'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, November 24th, 2013
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
November 24, 2013
Guest: Mark Jacobson, April Ryan, Sahil Kapur, Brian Schweitzer, John
Yarmuth, Richard Blumenthal, John Stanton, Joan Walsh
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: A major breakthrough with Iran, but will it
After eight years in office, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left the presidency of
Iran this summer, in August. He was widely viewed by the West as that
country`s most divisive president since the revolution that created the
Islamic Republic in 1979. And while he was feared by the West during his
tenure, he was also openly mocked in a place where a lot of that political
mockery takes place, on "Saturday Night Live," but also in austere
diplomatic venues, during his rambling speeches before the U.N. General
Assembly every year, Western diplomats would walk out en masse. His annual
trips to New York were also a chance for the Iranian delegation to go on
huge shopping sprees, not necessarily for luxury goods or souvenirs, but to
drugstores and discount warehouses and cheap shoe stores so that they could
stock up in bulk on the basic necessities that it had become all but
impossible to buy under years of tough international sanctions in Iran.
Talking about shampoo, soap, vitamins, Tylenol, things like that.
Life was tough in Iran under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but it was tough by
design. Not his design, but a design of Western governments, including the
United States, looking to impose consequences for Iran`s nuclear program.
And it wasn`t just under Ahmadinejad. The diplomacy between the west and
Iran seemed immoveable. Since a brief glimmer of hope late in the Clinton
years when reformer Mohammad Khatami won the presidency of Iran, it`s
before he was reined in by his country`s hardline supreme leader. Real
negotiations with Iran started only ten years ago, it wasn`t until the
people of Iran decided to go in a new direction and came time for
Ahmadinejad to leave office the change started to seem even remotely
To succeed Ahmadinejad, Iran elected a moderate, a centrist candidate, the
man named Hassan Rouhani, who campaigned on the platform of hope and
prudence who said he would reduce the high tension between Iran and the
rest of the world. Who said he would try to do something about those
sanctions related to the nuclear program. The first sign that things might
actually be different under Rouhani was - of all things came in a tweet, a
tweet in which the newly elected leader of Iran wished Jews a happy Rosh
Hashanah, happy new year, something Ahmadinejad never would have done.
Meanwhile, all the while the United States and Iran were engaging in secret
high level talks, talks that are only coming to light now, and talks that
eventually expanded to include five other nations. And those talks led to
the -- toward this morning from Geneva, very early this morning that both
sides had finally reached a preliminary deal. And now, basic outlines are
this. The next six months Iran freezes its nuclear program. And in
exchange, the U.S. and other western nations agree to roll back some of
those sanctions. So in reality, it is not much of a deal. But after three
decades, after ten years of negotiating on and off, it is a start. And it
is a deal meant to create the conditions that will lead to a bigger deal,
another deal down the line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: These are
substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a
nuclear weapon. Simply put, they cut off Iran`s most likely paths to a
Meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over the next six
months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns
about the Iranian program. And because of this agreement, Iran cannot use
negotiations as cover to advance its program.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So is everyone happy with this? Well, not by all a long shot.
It can start with Israel, which is calling it, quote, a "historic mistake."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying he`s not bound by the agreement.
Saudi Arabia is also skeptical about Washington pursuing any deal with
Iran. They haven`t specifically commented on this one yet, but they have
long felt they would have to counter any nuclear threat from Iran with one
of their own. Meanwhile, here on the domestic front, the United States,
you`ve got Congress. Senator Lindsey Graham saying in the wake of the
president`s speech, he thought the Senate would still impose new sanctions
on Iran. But might delay enforcing them for the six-month term of this
deal. Senator John Cornyn, Republican from Texas, a little more blunt,
taking to Twitter to complain, quote, "amazing what the White House will do
to distract attention from Obamacare." It is not just Republicans. Last
week Senator Chuck Schumer from New York signed a letter to Secretary of
State John Kerry saying he didn`t feel the terms of the agreement being
discussed go far enough. Pointed out they don`t even, quote, "require Iran
to even meet the terms the prior U.N. Security Council resolutions." So
how significant is the temporary agreement reached today in Geneva? The
very fact that an agreement has been reached after ten years of
negotiations and more than three decades of authoritarian rule in Iran, is
that by itself, is that significant enough? To discuss this I want to bring
in now Mark Jacobson, he is the senior advisor to the Truman National
Security Project, which trains progressive leaders on national security
And Mark, I know you support this deal. So, I guess you`re here to say
this morning that, yeah, the sanctions worked and we`re getting something
real because of it.
MARK JACOBSON, TRUMAN NATIONAL SECURITY PROJECT: Well, we have a
significant first step here at challenging Iranian sincerity. And I think
you summarized it perfectly. Not only is this going to be -- this has
brought the Iranians into the game, but we now have a situation where we
can verify Iranian sincerity. There will be an inspections regime, there
will be steps the Iranians have to take and the genius to this is if it
doesn`t work, if the skeptics are right, we can go back to where we are
now, and reimpose the crushing sanctions that have actually brought the
Iranians to this point.
KORNACKI: Also, tell us about this deal. Because it is being described
and we started to describe it there as sort of a limited deal. The
criticism I`m hearing from some of the more, you know, cynics, skeptics,
hardliners, you call them, the criticism I`m hearing is like centrifuge
isn`t involved in this, that this basically does not go far enough to
really truly hinder the Iranian nuclear program in a meaningful way. How
would you respond to that?
JACOBSON: Well, first, just to reiterate, and I don`t think this can be
overstated, this is an interim deal, a six-month process, but it does
involve the Iranians stopping the work that they have done to enrich
uranium, and in some cases rolling it back. Both Secretary Kerry and
President Obama spoke last night about - that the Iranians will take that
uranium that they have enriched to the 20 percent mark, and dilute it. In
other words, the major concern from both the United States and Israel has
been the Iranian capacity to take the work they have done now, and break
out to a point where all of a sudden we`ll wake up in the morning and they
will have a viable nuclear device. This agreement stops that process and
tests Iranian sincerity.
KORNACKI: In terms of then a longer term deal, this being an interim deal
and the ultimate goal being something bigger and longer term, one of the
skeptics from Israel who`s weighed in on this, this was the defense
minister last night, saying that basically there are two models for a deal.
There is Libya and there`s North Korea. And we need Libya. That`s
referring to 2003 when Libya basically completely totally gave up,
destroyed the basis for its -- for a nuclear weapons program. It seems to
me that Iran, when you just look at this sort of - the technological
development Iran, they are much farther along than Libya ever was ten years
ago. What would an acceptable point be for Iran in terms of something that
could meet the concerns of Israel, and be acceptable to the United States
and also be something that Iran would be willing to do.
JACOBSON: Right. Well, I hate to kind of push this off a bit, but that`s
exactly what will be negotiated over the next six months. I`m OK with the
skepticism that you see understandably from Netanyahu, although don`t
forget Shimon Peres has come out with a little bit of a lighter statement,
essentially saying that, look, this is a good first step, now let`s see if
Iran is sincere. I`m even OK with Lindsey Graham`s criticism that any deal
is going to have to have significant -- any permanent deal will have to
have the destruction of Iran`s capacity to take this approach again. What
concerns me is the irresponsible statements from someone like Senator
Cornyn that this is are that really irresponsible statements from someone
like Senator Cornyn that this is a distraction. And this really is
progress. This is diplomacy in action. This is what the American people
need and, frankly, in the end, I think you will see support in Israel if a
permanent deal is reached that eliminates Iran`s capability to break out at
some point and develop a nuclear weapon.
KORNACKI: And what do we know about the politics inside Iran. Because
we`re always -- we have the new elected president over there, Rouhani, you
had this sort of public outreach between Obama and Rouhani that was a big
breakthrough. But, of course, the million dollar question whenever you`re
talking about Iran is the supreme leaders, Khamenei. What - do we have any
sense about how far he`s willing to go and if he is somebody who might
ultimately think this as sort of a hardline force over there?
JACOBSON: Well, unfortunately we continue to see statements blasting
Israel`s right to exist that are completely, again, these are not -- not
only are they not helpful, this is what would cause me concern to see the
fact that despite the efforts by Zarif and Rouhani to push some sort of an
agreement forward, that you will see resistance amongst the hardliners.
This is exactly why you need a six-month period, there can`t be a permanent
settlement at this point. And, Steve, the implications for an Iran that is
willing to come to the table and work with the international community, go
far beyond the nuclear deal. Now, we have regional crises such as the
situation in Syria. There is also the long-standing lack of diplomatic
ties between the United States and Iran that if re-established could be
used to foster a greater sense of trust within the entire region.
KORNACKI: All right, Mark Jacobson from the Truman National Security
Project, thanks for joining us this morning. For more now on how this
development all came together, we`re going to go to Ann Curry, NBC News
international correspondent, who has been reporting on the story
exclusively for us for some time. She joins us now from Geneva. And Ann,
I wonder if you could pick up on that point where you were just talking
about, sort of how this deal all came about, because the reporting that I`m
seeing this morning suggests that there was even before Rouhani was elected
there was some talk, very, very secret talk between the U.S. and Iran, it
accelerated after Rouhani was elected and only after, you know, a month or
two then did the United States let Israel and other countries know this was
even happening. Can you give us a little bit of the back story about how
we got to this moment today?
ANN CURRY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, that`s a very good question. In fact,
you`re right, the Associated Press is reporting that there were secret
meetings over the course of many months, proved by President Obama to begin
discussions with Iran leading up to this deal. We can report that some
three months ago President Rouhani said that he wanted to dramatically
change the relationship between Iran and the rest of the world, and that he
was willing to negotiate more fully its nuclear program. And really what`s
really remarkable is that in just about two months, three rounds of
discussions over two months, we are now at this point, which was
inconceivable three months ago, inconceivable three months ago that we
would be at a point where there is a first step deal that could lead to a
final comprehensive nuclear agreement. Last night was pretty dramatic
here, Steve, because basically after four days of marathon bargaining that
lasted late into the night, we got the word at just about 3:00 in the
morning that seven of the world`s foreign ministers and all of the other
negotiators had announced -- had reached a deal. And so it was very
dramatic. You already have been talking about some of the details on the
deal. We should probably also add to that that we had an exclusive
interview last night with Iran`s foreign minister who said that while John
Kerry has said that there would be a slowing down of the efforts at the
heavy water facility in the place called Arak, A, R, A, K, he said, the
foreign minister of Iran said that that facilities will not -- the
construction of that facility will not be halted. And of course, that is
something that Israel fervently wanted, Steven.
KORNACKI: Yeah, and it`s a follow up on that point about Israel. You had
Netanyahu last night making lots of critical comments about this. One
thing that he made clear, a quote from this, he said that Israel has a
right and the duty to defend itself by itself. When you look at how the
A.P. is reporting this deal came together, how Israel was sort of cut out
for a long time, the critical comments coming out of there, if there is
distance between the United States and Israel, maybe even Saudi Arabia as
we were talking about a minute ago, is that going to affect sort of the
viability of this deal going forward?
CURRY: Well, I think absolutely certainly it will. It was interesting to
note that in addition to his comments that you just expressed, from Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, you also said that Israel is not bound by this
deal. And I think that`s a very important point that he made. Clearly
Israel and prime minister are very upset about this deal. And I don`t know
that we can say any longer if there is a tension of relations, it actually
- there are clearly more tense relations between the United States and
Israel because of this deal. Add to that the question that you just raised
about Saudi Arabia. Look, this Saudi Arabia is a Sunni nation, Iran is a
Shia nation. Both nations have vast oil reserves, Iran is not at the
moment allowed to export its oil.
But if it is, in fact in a comprehensive agreement allowed to export its
oil, that clearly also would put it at odds with Saudi Arabia. So there
are vast implications of this deal. This - even this first step deal. And
because it could lead to a comprehensive agreement that would really change
the relationships, all across the Middle East. Financial relationships and
political relationships and that`s one reason why we`re going to see a
tremendous political fallout to this deal as more and more details emerge
over the coming days. Steven?
KORNACKI: All right. Ann Curry in Geneva, in a very historic morning of
Geneva, thank you for joining us. We appreciate the time. Much more on
these overnight developments after the break. We`ll talk with our panel
and a Democratic member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. That`s
coming right up.
KERRY: I know that there are those who will assert that this deal is
imperfect. Well, they too bear a responsibility, and that is to tell
people what the better alternative is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, That was Secretary of State John Kerry last night, here in
New York with me this morning we have MSNBC political analyst Joan Walsh,
she is also editor at large of salon.com, John Stanton, he is the
Washington bureau chief of buzzfeed.com, he`s sitting about as far from me
right now as he used to sit from each other. Roll call many, many years
ago. Sahil Kapur, he is a congressional reporter for TalkingPointsMemo.com
and Congressman John Yarmuth, he`s a Democrat from Kentucky. And also
joining us now from Stanford, Connecticut we have Democratic Senator
Richard Blumenthal, he is the member of the Senate Armed Services Committee
and senator we`ll start with you. I appreciate you taking a few minutes
this morning. We are seeing some of the initial reaction at least from
Republicans in the Senate, we have Lindsey Graham, who is suggesting that
he wants to pursue sanctions. Some sanctions are being lifted as part of
this deal. He`s saying he would like Congress to act and re-impose those
sanctions, maybe with the six-month delay. I know we`ve had Democrats like
Chuck Schumer expressing in the past week some reservations about this
deal. Do you share those reservations and do you think Congress right now
should be looking at re-imposing some sanctions, even on a provisional
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT: I do think there is a continued
need for some kind of congressional action and I will be working with my
colleagues on a Senate bill that is careful and cautious, perhaps in
delaying the sanctions, by six months, to see what comes of this interim
deal, but -- and Iranian sanctions bill still is very much worth
considering and moving forward to achieve. Count me as a skeptic. Not
about the administration. In fact, I admire the persistence and
perseverance of my former colleague, John Kerry, and the administration in
seeking to stop a nuclear armed Iran through some kind of agreement. But
this agreement is only interim, only temporary, and the other point that I
think is tremendously important is in this interim space, or time, we need
to continue vigilant and vigorous enforcement of the existing sanctions.
The great advantage for Iran is that it will have the ability to continue
exporting oil at existing levels. There is no continued tightening or
reduction of those levels. But as to the sanctions in place, right now,
that will continue to exist, we need to prevent a wink and a nod or a
stampede toward relaxing those sanctions. And so I think that`s very
KORNACKI: I take that point. But just to follow up for something more
specific, that if you`re talking about crafting legislation right now, that
might have some kind of, like, six-month trigger on it where it wouldn`t go
into effect for six months, what specifically is it that you will be
looking for in those six months or whatever that period is? What
specifically is it that you have to see to say you don`t want further
sanctions to go into effect?
BLUMENTHAL: What is important is what emerges after this six-month period.
Remember that the best intelligence reports say that this agreement would
only stop Iran`s dash to build nuclear capability by a few months. So
during this six-month period there has to be continued progress, there has
to be a permanent agreement that actually rolls back eventually this kind
of nuclear capability, not just halting it, but rolling it back, and point
number two, there has to be continued, even enhanced and more vigorous
inspection and monitoring. That`s an advantage of this interim deal that
cannot be disregarded, but it must be real and tangible and effective.
SAHIL KAPUR: Senator, I want to ask you what do you make of the mood in
the Senate right now with regard to this issue and how do you think the
president`s announcement and the announcement of this interim deal would
affect what is happening on the Armed Services Committee, the efforts by
some senators to impose new sanctions. Will this kind of move it in that
direction or is there a doubt in your mind that the Senate might go along
with this deal?
BLUMENTHAL: I think there is hope as there should be that this deal really
is in the Libyan model as we just heard the contrast between the Libyan and
the North Korean models, and certainly there is a basis for hope in the
administration`s very hard work. And productive results, we can`t dismiss
this agreement as simply a sham. But it will be tested by what happens in
the future. I think that`s the general mood of my colleagues that we`re
all hopeful because we want this issue to be solved by peaceful means.
But, again, speaking only for myself on this score, Iranian actions in the
past give me no cause for great hope that they will abide by this kind of
an agreement without strong enforcement of the sanctions, which has brought
them to the table, remember that`s why they`re entering into this interim
agreement, tough enforcement of those sanctions and vigilant monitoring and
inspection and hard negotiating. But at the end of that six-month period,
we need to be prepared, we need to give the president authority and the
tools he needs for stronger sanctions, so that they will either stay at the
table or be brought back.
JOHN STANTON: Senator, the White House has repeatedly said I don`t want to
have new sanctions imposed right now because these kind of talks and trying
to work with the Iranians. How do you thread the needle between doing a
six-month bill and not undermining the work that they are trying to do
right now, and essentially making this deal unworkable by doing something
BLUMENTHAL: Certainly we don`t want to undermine the president`s
diplomatic efforts or the secretary of state`s very, very valiant and
vigorous work and I admire him for his persistence, but threading the
needle should be possible. And I`m going to be working with my colleagues
in seeking to do so. There is a group of 14. We have indicated that we`re
pressing forward. Whether that movement goes forward in a matter of days
or weeks, we`ll have to see. And what the substantive provisions are, also
remain to be seen. But, you know, the important point is that sanctions
have brought the Iranians to the table. Enforcement of these sanctions,
continued tough and vigorous insistence that the world community observe
and follow the provisions relating to oil exports, even if they get
petrochemicals and automobile parts, even if the existing reductions in oil
exports are halted, there needs to be continued enforcement and I think the
Senate needs to consider a measure toughening these sanctions to create the
incentives and eventually the hammer that is necessary in the event that
this interim step is unsuccessful.
KORNACKI: All right, I want to thank Senator Richard Blumenthal of
Connecticut for joining us this morning to cover some breaking news. I
really appreciate it. We`ll pick it up. We have a Democratic member of
Congress right here at the panel. We`ll talk it over with the panel and
we`ll get more into this as soon as we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I have
consistently said that we have got to talk directly to Iran, send them a
clear message that they have to stop, not only with their potential funding
of militias inside of Iraq, but they also have to stop funding Hamas, they
have to stop funding Hezbollah, they have got to stand down on their
nuclear weapons. There will be continued consequences for those kinds of
actions, but that here are also some carrots and possible benefits if they
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Back with the panel here and Congressman Yarmuth, I remember in
the 2008 campaign Barack Obama took a lot of heat for the position he took
at that time about seeking out a dialogue with Iran. He was mocked for it
a lot in the first couple of years of his presidency. We had these
disputed elections in Iran, disputed putting it mildly, elections in Iran
in 2009. But here we are, where the story that`s emerging this morning is
that very quietly starting earlier this year, like back in March or so, the
administration started holding this top secret dialogue with Iran and it`s
led to this moment and this seems to me at least on the surface, we`ll see
if the deal holds, but this is a validation in a way of an approach he laid
out five years ago.
REP. JOHN YARMUTH, (D) KENTUCKY: Absolutely. And I think this will be
viewed very, very favorably in most parts of the world. And I mean this is
a major accomplishment when you`re talking about a moratorium on talks
that`s lasted 30 something years. And all of a sudden, we have an
opportunity to help nurture the most important potential democracy in that
part of the world. And Iran has that potential. So I think it is very,
very positive. The skeptics, I think, kind of stun me in a way. First of
all, that they would like, Senator Cornyn would try to make some kind of
political issue out of this, and that this is a major accomplishment, and,
you know, for the idea that we`re going to be inspecting these facilities
on a daily basis now will actually finally figure out exactly what the
Iranian - well, we`ll be much closer to figuring out exactly what the
Iranians have going. And, you know, there is a lot of intelligence out
there that says they don`t have any intention to build a nuclear weapon.
So we`ll get a much better handle on what they`re doing and, again, the
potential for this deal, far more -- far reaching than just this nuclear
KORNACKI: My question whenever there is a deal like this, whenever there
is a talk about this internationally, is - it always comes back to the idea
that both sides, the hardliners on both sides who are sort of most
antagonistic towards each other also have the potential to in a way sort of
informally unite and undermine it on both sides.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Right.
KORNACKI: And we start hearing some of the comments that - we start
hearing like John Cornyn`s tweet today there is a guy who seems to have no
interest in this deal, at least at this point, and you always have the open
question in Iran of, sure, they have the elected president right now who
seems to have more open attitude towards the west, but ultimately this is a
country that`s run by a supreme leader .
KORNACKI: . who really embodies, right.
KORNACKI: And the supreme leader in Iran embodies the `79 revolution, so
I, you know, it is an open question to me about where the hardliners go on
WALSH: Yeah, I mean Senator Cornyn`s tweet was beneath him. Let`s just
give him a break and say he was having too much fun on a Saturday night .
WALSH: and wishes he could have that one back, because this is a serious
situation and that was not serious. You know, I listen, I have a lot of
respect for Senator Blumenthal. I listened to him. I don`t know how you
thread that needle of not undermining the president, not undermining
Secretary Kennedy - Kerry, too much Kennedy this weekend, you know, and
push for more sanctions at a time like this. These people have not -- this
administration, they`re not patsies, they`re not doves. They`re not naive.
They are pushing for as much accountability as possible. They don`t want
them to get away with anything, so the idea that we need hard-liners in the
Senate to make sure they don`t do I don`t know what is a little -- it is a
little bit disconcerting this morning.
KORNACKI: You guys cover Capitol Hill, you guys know probably the
temperature down there. What do you think is going to -- listen to
Blumenthal, this tweet from Cornyn, Graham, Schumer last week, what is the
congressional reaction to this.
STANTON: I`m going to see how Harry Reid reacts. It`s like he`s - if he
sort of falls in line with the White House and if maybe they can get
Schumer to back off a little bit of his criticism, then that essentially
ends this. And, you know, he`s not going to bring a bill forward that has
sanctions or anything that is going to undermine the White House. But if
he comes out against it or if he sort of starts to line up with where
Schumer has been, it could become a problem for the White House.
They could in theory move legislation that has some kind of sanctions
regime, even if it is a sort of six-month delay on it that still could hurt
the administration`s ability to deal with Iran.
KAPUR: I agree. Harry Reid is in a very difficult position after this.
Because the White House is clearly planting the seeds for something that
could be historic, that could be huge as the congressman pointed out. The
president, I think, wants two things. He wants Iran to not get a bomb and
he wants not start World War III. This was kind of the only middle ground
or, you know, direction or movement towards that middle ground that he
could find, and the next six months will prove whether this can happen. I
think on Capitol Hill you have - it`s going to be up to Harry Reid to
implement this and to make sure that the president`s efforts here don`t get
undermined. It is not going to be an easy task. Because all the momentum,
all the movement and, I guess, the desires in the Senate now are towards
KORNACKI: On Capitol Hill, in the House, among your colleagues, I mean
Democratic colleagues in particular, because we - at certain level this is
all always going to be politics, right, so you`re going to have a lot of
Republicans who just want to take shots at this because it is a Democratic
president, that`s what happened. But among Democrats, what do you think
the mood is, how widespread do you think the kind of skepticism we`re
hearing from the Schumer types will be - how widespread would that be among
YARMUTH: I don`t think it`s going to be particularly widespread. But you
also have the question of the Israeli lobby in Congress. And that`s going
to be -- it is going to raise people`s sensitivity and, you know, there
will be a lot of, I think, pontificating based on the strength of the
Israeli lobby. And that`s - you know, I`ve been in Israel, I`ve talked to
groups of former military intelligence people who are totally on the other
side from Netanyahu on this. But that`s -- that lobby is still very, very
potent in Congress.
KORNACKI: Well, it`s interesting to see that the signal is coming out of
Israel this morning. We have really negative comments coming from
Netanyahu, we have the defense minister as well, but also Shimon Peres, you
know who is sort of trying to be the voice of moderation it sounds like.
So, interesting if Israel is speaking with one voice ultimately or if it is
a little more muddled than that. We`re going to see in the days ahead, I`m
We`re going to be switching gears next. Beginning with the question of
what Harry Reid and an aspiring Republican senator have in common. That is
KORNACKI: Part of what makes it truly successful political dynasty is
having the full public support of the other members of that dynasty.
Without that, well, just ask Rory Reid, he`s the son of the Nevada Senator
Harry Reid, in the 2010 Rory Reid jumped into that state`s governor`s race.
The problem, at the same time his dad was fighting for his own political
life in an uphill re-election campaign of his own. And rather than support
each other, what the Reids offered to the public was distance, cold
distance from one another. As one headline put it, "Rory Reid is no longer
related to Harry Reid." Ouch. And the result, well, the dad survived,
he`s still in politics, but the son, Rory Reid, he was trounced in the
governor`s race and no dynasty was established. Political family disunity,
it`s led to another dynasty debacle. And that`s next.
KORNACKI: In 2004, Republicans were relentlessly attacking Democrats over
same sex marriage. Surprisingly, it was the Democrat John Edwards who used
it in the vice presidential debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS: You can`t have anything but respect for the fact that
they`re willing to talk about, the fact that they have a gay daughter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: In that debate, Liz Cheney, who was sitting in the crowd,
reportedly stuck her tongue out at Edwards as he invoked her sister to
score political points. Well, nine years late guess who is scoring
political points on the same issue today?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You talk about your position against same
sex marriage. Your sister Mary who is married to a woman, put out this
post. She said, "For the record, I love my sister, you, but she is dead
wrong on the issue of marriage."
LIZ CHENEY: Yeah. And, listen, I love Mary very much. I love her family
very much. This is just an issue on which we disagree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Mary`s quote, "I`m not supporting Liz`s candidacy." Are we
seeing the end of the Cheney political dynasty before it even begins? And
this is an amazing story. There is the interfamily fighting that has kind
of come to the surface here. This is like the, I don`t know, 43, 43,000
terrible thing to happen to Liz Cheney since she got in this race. And it
really looks to me like, you know, from all of the reporting I`ve seen is
that Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney are just heavily invested in getting Liz
into politics and getting that next generation in there and this is just a
disaster, this is just blowing up in their faces.
WALSH: But you`re acting like this is a terrible thing that`s happened to
her. She has created most of the terrible things that have happened to
WALSH: Right? And, you know, the reason that I think this is - more
devastating, the last devastating thing is that, OK, it would be very -- I
think I have to concede it would be very tough to be pro-gay marriage in a
Wyoming primary, right? However, this comes on the heels of her -- her
family trashing Mike Enzi to get in the race, basically betraying someone,
stepping on someone, trying to step on his back to climb. That didn`t go
over well with Mike Enzi. Or with Alan Simpson. So, she`s already got
this kind of back stabbing reputation. And then she does it to her sister?
KORNACKI: Her own sister, right.
STANTON: I think that`s a good point. I think, you know, the Wyoming is a
very conservative state. And I don`t think that, you know, being against
gay marriage and even being against someone in your family, being married
who is a lesbian or gay, is going to necessarily hurt you. But this notion
of sort of a pattern of attacking people that have relied on you and you
have -- you should have some sort of loyalty to, that is something that I
think will hurt her. People out west, loyalty is a premium to people who
live there. And this is -- this is a behavior that they would not sort of
KORNACKI: Well, while loyalty in family, and that`s the part -- that`s the
thing that I see on this, is Dick Cheney basically, you know, supported gay
marriage. And I think I never really saw the right revolt against Dick
Cheney because of gay marriage because I sort of understood, he`s talking
about his daughter here. Now, they could - they never really connected
that to the broader policy implications. But I think if Liz Cheney spoke
of this in Wyoming, as this is my sister and damn it, I`m standing with my
sister, I think even among conservative people in Wyoming there would be -
I mean she lose for a thousand other reasons, but I think on that she would
YARMUTH: I think so too. I mean you have the legacy of the Matthew
Shepard case in Wyoming and I think what we`re seeing here is -- in this
particular case, is -- this is the problem with the Republican Party right
now. And it is all about primaries and it is all about how do you deal
with the most extreme elements of that party. So, you know, from a
Democratic perspective, there is a lot of good schaudenfreude going on.
And - but that it is really sad. I mean you hate to see this with the
family, particularly again when they have been so receptive to Mary`s
KAPUR: Yeah, that threaded that needle so well when Dick Cheney was vice
president throughout the campaign, even in 2004 when Bush and Cheney ran on
a platform of enshrining the - or enshrining in the Constitution opposition
to same sex marriage, so there was that. And now it is just completely out
in the open, now there is no -- there is no ability to keep it under wraps.
Everything, I think, bad that could have happened to Liz Cheney`s campaign
seems to have happened. You know, she`s thrown her sister under the bus.
And I would say this is not simply an issue where siblings disagree. I
disagree with my sister plenty, but I`ve never argued that she should be
treated unequally under the law.
KAPUR: I`ve been beyond it.
KAPUR: Right, and then beyond that, you know, she`s alienated family
friends, she`s had embarrassing moments like when she couldn`t get a
fishing license in Wyoming because she wasn`t there for long enough and
she`s down by 50 points in the polls, she can`t quit because her slogan is
I`m a fighter.
KORNACKI: Right. That`s the thing. I mean this could end really ugly in
terms of the numbers if she sticks it out to primary day. Part of me is
sort of heartened by all of this, because I have very conflicted feelings
about political dynasties in general. I come from a state in Massachusetts
that has the most famous political dynasty of them all, but I also in a lot
of doubles I completely get the backlash that they create, when you have,
like, you know, open seats for all of us and somebody, you know, hey
they`ve got the magic family name, whatever it happens to be in that state,
I completely get the backlash too because it is, like what did you ever do,
you know, besides get born into the right family?
WALSH: Yeah. And, you know, especially, look, we on the East Coast, you
know, that we`ve had Kennedys in New York. Mostly they`ve stayed -- mostly
they`ve stayed in Massachusetts or they haven`t gone that far, I guess
Florida too. But this is -- she`s lived in Virginia. I mean she really
should be running for Senate in Virginia. I mean basically, if you look at
the amount of time she spent, she`s talking about her roots. So, there is
also that, there is that sense that she`s kind of a carpetbagger, coming
back to this place where she thought it was going to be easy to knock off
this older gentleman that she thought maybe had served long enough and he
didn`t agree. And it is up to the voters and it looks like the voters
agree with him.
KORNACKI: Well, I think she can`t win the Republican primary in Wyoming.
And she probably couldn`t win the general election in Virginia, the way
that state is going.
KORNACKI: So, no future maybe for Liz Cheney.
STANTON: Lost for the country!
KAPUR: And just so I guess if we can say one thing, I guess, a little bit
in her defense, she`s facing some -- she was facing some harsh attacks.
Because I mean let`s remember the reason this whole thing came to light was
because there was some mysterious, you know, shadow pollster saying she was
radically for abortion and for gay marriage when that`s not really true.
KORNACKI: Right. So, she said, well, if I throw my sister under the bus,
maybe I can .
KORNACKI: Not a lot of tears here for Liz Cheney. Liz Cheney could take
some pointers about how to win the west from this former red state
governor. He`s going to join us. We`ll tell you who he is right here,
right after this.
KORNACKI: Every once in a while, a politician will catch his or her
party`s attention, but communicating in a way that no one else really does.
Mario Cuomo with the 1984 Democratic convention, Ann Richards in 1988,
Barack Obama in 2004. And there is also 2008, when a speech at the
Democratic convention caused many national political watchers to take note
for the first time of the Democratic governor of a very red state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D) MONTANA: They need all of you to stand up.
Stand up, Colorado. Stand up. Florida, stand up!
SCHWEITZER: Michigan, stand up! Pennsylvania, stand up! Get up
SCHWEITZER: And the chief - stand up!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: A guy Bill Clinton was laughing and cheering for there that was
Brian Schweitzer, then in the middle of his two terms as governor of
Montana. Democrats have been struggling to figure out how to traverse the
red/blue state divide to find a way to communicate and implement in red
state America. The principle of the `90s is that resonates so strongly in
blue state America and to do it without causing a revolt. So, why the
story of Schweitzer has intrigued and inspired a number of grassroots
Democrats who left office earlier this year and did so even after touting
with extreme popularity and he did so even after touting a populist
economic message in a state that voted overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney. And
Schweitzer did it with some flair, folksy aphorisms, a bolo tie, even a
cattleman`s branding iron that he used to symbolically veto bills as you
can see right there. That`s why for several cycles now in the names of
perspective presidential candidates are bandied about, his name has
continued to come up.
In the longtime, Democratic Senator Max Baucus announced earlier this year
that he would retire in 2014, Democrats begged Brian Schweitzer to run. He
was their first choice. He was maybe their only choice. But he declined
and he said no thanks. But he didn`t say no thanks to us because he`s here
now. Former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer joins us. No bolo tie this
morning. We were looking forward to that. But .
BRIAN SCHWEITZER: It`s Sunday. You don`t wear a bolo on Sunday.
KORNACKI: Oh, ok, I didn`t see.
SCHWEITZER: There is rule that you don`t understand that, you know. On
East Coast, you don`t understand the etiquette of a bolo tie.
KORNACKI: No bolo tie on Sunday. OK. Next time I`m out there, I`ll
remember that. Well, so tell us a little bit about that, though. So, you
understand, obviously you come from -- you ran and you were elected in a
very red state, a conservative state. And it is not just that you were a
Democrat winning in a red state, because there are lots of Democrats who
win in red states and national Democrats, they tend to drive national
Democrats crazy, you think of like Ben Nelson in Nebraska, because they
vote with Republicans all the time and this sort of thing. You actually
spoke and pursued a fairly progressive agenda in Montana, in a red state,
and it didn`t cost you - it didn`t hurt your popularity, it only helped
your popularity. What was the key to do this, tell us about that
SCHWEITZER: You have to explain what you`re doing. For example, when I
took senior citizens across the border to buy their medicine in Canada
because Canada sells it for one-third, what conservative would be against
that? Well, I guess the ones who would lobby us for the pharmaceutical
companies in Washington, D.C. would be against that. When I proposed to
spend more new money on education than any time in history and reform
education in Montana and then ultimately Montana increase the percent of
our adult population with a college degree at the fastest rate in the
country, who could be against that? When I built the eighth largest budget
surplus in the history of the state while I was governor, who could be
against that? But we also took care of children`s health. We also
reformed the way government delivered services. And so you can call that
conservative. You can call it liberal. I call it just running the
business of government.
KORNACKI: Well, we, you know, I think Democrats nationally tend to -- we
live in this red state/blue state era with like five swing states in the
middle. And both parties, I think, are guilty of this. The Republicans
write off the blue states. The Democrats write off the red states. And
they probably have a lot of misconceptions about the states. What it is,
do you think national Democrats, like Democrats in Washington what is it
that they get wrong that they fundamentally don`t understand about red
states like Montana?
SCHWEITZER: Probably, they just don`t know how to explain things. For
example, let`s talk about the health care bill, just why they didn`t
explain it properly. From the get-go, they probably should have said many
of these insurance policies aren`t worth the paper that they`re written on.
You`re actually paying premiums year after year, month after month and then
when you family gets sick, they say well, we`re not going to pay for that
because you got sick on a Tuesday, we`re not going to pay for all of it
because you have a cap. You didn`t know that when you signed that policy.
So, we should have started by saying, look this is what is happening and
this is how we`re going to fix it. But instead, we have a huge health care
bill and people can`t even understand it.
When I hear people screaming, I want to keep my health insurance and I`m
losing it, I didn`t know anybody in America that loved the health insurance
company until just now. Almost everybody who`s ever had a claim with
health insurance companies has been screwed. And yet now 5 million people
are going to lose their insurance. Really? Most of those people didn`t
like their insurance companies and yet Democrats in Washington, D.C. can`t
KORNACKI: So, you were begged, I think is the right word to run for the
Senate earlier this year and you decided not to. I have seen your name
linked to every -- 2016 who is going to take the kind of message you`re
touting right now nationally in 2016, you had said a year ago, that if
Hillary runs in 2016, your quote was, if Hillary runs, she walks away with
the nomination and then beats whichever Republican, do you still believe
SCHWEITZER: That`s probably true. That`s probably true. The question
that we have is will it be the Hillary that leads the progressives or is it
the Hillary that says I`m already going to win the Democratic nomination
and so I can shift hard right on day one. We can`t afford any more hard
right. We had eight years of George Bush. Now we`ve had five years of
Obama, which I would argue in many cases has been a corporatist. The
health care bill that was written was written by the insurance companies
and the pharmaceutical companies and the medical device companies. And so
when people say this is a socialist plan, no, it was actually written by
the insurance companies and it was the Heritage Foundation`s plan all the
way back to the `90s.
KORNACKI: All right. We`re going to have much more with governor - former
Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana. He`s sticking around for the next
hour. We`ll have a lot more to talk about with him them - we`ll take a
break and come right back.
KORNACKI: In the year 1843, President John Tyler nominated Congressman
Caleb Kushing of Massachusetts to be his treasury secretary. Kushing was a
chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, so the nomination didn`t come
out of left field. Policy-wise it probably made sense. The folks in
Washington didn`t like Kushing that much. They weren`t fond of how on one
hand he was a critic of slavery, but on the other hand he still wanted to
allow Southern states to keep it. And that compromise didn`t win in New
England many friends in those days. John Quincy Adams said that Kushing
had "no moral compass." And so when the president nominated Kushing to be
his treasury secretary in a lame duck session of Congress, no less, his
nomination was blocked not once, but twice. That was 170 years ago when
that happened. And at no time since then, in all of those years, has
another sitting member of Congress had his nomination to administration
post blocked. Until now. Three weeks ago Senate Republicans successfully
blocked a vote on the confirmation of Congressman Mel Watt of North
Carolina to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Because of that,
Democrats decided that they had had enough and came to the conclusion that
it wasn`t just Mel Watt and it wasn`t just going to stop with Mel Watt.
Because on the same day that Republicans blocked a vote on Watt, they also
blocked a vote on Patricia Millett, one of the three nominees for the D.C.
Circuit Court of Appeals. Last week they blocked a vote on the second one
of those nominees as well, Cornelia Pillard and just this week, they
blocked a vote on the third nominee, Robert Wilkins.
The D.C. Circuit Court has jurisdiction over Washington, which means it
hears appeals over every regulation that Congress passes, every piece of
legislation that a president signs. So, with three vacant seats on the
court, those three Obama nominees would tip the ideological scale in the
Democrats` favor. And it seems reasonable enough, since Obama is the duly
elected president. He won the election, after all. He`s won two
elections. But the Republicans don`t quite see it that way. Instead of
playing by the rules, they`re trying to change the makeup of the court.
Instead of filling those three empty seats in the D.C. Circuit Court, they
just want to eliminate them. They say that there are three seats too many.
It is pretty much an absurd argument, but Republicans have been sticking
with it and they blocked all three nominees from joining the court.
In short, they have been picking a fight. They have picked fights like
this before, only this time Harry Reid did not back down from the fight.
This time, not just threatening to take the filibuster power away from
Republicans, but he actually filed them through and he did it and Democrats
did it with him. They did away with the filibusters this week for most
nominations by presidents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) MINORITY LEADER: This was nothing more than a
power grab in order to try to advance the Obama administration`s regulatory
agenda and, you know, they just broke the Senate rules in order to exercise
the power grab. So I would sum it up by saying it is a sad day in the
history of the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Despite McConnell`s professed anger and sadness, in reality he
did nothing to stop this. There was no talk of back room deals between the
parties of emerging gangs of six or eight or 12 or 14 of establishment
Republican senators scrambling to strike some kind of a deal with centrists
Democrats, with Democratic institutionalists. I guess it is possible
Republicans just thought Reid was bluffing, but I doubt it. And they had
plenty of time to change their minds as this thing came to a head. Now, I
think if they secretly wanted this to happen or at least a lot of them did,
at least a lot of the Republican senators did, and the reason is simple.
The Republican base, the Tea Party base, the base that has scared the
bejesus out of Republicans in Congress with the threat of right wing
primary challenges, that base wants and has wanted for the last five years
an all-out war of obstruction against Obama. Which means that any vote by
any Republican senator to allow any Obama nominee to advance in any way is
a vote that could potentially come back to haunt that Republican senator in
To beat a filibuster, Democrats need five Republicans to cross over.
That`s how they get to 60 votes. But that situation was untenable for
Republican senators. Because it required that on any given nomination five
of them step forward, and voluntarily go on the record to kill a
filibuster, to do something that the Tea Party base that they`re terrified
of doesn`t want them doing. And in the end, only two crossed over this
But this way, in a post nuclear Senate now, that stress is gone.
Republican senators no longer have to choose between defending increasingly
absurd and unreasonable filibusters, and offending their base. They don`t
have to cast those votes anymore. They can just stand back and they can
play victim. They can accuse Reid and Obama and the Democrats of all sorts
of crimes against democracy, just like McConnell did on Thursday. Well,
here to talk about what happened this week and what it means going forward,
we still have with us, Sahil Kapur, he is from TalkingPointsMemo.com,
Congressman John Yarmuth, he is a Democrat from Kentucky, MSNBC political
analyst Joan Walsh, she`s also of Salon.com and John Stanton, he is the
D.C. bureau chief of buzzfeed.com. And so, I want to just sort of start at
that point, at the end, I think, you know, it is inevitable that
Republicans were going to come out and cry foul over this. Again, that`s
politics. That`s what they do. But I think there is a lot in this -- from
what I just explained it takes Republican senators maybe off the hook from
a potential source of Republican primary challenge. I think there also
might be a longer game for Republicans here where they`re thinking, hey, if
we can get the White House back in 2016, if we can get the Senate back in
our control, this gives us a precedent to do with the filibuster
altogether, I sense this was not really the story of Democrats changing the
rules and Republicans fighting them, I think this is a lot more consensus
here beneath the surface than people appreciate.
STANTON: And I think both sides also -- the notion that there is going to
be another Lyndon Johnson, who is going to come in and sort of create this
environment in the Senate, where people can work together. I think that`s
pretty dead for the next couple of cycles at least, you know. And then I
think that this is -- this is everyone acknowledging, that there is a new
sort of way of things being done in Washington .
STANTON: and they`re not going to go through the pretense anymore of we`re
going to work together. You know, there are some small things that are
doing that unlike, with military sexual assault, where both sides are sort
of -- they`re not based off of the parties, but by and large, the parties
are not going just to sort of like go at it with each other in the Senate.
KORNACKI: I mean that`s the way American politics is right now. I mean
the party lines are pretty clearly drawn. The voters have just kind of
figured it out. There is a governing party, there is an opposition party
and the filibuster always raises some - question, increasingly, is our
system built for the way politics are sorted out?
KAPUR: I think the escalated use of the filibuster has more or less made
it obsolete. And it has been an arms race. Let`s be clear. Democrats
pioneered judicial filibusters in the Bush years when they tried to
filibuster a bunch of D.C. Circuit nominees too. They eventually backed
off. But I think it has gotten to a point where one of the reasons, I
think, 52 Democrats decided to just pull the trigger and do away with this,
with the nuclear option, with that, I haven`t met a single Democratic
senator or aid and I talked to many of them who doesn`t think Mitch
McConnell would do this anyway.
KAPUR: Because the precedent was kind of set in October of 2011, when Reid
did - changed the rules from 51 votes, there was a very minor thing on the
motion to suspend the rules, but the precedent was set, all his threats
since then given McConnell more than enough justification to do this if he
becomes majority leader.
KORNACKI: And I mean that`s the thing. The, you know, the history in this
was, I think, a few weeks ago, when we started hearing rumblings this might
happen, I think we all assumed, or at least I assumed, all right, you know,
the Democrats are going to make their threat and at the last minute there
is going to be some kind of deal, and the filibuster is going to be safe.
And it just didn`t happen this time. And it was almost as if, you know,
Republicans were saying, yeah, you know, what, we`re sick of this too.
WALSH: It was a win-win. Because, as you say, they don`t make those tough
votes anymore and there was nobody -- there really isn`t an institutional
center anymore. There are people who talk about it. There are people who
fitfully have tried to establish one. But basically Republican -- Senate
Republicans have gone along with what Mitch McConnell has wanted to do.
And I have to take issue with you saying, I mean yes, the Democrats sort of
kind of started it. It started under Clinton. I mean, you know, they
started under Clinton. It got a little worse under Bush. And then it went
crazy under Obama.
KAPUR: Yes, it reached new levels.
WALSH: It reached new levels. And so, I don`t -- I would never imagine
Democrats doing this again, had they got -- had they lost power. But now
they would. Now, you know, all sides will.
KAPUR: So angry now.
KORNACKI: So the exemption, the exemption that is built into this is right
now, at least, the Supreme Court nominees. But I`m wondering if you get to
- if that`s a formality, right?
STANTON: As soon as there is one, it doesn`t matter whether it is under
Obama or whoever the next president is, they`re getting rid of it, it`s
YARMUTH: There is one other thing, though, this was more about the actual
substantive nominations. I mean the Republicans have been using it
essentially as a form of nullification of the law.
YARMUTH: Incapacitating agencies that they don`t like, basically letting
agencies stagnate without a lack - with lack of leadership. So it was more
than just this guy or this woman is not appropriate.
WALSH: Yeah, I mean the Democrats were not holding up agency appointments
that I recall and also on the judges, they did have ideological objections.
You can say they shouldn`t have done it. But here there wasn`t even - any
kind of pretense that this this is judge is just too liberal .
KORNACKI: But what this is, in a way, I think, and you - Joan, I think, is
right, and you just say like the start of the Clinton years is when this
really escalated. The filibuster is sort of this tradition of the Senate,
right, it`s not etched into the Constitution, I think this tradition that`s
evolved in the Senate. And when politics reached a point where the parties
were sorted out, like we`re talking about, it became a tool that, you know,
each party I think started to ask itself, why can`t we use the filibuster
on this and this and this. And Republicans took it to a much greater
extreme, they started it in `93 and since `09, they`ve taken it where we
have never seen it before. But Congress, I think what people say is doing
away with the filibuster right now on nominations, probably eventually
Supreme Court nominations, the Senate is becoming much more like the House.
A simple majority rule institution. Is that a good thing?
YARMUTH: Well, probably not. But on the other hand, you know, that`s the
way democracy works. It`s very frustrating. I think most Americans don`t
understand that when something fails with 55 votes or 57 votes, as we have
been used to, so I think the problem that we have now is the Senate still
has - they still have six-year terms, there is not - there is an
opportunity for people to be more reflective in the Senate if they choose
to be. Unlike everybody in the House is fighting -- basically for the next
election cycle all the time. So I think there is some difference there
because of the six-year terms that won`t be exactly as reactive as -- and
as short sided as the house votes.
STANTON: I wonder if it actually -- in the end if it could become even
worse because you have now so many of these members have never been in the
minority or the majority, right?
STANTON: Now, a majority of the Senate is sort of like that. And they`re
going to spend six years fighting from one position and especially if that
continues. If Democrats continue to hold it over the next couple of years,
you could really see people become very, very rigid and not ever look to
try to find any kind of middle ground, even when they flip. If you just
become, you know, like a long-term war of retribution against each other.
KORNACKI: Well, and I want to pick that up. Because there is one of the
Democratic institutions, one of the few who voted against - doing it this
week. It was Carl Levin, who`s been there for a long time, he`s been in
the minority. He`s been in the majority. He had some warnings for his
colleagues. I want to talk about those warnings and what the longer term
implicating this could be right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D) MICHIGAN: If it can be changed on judges or on other
nominees, this precedent is going to be used, I fear, to change the rules
on consideration of legislation, and down the road, we don`t know how far
down the road, we never know that in a democracy, but down the road, the
hard won protections and benefits for our people`s health and welfare will
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: As Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, he will be retiring
from the Senate in 2014, it sounds like he might be happy he`s leaving the
chamber now after this. But so -- there are a couple of issues in what he
said there, and I want to get to them. The first one that comes to mind is
this. We can say it like, for the immediate future, this is going to help
the president`s agenda, no question. He will get people confirmed who he
was not able to get confirmed before. He will get agencies up and running,
get judges on the bench. This helps in 2013 and 2014. Here is one
question I have. If nominations right now have become basically straight
party line votes, the problem here with Republicans were willing to supply
no votes for any nominee to even get a vote. OK. What happens if in 2014
Republicans win back the Senate? You have a Democrat in the White House,
and you have 51, 52 Republican votes in the Senate. If votes on
nominations are straight party line votes then, even without the
filibuster, Obama can`t get anything through.
YARMUTH: Right. He can start -- they would be able to stop any
appointment he wanted to do. But then, you know, there is risk in doing
that as well. I think one of the reasons that Mitch McConnell is in such
trouble in Kentucky right now is because he`s seen as part of the
dysfunction of the Senate. And if that were to go on, another two years, I
think it would hurt them in the `16 presidential election and individuals
would pay the consequences, too. So, I think there is a political price to
pay if they use that situation to again, just to block everything that
President Obama wanted them to do.
STANTON: Yeah, I do think the Republicans unfortunately both sides have
got -- Republicans in particular, with Ted Cruz and some of the more
conservative members are looking at this very much like House members,
where they have a constituency that they`re going to identify with and
they`re going to push forward their ideas. And right now they really do
see their job as blocking everything that the White House does. They see
that as an offensive move as opposed to sort of playing defense, which is
normally how this has gone in the past.
KORNACKI: And that`s just - -- you start asking if the system is really
made for this kind of thing, if everything is a party line move, and you
have the majority of votes in the Senate and the Senate has to approve and
confirm a president`s nominee and the president is from the other party,
then it sets up a situation where we -- all of the frustration that Obama`s
had in getting these people through could come up again. But the other
issue that Levin raises there, when he talks about the hard won protections
and benefits for health and welfare, being endangered, what he`s talking
about there, Joan, is the idea of Republicans doing - getting the White
KORNACKI: It`s like President Chris Christie, January 2017, Senate
Majority Leader - I don`t know, Rand Paul, whoever the hell it is going to
be, OK? And they decide, you know what, we`re going to do away with the
filibuster by simple majority vote on all legislation. And now every piece
of legislation that Republicans have, like the Paul Ryan budget, anything
like that, they can get through with the simple majority in the Senate.
That`s what Levin is warning about.
WALSH: Well, yeah, but, you know, I think they would have done this
anyway. And I don`t think you ever see Democrats fighting as hard as you
see Republicans fight. I mean if Democrats did what Republicans did, we
wouldn`t have an Alito or Roberts on the Supreme Court. So, you know, I
mean, maybe then it turns Democrats into crazy warriors too? I mean it
could be that the upshot of this is very ugly. But every time we lament
that or look at that possibility, we`re really looking away from how ugly
it already is.
KAPUR: Yeah, I can`t imagine a scenario where if Republicans controlled
the White House, the Senate and the House that they would let the
filibuster stand in the way of accomplishing huge things like the Ryan
KAPUR: Their base would demand that and they would cave in a moment and
they would be happy to change the rules. I don`t see a scenario. Unlike
Carl Levin, I would say I don`t see a scenario where this filibuster change
on nominations will work against the president. I don`t see how that
happens. Because if there are 51 votes, and as Majority Leader McConnell,
he would have to negotiate with them anyway, to get nominees through. He`s
going to have to do it and 51 votes is still easier to get than 60. When
it comes to the benefits, they are huge. Look at this entire second term
agenda runs through the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
KAPUR: Given that nothing is getting through Congress, all has to be
through regulation and executive authority, things like health care,
climate change, Dodd-Frank and financial reform, the D.C. Circuit has been
very hostile to the president`s initiative so far, overturned many of them
and that`s still going to happen, it`s still going to be an issue in the
wars over Obamacare and climate change. It wants to regulate carbon and
make that part of this presidential legacy.
STANTON: You said the word. Negotiate. He`s going to have to negotiate
with Mitch McConnell.
STANTON: At this point, I think there is no negotiation. If the
Republicans take over the Senate, I don`t see them having any reason to
say, yeah, OK, we`ll give you these five nominees or we`ll, you know, we
don`t like those guys, but we like these guys. That`s sort of how it used
to be done. But I don`t see after - at this point there will be much
appetite on their part.
KORNACKI: And that`s - it was sort of negotiation that was -- negotiation
through the use of threats that brought about these periodic, you know,
breaks in the logjam that would get a few nominees confirmed like over the
summer. But yet, you know, I completely agree with you. Like I look at it
and there was no choice, I think, that Democrats had this week but to make
this move. There was no choice given the blockade they were facing. It`s
just one of those questions. And I don`t know there is a great answer to
it, though, about, you know, what is the future going to look like now.
YARMUTH: It`s hard to tell. But I know short-term, that big losers are
Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. And the other senators who actually use
nominations as leverage to get something else they otherwise can`t get.
And we have three district court vacancies in Kentucky and one circuit
court of appeals in 6th circuit vacant right now. And the White House is
just negotiating with -- has been negotiating just with Mitch McConnell.
I`m the only Democrat in the delegation. They don`t even talk to me.
YARMUTH: They`re talking to Mitch. And so, he`s lost that leverage and
KORNACKI: All right, well, I want to thank Joan Walsh, salon.com, John
Anyone who knows me knows that I love the 1970s. And I also love Jerry
Brown. But today, as governor again of California, I believe Jerry Brown
needs to be talked about very much in the present tense. There is a
reason. I`ll explain. Just give me a second.
KORNACKI: Back in 2010, a very bad midterm year for Democrats, both in
Washington and the states, Republican candidate for California governor,
Meg Whitman was presenting herself to voters as the face of change that
Californians needed. But it was the Democrat in that race who crafted a
message that knew wasn`t necessarily better.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEG WHITMAN: You know, 30 years ago, anything was possible in this state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Jerry Brown, good old Jerry Brown, the candidate who`d already
served as governor three decades before, he won that election and he has
since become something of a model for how all governors, Democrat and
Republican, can make their agendas work outside of Washington. We`re going
to talk more about that next.
KORNACKI: I`m not sure if there is a single politician in America who
fascinates me more than Jerry Brown. Right now he`s the oldest governor in
California`s history, but four decades ago, he was the youngest. Elected
in 1974, at the age of 36, took him just over a year to decide it was time
to run for president. So, he entered the 1976 Democratic race, very late.
Like really late, in May of that year. Months after the New Hampshire
primary, something that would be unthinkable today. But it was a different
era back then. Nominations could still at least theoretically be decided
at conventions. So Brown, the young governor of the nation`s biggest state
jumps into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in May of
1976 and he starts winning. He wins in Maryland, he wins in Nevada, he
wins, he wins big in California. It`s too late for him to make the ballot
in Rhode Island and New Jersey, so tells voters there to check off
uncommitted on their ballots. And uncommitted wins those states.
Jerry Brown was pretty much a national political sensation in 1976.
Democrats across the country looked at him and saw a vibrant forward
thinking breath of fresh air from the West Coast. His plan had been used
all of that late momentum from all of those late victories to steal the
Democratic nomination from Jimmy Carter at the convention. It was a long
shot, but he actually came pretty close to pulling it off. The thing is,
this was supposed to be just the start for Jerry Brown. If he didn`t make
it to the top in 1976, there would be another day. And that`s what
everyone figured. But it didn`t quite work out that way. He tried again
in 1980, but with Carter facing a primary challenge from Ted Kennedy, there
was just no room for anyone else. Brown`s popularity in California started
to crumble. He tried running for the Senate in 1982, it was a good year to
be a Democrat, it was Reagan`s first midterm, unemployment was over ten
percent, but he was defeated in that race too. And then, well, then he
kind of disappeared. He spent the `80s in Mexico, and in India, in Japan.
He worked with Mother Theresa, he studied Zen Buddhism.
He came back a changed man, a man forgotten by the political world, an
outsider, something even of a radical. He ran for president again in 1992.
And the new Jerry Brown had no patience for the political system, no
patience for politicians like Bill Clinton. The whole system was corrupt,
he thought everyone in the system was corrupt. That was Brown`s message
and he had no problem saying it to Bill Clinton`s face.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON: You ought to be ashamed of yourself for jumping on my wife.
You`re not worth being on the same platform with my wife.
JERRY BROWN: I`ll tell you something, Mr. Clinton.
CLINTON: Now, wait a minute.
BROWN: Don`t try to escape it.
CLINTON: I did not.
BROWN: Ralph Nader called me this afternoon, he read me the article from
the "Washington Post."
CLINTON: Does that make it .
BROWN: I was shocked by it. I was shocked by it because I don`t think
CLINTON: I get time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
When that `92 campaign, was over, Jerry Brown really was a pariah, a
political pariah. His old friends and allies didn`t recognize him. The
media thought he was an unhinged madman and a washed up one at that. And
Bill Clinton, now President Bill Clinton was not about to throw him a
lifeline from the White House. Jerry Brown was alone, he was done, he was
finished. All of that potential from the spring of 1976 and this is where
it ended up.
But now, flash forward to 2010, nearly two decades after the lowest of low
moments for Jerry Brown, he found a way to crawl back to at least a little
bit of relevance in the late 1990s, starting at the bottom of the ladder as
the mayor of Oakland, California. And he got himself elected Attorney
General of California in 2006. Then the governor`s office opened up in
2010 and he ran and he won the Democratic nomination. And he found himself
in a dogfight in the general election. So he needed some help. A late
boost. And so with his comeback on the line, Jerry Brown turned to the
same guy he had relentlessly savaged back in 1992.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: President Clinton not only was great in office, he`s great after
BROWN: He didn`t retire to Palm Springs to play golf. He`s out there
doing stuff. He`s helping people in Haiti. He`s fighting AIDS. He`s
dealing with the victims of tsunamis, he`s the guy who is mobilizing the
highest spirit, the angels of our better spirits. And he`s doing it and
that`s the spirit I would like to bring to California.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And that`s what I love about politics. Scenes like that, it was
so much history, so much complicated history, just beneath the surface.
Anyway, Brown won that governor`s race and at the age of 72, he was back.
He was governor of the country`s biggest state again. And so far, it has
gone pretty well. At the start, people figured he`d go and serve one term.
But his popularity is pretty high. He`s gotten some big stuff done. Last
year he asked voters to approve a tax hike to pay for education and the
voters said yes. They were saying yes in California. That`s home to
proposition 13, the first real PACs revolt. So it`s never supposed to
happen out there. And when they said yes, they also rewarded Brown, they
rewarded his party with a super majority in the state legislature. The
first time Democrats had ever had that. One of the things Brown has used
that power to do is to aggressively implement the Affordable Care Act.
You know the story out of D.C. these days, the broken website, angry White
House, cackling Republicans, poll numbers dropping all around, but here is
the story out of California -- Sacramento, California encouraged by health
plan enrollment, that`s from the "New York Times this week. The website is
working very well in California, the exchange is up and running. That
critical group that is absolutely essential to making Obamacare work, those
young healthy people that need to, that have to sign up for these
exchanges, if they`re going to work, they`re signing up in California.
Look at this, 18 to 34-year-olds, they account for 21 percent of the
population in California, and what percent of the Californians signing up
for private insurance on the exchanges are 18 to 34? 22.5 percent, a
little bit more. Jerry Brown, Governor Jerry Brown, is creating a national
model for making Obamacare work. He`s attracting national press coverage.
He`s captured the imagination of Democrats. He`s - and I really can`t
believe I`m about to say this, but I`m kind of happy too, he`s even getting
a little bit of buzz about a 2016 presidential campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jerry Brown, if he wins with more than 60 percent, re-
election, has a record to run on, a health - by the way, a health exchange
that works pretty well, does he end up running and challenging the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, I know. I know. Brown will be in his late 70s in 2016,
it`s hard to believe he`ll actually run, but it is fun to think about.
It`s fun to imagine that such a quirky character could even possibly run a
serious presidential campaign in 1976 and then do it all over again 40
years later. What it really is, though, is testament to the political
benefits that come with being a governor. Of being a major political
figure who operates far away from Washington, D.C., who is not caught up in
the daily partisan warfare that defines national politics, who has the
power to enact big, meaningful legislation. Who doesn`t necessarily face
total reflexive paralyzing opposition from the other side. That`s why you
hear so many Republicans today talking about picking a governor as their
candidate, in 2016. Their national party label is mud, but some of the
governors are actually pretty popular back home.
A road to the White House goes through the state house, that`s the old
cliche. But is it truer than ever in this era of a hyperpolarized
Washington? Here to help me answer all of this, we have back with us,
Sahil Kapur, TalkingPointsMemo.com, Congressman John Yarmuth of the great
state of Kentucky, he`s still here. And I want to bring in April Ryan, she
is the White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American
Urban Radio Networks and our resident former governor is back at the table,
Democrat from Montana, Brian Schweitzer. So, thank everybody for being
here. April, I`ll start with you. You know, you`re covering Washington,
you must notice this disconnect, when you see the coverage out of
Washington over health care or anything else and you start looking around
the rest of the country. What is the difference that makes things work in
state houses that doesn`t work on Capitol Hill?
APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: The will of the people. The
governors know what the people want because they`re right there in their
faces. They are working together and also the state legislatures. They`re
closer to them than what is happening in Washington. But there is a clear
problem, up and down Pennsylvania Avenue. You can see when the people come
to the White House, it`s not that the tourists are not like, oh, yea, it is
very tepid now. When the president talked with a group of people, these
education -- some of the award people, educational award recipients this
week, there was an issue where we were watching the president and he did
not have that same, I guess charismatic attitude that he normally had. And
prior to that, he was in the briefing room and he seemed like he was
downtrodden, he looked like he had been beaten up. And then on the other
end of Pennsylvania Avenue, they`re trying to figure out how they`re going
to function, period, as you know, congressman.
You know, it is a situation up and down Washington, and up and down
Pennsylvania Avenue that has been played out in our face, we`re seeing it
on social media. And that`s something we have not seen before, social
media is also turning the tide, Twitter, we`re seeing congressmen and
senators come out talking about this is what I`m going to do in real time.
And people are responding, but in the state house, you can go to the state
house, you can talk to your local state legislator, you can talk to the
governor. They`re with the people. The will of the people is there more
so than it is playing out in Washington.
KORNACKI: And so, governor, maybe you can talk about this contrast,
because you, as we sit and we talked to you earlier, you - people wanted
you to run for the U.S. Senate to become part of Capitol Hill. You said
no. It was part of that calculation thinking about how you worked with
your legislature in Montana, and what the interaction between the governor
and the legislature was like there, and saying, I just don`t see it working
the way it did in Montana in Washington if I was part of the Senate? Is
that part of what your thinking was?
SCHWEITZER: Well, unfortunately, unfortunately I said that I wasn`t goofy
enough to be in Congress or senile enough to be in the Senate.
SCHWEITZER: So maybe that had something to do with it. Look, the
Republicans in Washington, D.C. are less popular than the belly of a short
legged pot belly pig.
SCHWEITZER: They`re absolutely at the bottom. And the reason - the reason
that people are looking at governors is because, a, we have to balance
budgets, it is part of our Constitution. B, we need a budget every single
year. And 85 percent of our budget is to educate, medicate and
incarcerate. We have got to keep eager teachers in front of good students.
We have to keep bad people locked up. And we have to make sure that these
medications are making it to our disabled, we have to take care of people
who are pregnant, we have to take care of children through the Medicaid
programs. We have got to deliver. You can`t just talk about things. A
lot of what Congress does, don`t take disrespected, it is motion
masquerading as action. But when you are the chief executive of a state,
you`ve got to deliver. You`re the CEO.
KORNACKI: Well, so Congressman, but do you -- you`re in the House, the
Republican-controlled House, one of two legislative chambers. Do you -
when you look at the experience of somebody like Governor Schweitzer or the
governor in your state, and Democratic governor in Kentucky.
SCHWEITZER: Good guy.
KORNACKI: Is implementing Obamacare in a way similar to Jerry Brown, very
successful story so far, do you kind of - do you get jealous of that a
YARMUTH: Well, I think everybody, and particularly when you`re the
minority in the House, which basically means you`re pointless, in
relevancy, you yearn for a position where you actually can do something,
where you actually can direct something. And change. And I have an urban
district, I basically have the same constituency as the mayor of Louisville
and I, you know, I envy the mayor because he has the ability to get things
done. He can drill the potholes, he can move people, he can move people to
action. And you don`t get that sense in Congress. I mean everybody in the
Congress right now is frustrated, even the Republicans I know, very
frustrated with what the inability to get anything done and move. And so I
think the governor is absolutely right. And, you know, I think Steve
Beshear deserves all the credit in the world for the successful launch of
health reform in Kentucky. It is going great, but it is because he could
do it. He brought the right people in, and he gave them marching orders,
he made a commitment early on to expand Medicaid and get the exchange done
and it`s worked.
KORNACKI: And that`s something, Sahil, I would imagine that Democrats
looking across the country, they take note of that, that, you know, the
story in Washington is still, hey, the website can be fixed, this can still
get up and running, it can still work out. But there is an opportunity
here for Democrats, maybe, who might have a little bit of national ambition
to really make names for themselves by saying, hey, look, while they were,
you know, kind of screwing this up in Washington, I made it work in
Kentucky, I made it work in California, I made it work in -- Oregon is
having trouble now. But there are opportunities there for Democratic
KAPUR: That`s absolutely true. You know, one thing that Democrats can
consistently point to and the White House consistently points to is that
the Affordable Care Act is working pretty well in the states that want it
to work. California, the congressman`s state, in Kentucky, it is working
very well. And when Mitch McConnell is asked about it, he has to gloss
over it and mentions the fact that it`s all Medicaid, but that`s still a
huge part of Obamacare. What Democrats in California also like to point
out is that they made things work, they got this thing back on track by
throwing out all the Republicans, sometimes one party rule does work very
well if you have a situation like we do have in Washington right now.
The deepest divisions from all around the country from red Mississippi to
blue California, they`re all symptomatic there. In states, it not quite
that bad. They are also dealing with, as April pointed out, issues in the
here and now, education, security, police departments, things like that.
They don`t have the luxury of just sitting back and saying we`re going to
SCHWEITZER: One more thing. In the states, many of the states passed term
limits. When you get elected to Congress, you get here with idealism, you
want to change the world, you want to deliver back home. Then they tap you
on the shoulder and they say, no, you need to raise money, today, tomorrow
and the next day to get re-elected, because you can`t be successful if
you`re not re-elected. In the states, we have term limits. So a
legislator comes to town to get the job done because they know the clock is
ticking and they`re going to be out.
KORNACKI: And that gives more power to the executive, though, doesn`t it?
You don`t have these legislators who built up three or four decades-
SCHWEITZER: Perfect, what could be better than that?
KORNACKI: You must love that as a governor.
RYAN: Steve, I think it is about the winning picture. Who is winning the
picture right now, is it Pennsylvania Avenue? No. Not at all. And look at
what is going to happen come January, because we`re expecting there might
be another kind of budget crisis again. So, yeah, so D.C. is in trouble.
So if you`re a politician in D.C., looking for the Oval Office, you might
as well say not right now.
But look at the winning picture. Let`s go to New Jersey. Chris Christie,
Sandy. He was this guy, it happened, I`m going to make this happen, I`m
going to turn things around, and he did. He even acknowledged Obama,
believe it or not, and that showed he could work -- he would work across
Let`s go to a Democrat. Let`s say California. California is working out
with the situation with the Affordable Care Act, with their website.
80,000 when the federal website only had 27,000. So 27,000 enrollees. So
Kentucky, and California are the prime example. But at the same time,
remember this, 17 governors were president of this country, 17 governors.
Is it the time for governors, the people who touched the people, to become
KORNACKI: So the -- we`ll pick this up in one second, because the news
this week too is that Republican governors all gathered this week, and they
had interesting thoughts along the same lines that April did. We`ll hear
from one of them, we`ll play a tape from one of them and keep the
conversation going right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER, R-WISCONSIN: I think it has to be an outsider. I think
both the presidential and the vice presidential nominees should either be a
former or current governor, people who have done successful things in their
states, who have taken on big reforms, who are ready to move America
JONATHAN KARL, ABC: So that rules out Marco Rubio, that rules out Ted
Cruz, it rules out Rand Paul.
WALKER: All good guys, but it has got to be somebody who is viewed as
being exceptionally removed from Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, talking with ABC`s Jon Karl
about how outsider status could make a better candidate for the Republicans
in 2016. That was right before the Republicans held their Republican
Governors Association meeting this year. And Governor Schweitzer, that
becomes sort of the -- that`s the thing now on the Republican side, like,
look at Chris Christie winning in New Jersey, you know, we need somebody
like that because our national party label is terrible. We need somebody -
- a governor like Christie to save us in 2016, there is a lot of movement
towards that, at least from people like Scott Walker right now.
SCHWEITZER: Really? Governor Christie is going to run on a record of
having, let`s see, the highest taxes and unemployment in America? Scott
Walker is going to run on, let`s see, more dysfunction than Washington,
D.C. Riots in the capital, people sleeping in sleeping bags because he`s
throwing people off of their jobs, that`s what we want in Washington, D.C.?
It may well be true that there are some governors out there that are
qualified to be president. But they have to have a record that they can
talk about, and these two guys, not so much.
KORNACKI: Well, so, there is -- I don`t want to just ask the standard
question of the are you considering running for president in 2016 or not
thing. But here is what I do want to ask. Based on your experience in
Montana, and based on the little taste of what a Schweitzer/Christie
campaign might look like that you just gave us there, I wonder if your
experience in Montana as a governor and what you were able to do in a red
state, do you think that that can be -- you could export that to
Washington? Could what you did in Montana work if you were president of the
United States? Would what you did as governor work in the climate of
Washington, D.C. as president?
SCHWEITZER: Dammed if I know. First you got to have a legislature that
wants to get something done. The problem you have in Washington, D.C. is
the fund-raising, it is what they do every single day, and that means they
have to get money from the companies they`re regulating, insurance
companies, the military industrial complex, the pharmaceutical companies.
So they`re getting money from them on Friday. And then let`s see, voting
with them on a Tuesday. You`ve got Obama, who`s brought some very good
ideas to Washington, D.C., and he can`t move things and why? Because these
companies are writing the checks to get these people re-elected, and how
can they vote against them on Tuesday if they took their money on Friday?
YARMUTH: It is a huge problem. And the governor is absolutely right. But
the other thing is that, you know, you got Eric Cantor the other day going
to the Republican conference, holding up a blank sheet of paper saying this
is our agenda for 2014. That`s pretty much a problem too. You have a
group in charge and a house that has no agenda. There is nothing they want
to do. They want to oppose Obama on everything they can. Even the
Republican ideas that he brought forward, cap and trade, obviously,
Obamacare was a Republican concept. He`s got a jobs program that has many
elements that Republicans have suggested. But they just want to stop him.
And so far that`s been successful at keeping them in the majority.
KORNACKI: Can you win a horse race if you ain`t got a horse?
KAPUR: It`s shocking that an ambitious Republican governor wants a
governor to be the nominee, right?
KORNACKI: Kevin McCarthy, who is the third ranking House Republican, also
came out and he was basically saying yeah, I know, it`s not going to be one
of us. He said it wants it to be a governor as well.
KAPUR: Yes, so there`s a notion the next Republican presidential nominee
on the Republican side, maybe on the Democratic side, should be an
outsider. But, I don`t think it really matters to the extent that it has
to be a governor. The people we were just talking about, Ted Cruz, Rand
Paul, they are doing everything they possibly can to distance themselves
from Washington. Every day, they talk about how much they hate Washington.
So their base views them that way. I don`t think they are going to have
that kind of problem. There are very different realities and there are
many good reasons I think to consider a governor.
RYAN: But as the governor said, there needs to be someone who knows how to
run something, a CEO. But you have to also remember, just because you are
a governor and you may be a CEO, one thing that is needed is the story.
Everyone can be a governor. But do you have that story that is compelling
to the American public? Everyone who, all these candidates out here now
saying they want to run or you perceive they are going to run, they don`t
have the story. The story is critical. You want to be likable. You want
someone to be able to connect with you. Everyone doesn`t have--
KORNACKI: If being a governor was the key, then Governor Tim Pawlenty
would have done a little bit better.
SCHWEITZER: I`ll give you three reasons why the governor of Texas could be
president of the United States. Oops.
KORNACKI: What should we know today that we didn`t know before. Our
answers are coming up right after this.
KORNACKI: Quickly we`re going to find out what our guests think we should
know. We`ll start with you, April?
RYAN: This week, the pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey at the White
House. Is it sedated or not? According to I guess fact, is the fact that
these turkeys are raised and people are touching them all the time. It`s
not sedated, supposedly.
KORNACKI: All right.
SCHWEITZER: I lived in the Middle East for seven years. Mahab (ph) to you
Arabic speakers. And what`s interesting is not that we are going to have
this treaty with Iran, it`s going to tip the balance away from the Saudis
and the Egyptians to the Persians, the enemies for the last 3,000 years of
the Arabs. So there`s big changes happening in the Middle East. And if we
cozy up to Iran, we are not going to need the Saudis anymore, because we`re
going to be energy independent.
KORNACKI: Very interesting. Congressman.
YARMUTH: One of the most interesting things about Kentucky`s success in
health care reform is that of all the people who have signed up so far,
56,000 of them, 41 percent are under 35. So there`s an indication that the
administration is right, there are going to be adequate numbers of young
people to make this work.
KORNACKI: All right, and Sahil.
KAPUR: The filibuster began as a historical accident. It`s not some great
tradition in the Senate that`s protected by the Constitution. It happened
in 1805 after Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton and suggested a rules
change that they took up, and unbeknownst to leaders at the time, it ended
up making it impossible for leaders to cut off debate, and it`s evolved
Also, I want to say - I want to ask, rather, if Steve didn`t, I would like
to ask you, because I think the viewers should know. Will you run for
president in 2016?
SCHWEITZER: Well, I`ll just say that there`s around 100 counties in Iowa.
You know, on my bucket list is to try and make it to all the counties of
KORNACKI: I am glad you asked that question. I am ashamed I didn`t. We
just made some news. I want to thank April Ryan, Governor Brian
Schweitzer, Sahil Kapur, Congressman John Yarmuth. Thanks for getting up
this morning and thank you for joining us. We`re back next weekend with
brand-new live shows with brand-new -- that`s the same word twice in the
prompter. We`ll be back here (inaudible), join us Saturday and Sunday.
(inaudible), it will be OK, don`t worry.
Don`t go anywhere just yet. Up next is our friend Melissa Harris-Perry
with more on another one of President Obama`s high-profile nominations,
Janet Yellen. The path to confirmation of the first female chair of the
Federal Reserve. That and the creative force behind the film "The Best Man
Holiday." Director Malcolm Lee stops by Nerdland. Stick around, Melissa
is next, and thank you for getting up with us.
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