'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, March 7th, 2013
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
March 7, 2013
Guests: Maggie Haberman, E.J. Dionne, Ryan Grim, Evan Kohlmann
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Last year in the campaign trail,
Paul Ryan was dreaming of having walking working lunches in the White
House. And today his dream came true, sort of.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: There is new hope for a grand bargain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: A dozen Republicans break bread with
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: To tackle the nation`s soaring deficit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was serious. It was face-to-face.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I see the president reaching
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what the American people want.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The mood was very positive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: We are willing to talk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Today, the president`s outreach
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 2012 VP candidate congressman Paul Ryan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: President Obama invites Paul Ryan to
the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We now have bipartisan activity. This is what the
American people want.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Did one dinner suddenly break the ice?
JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: All they really need is a hug
and a lunch.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I wish he had done more
of that over the years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Does it all exaggeration?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We now have bipartisan activity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Is that Washington bologna.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: I find it over annoying,
GRAHAM: The dinner that was supposedly quiet is sad that it makes
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night spontaneity broke out.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I will speak as long as it takes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Filibustering, targeting the Obama
administration drone war.
PAUL: If you are sitting at a cafe they shouldn`t drop a missile on
your caf‚ experience.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Nearly 13 hours filibuster by senator
Rand Paul -
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Twelve hours
and 52 minutes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: With the help of a few colleagues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These young stars going on a tangent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand with Rand is trending.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Let me just begin by quoting a modern
day poet work hard play hard.
PAUL: That`s pretty dirty cool.
RUBIO: You have the song called work hard play hard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We happy feel, we bond the brothers.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR, NOW WITH ALEX WAGNER SHOW: Called anti-
drone filibuster -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: His feet hurting, his legs hurting --
WAGNER: Nearly reached the 13 hour mark.
PAUL: There are some limits in filibustering. I`m going to have to
go take care of one of those.
WAGNER: But when you got to go, you got to go.
PAUL: Thank you very much and I yield the floor.
O`DONNELL: The chairman of the house budget committee who happened to
be the recent losing vice presidential candidate, who will never be
president, went to a working lunch at the White House today with President
Obama, the top democrat on the House budget committee Chris Van Hollen
After the lunch, Paul Ryan issued a written statement saying, I thank
President Obama for hosting a frank discussion about Washington`s budget
John Boehner said he thinks the president dining with Republicans is a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This week we have
gone 180. Now he is going to after being in office for four years he is
actually going to sit down and talk to members. I think it is a sign I
hopeful sign, a hopeful sign, and I`m hopeful that something will come out
of it. But if the president continues to insist on tax hikes I don`t think
he will get very far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: One of the Republican senators who had dinner with the
president last night was on "Morning Joe" where Richard Wolffe seemed to
find a bit movement towards the president`s position.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It sounds like he took the
president at his word about being serious about entitlement reform. Do you
think the appropriate response is to say in that case we will consider
substantial revenues, tax revenues, alongside in entitlement reforms. Is
that something you can agree on?
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, you know, I wouldn`t phrase it
that way. I would say are we willing to look at tax reform in a way to
where a portion of that goes to deficit reduction, a portion to write
reduction in the mix of getting this done.
WOLFFE: But some measures of those tax revenues, you say, could be,
should be going to deficit reduction.
COBURN: Yes. I`m saying, I`m willing to consider that. But you
know, we just did $620 billion of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Alex Wagner and Chris Hayes.
And Alex, you know, we are all looking for signs and every little
development here. And I just noticed for the first time that Tom Coburn
shaved his beard. What is that mean? Is that a breakthrough?
WAGNER: They are ready to go on revenues, Lawrence. That is what
that means, playoff beard has been shaved. The big game is now.
WAGNER: I think it is a good sign that, you know, Tom Coburn has been
more moveable than other folks in the Republican Party on some key issues.
The fact that he is out there saying that Lindsey Graham who suggested much
the same thing. It is not - it doesn`t take various -- Paul Ryan is
sitting at home with the world largest abacus right now trying to figure
out a way to balance the budget in ten years with zero revenues. Sort of
like throwing his own savings into the pot. I don`t know how you
mathematically do that. I think it is a good thing that Republicans are
finally coming to their senses as far as closing those loopholes and taking
that revenue and putting it and not using it to a race, but using it to
combat the deficit.
O`DONNELL: And Chris, it sounds like Coburn saying, well, you know,
let`s make it a hybrid, Let`s use some of it to lower some rates. Let`s
use some of it for deficit reduction. But that is movement as tiny as it
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, UP WITH CHRIS HAYES: I guess it is. I think
I`m more skeptical. I think to me, what it seems like the line has been,
particularly in the last month, and it was the line before the revenues got
passed as part of the, you know, fiscal curve deal, is that we can`t talk
about any tax issue discretely, everything is in the context of tax reform,
some massive cleansing of the entire tax code.
But, of course, that is replacing a concrete and achievable political
goal with a massive amassment and unachievable goal. And so, every time
that is invoked in the context of raising revenue, It always strikes me as
essential addax which is to say, I`m not going to be so close minded that I
won`t discuss that. But I will only discuss it in the context of opening
up the entire tax code to being litigated and legislated in which case
nothing is going to done.
WAGNER: Hey, let me just say one thing, though, Lawrence. I feel
like the Republicans will do it which is to say they will have revenue
raises in there. And if they can figure out the semi way around it. Which
is, as the Bush tax cuts were technically a lowering taxes because they
doubled them on January 1st. If there was a way to make them about, you
know, lowering some rates and also combating the deficit, I`m not saying
explicitly that this is a tax hike, I feel like they could be baited into a
HAYES: No. And I think that is a really good point in term of the
way that if it is plausible to get more revenue it is going to have to be
in the context of calling it something other.
O`DONNELL: OK. Now, let`s listen to the least believable thing that
anyone said after that dinner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COBURN: Most of the people there we are willing to give up their
seats to try to fix something. In this country, there is a cure of the
future. And so, the political prize, we are willing to pay whatever it is
to get something done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Really Ridiculous.
O`DONNELL: Alex, spoken like a senator who has decided not to run for
WAGNER: Yes, exactly. Fundamentally, totally ridiculous who was not,
at that dinner, who was not dining on the (INAUDIBLE), Mitch McConnell.
Why? Mitch McConnell has a primary challenge. Lindsey Graham seems to
think he his polling well, so he doesn`t feel like he has right-wood flank
challenge right now. John Cornyn wasn`t there.
But, like the big deal makers, John Boehner not there. They are not
doing anything that would endanger them at all with the conservative base.
O`DONNELL: And Chris, Tom Coburn, you know, in his time is limited
here in terms of being able to play any kind of roll on this thing. So, it
is one thing to get some tiny amount of flexibility out of a senator who is
never going to face re-election again. That`s not where the challenge is.
It seems like President Obama is going to have to have at least three more
republican senate dinners 12 at a time to get everyone of them to hear what
he is saying.
HAYES: Yes. I mean, the problem is and this is the problem that we
encounter everything. It has been the problem in the discussion about
comprehensive immigration reform. It is the house, the house, the house,
the house, the house, the house. I mean, yes, is there some way you can
get a senator, yes or you can get a senator who is off cycle to take a hard
vote. But, everything right now is the House. And everything is Boehner`s
caucus and everything is what can you get out of folks that lost the
natural popular vote by a million votes and have a majority that is, you
know, be here for the next ten years and none of this, no amount of dinners
changes the structural sentence of those people face.
WAGNER: But, I feel like we are in a new pattern here which is the
way you get things done in the House is by two things. One, shame and two,
smoke which is - no. I think that the Boehner has been very explicit of
kicking things up stairs, the House has done now. It is worth - let the
senate do it. The Senate passes the bill with bipartisan support, kicks it
down to the house and it becomes so shameful for Boehner and the
Republicans vote against again or the Democrats sweep into pass the bill
that they don`t have to have their fingerprints on it. And that`s how you
get it done through.
O`DONNELL: Now, Bill O`Reilly had his now infamous blow up against
Alan Colmes this week. In fact, I`m going to roll the tape again, just
because I think it is actually emblematic of something much bigger and more
important. Let`s take one more look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN COLMES, FOX NEWS COMMENTATOR: He is cutting Medicare.
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: No, that is not specific. He has to
say, here are the programs that are going to go down. Here is how we are
going to reform Medicare and Social Security and the man refuses
O`REILLY: Hold it. Because now I`m getting teed off at you. Give me
one darn program that he said he would cut.
COLMES: He has cut entitlements.
O`REILLY: Not entitlements. One program.
COLMES: What do you want yelling for?
O`REILLY: Because you are lying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Chris, it is tragedy. It is comedy. The tragedy part of
it is, of course, that Bill O`Reilly really was speaking for most
Republicans in Congress and probably every Republican voter out there who
listens to them.
HAYES: A, that is true. B, the game plan here politically is
hilarious to me. Basically, they say look, we need the president to do, is
basically shoot himself in the face politically by going around and in
really clear and explicit terms and saying to every single last American
voter, this is precisely how I, Barack Obama, will screw you. This is how
I will come after the things that I love most, that you hold most dearly,
that poll at the highest across Republican, Democrat, Liberal Conservative
and Independent. I, Barack Obama, I`m going to take out this ax right here
and take it to everything that you hold dear and love. And when he does
that. then, we will believe that he is serious about it. That`s
And he is, already - I mean, look. He is already On the Record for in
real dollar terms benefit cut to Social Security. And that is on a piece
of paper on the White House webpage and it doesn`t get any more explicit
than that. And also, let me just say this not to rant, but I`m feeling a
little rant after watching that tape, all we are talking about, all we are
talking about is how to craft austerity. What kind of austerity? What
should the mix of the austerity mean? What are the ingredients in the
austerity cocktail that we are making.
No one is talking about the fact that we have eight percent
unemployment. We have the longest long term unemployed on record in the
HAYES: Day after day after day go by with us litigating how we are
going to best have the nicest kind of austerity. It`s outrageous.
WAGNER: Can I just say one thing, Lawrence? I feel like that
O`Reilly clip reveals that what the White House I think is, to some degree,
scared of. That Republicans actually don`t know what the president has
offered. They are just so - they have marched under the banner of
abstinence and intransigence for so long they don`t even listen to what is
being dealt them. And that is terrifying.
And Chris, the other huge problem here is as they would say in
legislative terms, what you translating - what you were just saying is that
they want the president to publicly negotiate with himself. They want the
president to take a Republican position so they can begin negotiating with
him from a Republican position.
Why don`t you Republicans offer him some Republican position on say,
something in the area of chain, CPI and Social Security and see what he
HAYES: And the most important thing, I think to understand the
political object here. And I`m not the first one to point this out. It
has been pointed out quite a bit, is that fundamentally been demographic
base of the modern republican party and the conservative caucus in the
manner of the Republican Party, are people are basically old white people
who love Social Security and Medicare.
HAYES: Go poll them.
WAGNER: Go form a tea party. It falls at 85 percent.
HAYES: So, they have this problem which is that they are donor class
and their ideology (ph) commit them to a set of policies that are
incredibly unpopular with the people that are their base. And the only way
that they can get out of that bind is to make Barack Obama own all of it.
O`DONNELL: And we saw the signing ceremony today of the violence
against women act. It was very striking to see how much both the president
and vice president Biden join in the congratulations and the sharing of the
credit with Republicans. (INAUDIBLE), for example. Alex, they went out of
their way, I think, more than usual to give credit to Republicans on that.
WAGNER: No. Biden actually went on there and said about Eric Cantor
who scuttled the grand bargain between John Boehner and President Obama.
You can believe this guy. When he says he is going to do something, he
does something. I mean, that is a paraphrase, but to go out and phrase
Eric Cantor, the man who has shown no compassion about, actually knifing
his members of his own party in the back, this is a testament to how badly
the president and the vice president and the White House want to find some
amount of shared strength with Republicans. They want them at the
bargaining table. That is why they are eating and less amount of see
that`s roast chicken and turkey damages.
O`DONNELL: And Chris, in the glimmer of hope department, the Senate
Judiciary Committee got a gun trafficking bill out of committee today with
Chuck Grassley, republican, voting for it.
HAYES: Yes. I genuinely think there has been some absolute movement
on gun safety. I mean, I think that the spectacle and the horrifying
nature of Newtown and the aftermath and the way that that sort of shined
light on unbelievable amount of gun deaths in this country. It has moved
WAGNER: And Wayne Lapierre`s complete, total insanity and melt down
publicly over the course of multiple weeks of - faded them.
HAYES: But, it really does feels like there is movement. Now, you
know, that is still a long way from a bill that sign the law. But, I would
say, if you were betting on an outcome here, there is going to be something
passed and signed. And just getting something passed and signed that on
gun safety, it is in of itself given the context and recent history are
pretty big accomplishment.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes and Alex Wagner, thanks for joining me
WAGNER: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up. What a new poll tells us about 2016 in the
short version? Hillary Clinton beats everybody.
And in the "rewrite," the paranoia of Rand Paul. He said a lot of
really, really crazy things on the senate floor last night. We don`t have
time for all of them. But, we have time for enough of them.
And, it has all the makings of a homeland episode the details and the
capture of Osama bin Laden`s son in law. That is coming up.
O`DONNELL: I mean, poll shows Hillary Clinton beating Marco Rubio,
Chris Christie and anyone who has ever dreamed of being president. That is
next with Joy Reid and Maggie Haberman,
And what happens when a paranoid relentlessly ignorant senator mounts
a filibuster about a serious subject that he doesn`t understand. That is
O`DONNELL: It is looking like the only Paul Ryan will have lunch in
the White House again, is if President Obama invites him or of President
Clinton invites him.
The most recent losing vice presidential candidate who will never be
president trails Hillary Clinton by 12 points in a new national president
preference poll by Quinnipiac University. Hillary Clinton got 50 percent
support when matched against Paul Ryan in the poll one-on-one. Ryan got
38 percent. But at least, Ryan did better in that poll than Senator Marco
Rubio who trails Hillary Clinton by 16 points. Hillary got 50 percent to
Rubio`s 34 percent when they were put one-on-one. And not surprisingly the
Republican politician in America did better than any Republican but Hillary
Clinton still beat Chris Christie by eight points 45 to Christie`s 37.
When the poll matched Joe Biden against those same Republicans, he did
not do as well. Biden beats Paul Ryan 45-42. Biden beats Rubio 45-38.
But, Biden came in three points behind Chris Christie at Christie`s 43
percent to Joe Biden`s 40 percent.
Joining me now is MSNBC`s Joy Reid. Also joining me, Politico`s
Joy, it looks awfully good for a Clinton presidency when you look at
those numbers at a very distant spot from 2016.
JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, even this far
out, and of course, it is very early, the Republicans have a lot of the
same problem that they had before. I mean, if you look at their potential
field, you know, it is Scott Walker who doesn`t have a self- awareness to
know that he is not popular in Wisconsin, it is Paul Ryan who, as you
mention, was a losing vice president doesn`t all go well for being
You know, it is Marco Rubio whose calling card is that he named
rappers. You know, when we got Rand Paul who , you know, infatuates to
doing twitter, filibuster which is odd. It is just not a great field. You
have Chris Christie who actually polls the best in the Quinnipiac poll that
But the base doesn`t want Chris Christie. He made a mistake of
getting Barack Obama`s cologne on him by hugging him. So, they don`t want
him. And then, you have Marco Rubio who, I mean, I think I already
mentioned Marco Rubio. So, it is just not fantastic field. And Hillary
got name recognition, incredible popularity. She goes in as a huge
O`DONNELL: Maggie, Peter Brown from the Quinnipiac made this think
and a lot of the poll, he said, it is worth noting that Hillary had very
good poll numbers in 2006 looking toward the 2008 election before she faced
relative unknown Barack Obama. So, there is something to that.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: There is a lot
to that. You know, I remember a Clinton aid telling me in about April of
2007 that Barack Obama shouldn`t have run this time. And clearly, that was
not the case. So, it is very easy to say right now that she is field-
clearing not just for the Democratic primary which I do think she probably
is. Although, Martin O`Malley was sort of indicating otherwise in an
It is another thing to say that there is no way that she can beat a
Republican challenger. A lot of this is going to depend on what the
country looks like, what the country wants, what the economy is like. Her
argument is going to have to be essentially for Barack Obama`s third term.
So, it is pretty hard for her to argue that she would be a different kind
of Democrat she served in his cabinet. It is also hard for her to argue
that she is the future. She is going to be approaching 70 years old.
So, we don`t quite know right now what the experience factor is going
to matter for voters. Barack Obama did not have the experienced we are all
told, everybody needed. He has been elected twice now. So, it just
depends on where the country is.
O`DONNELL: Joy, what is the calculation for other Democratic
presidential candidates like Andrew Cuomo or Martin O`Malley, these very
successful Democratic governors. Do they get into it thinking I`m running
for advice president. I`m going to do the Biden model. I`m not going to
take any big swings at Hillary. If she stumbles, if there is a big screw
up on the Hillary end of the campaign somehow, I will be standing here
ready to accept the nomination.
I mean, I can`t imagine with Hillary Clinton up there in the
Democratic primary debate with people like Andrew Cuomo and Martin O`Malley
and possibly other, that anybody would really be taking any real shot at
REID: Yes. And you know what, Lawrence, it is difficult too.
Because first of all, she is a woman. You know, Maggie mentioned her age.
You are looking at a difficult debate against her anyway, just based on
those demographic factors. Women will be watching to see how she is
treated by them. And at the same time, as you said, you wouldn`t want to
alienate her base.
Look. I think, presidential elections are a lot about a moment.
There is a moment when the country wants a certain thing. It doesn`t
matter if the person is inexperience and if the person is well-known
Barack Obama rolled that moment when change and changing even the
Democratic look of the president was very important. There is a tremendous
hunger in Hillary land, a tremendous hunger among women for that moment to
be the 2016 election for women. And any man running against her is going
to have to also run against that moment.
O`DONNELL: Maggie, it seems though (INAUDIBLE) is just describing, we
just talking about, would also lead to what you would call, some night call
a very positive Democratic campaign meaning Andrew Cuomo`s job on the
debate stage is to make the case for him not the case against one or the
HABERMAN: Without a doubt. I would say though, that of the people
that you named who could run against her, Andrew Cuomo, I think, is the
least likely to run against her. He considers Bill Clinton s political
mentor. He also, you know, is relatively young. He could run if she were
to lose, if she run and then lost in 2016. He could run in 2020. I think
he is much more focused right now genuinely on his reelection. And I think
that he would not run.
O`Malley, I`m less certain. I think O`Malley is like, just stay in it
and possibly have the prospect of being a vice presidential nominee on a
Clinton ticket. But, I agree absolutely with you. I agree with Joy, that
you know, if you are having that on stage moment, it is worth remembering
that Hillary Clinton became senator in no small measure because Rick Lazio
in 2000 walked over to her podium, waving, a soft money pledge and saying
sign it, sign it, and pointed it at her. It was a really powerful moment.
And there is a dynamic there. However, Barack Obama survived it. Others
survived it in 2008. So, we will see.
O`DONNELL: And Joy, Andrew Cuomo is the only candidate in the mix
here who has the problem of -- he couldn`t be selected as Hillary Clinton`s
vice president unless she moves back to Arkansas since he can`t come from
the same state as the nominee for president. And so, he has a different
calculation from the rest of them.
REID: Yes, absolutely. It is the Rubio-Jeb Bush problem on the other
side. Yes absolutely.
And I think, you know, the other issue too, is that none of these
candidates is going to have the experience doing the very difficult top
running from president. He really is difficult. And Hillary Clinton will
be doing, at least the primary portion of it, for the second time. So, She
will have the tremendous advantage in every way.
And I think Andrew Cuomo had some other issues too. I mean, he has
taken some positions, Democrats have an exactly been thrilled with the New
York. He hasn`t necessarily been dock to air on the issues Democrats care
about. But on the other side, I think he has been very proactive on issues
like guns. So, it will be interesting and I think it is worthwhile to have
a pro bust primary in part, because if, let`s say Hillary Clinton were to
run and lose, these other guys would then be testing themselves now and
setting themselves up to try to run in 2020.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid and Maggie Haberman, thank you both for joining
HABERMAN: Thank you.
REID: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up. The strange tale of how the CIA trapped Osama
bin Laden`s son in law and has him awaiting a court appearance in New York.
And the juicy parts of the Rand Paul filibuster in tonight`s rewrite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: So what is it all of a
sudden that this drone program has gotten every Republican so spun up?
What are we up to here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: What Rand Paul was up to on the Senate floor yesterday was
spewing infantile fantasies about a serious subject that earned him
sympathies from many of the serious people who have serious questions about
the U.S. military`s use of drones, and of course it earned him sympathy
from anyone who has ever cared for an infant.
Rand Paul pretended that his performance art turn on the Senate floor
yesterday with about forcing the Obama administration to answer a question.
The problem is the Obama administration had already answered the question
very clearly. And today, to double underline how empty headed Rand Paul`s
stunt was, the Obama administration chose to answer the question again.
Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter, "dear Senator Paul, it
has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question:
does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an
America not engaged in combat on American soil? The answer to that
question is no.".
And Rand Paul`s performance came in for some harsh Republican reviews
on the Senate floor today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: To some how allege or infer that the
president of the United States is going to kill somebody like Jane Fonda or
somebody who disagrees with the policies is a stretch of imagination which
is, frankly, ridiculous. Ridiculous. So we`ve done an -- I think a
disservice to a lot of Americans by making them believe that somehow they
are in danger from their government. They are not.
GRAHAM: To my Republican colleagues, I don`t remember any of you
coming down here suggesting that President Bush was going to kill anybody
with a drone. I don`t even remember the harshest critics of President Bush
on the Democratic side. They had a drone program back then.
So what is it all of a sudden that this drone program has gotten every
Republican so spun up? What are we up to here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, E.J. Dionne of MSNBC and the "Washington
Post," and Ryan Gram of the "Huffington Post." E.J., it was a thing to
behold out there. And I think the people -- serious people who have
questions and, in some cases, oppose some of the uses of drones or all of
the uses of drones by the U.S. military could have been much, much better
served by someone who wasn`t such a horribly flawed messenger on this
E.J. DIONNE, "WASHINGTON POST": That may be true, but I find this
whole episode more heartening than you do, because, for the first time in a
long time, we have a debate where everybody isn`t falling on some
predictable side. You have got Lindsey Graham and John McCain out there
defending President Obama, and Lindsey Graham basically saying, you know,
we never did this to Bush.
But then you`ve got liberals saying, yes, you know, Rand Paul may have
gotten a bunch of things wrong, but we really do need a debate about
drones, about when they should be used, what is appropriate, what is the
danger of overusing them. And so Rand Paul`s cheering squad were a lot of
people who have never cheered for Rand Paul before.
And I think it is good that we opened up this debate. Granted that
some of the stuff that Rand Paul said, like that President Obama is going
to target Americans, is a little bit crazy. Although I loved John McCain
throwing in Jane Fonda. That was an unlikely choice for him.
O`DONNELL: I think he had things to say that were more than a little
bit crazy. Let`s listen to how he tried to make members of the Tea Party
think that President Obama was sitting there in the White House wondering
when he might want to kill them. Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: If we are going to kill noncombatants in America or people we
think might some day be combatants, the list will be secret. So you won`t
get a chance to protest, hey, I`m not that bad. I might have said that one
time, but I`m not that bad. I have objected to big government, not all
government. I`m not fomenting revolution. I was critical at that meeting.
I was at a Tea Party meeting and I was critical of the president. But I`m
not a revolutionary. Please don`t kill me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: "I was at a Tea Party meeting." Please Mr. President,
"don`t kill me." Ryan Grim, I haven`t heard anything sleezier than that
ever said on the Senate floor.
RYAN GRIM, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Look, like E.J. said and like a not
very wise man in the past said, you don`t go to the war with the army you
might want or might have, you go to war with the army that you have. And
right now skeptics of the drone program, the army they have is Rand Paul.
He might have said a lot of crazy things, but he brought attention to the
And frankly, if there is a classified kill list that includes American
citizens, if you don`t want conspiracy theories to start circulating, then
publish that list. And look, if the people on that list are dedicated
revolutionaries or extremists who are bent on overthrowing the government,
they are not going to be surprised to find their name on the list and the
probably expect that the government is coming after them.
So publish the list and let people challenge them. As long as there
is a secret list of people the president believes he can kill, then you are
going to have people concocting all sorts of theories. And there`s no way,
beyond transparency, that you can challenge that.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Rush Limbaugh cheering on the attack
against drones, something that he supported every single use of when
someone else was in the White House. Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW: The old guard of the Republican party
was out playing footsy with the president. The new kids in town were
talking to the American people about liberty. McCain, some of these old
guard guys are jealous. And right now, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and Marco
Rubio have captivated everybody. And these old guard guys, these old bulls
are getting jealous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: E.J., Rand Paul has one friend out there in radio land.
DIONNE: It is fun to hear Rush Limbaugh him attack the old bulls. I
don`t know what category he is in exactly. Look, some of the stuff that
Paul said, the clip you played before, was outrageous, the notion that
Obama is going to target American citizens who disagree with him. That is
wrong. But I think Ryan put his finger on something, that the
administration really has nod been terribly forthcoming about the drone
I am not somebody who is against the use of drones. I think there is
an appropriate place for using drones. I also think there is a great
danger if we get addicted to the use of drones. They`re something you`ve
got to be very careful about using. And so you are left with this mixed
bag. You have Rand Paul going out there, supported also, by the way, it
should be said, by Ron Wyden, who presented a somewhat different case on
But you have Rand Paul making a spectacle of himself but forcing a
debate. I would have loved to hear what Rush Limbaugh would have said if,
I don`t know, Russ Feingold had given exactly the same speech about
President Bush. I don`t think he would have said what he said yesterday.
O`DONNELL: Well, yes, I think that raises a good point. There is a
huge difference between Ron Wyden and Rand Paul. Rand Paul is stark raving
mad. And Ron Wyden actually knows what he`s talking about. And they are
talking about the same subject. And it is perfectly reasonable to give a
standing ovation to Ron Wyden and to sit on your hands when the crazy man
speaks and not -- what was the Twitter thing yesterday? You know, Stand up
for Rand. Stand with Rand.
Perfectly reasonable not to Stand with Rand, and to give a standing
ovation to Ron Wyden.
GRIM: But then again, if Ron Wyden isn`t standing -- to his credit,
he was on the floor and he participated --
O`DONNELL: One second, the guy talked for -- what was it, 13 hours?
O`DONNELL: Do you think there is more than 14 minutes of actual
contact in what that psychopath said on the Senate floor. So if you want
to Stand with Rand, do you want to stand with all of the vile spewing
madness that came out of that crazy person`s mouth or do you want to stand
with 15 minutes of it. That is your choice.
So it is -- if you want to choose the 15 minutes, that is fine. But
you are standing with a crazy person.
GRIM: But the other choice would have been for Ron Wyden to have
taken the floor and stood there for 12 or 13 hours.
O`DONNELL: Why 12 or 13 hours? What did the 12 or 13 hours
DIONNE: We are talking about it.
GRIM: That is what it accomplished.
O`DONNELL: The guy -- the vote passed with 63 votes.
GRIM: Right, but -- and look what it did, though. It brought a lot
of these Republicans lemmings to the floor. You even had Mitch McConnell
come down to the floor towards the end of it and support him. When Rand
Paul started out, it was just him. Then, all of a sudden, you`ve got Ron
Johnson and a lot of these others.
O`DONNELL: You know why they are doing that. They are pandering to
the Tea Party. When the Tea Party leader gets out there, if you don`t run
out there with him, then you are not with him. So that was all pandering.
That was presidential campaign pandering for those guys. And if you don`t
get that -- that is what filibusters always are. There has never been a
filibuster that wasn`t as stunt and wasn`t pandering.
GRIM: Right, but it was an effective stunt. It was -- as a political
move, it was effective for him. And it could have been effective for some
Democrats if they had done it instead.
O`DONNELL: Effective what? To get Tea Party votes?
GRIM: No, to reclaim the mantle of civil liberties. I think that
Democrats are going to look back on this and regret that they ceded this
territory to the Tea Party. Because the Tea Party doesn`t have much left.
If they are going to let them cling to this, then it is giving them a
little bit more oxygen.
DIONNE: You are right that some of what Rand Paul said was completely
wrong. The reason this thing happened and the reason we are talking about
it and the reason it got so much attention is because we had not before had
the kind of debate on the Senate floor about the proper use or drones. The
issue of whether you can target Americans abroad is -- without due process
is a live issue. And it`s something we should debate.
O`DONNELL: E.J., I agree we have not -- we didn`t have the proper
debate on it. And we still have not had the proper debate on it.
DIONNE: Except on this show.
O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne and Ryan Grim, thank you both for joining me
GRIM: Good to be with you.
DIONNE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the funny stuff from the filibuster. And I
don`t mean the stuff that they meant to be funny. I mean the paranoid
psycho crazy stuff.
That`s in the Rewrite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Who are these terrorist that live among you? People who might
be missing fingers on one hand, people who might have stains on their
clothing, people who might have changed the color of their, people who like
to pay in cash, people who own more than one gun, people who own
weatherized ammunition, people who have seven days of food in their house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Paranoia runs deep on the Senate floor when Rand Paul is
on his feet. His wild imaginings of you being killed in your bed and of
you being hit by a drone strike while you`re in a cafe went on and on for
hours on end yesterday. It was the first time the black helicopter crowd
out there had one of their own speaking into a Senate microphone.
I`ve heard many important and thoughtful concerns and questions raised
about the American military`s use of drones. But I`ve never heard any of
them raised by Rand Paul. Rand Paul is not a flawed messenger on this
subject. He is a ridiculous, sick, paranoid messenger on this subject.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I will speak until I can no longer speak.
No, no, said the queen.
Everybody is al Qaeda.
Hold your tongue, said the queen, turning purple.
If there`s a gentleman or a woman with a grenade launcher attacking
our buildings, our capital, we need lethal force.
No, we won`t drop bombs on restaurants.
Notification is the buzz of the propellers on the drone as it flies
over head in the seconds before you are killed. Is that what we really
want from our government?
The leap of logic is so fantastic as to boggle the mind.
The drone strike program is sort of like a lawnmower.
I don`t intend to break the First amendment but I might.
Who is going to decide when it`s OK to have food in your house and
when it`s not?
See there are a lot of questions that aren`t being asked.
You believe in the Constitution so much, you might be a terrorist.
I`m not talking about someone with a Bazooka or a grenade launcher on
I was at a Tea Party meeting and I was critical of the president, but
I`m not a revolutionary. Please, don`t kill me.
My throat is already dry and I just got started.
And if you don`t answer it, basically by not answering it, you`re
I would feel a little more comforted if it weren`t by a politician
that unleashes Hellfire missiles.
Democracies did bad things. I asked, do we know where all the
The answers that we`ve gotten are almost more disturbing than getting
an answer, really, to tell you the truth.
I don`t think the president would purposefully take innocent people
and kill them. I really don`t think he`d drop a Hellfire missile on a cafe
or a restaurant, like I`m talking about.
You might have a drone attack you in your beds tonight.
If you were to kill noncombatants, people eating dinner in America,
there have to be some rules. Probably, inevitably, the milk man has to go
to the terrorist camp too or the doctor as well.
It is hard to know what to believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: U.S. authorities have in custody tonight Osama bin Laden`s
son in law, an al Qaeda spokesman, Suleiman Abu Ghaith. Several U.S.
officials have confirmed to NBC News that Abu Ghaith is in New York and is
scheduled to appear in federal court as early as tomorrow.
According to court documents, Abu Ghaith is charged with conspiracy to
kill Americans. After 9/11, Abu Ghaith said, "the Americans should know
that the storm of plane attacks will not abate. There are thousands of the
Islamic nations` youths who are eager to die just as the Americans are
eager to live."
Congressman Peter King of the House Homeland Security actually first
broke the news today with the following statement, "I commend our CIA and
FBI, our allies in Jordan, and President Obama for their capture of al
Qaeda spokesman Suleiman Abu Ghaith. I trust he received a vigorous
interrogation and will face swift and certain justice."
Joining me now, Evan Kohlmann, an NBC News terrorism analyst and
senior partner of Flashpoint Global Partners.
Evan, what is the Jordan connection in that statement we just heard?
EVAN KOHLMANN, FLASHPOINT GLOBAL PARTNERS: The Jordan connection was
this: this individual popped up in Turkey several weeks ago. We had heard
rumors that he was there, that he was being interrogated by Turkish
authorities. The problem was that the Turks didn`t have a criminal charge
out on him.
So the question was how do we get him from Turkey to the United
States. Well, he wanted to travel back to Kuwait. He`s from Kuwait. He
took a flight that connected through Jordan. And guess what, when it
landed in Jordan, U.S. authorities were there to greet him and take him on
a much different journey.
O`DONNELL: Now, did he have any options in that flight? Are you
saying that was a flight that he arranged himself that went that route?
KOHLMANN: It is not clear that he really had any option. The
Kuwaitis had already said they weren`t interested in having him back. They
had revoked his citizenship. They had revoked his passport. They said he
was not welcome. There is no indication he would have been welcome.
At one time, he was a very influential cleric in Kuwait. But the
Kuwaitis had had just about enough of him.
O`DONNELL: Now, Evan, we are back in one of these controversies of
why are we having a trial in New York? Can we have a trial in New York?
Can we go through judicial proceedings there? Senator Chuck Schumer says
he trusts Ray Kelly, New York Police Department, to be able to provide the
right security for this.
But let`s listen to Lindsey Graham, who is now complaining about
whether this kind of thing should be worked this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: I think this is, quite frankly, being sneaky. It is being
too clever by half. If they think that we are going to sit on the
sidelines and watch a new policy develop, that every future capture can
never go to Guantanamo Bay, you`re going to take them to a third country,
or take them right to a federal court in New York, and we`re going to sit
by and let you do that, you`ve got another thing coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Evan, he just sees this as a way of evading Guantanamo
KOHLMANN: Look, there`s two rationales for sending someone to
Guantanamo Bay. Number one, that the evidence that has been collected
against them has bee collected in such a way that it cannot be presented in
civilian court. This individual has been charged with conspiring to kill
Americans. He went on television multiple times and openly proclaimed his
desire to kill Americans, his interest and active efforts to kill Americans
with al Qaeda.
So as far as that goes, I don`t think you need a secret agent to come
in and testify to that. He said so on TV.
The second rationale would be that he is so dangerous that he cannot
be held safely here in New York. This guy is not the Birdman of Alcatraz.
He is an old fat guy. He was so old and fat to begin with that he couldn`t
join bin Laden and Zawahiri in Pakistan. He had to flee to Iran. That was
When they picked him up in Turkey, supposedly they picked him up
staying at a luxury hotel. This is not somebody who is going to break out
of prison. This is not somebody who poses a violent threat to others. He
conspired to kill Americans. He was a danger to this country. He deserves
his day in court. But this is absolutely no reason to put someone like
this in Gitmo. It`s just overwhelming a system that we`re already trying
to shut down.
O`DONNELL: Evan Kohlmann gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Evan, thanks for
joining us with the latest on that.
KOHLMANN: Thank you very much.
O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.
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