Guests: Barbara Boxer, Victor Kamber, Sam Greenfield, Dennis Prager, Sally Quinn
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the show. I‘m Tucker Carlson, coming to you from Los Angeles, where I‘m training for a much anticipated return to “Dancing With the Stars.” More about that later.
But first, things couldn‘t have been worse for the Republican Party in last week‘s midterm elections. The reason for that can be summed up in a single word, Iraq. Now a White House under pressure faces questions from the Iraq Study Group, headed by Bush 41‘s secretary of state, Jim Baker.
Here is President Bush earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I‘m not going to prejudge the Baker commission‘s report. I was pleased to meet with them. I was impressed by the quality of the—of their membership. I was impressed by the questions they asked. They—they want us to succeed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: But has the definition of success in Iraq changed? And what are the chances of a sizeable troop withdrawal in the near future?
Here with the latest on that, NBC News‘ chief Pentagon correspondent, Jim Miklaszewski.
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC NEWS CHIEF PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Tucker, there is no question that the primary objective in Iraq has changed, that the sights have been lowered by the Bush administration. We heard just last week from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, tell MSBNC that now he thinks winning in Iraq would simply be to reduce the level of violence to an acceptable level that would allow some sense of governance there in Iraq.
Nobody is talking about establishing a democracy in Iraq any longer. In fact, most of the talk among the military is how to get out at this point. And then we heard over the weekend Senator Carl Levin, who is essentially the number two man on the Senate Armed Services Committee say that he is going to push for a withdrawal of American troops to begin within four to six months.
Now, Senator Levin is a very smart guy, and he didn‘t make that pronouncement in a vacuum. He talks constantly and his staff talk constantly to military commanders both here in the United States and in Iraq. Senator Levin is a frequent visitor to Iraq.
So, some of the military commanders appear to be telling Senator Levin that to begin a withdrawal would take about four to six months, which appears to comport with about everything else I‘ve heard. And in the meantime, U.S. military commanders in Iraq, although no hard decision has been made, are making plans to begin an acceleration of turnover of territory to Iraqi security forces.
They want to start doing that faster. That would permit, of course, the number of American troops in—in Iraq to be drawn down. The risk there, of course, is that if you throw the Iraqi security forces into that situation, give them too much territory before they‘re ready, that could result in still further chaos and embolden those sectarian militias—
CARLSON: Have you heard military commanders at the upper level suggest that pulling troops out of Iraq is a good idea?
MIKLASZEWSKI: Military commanders will not sign on to the idea of troop withdrawal. They will just talk about the possibilities.
What they do argue is that a total precipitous withdrawal of American troops on a timetable is not recommended, because they then claim that would give the enemy the green light to just sit—sit and wait back until the American troops leave. But it‘s pretty obvious by now, because there have been several high-level discussions between Prime Minister Maliki, the president, George Bush, and just the other day another meeting with General John Abizaid, the CENTCOM commander, with Maliki. He‘s seeking assurances that the U.S. military is not going to simply pull up stakes and withdraw immediately.
But, you know, interestingly enough, a senior administration official told
me the last time that Senator Levin and others called for a—the
beginning of a troop withdrawal, they said that works in the
administration, in the U.S., and the military‘s favor, because it puts the
first of all, it gives the White House some political cover. And second of all, it puts the Iraqis on notice that this is not an open-ended commitment sooner, rather than later, American troops are bound to start coming home.
CARLSON: Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon.
Thanks a lot.
MIKLASZEWSKI: You bet.
CARLSON: Well, as Jim just pointed out, Carl Levin, incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wants what he calls a phased redeployment of troops in four to six months.
Here‘s Senator Levin earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: Because the American people are not accepting the presidential view, which is that we are “absolutely winning,” a view expressed by the president just a few weeks ago. They are not accepting the vice president‘s view of a few weeks ago, full speed ahead in Iraq. Those were statements made just a few weeks ago, ignoring the obvious reality on the ground in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So now that they‘re in charge, what is the Democratic position on what we ought to do in Iraq ?
Joining me now to answer that question, Senator Barbara Boxer of California, joining us from Washington.
Senator, thanks a lot for coming on.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: You saw your colleague John McCain say yesterday on FOX that a withdrawal of troops from Iraq would invite chaos. That‘s kind of the stock answer to your calls for withdrawal.
Would you make of it, though? There‘s truth in that, isn‘t there?
BOXER: Well, John McCain has really been all over the lot. The very beginning of the war I asked him how he thought it was going. I voted no, he had supported it. And he basically said, “Barbara, don‘t worry. I see the worry on your face. This is going to be really easy.”
Now he‘s saying send more troops. And you have to ask the question, how does that make sense?
The fact of the matter is, 60 percent of the Iraqi people in a recent poll said it was OK to shoot and kill an American. Why do we want to send more over there? Seventy percent of the Iraqis say when we leave things will get better. So if we‘re doing this for the Iraqi people, why don‘t we listen to them, as well as to the American people?
CARLSON: Senator, though, if we‘re doing it for ourselves, as I think you
and I probably agree we ought to be—we ought to be doing it for America
and what is best for us, it‘s hard to get around, though, however
disappointing this war has been—it‘s been obviously very disappointing -
but around the facts that when we pull our troops out, things will get worse. Things can get worse, and they will get worse.
Don‘t you agree with that?
BOXER: I certainly do not. As a matter of fact, when I went to Iraq the last time, General Casey was very clear. He said that our presence there in a large footprint is counterproductive. That is fuelling terrorism, and that is exactly what the intelligence estimate said, that our presence there is fueling terror.
So, it‘s just an awful policy. It isn‘t working. I think people like Joe Biden, who has said, look, we need a political solution, we need a practical, political solution to sit the parties down, separate the warring factions, give them their own semiautonomous regions, keep a federal government in Iraq, have the oil divided equally among all the parties, and bring in the international community to piece (ph) the thing, that‘s what we really need now. Not more of the same.
Sending more troops isn‘t going to help us at all. There already is chaos in Iraq. And our own intelligence people are saying that our presence there is fueling the chaos.
CARLSON: Do you think, Senator, though, that when American troops withdraw -- and it looks like they‘re going to withdraw—Iran‘s influence with Iraq will increase? I mean, there‘s really no getting—I mean, shouldn‘t we just admit the truth, that this is a disaster, obviously, but that pulling out will make Iran more powerful within Iraq? I mean, there‘s no denying that, is there?
BOXER: Well, you‘re assuming that you‘re pulling out from the area completely, and that is untrue. The fact is, if you listen to John Murtha, who is, as you know, pretty much a hawk on everything but Iraq, he now says what we ought to be doing and his initial idea was to redeploy the troops over the horizon.
We‘re not talking about bringing everybody home. We‘re going to retain troops in the region so that if there is any activity from any other country, we have a specific way to deal with it.
So, I don‘t think that the way you‘re posing it, that we get out and we just forget the whole thing is what anybody is saying. We are saying find a political solution, redeploy our troops—some of them to the region—make sure Afghanistan doesn‘t get out of control.
So there‘s lots of things we can do other than what I hear in the tenor of your voice, which I may be wrong—but I do know you—which is sort of a resignation that, in fact, what can we do? Just keep on staying the course? Which is what the president says, and the American people rejected it.
CARLSON: That‘s not of course what I‘m suggesting at all.
BOXER: But that is what you‘re suggesting.
CARLSON: It‘s not what I‘m suggesting.
BOXER: Yes, it is.
CARLSON: I‘m merely—I‘m merely suggesting that we should be honest about what we are doing.
BOXER: You bet.
CARLSON: If you‘re pushing for a withdrawal, redeployment is a euphemism designed to hide the fact that we‘re pulling our troops out. I mean, that‘s the truth, and we should just say what the truth is.
BOXER: Well, I want to say—I want to say what the truth is.
CARLSON: Is it—and I‘m not—but shouldn‘t we be honest about what‘s going to happen?
BOXER: Could I say...
BOXER: Let me just say what the truth is, and you can go back to the record. Over 75 senators, 75 senators, voted to make 2006 the year of transition to begin bringing our troops home and allowing the Iraqis to defend themselves. This is a consensus view, Tucker. This isn‘t a Barbara Boxer view or a Democratic view.
We drew a lot of Republican support.
CARLSON: Oh, I know.
BOXER: But people also agreed with us. So it sounds to me like what you‘re doing is, everybody somebody suggests something is say, well, the only real answer is to just say there.
CARLSON: I‘m not doing that at all. And I‘m not suggesting that yours is a crackpot view. I just—I‘m suggesting there is a kind of fudging in it because it‘s an unwillingness to look honestly at what could happen. And I think—let me put it this way: when we pull American troops out—and I agree that we‘re going to, it‘s going to happen—it‘s obvious that it‘s going to happen because there‘s a political desire for it to happen—but when we do we will have been defeated.
Can we just admit that? Or are we going to pretend it‘s a victory? Are Democrats going to pretend we‘re somehow winning by leaving?
BOXER: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a minute. Let‘s go back to the beginning.
The first mission was to find the weapons of destruction, of mass destruction.
BOXER: There were none. Fine. We accomplished that.
The second mission was to get Saddam. We got that, and he will be dead.
So we got that right.
The third was to have several Iraqi elections. We did that.
Now, I think that our troops can certainly point to all of that. We have had, however, many problems doing what the president wanted, which was really to “bring democracy” and get people who have been warring with each other forever to come together.
I think you have someone like Joe Biden, who is about to be chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, saying, look, let‘s deal with reality. And I think there is one crackpot view, if I might use your word, and that crackpot view is to keep on doing what we are doing.
It‘s killing our soldiers. We have got 20 percent-plus of them from my home state. I have written more letters of condolence, I have met with more parents, I have met with wounded veterans, many of whom now are coming home with mental health wounds of Post-Traumatic Stress. So it makes no sense to keep them in a circumstance where they are the targets in a civil war.
CARLSON: OK. I am in no way defending the war or our conduct of the war. I don‘t think it‘s worth forcing democracy on anyone who doesn‘t understand it, including the Iraqis. I am merely saying it‘s a big bad deal if we are seen as losing there. And I think that the people in charge ought to recognize that. And I‘m sure you agree.
BOXER: Well, yes. I don‘t think “losing” and “winning” are the operative words. I think, what should our policy be to resolve this situation?
CARLSON: All right. Senator Barbara Boxer, if you would just stay right there, if you would. We‘ll be right back.
BOXER: Sure. I‘m happy to.
CARLSON: Still to come, did last week‘s election thrashing give Democrats a license to investigate the Bush administration? And will they? Who‘s on the short list for a subpoena?
We‘ll ask Senator Barbara Boxer, who would know.
And Nancy Pelosi backs Jack Murtha for majority leader. Is it a sign Democrats already are divided before they‘ve even come to office?
That story when we come back.
CARLSON: Welcome back.
With control of both houses in the hands of the Democrats, the White House likely to find itself under investigation on many fronts. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada said last week the subpoenas would be rare, but where will the investigations begin?
Back with me now, California Senator Barbara Boxer in Washington.
Senator Boxer, thanks for joining us.
I want to ask you about that in just one second. But very quickly, Howard Dean said yesterday, on a day when Democrats were talking about timetables for withdrawal from Iraq, a redeployment from Iraq, he said we should not have a timetable for a withdrawal from Iraq.
Does he speak for you party? Is—are you going—are you all going to fire him? Is he useful to have running your party at this point, do you think?
BOXER: Well, I think everything that Senator Levin has said, who is the new chair of the Armed Services Committee coming up in the new Congress, is that we begin, we begin withdrawing. And that‘s what we said in that vote that we had where we had 70-plus senators saying in ‘06, which is unfortunately not going to happen, we should begin withdrawing and allowing the Iraqis to protect and defend their own country, which is what every country does. It protects and defends their own people.
CARLSON: OK. Yes. To the question of investigations are oversight...
CARLSON: ... as Democrats have been calling it recently, of all the terrible things that have happened in Iraq—and you enumerated some of them a minute ago—when you listen to Democrats you really get the feeling that they believe the idea a couple of American companies like Halliburton have gotten rich on the war. That‘s the worst thing that‘s happened in Iraq.
Why the obsession on the part of Democrats with Halliburton and these military contractors?
BOXER: Well, I think there is outrage in a lot of fronts. And, you know, when you talk about subpoenas, subpoenas aren‘t necessarily a bad thing. When you want to investigate and you want to do oversight, which is what our job is, whether there is a Democrat in the White House or a Republican, having the subpoena power is a good chit to have so that you get the information that you need.
I would remind you that under the Gingrich House when they came in, they issued thousands and thousands of subpoenas. I don‘t see us doing that, frankly, and I would suspect there would be cooperation.
And if you want to look at Halliburton, I could tell a story that years ago we found out they were charging a fortune to the military for something like hand towels because they wanted to embroider on each towel the name of their company. It is an outrage.
And there has been so much waste, fraud and abuse that you—I just hope
there will be investigations, because some of these companies ought to be -
you know, have to reimburse taxpayers for some of the charges that they put on the taxpayers.
CARLSON: You mentioned the thousands of subpoenas...
CARLSON: ... Dan Burton and Newt Gingrich, and et cetera, the Republicans in the House in the ‘90s issued looking into the Clinton White House. It hurt the Republicans pretty badly politically, as you know.
Are you aware of that, or are Democrats aware about seeming overzealous in their investigations?
BOXER: That‘s what I said.
BOXER: I said they issued thousands and thousands of subpoenas, and we don‘t intend to do that. I think we‘ll get cooperation.
But one of the things that upsets us is, when we read in the middle of the night the Republicans fired the special inspector general who was overseeing the contracts in Iraq—and if we have an inspector general there, it makes it less important for us to do this intensive oversight because the inspector general is doing it. But when you fire him, then we have to step in. We are going to try to get him reinstated.
But there‘s just a whole history of problems...
BOXER: ... with contacting. They weren‘t doing competitive bidding in the beginning. I remember that I supported an amendment—I might have even written it way back early in the war—to say there has to be competitive bidding. And if you don‘t have it, go back and start again, because it looked like Halliburton was just getting all of the contracts.
CARLSON: And finally, your friend Joe Lieberman was shunned by the Democratic Party, elected really with the help of Republicans. He wouldn‘t have been elected without Republican support last week. Now he is suggesting that maybe he will switch to the Republican Party.
Maybe he should do that. What do you think?
BOXER: Oh, no, I don‘t think so. And I take him at his word. And actually, Joe couldn‘t have gotten elected without Democrats, very, very strong union backing.
So he had a real mix. In other words, every part of that mix he needed to get elected, and as far as I know—I am surprised to hear you say he is going to switch parties. At this point, he is an Independent who is caucusing with Democrats.
BOXER: And we expect that that will happen and he will keep his—he will now be chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
And by the way, many Democrats did go in, in the primary, to support Joe. And also, some actually shunned the Democratic candidate, which was surprising, and went in and helped him at the end of the day.
CARLSON: Yes, that‘s true.
CARLSON: Senator Barbara Boxer of California, I think you‘re a lot more appealing than Hillary Clinton. I think you ought to run for president.
BOXER: Well, thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: That‘s my view.
BOXER: Is that endorsement? Never mind. Never mind.
CARLSON: No, but I like you better than her.
Thanks a lot, Senator. I appreciate it.
CARLSON: Coming up, Nancy Pelosi goes gunning for Jane Harman, but if she replaces Harman as the head of the Intelligence Committee, will moderate Democrats rebel?
Two of the biggest names in the Republican Party, meanwhile, eyeing the White House, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. Will one replace the other as the frontrunner?
We‘ve got that story when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: And I am looking forward to working with Nancy and trying to make sure we come up with a policy—we reduce the viciousness in the House, hopefully, and we try to increase the by bipartisanship.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, “HARDBALL”: OK. You‘re going to beat Steny Hoyer then for leader?
MURTHA: Yes, you got it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Well, she‘s not officially in charge yet, but already House speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi is rustling feathers in her own party. Her first move, endorsing Pennsylvania congressman Jack Murtha for House majority leader, marching right past her current second in command, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland.
Could Pelosi already be alienating the more moderate Democrats, a group rapidly growing in both number and power in the Democratic Party?
Joining me now from Washington to discuss this, Democratic strategist Vic Kamber.
What is—what‘s the subtext here? Why would she be endorsing Jack Murtha?
VICTOR KAMBER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: There‘s one thing about Nancy Pelosi that everyone has known who has ever worked with her, and that‘s loyalty. And John Murtha was a mentor, was her campaign manger for speaker, and in many ways she‘s repaying him.
She may also agree with him on certain issues. The irony is your description of alienating the moderates. Mr. Murtha happens to be much more moderate on the social issues...
CARLSON: Yes, that‘s right.
KAMBER: ... than he is—than Steny Hoyer is. So I‘m not...
CARLSON: He‘s actually pretty conservative on the social issues.
KAMBER: Yes. I‘m not sure it‘s easy to define moderate and liberal. I think you have two ambitious men that are running to be the number two in the party, and she‘s chosen one that she endorses.
CARLSON: I think—I think—I think you make a really fair point. You‘re right, Jack Murtha is, I think, a decent guy and a pretty reasonable guy on a lot of issues. But he‘s pro-defense.
I was speaking specifically about the questions of Iraq...
CARLSON: ... where he is on the leftward side of your party, certainly to the left of Steny Hoyer. But it does raise a sort of large question about the leadership of the Democratic Party.
Here you elected—or voters elected all these moderate—in some cases, conservative—Democrats, but the party leadership, the committee chairmen are, for the most part, 75-year-old left-wingers. I mean, there‘s going to be a problem at some point with the party, isn‘t there?
KAMBER: Well, a problem you may have with some—the direction of the legislation. I don‘t think the American public is going to have that problem. And it‘s no different than the problem that the Republicans had.
I mean, the Republicans right now are faced with, what, 10, 12 people who are running of the five or six leadership spots? You know, it‘s the Republicans that change the process in their caucus of going through seniority. We‘ll have to see.
Nancy basically says that she‘s going to stick with the seniority. There‘s only one committee that she doesn‘t have to do seniority on, and that‘s the Intelligence Committee, where there is no seniority. And we‘ll see.
And I—yes, I think there‘s a number of chairs that are both up in age and seniority in the House, but that just means they bring wisdom and knowledge and talent to the table.
CARLSON: Here‘s what seems to me to be going on. Iraq has really replaced abortion as the one issue in which there is no ground for compromise on the Democratic side. I mean, it used to be if you had a pro-life position, you were relegated to the outer fringes of the party. That‘s clearly, I‘m glad to say, changing.
But on Iraq, if you don‘t agree with Nancy Pelosi and Jack Murtha, as Jane Harman does not—currently the Democratic—the minority head of the Intelligence Committee—you are in trouble. So Pelosi is pushing Jane Harman out, I mean, because she differs on Iraq.
KAMBER: Tucker, I think, again, that is too simplified. The issues with Jane Harman go far beyond and are different than just Iraq and just an agreement.
First of all, when you say if you don‘t agree with Nancy Pelosi or John Murtha, I‘m not sure exactly what their position is. They haven‘t...
CARLSON: Immediate withdrawal. Immediate withdrawal from Iraq.
KAMBER: No, I don‘t think that‘s correct. I do not think that‘s correct.
There is a phased-out withdrawal. Look at the Baker commission report.
There‘s a series of things they‘ve said.
But with, you know, Mrs. Pelosi and Mrs. Harman, two national Democrats, two very talented women, have differences of opinion on a series of things, the speaker gets to name the chair of the Intelligence Committee, gets to name the entire Intelligence Committee. There is no seniority, there is no guarantee you have to be on that committee a second term, unlike any other committee. And if it‘s correct what we‘re reading—and it‘s only what we‘re reading so far—she has indicated she will probably pick someone other than Ms. Harman to be the chair.
CARLSON: It looks like the enforcement of orthodoxy to me, but we‘ll see.
You‘re right. We‘ll find out.
Vic Kamber, thank you.
KAMBER: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Still to come, what could be a case of “Father Knows Best.” Is George Bush the elder stepping in to save his son‘s troubled presidency? The answer when we return.
CARLSON: Still to come, John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani prepare to battle it out for the Republican presidential nomination two years from now. Who‘s the better candidate? Plus, Elton John‘s quest to ban religion throughout the world. Good luck with that, Elton. We‘ll get those stories in just a minute, but right now here‘s a look at your headlines.
MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC ANCHOR: I‘m Margaret Brennan with your CNBC market wrap. Stock‘s gain as oil heads lower and one Fed member gives a positive outlook on the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the day up 23 points. The S&P 500 up 3-1/2 points. The NASDAQ up by more than 16. Mild weather and questions about OPEC‘s commitment to production cuts putting pressure on crude oil. U.S. oil prices falling more than a dollar to $58.58 a barrel in New York Trading session. There is a $286 million cash buyout offer for retailer Eddie Bauer holdings. Two private equity firms behind that bid which includes assuming $328 million in debt. That move still requires shareholder approval. And Merck is getting mixed reviews on a drug it hopes will replace Vioxx. Doctors say Arcaxia(ph) poses the same heart risk as an older arthritis drug. Merck is trying to get FDA approval for Arcaxia(ph) after it was forced to pull Vioxx amid safety concerns two years ago. The company also facing thousands of Vioxx related lawsuits. Merck still traded up 34 cents on today‘s session. That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide. Now, back to Tucker.
CARLSON: It‘s time now for our round table. Really more of a triangle to be honest. Joining us from New York City Sam Greenfield, host of “The Morning Show” on WWRL Radio and from Burbank, California, Dennis Prager, the host of “The Dennis Prager Show”. Welcome to you both. Earlier we discussed President Bush under pressure from Democrats to change course in Iraq. Bush met today with members of the Iraq Study Group, that‘s an independent panel headed by former Secretary of State Jim Baker. Baker of course has close ties to the Bush family. That group is likely to recommend a series of options centered on a phased U.S. military withdrawal. Dennis, everybody is for withdrawal. I mean the truth is as much as Republicans try to make this last election a referendum on whether the Democrats were reckless on national security or not, they‘re for withdrawal too, aren‘t they?
DENNIS PRAGER, HOST, “THE DENNIS PRAGER SHOW”: Well every army that has ever represented any noble idea has voted for withdrawal. We wanted to withdraw from Europe as soon as possible in World War II. The question is do our enemy‘s set the timetable or do we set the timetable? That‘s the only question that I need answered. Because if the enemies perceive that they have set the timetable, we will have far more of this in the future. It‘s as simple as that.
CARLSON: Sam, the Iraq Study Group it seems to me gives the White House and the architects of this war cover, it gives everybody cover. It is the perfect sort of moral barricade everybody can hide behind because it‘s bipartisan.
SAM GREENFIELD, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Did you ever think you‘d hear the words Bush and study group in the same sentence. I can‘t get enough of that.
CARLSON: Oh come now Sam.
GREENFIELD: I‘m so sorry, but it was laying there, so what can you do. I think that this war as we stated now is virtually unwinnable because we can‘t commit the time. The country won‘t let us commit the time it will take because it will take an eternity. We‘re fighting an enemy, what was it, 35 people were killed the other day by two suicide bombers. We‘re fighting an enemy that doesn‘t care if they die, very hard to defeat. And it‘s a civil war and it‘s out of hand and we know things aren‘t going well and we can‘t win this. I‘m not saying we have to get out tomorrow, but we have to get out. And if you establish a timetable, then you are the one in command. You are the one making the decision, you‘re not letting them do it. If we can‘t do anything here, see you.
CARLSON: How hard do you think Dennis Republicans are going to hit Democrats on the war for the next two years, I mean considering the 2008 presidential election essentially the campaign is under way now. Do you think you‘re going to hear the Republican candidate, whoever he is, accuse the Democrats of courting defeat in Iraq or is it just going to drop?
PRAGER: Oh the answer to that—yeah, it‘s a great question but the answer is unknowable, it depends on what the Democrats will do when they have some power. What you do when you have no power is of academic interest. Now the Democrats are in half of the driver‘s seat and let‘s see what they do. And if they‘re responsible and if the Jack Murtha‘s of the party and the old time left wingers of the party don‘t dominate, then the Democrats can present themselves honestly as a party with simply different options but the same preoccupation with American security and most important a realization of the depth of evil of the folks we‘re fighting. Democrats don‘t like the word evil, they didn‘t like it when Ronald Reagan used it about the Soviet Union and that‘s a real problem.
CARLSON: I absolutely agree with that. I think if Democrats stand up and say, you know, Islamic fascism is the problem facing the world. The whole civilized world. If they stipulate that at the outset, I think they‘d get a pass at least from me on a lot of other details. I just want to hear Democrats acknowledge that and then I‘d trust them more. I think most people feel that way. Speaking of the presidential election of 2008, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani clearly the front runners now on the Republican side. A poll last month showed Giuliani in fact is leading with 29 percent followed closely by McCain with 27 percent. Not that these numbers mean a great deal. McCain has essentially started his campaign already. As for Giuliani, he‘s been downplaying last week‘s Democratic election sweep, he says quote, “I‘ve given running for president a lot of though and I will give it more thought.” The question I think Sam, as a Democrat looking on at this contest, who‘s a more effective candidate, Giuliani or McCain?
GREENFIELD: Well let me clear one thing up, I‘m not a Democrat, but thanks for asking.
CARLSON: Oh as someone who‘s not likely to be voting in the Republican primary in 2008, how‘s that.
GREENFIELD: That‘s good, ok. I think that right now it‘s McCain. I think in two years it‘s going to be Giuliani. Because, speaking as a New Yorker, I can‘t describe to you what he would do if he decides he wants to be president. What lengths he would go to, what ends of the earth he will try to bring together. This man is driven, this man is ambitious and if he gets it into his mind that he wants to be president, get out of the way.
CARLSON: Dennis Prager, the conventional wrath on Giuliani, I‘m not even sure what I think of it, is, you know he‘s a hero and all that, he‘s clearly a talented guy and as Sam said, a driven and determined man, but he‘s just way too liberal for Republicans who vote in primaries, especially in South Carolina. What do you think of that?
PRAGER: Well, if he‘s if he‘s against McCain then it really is a matter of almost you know moderate versus liberal so to speak. I would prefer somebody who had the values of a Mitt Romney but I‘d prefer somebody who defeats the Democrats, I‘m being perfectly open here. I don‘t want the Democrats to have the presidency. I was a Democrat until 10 years ago, but the party left me. It moved so far leftward.
GREENFIELD: It‘s interesting you say that, I‘m sorry, I just thought you had stopped. But go ahead.
PRAGER: That‘s ok.
GREENFIELD: Ok, I thought that it was interesting you bring that up about Giuliani because I saw a convention of people in South Carolina, delegates, and one of them actually said, you know, I‘m not crazy about Giuliani‘s stand on social issues. This is a South Carolinian. But he said I‘m also a pragmatist and I want the person who I think can win to be at the head of the party. And if they think its Giuliani, I think you might be surprised how people are going to look the other way on social issues to get a Republican in the White House.
CARLSON: Hold on. Isn‘t it exactly, Dennis, and to you specifically, since you just said you kind of agree with that. Isn‘t that precisely the Machiavellian attitude that gave us George W. Bush posing as a conservative and then pursuing this kind of utopian foreign policy, driving up the deficit, governing as a liberal.
PRAGER: Well he did govern as a conservative except in the arena of economics, which is a huge area, I acknowledge. And it was a terrible failure and ironically the failure that led to his own father‘s defeat, read my lips, no new taxes and then he raised taxes and that‘s what killed his father and he didn‘t learn the lesson and it‘s tragic. But on social issues, and frankly I will say something I‘m sure Sam doesn‘t agree with, I‘m sure many viewers don‘t, but I actually believe the most important domestic issue is whether or not we redefine marriage. And on that I probably don‘t share the same view of Giuliani but I would still prefer him in the final analysis to a Democrat where I know I have no chance to keep marriage defined as a man and woman. I think that is the central defining issue of the future of the United States on domestic matters. I think the fight against Islamic fascism is the foreign one.
GREENFIELD: I think we should allow gay people to get married because I don‘t understand why they should be happy. That‘s my basic tenet on that. But everything else you‘re talking about.
CARLSON: So basically you‘re taking an anti-gay position here.
GREENFIELD: Exactly. But to get to the bigger point, I don‘t think George Bush is a conservative. I think he‘s a radical fundamentalist. I think he believes in the dismantling of government except for state and defense. And I think he‘s trying to spend it into bankruptcy and you can‘t show me any case where he hasn‘t raised the budget and if he‘s a conservative, why are we involved in two different wars. A true conservative is an isolationist who stays at home. There is nothing conservative about him, overspending, not defending the borders. What‘s conservative about this guy?
CARLSON: I tend to agree with you, but then of course the definitions of Democrat, Republican, conservative liberal are getting muddier by the day.
GREENFIELD: But democrats are expanding their tent. The Democrats have a Heath Shuler and a Bob Casey in office.
CARLSON: You‘re right and we‘ll see exactly how that works.
PRAGER: But it doesn‘t matter. In policy wise it doesn‘t matter.
GREENFIELD: Yeah it will.
PRAGER: This notion of I think abortion is murder, they will say that but it doesn‘t matter to me because it only matters what the American people decide.
GREENFIELD: And the American people decided that they‘re in favor of choice.
PRAGER: But let me finish, this time let me finish.
GREENFIELD: Go ahead.
PRAGER: It doesn‘t matter if the Democrats have 50 members of the Senate who are all pro life. If the voting doesn‘t go that way, then their personal value system is irrelevant. So this notion that look at how conservative Democrats are getting, unless it plays out in policy is of no import whatsoever.
GREENFIELD: I didn‘t say that they‘re getting, I said they‘ve expanded the tent.
CARLSON: I‘ll tell you a case where it actually may matter. Rhetoric matters obviously. But in the Senate, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman he‘s claiming he would not rule out switching to the Republican Party. A former Democrat Lieberman won reelection last week as an independent and he won with Republican votes. He now wants to be called what he calls an independent Democrat, whatever that is. If he does switch though, so goes control of the United States Senate. It will be 50/50 and Cheney would be the deciding vote. This really matters I guess my question is, Sam, why shouldn‘t he switch? He won with Republican votes, he has a Republican position on the war, the one issue that really matters in 2006. He‘s essentially Republican.
GREENFIELD: Zel Miller moves to Connecticut.
CARLSON: Right, exactly.
GREENFIELD: This guy, you know something, I have never seen anyone, I mean his ego staggers me. First, I mean, how far back do you want to go? When he gets on the floor of the Senate and chastises Bill Clinton as his friend but he chastises him on C-Span when decides to become the vice-presidential candidate. And during the debate with Dick Cheney, I thought they were going to pick out furniture. And he‘s Jewish and couldn‘t carry southern Florida. And then you go to this. Well, it depends on how I‘m treated. What are you Scarlet O‘Hara at 12 Oaks? You‘re a U.S. Senator. You fought a good fight, you won. You said you were going to stay in the Democratic Caucus, it depends on how I‘m treated. This isn‘t hopscotch. You‘re going to be treated like a Democrat who is for the war, that‘s what you‘re going to be treated like, grow up.
CARLSON: Dennis, you‘re a Republican, you want this guy?
PRAGER: Yeah, I would love him.
GREENFIELD: Sure you do, yeah.
PRAGER: There‘s no question.
GREENFIELD: What, do you think he‘s going to say no, come on?
CARLSON: Yeah, but Joe Lieberman is actually more liberal than people realize, he‘s just self righteous so people think he‘s conservative.
GREENFIELD: Oh it‘s beyond that, he‘s --
PRAGER: Well that‘s Ed Ominum(ph) silliness.
CARLSON: It‘s actually true.
GREENFIELD: Come on, if you open up the refrigerator and the light hits his face he talks for 10 minutes, please, he‘s very self seeking. Let‘s stop this --
CARLSON: Let‘s let Dennis respond to that.
PRAGER: Well, I mean, look, first of all, I tend not to engage in Ed Ominim(ph) attacks, it doesn‘t get us any where. I am sure that my view of Ted Kennedy is lower and Sam‘s view is lower than his view of Joe Lieberman. So that‘s not relevant. Moreover, there are very few senators with miniscule egos. So that‘s not the question, the question for any public figure is not their ego, it‘s not their self righteousness, it‘s whether or not they‘re right. If I think the person is right, I want him, if you think the person is right, you want him. I would rather have a self righteous guy who‘s values I share then a humble guy who‘s values I don‘t share.
CARLSON: It‘s hard to watch. We‘re out of time, Dennis, Sam, thank you both very much.
GREENFIELD: Thank you.
PRAGER: Thank you.
CARLSON: I appreciate it. It‘s like old times in the White House.
The president has called his father‘s friend to help rescue his presidency.
Is it too late? We‘ll discuss that when we come right back.
CARLSON: At the White House they‘re partying like it‘s 1991. President Bush calls for backup from his father‘s cronies. Can they save his legacy? Plus, Borat offends again. All that and more when we come back in 60 seconds.
CARLSON: Prepare yourself for a serious case of deja vu. It‘s coming from the White House in the wake of last week‘s political disaster for the Republicans when they loss control of both the House and the Senate, Donald Rumsfeld was forced to resign. It appears President Bush is looking to his father to save what is left of his presidency. He replaced Rumsfeld with his father‘s former CIA director Bob Gates, there may be more to come. It‘s the cover of “Newsweek”. The question is, is it a good strategy? Joining me now to take a closer look at it, journalist author and noted expert on the ways of Washington, Sally Quinn. Sally thanks a lot for coming on. Is this smart?
SALLY QUINN, JOURNALIST: Is it smart to go for the father‘s?
QUINN: Yes, absolutely. I mean it should have happened six years ago.
CARLSON: I agree.
QUINN: I mean George Bush the first is a really good man and he‘s a decent man, he‘s smart, he‘s wise, he has a lot of people around him who know what they‘re doing and he‘s moderate. One of the things he did do was, I mean as you remember in the first Gulf War, he really had the alliance with him. I mean he had called all of our allies, he made sure everybody was on board. He was very much a guy who reached out to other people, who listened to other people. And this administration has been very much my way or the highway. I gather that the son didn‘t really listen to his father and take much advice from his father.
CARLSON: Is that true?
QUINN: Well this is what I understand is that at one point somebody asked George Bush, Sr. what he thought about the Iraq war and how his son was doing and what he told his son. And he said when he calls I tell him I love him, which is a wonderful thing. But I feel that it must have been extremely—well I know that it was extremely frustrating for him and I think particularly the breach between this White House and (INAUDIBLE) was very difficult for the first President Bush because they were very close. And I think that Brent (INAUDIBLE) was essentially reflecting the views of the father. And it seems to me that it‘s taken six years and I really don‘t think that much would have changed if the Democrats hadn‘t won the House and the Senate, I really do think that they would have gone—just gone right until the very end doing what they were doing, but I think it was such a wake up call for this president that I think he had no choice but to turn to his father‘s friends because they were all proven right.
CARLSON: Well sure, I mean and that‘s why defeat, you know getting the tar knocked out of you is good once in a while. It‘s good for your soul and I think it‘s been good for this president. This president did what so many presidents do and I know you‘ve seen this time and time again. He came to Washington and decided he had nothing to learn from people who already lived there. Why do they always do that, why do they decide they‘re going to reinvent everything?
QUINN: Tucker it absolutely baffles me and it never fails. And I have this piece that I run every time there is a new president, basically it‘s been going on for 35 years, the same piece, over and over again, in which I quote people who came in and acted as though they had nothing to learn and they were going to show Washington how to do things and then the whole thing fell apart. And so I kind of run the same piece with the same quotes from the same people except that I keep adding new quotes --
CARLSON: And I always agree with it, every time you right that piece, I slam my coffee cup on the table and say, that‘s right.
QUINN: One of the things we say, is listen to the people in Washington, they have a lot to say. Remember this that when you come to Washington, you are Washington, you‘re part of it. You ran against it but once you‘re here you‘re it. So you can‘t be anti-Washington when you are running the show here. Don‘t always think that you‘re right. Go out, meet people, hear different points of view. And they just don‘t do it and they don‘t do it and they don‘t do it and then the whole thing, I always have one line which I write, which is and when things go bad and they will, it‘s going to be because you didn‘t listen to anybody. You know it‘s just such a no brainer that it constantly amazes me how these new administrations can come in, time after time after time, and make exactly the same mistakes that the old ones did.
CARLSON: Well I hope that you get to them early this time. You should write that piece before the election and maybe you‘ll spare the country. Sally Quinn, thank you very much.
QUINN: Thank you.
CARLSON: We knew a Democratic victory would mean a more liberal Pelosi House. Will it be an around the clock drug and S&M party in Congress? Saturday Night Live thinks so, we‘ll show you when we come right back.
CARLSON: Look who we found wondering aimlessly on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. It‘s Willie Geist!
WILLIE GEIST: Thanks for rescuing me Tucker. It was getting bad there for a minute, I really appreciate you taking me in. One programming note before we get started. Tomorrow on this show, Jerry Springer, your old friend from “Dancing with the Stars.” He‘s going to be joining us to talk a little bit of “Dancing with the Stars” finale, Mario versus Emmett. But also a little bit of politics. As you know, Jerry is so much more than chair throwing and ballroom dancing.
CARLSON: He‘s a smart guy.
GEIST: He‘s a very smart guy. So we‘ll have him on tomorrow, you won‘t want to miss that. We‘ll preview the “Dancing with the Stars” finale and talk a little politics with him too.
GEIST: In the meantime Tucker, leading up to last week‘s midterms, Republicans and a certain host of this show I might add, warned that if Democrats took power a screaming San Francisco liberal would be calling the shots in the House. Well the Democrats did take power and Nancy Pelosi will be calling the shots. Saturday Night Live painted a picture of the cesspool of immorality that‘s sure to come under Speaker Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is your friend?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, this is my slave, his name is filth. He‘s a human ashtray.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This office is non-smoking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s just pot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, ok. How do you do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations on becoming speaker.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, I appreciate that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘re great.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dean, I had better get back to this.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: Tucker you were one of the people saying this, so is the Hill going to start to look like the Castro district of San Francisco?
CARLSON: That makes it look more fun that it really is. I will say, I don‘t think there is a single member of the bondage and discipline community and I know some of them, who doesn‘t vote reliably Democratic. And let‘s be honest here.
GEIST: No, that‘s a good point.
CARLSON: That is a good point.
GEIST: She‘s speaking to her base I guess.
CARLSON: I think it‘s the transgender Eskimos.
GEIST: Oh that‘s right, that‘s Ron Kind. By the way, I will say just one note. SNL was excellent the other night. They had Aleck Baldwin, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Paul McCartney, it was star studded but overwhelming show of course. Any way, Tucker, you would not peg Borat as a Hollywood leading man would you? But he‘s raking in money like he‘s Leonardo DiCaprio. Borat was number one at the box office for a second straight weekend. He‘s up to $68 million domestically and an incredible $107 million worldwide. The more popular the movie gets the more Borat‘s unwitting victims become humiliated. As you know a group of college students who made complete asses of themselves have sued 20th Century Fox and a local news producer was fired for allowing Borat onto a live show, is now demanding an apology. I finally saw the movie. I saw it on Saturday. As you know I have been an evangelist for Borat and for the movie. I watched the Ally G. show from its inception. I love Borat. I was a little let down.
CARLSON: Were you really?
GEIST: I gave it an 85.
GEIST: I love Borat, I might have to go see it again but I think the expectations are too high.
CARLSON: Boy that‘s stunning, that hurts, Willie Geist, the movie reviewer today. That‘s our show from LA, how fitting. Thanks for watching. Up next, “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS,” we‘ll see you here tomorrow from LA.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, 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 NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.