'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, October 01, 2013
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
October 1, 2013
Guest: Karen Tumulty, Scott Rigell, Louise Slaughter
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: In Denver obviously. In the heartland, the
"Des Moines Register" on the left side of your screen there, in Iowa, "The
Vindicator" in Ohio, "Shutdown: Lawmakers Missed Deadline." At opposite
corners of the country, the far northwest, the "Spokesman Review," from
Washington state, "Deadlocked: Congress Shuts Down Government," and the
"Tampa Tribune" in Florida, "Government on Shutdown."
Of course from here in New York City, here was the "New York Daily News,"
this cover I am not totally sure I`m allowed to show on television. If I
am breaking a rule or just ugh-ing you out by showing "The Daily News`"
"House of Turds" cover from today, I`m sorry. Sorry.
But that is the news. This is a historic day. This is not a good news day
but it is a big news day. And if you are a news junkie or a politics
junkie, this is the kind of day where you save the front page of the paper,
When I was leaving Washington to come back to New York this morning, I
picked up the print versions -- I never pick up the print versions anymore.
Picked up the print version of the "Washington Post" and the "New York
Times" with their big shutdown stories today. Shutdown, shutdown in big
type, right? But I also picked up "The Washington Times," which is a
conservative newspaper. They`re a really conservative newspaper.
They really only market themselves to conservatives. So the one big in-
house ad that they`ve got in the paper today is this one, which is selling
"Washington Times" T-shirts that say, "conservatives are cool" and the O`s
in the --
Hipster glasses. Conservatives are cool. You know it when you read the
The only other large scale ads they have in today`s paper are these half-
page ads for right-wing talk radio. They advertise eight talk radio shows
and all eight of them are old right-wing white guys, eight for eight. They
also have an expensive wrap-around front page ad, wraps around the whole
front page outside of the newspaper. It must have been really expensive.
I don`t know. It`s the "Washington Times."
Anyway, it`s for the NRA. The third century of the NRA and it highlights
this inspiring story of a young woman with a gun who says she wants to grow
up to be an NRA lobbyist. Aw.
Today the "Washington Times" also published a hair on fire letter from the
conservative game show host Chuck Woolery, warning that the U.N. is
encroaching on our national sovereignty.
There`s one book review on the "Washington Times" today. It`s a biography
of FDR and "The Washington Times" reviewer gets so worked up in condemning
the predations of FDR as a sexual adventurer. Wow, really? That "The
Washington Times" reviewer sort of forgets to review the book.
Yes, this is technically a book review of a biography but did I mention how
terrible FDR was?
The conservative media exists not just on FOX and on AM talk radio.
Conservative media exists in print and it is just as weird there as it is
on TV and on the far side of your radio dial. It is a completely different
universe to the rest of the media world at least.
So where the rest of the world is marveling today at "shut down, shut down,
shut down, " the largest government on earth for the first time in nearly
20 years is shut down. On that day, here`s the shutdown front page of the
conservative paper. Look at their front page. "Obamacare Drama."
Which may have something to do with abortion. There`s apparently a problem
in Washington right now that has something to do with Obamacare and too
much abortion. Yes.
There is a mention of shutdown on the front page of the "Washington Times"
today. They put it in the same font and the same type size as -- it`s up
top, there it is. See?
As the date of the paper. See right there below the date? See where it
is? Yes, technically there it is. No need to make a big deal out of it.
Shutdown. The one in-depth article they do have on this minor issue of the
government shutdown is on the inside pages of the paper, on page A-6, and
as you can see from the headline there, it is all about how it is really no
big deal. "Shutdown poses little threat to national economy." It`s not so
bad. Nothing like the "Obamacare Drama," something, something abortion.
A trip to conservative media land right now is a trip to a very different
experience than the rest of the country thinks we are having with this
historic government shutdown. At the FOX News Channel, for example, they
are not calling it a shutdown of the federal government. At FOX News
Channel, they are calling it a slim down of the federal government. Not a
shut down at all, a slim down.
And as these things do, what happens first in the conservative media is now
crossing over into official Republican politics and so now the Republican
Party Senate Campaign Committee is saying it`s not a shutdown at all, it`s
not a slim down even, it`s a slowdown. Slowdown, slim down. Take a load
off, there`s no crisis here, this all sounds kind of good.
At the conservative magazine "The National Review" today they want you to
know that look, from the headline, this is not actually a shutdown. At the
"Daily Caller," conservative Web site, they do admit it`s a shutdown
because -- not only because they have found 11 reasons to love the
government shutdown, it`s awesome.
Taking a field trip to conservative world today is taking a long strange
trip away from what a shutdown of the federal government means in the rest
of the country. It is different there. And in some way it is literally
These are the 80 Republicans members of the House to wrote to House Speaker
John Boehner just over a month ago demanding that Speaker Boehner shut down
the federal government, demanding specifically that he make the funding of
the federal government contingent on dismantling health reform.
The letter was spearheaded by a freshman congressman from the most
Republican district in North Carolina and he got 80 signatures on that
letter from himself and his Republican colleagues before he sent the letter
to Speaker Boehner demanding a shutdown. Of the 80 Republican members of
Congress who signed this letter, 79 of the 80 are white, 76 of the 80 are
Your average House district in America is 63 percent white. These guys`
districts are 75 percent white. Overall, Latinos are 17 percent of the
average House district, but for these guys` disabilities it`s less than 10
You might recall that a man named Barack Obama won the last presidential
election by millions of votes but not in these guys` districts. Not even
close. Even as the president won overall and by a pretty large margin, in
these guys` districts, President Obama lost by an average, an average of 23
Republicans in the states have gerrymandered these districts so that they
are essentially pure Republican. In order to get them that way and keep
them that way, they have to keep making them whiter and whiter and whiter.
If they could make them more male, I`m sure they would do that, too. But
white works for now.
Lower education levels work, fewer Latinos, fewer blacks, all of that is
crucial, and they have to be rural in order to create districts that safe
for these guys.
Republicans have had to create districts for themselves that are less and
less diverse over time, even as the rest of the country gets more diverse.
Ryan Lizza wrote this up this week for the "New Yorker" once it became
clear that these 80 Republicans who signed this letter were getting exactly
what they asked for. Crunching the numbers he found, quote, "These 80
Republican members represent an America where the population is getting
whiter, where there are few major cities where Obama lost the last election
in a landslide, and where the Republican Party is becoming more dominant
and more popular."
Meanwhile in the rest of the country, in our own national politics, each of
these trends is reversed. So the faction that is driving the government
shutdown, that demanded it from John Boehner a month ago and now has it
exactly on the terms they demanded, they represent geographically specific
slivers of the country, that were specifically shaped, specifically chosen,
specifically designed to be very white, less educated, almost entirely
rural and as close as you can get to 100 percent Republican.
None of those districts is competitive. From their perspective, from those
districts, it is utterly rational for those specific members of Congress to
want a government shutdown, sure. To want the most confrontational stance
they can possibly take towards this president who is so unpopular in their
It is politically rational for those 80 members of Congress to want a
shutdown. But why is it rational for the Republican Party to let those
folks drive for the whole party and to the whole country?
Yes, there are 80 Republican members of the House at least whose narrowly
drawn districts make a shutdown seem like good politics. They`re never
going to go home and listen to an angry town hall about why did you shut
down the government? Why were you too confrontational with President
Obama? The only anger they`re ever going to hear is that they didn`t go
If someone wants to poll on secession from the country in those districts,
I bet you`ll find some eye-opening results there as well.
It has always been the case that there is a minority of folks in the
Congress whose interests are locally rational but extreme for the nation.
The question is why that group is now setting policy for the whole party
and therefore for the whole country. And what would you do right now if
you were a Republican who did not agree with those folks in your own party?
What would you do? Even if you were a conservative, if you were a
conservative in the Republican Party right now and you did not agree that
there should be a shutdown. Inside your party right now, inside the House,
what would you do if the agenda that was being followed was the agenda of
those 80 members of Congress who will never, ever, ever have to answer for
shutting it down?
What would you do if you didn`t agree?
Joining us now is one of only 10 Republicans in the House of
Representatives who says that we should just pass a clean, stand-alone bill
to fund the government and stop the shutdown. He represents a district in
Virginia that is home to one of the highest proportions of military
personnel in the whole country. Conservative Republican congressman, Scott
Thank you very much for being with us tonight. I really appreciate your
willing to talk about this.
REP. SCOTT RIGELL (R), VIRGINIA: Happy to do it, Rachel.
MADDOW: Let me just start by asking you something that I think the whole
country is wondering about. And maybe you as a House Republican, you know
even though we don`t. How long do you expect the shutdown to go on? Do
you see a way out yet?
RIGELL: Well, it will probably go on a few days. I hope it stops
I certainly listened to your introduction. If I may say that the
gerrymandered districts, you`re on to something there. Now you only got it
half right because yes, there are some districts that are skewed hard R`s
but there are -- conversely there are just as many that are skewed hard
RIGELL: And so I tell you, this -- both sides have contributed to the
dysfunction that we have up here. I really believe that gerrymandered
districts are the principal cause of gridlock in Washington. And we`ve got
to get away from this. And I`m committed, whether in office or not, next
time we have these redistricting efforts, certainly in Virginia, we got to
do something about this. It`s not right for our country.
MADDOW: If we did nonpartisan districting, some states do that. Not every
state works the way that we`ve seen in these intensely partisan processes.
If we have some sort of national standard for expert re-districting and
district line drawing that was not done by one of the parties for their own
advantage, do you think any Republicans would support that?
RIGELL: Well, they`ve got to. Look, I tell Americans in our district,
look, we`ve got to be involved in this process because we really can`t
continue this way.
And, Rachel, some of the things that you said I agree with but some I
really sharply disagree with. That won`t surprise you.
RIGELL: You know, those 80 members that you said are absolutely committed
to a shutdown, I disagree with that. I`ve never heard that privately or
publicly. You know, we don`t have a regular appropriations process here
anymore. And not since I`ve been in office in 33 months. The House has
been dysfunctional. The Senate has been dysfunctional. I blame both
parties, both Houses of government.
We went on a five-and-a-half-week break when only four of our 12
appropriation bills have been passed. The Senate hadn`t even passed one of
the four that we did send over there. So what do we end up with?
Continuing resolutions. They harm our country and they`re not right. And
so we have to -- we were trying to express our best ideas for policy via
the continuing resolution. I was one who was saying, look, I don`t think
that we ought to advance the Affordable Care Act.
I got a call just yesterday from a union member who was upset. I thought
he was going to be upset with me. He said, no, I`m upset with this law
because it`s affecting his health care. So I think a delay certainly was
in order and I`m sorry we didn`t get it.
MADDOW: I understand that you and I would disagree and a lot of Americans
who disagree about the health of the budget process and how the parties in
each House of Congress is proceeding, but where we`re at right now is pass
a continuing resolution that doesn`t make policy, that`s just a continuing
resolution or the government stops.
You obviously believe it`s not worth stopping the government.
RIGELL: Well, that`s true. You know, I fought --
MADDOW: In order to try to force policy into this process.
RIGELL: That`s right.
MADDOW: But why don`t any -- I mean, you are one of 10 Republicans who
have said this is the way to go, that we shouldn`t have the shutdown.
That`s less than 5 percent of your caucus. Why don`t more Republicans --
RIGELL: Well, I think there`s more.
MADDOW: -- see the shutdown as too costly.
RIGELL: I think there`s more. I look at it this way. We are down to --
the lift that we are trying to get across the curb here was the delay of
the individual mandate. We`d given up lots of things. We`d actually made
major concessions along the way. And I was disappointed, maybe not
surprised but disappointed that the Senate basically told us to pound sand
I thought we were negotiating and trying in a good faith effort to advance
something. But we got down to the individual mandate, the one-year delay
plus the stopping the subsidies of health care for members of Congress and
staff. Both things I think got to be advanced.
But we have to consider the trade-off, which is a lot of pain economically,
damage to our military. And to me it just didn`t make sense for to us
continue to hurt our economy and our men and women in uniform to advance
those two goals. We`ll fight another day. But I do think we ought to stop
where we are now and go ahead and fund the government and get us back on
MADDOW: I hear you when you say that what you have to balance now is the
cost of not moving ahead versus moving ahead.
MADDOW: Whether or not this was the t right place to be negotiating over
Obamacare I think of some place where we would dramatically disagree. But
where we stand right now, you are one of the few Republicans who actually
is trying to get us out of the shutdown and I appreciate your willingness
to explain your point of view to us tonight, Congressman.
RIGELL: Sure thing.
MADDOW: Thank you, sir. Appreciate you being here.
RIGELL: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: Congressman Scott Rigell of Virginia.
All right. So it turns out one of the ways members of Congress have been
coping with the pressures of this week, the impressive pressures of this
week, is that they`ve been calling on their own friend John Barleycorn.
And that doesn`t mean anything to you, that`s what Wikipedia is for.
Why the House of Representatives has sometimes smelled like a distillery in
these past couple of days is coming right up.
MADDOW: America, meet Herman the sturgeon. As sturgeon go, Herman is kind
of a big deal. He`s 10 feet long, he weighs 450 pounds and he`s really
quite old, he is roughly 70. Herman the sturgeon lives in the Columbia
river about 40 miles outside Portland, Oregon. And if you would like to
see Herman at home he has his own special underwater viewing area where you
can watch him swimming around at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery.
Herman the sturgeon is pretty much the star of the hatchery there. They
say he`s a hit with the elementary school sect from the surrounding areas.
He`s often the highlight for class field trips to the Bonneville dam. That
particular field trip is a rite of elementary school passage in that part
of the country. Unless of course your rite of passage gets cancelled by
Fourth graders at the Louis Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, were all
set to visit Herman the sturgeon this week. They were due to go this
Friday but the hatchery is funded by the federal government. And so the
hatchery is closed and so no trip to see the Herman the sturgeon. The
school`s principal Instagrammed this picture today of the kids receiving a
disappointing, teachable moment about the meaning of a federal government
shutdown and what it means to them.
Learning the hard way in fourth grade and on short notice. What happens
when Congress can`t do its basic work?
To the disillusionment of those fourth graders in Oregon today, the finance
losses of more than 800,000 federal employees who will be missing paychecks
for as long as this goes on, not to mention all the work the federal
Today was the day when all the closed due to the government shutdown
notices got put up sometimes at the last thing federal employees did before
their furloughs started.
Today there was one half-hearted effort in Congress to try to stop at least
some parts of the shutdown. Republican House Speaker John Boehner proposed
re-opening just some select parts of the federal government, really visible
ones that people might complain about like, say, the V.A. or the national
One by one Republicans proposed that they would just reopen things that
they liked or that they were already missing or already hearing complaints
about, but otherwise they would let the shutdown go on with presumably less
embarrassing pressure on the Congress to every get it back open.
Tonight the House voted on three separate piecemeal bills to fund the
national parks and the V.A. and the city government of Washington, D.C.
All three bills failed in the Republican-controlled House. So that like,
like, plan K. Plan L? Maybe Plan M. It`s hard to keep track at this
point. Is there a next plan and is it any more likely to work?
Joining us now is Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York. She is the
top Democrat on the House Rules Committee.
Congressman Slaughter, thank you so much for being with us tonight.
REP. LOUISE SLAUGHTER (D), NEW YORK: Don`t we live in interesting times,
MADDOW: That is an ancient curse for a reason. You are the top Democrat
on the Rules Committee. What has it been like for you watching the
Republicans maneuver themselves into the shutdown and now watching them try
to get out?
SLAUGHTER: If I tell you that every now and then you have to really be
very harsh with your brain and say please don`t try to process that, it
doesn`t make any sense and it`s giving me a headache. It`s been absolutely
awful. All of this, all of this is about stopping giving 30 million
Americans health care.
MADDOW: I just asked Republican Congressman Scott Rigell of Virginia if he
sees light at the end of the tunnel there. And he expressed a hope. He
says he thinks more Republicans will come around to his way of thinking
that the House audit just passed a clean funding bill and --
MADDOW: And into the shutdown. Do you think he`ll --
SLAUGHTER: No. No.
MADDOW: You think there`s no reason to hope.
SLAUGHTER: As a matter of fact, I learned just before I left the capitol,
we`re going in at 10:00 in the morning, Rules Committee, to give Hill`s
Bills a rule so they can pass them just by a majority vote. So that`s
tomorrow`s assignment. They will then send it to the Senate, and Senator
Reid will send it back.
Rachel, you know, what they are so frustrated about is after they got
cloture on the bill in the Senate, they didn`t ever have to vote on that
party anymore. So all they`re doing are amendments and therefore the
Senator Reid only has to get 51 votes. They`re desperate to get out of
This whole conference idea was to get them back up to the 60 vote necessary
pledge that they made. I really would love to see that go. But that`s
what that was about. And did you hear about Cantor`s picture today?
MADDOW: The eight -- with the appointed conferees and empty chairs?
SLAUGHTER: Eight white guys.
SLAUGHTER: Yes. They never learned anything. And they certainly got a
lesson today. In fact I went down to the floor to tell them that by this
afternoon 7.5 million people had accessed New York state`s own health
exchange. How about that? And they had glitches all day long. That`s 10
percent of the population of the state of New York.
MADDOW: Wow. What do -- what do you think about what they`re trying to do
-- what they tried to do today and what you said they`re trying to do
tomorrow in terms of this piecemeal approach to funding? What`s your
reaction to that as a --
SLAUGHTER: I think they -- you know, they high fived -- they were
I`m not that hip. Anyway, they were just gleeful last night, they were
giddy, as they said, in their own language, on shutting down the House. I
think that this is -- this, as you know, is Senator Ted Cruz`s strategy. I
think they will continue doing that. In fact one of their members said
that the two agencies they will open will be the EPA and the IRS. They`re
But I don`t believe anymore that there`s some wild-eyed group over there
making Republicans do want they don`t want to do. That -- we`ve got to
(INAUDIBLE) ourselves of that. Whatever they may say about it, they vote
unanimously for this stuff.
Yesterday was the first time they had any break at all. Peter King thought
he had 25 people. I think he ended up with two. I`ve been around here too
long. So I`ve been through this. I went through the Clinton health care
bill. And I want to tell you, we went through the same kind of thing. It
was trying to stop it.
But, you know, you`ve been on to this for quite a while. What they`re
afraid of is success. And I would certainly think with 7.5 million people
wanting to find out what it`s all about, it looks pretty good to me.
MADDOW: Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York, I -- last night in
watching our own coverage flipping back and forth to see, spend the whole
night to see you holding court on the floor of the House Rules Committee.
Thank you for being both up there so late and being consistently
entertaining in the way that you`re addressing these issues, kept me into
it the whole night long.
SLAUGHTER: Bless your heart. Well, it`s always great to be with you.
Thank you for the invitation.
MADDOW: Thank you, Congresswoman. I appreciate it.
All right. Congressional behavior of late at least on one side has been
enough to kind of make you wonder what they`re drinking. Seriously,
though, what were they drinking? Because apparently they were drinking.
Do you think cataclysmic political news happens by itself? No, it
apparently needs lubrication. We`ve got the details next.
MADDOW: So the government shutdown is a crisis that we could see coming
from a long way off. We knew in advance when it was going to happen.
That`s why we were able to have countdown clocks, right? These countdown
clocks that everybody including us had on our screens last night as we
calibrated down to the very last minute with plenty of advance notice when
this huge news was going to occur.
When you know in advance that it`s going to be huge news and you know in
advance when that huge news is going to happen, that is a great time to
plan ahead to bury some other news that you really don`t want to get much
So in the last couple of days we have had the Marine Corps announced the
forced retirement of two Marine Corps generals, specifically for poor
performance on the battlefield in Afghanistan. That is the first time that
that has happened in the United States military since 1971 in Vietnam.
We also had the withdrawal of a nominee to be one of the nation`s top
energy regulators. He was nominated by President Obama, he was opposed
bitterly by the coal industry. He did not therefore get the requisite
support he needed from U.S. senators. He chose to withdraw his name from
consideration in the most quiet of all possible exits. By leaving in the
middle of the shutdown hubbub.
The United States Air Force chose this week to announce it has taken action
against the number two commander in charge of our nation`s nuclear arsenal
and cyber warfare. It`s not like those are sensitive jobs. The deputy
commander of the strategic command in Omaha was accused of using
counterfeit gambling chips at an Iowa casino. That`s what he was doing
apparently when he wasn`t second in command of our nation`s nuclear war
Yes. Or if you don`t want to trouble the nation with yet another weird
report about something going wrong, in the forces that care of all our hair
trigger nuclear bombs, I suggest announcing it during the shutdown, and
maybe nobody will notice.
Meanwhile, members of Congress are reportedly coping with the tremendous
stress and around-the-clock hours and all-consuming nature of the
government shutdown by getting hammered. First reports were on Saturday
from "Politico`s" Ginger Gibson who tweeted that night that she could
literally smell booze wafting from members as they walked off the floor.
She said, "I am not over-exaggerating."
"BuzzFeed`s" Kate Nocera also reported seeing members of Congress drinking
out in the town on Saturday on Capitol. She then said she ran into two
members of Congress at a local liquor store. That was all on Saturday.
You know, Saturday.
Then yesterday, which was not Saturday, it was Jennifer Bendery from "The
Huffington Post" who reported, quote, "about every other House lawmaker I
just talked to smelled like booze. And it`s only 9:00 p.m."
Sam Stein, her colleague at "Huffington Post" confirmed that report and
noted for the record that, quote, "It was a bipartisan affair."
It`s after 9:00 p.m., the government is due to shut down at midnight unless
we handle this delicate negotiation just right. What could possibly go
wrong? Let`s get sauced.
You know, I am all for a cocktail moment, with your colleagues, with your
loved ones, especially after a trying time or even just because.
But the point is, that it`s supposed to be after you`re done with your
trying times. After. When it`s over. Not when you`re right in the middle
of hurling the country into the abyss.
MADDOW: There are not a ton of moments in life when some things, some news
inspires so much unadulterated glee that you find yourself breaking into
spontaneous applause, that you find yourself physically clapping with
happiness. I mean, babies do it all the time because the babies are joyful
little dumplings and so they clap, yay!
But it`s a little harder to elicit fits of clapping at a full grown adult.
It has to be really, really good news. It`s got to be something like
winning a million dollars on a TV game show, for example. You might jump
up and down and start clapping. But it`s kind of a high bar, right?
For one contingent of the Republican Party in Congress, the contingent that
happens to be running the Republican Party in Congress right now, the
events of the last 24 to 48 hours have been something akin to winning the
showcase showdown or picking the right vowel or whatever.
From "The Washington Post" yesterday, "On cusp of showdown, House
conservatives excited." "It`s wonderful," said Republican Congressman John
Culberson, clapping his hands to emphasize the point. "We are 100 percent
united," he said.
Congressman Culberson was also the person who described as giddy, the
atmosphere at a House Republican meeting over the weekend where they voted
to shut down the government. Representative John Culberson of Texas said
that it`s he and his colleagues were clamoring for a vote. He shouted out
his own encouragement, "I said, like 9/11, let`s roll."
As Congress hurdled through last night`s midnight deadline and we shutdown,
in those final moments when it became clear that we would shutdown,
Republican Congressman Dave Schweikert was so psyched about what was going
on that he found himself at a loss for words. Talking to a reporter from
"The National Journal", Congressman Schweikert was eager and excited, his
eyes wide and his smile broadening. He had a discernible spring in his
News that to the rest of the country had been caused for disappoint and
anxiety and anger. For some Republican members of Congress, this has just
be awesome. They`ve been really happy.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann told "The Washington Post," quote, "We are
very excited. It is exactly what we wanted."
The Republican Party, of course, took control of the House in the 2010
midterm elections. They got the House. John Boehner became the speaker.
But before that election, before they even got control of the House of
Representatives, six months before that election, Republicans running for
Congress and conservative media and prominent voices on the right were
already promising, already hoping even that if the Republicans could win
themselves the majority in the House, they would go for a government
shutdown, even before they got elected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DICK MORRIS, POLITICAL ANALYST: Now, there`s going to be, there`s going to
be a government shutdown, just like in `95 and `96. But we`re going to win
it this time and I`ll be fighting on your side.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So starve them -- starve them of the fun, starve the
bee, so to speak?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely and have the courage to shut down the
government, if we have to.
REP. LYNN WESTMORELAND (R), GEORGIA: If we say, look, we`re in partnership
with the American people, we`re listening to the American people. This is
what we`re going to do. If the government shuts down, we want you with us.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: There are a lot worse things than shutting down
the government. You know what one this evening is? One thing worse than
shutting down the government is the government continuing on like it is
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: We run those things chronologically. Those were all before the
2010 election. That was August, September, September, October, all 2010,
all before the election.
Giddy was the word used repeatedly to describe how Republicans felt before
the 2010 election, about how winning that election mean that they could
shut down the government. Quote, "I`m almost giddy thinking about a
government shutdown next year."
Utah Senator Mike Lee, then a candidate for the Senate, he also clap your
hands, jump for joy giddy at the prospect of being voted into government in
order to be allowed to shut it down. He was giddy about winning and then
using power in the Senate to do just that.
It was not a secret that the wave of Republicans who swept into office in
those midterm elections in 2010 were psyched about sticking a wrench in the
government, about making the government stop working. They ran for office
promising their base that`s what they would do with power if they got it.
And starting right after the election, just days after the 2010 election,
they got to work on what they said they would work on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you willing to participate in what would lead to a
shutdown of the federal government to stop this monstrosity from going down
REP. ALAN NUNNELEE (R), MISSISSIPPI: I think I agree with Congressman
Boehner. We need to do whatever`s necessary to make sure this bill never
goes into effect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman Nunnelee, would you be willing -- I think
you just answered it with health care -- but when it comes to fiscal
policy, are you willing to participate in a shutdown of the government if
it`s the only way to get the president to come to the table?
REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: We will do what we have to do to shut down
the government if we have to.
REPORTER: So, you think if that were to happen, theoretically, it wouldn`t
be as bad as people make it out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don`t think it would be. I really don`t.
REPORTER: Do you think shutdown should be off the table?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think everything ought to be on the table.
WALSH: I got to tell you, most people in my district say shut it down.
This country may need some sort of shock therapy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would it be a good thing fiscally and philosophically
if the government did shut down for a few weeks and the American people
could see life would go on without the federal government for a little
FORMER REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: I don`t think it would hurt one bit.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: Even if it means to showing how serious we
are, OK? The government is going to have to shut down.
REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: If liberals would rather shut down the
government instead of making a small down payment on fiscal discipline and
reform, I say, shut it down.
CROWD: Cut it or shut it! Cut it or shut it! Cut it or shut it!
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: It`s been roughly two and a half years since Republicans got
control of the House in that election. In those two and a half years,
they`ve threatened to shut down the government or default on the national
debt seven times. They were unsuccessful six of those times, but the
seventh time is the charm apparently.
This week has not given them any sort of legislative victory and has not
helped them achieve some sort of policy change that they believe addresses
the nation`s problems. They just ran out the clock and got the government
to stop working, which is what they said they wanted all along.
There`s been a variety of reasons why they said they wanted it. The only
thing that`s been consistent is they said they wanted it shut down.
President Obama today said that he wants a successful Republican Party. He
says we need a Republican Party that`s interested in governing. We need
both parties to function if we want to make sure the underlying stability
of the country is maintained.
Yes, if we want a stable and functioning government, that is exactly what
we need, but that is a big if. And it can`t be denied that a lot of
Republicans in Congress now ran for Congress by promising their
constituencies that if they got to Congress, they would use their power in
Congress to shut down the government.
And you can tell from the smiles on their faces mission accomplished as far
as they`re concerned.
Now that we are shut down, why do we think they are suddenly going to get
embarrassed about this?
Joining us now is Karen Tumulty. She`s a national political reporter for
"The Washington Post."
Karen, thanks very much for being with us tonight. It`s nice to see you.
KAREN TUMULTY, THE WASHIINGTON POST: Hi, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, for Republicans in the House, what -- what is the political
resonance, what is the political appeal of a shutdown? Going back to when
they were campaigning to get into Congress in the first place?
TUMULTY: Well, I think one thin you need to know is that if you look at
the House of Representatives now, the Republicans, fewer than one-fifth of
those Republicans were in the House in 1995 and in early 1996 when it shut
And let me tell you, Rachel, you talk to those guys who were here before,
they are not clapping their hands because they`ve seen this movie and they
know how it ends. But I think that, you know, these men and women ran in a
different environment, and they also ran in sort of a mythology about what
happened the last time around. And they somehow think it comes out
MADDOW: I wanted to ask you about that last point specifically because I
have been hung up on this idea that every time I start researching in the
conservative media and I look at transcripts of conservative talk radio
hosts or I go back and look at old conservative speeches on the subject of
the lesson of the 1995/1996 shutdown, I feel like I`m seeing a pretty
consistent revisionist history of the shutdown wasn`t so bad, didn`t really
hurt the Republicans, certainly didn`t explain Newt Gingrich losing the
speakership, didn`t hurt the party at all, Bob Dole was just a bad
candidate and Clinton was going to win anyway.
I feel like there is a real consistent revisionist history. Is that
explain what they`re telling each other?
TUMULTY: Well, what people forget is that the Republicans were really
riding high and President Clinton was pretty much flat on his back prior to
that shutdown. In fact, I went out today and looked at our polling
And going into that shutdown in 1995, Bob Dole was only behind Bill Clinton
in "The Washington Post" poll by six points. Coming out of that shutdown,
he was behind by 16 points.
TUMULTY: And while it is true that in the next election that certainly
sent Bill Clinton on his road to a landslide in the next election, really
resurrected his presidency, but also the Republicans will say, look, you
know, we held on to our House majority, we only lost two seats and we
picked up two seats in the Senate.
And what that overlooks is what happened in 1996. You get to the middle of
1996 and the polling is suggesting they`re going to lose the House. So
what the Republicans did is they begin to do a lot of deals with Bill
Clinton, including welfare reform, a crime bill.
Essentially it was a Sophie`s choice because they had to sort of cut Bob
Dole loose. They, you know, took his best issues away from him. But
that`s what happened.
MADDOW: Karen, terms of the way that governing is going now in this last
couple of years, you coined the phrase this week that this is "governing by
near death experience," this crisis to crisis, to crisis. If that is how
we are governing now, how does that affect what we can and can`t do in this
country, not just partisan balance but what we`re capable of?
TUMULTY: Well, I think the sort of scariest thing, the most corrosive
thing about this is that after each of these near-death experiences, they
haven`t resolved anything. In fact, the two sides become sort of more
fixed in their positions. In fact, this is the first time we have come
right up to the 11th hours and the two sides are not even talking to each
other. The Republicans have made a demand that Barack Obama is never going
to meet and Barack Obama has decided that, you know, his previous
negotiations with the Republicans suggest there`s nothing in it for him to
engage as well.
So, we`re not settling anything with any of these crises. All we`re doing
is sort of pushing the two sides further apart.
MADDOW: Karen Tumulty, national political reporter for "The Washington
Post" and somebody I think who has been writing with particularly incisive
wit about these issues recently -- Karen, thank you very much for being
TUMULTY: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. OK. So, what Congresswoman Louise Slaughter said just
a moment ago on this show about the Republicans and the empty chairs and
the eight white guys, hold on, I will explain. That`s next.
MADDOW: One reminder, the government shutdown resulted from what was
supposed to be an argument about the budget. Democratic Senator Patty
Murray is chair of the Budget Committee in the Senate.
And for months, Senator Murray, chair of the Budget Committee, has been
asking Republicans to conference with Democrats in order to reach a budget
resolution before last night`s deadline. She asked them to do that 18
times. And they said no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,
no, no, no, no, no, 18 times no.
Until late last night, when House Republicans had an epiphany, OK,
Democrats, we decided we would like to conference. Let`s get together and
work this out.
They said, no 18 times. They said no, for months. Then last month before
midnight, we think we`d like to talk now.
Then, today, to make the point that they have been ready to negotiate for
hours, or at least for minutes. The Republican House Majority Leader Eric
Cantor tweeted this picture of the newly picked group of Republican
conferees who want to pick about the budget. It`s quite an array of white
shirts. They posed their eight white guys across from a row of empty
chairs because the photo is supposed to indicate where are the Democrats,
empty chairs, empty chairs, because apparently nobody learned anything from
the Republican National Convention this year, debating with an empty chair
Until the time when you are debating an empty chair and you are losing the
debate -- Clint.
Hold on. That story is next.
MADDOW: World War II began in Europe in 1939. The U.S. military deployed
troops into the war in 1941. Then the war ended four years later in 1945,
16 million Americans served in the arm forces in World War II. More than
400,000 Americans died in that war.
Almost half of a century later, a Democratic congresswoman named Marcy
Kaptur of Ohio, was approached by a constituent, a World War II veteran,
who wanted to know why there was no World War II memorial in Washington,
wanted to know if a memorial could be constructed in Washington,
That year, in 1987, Congresswoman Kaptur introduced the World War II
Memorial Act in the House. The bill did not pass. She reintroduced it
again two years later, in 1989, and it did not pass. Then, two years after
that, in 1991, she introduced it again, and the bill did not pass.
Finally, 1993, the fourth time around, Marcy Kaptur introduced bill again,
this time, it was a day after a Republican senator named Strom Thurman had
introduced companion legislation in the Senate, and finally, this time in
1993, Marcy Kaptur got it passed. And President Bill Clinton signed it
into law, and the World War II Memorial was finally going to happen, it was
finally going to be built.
Took about a year to pick the location. Took another four years to pick a
design. Finally, in 2001, they broke ground, construction started. And
three years later, the memorial was complete. Almost 60 years after the
end of World War II.
It took so long for Congresswoman Kaptur to get the World War II Memorial
green lit. Then, it took so long to build, and finally open. There was
one very sober, very serious consequence of this delay, for this honor
built for the soldiers who served in that war.
It was just too long down the road. Many veterans who served in the war
did not live 60 years beyond the end of the war to see the memorial that
was built to them. So, in 2005, the year after the memorial opened to the
public, a nonprofit organization called Honor Flights started helping World
War II veterans get to the memorial from wherever they live in the country,
free of charge. The organization arranged travel, flying vets from across
the country to Washington to see this memorial to their contribution.
The goal is to get every veteran who wants to see the memorial to see it.
Well, when the government shut down early this morning, one of the parts of
government that shut down was -- the World War II memorial, and all of the
That however did not stop dozens of World War II veterans who showed up on
an Honor Flight trip to see the memorial today. Together they walked, they
cut the police tape, they removed the barriers that the memorial and they
want on in. They had traveled from across the country to see the memorial
honoring their service and they were not going to let the pesky government
shutdown get in the way because they are awesome.
Some of the veterans were escorted by members of Congress, some of whom
kept their mouth shut. But some could not resist the opportunity for self
serving photo-op, to try to wrap themselves up in those veterans` glory to
lament loudly the closing of this memorial to these honorable veterans,
even though they themselves had voted for the shutdown that closed the
These veterans, of course, earned the right to visit the World War II
memorial whenever they want. It`s only right that they ignored the
government shutdown to complete their journey to Washington. Members of
Congress who made it their own story today, their own hypocritical story in
particular, should be embarrassed if they`re capable of it. With that, the
same members paid similar tribute to all people serving in military right
While the men and women in uniform will continue to get paid despite the
shutdown, bases across the country are issuing furlough notices to civilian
workers who provide a wide range of services. Marine Corps installations,
in Southern California and Arizona, more than 3,500 employees are subject
to emergency furloughs. Fort Bragg in North Carolina, they`re going to be
furloughing about half of their almost 15,000 strong civilian workforce.
Fort Bragg is also going to be cutting back on family counseling and
If we as a country feel there is political capital and moral investment in
making sure that veterans in this country get treated right, and honored,
even when we are otherwise having political kerfuffle that screw everybody
else over, then it is not just cutting the ribbon and getting into the
memorial, it is about making sure at a time government is shutting down,
that they get all that`s due to them.
That does it for us. We will see you again tomorrow night. Thanks for
being with us.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD."
Have a great night.
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