UP with STEVE KORNACKI
September 7, 2013
Guests: Victoria Defrancesco Soto, Rep. Rush Holt, Kevin Williamson, Josh Benson, Maggie Haberman, Josh Barro, Linda Greenhouse, John Aloysius Farrell>
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Is there any way for Obama to get Congress to
It`s Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. here on the east coast. The weekend is
here. But in Washington, there is no letup in a battle that we haven`t
seen -- at a battle like we haven`t seen in years. The stakes are high.
The party lines are scrambled. And for the White House, there are some
very ominous signs that it all might end in a humbling defeat. This is a
fluid situation, but there were some crucial and surprising developments
this past week. The calendar for the next week is rapidly taking shape.
We will soon know whether President Obama now back in Washington will have
the consent of the Congress of the United States to launch a military
strike against Syria or if Congress will just say no. We`re going to start
today by taking a step back and laying out the road map for you.
These are steps that have to be taken, all of the conditions that will have
to be met for the president to get what he wants. First step was taken by
Obama exactly six days and 19 hours ago. It was last Saturday afternoon in
the Rose Garden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`ve long believed that our
power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a
government of the people, by the people, and for the people. I will seek
authorization for the use of force from the American people`s
representatives in Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And with that, at that moment, the question of what, if
anything, the United States should do in Syria became an issue first and
foremost of Congressional politics. In the immediate aftermath of that
surprising announcement was very encouraging for the White House. Nancy
Pelosi and Harry Reid, the top Democrats on Capitol Hill, got on board and
so did House speaker, John Boehner, and John McCain, which brings us to
Wednesday. That`s when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted for a
resolution approving the use of force.
The vote was 10-7-1. You can see three Republicans there, John McCain,
Jeff Flake, Bob Corker from Tennessee, they all voted for it. You can also
see two Democrats, Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Tom Udall of New Mexico,
they voted no. There was also one Democrat, Ed Markey from Massachusetts
who voted present. He says he`ll make up his mind later.
The resolution at the committee approve did put in some limits. This is no
ground troops, to put a 90-day limit with one possible 30-day extension.
That was step two on the path to a military strike. And it takes us into
this weekend. It takes us to where we are right now. Yesterday, Harry
Reid formally filed the resolution for the full Senate to consider. That
was a simple procedural step, and it sets up a series of critical Senate
votes next week.
Also next week, on Tuesday, President Obama will address the nation, likely
in primetime. He will seek to build pressure on members of Congress to
vote with him, or at the very least, to lessen the pressure on those
members of Congress to vote against him. And all of this sets up step
three in our flow chart. Step three which will come next Wednesday in the
The question there, is will there be a filibuster? Will opponents of
military action try to block the resolution from coming to a vote? Rand
Paul, the same Rand Paul who waged a symbolic marathon filibuster against
Jack Brennan`s CIA nomination earlier this year, he seemed to flirt with
organizing a Syria filibuster the other day, but then he backed off.
But there`s still a lot of time between here and Wednesday if you look at
that fairly divided 10-7-1 committee vote we just had. Well, there`s at
least some potential for mischief here. But assuming step three is clear,
that there is not a filibuster, it does derail the Syria attack right
there, we will move on to the next step which is a full Senate vote. That
looks like it would come at the end of next week.
Again, based on the committee vote, there are probably 50 votes to get the
resolution through, but if public opinion keeps building against an attack,
all bets are off. And if you notice here that the house is holding back at
all, that`s no accident. It`s because they are waiting for the Senate to
make the first move. There are a lot of members of the House who do not
want to go on record on this and there`s still a chance they won`t have to,
not if the Senate kills it first.
But if it does clear the Senate, then that moves us to step five, and that
would be a vote by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The panel actually
held hearings this week. Secretary of state, John Kerry, defense
secretary, Chuck Hagel, joint chiefs chairman, Martin Dempsey, they made
the administration`s case and here`s a taste of what they came up against.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM MARINO, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: soldiers coming home deformed and
limbless and even in a body bag is not acceptable to me, and therefore, I
cannot and will not vote for this intervention in the Syria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And remember, that panel, like the whole House, is controlled by
Republicans. And right now, Republicans are more opposed to Obama`s plan
than Democrats. After the House Foreign Affairs Committee the Syria
resolution if it is still breathing, it would go to the full House of
Representatives. That is step six in our road map to an attack.
What we do know right now from the posturing we`re hearing is that House
members -- the White House has basically an impossible task or a next to
impossible task at least based on the posturing when it comes to the House.
This right here is the current whip count. We`ll get it up here in a
second. This is the current whip count from "The Washington Post."
Now, there are a lot of whip counts like this that are floating around
right now. What they don`t measure is what will happen after the
administration makes its full-court press. That`s intense pressure on
members, more briefings, Obama`s speech next Tuesday. We don`t know if
that will move any of these numbers. Right now, though, what we do know is
that the few house Members in either party seem much reason to be in favor
of an attack.
They may not budge, but that could change. And again, this is a huge if,
but if this resolution does get through the House, then and only then will
we be on a verge of an attack on Syria. The only outstanding question at
that point would be whether there are any differences between the Senate
and House versions that have to be reconciled, but that step would probably
be a formality.
If a resolution authorizing force clears both chambers, rest assured it
won`t be long until the bombs start falling. But if not, well, that`s the
million dollar question, and we are going to take it up with our panel.
For that, I want to bring in MSNBC contributor, Victoria Defrancesco Soto,
a fellow at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas,
Josh Barro, politics editor for BusinessInsider.com, Maggie Haberman,
senior political reporter for Politico.com.
So, we just put up there, I think we have the house whip count, at least,
this is from "The Washington Post." Everyone`s got their whip count these
days. There is no such thing when they actually, you know, have a vote in
the House or the Senate as lean against or lean in favor. So, these things
could be stewed (ph) a little bit. I think the politics of this right now,
it sort of behooved every member who`s asked to say, I have concerns, I
I`m not sure even if they eventually vote yes. So, there`s sort of a --
there`s a big wild card in all of this. But as I look at it, Victoria,
it`s getting harder and harder for me to see in the House specifically when
you say 225 against or lean against and the magic number is, you know, 218
could kill it right there. That`s the majority. How can -- you know, is
there anything Obama can do at this point to overcome that?
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It`s an uphill battle. And
also, let`s remember that earlier this week, the jobs numbers came out.
Slight uptick from 7.3 percent unemployment -- I`m sorry, down to 7.3
percent unemployment. So, folks are not only war weary, but we`re war
weary within a sluggish economy. And we are looking at interventions in
Afghanistan and Iraq that are close to three trillion, five trillion in
And when we`re looking at the cost of war, representatives and voters,
we`re not just thinking about what`s going to happen in the next couple
months. What`s going to happen to all of those veterans when they come
back? What about the medical costs, the disability, the human lives lost?
So, it`s a much longer term calculation that has to be met.
That being said, I do think that there`s a potential for rallying effect.
We see public opinion on the side of not going into Syria, but once the
speech is made on Tuesday, the bully pulpit could rally the American
public, hence, giving motivation to members of Congress.
KORNACKI: The question of what the effects of the speech will be overall
on public opinion, Maggie, but then there`s also the specific question of
party politics here, because we have Republicans right now -- I mean, this
is striking in the House. You look at the, you know, in favor, the people
who`ve actually come out in favor. This is very few, but there are eight
Republicans who`ve said they`re in favor.
Those who have said they`re against or leaning against, they are 164
Republicans. So, it`s overwhelming on the Republican side at least in the
House right now. So, from the president`s standpoint, at the very least,
he`s got to get his own party in line on this.
Do you think appeals to party loyalty when it comes to Democratic members
of the House and Democratic members of the Senate, just basic appeals to,
hey, you know, I`m a Democrat, you`re a Democrat, I`m the president. Do
you think that`s going to buy him anything here?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, POLITICO.COM: I don`t. I mean, I don`t think it`s
historically bought him a whole lot. I think that he has used what capital
he had on that front on other fights and has been sort of eroding as we
have seen as time has gone on. I think that there will be some votes he
will get that way. I don`t know if it`s going to be anywhere near enough.
I do agree with you. He needs to get his own party in line first. One of
the interesting dynamics in the House to me is that John Boehner is sort of
supportive of this but also not doing anything to move it and that really
tells you a lot of what you need to know about the way Congress works right
now, number one.
But number two, if he is not actively trying to move his members, it is
hard for me to see people getting there. The public -- I don`t think
public opinion, by the way, is going to move that, you know, volubly on
Tuesday after his speech. The public really is against this. The majority
of both parties in terms of public opinion are against this.
And they have been growing against such an intervention if not this
specifically this kind of intervention. So, it`s very hard for me to see
what the president is going to say, especially because I think a lot of
people took from his statement about I`m going to do this and I`m going to
do this but I`m going to seek Congress and the tick tock -- Congress`
The tick tock that`s come out which was he had a 45-minute stroll with
Dennis McDonough and then he changed his mind and decided to go to
Congress. I don`t think any of this has clarified anything for voters.
And until he really can do that, I don`t see this changing.
KORNACKI: Well, so -- and look at the republican side of it, Josh, because
you know, Maggie talks about John Boehner. He said he`s in favor, but
we`re not -- you know, he`s not pushing hard. I wonder even if John
Boehner was pushing hard, he`s had any clout with House Republicans. But
when it comes to Republicans, the story of the last four plus last years is
than -- if Obama`s name is on it, they vote no.
And if you`re looking at the House even if every Democrat in the House
voted for this, you`d still need, you know, a few Republicans to sort of
(INAUDIBLE) administration. What could the administration say or do to
get, you know, I don`t know, 50, 75 Republicans onboard for this?
JOSH BARRO, BUSINESSINSIDER.COM: I think there`s probably not very much
they can do. I think there are two factors here. One, as you identified,
they just want to oppose things the president supports. But the other is
the strength of pro war forces in the Republican Party is massively
diminished over the last few years. You still have a few voices in that
camp in the party saying we need to approve this.
National review has editorialized in favor of it. Bill Crystal has been
saying that we need this attack and then we should authorize an attack on
Iran right afterward. So, there are those voices in the party, but they
don`t have nearly the power that they did ten years ago. People were
afraid that if they opposed authorization of the Iraq war, that they would
lose primaries over it on the Republican side.
And on the Democratic side, they were afraid of losing general elections.
There was real popularity for that. Here, it`s not just that the war is
unpopular. I think these members of Congress are looking forward to how
people might react to a war after it happens. It`s easy to imagine a
situation where we attack Syria and some unforeseen consequences happen and
everybody regrets it and then people lose elections over it.
It`s hard to imagine a situation where you vote against Syria authorization
and then we go in and people say, oh, that worked pretty well and then you
lose an election over that. You can say you had your various good reasons
for opposing it. And members of Congress are fundamentally driven by their
own electoral self-interest. It`s hard to see how the president can make a
plausible case for Republicans, but it`s in there electoral self-interest.
KORNACKI: It reminds me of Kosovo in 1999 where there`s so much criticism
against Bill Clinton (ph), you know, right up until the point that hey, it
worked, and they got a resolution but nobody paid the price in 2000 for all
the critical things they --
SOTO: Better economic time. Let`s not forget that. So, Bill Clinton has
come out and said, well, Barack Obama should ultimately do what he needs
to. He can see further down the road. The public opinion will catch up.
Well, when times were good, it`s easy to say that. But you`ve already got
a bad economy and then the intervention in Syria doesn`t go well. It`s not
going to be a pretty sight for the president.
KORNACKI: All right. Well, we are going to talk to a Democrat who will
have a vote on all this, a Democrat who says he`s leaning toward opposing
military intervention. This is exactly the kind of Democrat that the
president needs on his side. We`re going to talk to him. it`s Congressman
Rush Holt of New Jersey, and that`s coming up right after this.
KORNACKI: If President Obama is going to get his way on Syria, then he`s
going to need help from his own party in Congress. He`s going to need a
lot of it. So far, at least that help has not materialized. Our next
guest personifies the challenge the White House faces. New Jersey
Congressman Rush Holt will get to vote on Syria, and so far, he is
unpersuaded by the president`s case.
He joins us now at the table. So, congressman, just to clarify. At this
point, you are officially undecided on this. You`ve made some critical
comments. I`d say you`re officially undecided at this point.
REP. RUSH HOLT, (D) NEW JERSEY: Good to be with you, Steve. Yes. I`ve
always found it good policy not to announce what my vote is going to be
before I know what the vote is.
KORNACKI: Fair enough. Fair enough. Well -- so, what`s working through
at least if we look at what`s getting -- what got through the Senate this
week, what got through Senate committee this week, I should say, unclear if
it`s going to get through the Senate, though. There`s this 60-day limit.
There`s a possible 30-day extension.
There`s this McCain language that says it becomes the policy of the United
States to get rid of the Assad, to get to a settlement with the Assad
regime. What concerns do you have and what do you think of what got
through the Senate committee this week?
HOLT: Well, of course, there are lots of questions and I`ve had meetings
and the White House knowing that I`m not on their side or not yet on their
side has asked me for lots of conversations. So, I have a lot of questions
with. Yes, I start with the basic point of, you know, military force
should be used very sparingly and it`s hard to see how that`s going to help
us advance political ends here.
They say what we`re aiming for is a negotiated political settlement, peace
in this civil war, but intervention in a civil war is something that is
rarely justified. The only possible justification and the administration
has introduced several justifications and they keep shifting is a little
bit reminiscent of Iraq now in that.
The only possible justified intervention would be to enforce international
norms of what`s acceptable behavior and what is beyond the pale. Use of
chemical weapons is considered unacceptable in the 21st century. And how
will a military intervention, particularly, that is seen to be unilateral,
and how maybe they can make it seem international, but so far, it seems
unilateral, one nation against another nation, how can that enforce
KORNACKI: I guess, the counter to that would be, first of all, the
traditional way of making it through the international to go to the United
Nations. If you look at the United Nations, Russia is positioned to
basically block any action there from that standpoint. So, if you have
evidence that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its people, it
violated this international norm, do you just stand by and you do nothing?
HOLT: Well, that`s what the president keeps saying. You have to do
something. You have to do something. And so, he`s evidently doing
something. And, it`s not clear --
HOLT: -- that this is well thought through.
KORNACKI: But why -- does that -- but what I`m asking is does that bother
you the idea that if Congress votes no on this or if the president looks
and says, you know what, we`re not going have votes. We`re just not going
to do this.
What message does that then send to Assad and what message does that send
to other leaders maybe like Assad who would think about launching chemical
weapons on their own people, that hey, we did it. The president of the
United States started posturing and then nothing ever came of it and we got
away with it.
HOLT: Well, that is actually the point. This administration has to do a
lot more, I think, at least has to convince me that they`re doing a lot
more to work with the international community. I mean, convene the -- you
know, convene all the nations of the chemical weapons treaty. Really get
the Arab league onboard. Work with Iran.
You know, there`s no nation in the world that should have more interest in
enforcing international prohibition against future use of chemical weapons
than Iran that has, you know, felt the greatest effect of nuclear weapons
in recent times. You know, are we really using them? They have close
connections with Syria. Their involvement could be very important in this.
KORNACKI: I wonder, too, if you can just tell us about your colleagues,
conversations you`ve had with your colleagues, with Democrats in the House
because we put these whip counts up on the screen and we`re always trying
to figure out how much are these things worth. And basically, what comes
through, no matter which whip count you look at right now is, not many
Democrats and very, very few Republicans are willing to say they`re for
this right now.
A lot of them say undecided and a lot of them say they`re against it or
they`re leaning against it. But what is your sense when you talk
specifically to Democratic colleagues? How kind of flexible is that? How
much room to maneuver do you think does the White House have right here?
How many Democrats can be persuaded into that for column?
HOLT: Well, we don`t know. First of all, we haven`t been in session for
the last few weeks. So, only a few members, maybe I think it`s been
reported maybe a third of the members, Republicans and Democrats have had
classified briefings on this. There will be a lot of meeting starting over
this weekend. So, I`m not sure where all of my colleagues are.
Speaking for myself, and I think they most would agree, on matters of war
and peace, party takes second place. Much as I want to support the
president on lots of things and I do, on something like this, you have to
make a decision independent of party and you see that in the numbers.
The Republicans and Democrats are kind of all over the place on this. I
think the president is going to have a hard time getting a positive vote on
the kind of military action that he seems to be talking about here.
BARRO: Do you find that members are coming out of those classified
briefings more supportive of military action? Are people being convinced
HOLT: The intelligence is on who did what to whom is moderately
convincing. Nobody is using the phrase slam dunk.
HOLT: And they better not, because it`s not that good. It`s good. There
is strong intelligence, but, you know, all of the world knows American
intelligence is fallible. We certainly had a reminder of that ten years
BARRO: So, the focus of the briefings is purely on, you know, the nature
of the chemical attack and who`s behind it? It`s not -- are the briefings
addressing the question of how will the attack actually advance U.S.
interests and improve the situation in Syria?
HOLT: Well, of course, that`s more of a political than intelligence
question of how it will advance the political interest. But we also talk
about, OK, what might be targeted and the administration won`t say. They
say that`s changing day by day. The intelligence also talks about what
other countries -- where they are on this, and again, that seems to be
changing day by day. But it`s not shaping up in the view of the world to
be an international operation.
And I should make the point, it`s the view of the world that counts. If
the purpose of this is to enforce international standards of acceptable
behavior, it`s not so much what Congress thinks. It`s not so much even
what the American people think. It is what the world community thinks,
because it`s the world community ultimately that determines whether this
enforcement of acceptable world standards is being carried out.
And by that measure, we`re not getting there. There were 10 of the 20
nations in Russia that signed onto something that sounded pretty tough, but
it still doesn`t make it sound like the Security Council undertaking. It
doesn`t make it sound like the Arab league is really onboard. It doesn`t
make it sound like the signatories to the chemical weapons --
KORNACKI: I see Maggie is waiting.
HABERMAN: Oh, no. I`m just processing. I guess I`m just wondering
without getting into their specific reactions but generally from your
colleagues, what is the response that you`ve heard from the fact that the
president decided to go this route in the first place? He says
simultaneously i have the authority to do this with without Congress but
I`m seeking Congressional approval. Is this something that you think
members welcome or is this something where people feel like he is hoisting
responsibility on them?
HOLT: Well, something -- some of us have been saying is please understand
that Congress` role on this is not advisory.
HOLT: And I don`t think the president is approaching it that way.
HABERMAN: OK. You don`t expect to see --
HOLT: I think a lot of members of Congress are puzzled. You know, is he
looking for cover or is he actually looking to bolster his case or is he
looking for a way out if Congress says no, you know, he might be able to
say this box he got himself into by announcing a red line he can get out of
by putting it on Congress.
KORNACKI: Well, let me pick that up.
HOLT: But I do think most members of Congress are not happy to be put in
this situation, particularly, when as you all have mentioned, the word from
back home, I mean, I think probably in every Congressional district,
certainly in mine, the overwhelming public sentiment is against military
action in Syria, getting involved in a civil war that might lead to a
KORNACKI: What happens if this fails in Congress and if it fails with
Democrats voting no and the president cannot get the attack that he wants,
the question is then what does that do to his larger domestic agenda,
because we spent the rest of the summer talking about all these fiscal
battles that are coming up.
Immigration is going to be coming up this fall when Congress comes back.
If the president cannot win on a vote like this, are there implications for
the domestic agenda in those fights?
HOLT: Sure. Sure there are. This is -- he has, you know, any time the
president has to go to the nation to present a case, you know, this is
important. There`s a lot at stake and reputation is part of what`s at
stake here. Reputation and, you know, effectiveness working with Congress.
You know, working with Congress has not been a strength of the Obama
administration. And this doesn`t necessarily --
KORNACKI: You`re saying not just Republicans, you`re saying Democrats,
HOLT: Democrats, too. This doesn`t necessarily make it worse, but it
doesn`t help the situation.
SOTO: I had a question in terms of the briefings that you`re not
convinced. You don`t see a slam dunk. What about contingency plans? So,
if we go to into Syria and Assad stays, Assad goes down, what are the
scenarios? Are you feeling confident how those are being drawn out for
HOLT: No. No. I mean, you know, everybody is saying what about day two,
day three, day four. Even if we know -- or day ten. Even if we know what
will be struck in a surgical limited no boots on the ground cruise missile
strike, then, OK, what can we expect Syria to do?
What can we expect the other parties to do whether it`s the rebels or Iran
or Russia or Lebanon or Hezbollah and then what will the other nations --
what will Israel and Iran and Russia and others do in response to the
This is pretty tough to game out. That part of the world is always
complicated. And this is particularly complicated. And briefings aren`t
going to help us much on that.
KORNACKI: This is the problem that the White House faces right now because
you are somebody they desperately need. Huge Democratic support for this
in the House the way the Republicans are shaping up. They need to win
people like you over, and I think there are a lot of people like you down
there. So, thanks for coming and sharing some of your thoughts.
HOLT: Thanks, Steve.
KORNACKI: Congressman Rush Holt of New Jersey, we appreciate it.
What do you say about Syria when you don`t want to say anything but you
have to say something? We`ll show you how it`s done. That`s coming up.
KORNACKI: So, a couple weeks ago on my birthday, I got up at the crack of
dawn and actually before the crack of dawn, even earlier than I get up for
this show. I got up to do "Morning Joe." It was all nice and pleasant and
agreeable. And then the subject of civil rights in the south and the
Republican Party came up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: It`s 1964 of the critical year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it`s not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If 1964 were the critical year, the realignment
wouldn`t have happened in the 1930s.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was Kevin Williamson of the National Review. We had a very
different explanation for when, why, and how the south became a Republican
bastion. We got about 90 seconds on "Morning Joe," but we will do a whole
segment here, one-on-one, and he`s coming off in our second hour.
KORNACKI: So, let`s say you`re a major national political figure and
you`re an ambitious one, too, and a really sensitive and tricky and maybe
even explosive issue comes up. The politics of it aren`t obvious whichever
position you take, there`s a real chance you`ll end up getting burned.
Your instinct is to duck it, to say nothing and to wait for it all to just
go away, but that`s not an option here. Everyone is asking you to speak
up, demanding that you say something.
What do you do if you`re a major nationally ambitious politician in a
situation like this? Well, you do something like this. "Secretary Clinton
supports the president`s effort to enlist the Congress in pursuing a strong
and targeted response to the Assad regime`s horrific use of chemical
weapons" says a statement from a Clinton aide sent to various news
The aide was not authorized to speak publicly. A version of that ran in
papers all across the country this week, and that is it. That is the
closest we`re going to get at least for now to Hillary Clinton going on the
record about Syria. Carefully worded statement sent to the press by an
unnamed aide. If you have to do something, this really is the least you
can get away with doing.
It looks like Clinton is siding with President Obama, but there is an awful
lot of wiggle room build in here. She is retaining as much flexibility as
she can to define her position more clearly at a later date when hindsight
will make the right call in Syria a lot clearer.
And a conventional wisdom is that Hillary has learned from Iraq from the
price she paid in 2008 for voting for George W. Bush`s war in 2002, but she
doesn`t want to be answering questions from angry Democrats in Iowa in 2016
about why she was a cheerleader for a disastrous military action. But Iraq
and what happened to her in 2008 is only part of the story here. There`s
actually a much deeper back story to the statement that Hillary Clinton`s
unnamed aide put out this week, and it takes us back to January of 1991.
In Washington that month, Congress was debating whether to give President
Bush, this is the first President Bush authorization to use the military to
expel Saddam Hussein`s forces from Kuwait. And in Arkansas that same
month, Governor Bill Clinton was gearing up to run for president in 1992.
And the last thing that Clinton wanted to do was to weigh in on what to do
about Saddam Hussein in Kuwait.
We look back today at the 1991 gulf war as a triumph with few American
casualties, a quick withdrawal by Hussain`s forces, and a series of
jubilant patriotic celebrations as our men and women came home safe. In
the run-up to that war, when the vote was pending in Congress, there were
deep fears that it would turn into a quagmire, a long, bloody protacted
It had barely been 15 years since the last troops left Vietnam. Hadn`t we
learned anything? Among Democrats, opposition to the war was high. In the
Senate, only 18 percent of Democrats ended up voting for it. The house, it
was only 32 percent. But Bill Clinton had another consideration. His plan
was to run in 1992 as a different kind of Democrat, a moderate who wouldn`t
fit the McGovern (INAUDIBLE) caucus caricature of attacks and spent peace
The politics were blurry and no one knew how the military operation was
going to go. So, instead of speaking up, Bill Clinton stayed silent. All
through the fall of 1990 as American troops masked in the desert, he said
Congress debated and voted and by a slim margin gave Bush his
authorization, and still, Clinton ignored the question until finally on
January 14th, 1991, on the eve of the deadline President Bush said for
Hussein to leave Kuwait, when a reporter from an Arkansas paper cornered
him and demanded to know, how would you have voted on the war?
And Clinton replied, quote, "I guess, I would have voted with the majority
if it was a close vote, but I agree with the arguments the minority made."
I`m trying to making sense of that one. It is what you say when you have
to say something but you don`t want to say anything at all. Of course,
when 1992 finally rolled around, the war was over and everyone agreed that
it had been a rousing success at which point it wasn`t nearly so hard to
get Clinton to speak up on the subject.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought that
Congress should approve the U.N. resolution and the position that gave the
president the authority to go to war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: When she was in the Senate in 2002, Hillary Clinton didn`t have
the luxury her husband had. George W. Bush wanted a war with Iraq and she
had to cast an actual vote. And she ended up paying for it. But now, all
these years later, she does have that luxury. As we saw this week, she is
more than happy to take advantage of it.
We`re going to talk about this position she finds herself in. We`re going
to do that coming up next.
KORNACKI: This week, Hillary Clinton weighed in a very strategic way on
President Obama`s plan for intervention in Syria. Back at the table to
discuss what it means, we have Politico`s Maggie Haberman who has observed
the Clintons for more than a decade, and this week reported on Hillary`s
dilemma with regard to Syria.
We also have MSNBC contributor Victoria Defrancesco Soto and Josh Barro of
BusinessInsider.com. So, Maggie, you know, you wrote about Hillary Clinton
and Syria this week. It really struck me as I said in the last segment as
literally the least you can do when you have to do something. Is that sort
of the plan here?
HABERMAN: I mean, look, to their credit, they did recognize they had to do
something and they recognized it pretty quickly. They didn`t drag this on
for a week. What I think was -- is absent in terms of this is what we hear
for now, she`s speaking publicly next week. She`s giving a policy address.
It is the first of a fall series that she announced when she was at the
American Bar Association a couple of weeks ago.
It was originally expected to be mostly about the NSA. I don`t think
that`s mostly what it`s going to be now. I think it will be, you know,
fluid and it may change as we get closer. But it`s very hard for me to
imagine she doesn`t talk about Syria in her own words in that speech. I
think she will have to go a bit further than that blind quote statement.
It`s also worth noting that she`s going to be talking about the same time
the president is. I mean, she`s speaking on Tuesday evening. I think it`s
shortly before the president addresses the nation. That sets up a weird
dynamic in and of itself. She -- I agree with you that I think she has the
benefit that her husband had of not having to weigh in and not having to
take a vote.
I mean, that is always preferable. Her Iraq war vote in 2002 at the time
seemed like smart politics and it was also overwhelmingly where Congress
was at that point. It`s not like she was some standout.
KORNACKI: It was the lesson learned. We talked about 1991 Gulf War where
all the Democrats were against it and then they were like -- when it looked
easy and everybody`s like how could you be against this and that sort of
set the stage for 2002.
HABERMAN: Correct. And also, in 2002, I mean, again, I also just think in
terms of a different circumstance. I mean, there was -- 9/11 -- I mean,
ground zero was still burning literally at the point where they took that
vote. You could still see smoke coming out. And so, I think it`s really
important to remember how different the circumstances were.
Also, why the circumstances are different for Hillary here, it`s very hard
for a former secretary of state who was known to have endorsed a more
aggressive policy in terms of arming some of the rebels that didn`t (ph)
mean boots on the ground. That`s not where she was, but she and General
Petraeus and several others backed a plan that the White House ultimately
rejected soon before she left the state department to arm some of the
rebels and to work with them and get them and train them.
The White House was afraid of weapons getting into the wrong hands. They
were also afraid of getting further drawn in. It`s very hard for her.
It`s very hard for Joe Biden if he ends up running to run sort of a smoke
and mirrors foreign policy campaign. And so, that`s why I think the idea
that she is going to be able to not talk about this I think is hard to see.
KORNACKI: Although, it`s not the same. I look at like John Kerry in the
last two weeks who has become sort of the face of the administration. He`s
the secretary of state. The administration that wants -- and it seems John
Kerry genuinely believes, you know, he`s not being forced to do this, but
at the same time, let`s say -- and he doesn`t.
Let`s say John Kerry had future, you know, presidential aspirations. He
wanted to run again in 2016. This is the kind of thing he is so exposed on
this because of what he`s done that for better or worse, whatever happens
in Syria, you know, he`s going to answer for it, he would answer for it as
a candidate. But Hillary Clinton sort of picked the right time to leave
the secretary of state. She doesn`t have to be attached to it in that way.
BARRO: That`s right, although, I think there`s one other key political
difference between this and Iraq, which is that the president is a
Democrat. So, if you imagine a 2016 primary after there`s Syrian attack
gone wrong, there will be candidates who oppose the attack and will put
that out there as a plus for them, but they won`t be able to go as
viciously after it as they could into 2008 against President Bush`s war.
So, I think that helps insulate Hillary. I can`t see Martin O`Malley or
somebody else really going very negative on Hillary over this because then
you really have to be going after the sitting Democratic president, unless,
there`s a complete political collapse of the Obama administration. His
approval rating is in the 20s or something like that, which I think is not
the likely outcome even if Syria --
KORNACKI: We never know -- I mean, when the vote was taken in 2002, who
would have guessed that six years later, you know, in Iowa, in New
Hampshire, in Pennsylvania, all of these states, that everybody would be
talking about that vote. And in the same way, who knows that Syria vote,
if there is going to be one, Syria vote in 2013, is even on the radar in
2016, because if it`s like Kosovo, you know, that was certainly forgotten
within a couple of years.
SOTO: You know, and Maggie, I wanted to ask you because you broke the
story earlier this summer that former President Bill Clinton was strongly
in favor of going into Syria. So, in looking at 2016, are we going to see
a bad cop, good cop dynamic between Clintons where this way they`re
HABERMAN: I think that we all tend to assume or the vast majority of
people tend to assume that everything that Clintons do is calculated and I
think we all go way too far on that. I think that this was Bill Clinton
speaking with somebody he liked, John McCain. And I think he genuinely
like McCain. This was, you know, a room with no reporters. So, it`s very
easy sometimes for polls (ph), even former presidents to convince
themselves that we`re among friends this hundred of us with a tape
And so, you know, how is anyone ever going to hear this? And I think that
-- and Again, i can`t read his mind that I can`t completely segmentalized
him, but Bill Clinton, and you know this very well, does have a tendency
toward sort of, you know, agreeing with whoever his host is. And so, I
think while I do think that he does favor a more muscular approach, his
wife had favored a more muscular approach.
McCain is like the toughest hawk there is. And no point during what he
said to Bill Clinton say, and I say what you are suggesting exactly what
you`re suggesting, John McCain, is exactly what we should do. I agree with
you we ought to be doing more. But I don`t think that it was part of the
calibration. I think that he said what he meant (ph).
I don`t think he quite expected he was going to have the resonance that it
did. I think it didn`t occur to him what he was saying which was sort of
hypothetical about, you know, if I had done X, Y, Z, you know, and just
listen to all this, I would have looked like a fool and blamed them that it
was going sound as if he was talking about President Obama.
His aides say he was taken out of context if anybody heard at that way.
So, I don`t think this was a good cop/bad cop thing. I think this was a
reminder of what we saw at the end of 2008 which is that bill Clinton
doesn`t always remember that like a tape recorder is on even at all times.
KORNACKI: And that`s -- one of the moments from his presidency that I know
drove his own party, drove the Democratic base nuts was -- he did this
thing in 1993 they raised taxes on the rich. This was a huge controversial
vote. It cost a lot of Democrats in Congress their job. In later years,
it probably looked a lot better than it did politically at that point.
And like a year after Clinton got this thing through, a year after
Democrats lost their seat because of it, he went to a room of wealthy
donors and he said a lot of people in this room think I raise their taxes
too much. It might surprise you and believe I think I raise your taxes too
much. Democrats just went crazy. I think that`s when David -- who`s from
Wisconsin said at the time a lot of us learn about this president. If you
don`t like what he says, just wait ten minutes.
HABERMAN: Right. I think you`re going to have to wait a lot more than ten
minutes to hear him say something about Syria. I think that he -- if he
does do anything, it then will be, I think, a very, you know, sort of
prepared statement. I think he will have thought it through. I don`t
think that that wasn`t part of any kind of a wink and nod.
And I certainly don`t think that they meant to get ahead of the president.
I mean, some of the speculation afterwards was, oh, he was trying to help
the president by getting in front of him and that`s, I think, a bridge too
KORNACKI: Very quickly, Maggie, is you`ve written so much about the
Clintons. Looking to the sort of the timetable here in the summer of 2013,
the invisible primaries going on now for 2016, Hillary Clinton now going to
be making or saying a few more public policy pronouncements. What is the
timetable here in terms of -- sort of her stepping out more publicly and
making a decision about what she`s going to do because her entire party is
HABERMAN: No. It`s a really good question. So, I mean, in terms of --
she`s very out there. I mean, one of the things that her folks have sort
of given up on is saying like, you know, she`s not out there. She`s just
trying to go, you know, live her life or whatever because she clearly wants
to be part of the conversation.
And, I think some of it is that she wants to be part of the conversation.
I think these are issues she cares about. She`s been in public life for a
very long time. She`s been in policy making for a long time. But I also
think that, to some extent, there`s some muscle memory in knowing that if
you don`t sort of protect your turf, people start to crowd in on it.
In terms of timing, I`ve heard her supporters say, oh, I don`t think she
needs to make a decision until late next year, meaning 2014.
I think that is wishful thinking. I think donors, especially, are going to
start to really put pressure on that she needs to make a decision, because
if she`s not running and she makes a decision, let`s say, next December,
2014, you are leaving the Democratic field that will then be playing catch
up, the tier B, the tier C, tier G, 12 months to raise money, to get their
name out, to know what they`re doing.
The Republicans will have a huge jump, and I don`t think that Democratic
donors are going to --
KORNACKI: Somewhere, Joe Biden is going crazy hearing that you just said
tier B, tier C --
KORNACKI: Anyway, you probably heard by now that John McCain was caught
this week playing video poker on the job. Well, a few things to say about
that in a minute, but first, Jon Stewart had some advice for the senator.
JON STEWART, HOST: Hey, man, is this possible global conflagration
interrupting your video poker time?
STEWART: McCain, you`ve been hawking Syria for a year. Now, this is your
time to shine and you can`t be bothered because you`re a river card away
from crushing stash man underscore 42?
STEWART: You know what, Senator? Go. There`s rascal scooter and a bucket
of quarters with your name on it over the golden nugget. You can play all
the video poker you want, $99 cent -- instead of playing pretend poker in
the actual Senate, go to a national casino and pretend you know what the
government should do.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
STEWART: How about that?
KORNACKI: On Tuesday, a "Washington Post" photographer caught Arizona
senator, John McCain, playing a poker game on his cell phone during a
foreign relations committee hearing on Syria. It`s a reminder that McCain
is known as one of the biggest gambling enthusiasts in Congress. It`s also
that members of the Senate and House can get just as bored during their
workday as we can sitting in our cubicles.
Although, sitting in our cubicles were not supposed to be reviewing
sensitive evidence and intelligence on, you know, whether we should attack
another country. So, maybe this is one where at the very least, if you`re
bored, you want to pretend you`re paying attention. Although, it reminds
me when I saw this story this week, I covered congressman roll call a few
years ago. And I went to the "State of the Union."
I had a seat sort of the first row in the balcony, so I`m looking down over
the entire house. And I started -- I actually wasn`t paying too much
attention to the speech because I had the script that I figured I can
always go and read it later. I was more interested in seeing who among the
members was actually paying attention and who was in their own world.
There was one, I won`t say his say, because I can never confirm this 100
percent, but I`m about 95 percent certain there was a Democrat from
California who was sleeping during it. But I won`t say his name because
I`m not 100 percent sure he was. And there was one who never, and I mean
never looked up from his Blackberry the entire time. His name is Anthony
HABERMAN: That sounds right.
BARRO: I kind of don`t blame McCain. When you watch these hearings, it`s
mostly the other senators on the panel grandstanding about their opinions
and then they also have classified briefings. So, this is not their key
source of information to decide whether or not we should invade Syria. So,
to the extent that the thing is just for show, then, they might as well
HABERMAN: Yes. I have to say that like of all of the sins that somebody
could commit politically and legislatively and especially who we`re talking
about, McCain has been such a vocal person on Syria for so long that I
think that most people don`t assume that he`s not aware of the facts. I
think that most people don`t assume that he`s going to be swayed by this,
generally speaking, by this hearing. And to your point that we -- I mean,
optics is not great.
KORNACKI: That`s the sin against politics right there.
SOTO: I`m a professor. And if I caught one of my students during my
three-hour seminars some might say it`s little boring at times, playing
poker, I would ask them to leave.
HABERMAN: But he`s not a student at a seminar.
SOTO: But even more important, we`re talking about Syria. We`re talking
about lives on the line. If you`re bored, doodle, think about other
things, look away, don`t pull out your poker game.
HABERMAN: If he was caught doodling, I don`t feel like that would look
like -- if there was like figures of him drawing poker, I just think that
people would think that was weird too.
SOTO: It`s inappropriate.
HABERMAN: I`m not disagreeing with you on that, but I don`t think it`s a
KORNACKI: I talked to a college class about a year and a half ago. I
remember it was so demoralizing. It was a class of 60 kids. Every single
one of them was in their iPad or their laptop or whatever. They were like
two looking up. And I was like I have like freedom here to say anything I
want because they`re probably not listening.
Anyway, we showed you the clip earlier. Why, when, and how the south
turned into a Republican haven. The discussion that National Review`s
Kevin Williamson and I started on "Morning Joe" a few weeks ago, it
KORNACKI: The South is the most reliably Republican region in the country
today. It wasn`t that long ago that the exact opposite was true, that it
was a uniformly Democratic bastion.
Look at this way, from 1912 to 1964, that`s a span of 13 presidential
elections -- 1960 actually. That`s a span of 13 presidential elections,
here`s a total of electoral votes won by each party in the South.
Democrats, 1,355. Republicans just 231.
And now, here are numbers for the next 13 presidential elections. This is
from 1964 through last fall. It`s a complete reverse. You have Democrats
at 423, Republicans at 1,359. Most of those are third party. George
Wallace, the sort of segregationist Democrat who ran as an independent in
I say that what happened in 1964, that is when a Democratic president broke
the South`s filibuster and signed the Civil Rights Act, while the
Republicans nominated Barry Goldwater, who was part of that filibuster. I
say that had a lot to do with the shift we`d just showed you, when I said
it to "The National Review" Kevin Williamson on "MORNING JOE," it didn`t go
over so well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN WILLIAMSON, THE NATIONAL REVIEW: No Republican presidential
candidates won the black vote since Hoover. So the idea that this stuff
happens as a result of what happened in middle 1960s --
KORNACKI: `64 is a critical year.
WILLIAMSON: No, it`s not. If `64 the critical year, the realignment
wouldn`t have happened in 1940s and 1930s.
KORNACKI: Goldwater got 38 percent of the vote nationally in `64 and got
87 percent in Mississippi --
WILLIAMSON: And Eisenhower got a stronger share of the Southern vote than
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right. Williamson argues that African-Americans had already
switched over to the Democratic Party during FDR`s New Deal and that the
New Deal policies and Southern development and not civil rights politics
explain why the South turned away from the Democrats and embraced GOP.
We got about 90 seconds to hash this out on "MORNING JOE", which wasn`t
nearly enough. So, here to pick up the conversation of where we left off
is Kevin Williamson of "National Review."
And, Kevin, thanks for coming in. The coffee is not as good but pastries
are better so help yourself to that if you want.
WILLIAMSON: I thought we would play video poker instead.
KORNACKI: I left my iPhone upstairs.
WILLIAMSON: Hash it out that way.
KORNACKI: So, this is the debate. I heard other people raise the point
that you raised. I would say your position that this is not the majority
of political historians who look at the transformation of the South and
evolution of the modern Democratic and Republican Parties -- I look at it
and say you cannot avoid making the civil rights movement, making civil
rights politics and making race sort of a central part in the Republican
Party`s shift that occurred around the 1960s. Not exclusively but around
the 1960s and accelerated that.
How do you not make race and civil rights a part of that?
WILLIAMSON: Well, it didn`t accelerate necessarily in `64 as I pointed out
and you deny but I bring the numbers here. In 1956, Eisenhower got larger
share of the Southern vote than Goldwater would get in `64, 49.8 percent 49
for Goldwater. He was the first Republican to ever win a plurality of the
Southern votes and since Reconstruction anyway.
So, you are talking about a set of changes both among Republicans and
Democrats, among black voters and white voters under way well before 1964
and in fact Republicans were setback in many ways. You know, Eisenhower
won a number of Southern states that the Goldwater didn`t in `56. He won
Louisiana by 53, which is a pretty good number for a Republican back then.
So, if you look at the way people are voting in the South and in the rest
of the country and if you look at where the Republican Party and Democrats
are on civil rights in that time, you won`t see much of a correlation. You
see the changes start really in the 1920s as some white Southerners start
voting Republican mostly suburbanites, sort of upper middle class people.
By 1946 election, the majority of black voters in this country already
Democrats by that point, and at that point the Democratic Party is still
nasty segregationist organization.
You`ve got Lyndon Johnson fighting anti-lynching bills in the Senate and
the rest about it at the time. So my thinking is the thing that explains
the move more than anything else is the New Deal, which is kind of the
earthquake in 20th century domestic politics.
KORNACKI: But I`m trying to figure out where to start with this. I would
say it`s this. The tale of the Democratic Party, the story of the
Democratic Party around that era, you are focusing on one wing of it I
would say and that`s the Southern wing -- the Southern conservative white
segregationist wing of the Democratic Party. A huge part of the Democratic
Party for many years basically for generations from reconstruction and
again I would say through the civil rights era.
But there was a separate, there was a second Democratic Party of that era.
It was northern, it was liberal and it was increasingly integrationist,
because as you`re saying black voters in the North, where they had the vote
and be clear in the South, blacks did not have the vote in the era we`re
talking about. But in the North, black voters were increasingly voted with
the Democratic Party.
So, the Democratic Party in the North was increasingly pushing for civil
rights. I look at this and I say, there were two key dates to me. One was
1948 when Democratic Party pushed by Hubert Humphrey, liberal northern
integrationist, put a civil rights plank into its platform.
And what happened, that Southern wing, the Southern segregationists bolted.
Strom Thurmond, a Democrat at that time, ran as the Dixiecrat candidate for
president, third party candidate for president that year. And the second
key date is 1964. As we say, that`s when LBJ who definitely had this
horrible segregationist past, but LBJ as president broke the filibuster,
pushed through the Civil Rights Act at the same time that Republicans
nominated Barry Goldwater who`d been part of that filibuster.
In that same year, Strom Thurmond again, a Democrat who bolted over civil
rights in `48, bolted again. 1964 is the year that Strom Thurmond, who was
the father of the modern Republican Party, left the Democratic Party --
WILLIAMSON: Good God, no. Strom Thurmond, the father of the modern
WILLIAMSON: OK. First of all, go back to an earlier point. The idea that
the segregationists were somehow located exclusively in the South and it
was a Southern thing, I think that`s really not historically very accurate.
You know, Jack Kennedy who is not a Southerner, voted against the Civil
Rights Act in 1957. And the idea that Lyndon Johnson was overcoming his
past in 1964, hell, it was hardly even the past at that point.
KORNACKI: The case against the Civil Rights Act in 1957, from the Northern
Liberal standpoint was that it didn`t do nearly enough. That it was water
down to accommodate the Southern --
WILLIAMSON: Watered down by whom?
KORNACKI: Watered down by --
WILLIAMSON: By Lyndon Johnson.
KORNACKI: No, absolutely. Again, this is my point. I`m not forgiving or
dismissing or ignoring the fact there was definitely a Southern
segregationist Democratic Party. And Democratic Party for years I think
through 1936 --
WILLIAMSON: Southern segregationist Democratic Party that also included a
guy from Massachusetts. You take 1946 --
KORNACKI: Hang on that point for a moment. A Northern Liberal who looked
at the civil rights bill said this thing means nothing from a civil rights
standpoint, I wouldn`t lump that person in with segregationists because
they`re making the point the bill should go much, much farther.
WILLIAMSON: But Kennedy did nothing to make the bill go farther. He had
ceded to it being gutted by Lyndon Johnson.
KORNACKI: And as president, he pushed for the civil rights bill.
WILLIAMSON: In 1946, you`ve got Taft introducing a sweeping set of civil
rights reform going forward as they did in 1964, who kills? Northern
liberals. The unions kill it because they don`t want oversight of their
racial hiring practices by the federal government.
So, you know, if you look at the actual history of this, why do people
start going in the South to the Republicans in 1920s and 1930s? Is it
because suddenly Republicans have done an about-face?
The only about-face in the full story comes in 1964 when Lyndon Johnson who
is a dedicated consistent foe of everything from anti-lynching laws to
Civil Rights Acts, adopted in 1957 and 1960 suddenly wakes up one morning
and finds Jesus and turns around on this issue.
Now, I`m curious about your theory about why did Lyndon Johnson after a
career of running against the interest of African-Americans suddenly turn
around and become Mr. Civil Rights?
KORNACKI: Because he was no longer had to face a Texas-only electorate.
He was no longer running to represent the Democratic Party in a
segregationist region of the country.
WILLIAMSON: The House was not a particularly segregationist --
KORNACKI: But I want to pick this up for a second because the point you
are making about the South was already switching in 1920s and 1930s, I do
think there`s a separate story about the evolution of the South politically
that doesn`t have much to do with race. But I don`t think it`s the
overwhelming story in this period in history and again, I will get back to
it, like you are saying 1920s and 1930s. We`re talking about 1936
presidential election when South Carolina gave 98 percent of its votes to
Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
So, that tells you the state of the Republican Party. It was very -- it
was not what it is today by any stretch of the imagination.
KORNACKI: But, again, what I ask this, what I ask this. How do you
grapple with what happened in 1948 with a Democratic Party at the national
level sort of renouncing its segregationist wing and saying we`re the civil
rights party nationally and then there`s rump party called states right
party headed up by future Republican named Strom Thurmond who that year
takes like 85 percent of the vote in Mississippi, takes a bunch of Southern
states. They vote for that.
Then, 16 years later in 1964, the year that civil rights passes, the
Republican Party nationally nominates somebody who was part of that
WILLIAMSON: And Lyndon Johnson gets 52 percent of the vote in the South.
KORNACKI: And Mississippi gives 87 percent of its vote to Barry Goldwater.
WILLIAMSON: Here`s an interesting story.
WILLIAMSON: You`ve got a Southern vote that`s very closely divided in
terms of the popular votes, 52-49. You`ve got the electoral --
KORNACKI: Fifty-two to 49, what are you talking about?
WILLIAMSON: Johnson wins the overall Southern vote, popular vote.
KORNACKI: Right. But by a much smaller margin that he won nationally.
We`re talking about one of the most epic national landslides in history.
WILLIAMSON: You have this closely divided electorate but this dramatic
electoral map, right? Where you -- you know, boom, boom, boom, Goldwater,
Goldwater, Goldwater, but you`ve also got a very dramatic map electoral map
in `76 or `72, rather. You`ve got a very dramatic electoral map in 1984.
Now, if you look at the times --
KORNACKI: No, no, that`s the point. You had a very dramatic map in `72
and `84 and those were national coast to coast landslides. Ronald Reagan
in 1984 won 49 states. Richard Nixon in 1972 won 49 states.
The LBJ victory in 1964 would have been like that if it hadn`t been for
very particular regional concerns in the South where segregationists and
conservative Democrats who are about to move to the Republican Party would
not vote for the Democratic candidate even in the face of an epic national
landslide, 38 percent of the vote nationally. Barry Goldwater had 87
percent of the vote in Mississippi -- 87 percent.
WILLIAMSON: But one state doesn`t tell the story of the whole South.
KORNACKI: You want to look Alabama, we`re talking 70 percent.
WILLIAMSON: He loses the popular vote in overall South.
KORNACKI: By 0.5 percent which was one of the best showings Republicans
ever had in one of the worst years. The context matters here.
WILLIAMSON: Of course context matters. It matters that it`s happening in
the context of an electorate changing for years and years. You know,
Goldwater`s performance in the South wasn`t as good as Eisenhower`s was.
KORNACKI: But Eisenhower won with nearly 60 percent of the vote
nationally. Goldwater got 38 percent and still managed to match Eisenhower
in the South.
WILLIAMSON: Regional variation, I mean --
KORNACKI: Regional variation brought but by a backlash against the
WILLIAMSON: But there`s regional variation before this as well. There`s
regional variation in the `50s. There`s regional variation in the `40s.
KORNACKI: There`s regional variation and there`s a huge dramatic swing
brought about --
WILLIAMS: But there`s not a huge dramatic swing brought about in `64. If
you look at the numbers of the votes, if there was a huge dramatic swing,
then you would have expected Goldwater to outperform Eisenhower, it didn`t.
And then, if you look at congressional elections in 1962, the Republicans
are at 33 percent of the vote in the South. In 1964, the year of this
great landslide, they are down from that, They`re down at 32 percent.
So there`s no huge swing toward the Republicans that year.
KORNACKI: But again, they are still running segregationist conservative
Democrats for all those congressional seats, the first Republican to win in
the South, the first Republican to break through and win a statewide
election in the South was in 1961. His name was John Tower. He`s
He voted against the Civil Rights Act in 1964. And he opposed civil rights
in 1960 Republican convention. That was the first Republican senator to
get elected in the South. I`ll give you (INAUDIBLE) here, last word to
WILLIAMSON: Sure. If you look at the electoral maps and you don`t really
see a sustained Republican victories in presidential elections until the
1980s. You know, you`ve got -- Carter wins big in the South in these
years. But those happened in the context of which Republicans are also
winning the rest of the country.
So, the Republicans in the presidential elections have historically done
well in the South, mostly years when they have done well in the rest of the
country. You look at any electoral map from a Republican Party in a post-
war era, you`re not going to see it concentrated in the South. You can see
the Midwest, you can see some of the West and the Southwest, and in case of
Reagan victories, you got all of New England. And you can look at that
electoral map and decide that 97 percent of the country was on board with
Reagan agenda, but I don`t think that`s what the map actually tells you.
You know, the popular vote tells you a story there, too and I think you
need to look at that in the South.
KORNACKI: All right. I said I wouldn`t respond. I give you the last word
and I won`t, even though I want to -- nine minutes wasn`t enough, 90 second
wasn`t enough. Maybe we`ll do it again.
But I want to thank Kevin Williamson of "The National Review". Appreciate
you coming in.
Coming up, the clock is ticking. T minus 69 hours until the polls open in
the Big Apple. We will preview the mayor`s race and we will find out if
I`m going to win a bet. That`s next.
KORNACKI: Less than 72 hours from now, polls in America`s biggest cities
will open. And by Tuesday night, we will have answers to some key
questions in New York, like will Bill de Blasio who has surged at the top
of the polls in the last month with a strong boost from national
progressive groups and voices, will he break 40 percent of the vote and win
the Democratic nomination for mayor on the spot, or will his opponents
heated last minute attacks on him, keep de Blasio under that magic 40
percent number and trigger a runoff?
If there is a runoff, who will he face? Bill Thompson? Who ran as a
Democratic nominee for years ago and nearly knocked off Michael Bloomberg?
Or Christine Quinn, who started this year as front runner and is now in a
battle for political survival?
And also, will Anthony Weiner get into a loud argument with anyone during
his concession speech?
Joining us to talk about everything that`s going to be happening on
Tuesday, we have Josh Benson. He`s the cofounder and co-editor of
capitalnewyork.com, which covers city culture and politics. And still with
us, we have Maggie Haberman of "Politico", MSNBC contributor Victoria
DeFrancesco Soto and Josh Barro of BusinessInsider.com.
And, Josh Benson, I should point out, was once my editor in a former life
and he saved me from making an even bigger fool of myself on numerous
So, I appreciate you joining us today, Josh.
So, look, let`s talk about Bill de Blasio. This has been the story of the
last month. A month ago, I would say, if you took a poll, he might have
been in high single digits or something. Now, we`re talking about this guy
could win the Democratic nomination for mayor on the spot on Tuesday.
What has been behind this? I mean, national progressive groups are saying
this is sort of national progressive revival. Is that the story or is
there more to it than that?
JOSH BENSON, CAPITALNEWYORK.COM: Well, there are a couple of local
dynamics that are key to this. One was very visible and one was less so.
So, the very visible was Anthony Weiner, who served to -- more than
anything I think to mask the potential of the de Blasio candidacy.
So, he obstructed it because in demographic terms, here was another white
guy from the outer boroughs, who is making in some ways a similar case for
a change from Bloomberg, at least rhetorically. And we can see a clear
correlation in the polls for whatever it is worth when Weiner collapsed
pretty thoroughly, de Blasio rose and it was almost indirect or inverse
So, that was a huge thing. That helped de Blasio because I think the other
campaigns didn`t see him coming, as ridiculous as it seems now, right?
Hindsight is always 20/20. They really didn`t see him coming because the
story of the day was always Anthony Weiner, the guy who, as you`re saying,
might wind up yelling at someone during his concession speech. That`s not
a bad prediction.
But I think the other thing is just de Blasio, he actually has run a smart
campaign. His message has been super clear and easy to understand compared
to his chief rivals Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson.
KORNACKI: So, what -- so, looking at -- first of all, what do you think
the likelihood is of de Blasio clearing that 42 percent on Tuesday and
winning on the spot. And if he doesn`t, who do you think the opponent is
most likely to be for the runoff?
BENSON: Well, I have -- you know, the numbers say that he`s got a real
crack at it. He might. That would require both Christine Quinn and Bill
Thompson to do shockingly badly, what I would consider to be shockingly
So that`s tough. I think the Thompson campaign makes an argument, it`s
spin, of course, but I find it compelling spin, the polls are under-
predicting his support because there`s a history of that happening to him
in particular and also to credible African-American candidates we don`t
need to go into that. But I think there`s a very good chance that he could
do better than what the polls are showing which is -- which would be a
crushing disappointment to him.
Quinn has had structural problems for a while. High negatives surprisingly
high negatives and pre-uncommitted support. But at the same time, we
shouldn`t forget the reason that people once considered her at the very
least a lock for the runoff, which is putting aside the history making
potential for candidacy, the fact that she was seen as having very good
chance of being the first woman mayor and first lesbian mayor of New York.
She`s been the second most powerful figure in the city for a long time and
has a high profile and has decent amount of structural institutional union
And so, it would be shocking if both Thompson and Quinn collapsed
thoroughly that de Blasio won this outright.
KORNACKI: To give you a sense of it, we meant to put this up early. But
this is the latest poll and I think there`s going to be two more that come
out before the primary in the next two days. But this is the latest ones
And there you have it, that`s why we`re talking about 40 percent, de Blasio
at 43 percent. Thompson, 20, Quinn, 18. We remember him all the way down
But, Maggie, you wrote about this today, maybe you can pick up to this
point. Looking at Christine Quinn who started as front runner would be the
first female mayor and first openly gay mayor she gets elected, and yet, I
am astounded when I look at the inside of the polls, the negatives around
her. For instance, when they do this -- in that same poll when they do
perspective runoffs and put her against de Blasio, she`s behind by like 40
percent. There`s resistance to her that I`m confused by because she`s not
that far away from where the Democratic Party is.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, POLITICO: So, I`m not surprised by it and I`m pretty you
can back on this because I`ve been saying for a very long time that I
didn`t think she was going to be the nominee. I did think she would get
into the runoff, but I didn`t think she was going to get out of the runoff.
That would be my caveat. I`m not that surprised.
So, a couple of things and one thing that I didn`t talk about in my piece
this morning but is an important point and Josh would agree with this, city
council speaker is a high profile platform. It`s not a good platform from
which to become mayor. It has not been historically. You know, you can
ask Mayor Gifford Miller the same question from 2005. You can ask Mayor
Peter Vallone the same question from 2001. Peter Vallone finished third,
Gifford Miller I think finished fourth if I remember correctly.
So, you know, I don`t think Quinn is going to finish fourth, but I think
that they did not play out the historic nature of her candidacy overtly at
all until recently and more in terms of the woman aspect of it. Last night
very openly embracing the potential first gay mayor with a rally at
Stonewall. That was an interesting rally to see, and it was the kind of
thing you looked at and thought if they did it earlier, it might have been
a risky gamble but it was probably the only play they had.
She could never quite decide whether to embrace Bloomberg or separate from
Bloomberg. So, what ended up happening was is because she was so
instrumental in the third term -- the third term, look, Bloomberg`s allies
and I think Quinn`s team and there is some overlap there, ended up thinking
that because Bloomberg`s numbers were right side up, he still had a
favorable rating overall, that that was going to somehow transfer over to
her and people didn`t. There was never a compelling case made that she was
an extension of Bloomberg.
It`s now become clear in the Democratic primary, people don`t want --
people want a new direction among the Democratic primary voters. One thing
that Josh didn`t mentioned that I think was really key for de Blasio, I
think he`s run a really good campaign for variety of reasons, which of you
The stop and frisk ruling in federal court in Manhattan was incredibly
important in terms of timing for de Blasio. It really, really crystallized
what has been a latent feeling of racial hostility that has not been overt
during the Bloomberg years, but was seen encapsulated by these NYPD stops.
It`s not like what we have seen during Rudy Giuliani certainly. So, it was
But de Blasio`s message really dovetailed with that decision. He`d been
critical of stop and frisk. Quinn had been sort of all over the place.
She was going to keep Ray Kelly as police commissioner and then she was
going to fire Ray Kelly as commissioner if he didn`t get stops down.
So, I think all of that -- I think she -- you don`t want to dance on
somebody`s grave until there`s someone on a grave yet, because we`re not at
Tuesday yet, but I do think -- she has not run a good campaign.
KORNACKI: Very critical. But almost no time left.
But, Josh, you can give a yes or no answer. I have a bet with someone on
this other race on Tuesday, Scott Stringer versus Eliot Spitzer. I took
the underdog, I took Stringer a while ago. Will I win my bet?
BENSON: It`s looking good.
KORNACKI: I like it. Good answer. Josh Benson, we`ll have you back
We are not forgetting about the Republicans in this race. Next Saturday,
we will talk to the likely Republican nominee. His name is Joe Lhotta.
I want thank you Josh Benson of CapitalNewYork.com.
The most liberal member of the Supreme Court making liberals nervous these
days. We`ll look at why. That`s ahead.
KORNACKI: Straight ahead, Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the not unreasonable
question of retirement. Excuse me, Linda Greenhouse lives and breathes the
Supreme Court for years as a "New York Times" reporter and she will join us
KORNACKI: The Internet practically exploded when it was announced that
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would be officiating the same sex
wedding of John Roberts, I`m sorry, what now?
No, it wasn`t that John Roberts. It was a government economist named John
Roberts marrying the president of the Kennedy Center. That`s the kind of
job with the kind of juice it seems you would need to have to get a Supreme
Court justice to marry you. Whatever the explanation, this makes Justice
Ginsburg the first member of the Supreme Court to officiate at the same-sex
But there are many in the Democratic Party now hoping that Justice Ginsburg
does not break the historic book by breaking another record, by replacing
Oliver Wendell Holmes as the oldest person ever to serve on the court. It
wouldn`t happen anytime soon. Oliver Wendell Holmes was 90 when he retired
from the court.
But at 80 years old, Justice Ginsburg is the oldest current member of the
court making it not at all unreasonable to ask if maybe if she could in the
near future think of retiring. While there is still a Democrat in the
White House who could replace her with another Democrat. Not to mention a
Senate with a Democratic majority through which that nominee would have an
actual chance of being confirmed.
When it was broached with Justice Ginsburg recently, this is how she
answered it. She said, "There will be a president after this one and I`m
hopeful that president will be a fine president."
By the way, Ginsburg said she has made some concessions to age by giving up
I want to talk about how crucial Ginsburg has been to the Roberts court and
how crucial if she would be replaced by a Republican pick.
To do that, let`s bring in Linda Greenhouse. She covered the Supreme Court
for 30 years at "The New York Times", winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1998.
She now teaches at Yale Law School and still writes about the court for
And, Linda, thanks for joining us. So, actually, it was "The Times", it
was an interview with Adam Liptak recently where Ruth Bader Ginsburg
addressed the issue of retirement, addressed to maybe not to the
satisfaction of people calling for her to step down.
But I wonder, you observed her for years. Do you have a sense of where she
sort of - where she sort of is in her career right now? She`s the sort of
the voice of the minority wing of the court. You`re in the sort of John
Roberts era right now.
Is she in a certain way thriving in that role?
LINDA GREENHOUSE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Oh, I think she is. She`s the
senior associate justice on the liberal wing of the court. And she takes
that role very seriously.
If you look at her performance in the last week of the court term, that`s
the term in which the court not only invalidated, functionally invalidate
the Voting Rights Act but also issued two labor decisions under Title 7 of
the Civil Rights Act that Justice Ginsburg found completely wrongheaded.
She announced her dissent from the bench in a strong voice. And she is
thriving. She`d rather be in the majority but she`s making the most of her
position as a spokesperson for the minority.
KORNACKI: What do you make of the argument of the case that she should
retire? Actually, we have -- this is Randall Kennedy. This is from two
years ago. Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy, he called for not just
Ruth Bader Ginsburg but also Stephen Breyer who I think is in his early,
maybe mid-70s, call for them both to retire basically as concessions to age
and getting a younger member in with a Democratic president, they should
announce retirements this spring effective upon the confirmation of
successors. Those like who admire their service might find it hard to hope
they will leave the court but service comes in many forms including making
way for others.
What do you make of that argument, Linda? Because the reality is, you
know, she`s still 80 years old. She`s had cancer twice. There is a
Democrat in the White House now. There is a Democratic Senate. You don`t
know how long that will last.
How do you -- how do you think about that?
GREENHOUSE: Well, you know, I remember when Randy Kennedy wrote that
essay. I find it odd for a life tenured university professor to be calling
for a life tenured Supreme Court justice to take a bullet for the country
and give it up.
You can argue this in many ways. Actually, I think the argument that she
ought to step down is kind of demeaning and kind of sexist. You know,
she`s the oldest member of the court but she`s not the only member of the
court who gets Social Security. Anthony Scalia is 77. Others of the
conservatives are creeping up on him. Everybody is getting older by the
You know, I think from her point of view to try to game the system in that
way is -- it demeans the court, and one might argue nobody has made this
argument but it`s a valid one that if at the time of the next presidential
election in 2016, she`s still on the court and it`s clear that she and
maybe Justice Scalia and Justice Breyer, whoever, would be in a position to
retire in the next four years, for once we could have a real discussion
within the context of a presidential election about the impact of the White
House on the court. That`s a discussion that everybody says we ought to
have and we never have it.
KORNACKI: Let`s have it here. Maybe you can explain -- like let`s say
Ginsburg or any of the other members from her wing of the court, if they
were to leave tomorrow and let`s say tomorrow because there`s a Democratic
president but leave in a couple years with say a Republican president, if
one of the members of the liberal wing are the court were replaced by a
Republican pick, what affect would that have on the court?
GREENHOUSE: Well, the court, as you know, is now basically 5-4 on
everything that sort of matters to most people. Now, sometimes it`s 5-4
one way as in Justice Kennedy`s majority opinion in June that struck down
the Defense of Marriage Act. That was a liberal outcome. Kennedy joined
four liberals on that. The court is hanging by a thread although it is
swinging pretty notably to the right on many issues so every vacancy
There`s a great fear on the right because I follow the right wing
blogosphere with great interest and I discern that on the right, there`s
fear that my oh, gosh, you know, if we don`t get the presidency back in
2016, it`s our vacancies that will occur. So, this game, you know, and it
plays both ways.
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: If I was a betting woman but
I`m not but looking at the 2016 and the demographics of this country, the
executive will most likely be filled by a Democrat unless the Republican
Party does a 180, which could happen, but I doubt it.
SOTO: So, when she said I expect the president next will be a fine
president, to me that was almost code like I expect the next president will
be a Democratic president. So don`t worry when I leave, more likely than
not, another Democrat --
KORNACKI: But that`s -- if there is that calculation, that`s a heck of a -
- I could look at demographics like anybody else and say, sure, maybe it`s
55, 60 percent Democratic president but that 45 or 40 percent that could be
Republican, that`s a lot to leave out there.
GREENHOUSE: But, Steve, let me ask you what you think would happen if
there were a Supreme Court vacancy tomorrow? President Obama in the middle
of what you`re discussing earlier on the show this morning. I mean, the
whole Syria mess, last thing this president needs is a Supreme Court
vacancy. And I`m not sure that we could sit here and say it will go well
because we have a Democratic president.
KORNACKI: But I guess the case would be that the closer you get to 2016,
the harder it will get. Let`s see she or one of the liberals retired in
February of 2016, then the calculation from Republicans could be, can we
spring this out for the rest of 2016 without doing anything? If it`s still
in 2013, harder for them to do that.
GREENHOUSE: Well, that`s true. But I think what this conversation
indicates is that it`s really hard to bet the future on these things. The
notion that she should be the one to kind of just wrap it up for the good
of everybody, I just find that a little strange.
JOSH BARRO, BUSINESSINSIDER.COM: I don`t know what else we expect her to
say. There`s still more than three years of President Obama`s second term
left. If she`s intending to retire at the beginning of 2015, something
that would leave margin before the next presidential election, why would
she tip her hand to that now in any of these sorts of jobs you don`t want
so symbolize you`re a lame duck.
It`s probably less important on the Supreme Court than it is in other
places. But I think, you know, if she is intending to retire, I wouldn`t
expect her to review that announcement until she`s ready to do it.
KORNACKI: Yes. You know, I can appreciate the position. She`s completely
engaged in the work of the court. She`s reading dissents from the bench.
So, it has got to be insulting at some level for anybody that gets that
question, what am I doing wrong day-to-day in my job to have you ask that
question to me? So, I can certainly sympathize with that.
Anyway, I want to say thanks to Linda Greenhouse of "The New York Times"
and Yale Law School.
Forty years ago, John Kerry was the face of Vietnam opposition. Now, he is
the leading voice for intervention in Syria. How did he get from there to
here? That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Senator Chuck Hagel, when he was a
senator, Senator Chuck Hagel now secretary of defense, when I was a
senator, we opposed the president`s decision to go into Iraq but we know
full well how that evidence was used to persuade all of us that authority
ought to be given. I can guarantee you I`m not imprisoned by my memories
of or experience in Vietnam. I`m informed by it. I`m not imprisoned by my
memory of how that evidence was used. I`m informed by it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday night on "ALL IN
WITH CHRIS HAYES", making the case for an attack on Syria. It was striking
that he invoked both Vietnam and Iraq, the two conflicts loom largest over
American politics for the past half century. They are also the two
conflicts that are central to Kerry`s own political story.
He was a decorated 27-year-old Vietnam veteran that Kerry came home and
dramatically testified against the war, and then one year later, launched a
campaign for Congress in 1972. He lost that race and it took him a decade
to get his political career back on track after that.
Decades later, as he geared up to run for president, Kerry voted for
authorization in the invasion of Iraq -- a vote he struggled mightily to
explain on the campaign trail in 2004 when public opinion in his own party
began turning on the war. Now, here he is nine years after that serving as
the public face of the White House`s push for intervention in Syria. It`s
an unlikely role for a man whose political roots are in the anti-war
movement and for a politician whose relevance a few years ago is seen to be
in terminal decline.
Here to talk about the evolution of John Kerry, as a man who knows a thing
or two about him, John Aloysius Farrell, a presidential biographer spent 16
years covering Kerry for "The Boston Globe" and contributed to a biography
of Kerry published by that paper in 2004. He joins us now from Washington.
John, thanks for being a part of the show today.
I guess I want to see if you can talk a little bit as somebody who has
watched Kerry through the years to this evolution. He cites being informed
by Vietnam. He cites being informed by Iraq. This is a guy who at the
beginning of his career was anti-war, in the middle of his career was
against the 1991 Gulf War. And in the last 20 years, voted for Iraq war in
2002 and is now as we say, the face of the administration`s push for Syria.
How do you reconcile that entire career when you look at it?
JOHN ALOYSIUS FARRELL, BOSTON GLOBE: One thing is he sort of symbolizes
the whole problem that the American left has had since Vietnam. Vietnam
was such a searing experience particularly for the left, searing experience
for the whole country, and the left has had hard time coming to grips with
America America`s duty to use force around the word.
I think going back to Vietnam days, if you remember, when he came back and
he was a leader for Vietnam veterans against the war, he called himself in
that famous testimony you showed a picture of on the screen, a winter
soldier. A winter soldier is from Tom Paine`s famous, "The Crisis", and
it`s the guys that stick by the country in hard times.
I think John has a great sense of duty. I think what he`s doing right now
is trying to be a winter soldier in a very, very difficult decision.
KORNACKI: And there`s also an interesting story here just personally about
where John Kerry is right now in his career. He`s almost 70 years old. We
talk about how he ran for president in 2004. So much of his career was
about that presidential race, that moment. He didn`t get there. And then,
you know, you can remember the few years after that he was sort of
positioning himself. He wanted to run again in 2008. His party clearly
didn`t want him to. He had this botched joke at the end of the 2006
midterms and whole party kind of turned on him and delivering a message
like we don`t want you out there for us anymore.
And then, he was able to sort of come back and get himself in position to
be secretary of the state.
Can you talk about the sort of recent redemption of John Kerry?
FARRELL: Yes. Well, foreign affairs has always been his strong suit, ever
since he appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee back in the
1970s. So, when he finally got to chair that committee, he began to show
really some depth. Previous to that as a senator, he had been one of those
investigators like Richard Nixon or Jack Kennedy who really doesn`t do an
awful lot behind the scenes passing legislation but does those big
televised hearings that everyone pays attention to.
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, particularly under a
Democratic president, as a Democrat, you have to do substantive work. I
think that`s the way he positioned himself. He kept his shoulder to the
wheel and worked very hard and traveled around the world and traveled to
Syria and took a very respectful position with the Obama administration
while not totally looking like he was in their pocket and gained a lot of
respect among his colleagues.
KORNACKI: I want to play -- this was Rand Paul. He was posing a question
for John Kerry at the committee hearings on Syria and he turned Kerry`s
famous line from his opposition to the Vietnam War against him. I want to
play that for a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: What I would ask John Kerry is he`s famous
for saying how can you ask a man to be a last one to die for a mistake. I
would ask John Kerry how can you ask a man to be the first one to die for a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: It wasn`t the hearing. That was "Meet the Press." That was
Kerry`s famous words now being turned against him by sort of the face of
opposition to the war on the Republican side now.
FARRELL: Well, it`s been almost a century since the world decided that
with the full array and full armory of hideous weaponry, poison gas is the
one thing that we`re going to try not to use. That`s something of an
accomplishment for a very savage human race.
And I think that so much right now is being talked about, well, did Obama
handle this right? What are we going to do about Syria? The larger
picture I think is lost, and I think the larger picture which is taking a
stance against this hideous use of a vicious, dangerous weapon of mass
destruction is very much within Kerry belief and mainstream liberal belief,
even though a large part of the party is deserting the president and Kerry
BARRO: This is Josh Barro of "Business Insider". What do you think this
means for John Kerry`s legacy? I mean, he`s -- you know, remembered for
opposition starting with the Vietnam War and large number of other military
conflicts. If we go into Syria, is this really what John Kerry is going to
be remembered for in the history books, or is this a smaller chapter in his
FARRELL: I guarantee you that if we go into Syria, if you mean that if we
invade Syria, we got this multinational force, that he`s going to be
remembered for that.
I don`t think he`ll be remembered for a brief limited strike. I think that
if in the next three years, he and Obama manage to do anything positive in
that sector of the world, they`ll be remembered as miracle makers. It`s
just a hideously tough problem. It`s William Rogers, Henry Kissinger, Cy
Vance, the secretaries of states have been trying to hand this one for
decades. So I don`t think that he`s going to be judged one way or another
on his legacy as what happens in the Middle East, unless something really
good and big does happen, in which case both Kerry and Obama will come out
looking like miracle workers.
KORNACKI: John, one more question here. Before he ran for president in
2004, one of John Kerry`s best friends in Washington, and certainly his
best friend on the Republican side, was John McCain. There was sort of
this unlikely partnership with them on the issue of Vietnam veterans. I
think it was clear that John Kerry was not happy how John Kerry had treated
him publicly during the 2004 campaign with John McCain then trying to get
back in the good graces of the Republican Party.
Do you have the sense -- was that relationship destroyed by 2004, has it
been mended. Do you have a sense of what`s going on there?
FARRELL: No, not at all. These are big boys, these are tough guys. And
the ties they have going back to their Vietnam 33 experience, and then to
the key role they played in the 1990s during the Clinton administration for
American recognition of Vietnam, I think that those bonds are much stronger
than the problems of the 2004 campaign would show. And I think that no
doubt part of Kerry`s enthusiasm about Syria right now, or speaking on
behalf of the use of force, comes from the conversations that he`s had with
John McCain, who has been a leading advocate of force.
KORNACKI: All right. I want to thank John Aloysius Farrell, author and
journalist, and author, by the way, of a great biography of Tip O`Neill.
If you haven`t read it, go out and get it. It`s a great book about a great
What do we know now that we didn`t know last week? We`ve got your answers
right after this.
KORNACKI: All right. It`s time to find out what our guests know now that
they did not know when the week began. We`ll start with you, Victoria.
SOTO: We all know the jobs numbers came out and saw a slight dip, still
very sluggish economy. But when we disaggregate, that`s what`s very
interesting. African-American unemployment went up by nearly one point.
Latino unemployment is still at the same, which is at 9 percent.
So, we need to break down the picture when we get those job numbers.
KORNACKI: All right. And, Josh?
BARRO: What we also know from the jobs report, we created 74,000 fewer
jobs in June and July than we thought we did. And it`s not actually that
the job situation is getting worse. We`re creating jobs at a pace about 2
million jobs a year for the last three years.
The problem is the job situation is not getting better. For a while, it
was looking like finally the pace was improving. The Federal Reserve was
going to back off its easing efforts because it looked like the economy was
starting to build on itself. Now, it`s looking like the same sluggish
recovery and we`ll be into the next decade before we`re at full
KORNACKI: All right. Maggie?
HABERMAN: More locally, I think we now know that not just Anthony Weiner
but probably Eliot Spitzer went survive Tuesday night`s primary election
and I think we`ll end up with different outcomes than people anticipated
for a while.
KORNACKI: Which means that we know my stress this year, nonfinancial bet
earlier in this campaign.
HABERMAN: You win.
KORNACKI: That Scott Stringer would defeat Eliot Spitzer. I also take the
underdog and sometimes it pays off.
My thanks to Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Josh Barro, and Maggie Haberman.
Thank you all for getting UP.
And thank you for joining us today for UP. Join us tomorrow, Sunday
morning at 8:00. Democratic Congressman Steve Israel will be our guest.
And coming up next on "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY," one simple question, how much
do we really know about Syria?
Plus, the pushback from Walmart. The retail giant dismisses this week`s
protest as little more than ants on an elephant. But should the Walton
family be worried?
Stick around, Nerdland is next. We`ll see you right here the tomorrow at
8:00. Thanks for getting UP.
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