is not one to shy
from a fight. You know, this is silly to think that she didn`t want to go
to that hearing and go toe-to-toe with these guys who are accusing her of
all kinds of conspiracy to cover up things related to Benghazi. You know,
the Clintons are happiest when they`re doing battle with Republicans. And
she`ll be happy to come in January. And it will all make for good theater.
But this shows, this is what we`re going to see for the next couple of
SHARPTON: But Molly, isn`t that the point, Molly? She is going to
testify. And Foreign Policy magazine says the panel investigating the
Benghazi attacks, quote, "Make a pretty strong case that the conspiracy
theorists got this one badly wrong." The majority of the American public
doesn`t buy the right wing`s rhetoric on Benghazi. A CNN poll asked, did
President Obama intentionally mislead the public on Benghazi? Fifty six
percent said no.
So, the Republicans are fighting some that the panel is finding is
absolutely wrong. Most of the public does not believe the president
covered anything up. Clinton is testifying anyway. Why are the
Republicans playing this movie over and over again using different targets
each time, Molly?
BALL: Well, to be fair, I think we should specify that this is a few
people on the fringes. This is not coming from republican elected
officials. It`s not even the unanimous view of host on FOX. You had Greta
van Susteren for example sort of smacking down this view point thing. She
thinks that snarky and unwarranted. So, this is a fringe view. But you
saw with the whole Susan Rice thing, that the idea of a conspiracy, the
idea of a cover up, became so much more politically powerful than the
actual facts of the case.
Now, what we saw in that report was that there were serious problems
in Benghazi. There were security lapses. But that`s sort of not sexy
enough. It`s much more sexy to imagine these conspiracies, fake illnesses,
whatever else. And so when that is the assumption, whatever facts come up
are just funneled into that weird assumption.
SHARPTON: Could any of this be political, as well, Ryan? Newt
Gingrich. He says that Hillary Clinton is the candidate to beat in 2016.
He says, I mean there -- I`m quoting Gingrich, "I mean if their competitor
in 16 is going to be Hillary Clinton supported by Bill Clinton and
presumably a still relatively popular President Barack Obama, trying to win
that will be truly the Super Bowl. And the Republican Party today is
incapable of competing at that level, Mr. Gingrich says.
GRIM: Yes, and I think that`s right. And I think they`d like to chip
away at her popularity, as they can. It`s going to be tough because, you
know, she`s going to -- it looks like she`s probably going to take some
time off and do some philanthropic things that are going to be hard to kind
of smear over the next year or two. But I think that`s right. I think
that`s what`s driving this. But they should be careful because, you know,
if they pull Clinton too much into a partisan contest, she`ll remember just
how much she enjoys it. And that will give her the taste of it. And then
she will jump in. And then there will be that Super Bowl, like Gingrich
said, is going to be very tough for them to win.
SHARPTON: And, Molly, I think that the smear stuff, whether we
consider it a few or the many, look at what happened with Susan Rice. Look
at what happened with Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United
States. I mean, these guys build up a steam roll over there in various
parts of the right. And it ends up smearing people unfairly and can do
damage no matter how out of the mainstream and far from the truth the
charges may be.
BALL: Yes, but just to build on what Ryan was saying, I think it is
so funny to note that what`s happening here is basically a republican
strategy to elevate the Clintons that is now backfiring. You remember
during the campaign, Mitt Romney cast Bill Clinton as the good democrat so
that he could cast Barack Obama as the bad democrat. In a lot of ways,
Republicans have done the same thing with Hillary Clinton. Now, she`s done
a good job being a good diplomat with the opposing party and with the
Congress and all.
But also, they`ve elevated her as a way of pretending that their
opposition to Obama was not purely partisan and that means she has this
huge bipartisan popularity now. And then, when either Bill Clinton speaks
for Obama at the convention, or Hillary Clinton decides to run herself,
Republicans have to suddenly go back and eat their words.
SHARPTON: Well, it`s also funny, Ryan, because a few days ago, it was
Susan Rice that did it. Now, with Hillary Clinton, they can`t decide which
conspiracy and who`s the one at fault. I mean, if Susan Rice was the one
that was covering up and doing all kinds of things, why would they need a
conspiracy for the concussion of Hillary Clinton? I mean, the public
really can`t be duped by that kind of ploy.
GRIM: Well, I think it kind of illuminates one of the flaws in the
republican infrastructure right now, which is that they can`t seem to let
go of things. And I don`t know exactly what it is, what the incentives are
that line up so that they keep pursuing this things even after they don`t
work in the mainstream. But you see it. And you mentioned "Fast and
Furious." And they pounded on "Fast and Furious" for like a year, year and
And the public cared about it for a couple of days. But, you know, so
the fact that they`re still talking about Benghazi, I mean, it was a
tragedy what happened, but you know, it`s been an awful long time. And you
know, since then, we have had hurricane, we`ve had a horrific shooting.
And for some reason, there are large elements of the infrastructure that
keep talking about Benghazi. And you`re going to keep seeing it, and it`s
almost like if they`re immune to like the political strategist saying,
look, OK, this didn`t penetrate, let`s move on.
SHARPTON: It`s like, disconnected, tone death. Ryan Grim and Molly
Bowl, thank you both for your time tonight.
GRIM: Thank you.
BALL: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Remembering a true American hero. That`s next.
SHARPTON: You`re looking at a live picture from Capitol Hill where a
wise Senator Daniel Inouye is lying in state. The nine-term senator died
this week at age 88. Colleagues remembered him today as a true patriot who
served in the Senate for nearly five decades. He was also a hero in World
War II, in a unit with fellow Japanese Americans. Many of whom had been in
internment camps. He lost an arm in combat and was eventually awarded the
Medal of Honor for his bravery. But he still faced discrimination back
home in the states. Just listen to what happened when he entered a
barbershop in his uniform with his empty sleeve pinned to his shirt looking
to get a haircut.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL INOUYE, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: This one barber approached me and
he looked at me and he said, are you a Jap? And, you know, that was a
strange welcome. And I said I`m an American. Well, I`m asking you, are
you a Jap? I said my father was born in Japan, my mother is Japanese, I
suppose that makes me one.
We don`t cut Jap here. I was so tempted to strike him. But then I
thought if I had done that, all the work that we had done would be for nil.
So I just looked at him and I said, I`m sorry you feel that way. And I
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He just walked out. Senator Inouye showed great courage on
the battlefield and he showed great courage facing injustice at home. He
rose above pettiness. That may be his true greatness and we shall all
honor it. May he rest in peace.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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