Guest: Stephen Hayes, James Hirsen, Mike Rectenwald, Jack Burkman, Christopher Andersen, Julia Reed
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headline: Hillary gets bumped in Boston. The “Real Deal”? Kerry is keeping Clinton from crashing his party.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed.
A slap in Hillary Clinton‘s face, as the most powerful woman in Democratic politics is relegated to the convention‘s back bench. Did the two Johns have a hand in her podium snub?
And then yet another hole in Michael Moore‘s movie. A grieving family accuses the “Fahrenheit 9/11” director of pirating footage of their soldier son‘s burial in Arlington Cemetery, and they‘re mad as hell.
Plus, their famous family has sheltered them for years, but Jenna and Barbara Bush are finally talking about underage drinking, their parents and most importantly hitting the campaign trail for their dad. The twins opened up to “Vogue”‘s Julia Reed. And she‘s here tonight with the inside story.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome to the show.
You know, Hillary Clinton is the giant elephant in the room that John Kerry doesn‘t want to talk about. It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Democratic tongues are wagging from Washington, D.C., to Seattle, Washington, over John Kerry‘s snub of New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Now, it‘s no secret that Mrs. Clinton is the pride and joy of the Democratic base. So why did John Kerry dump Mrs. Clinton?
Some say John Kerry feared being overshadowed by Hillary Clinton at his convention. But Hillary is no Bill. And Bill is front and center during the entire Boston week. Another theory suggests that John Edwards is already angling for 2008 or 2012 and he knows that Hillary is going to be his computation then, so they cut her off at the knees.
But don‘t believe that one either. John Kerry is a smart guy and he only cares about one thing, winning in November. This guy is not thinking about any political strategy concerning John Edwards, unless it involves ways that John Edwards can help him win the White House in 2004. Others are saying that Hillary Clinton is too divisive for a prime-time slot. And that‘s true.
But, remember, Teddy Kennedy and Howard Dean are in prime time. They‘re at the Democratic Convention and they‘re going to be in prime-time slots. And you can‘t get more divisive than Howard Dean in Missouri, in Iowa, in Illinois and Pennsylvania, and Ohio! Argh.
So what‘s the “Real Deal”? Why is John Kerry sticking it to Hillary Clinton? Because, regardless of what Tip O‘Neill may have said, all politics are not local. All politics is personal. And John Kerry remembers the personal snubs and insults handed out by the Clintons when Senator Kerry‘s campaign was on the ropes last fall. The Clintons recruited Wesley Clark to run against the field and John Kerry, while Bill Clinton was calling Clark and Hillary the biggest stars in the Democratic Party. Whoops.
Well, it‘s John Kerry‘s Democratic Party, at least for the next four months, and those big stars aren‘t even going to be speaking in their party‘s prime-time convention. Some say John Kerry has a long memory, and chances are he‘s not going to forget those snubs he endured a year ago from Hillary Rodham Clinton. Today, he returned a snub of his own. And the only question is whether John Kerry will now back down.
And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
So Democratic firebrands are welcome at the convention‘s podium.
Howard Dean, Bill Clinton, Teddy Kennedy, they all make the cut.
Here to discuss why Hillary Clinton didn‘t make the cut and isn‘t welcome is Christopher Andersen. He of course is the author of “American Evita.” We also have MSNBC senior analyst Lawrence O‘Donnell. And also with us, Republican strategist Jack Burkman.
Christopher Andersen, you wrote the book on Hillary. Why was Evita dumped by John Kerry?
CHRISTOPHER ANDERSEN, AUTHOR, “AMERICAN EVITA”: Last week, the NEA had its convention, the National Education Association, the teachers union, in Washington. And John Kerry was—he had just gotten their endorsement the day before. He was supposed to give the keynote address at their convention and he didn‘t show. He had to spend some time with his new pick for vice president in Philadelphia. So he sent a substitute.
People in the room didn‘t know who it would be. And believe me when she stepped out on the podium as a surprise replacement, Hillary Rodham Clinton just brought the house down. There was pandemonium. People rushed the stage. That‘s the kind of thing John Kerry doesn‘t want to see. And I think it‘s interesting. All she has to do now is just show up and let the love wash over her at the convention, because that‘s what is going to happen.
SCARBOROUGH: And the love will wash over her.
ANDERSEN: Absolutely. You remember those pictures of Evita waving from the balcony? It‘s going to be a lot of that kind of thing, with the placards going up and down. And she wins.
JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I will tell you, Joe, Hillary Clinton is not there for one reason, and one reason only, and that is, she hurts him in the swing states. She doesn‘t help him in Ohio. She doesn‘t help him in Missouri. She doesn‘t help him in Pennsylvania.
The only place she can help him is states he‘s already going to win. And that‘s the simple reason she‘s not there. I got to tell you something, though. This is a Republican‘s dream convention, watching all this, because the Clintons, John Kerry and John Edwards, you know, they know politics, but they have not fought the Clintons up close, the way you and I have.
And I will tell you that what they don‘t understand is, the Clintons will retaliate. Yes, Clinton is getting his prime-time speech. She‘s not. The two of them, though, I will make you this prediction, they‘ll do everything humanly possible in retaliation for this to suppress the base, and I love it. What will Clinton do? Oh, I think he will encourage African-American turnout.
Clinton has a great hold on that community. He can do a lot to keep minorities home. He will probably will do that. I predict—and I‘m loving this—you‘re going to see both Bill and Hillary Clinton doing everything to keep the Democratic base home. So this may be a kind of mixed blessing for John.
SCARBOROUGH: Lawrence O‘Donnell, I want to read for you what the former chair of the New York Democratic Party said.
She said—quote—“It‘s a slap in the face not personally for Hillary Clinton, but for every woman in the Democratic Party and every woman in America.”
Now, Lawrence O‘Donnell, doesn‘t John Kerry at least risk alienating a lot of Democratic women who, after all, do serve as a very powerful political base for the party?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: No, he doesn‘t run any risk of that at all, Joe.
The truth is, this convention is not for Democrats. The convention is for swing voters in 13 states. If they could just close-circuit broadcast it to Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, places like that, they would. And so you don‘t want to put anyone up there who you don‘t think can be especially helpful with the swing voter in the swing states.
The people who love Hillary Clinton are already voting for John Kerry. They‘re already contributing money. They‘re already energized, and they feel very, very negatively about President Bush. This is exactly the same reason why, at the Republican Convention, you‘re going to see Rudy Giuliani. You‘re going to see John McCain, a moderate Republican. You‘re going to see Schwarzenegger, a pro-choice Republican, just like Giuliani.
And the reason for that is, those are the Republicans, not the conservative Republicans, those are the Republicans who appeal very strongly to swing voters in Ohio.
SCARBOROUGH: Lawrence O‘Donnell, though, you know, Lawrence, they also did that in 2000. They also did it in 1996. I think there may have been one or two pro-life speakers at the last two Republican Conventions in prime time.
But let‘s go back to your swing state analysis. If that is the case, then why do you have Howard Dean, who is a fire breather? Why do you have Teddy Kennedy in prime time? Did they have to put Teddy Kennedy and Howard Dean in prime time?
O‘DONNELL: My understanding is that actually Senator Kennedy will not be in the big three network broadcast nights. There‘s only three nights, one hour each night that the big networks are broadcasting. Everyone else who is watching it on cable is a news junky who is unswingable by a convention. They‘ve got their minds made up already.
And so the prominent speeches will be the ones that are covered by NBC, ABC, CBS one hour a night Monday, Wednesday, Thursday. Edwards is going to get one of those nights. Kerry is going to get another one of those nights. And Bill Clinton is the one who gets the other one of those nights.
BURKMAN: Yes, but, Joe, your point is a good one. And that is that, even without Hillary Clinton, they are still putting on a show that has very far left-wing values.
O‘DONNELL: But no one is going to see. No one is going to see that.
BURKMAN: You still have—you‘re going to get broad exposure. They‘re giving broad exposure to Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who is a convicted felon. The guy pled guilty to crimes in connection with the death of a woman. He‘s a divisive liberal.
I‘ll tell you something else. They have Barack Obama from Illinois, again, all liberal faces. And, most importantly, the convention is in Boston. One of the reasons the Democrats lose races is because they do stupid things. Think about it. And I love it. If you want to win states like Iowa and Missouri and Florida, for God sakes, host the convention in Tampa or Pittsburgh.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me read what a prominent Democrat who wanted to remain anonymous told “The San Francisco Chronicle” today, said—quote—
“A lot of 2008 presidential politics may be at work here. It certainly gives Edwards a tremendous edge to keep her off the list.”
ANDERSEN: Joe, I think we run a tremendous risk, in the larger sense, looking forward to 2008 by excluding her.
And I‘ll tell you what it is. Hillary went, soared in the polls when she was perceived as the wronged woman during the Lewinsky—Monica Lewinsky made her political career. And that was when she was at the peak. And I think they run the risk of having a backlash, of having sympathy in a broader sense in the broader electorate toward this woman who is clearly being ganged up on by the men in the party. And it will be seen that way, swing states aside.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Lawrence, 13 months ago, when Hillary‘s name was tossed around as a possible presidential candidate for 2004, I want to read you what an ABC News poll revealed. She trounced everybody in her own party, winning 37 percent support among Democrats. Kerry had 7 percent, Edwards, 6 percent.
But that same poll revealed that, among all Americans, Hillary only had a 44 percent approval rating and a high 48 percent disapproval rating. Is this another reason? I mean, no matter what Hillary Clinton does over the next four months or four years, she‘s always going to be too divisive to be accepted by the swing voters in middle America, isn‘t she?
O‘DONNELL: Well, that‘s what those national approval-disapproval numbers indicate, that she would not be helpful with those swing voters who you‘re looking for in this convention.
So that‘s why it‘s been arranged the way it‘s been arranged. The worst thing that has happened to Mrs. Clinton‘s presidential ambitions, if she has any, is the selection of John Edwards as the V.P. That immediately puts him as the next front-runner in whenever the next field of Democratic candidates emerges.
BURKMAN: For HRC to make a presidential run, she‘d have to make a mad dash to the center. She has done a little bit of that, but she has lightyears left to go.
Look, politics as you know is about addition. There‘s no 270 for Hillary. Even if she were to win all of the states that Al Gore won—and she can‘t—she would still need 18 electoral votes. Even John Kerry, who at this point has succeeded—I don‘t think he is more of a centrist, but I think he has succeeded in positioning himself as more of a centrist perceptually than she has, I don‘t even think John Kerry can come up with that. I certainly don‘t think she can.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks so much. I appreciate you all being here, Chris Andersen, Lawrence O‘Donnell, and Jack Burkman. We greatly appreciate it.
And next up, distorting the truth is one thing, but using the memory of one of America‘s fallen soldiers as propaganda is quite another. But we‘re going to tell you why Michael Moore is accused of doing both in “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
And then, President Bush‘s daughters are entering the campaign trail and breaking their 22-year media silence. “Vogue”‘s Julia Reed is here with the inside scoop on her sit-down with the Bush twins.
So don‘t go away.
SCARBOROUGH: In our last segment, we had a guest accuse Senator Ted Kennedy of being convicted of a felony. I didn‘t remember. I followed the Kennedy‘s for a very long time. I didn‘t remember that being the case.
So after we finished the segment, I talked to Lawrence O‘Donnell, who is from Massachusetts, asked him if that was his recollection. He also said it wasn‘t his recollection. Our staff checked up on it. They said that Senator Kennedy was cited for reckless driving and leaving the scene of the accident, but certainly not for any felonies. Just wanted to get that straight, didn‘t want to bring it up during the segment because, if in fact he had, I didn‘t want to go talking about what happened with Ted Kennedy decades ago.
Anyway, Major Gregory Stone was killed last March in Kuwait when a fellow soldier threw a grenade in the tent where he was sleeping. As if the horror of losing their son wasn‘t enough, the Stone family then said they had to relive their anguish when to their shock they learned that pictures from Major Stone‘s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery were used in Michael Moore‘s movie “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
Mike Rectenwald is from Citizens for a Legitimate Government. And we have James Hirsen. He is the author of “Tales From the Left Coast.”
James, thanks for being with us.
Is it fair game for a filmmaker to show pictures of a soldier‘s funeral when that soldier‘s family finds that use so abhorrent, especially if it‘s a documentary? Fair use?
JAMES HIRSEN, AUTHOR, “TALES FROM THE LEFT COAST”: I don‘t think so.
I think it‘s ghoulish.
The aunt, the surviving aunt, called Michael Moore a maggot who eats and feeds off the dead. I think it‘s exploiting something for his dubious message. And, look, you know, everybody knows now that Michael Moore has credibility problems, but it may be that he has some character problems, too. And you have to look at this in the rubric of that.
Fred Barnes says that Michael Moore basically fabricated an interview. Recently, it came out that, in this same film, Congressman Mark Kennedy gave a response to a Michael Moore question and that response was deleted from the film. And, moreover, Pete Townshend just came out and said that Michael Moore publicly bad-mouthed him because he couldn‘t get a Who tune.
I think these things and the kind of outrageous statements that Michael Moore has said, you have to look at them all together. And it really comes to a point where, when we‘re evaluating a person‘s work, we‘ve got to evaluate that person‘s character. And I think he failed in that regard by using this footage.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me read you, Mike, what Major Stone‘s family said about Michael Moore and his movie, said—quote—“Greg‘s mother is furious. She called Michael Moore a maggot that eats off the dead.” And his aunt went on to say that Major Stone was—quote—“a totally conservative Republican who would have the film putrid.”
Mike, is it wrong for Michael Moore or any documentarian—and I don‘t think he‘s a documentarian, but just for argument‘s sake we‘ll say he is—but is it wrong for them to use a soldier‘s death in a way that that soldier would have objected to, especially going to his funeral and taking video images of that funeral?
MIKE RECTENWALD, CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY: Well, first of all, Joe, I would like to offer our condolences to the family of Major Stone. And I think it‘s a horrible death that he died and it‘s tragic that he actually died by the death of a soldier who was attacked by his own, supposedly his own troops, a terrorist inside of the U.S. military. That‘s a tragedy.
I understand the Stones‘ anger, but I would suggest that it‘s—I mean, it‘s reasonable to be angry. But I suggest that it‘s misplaced here. I think the real anger should be towards the administration that sent major Stone to battle, that sent him into conditions that were unsafe, that led a soldier through who was not an actual military personnel member or else he was a turncoat, somehow got through to be inside of the barracks or inside the ranks of his own troops.
I mean, that‘s the kind of failure that should be targeted here. I understand that the family is angry about the shots at the cemetery, but Arlington National Cemetery, as far as I know, is a national cemetery, and it‘s public property.
SCARBOROUGH: James, what do you say about that, that it is a national cemetery, it‘s public property, and what Mike said, his family shouldn‘t be angry at a filmmaker, they should be angry at the president that sent their son to war?
HIRSEN: This is not a piece of journalism. This is not truly a documentary. Michael Moore says it‘s not a documentary. It‘s a feature film. It‘s a very successful feature film. It‘s making a lot of money. And part of that money is being made off of the images of this family‘s dead relative, who, by the way, we can never possibly express the gratitude we have for Major Stone, who would pay the ultimate price for what we all believe in.
And I think this is exploitation. And I think the families should be respected. And I have a suggestion for Michael Moore. Maybe Michael Moore is making a lot of profit off of this film. He ought to make a pledge of a substantial sum of money to Ollie North‘s fund for the kids of slain soldiers. That would be a nice step in the right direction.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, what about the question, though, that this is a public area? I know certainly for national parks like Arlington, you need permits to go in and film. But let‘s say that they got those. Would it be OK for them to use this type of footage?
HIRSEN: Well, I think the argument is that, in certain cases, when you‘re talking about a newsworthy event that happens to be taking place in a public cemetery that for news purposes or journalistic purposes that that falls under the idea of a fair use.
Not so with a feature film that has comedic elements, that is exploitative. The idea of exploiting a soldier who happens to be a conservative Republican patriot, exploiting his dead body in a casket for a propaganda anti-war film, it‘s atrocious. It‘s indefensible.
SCARBOROUGH: I just wanted to ask you, Mike, because I want to read you what Michael Moore said on his Web site a month or two ago, and talking about the people that killed this young man.
He said: “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not insurgents or terrorists or the enemy. They are the revolution. They are the Minutemen. Their numbers will grow. And they will win.”
Do you think that it may anger the parents, also, that Michael Moore appears, in this statement at least, to be cheering on those terrorists who are killing young Americans like their son?
RECTENWALD: Well, first of all, to continually throw epithets at the movie, that it‘s propaganda, that it‘s not a documentary, this purely blurs the issue.
Whether the film is a documentary, whether it‘s objective from the
standpoint of the media, which I would say, basically all films, all
documentaries, all news has a standpoint, regardless of whether they claim
to have one or not, there is no
HIRSEN: They‘re not filled with lies, Mike.
SCARBOROUGH: And you know what? We‘re running out of time, Mike. We only have 15 seconds.
SCARBOROUGH: Can you answer my question? The fact that he‘s comparing these terrorists that killed their son to the Minutemen and seeming to cheer for it, don‘t you think that probably makes it sting even more?
RECTENWALD: Well, I mean, I think I went through this before in the last time I was on, Joe. I don‘t think the comparison is as you‘re putting it. I think he‘s trying to say that they see themselves as independent fighters and Minutemen, as people that are fighting against the regime.
HIRSEN: That‘s not what he said.
SCARBOROUGH: And he also said, the revolution, the Minutemen, and they‘ll win.
But we‘ll continue this conversation later.
Mike, thanks for being with us.
James Hirsen, as always, we greatly appreciate it.
And just ahead, President Bush‘s daughters are stepping onto the campaign trail to help their dad stay in the White House. We‘re going to be getting behind-the-scenes details of their very first interview with the woman who did it, Julia Reed of “Vogue” magazine. You‘re not going to want to miss it. It‘s straight ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: The president‘s daughters are coming out to campaign for their dad, but how will they play in Peoria? We‘ll talk about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, President Bush‘s twin daughters have debuted at the ball.
Jenna and Barbara Bush, now 22 and freshly out of college have hit the campaign trail for their father‘s reelection bid. And they appear together dressed like debutantes in next month‘s “Vogue” magazine. So why now and what kind of contribution will they make to the campaign?
With me is Julia Reed. And she did the profile for the Bush twins for next month‘s “Vogue” magazine.
Julia, thanks so much. I appreciate you being here.
JULIA REED, “VOGUE”: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: And you got to tell me, why did Jenna and Barbara Bush decide to have their coming out party, so to speak, in your magazine?
REED: Well, first of all, we drove them crazy for four years and begged and pleaded.
But the other reason is, they had to come out somewhere. They‘re adults now and they can‘t claim the zone of privacy that they enjoyed while they were going to college and still being kids. They‘re 22. They‘re getting ready to start their adult lives. Jenna is going to move to New York. They‘re going to be under scrutiny anyway.
I think also, frankly, they got tired of people speaking for them and sort of conjecturing what they were like. And...
SCARBOROUGH: What are they like? What did you learn about them sitting down and talking to them?
REED: Well, they‘re remarkably—I think they really do have some of the best qualities of their parents. They‘re very down to earth. They‘re really funny. Jenna is especially sort of lively and comical and great, sort of never met a stranger, just sort of fresh out of the box like her father used to be, particularly before he became president, when he had fewer guarded moments.
But they‘re very warm. And I was mostly struck by the fact that, since this was their first ever interview—and they‘ve never been photographed, and they‘ve never sat down and talked to a human being in a formal setting like this for the record, that they were remarkably un-self-conscious. They‘ve grown up a lot. They‘re not the girls we saw that were high school seniors four years ago at this time.
And they were self-possessed, really self-confident, smart, vivacious, you know, and very I think now mature girls.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me play for you what first lady Laura Bush had to say about her daughters this morning on “The Today Show.”
REED: All right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TODAY SHOW”)
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: They grew up. They‘re 22 now. They will be 23 in November. They graduated from college. Jenna actually said to her dad that she didn‘t want to look back on this last campaign of his and be regretful that she wasn‘t a part of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You know, we‘ve heard so little about these daughters, other than some skirmishes with underage drinking. How do you think they‘ll help the campaign? Do you think they‘re going to help? Do you think they may embarrass the president? How is it going to play out?
REED: Well, I can‘t believe they would embarrass the president.
But, on the other hand, they‘re not going to bring any in swing states.
REED: That‘s not what the children of politicians do.
I do think—you know, in the piece, I quoted the famous Norman Mailer. Norman Mailer probably hated Richard Nixon more than almost anybody in America, which was a quite a feat in those days. And he saw Tricia and Julie Nixon in Miami and said, well, a guy that could, you know, give birth to those kids and raise them could not be all that bad.
You know, if the children reflect well on their parents, that‘s always a plus. And these girls are good-looking. You can tell that by looking at our pictures. They‘re all-American. They‘re smart. They‘re bright. They‘re funny. They‘re vivacious. They‘re going to be cheerleaders on the stage, right? They love their father and they are showing that by going out there. They‘re not very political.
So, already, it‘s a plus that they want to do this. And, obviously, this is something that—they care about the guy. That‘s going to translate. On a deeper level, what I think happens when family members—if they like each other—go out on a campaign trail, is, if they have—provide I guess a level of comfort that the candidate can‘t get anywhere else. The president and the first lady don‘t ever travel together because they have got too much ground to cover between now and November.
So he‘s usually on the plane with his aides, the same people he sees every single day, day in and day out in the Oval Office and on the road. They‘re not going to say, God, you looked like such a geek earlier. Why don‘t you change your shirt or your tie?
SCARBOROUGH: You always need somebody like—yes.
REED: Quit making that face. Or, come on, dad, you were great. You really got the crowd going, and give him a pep talk. Let‘s face it. Karl Rove isn‘t going to come up and say, gosh, George, you were fabulous a minute ago.
They can be pump him up and they can be honest with him in ways that people not related to the president of the United States are going to be able to talk to him like that. And I think that that is going to translate. They like each other. This family, oddly enough, in the world we live in, they are remarkably sort of functional, it seems to me, in their relationships with each other.
They tease each other. They‘re obviously loving and warm and all those things. And I think that, if he‘s feeling that way, it‘s going to translate on camera, on stage, in a speech, when he‘s working a crowd, when he‘s raising some money. It can‘t help but help.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Julia, you look at these pictures. You look at them interacting with their parents. Certainly, they‘re in superficial situations. But, usually, Americans can look at these political families, read through them.
I was in Congress for quite a while. I saw a lot of very, very dysfunctional families. These people, they seem, like you said, to be very down to earth and very genuine.
REED: I think that‘s true.
Listen, nobody thought that the Reagans had a warm and fuzzy relationship with any of their children. Like you said, you can tell. And, you know, I really think that one of the achievements, whether you agree with the Bushes politically or not, one of their achievements as parents has been to give these girls a remarkable opportunity to have a pretty normal college experience.
The president told me when I interviewed him for this piece that that was his biggest fear, that they wouldn‘t be able to have, like, rich college experiences. And they did. They had, like, a tight-knit circle of friends. They had great summer jobs. They took vacations. Now that I‘ve interviewed them, now we know that they also had, like, birthday parties and all this kind of stuff at the White House and Camp David.
Their parents treated them like you hope that parents treat all kids that age. They maintained that relationship. And I think the girls are aware of the kind of sacrifice that the parents made to do that. When they are describing birthday parties at Camp David right after 9/11 and karaoke machines and sports tournaments and dances at the White House for their college friends that none of us knew about it, when they are describing that, I had to remind myself that, wait a minute, they are talking about their parents, who is like the leader of the free world and his wife.
So I think that is a remarkable achievement. But it has translated well and it‘s going to play. I think the Kerry‘s have the same kind of thing going. I mean, we have a lot of family images out there.
SCARBOROUGH: The Kerry‘s, the Edwards, the Bushes, a lot of kids out there.
REED: But they all seem genuine, which is kind of refreshing.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, they do. It is.
Earlier, a “Washington Post” reporter was asked whether the Bush twins are going to be fair game or not. And this is what a “Washington Post” reporter said today on his Web site—quote—“I think it‘s sort of open season now.”
How do you think the Bush twins will handle the targets that are now going to be on their back?
REED: Well, from what I‘ve seen so far, like I said, they were very poised and pretty confident.
Having said that, they‘re in a comfort zone. This was their first interview, but we‘ve interview almost—“Vogue” has done a piece on almost every member of their family, beginning with their grandmother was the first person I interviewed for “Vogue.” So it‘s not like the they had “The Post” and “The Times” or even “The New York Post” out trailing them.
I think that they‘re still a little shy. You know, their mother said in that same interview I think that you just ran that they had written introductions for their father. They still hadn‘t sort of gotten the camera readiness to get up and deliver them yet.
It‘s early days. We‘ll see. I think that it‘s probably got to make them nervous, even though they‘re 22 now and ostensibly grown women, for people to say—use terms like open season, fair game. That‘s a little scary.
SCARBOROUGH: It is.
REED: And I think it‘s a little unfair to them, because nobody said it‘s open season on Chelsea Clinton in the last days of her father‘s administration. I don‘t think anybody is saying it‘s open season on the Kerry girls.
For some reason, these girls have sort of been I think slightly unfairly targeted at a very young age. And good luck to them, is all I have to say.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Julia Reed, fascinating article. And we certainly appreciate you being here talking about it.
REED: Thanks so much.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
And coming up, I‘ve got issues with Ambassador Joe Wilson. He sounded off on Saddam and Iraq, but new evidence shows that Niger wanted to sell its uranium to Saddam Hussein.
We‘ll be talking about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
ANNOUNCER: You‘re watching SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Now here‘s some Hotwire travel trivia.
What‘s the most common name for a town or city in the United States?
Stay tuned for the answer.
ANNOUNCER: You‘re watching SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. In today‘s Hotwire travel trivia, we asked you, what‘s the most common name for a town or city in the United States? Give up? The answer, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, is Fairview. Midway is a close second.
Now back to Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: We had some guesses going around here for the Hotwire trivia quiz. And we heard Springfield, which is very good. Anybody that watches “The Simpsons” know, you know, Springfield. That‘s a good one. Secaucus, that‘s a very popular name.
Anyway, it‘s Bastille Day and I‘ve got issues, issues because I‘m not in France. I love that place.
Anyway, you already know I‘ve got issues with the Transportation Security Administration and its random policies that force friskings on grandma. That brings us to airline passenger Daryl Miller, who gives new meaning to flying by the seat of your pants. A security screener was waving a metal detector over Mr. Miller‘s pants when Miller, who didn‘t like the job the screener was doing, dropped those pants to his ankles.
Unfortunately, he wasn‘t wearing any underwear. He then asked the screener, there, how do you like your job? The screener responded by charging him with indecent exposure. He was later released on $300 bail. Oh, also, he didn‘t make his flight. So, remember, if you‘ve got issues with the TSA, the security screeners at airports probably aren‘t the best people to air your grievances with.
Now, the Senate came up 10 votes short of furthering the debate to amend the Constitution to prevent same-sex marriages.
For those wondering about the tone of the debate, here is Ted Kennedy launching his first salvo at Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The rabid, reactionary, religious right has rarely looked more ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: How‘s that for alliteration, the rabid, reactionary, religious right has rarely looked more reactionary. Whatever.
You would think Republicans were a greater threat to liberty than, say, al Qaeda, or radical Islamists. If we could focus Democrats‘ rage toward the Middle East more, maybe we could make the world a safer place for everybody, regardless of their sexuality.
Then, finally, remember the saga of Ambassador Joe Wilson? You know, he‘s the guy who claimed that Iraq never sought help from Nigeria to build weapons of mass destruction. Well, then he claimed that President Bush manipulated intelligence to build a case of war against Iraq. But it turns out that Joe Wilson may have been very, very wrong.
As SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY favorite Christopher Hitchens reports in Slate,
there is—quote—“a strong consensus among European intelligence
services, between 1999 and 2001, that Niger was engaged in illicit negotiations over the export of its yellow cake uranium ore with North Korea, Libya, Iran, China,” and, yes, Iraq.
Huh. I wonder if we‘ll see that on the front page of “The New York Times” any time soon.
With me now to discuss how Wilson‘s other lies or misstatements may
have affected his credibility and how the White House benefits from Wilson
being exposed is the author of “Connection: How al Qaeda‘s Collaboration
with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America”
Stephen Hayes, thanks for being with us.
STEPHEN HAYES, “THE WEEKLY STANDARD”: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: Tell me. Respond, if you will, to what Christopher Hitchens is writing now about the possibility that Niger actually was trying to sell some of its uranium to Iraq.
HAYES: I think Hitchens is right. Anybody who read the Senate report, the section on Niger, can only be impressed by the amount of information in there and the numerous reports of meetings and things of that nature, that Iraq was surely not out of the uranium-seeking business.
SCARBOROUGH: But wait a second. We‘ve been told by reporters, by talking heads, by editorial writers that this was all dreamed up, that Tony Blair‘s intelligence agencies dreamed it up, that George W. Bush dreamed it up, that he lied. Remember those 16 words, those 16 dreaded words that George Bush spoke at the State of the Union?
This was a full-blown scandal. Are they going to come out now and say, you know what? Maybe we were wrong?
HAYES: Well, you know, if you look at the actual reporting in the Senate Intelligence Committee report in the Niger section, they basically do say that, and especially with respect to Joe Wilson.
Basically, they accuse him Joe Wilson of four different falsehoods. The first was that his wife wasn‘t involved in getting him the job. The second was that he had somehow seen documents and could talk about them with some authority, when in fact the U.S. government didn‘t even have the documents at the time. The third is that the vice president was briefed on Wilson‘s trip to Niger. Wilson said that rather emphatically. That turns out not to have been true.
And the fourth is really the big falsehood, which is that Wilson debunked—was running around the country telling everybody that he debunked this idea that Iraq had been seeking uranium from Niger. And, in fact, the Senate report finds fairly strongly that Wilson‘s trip, if it did anything, enhanced the credibility of those reports. So he‘s got some explaining to do.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, so you‘re telling me on these four issues—again, all these four issues, it seemed to me that each one of those issues generated at least a week‘s worth of headlines, a week‘s worth of negative stories towards not only this administration, but the intelligence agencies and the United States going to war, hurt our credibility overseas, around the world, in Iraq.
So you‘re telling me that the Senate Intelligence Committee report has called him out and said he‘s lying in four different instances?
HAYES: In so many words.
Now, there were two different conclusions that the Republicans on the committee tried to include in the final report that Democrats wouldn‘t sign off on. And one of them had to do with Wilson‘s wife and whether in fact she suggested that he make the trip. I think the reporting in the actual text of the report makes clear that she did have a role. The second one that the Democrats would not allow in had to do with Wilson misusing press reports and claiming knowledge that he didn‘t necessarily have.
I mean, at one point, he told the Senate committee staff that—when they called him on something that seemed inconsistent that he was just using a little literary flare.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. And, of course, here is Wilson. And this is what Wilson had to say when he claimed that his wife had nothing to do with getting the job to investigate the Niger-Iraq yellow cake connection.
Well, actually, I‘ll tell you what. This is what “The Washington Post” said about that denial—quote—“A CIA official told the Senate committee that his wife offered up Wilson‘s name for the Niger trip, then on February 12, 2002, sent a memo to a deputy chief in the CIA‘s Directorate of Operations saying her husband—quote -- ‘has good relations with both the prime minister and the former Minister of Mines.”
This is very specific information. We‘re talking about very specific memos, very specific names, times, dates. I mean, this has to hurt Joe Wilson‘s credibility and the credibility of all those newspapers that swallowed his story, hook line and sinker.
HAYES: Well, look, I‘m sympathetic with the reporters.
I think sometimes it‘s hard to tell if somebody is just not giving you the straight story, and you have no way to verify it on these intelligence questions. But, you know, for the bigger picture, I think the real problem is this. Joe Wilson‘s stories set up really a cascade of different “Bush lied” stories. It really started this whole ball rolling, that the president lied to take us to war.
And, you know, when I was reporting this book on Iraq‘s connections with al Qaeda, one of the things I heard as I became more and more frustrated that the administration wasn‘t going public with evidence it had in its possession was that people told me, hey, look, we have the facts on our side in the Joe Wilson-Niger uranium question, and look at what‘s happened with that.
You know, it‘s hard not to be sympathetic with that argument.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, it certainly is. I‘ll tell you what, though. You know what? “The New York Times” stepped forward and they apologized for some of Judith Miller‘s reporting, saying that they got information from Chalabi that they shouldn‘t have used. We‘ll see if they do the same thing regarding Joe Wilson, because it‘s very obvious that a lot of the things he was claiming, as you‘re saying here tonight, simply weren‘t the truth.
Stephen Hayes, thanks so much for being with us. Your book is fantastic. And I‘ll tell you what. It‘s going to be at the heart of this debate, I think, over the next few months as we go towards the election.
HAYES: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks for being here.
SCARBOROUGH: Tomorrow night, actress Morgan Fairchild steps into SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to talk about what women want in a candidate. That‘s tomorrow night at 10:00 Eastern.
But we‘ve got more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight straight ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: Starting at senator of the state of Illinois, Ditka, Mike Ditka, that is. It could happen.
The former Chicago Bears star said earlier this week that he would consider running for Senate, which got us to consider the incredible success of former athletes in politics. In tonight‘s “Here‘s the Deal,” we‘ve got the facts to prove it.
Now, who could forget former wrestler Jesse Ventura, his unlikely run for the governorship of Minnesota, or the accomplishments of football ball and Oklahoma Representative J.C. Watts, onetime vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, and NBA big man Bill Bradley?
You know, former athletes have also found a comfortable home in the White House. Among them, a center for the University of Michigan football team, Gerald Ford, and a bulky linebacker from West Point who was simply known as Ike. And while sports and politics may seem to make strange bedfellows, check out the list of past careers of current members of Congress. We right now have three ministers serving in Congress. There are two auctioneers—look at Conrad—one astronaut and even a former taxicab driver.
The most common field for congressmen is law, then business and medicine. The qualifications for being a congressman say nothing about former occupations. Senators have to at least be 30 years of age and be U.S. citizens for nine years. And a House of Representatives member must be at least 25 years old and citizens for seven years. Now, more information is available on Mike Ditka‘s possible Senate run on MSNBC.com.
Now, as some of you may have heard, Slim-Fast dumped Whoopi Goldberg. I‘m going to shock you. Of course, we thought that MCI should have dumped Danny Glover for all the crazy things he said. But you know what? Whoopi Goldberg may have had a little too much to drink. She‘s a comedian. She goes out. She gives her public statements against President Bush. They may have been off-color, but she‘s an entertainer.
At least it wasn‘t like Danny, who went out there and said Castro was our buddy or compared American soldiers to terrorists on 9/11. I don‘t think they should have let Whoopi go, but I‘m still going to be trying that Slim-Fast out.
Hey, speaking of somebody who needs Slim-Fast, don‘t miss Imus tomorrow on MSNBC. He‘s going to have Senators John Kerry and John Edwards. What a show. You won‘t want to miss it.
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