Guest: Terry Jeffrey, Lisa Bloom, Paul Kengor
PAT BUCHANAN, GUEST HOST: Elizabeth Edwards suggests that Vice President Cheney and his wife, Lynne, may be ashamed of their gay daughter. The Cheneys suggest that Kerry and Edwards keep their daughter‘s private life out of presidential politics. Did John Kerry go too far by bringing up the Cheneys‘ daughter‘s sexuality in the Phoenix debate?
And last night on the show, Lawrence O‘Donnell said President Bush is God is a strange God. We‘ll talk to him and Paul Kengor, author of “God and George W. Bush,” about President Bush‘s faith and the role religion has played in presidential politics.
Plus, the latest from the Bill O‘Reilly sexual harassment story. Are the media being fair and balanced in their coverage of the lurid accusations?
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
BUCHANAN: I‘m Pat Buchanan, in for Joe Scarborough tonight.
Now the controversy that John Kerry cannot shake off. In the aftermath of the Phoenix debate, Lynne Cheney blasted John Kerry for even mentioning her gay daughter. Let‘s look at both Kerry‘s remark and Cheney‘s response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney‘s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she‘s being who she was, she‘s being who she was born as.
LYNNE CHENEY, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: This is not a good man. This is not a good man. And, of course, I am speaking as a mom and a pretty indignant mom. This is not a good man. What a cheap and tawdry political trick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: And John Edwards‘ wife, Elizabeth, apparently did not help the Democratic ticket with these hard words for Lynne Cheney.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS: I think it indicates a certain degree of shame with respect to her daughter‘s sexual preferences that I‘m certain makes her daughter uncomfortable. And that makes me very sad on a personal level.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: MSNBC senior political analyst Lawrence O‘Donnell is with us, along with the editor of “Human Events, Terry Jeffrey.
Terry Jeffrey, it looks to me like if Kerry made this statement and Edwards made it and Mary Beth Cahill, the campaign manager, said she is fair game, this was coldly calculated to get this out. What do you think Kerry was doing?
TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, “HUMAN EVENTS”: Yes, well, I agree with you, Pat.
I think if it had been purely a spontaneous remark, it would have been crude and coarse. But it‘s even worse because this was a calculated campaign strategy. And I think essentially what they‘re saying to the Bush campaign and the Cheney family, if you make an issue out of gay marriage, which they are, we will make an issue out of the personal life of the vice president‘s daughter.
Now, why is this crucial? I believe it‘s quite possible that in the end this election actually on the margin will be decided by the gay marriage issue in this way. Bush cannot win unless he wins Ohio. If Kerry‘s going to win, he probably needs to win Ohio. On November 2 in Ohio, they‘re voting on an initiative for an amendment that would ban gay marriage in the state. It‘s going to turn out conservative vote. It may give the state to Bush, and Kerry is desperate to stop this.
BUCHANAN: All right. Well, what exactly—and clearly it was calculated, I think from both the presidential—the vice presidential candidate. I thought at first he might have thrown it out.
But when Kerry did it deliberately—and I almost would like to see the tape again, because it looks to me like Kerry‘s saying, I don‘t want to do this, but I‘m going to get it over with and get it out there—what does he think that will accomplish?
JEFFREY: Well, I think, first of all, it‘s an effort to intimidate.
I think they want the Bush guys to back off of the marriage issue, No.
1. No. 2, I think they want to engage this on a different level than public policy. I think they want to engage it in an ad hominem personal level, rather than a question whether or no it‘s a good policy for states or for the United States of America to accept gay marriage as public policy.
BUCHANAN: All right, Lawrence, let me ask you, because, again, it was calculated, what do you think they calculated when they said, if you answer that, bring up the fact that the vice president‘s daughter is gay? And he used the word, strong word, lesbian. Why would, in your judgment, would they do that?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we don‘t know that they calculated it, but I think it‘s more fun if we just all assume that they did calculate it. So let‘s assume that they calculated it for the purposes of this discussion.
Here‘s what the calculation would be. The calculation to personalize it with a name, when the question is to the president, is homosexuality a choice, and the president says, I don‘t know, John Kerry using a name, you could say, is trying to say to the president, would you please just ask a gay person? Would you please, for once in your life, have a conversation with a gay person about this very question?
O‘DONNELL: For example, you could ask, oh, I don‘t know, the vice president‘s daughter, who is working on your campaign.
BUCHANAN: Well, wait a minute, now. Lawrence, with due respect, it would have been a simple thing to answer something like we were talking about today, that Kerry could have said, look, quite obviously, a person doesn‘t make that choice themselves, Mr. President. If you had known a number of homosexuals, you would understand this, sir. Instead, he deliberately drags in the name.
And, again, I almost want to show that tape again.
O‘DONNELL: Listen—look, strategically it may be that the calculation is the Bush supporters have this large segment that hate lesbians. And by using the word lesbian, lesbian haters, that might hurt the Bush vote. That may be true.
BUCHANAN: I think you overstate it when you say lesbian haters, but I do think Lawrence is on to a point. They know they‘re vulnerable on this gay marriage issue. It‘s a 72 percent, 80 percent issue. So they come out and say, look, these guys are hammering it to us under the radar on the marriage issue. Here‘s how we get back at them. Just mention the fact that Mr. Cheney himself has a homosexual daughter and get that thing out there. And that will counter the impact of this marriage thing, because it will be very much a negative to the conservative social base.
JEFFREY: It‘s very ironic, Pat, because clearly what they were trying to do is paint the Republicans, paint President Bush as lacking in compassion, as mean and nasty and so forth.
And, actually, what John Kerry did—and everybody saw it on his face
· was a very mean, nasty thing, lacking in compassion. Specifically, to put it bluntly—and this is what I think got to Lynne Cheney—he was trying to drive a wedge into the Cheney family for his own political advantage. And that‘s what America saw from John Kerry.
BUCHANAN: OK, now let‘s
O‘DONNELL: This all assumes that the word lesbian is a bad word, doesn‘t it?
O‘DONNELL: Do you think lesbian‘s a bad word?
JEFFREY: ... how coarse this really is.
O‘DONNELL: Did he call her a thief? What if he said Mary Cheney is a thief? That‘s negative.
BUCHANAN: Why don‘t we watch him again, because I do think I see a hesitancy in Kerry in moving across it. Let‘s watch his comment again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney‘s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she‘s being who she was, she‘s being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it‘s not choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: All right, now hold it. John Kerry talked to “The Des Moines Register” today, and he talked about—here‘s his quote: “I‘m surprised by the reaction. I was saying it in a way that embraced love of their daughter. All I was trying to do is to put out that, let their daughter speak. Was it choice or was she born the way she was?”
You don‘t believe that, do you? Do you believe that‘s what he was doing this?
BUCHANAN: You mean, he was saying it in a loving way, etcetera?
O‘DONNELL: I‘ll accept whatever version of the mind reading you guys want to do, but I don‘t know whether he calculated to say it or not. I don‘t know whether he was comfortable saying it or not.
O‘DONNELL: This is what I know. This is what I know. What he said was first said in this campaign by candidate Dick Cheney.
O‘DONNELL: It was also said by Lynne Cheney. So Lynne Cheney‘s complaint is, how dare John Kerry say what he said. How dare he say what he said.
BUCHANAN: OK, now, here‘s my take on that.
I think Lynne Cheney and the vice president quite clearly know this is going to come up. And I believe they have every right as parents to talk to their daughter and say, this is going to come up and we‘re going to bring it up ourselves, as they did.
Now, what is your take, Terry, on, again, on just what you saw?
JEFFREY: Well, No. 1, I think that‘s exactly right. And Dick Cheney has a right to talk about his own daughter, just as John Kerry has a right to talk about his daughter. John Kerry does not have a right to make Dick Cheney‘s daughter an issue in this campaign.
As to whether it was calculated, I think all of America can look at that and videotape that, make the same judgment you made. I agree with you. This is a guy who‘s a Yale graduate, Skull and Bones, Boston College Law School, major league prosecutor, 20 years in the United States Senate, lauded by guys like Lawrence O‘Donnell for how eloquent, articulate and intelligent he is.
This is an intelligent man who had a talking point, went through his brain, would I lay down this calculated political strategy now? It‘s dangerous. I‘m not sure it‘s right. He did it. He pulled the trigger (INAUDIBLE) He jumped off the boat. Now he‘s in the water. Now he‘s going to sink on this.
JEFFREY: A revelation of character right there.
O‘DONNELL: Again, as I say, let‘s have the fun of assuming it was deliberately planned.
JEFFREY: It was deliberate.
BUCHANAN: Don‘t you have to when you have got Mary Beth Cahill saying she‘s fair game?
O‘DONNELL: Let‘s just do it.
JEFFREY: Do you think it wasn‘t deliberate? Do you honestly believe that was an accident there?
O‘DONNELL: I really don‘t know.
JEFFREY: Edwards, Mary Beth Cahill, Kerry?
BUCHANAN: Hold it. Extemporaneous speaking.
You got the vice presidential candidate brings it up. Edwards brings it up.
O‘DONNELL: I‘m not fighting this.
JEFFREY: And then the wife brings it up.
O‘DONNELL: I‘m not fighting it.
BUCHANAN: Cahill brings it up.
JEFFREY: So they calculate it to make the personal life of the vice president an issue in their campaign.
O‘DONNELL: If they calculate it, it‘s because they know that you think lesbian is a bad word and connotes evil behavior.
O‘DONNELL: You do, don‘t you?
BUCHANAN: Hold it.
O‘DONNELL: You think lesbian is a bad word, and it‘s evil behavior to engage in lesbian sex, don‘t you, Terry?
JEFFREY: You know what‘s interesting is
O‘DONNELL: It‘s evil behavior.
JEFFREY: Can I answer your question?
O‘DONNELL: Mary Cheney behaves evilly to you.
JEFFREY: Let me answer your question.
It was very interesting the way Schieffer brought up in the debate, because he didn‘t ask about behavior or conduct or public policy. What he asked about was an inclination, an orientation. I thought it was very interesting, because it‘s very far removed from the debate in this country, which is the question of whether the government of any state or the United States ought to give legal sanction to homosexual behavior enshrined as marriage.
Do I think that conduct of that kind—I‘m not talking about orientation—is immoral? I‘m a Roman Catholic. Lawrence, I don‘t know what you religion is.
JEFFREY: My religion teaches me, as the Bible says, and I believe it‘s consistent with natural law, that homosexual conduct is, in fact, immoral.
O‘DONNELL: You heard it right here. Terry Jeffrey says Mary Cheney is immoral.
JEFFREY: No, I did not say that. I did not say that.
O‘DONNELL: She engages in lesbian sex.
JEFFREY: Let me defend myself
JEFFREY: How do you know that, Lawrence? Have you talked to her about her personal life?
JEFFREY: That is an outrage.
O‘DONNELL: If we are prepared to imagine that John Kerry deliberately planned this, I am prepared to imagine that Mary Cheney, who says she is a lesbian and lives with a lesbian, has lesbian sex with the woman she lives with and is, therefore, by your lights, immoral.
BUCHANAN: Let‘s go. Let‘s go. I happen to agree with Terry in terms...
O‘DONNELL: Lesbian sex is evil.
BUCHANAN: No. Well, I happen to agree with Terry as a Catholic and as a traditionalist, that sex outside of marriage—and you were raised the same way—is wrong.
O‘DONNELL: But I grew out of that, Pat. Lesbian sex is fine by me.
JEFFREY: You grew out of traditional
O‘DONNELL: I absolutely grew out of the notion that lesbian sex is immoral.
BUCHANAN: We‘re going to get to your view of God in a minute.
O‘DONNELL: Anyone who wants to have lesbian sex, I cheer you on.
JEFFREY: All right, now, they would be—should the state sanction
O‘DONNELL: And it should be legal. And you should be able to put rings on each other‘s fingers.
O‘DONNELL: And you should be able to take pictures and invite your family and invite Terry to your lesbian wedding. You should be able to do it all.
BUCHANAN: Let‘s go to the politics of it.
You‘ve given us your view of the morality of it. Give us the politics of it when you see that some 64 percent said it was inappropriate, when in the room, the press room, there was an audible groan is the phrase that‘s being used by press people.
When you and I and Terry Jeffrey are talking about this 48 hours after what you thought was a good Kerry debate, a victorious Kerry debate, when “The McLaughlin Group,” covered it, we just went almost our whole show on it, when John Kerry is talking to “The Des Moines Register” and the whole country is now focused on this, was this not a Ford-liberating-Poland moment in the presidential debate that could take Kerry down?
O‘DONNELL: This is a great question. And I‘m sure we‘re going to disagree here.
But I believe—and we‘re guessing, but I believe that—for example, coming out of debate one, the issue was global test, global test, an actual policy question coming out of the debate. Coming out of debate three, it‘s come down to one word, the use of the word lesbian. That‘s it.
O‘DONNELL: I think that‘s a win for Kerry. Bush should be talking about something—the campaign should be about something other than lesbian sex.
BUCHANAN: Let me tell you something. It‘s not about lesbian sex or the word lesbian. It‘s about the character of a man who would bring up the vice president‘s daughter‘s sexuality in a presidential debate in a humiliating fashion.
O‘DONNELL: If it works that way, it‘s bad for Kerry.
JEFFREY: ... this kind of debate has coarsened our society, Pat.
JEFFREY: Can anybody imagine John F. Kennedy bringing something up about the personal life of a (INAUDIBLE) family member in 1960? Never.
BUCHANAN: All right, we‘ll be back with more.
BUCHANAN: Most Americans think John Kerry‘s remarks about Cheney‘s gay daughter were inappropriate. Will it hurt his bid for the White House? More about that next.
You‘re watching SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY on MSNBC.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back.
Gentlemen, let‘s take a look at some of the latest polls. Here‘s one from “The Washington Post” last night, asking voters if they thought John Kerry‘s remarks were appropriate. This is about, of course, the lesbian remark about Mary Cheney; 64 percent said no, including 40 percent of Kerry‘s own supporters and 50 percent of voters in the swing states. They thought Kerry‘s remarks were inappropriate.
Impact on the election, Zogby‘s three-day rolling poll shows momentum is behind Bush, as he gained four points over Kerry in just three days to lead now 48-44. The latest Rasmussen poll released this afternoon shows Bush building a 3.5 percent lead over the past three days. CBS News has Bush three points up over Kerry, 48-45. And the TIPP poll shows President Bush with a three-point lead over Kerry, 47-44.
Lawrence O‘Donnell and Terry Jeffrey, let me go to you first, Lawrence, this seems to confirm what Joe Scarborough and I said, quite frankly, and there was some dissent to it, that the president was slaughtered in the first debate, beaten terribly, but he came back very strong in the second debate. And we believed he won the third debate.
Now, I don‘t know how you can argue otherwise with regard to the third debate when polls showed that Kerry won the debate by 15 points, but the head-to-head polls show the president moving back up.
O‘DONNELL: As long as you willfully—and I know it wasn‘t you, Pat
· as long as you willfully exclude today‘s “Washington Post” poll, which is also a daily tracking poll, 48-48 -- every one of the poll numbers you just showed were ties within the margin of error, every one of them. There wasn‘t one of them that had a lead outside of the margin of error.
BUCHANAN: But they all—but, Terry Jeffrey, they all showed the president up. I agree with you, this thing is dead close. And in these battleground states, it‘s even and one point, two points.
But this does seem to show a marginal trend back toward the president.
JEFFREY: I don‘t think there‘s any doubt about it, Pat.
I think there was two shifts in momentum. Bush was skyrocketing after his convention. He did dismally in the first debate, and it showed in the polls. He started dropping, including dropping in some key states. There‘s one poll showed him losing in Ohio. Since the next two debates, I think Bush won them both. I think the polls are reflecting it. I think it‘s ironic that the instant analysis on cable TV runs directly at odds with the polls.
The reason, most of the people doing the instant analysis on cable TV are liberals and don‘t reflects the values of middle Americans.
O‘DONNELL: CNN runs a Gallup poll after every debate, OK? Each Gallup poll that was run and published by CNN an hour and a half after each debate, each one of them showed Kerry winning. People weren‘t making this up, Terry.
BUCHANAN: Well, look, the first poll I understood perfectly, but I‘ll tell you, the last one—look, that last debate, you cannot say, Lawrence, that the last debate, where the president -- Kerry had some good points. The president was scoring. He was strong. I thought he was excellent in some areas—that that was the same as the first debate, but the numbers that came in from CNN were virtually the same.
BUCHANAN: MSNBC, we started off 75-25 Kerry wins.
JEFFREY: Two reasons the president won. First of all was genuineness. I think the best characteristic the president has is, when he‘s talking about his key policies, people look at him and, even if they disagree with him—and I disagree with Bush on some key things.
O‘DONNELL: Like what?
JEFFREY: This guy is sincere.
O‘DONNELL: Like what?
JEFFREY: I disagree with his spending policy. I disagree with the education, the medication prescription drug bill. There are major elements of his foreign policy I disagree with.
He‘s a sincere guy. It comes across in the debates. His core values are in synch with the core values of the people in the states that are going to decide this election. Kerry‘s are not. That also came across.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me say that, clearly, a Yale debating coach, or couple of—five of them would all say Kerry won on points.
I think Terry has got a point. It‘s not only authenticity. It is heart. There is something likable and engaging about this fellow that—frankly, Kerry does not engage. He doesn‘t connect with people, in my judgment. And I do think, if you‘re talking West Virginia and you‘re talking Ohio, and we are, and you‘re talking Iowa, where I‘ve spent some time, you‘re talking folks with whom Kerry does not connect all that well.
True or false?
O‘DONNELL: I think false because of the following reason.
By the way, I completely agree with you on Bush in the 2000 debates vs. Gore. Gore was genuinely creepy. And, by contrast, Bush was a really great seeming guy, very engaging. I don‘t think he‘s come across that way as the incumbent.
O‘DONNELL: And the polls
O‘DONNELL: Why is Kerry in a dead tie with the guy if Kerry‘s message isn‘t working?
BUCHANAN: He blew the bottom out of Bush‘s campaign when he looked presidential and the president looked, excuse me, like a petulant high school student who had been admonished by the principal as making faces behind his back.
BUCHANAN: But you cannot tell me, Larry, that that third debate of the president‘s was in any way comparable to that first debate. You don‘t believe that, do you?
I‘ll tell you, my own score I would have given it, say, like an eight- or 10-point win to Kerry. The CNN poll of like a 14-point win for Kerry surprised me.
JEFFREY: You know what I think people are going to really identify with, Pat, is, at the very end, in Bush‘s closing statement, how he talked about his wife and family, clearly, this is a guy who is a loving father, a loving husband. This is family values. It‘s on display, real, authentic, as opposed to the remark that we all know Kerry made earlier.
O‘DONNELL: Are you saying that Kerry comes across as someone who doesn‘t love his children?
JEFFREY: Cold. Cold, calculated.
O‘DONNELL: Who doesn‘t love his children?
O‘DONNELL: You said Bush loves his family. Is that to say Kerry doesn‘t?
JEFFREY: No, I didn‘t say that.
BUCHANAN: He comes across as a cold fish. Even his own people do.
BUCHANAN: Let me ask you this.
JEFFREY: Cold. Cold, calculated.
O‘DONNELL: I‘m from New England. I like them cold.
BUCHANAN: OK. All right.
JEFFREY: All right, well, he‘s going to win New England, except New Hampshire. You can have it.
BUCHANAN: Let me ask you this. What do you think? What we just had
a pretty heated exchange about, this thing is going to go around this
weekend, I would think, certainly our two shows here. What do you think
O‘DONNELL: If we have anything to say about it, we‘re going all lesbian all next week.
BUCHANAN: Well, you like that, but...
BUCHANAN: Let me ask you, what do you think the political impact—honestly, what do you think the political impact of this thing is going to be?
Look, there‘s no doubt about it. Kerry—say, who got us in? How did we get into this mess? I bet he‘s—why did I have to make that statement? He wishes he never had. And I think it might have been possible that he had won that debate. But he is now—the thing is being reversed because of this. Do you agree?
O‘DONNELL: Well, I‘ll just have to wait and see with the polls. He did win all those flash polls that were run right after the debate.
O‘DONNELL: And they all heard that line. That huge majority in the CNN poll that said we think Kerry won heard him say that. And according to this new poll, they were also jarred by it. I believe the poll that says 60 percent were jarred and thought it was inappropriate. They still gave him the win.
BUCHANAN: But you agree. But now there‘s about 100 percent of the
people. If you asked them what was said in that debate, what was the most
memorable thing in that debate, it was when Kerry
O‘DONNELL: That‘s right.
O‘DONNELL: I don‘t think that is good for a president who needs the most memorable moment to be something the president said.
BUCHANAN: Are you kidding?
JEFFREY: Bush‘s greatest asset in this campaign is John Kerry. There‘s no doubt about it. If the Democrats had nominated a better candidate, they could have beat George Bush.
BUCHANAN: Exactly. You could have beaten him.
O‘DONNELL: So you‘re saying Bush is that bad a candidate?
BUCHANAN: He‘s vulnerable.
JEFFREY: No. I‘m saying he‘s politically vulnerable. And a better
candidate with a clearer message and
JEFFREY: ... could have beat him.
BUCHANAN: If you ran a mainstream Democrat who was a warm guy, and he came—given the president‘s problems, frankly, on immigration, on trade, on lost jobs, on the Iraq situation, I think he wins it.
O‘DONNELL: Gephardt for president.
JEFFREY: And who had a clearer
BUCHANAN: Well, if he had some fire, if Gephardt had some fire, he would have been an outstanding candidate.
JEFFREY: Gephardt would have been a more formidable candidate in this general election than John Kerry, without doubt.
BUCHANAN: I think he would have.
JEFFREY: He could have won some states in middle America that will never go for John Kerry. Plus, there‘s some empathy in the guy.
BUCHANAN: He‘s a reassuring guy.
JEFFREY: Yes. Yes.
BUCHANAN: When you see him on television, nobody says there‘s a real problem with character. We can‘t have that guy in there.
JEFFREY: You know what? The liberal establishment press took out Howard Dean. They took him out and they got John Kerry. And they deserve him.
O‘DONNELL: You‘re a strong Bush supporter.
JEFFREY: I‘m a vote for Bush.
O‘DONNELL: Who says that Gephardt would have knocked him over like a flower.
JEFFREY: No, I‘m saying that a more formidable, a better Democrat—
Bush is obviously very vulnerable for a number of reasons, principally, I think worry about the war in Iraq.
If there weren‘t the great worry in the country about the war in Iraq, George Bush would win in a landslide. A more formidable candidate, who did not have the completely confused and incoherent position on Iraq that John Kerry does, who isn‘t as cold and calculated as John Kerry, hasn‘t flip-flopped on so many issues, and hasn‘t been on the far left of Congress his entire career would have a very good chance of beating George W. Bush. Bush, I believe, will win.
BUCHANAN: I agree with that.
JEFFREY: And that‘s why I‘m glad you guys nominated Kerry, because I want Bush in there for another four years.
BUCHANAN: OK, we have concurrence here.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, we do.
BUCHANAN: All right, Terry Jeffrey, thanks very much for joining us.
Lawrence, stick around, because you made a lot of our viewers angry last night when you called President Bush‘s faith simple-minded.
When we come back, we‘ll see if you think all these presidents were as simple-minded as that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY CARTER, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With God‘s help, and for the sake of our nation, it is time for us to join hands in America.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I intend to seize those opportunities and meet those challenges with all the energy and ability and strength God has given me. That is simply all I can do.
RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is in the midst of a spiritual awakening and a moral renewal. And with your biblical keynote, I say today, yes, let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: George Bush says he thinks God wants everyone to be free.
Is it OK to base foreign policy on personal religion? That‘s coming up.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe that God wants everybody to be free. That‘s what I believe.
And that‘s been part of my foreign policy. In Afghanistan, I believe that the freedom there is a gift from the Almighty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY has received hundreds of your angry e-mails about Lawrence O‘Donnell‘s remarks on the president‘s faith on last night‘s show.
Here‘s what Lawrence said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: George Bush‘s God is a very strange God. This is a God who wants everyone to be free. That‘s a very, very peculiarly frustrated God. That is a God that has been apparently frustrated for centuries in George Bush‘s imagination.
BUCHANAN: Ever since the Garden of Eden.
O‘DONNELL: Well, this is a God—this is also a God who gives the gift of freedom. He says that‘s a gift from the almighty, that the Afghan people got this gift from the almighty this year.
What was George Bush‘s God doing to those people up to now? You see, that‘s the problem with this. For very simpleminded religious people, that stuff works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: Lawrence O‘Donnell is still with us, along with Paul Kengor, who‘s joining us. He‘s the author of “God and George W. Bush: A Spiritual Life.”
Lawrence, I want to ask you, you believe that the president‘s faith is simple-minded?
O‘DONNELL: Yes, it‘s extremely childish.
He anthropomorphizes God and attributes to human motivations, human desires, human aspirations, all these things that you and I, Pat, in Catholic education were taught not to do very, very specifically.
BUCHANAN: Do you believe that God wills that all men be saved?
O‘DONNELL: No, I do not.
BUCHANAN: Do you believe God desires that all men be saved?
O‘DONNELL: No, I don‘t believe that God has desires.
What we were taught in Catholic education is God‘s ways are unknowable. The essence of the Catholic God is that God works in mysterious ways. George W. Bush doesn‘t think God works in mysterious ways. George W. Bush thinks he knows what God wants, and George W. Bush then says, I am here to execute what God wants.
BUCHANAN: Look what he said right after. He said, God wants everyone to be free, and that‘s part of my policy. The sentence before his policy is what God wants.
BUCHANAN: What God wants him to do.
Lawrence Here‘s what President John F. Kennedy in the final words of his inaugural address in 1961. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking his blessings and his help, but knowing that here on Earth, God‘s work must truly be our own.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: Mr. O‘Donnell?
O‘DONNELL: That was a case for—listen, George Bush would use those words exactly. It would mean something else.
What JFK was asking for there was more welfare spending, was more intervention on behalf of the poverty population. And what he was referring to there—although, look, I absolutely agree the words are interpretable in the Bush style, what he was asking for there is, remember the commandment to love thy neighbor as thyself. Remember the generosity, the actual direct financial generosity that implies to other people.
BUCHANAN: All right, Paul Kengor, let me ask you this. Do you believe that the president has a biblical view of the Middle East, if you will, some of which the end times view, with which I‘m sure you‘re familiar, and that the end times are near, and that the battle of Armageddon is at hand in the near future?
PAUL KENGOR, AUTHOR, “GOD AND RONALD REAGAN”: He doesn‘t talk about that, Pat.
Look, Ronald Reagan did that. Ronald Reagan was very interested. In fact some people have said obsessed, with Armageddon, end times prophecy. But the idea that George W. Bush—and I hear this all the time. I get e-mails every day, people asking if George Bush is doing what he‘s doing in the Middle East to facilitate Armageddon.
No, he‘s trying to do the exact opposite. He believes—and Lawrence is right. George Bush believes that God wants all people to be free. And so, because of that, he believes—his vision for the Middle East—this is how it applies—is that he believes that God believes that all people can be free and should be free, and, thus, Middle East Muslims, like Western Christians, like Jews, like people of all faiths, can and should be free and can accept that freedom and create a democracy.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me ask you this. Does the president—you know his faith better than I do. Does the president believe in—as many Christians do, that, in the Old Testament, that the land between the Nile and Euphrates was given to the Jews forever?
And I know that there are some Christians who are now severely critical of the White House if they go along with the withdrawal from Gaza.
BUCHANAN: And they believe this. Where does the president come down on the issue of Israel? Is his political—is America‘s political policy toward Israel in the president‘s mind being influenced by his reading of biblical text?
KENGOR: Well, it does to some degree, but Harry Truman thought he was doing God‘s work in creating the nation of Israel.
So all presidents, to some degree, have been influenced biblically in their views toward Israel. But, for Bush, it‘s more than just that. It‘s Israel as a democracy in the Middle East, a lot of the traditional reasons.
But, you know, Pat, with George Bush, we need to be really careful—and I implore this—in dealing with what he‘s actually said and what he hasn‘t said. And the view that God intends people to be free is as old and traditional in this country as Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence.
O‘DONNELL: Who thought it during the time of slavery? Which slave owners thought that God intended people to be free, including the presidents of the United States who were slave owners?
KENGOR: Well, with due respect, Lawrence in the Bible, when the term servants are used, those aren‘t actually paid employees.
O‘DONNELL: But this is delusional to pretend that we have
O‘DONNELL: ... that in Christian culture...
BUCHANAN: The Bible coexisted with slavery. I would agree with you.
O‘DONNELL: To pretend for 2,000 years of Christian culture there was an agreement on the notion that God wanted people to be free is an outright historical lie. That agreement has never been present in Christian culture, never.
KENGOR: Yes, but you got—but the idea—and this is why I‘m saying about be careful with what Bush says.
His concept is, he believes that God intends people to be free, period. That is not unique at all among American presidents and among the founders, among Woodrow Wilson, liberals, conservatives.
BUCHANAN: You can find providential statements about what God wants and America being the providential nation. But let‘s go to...
KENGOR: But especially on that point.
BUCHANAN: All right, Paul, let‘s go. In the book “Plan of Attack” by Bob Woodward of “The Washington Post,” he asked President Bush if President Bush consulted his father, George Bush, before invading Iraq.
BUCHANAN: And here‘s what President Bush said—quote—“He is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to.”
BUCHANAN: Now, Lawrence, do you have a problem with the fact that this guy falls on his knees and prays to God Almighty to do the right thing before he invades Iraq?
O‘DONNELL: Absolutely. He should not do any praying about going to
war, none. It has nothing to do with going to war. It has no place in
going to war. For him to not consult the only president
BUCHANAN: Did you read Lincoln‘s—have you read Lincoln‘s second inaugural?
KENGOR: There‘s never been a president who hasn‘t prayed before war.
O‘DONNELL: There is one president who has invaded Iraq before this guy, one. There‘s one president who knows something about mounting an invasion to Iraq.
For us to put a president in office who refuses to communicate with that president on that issue is the height of irresponsibility on that president‘s part. Bill Clinton or any other president would have consulted George Bush before invading Iraq.
BUCHANAN: You have a problem with the fact that the president got on his knees and prayed to God Almighty that he do the right thing before he invaded two foreign countries?
O‘DONNELL: Well, obviously, Pat, if he did pray, his prayers were not answered, were they, because he was praying...
BUCHANAN: You know, because the war goes badly, the war is immoral?
O‘DONNELL: Why didn‘t he pray for guidance? This is what he did.
KENGOR: Well, he did pray for guidance.
O‘DONNELL: No. If he prayed for guidance on whether he should go into invade a country for weapons of mass destruction, then either the prayer didn‘t work, or his notion of God lied to him.
O‘DONNELL: Did God tell him—did God tell him that weapons of mass destruction were there?
BUCHANAN: Paul, go ahead.
KENGOR: Well, look, I can tell you, Lawrence, as someone who has studied the faith of the presidents, I literally cannot name a single president in all of American history who didn‘t pray before committing troops. I can‘t name one.
O‘DONNELL: Tell me what you think Bush‘s prayer was to God before invading Iraq.
O‘DONNELL: And tell me whether you think the prayer was answered or denied.
BUCHANAN: That he succeed and free the Iraqi people.
O‘DONNELL: And that he find weapons of mass destruction, that there be an actual reason for doing it?
O‘DONNELL: Did he pray for a reason for doing it?
KENGOR: I‘m not going to claim to know God‘s will.
O‘DONNELL: No, you shouldn‘t claim to know God‘s will.
KENGOR: But it sounds like you are.
O‘DONNELL: There‘s a guy in the White House who does.
KENGOR: But it sounds like you know that God didn‘t want it.
O‘DONNELL: I don‘t know what God wanted. I‘m not George Bush. Only George Bush knows what God wants.
KENGOR: You pray that you do God‘s will. This is what Bush does. You pray for guidance and wisdom, as he says. And you hope, as he says—he calls himself a lowly sinner. You hope that you get it, but you don‘t know if you do.
O‘DONNELL: Pat Buchanan is the most religious nonpriest that I know.
Pat, do you think that this war was guided by God, this invasion, that the president was guided by God?
O‘DONNELL: I rest my case.
BUCHANAN: No, I mean, I think that—but that does—it does not refute the point that the president prayed and believes he got God‘s answer.
KENGOR: It‘s OK to pray.
O‘DONNELL: Well, he didn‘t.
KENGOR: Well, listen, he doesn‘t know if he did.
BUCHANAN: We don‘t know who is right here.
KENGOR: He doesn‘t know if he did.
BUCHANAN: We don‘t know who is right.
Lawrence, Paul, thanks for joining us tonight.
KENGOR: All right.
BUCHANAN: Next, the latest on the Bill O‘Reilly sexual harassment suit, as the powerful host of Fox‘s flagship show has hired a famous private investigator to help him combat these allegations.
We‘ll talk to Court TV‘s Lisa Bloom.
Stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge. Who owns the
movie rights to Bill O‘Reilly‘s novel “Those Who Trespass?” Is it, A,
Ridley Scott, B, Ron Howard, or, C, Mel Gibson? The answer coming up.
ANNOUNCER: In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked, who
owns the movie rights to Bill O‘Reilly‘s novel “Those Who Trespass?” The answer is C. Mel Gibson‘s Icon Productions optioned O‘Reilly‘s murder mystery.
Now back to Pat.
BUCHANAN: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
The sexual harassment suit against Bill O‘Reilly continued to make headlines today.
Here with the latest on the story is Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom.
Lisa, I understand you‘ve got some news on this today. What is it?
LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: Well, a couple of things.
First of all, sources close to the accuser told me some more details about the run-up to the filing of these two lawsuits on Wednesday. Apparently, there were about two weeks of negotiations. Numbers were thrown back and forth, talking about settling the sexual harassment case. The accuser‘s side felt that they were making progress, that they were having discussions in good faith. They agreed to confidentiality, to not talk about it.
And they were quite surprised on Wednesday when the talks were cut off entirely and they were sued by extortion. And, as we all now know, that was followed immediately by the sexual harassment case being filed as well. There was a new legal move by Fox News today.
And that is the service of new legal papers on both the accuser and her attorney, asking the court to allow them to fire her. Now, keep in mind, Pat, she is still an employee of Fox News. And they want the judge to say that they are now allowed to fire her and that that will not be considered unlawful retaliation. So, that was the big news today.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me ask you, Lisa, you say there were negotiations between O‘Reilly and this woman, which is perfectly...
BLOOM: Between Fox News and her, yes.
BUCHANAN: Which is perfectly understandable.
Did you hear any numbers for a settlement talked about? The $60 million everybody knows is sort of ridiculous. That‘s almost a declaration of war. And I can understand why Fox News just said goodbye to her. But were they talking seriously about a number?
BLOOM: They did more than say goodbye. They slapped her with an extortion case.
And, yes, the number $60 million did come up. The accuser‘s side says to me that that number first came up from the Fox News people saying that that was about the amount of money that Bill O‘Reilly brought in to the station in profits in one year. Now, other than that, I‘m not getting a lot of detail on exactly what numbers were thrown around.
The accuser‘s side does strongly deny that they ever said pay us this money or we will expose you. This was all in the context of confidential settlement negotiations, the kind of negotiations, I have to tell you, as a former sexual harassment attorney myself, go on every day in a lot of different lawsuits.
BUCHANAN: OK. Bill O‘Reilly‘s retained, I understand, the services of Bo Dietl, which is chairman of Beau Dietl & Associates. It‘s a private investigation firm in New York.
Our own Dan Abrams spoke with Bo Dietl earlier today. Here‘s what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BO DIETL, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: There are a lot of things going on in this case.
As we‘re talking right now, we‘re developing the case now. As far as sexual harassment goes, you have all the attorneys. Yes, I‘ll talk about that. You have two consenting adults talking about something. The only charge that‘s really fact here is an extortion charge against her and her attorney against Bill O‘Reilly.
You have a case against a well-known person, and they thought they were going to be able to shake them down. You have an extortion here. It‘s the only crime that‘s really active here. As far as two people talking to each other, she could have hung up the phone at any time. There‘s no case of sexual harassment there.
And now what we‘re going to do as investigators now is take her credibility and show the court, if it ever goes there, her credibility falling apart.
This is going to be a message to people. When you file these frivolous lawsuits and you think you‘re going to get who are well known to give you money for garbage like this, we‘re going to investigate you. We‘re going to uncover things that we‘ve already—about your life, so you‘re wide open right now. So beware, people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: Lisa, that sounded pretty much that they‘re going to play hardball. They‘re going to after the background of the accuser.
BLOOM: You know, you could have taken this directly from her complaint. She says O‘Reilly threatened her in almost identical language a couple of months before she filed this complaint.
“If any woman ever breathed a word, I‘ll make her pay so dearly she‘ll wish she‘d never been born. I‘ll rake her through the mud, bring up things in her life, and make her so miserable she‘ll be destroyed.”
Now we have got Bo Dietl, hired by Fox News, going on national television saying essentially the same thing. I would be surprised if he makes further statements like that, Pat.
BUCHANAN: Well, look, as a former communications director at the White House, I‘m not sure that was very helpful. But...
BLOOM: It doesn‘t sound like a P.I. to me.
BUCHANAN: All right, but let me take up another issue of interest here, Lisa.
“The New York Post,” as you know, is owned by News Corp., and also News Corp. also—that‘s Rupert Murdoch, of course—also owns Fox News. Today‘s “New York Post” carried just one story about O‘Reilly. Here it is on page three.
The headline reads: “Flipping Out. Lunatic O‘Reilly Gal Went Nuts in Bar.” Apparently, the chef was the source for that. Lisa, are you shocked that “The Post” ran this kind of story?
BLOOM: Well, I think it‘s pretty transparent what they‘re trying to do. I read the article.
Apparently, she had a verbal altercation with a woman in a hotel restaurant. The accuser was there with her disabled mother and they had an argument about whether somebody could take a chair away from the table. My thinking is, if News Corp. wants to go after her and investigate her—and we know they‘ve hired an investigator, at least as of today—this is the most they could find? I‘d be hard-pressed to find any of my friends who haven‘t got into an argument in this city in a restaurant.
A verbal altercation, that‘s the best they‘ve got. But watch for more. Watch for more in “The Post,” on Fox News, in all of their publications.
BUCHANAN: All right. Now, what you‘re saying is, you think that the Murdoch publications, Fox News and “The New York Post,” working with Bo Dietl, who is a tough customer and who is a heavy hitter, are going to be working, you think, to dig into her background and publish her background so that she‘ll have reasons to back off.
BLOOM: I couldn‘t have said it any better than Bo Dietl in that clip that you just played. We want to send a message. We‘re going to come after her. This is pretty strong language. This is what she‘s been afraid of from the beginning. This is why she says she wouldn‘t go to H.R. without an attorney.
BUCHANAN: OK. We‘ll be right back.
BUCHANAN: Welcome back.
Lisa Bloom, I found that tape of Bo Dietl‘s that he gave today to Dan Abrams really astonishing. The threat was made public on national television, rather than a phone call or something like that.
What‘s your take of the P.R. aspects of that?
BLOOM: Very bad P.R. move.
Fox News needs to come out like they are the victim. That‘s the impression that Bill O‘Reilly has been trying to convey to people: She‘s trying to extort me. She‘s out to get me because I‘m a celebrity.
BLOOM: And , instead, it makes it clear that they‘re out to get her.
A young working woman against the power of News Corp.? Good grief.
BUCHANAN: OK, Lisa.
Thanks very much for joining us tonight.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media, Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, Inc.), ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.