updated 3/21/2013 9:52:54 AM ET 2013-03-21T13:52:54

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
March 20, 2013

Guests: P.J. Crowley, Frank Smythe

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Tonight, here in Washington, we now know
that when the president`s away, Republicans will play the same budget games
they play when he`s here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States of
America stands with the state of Israel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama in Israel for the first time as president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu that it as good to get from Congress.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You only tease the
ones you love.

OBAMA: I see this visit as an opportunity.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: This trip is heavy on symbolism.

OBAMA: Chuck, I mean, you`re incorrigible.

TODD: What is he going to take away?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He and Netanyahu had their differences.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: We know he was sort of a supporter of
Romney in 2012.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We`ve known each other
for many decades.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Netanyahu preferred Romney over Obama in the last
election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: American ally trying to influence an American
election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s been a lot of water under the bridge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s absolutely outrageous.

BOEHNER: You only tease the ones you love.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some Republicans recoil at the party`s plans for
the future.

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: I know what our principles are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chairman is in the hot seat.

PRIEBUS: I am looking to get into communities in the hundreds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can show up any time.

PRIEBUS: I know what our principles are.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR: It`s what you say and do when you
get there matters most to people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s the same old policy.

PRIEBUS: Our party believes marriage is between one man and one
woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They haven`t changed their policies a bit.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We`re not going to refight the past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: House Republicans tomorrow vote on the Ryan
budget.

WAGNER: The notorious Paul Ryan budget.

RYAN: Putting out yet again a budget.

WAGNER: An actual budget, political manifesto or long term liability?

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Let`s have a real debate on the
budget.

RYAN: We are not going to refight the past.

SCHUMER: Our budget and your budget contrast.

WAGNER: What happens next?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Republican rebranding week continues to go, well, badly,
especially if you listen to Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: God knows, if any party needed
rebooting, our party did, but I don`t know, I just -- I looked at the press
conference, I read some of the documents and I`m left wondering whether
these people get it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: One reliable element of the Republican base, the Christian
right, is feeling left out. According to BuzzFeed, the word "Christian"
doesn`t appear once, nor does the word "church," "abortion" and "marriage",
the two issues that most animate social conservatives are nowhere to be
found. There`s nothing about the need to protect religious liberty or
promote Judeo-Christian values in society.

And today, the party that says it can no longer survive as the party
of the rich acted like the party of the rich, when House Republicans paved
the way for passage tomorrow of Paul Ryan`s budget that cuts taxes for the
rich.

That budget, of course, does not include stimulus spending, but a just
released Gallup poll shows a mere 72 percent of Americans support a federal
government spending program designed to create more than one million new
jobs. That also has majority support among Republicans.

Freshman Republican Congressman Thomas Massie told a roomful of
reporters today, "You know, I`m new here, but what I`m learning is that the
budget is just kind of a guideline. We know it is dead on arrival, we know
it`s a pretend vote."

Here is Speaker Boehner reacting to something President Obama was
caught saying on his arrival in Israel today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It`s good to get away from Congress.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: I would rather be heckled than ignored, or as I like to say,
you only tease the ones you love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, I think President Obama is willing to tease
more than just the ones he loves.

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, absolutely. I think he`s
made that abundantly clear. And apparently Republicans are willing to
tease various parts of the base to make them think we have a plan, because
it`s really not much of a plan, it`s kind of the part of the problem they
don`t seem to understand, the policies don`t match up with what they say
their values are. That`s the problem.

And instead, what they say is let`s not talk about those things, those
things, those value voters, things that get us in trouble. Let`s not talk
about rape. Let`s not talk about all that messy stuff, and then we`re just
going to fool people that way. That`s the real joke.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Rush Limbaugh`s take on the new rebranding
of the Republican Party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: They go out, lose elections and blame
everybody else. They`re running the party, we`re not. Safe to say? I
mean, they`re getting the nominees they want, and losing, and somehow it`s
our fault for being exclusive? We`re not excluding anybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, my favorite thing in there is the way
Rush distances himself from this Republican nominee who was running for
president last year, who Rush had nothing to do with. It is always fun to
watch him worshipping that Republican nominee, then trashing the Republican
nominee as soon as the Republican nominee loses.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, WASHINGTON POST: Right. And it`s not our fault,
what did we do? Well, you did a lot, you did actually everything.

I mean, remember, there were tons of people who agreed, who Rush
agreed with who favored all the policies that Rush favors, but because they
were crazy or off the deep end politically, they couldn`t make it. And so,
Mitt Romney ended up being the nominee.

But the problems of the Republican Party are way beyond Mitt Romney
and I think the problem that the Republican Party finds itself in is that I
believe that the first 12 pages of that autopsy, GOP autopsy, were brutally
honest. It was probably the truest thing you will ever get out of the
Republican Party in terms of themselves.

FINNEY: Those statements are so obvious.

CAPEHART: Wait, no, no, I know. Well, we know it`s obvious. We`re
talking about a party that couldn`t see the writing on the wall that we
could all see.

Their mistake, the second mistake among many, but second mistake is
how do you put out this autopsy on Monday and then not follow it up on
Tuesday with OK, here is what we`re going to do on policy. They say this
is not a policy document but they don`t follow it up with anything.

FINNEY: Can I say having done this with Howard Dean after John Kerry
lost, it`s not, you know -- (a), it`s not just, again, you have to
understand the obvious about where your flaws are. but you also have to go
to the whole party, say we have to figure out how to be a true party, what
are our values, what are our policies, how are we dealing with candidates
that may not agree with us on certain policy issues knowing that here`s
where the electorate is.

That`s not what`s happening. This is more -- let`s do, sure, brutally
honest, totally obvious to the rest of us, also let`s say shhh, we are not
talking about those things. We have seen the polling, gets us in trouble,
and we`re going to put lipstick on this, and we`ll put a bow on that, and
say, hey, we`re a brand new party.

That`s not how it works. You can put all the organizers you want in
Iowa you want for four years. If you`re not able to communicate through
values and policies that people agree with, it doesn`t matter.

O`DONNELL: Now, Michael Steele, I saw him on this network today
saying that what you`re watching is certain Republicans are going out there
and trying new ideas out there in the marketplace of ideas, and this is the
way it should happen. It should be in effect free-lanced by senators and
by notable Republicans that say I`m moving this way on immigration, for
example. Michael Steele seems to think this is kind of working.

CAPEHART: Sure, because it is not at the presidential level. It`s
folks in the Senate showing, whether it`s Marco Rubio, or Rand Paul,
senators on immigration, but the problem they`re going to have is when they
take -- when 2016 happens and when they decide whether they`re going to run
for president when the base of the party starts smacking back, and how --
will this leadership they`re showing, however nuanced, will that be the
case when they decide to run for president. That`s where the rough will
be.

And I`m not convinced that the courage we see now is what we`re going
to see in a year from now they really have to say to these voters, look,
you`re killing our party. We have to change. You must follow me.

I mean, it requires leadership. I`m just not convinced it will
happen.

O`DONNELL: Karen, you worked within the Democratic National
Committee, within the party offices where I don`t think I have ever been.

FINNEY: I am sure they would love to have you.

O`DONNELL: And it`s a different experience, isn`t it? This is not a
thing I understand. Isn`t this a constant frustration in party
headquarters when looking out there at your party --

FINNEY: Yes.

O`DONNELL: -- that people are saying you`re supposed to be able to
control and in the modern world, how do you do that? They all raise their
own money or they can if they want to. They don`t really need you.

FINNEY: You know, the best thing you can do is have a strong
apparatus underneath that can help candidates get elected. That was part
of the goal of the 50-state strategy.

O`DONNELL: What`s an example of that? What`s included in that kind
of effort?

FINNEY: So, what that would mean is, you go to the chairman of a
state party like Ohio where you need to win, say we`re going to hire you.
We`re going to do an analysis what it would take to win in Ohio. You need
this kind of tech person, you need to these kinds of field organizers,
we`re going to pay for that. They`re going to report to you, but we`re
paying for it. That`s our leverage as the party.

We`re also going to build a national database. We`re going to improve
our technology, by the way, so that when our nominee comes in, they can
just build in right on top of that and be plug and play, ready to go as we
saw with President Obama.

So it`s a matter of what things can the party actually do, whether it
is kind of trying to clean up some of the state parties where there are
problems, where there are barriers to getting elected or trying to make
sure the resources are there where you can to ensure that your candidates
will have what they need to get elected.

O`DONNELL: But ultimately, Jonathan, all that has to drive is a set
of policies --

FINNEY: Yes, right.

O`DONNELL: -- that appeals to somewhere in the neighborhood of 51
percent of voters.

CAPEHART: Or 50.1 percent and the parties are not ready yet. I mean,
from Rush Limbaugh to others within the party who have giant megaphones,
they are not ready to deal with where the nation is on marriage equality,
reproductive issues.

FINNEY: Let`s address the false equivalency here because I also think
on the Republican Party side, they just need to stop listening to Rush
Limbaugh. I mean, it is such a joke he doesn`t run the party. They`re so
terrified of him, so terrified of angering him or crossing him. They never
stand up to him.

Let him call that wonderful girl, Sandra Fluke, a whore. I mean,
that`s -- no, that`s not right.

O`DONNELL: The reason I use his clips on the show, you have to
understand on the Republican world what Karen is saying. These guys if
they go this far, take one more step that way, then they have Rush Limbaugh
to deal with, and he will always have activists in every congressional
district to respond to what he, Rush Limbaugh, says.

FINNEY: I don`t care what FOX News says, sorry, in the Democratic
Party, what we say on MSNBC doesn`t necessarily shake terror in the fear of
the president or our candidates.

CAPEHART: No.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, Jonathan Capehart, thank you both for
joining me on this special LAST WORD from Washington. It`s Washington week
for THE LAST WORD. We`re having fun here. Thank you both very much.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
welcomed President Obama today, after Netanyahu appeared to do everything
he could during the presidential campaign to help Mitt Romney.

And ten years after the start of the Iraq war, the verdict is in on
who was right and who was wrong about going to war in Iraq. Tonight, we
salute those who were right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: As President Obama visits Israel, the Israeli embassy in
the United States tries its best to convince everyone that Bibi and Barack
are best buddies. The Israeli embassy actually released this very strange
little video to try to make that point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NETANYAHU: We warmly welcome President Obama to Israel. Express our
appreciation for what he has done for us.

OBAMA: The bond between the United States and Israel are unbreakable.
And the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is
ironclad.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NETANYAHU: Governor Romney, Mitt, it`s a pleasure to welcome you to
Jerusalem. We have known each other for many decades. God, we were so
young then. And for some reason, you still look young, I don`t know how
you do it.

And you`ve been a personal friend of mine and a strong friend of the
state of Israel and that`s why it is a pleasure to welcome you here.

I have to say that I heard some of your remarks a few days ago. You
said that the greatest danger facing the world is of the ayatollah regime
possessing nuclear weapons capability.

Mitt, I couldn`t agree with you more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might have hoped
to spend today giving his old Boston consulting buddy Mitt Romney the
hero`s welcome as he did when the Republican presidential candidate came to
Israel in July, and during the height of the fall campaign, Netanyahu used
a visit with the leader of Bulgaria to make international headlines with
this swipe at President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NETANYAHU: The world tells Israel wait, there`s still time. And I
say, wait for what? Wait until when? Those in the international community
who refuse to put red lines before Iran don`t have a moral right to place a
red light before Israel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That comment led "Time" magazine`s Joe Klein to say this
the next day on "MORNING JOE".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE KLEIN, TIME: I don`t think I`ve ever in the 40 years I have been
doing this, trying to search my mind through history, have heard of another
example of an American ally trying to push us into war as blatantly and
trying to influence an American election as blatantly as Bibi Netanyahu and
the Likud party in Israel is doing now. I think it`s absolutely outrageous
and disgusting. It`s not a way -- it`s not a way that friends treat each
other and it is cynical and it is brazen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today, Benjamin Netanyahu had to literally roll out the
red carpet for President Obama and say thank you to Israel`s real best
friend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NETANYAHU: Thank you, thank you for standing by Israel at this time
of historic change in the Middle East. Thank you for unequivocally
affirming Israel`s sovereign right to defend itself by itself against any
threat. Thank you for enhancing Israel`s ability to exercise that right
through generous military assistance, revolutionary missile defense
programs, and unprecedented security and intelligence cooperation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now are: P.J. Crowley, former U.S. assistant
secretary of state for public affairs, and Richard Wolffe, executive editor
of MSNBC.com.

P.J., I was sitting on the "MORNING JOE" set when Joe Klein went off
like that on Bibi Netanyahu (INAUDIBLE). I was kind of sitting there
waiting for this day today because I then believe that President Obama was
going to get reelected, never thought he lost that advantage, and I knew
this day was coming whether the president would get off a plane in Israel
or Netanyahu would come here and they would have to shake hands for the
first time after the election.

How awkward was this for Bibi Netanyahu today?

P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC
AFFAIRS: I mean, it is not unprecedented, and the two leaders are doing
what they need to do.

O`DONNELL: Yes, they are. Now, they are.

CROWLEY: They`re going to be with each other for as long as the
Israeli coalition lasts, which may be a year or two, and of course, for the
four years of the Obama term. So, they`re making the most of their
relationship.

But underneath that, there is unprecedented cooperation between the
United States and Israel. The strategic relationship has never been
better.

But Netanyahu knows on the other side of the coin, Bill Clinton, you
know, weighed into the Israeli political campaign in 1998. You go back to
George H.W. Bush and Jim Baker had a very tense relationship with former
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir over settlements and loan
guarantees, so the tension is real but not unprecedented.

But you can manage it because of deep cooperation that the two
countries have on a variety of issues of importance to both.

O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, at the time there were people in Israel
saying what Joe Klein was saying.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

O`DONNELL: It was very controversial thing that Bibi Netanyahu was
doing, given that he worked literally in the same office with Mitt Romney
in Boston years ago, there was just plenty of suspicion around the whole
thing.

When President Obama arrives there today, I assume there`s going to be
-- there was absolutely no whiff of that from President Obama, seemed like
all the burden was on Netanyahu today to try to make up for what he had
done during the campaign.

WOLFFE: Right. Let`s be clear. This is more awkward situation for
the Israeli prime minister than it is for the American president. You
know, the Israeli prime minister is the guy that screwed up.

And by the way, there are other examples where actually the Bush
administration tried to interfere with a German election in a run up to the
war in Iraq, they didn`t like (INAUDIBLE) tried to steer it one way, didn`t
work.

Generally, foreign countries don`t like it and you look stupid as an
ally, because you still have to work with them when you try to intervene in
an election and it doesn`t work.

Now, President Obama has endured also sorts of really unfounded
questions about his commitment to Israel given what his public statements
are. You know, President Bush, last President Bush didn`t visit Israel
until the end of his second term. President Reagan never visited.
Apparently Republicans think that still isn`t sufficient.

You know, the very fact that this president gave a speech to the Arab
and Muslim world early in his presidency is enough of a question mark.

And Netanyahu has to get beyond that. Obviously, the president in
dealing with all the various challenges of the region has to get through
this as well. They are both bigger politicians and bigger international
players than this particular spat.

O`DONNELL: The day after the election, Ehud Olmert in the "The New
York Times," it said this about what Netanyahu had done in the campaign.
He said, "What took place this time was a breaking of all the rules. When
our prime minister intervened in the U.S. elections in the name of an
American billionaire with a clear interest in the vote, the very same
billionaire who used Israel`s prime minister to advance a nominee of his
own for president," the billionaire, talking about Sheldon Adelson, this
case.

So, P.J., the pressure today, within Israel, within the politics of
Israel, was on Netanyahu to make good, make things better from where they
were in the presidential campaign?

CROWLEY: Sure. There are two sides of a coin here. You know, one,
President Obama has a 10 percent approval rating in Israel, and it is in
his interest to not only, you know, cooperate with Netanyahu and his
government, but as he will in his conversation to college students during
his visit to Israel, you know, talk directly to the Israeli people.

I think a case can be made that he has not done enough of that during
his first term. Prime Minister Netanyahu who was unelected in the `90s
because of the tension and the gap between himself and Israel`s best
friend is wary about getting in that situation again because this coalition
is weaker than the one he led last year. It could potentially develop into
a political issue, given that there are underneath all of this, very
significant issues -- you know, Syria, Iran, and other issues in the region
to manage.

O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, for a president not running again, what
are the politics of this visit for President Obama?

WOLFFE: Well, I don`t know that it is a political calculation for
domestic American politics. There are obviously a whole series of
challenges in the region that he has to deal with. In particular, how do
you balance out responding to the situation in Syria that`s terrible, awful
humanitarian crisis there, and the strategic difficulties of trying to deal
with Iran and hold or even build a coalition to deal with that.

So, I think it is international politics, not American.

O`DONNELL: Thank you both for joining me tonight.

WOLFFE: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, ten years after the start of the Iraq war,
let`s remember the wise people who were right about how wrong it was for us
to invade Iraq.

And in the "Rewrite," a 12-year-old boy`s letter to the chief justice
of the United States Supreme Court asking his two fathers be allowed to
marry.

And later, the NRA continues to support a man`s right to carry a gun
even after threatening the safety of a woman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: As the Supreme Court prepares to address marriage
equality, a 12-year-old boy pleads with Chief Justice Roberts to let his
parents marry. The boy`s video letter is in tonight`s "Rewrite."

And next, when we talk of heroes of the Iraq war, that group must
include the wise voices in this country that were raised in opposition to
invading Iraq. The heroes who got it right when right and wrong really
mattered are next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Ten years ago at this hour, American military forces were
completing the first full day of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It is worth
remembering on this day who was right about the Iraq War and who was wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I do oppose is a
dumb war. What I do oppose is a rash war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Barack Obama was right about the invasion of Iraq. The
vice president of the United States was wildly and tragically wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Simply
stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass
destruction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Dick Cheney was a trained foreign policy expert. So was
Colin Powell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Indeed, the facts and Iraq`s
behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their
efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The national debate over going to war in Iraq was heavily
lopsided in favor of war. In the United States Senate, the war resolution
passed with 77 votes; only 23 senators opposed it, including only one
Republican, Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE (R), RHODE ISLAND: What concerns me most is the
pattern we see applied to Iraq, that is abandoning of our alliances and
willing to be very preemptive, without any real evidence of weapons of mass
destruction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In the House of Representatives, the war resolution passed
with 296 votes; 133 House members voted against it, including a
congresswoman from San Francisco who was working her way up the leadership
ladder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: Let`s do what is
proportionate, what is appropriate, which mitigates for risk for our young
people, another cost in addition to human lives, cost to terrorism, cost to
our economy -- another cost is to our budget. This cost can be unlimited,
unlimited.

There is no political solution on the ground in Iraq. Let`s not be
fooled by that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Thanks to the much maligned Hollywood liberals, there were
actually more famous actors against the war than there were members of
Congress against the war. The first actor I heard speak out against going
to war in Iraq was then playing the president of the United States in an
Emmy award winning television series.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN SHEEN, ACTOR: By some demented form of logic, the men, women
and children of Iraq are relegated to collateral damage as the dogs of war
slouch towards Baghdad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And yes, standing with Martin Sheen were his fellow "West
Wing" cast members, Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff and Janelle Maloney
(ph). If Martin was the first actor to speak out, his California neighbor
Sean Penn was the second.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN PENN, ACTOR: There`s no question in my mind that this conflict
can be resolved peacefully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Yes, that is the same Sean Penn who is frequently
ridiculed for his political opinions. Sean Penn and Martin Sheen did not
go to the Fletcher School of Diplomacy. They are not and were not trained
foreign policy professionals. They were just right. And the trained
foreign policy professionals were very, very wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: Every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid
sources. These are not assertions. What we`re giving you are facts and
conclusions based on solid intelligence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: It was hard being against the invasion of Iraq. It was
especially hard to make that argument on Fox News. But some were brave
enough to do it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any circumstances where you would think
war with Iraq is appropriate?

JANEANE GAROFALO, ACTRESS: I guess those circumstances have not
revealed themselves yet. I think that this will be one of the worst
chapters in American history if it is perceived by the Arab world that a
U.S.-led invasion that was not justified, not in self defense goes forward.

Plus the fact, international law matters. The U.N. is not irrelevant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Citing international law in those days could make you a
laughing stock on television. But Janeane Garofalo hung in there. She was
ridiculed mercilessly. The pro-war world that included Republicans and
Democrats tried to turn her into some kind of lefty Hollywood caricature.
And not one of the people on Fox News or elsewhere who tried to do that to
Janeane have ever apologized, even though they now know that Janeane
Garofalo was right and the president of the United States was wrong, and
his highly trained foreign policy team and war policy team was wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The problem here is that
there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire
nuclear weapons. But we don`t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Of course, we all remember that Howard Dean was right
about the invasion of Iraq. And Michael Moore was right. And when Michael
Moore won an Oscar in 2003, in his acceptance speech he spoke of a
president, quote, "sending us to war for fictitious reasons."

And he was booed in Hollywood by a large segment of the Oscar audience
in that theater that night. The long list of actors opposed to invading
Iraq included Diahann Carroll, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon. The great comedy
writer Larry Gelbart was the -- was opposed to the war, as was the Oscar
winning writer Paul Hagas.

What were the odds of them being right? They didn`t have the daily
briefings from the CIA. They didn`t have daily access to intelligence.
They didn`t have any academic or professional training in war or diplomacy.
But they figured it out and they were right.

So was Samuel L. Jackson and Jessica Lang and Tea Leoni, Wendie
Malick, Ed O`Neill, Tony Shalhoub, Lily Tomlin, James Whitmore. They were
dismissed as lightweight Hollywood lefties who didn`t know what they were
talking about. But they were right and everyone who dismissed them and
called them names was wrong.

Susan Sarandon was against the war. But her opposition was
caricatured as just another one of her liberal causes. The decision to go
to war in Iraq was the most important decision that Washington faced in the
21st century. When faced with that decision, some rose to the occasion and
some did not. Being right never mattered more.

And now we know who was right and who was wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED KENNEDY, FORMER SENATOR: And it is wrong for Congress to declare
war against Iraq now before we have exhausted the alternatives.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A brutal
dictator with a history of reckless aggression, with ties to terrorism,
with great potential wealth, will not be permitted to dominate a vital
region and threaten the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All we get from this administration is rhetoric.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: It is clear, however,
that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his
capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare and will keep trying to
develop nuclear weapons.

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: He doesn`t have a Navy. And he can`t even
shoot down -- he didn`t shoot one of our airplanes down in 12 years, and
his army is one-third it was than 12 years ago.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Failure now to make the choice to
remove Saddam Hussein from power will leave us with few choices later when
Saddam`s inevitable acquisition of nuclear weapons will make it much more
dangerous to defend our friends and interests in the region.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: There`s no proof that Iraq represents
an imminent or immediate threat to the United States of America.

CLINTON: This is a very difficult vote. This is probably the hardest
decision I`ve ever had to make. Any vote that might lead to war should be
hard. But I cast it with conviction.

KUCINICH: I will repeat, there is no proof that Iraq represents an
imminent or immediate threat to the United States.

BUSH: Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous
sums, taken great risk to build and keep weapons of mass destruction.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What will the cost be to rebuild Iraq? How long
would our troops have to stay there? Would our troops become a target for
terrorism?

POWELL: The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the
threat that Iraq`s weapons of mass destruction pose to the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cannot vote for a blank check for unilateral
action.

DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns.
That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are
also unknown unknowns, the ones we don`t know we don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Authorizing the preemptive, go it alone use of
force right now, which is what the resolution before us calls for, in the
midst of continuing efforts to enlist the world community to back a tough
new disarmament resolution on Iraq, could be a very costly mistake for our
country.

BUSH: And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force
and might of the United States military. And we will prevail.

ROBERT BYRD, FORMER SENATOR: Mr. President, before we unleash what
Thomas Jefferson called the dogs of war, I want to know, have we exhausted
every avenue of peace?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Being right mattered. How President Bush`s war team got
it so wrong is the story told in the documentary "Hubris, The Selling of
the War in Iraq." That will be replayed here Friday at 9:00 p.m., followed
by a discussion hosted by Chris Hayes, "Talking Hubris" at 10:00.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, Rewriting the Defense of Marriage
Act out of existence. Next week, the Supreme Court will consider
Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and, on a separate case,
California`s ban on same sex marriage, otherwise known as Proposition 8.
"The Washington Post" points out that the nine member Supreme Court, as it
is currently constituted, is actually a true reflection of the modern
family in America.

There`s a widow who was a pioneer of the modern marriage and someone
who never wed, two divorcees. There is a husband who married relatively
late in life and adopted two children. Another is a prolific procreator
with enough children to field a baseball team and enough grandchildren to
form a basketball league.

One is in an interracial marriage, which would have been illegal in
his state only 20 years before his wedding. But it is that husband who
married relatively late in life and adopted two children who was noticed by
one northern California family that is intensely watching these Supreme
Court cases, particularly the case dealing with California`s Proposition 8.

Daniel Martinez Lefew (ph) is a 12-year-old who was adopted along with
his sister by a gay couple. Daniel was told he was unadoptable because he
has a medical condition called Goldenhar Syndrome. And he was unadoptable
until age five when his two dads, Brian and Jay, took him into their loving
home. Now Daniel is hoping the Supreme Court will make it possible for his
dads to get married.

He has written a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts, himself the
father of two adopted kids. Daniel has shared that letter online.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL MARTINEZ LEFEW, WROTE LETTER TO CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS:
Dear Justice Roberts, my name is Daniel Martinez Lefew. I am 12 years old
and I live in northern California. I have a younger sister named Selena.
And we were adopted by two dads. We were adopted when I was five and my
sister was about 12 months old.

When I was in foster care, I was told that I was considered
unadoptable because of my Goldenhar Syndrome. That is a genetic disorder
that effects the whole left side of my body. I lost my little brother,
Amelio, because some people wanted to adopt him but they weren`t willing to
adopt me because of my medical conditions.

Lucky for me, that`s when my two dads came along. I recently found
out that you yourself adopted two kids, a boy and a girl, kind of like me
and my sister. Family means a lot of different things to different people,
but some people believe that you have to have the same blood to be a
family.

You and I both know that family goes deeper than blood. I was lucky
to be adopted by two guys I can both call dad. They give me and my sister
so much love. My dad Jay works in San Francisco as a deputy sheriff and my
dad Brian works -- stays at home and takes care of me and my sister.

My dads really encourage me to excel in life. Since I want to be a
cook when I grow up, they`re letting me take cooking classes. My parents
want me to improve, whether it is my -- whether it`s school work or my
social life.

I know you have a tough decision to make with the gay marriage issue,
but my family is just as valuable and worthwhile as any other. It is
especially tough for you because I know you don`t necessarily believe in
gay marriage religiously. Lucky for us, you also don`t believe in taking
away our right, even from people like us.

My family and I spent the last four years making Youtube videos to
show people who don`t understand that our family is like any other. If
Prop 8 is allowed to stand, imagine the pain we would feel knowing that we
are not considered equal to everyone else.

I guess to end this, it is important that all families are protected
and valued. In our country, we may not all be the same, but we are all
Americans and deserve an equal chance at bettering our lives. I hope you
make the right decision in the end.

Sincerely, Daniel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Last year, Stephanie Holten (ph) went to a judge in
Spokane, Washington, asking for protective order against her ex-husband.
She wrote "he verbally threatened to `put a gun in your mouth and pull the
F-ing trigger` and `put a cap in you,` if my boyfriend gets near my kids.
In combination with the threat and that he owns guns, I am scared."

Twelve hours after her husband, Cory, was served with the temporary
protection order, he went to her house with a semiautomatic rifle, put the
muzzle to her chest, and told her he was going to kill her. She called 911
and her husband surrendered to police.

But up to that pointed, what he didn`t have to surrender was his guns.
Washington State, like most states, doesn`t require people to surrender
their guns for temporary protective orders. That`s left up to the judge.
According to Michael Luo at the "New York Times," "the NRA and other gun
rights groups have beaten back legislation mandating the surrender of
firearms in domestic violence situations. They argue gun ownership should
not be stripped away for anything less serious than a felony conviction,
and certainly not, as an NRA lobbyist in Washington State put it to
legislators, for the mere issuance of court orders."

Joining me now is MSNBC.com contributor, investigative journalist
Frank Smythe, who went inside the NRA for "Mother Jones." Frank, this
seems to me to be one of those areas where the NRA is just obsessive.
They`re not willing to give up this gun right even for these hundreds of
cases. This is not some giant swathe of people who would be surrendering
guns temporarily.

FRANK SMYTHE, MSNBC.COM CONTRIBUTOR: And the NRA likes to think in
terms of hypotheticals. They had Gail Trotter (ph) come out and claim that
a woman needs an AR-15 to defend herself and her children in her home. But
we`re not talking in the real world about hypotheticals. We are talking
about women who have been intimidated, threatened, beaten, injured and
killed by men who have been subject to restraining orders, but still have
their firearms.

This is reprehensible. And it`s bullying at its worst. And the NRA
doesn`t seem to have interest in addressing the issue. On the contrary,
they want to make sure that men, in particular, continue to have access to
these firearms. I think it is something that will hurt the NRA in the long
run, and I think also hurt the Republican party, to the degree that they
continue to ally themselves with the NRA.

O`DONNELL: And for a judge to issue a protective order, he has -- he
or she has to reach an adjudication that there is something potentially
threatening going on here. They -- everybody who walks in there and asks
for a protective order doesn`t get it, if they don`t establish that the
husband or whoever it is in question is actually posing some sort of
danger.

SMYTHE: That`s right. The -- a judge needs to be satisfied that a
man has physically intimidated an intimate partner, a woman. And even in a
case if a man has intimidated or beating a woman and has threatened to use
a firearm, in many states, the man is still able to keep that firearm due
to efforts by the gun lobby.

O`DONNELL: Let`s look at what`s at stake here in terms of gun death
for women; 90 percent of women killed by guns killed someone they know. In
2010, 574 shot to death by a husband, ex-husband or boyfriend. There`s 574
right there. A woman is two times more likely to be shot to death by male
intimates than being killed in any other way by a stranger.

The NRA scenario is the stranger who comes in; I, a woman, have to
have the assault rifle near my bed, as Gail Trotter said, so I can kill the
stranger who comes in my house. Much more likely that it is going to be
someone the woman has been intimately involved with.

SMYTHE: That`s right. And when the NRA circles pro-gun forums, I
have never seen any discussion of domestic violence, of women at risk from
their intimate partners using firearms. Instead, it`s this hypothetical
scenario that a woman needs to be able to arm to defend herself.

And that is a very rare case where a woman is in position to do that.
It is much more likely that a woman is going to be subject to intimidation
or violence by an intimate partner using a firearm against them. And on
Monday of this week, Lawrence, a man in Arizona was convicted of
manslaughter for shooting his girlfriend in the face with an AR-15 rifle,
the same rifle used in Newtown and also used in Aurora.

So these are not hypotheticals. These are real cases.

O`DONNELL: The NRA says, why should they give up any rights if they
haven`t been convicted. People give up their passports all the time in
courts before they`re convicted of things.

SMYTHE: That`s right. The NRA is not interested in anything that
will have citizens, in particular men, relinquishing their firearms for
almost any reason. The real hypocrisy here is the NRA -- Wayne LaPierre
has said people -- criminals that use guns should get lengthier sentences
in jail, but men who abuse women who use guns to either intimidate them or
attack them, in that case the NRA is on the other side.

That is a great hypocrisy. I think it`s kind of thing that will hurt
them in the years to come.

O`DONNELL: Frank Smythe gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thanks, Frank.

SMYTHE: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.

END

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