Guests: Jonathan Chait, Ken Timmerman, Frank Donatelli, Bill Press, Michael Graham, Gloria Allred
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to the show. I‘m Tucker Carlson. A lot to get to today, including advice that could help George W. Bush save his troubled presidency.
And another outrage in the wake of Michael Richards‘ not-so-funny comedy rant the other night.
But first, our top story of today: civil war in Iraq. That‘s what we at NBC News have agreed to characterize the violence in that country, but the White House took exception today. National Security Council Spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, quote, “While the situation on the ground is very serious, neither Prime Minister Maliki nor we believe that Iraq is in a civil war.”
President Bush arrived in Estonia just a little while ago on his way to a meeting in Jordan with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a meeting that apparently can‘t even be held in Iraq because of safety concerns. So why is the White House so determined to avoid calling Iraq a civil war? And does it matter?
Joining me now to talk about that, MSNBC military analyst Colonel Jack Jacobs.
Colonel, thanks a lot for coming on. Is this a civil war?
COL. JACK JACOBS, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Good afternoon, Tucker. It is a civil war, and we‘ve said it here many, many times, certainly over the last year or so.
JACOBS: Maybe even more. The White House is reluctant because it bet its stack on a purely military solution on what was a complex problem, and without regard to what came after.
I‘ve been in combat, and I‘ve been on Wall Street. And I can tell that, in both cases, you always use the same logic: What‘s the objective? That is, what am I trying to accomplish? And when am I going to know I‘ve accomplished it? What resources am I going to use to accomplish it? And what can go wrong?
This is as true in the use of the military instrument of power as it is in making an investment. The latter question wasn‘t answered.
Saying now and admitting that it‘s a civil war in Iraq admits the fact that the entire strategy didn‘t work and, secondly, raises the question, what now? What are you going to do now? The administration doesn‘t have an answer to, “What now?” I think the administration has already decided that, between now and the election in ‘08, it‘s going to withdraw troops, and there‘s no way of solving the problem between now and then.
CARLSON: Yes. But I think part of the objection to the phrase “civil war” is the reaction it invokes in people. It‘s scary, “civil war.” Whoa! Too complex for us to deal with. Run away. There is this kind of gut reaction people have that we can‘t handle a civil war, we can‘t quell a civil war, we can‘t win during a civil war. Is that true?
JACOBS: It‘s not true. You can, in fact, achieve significant objectives even in the environment of Iraq, but that‘s going to require two things. First, a massive increase in the number of troops, which we‘re not prepared to undertake. We‘re just not going to do it. It‘s politically infeasible. And, quite frankly, I‘m not certain that we even have the forces now or at any time in the near future in order to effect change.
And second, and perhaps more important, is the fact that we‘d have to completely change how we operate in Iraq. That means that we‘d have to be prepared to inject troops into small areas, take plenty of casualties, which happens in wars like this, and for there to be commensurate civilian casualties that are unplanned. I don‘t think the American public is prepared for that, and, as I said, it‘s politically infeasible in a run-up to a general election in two years.
CARLSON: If it is a civil war—and I guess we agree now that it is
doesn‘t that mean we‘d have to pick a side? And, if so, which side should we pick?
JACOBS: Well, that‘s very interesting. It does mean that we‘d have to pick a side. It does mean that we‘d have to change what we‘re doing now, which generally our objective now is to kill all the bad guys if they‘re opposed to the central government of either side.
But if you are going to pick a side, you‘re bound to fail, and we‘re not prepared to do that. It‘s just an admission of defeat and, furthermore, an admission that there is no plan other than doing things like trying to talk to Iran and Syria about ameliorating their involvement there, which is quite frankly not a plan. It‘s just a hope.
CARLSON: Wait a second. You know, this is primarily a war between the Shiites and the Sunnis with the Kurds sort of off on their own in the north. There are far more Shiites than there are Sunnis. They have the backing of Iran. Why wouldn‘t we pick the winning team and go with the Shiites?
JACOBS: Well, first of all, the winning side is supposed to be the government, but although the preponderance in the government on Maliki‘s side are mostly Shia, they‘ve got a lot of Shia who are against them. Take Muqtada al-Sadr, who‘s a client of Iran. He‘s not in favor of the current government, and he‘s trying to fight it every way he can, because he wants to take over.
There are too many sides to take a side here. There are four, five, six different sides, and we‘d have to come down on one side, and we‘re not going to do that, and the American public‘s not going to stand for it, either.
CARLSON: Boy, that is just—no wonder no one‘s thought of a solution. There may not be one. Colonel Jack Jacobs, thank you very much.
JACOBS: You bet.
CARLSON: One possible solution for the war in Iraq—one people are batting around, in any case—talks with Iran and Syria. That is reportedly one of the diplomatic recommendations that will be coming from the 10-member Iraq Study Group. But sitting down at the table with countries long-suspected of sponsoring terrorism doesn‘t sound like something we would do. Is it?
My next guest is the author of “Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran.” Ken Timmerman is also executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran and an editor at Newsmax.com.
Ken Timmerman, thanks a lot for coming on.
KEN TIMMERMAN, FOUNDATION FOR DEMOCRACY IN IRAN: Thanks for having me on, Tucker.
CARLSON: So Iran is obviously a pivotal player. You just heard Jack Jacobs—I believe correctly—that Muqtada al-Sadr is a client of Iran, this growing regional power. Don‘t we have to talk to Iran if we want to bring peace to this region?
TIMMERMAN: No, it‘s a monumentally bad idea. It‘s not just a bad idea. It‘s monumentally bad.
Imagine after 9/11 if President Bush had decided to sit down with the Taliban and with Pakistan. Instead what he did, he sent them ultimatums.
And he said to the Taliban: Give up bin Laden. And he said to Pakistan:
Join us, or we will oppose you.
TIMMERMAN: Pakistan joined us and became an ally in the war on terror, and the Taliban lost control of Afghanistan. That‘s the kind of reaction that we should have towards Iran and towards Syria today.
CARLSON: OK. The other comparison, of course, is to Nazi Germany in the ‘30s, to Hitler. And in both cases, the Taliban and the Nazis, we went to war. We destroyed both of those regimes; that was our only option, we thought, morally and strategically. Does that mean we need to go to war with Iran?
TIMMERMAN: Well, we are unfortunately getting closer and closer to that point. I happen to agree that there is a comparison between today and 1938 with Munich. You had the leaders of Great Britain and France going to Munich to meet with Hitler, and they came back and declared peace in our time. It was appeasement, the original appeasement. For us to talk to Syria and Iran today, as they are fueling many sides of this insurgency, would be akin to appeasement.
By the way, talk of civil war is fine in Iraq, but let‘s not forget this: If Iran and Syria were not fueling the insurgency, we would simply not have the level of violence that we do today.
CARLSON: I guess I‘m losing track of what we want here. What‘s our goal? And once we figure that out, shouldn‘t we work backward from that and try to figure out how to get there? The goal is a stable Iraq, right?
TIMMERMAN: The goal in the beginning—let‘s not forget—the goal in the beginning was to get rid of Saddam Hussein and get rid of a threat potentially armed with weapons of mass destruction, who could give those weapons to a terrorist.
There are no longer any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; we‘ve eliminated his production capabilities. The stockpiles were not there in the quantities the CIA had estimated they were there, but we‘ve eliminated the factories. The factories are now gone, as well, and Saddam is gone. Those are two very important goals...
TIMMERMAN: ... that we‘ve accomplished.
CARLSON: OK, that‘s great and everything, but what do we want—I mean, do we want the chaos to end in Iraq? That‘s goal number one, is it not?
TIMMERMAN: I don‘t think that was our goal when we went in there.
Our goal was weapons of mass destruction and terrorism...
TIMMERMAN: ... and avoiding those threats.
CARLSON: Now that we have gone in, and allowed this chaos to flourish, and been unable to contain it, our goal now is to contain it, right, is to end it, and make it peaceful, because the region itself is becoming destabilized, correct?
TIMMERMAN: Tucker, what‘s happened is that, in the very beginning, we had a goal in the war, and it was sabotaged.
TIMMERMAN: It was sabotaged by the CIA and the State Department, who essentially refused to allow the Iraqi Governing Council, the Iraqi leadership council that was led by the Iraqi National Congress and others, to take power. The whole point—we were not going to occupy Iraq. We went in there to liberate Iraq, and it was the State Department and the CIA who have turned this into on occupation.
TIMMERMAN: That is why we‘ve got the problems we‘ve got now.
CARLSON: But here‘s—OK, here‘s the problem I‘m having with all this “Don‘t talk to Iran” stuff. Iran is loathsome; they‘re evil; they‘ve killed a lot of Americans. They were behind the barracks bombings in 1983 in Beirut. Nobody disputes their badness.
But the moral argument is losing a lot of weight with people like me, if it produces results like the current situation in Iraq. In other words, OK, they‘re evil, but if talking to them forwards our interests, helps the United States, that‘s great. Let‘s talk to them, if you see what I mean.
TIMMERMAN: I understand what you‘re saying. That‘s an argument that‘s being put forward by the Baker-Hamilton commission, the Iraq Study Group, and by the Council on Foreign Relations, by Joe Biden and a bunch of Democrats and others, Republicans such as Chuck Hagel, as well, in the U.S. Senate.
TIMMERMAN: And I think it is dreadfully, dreadfully wrong. It is terribly mistaken, because what you‘re doing—we will get a fig leaf—we‘re going to purchase a fig leaf to disguise our humiliation for withdrawing from Iraq. The insurgents will be more powered. The jihadis will be more powerful. Iran and Syria will be more powerful. And in a year from now, we‘re going to be talking about a nuclear threat to our friends and our allies in the Middle East.
CARLSON: OK. Ken Timmerman, thank you very much.
TIMMERMAN: Thank you.
CARLSON: Still to come, is it too late for George W. Bush to save his presidency? Maybe not, if he learns lessons from Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. We‘ll hear what those lessons are.
And one writer‘s radical proposal: Bring back Saddam. Could that be the best way to restore order in Iraq? How morally repugnant is that? We‘ll tell you, when we come back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Bluntly put, can George W. Bush save his presidency? His approval is now at 33 percent, according to the “USA Today”-Gallup poll. Pretty bleak, that‘s the polite way to put it.
Several observers, though, have suggested that Bush could learn from the examples of Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan and save himself politically. Frank Donatelli has watched presidents come, presidents go. He was the former White House political director under Ronald Reagan. He knows.
Frank Donatelli, thanks for joining us.
FRANK DONATELLI, FORMER REAGAN WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Thank you very much, Tucker.
CARLSON: What should Bush do?
DONATELLI: Well, the first thing I think he has to remember is that presidents that have suffered disasters in the off-year elections can make comebacks. You mentioned Reagan; you mentioned Clinton. Harry Truman, of course, lost the Congress in 1946, was reelected 1948. Dwight Eisenhower lost the Congress in 1958, and his vice president came within a hair breath of winning election to the presidency in his own right.
So there are two very different things. In terms of what the basics are, I think, in the past, successful presidents that have come back, number one, have focused on foreign policy. There‘s a lot more creativity for a president in the foreign area than there is the domestic area.
DONATELLI: Secondly, how they frame their relations with Congress is important. I think the successful presidents have not been loathe to engage the Congress and make differences known, where necessary.
And then the third thing is—in this case now, the president does not have control of Congress—embrace the change element, because it‘s the other side that‘s the governing party now.
CARLSON: This president seems—it sort of takes you back to 1999 when he was running for president, and you could see him more clearly, and he seemed like a very nimble political operator back when he was governor of Texas. He had great relations with a lot of the Democrats in the legislature. He was just good at politics. Is he learning from this defeat? Is he back to his nimble self?
DONATELLI: Well, I think they‘re taking a look at that right now. Look, you can‘t not absorb a defeat like our party absorbed in November of this year and not stand back and say, “What can we do differently next time?”
He‘s already indicated a willingness to take a different look at Iraq and take fresh ideas. I also think that, where possible, Tucker, he will try to engage the Congress. Immigration, for example, is an area where I think he might be able to do a deal with the Democrats. But, again, I think, to remain relevant, he should not be hesitant to draw distinctions with Congress where he feels it‘s necessary.
CARLSON: Typically, a two-term president like this one would have a vice president up for election two years from now. Bush is in this very weird situation where his vice president isn‘t running. That was understood from the very beginning.
Will Bush, considering he doesn‘t have a protege in the 2008 election,
be spending a lot of time trying to help the Republican—whomever he is -
DONATELLI: Well, you know, that‘s a very interesting question, because incumbent presidents have reacted very, very differently in this regard. I can tell you that President Reagan always thought that his legacy was going to be judged in part by whether his vice president, George Bush, succeeded him.
DONATELLI: In fact, he said to me on several occasions, “I want Bush to win as much in 1988 as I did in 1984 and 1980.”
By contrast, you know, President Clinton had his spats with Al Gore, and one could argue that in an election that close, that they didn‘t execute the hand-off very well. It‘s interesting. More often than not, incumbent presidents don‘t nearly do as much as they can to help their party‘s nominee.
But I think this president, being more of a party man than virtually any other president we‘ve had, is probably going to do everything that he possibly can to help his nominee.
CARLSON: Presidents get very selfish in the second term, I‘ve noticed. I‘ve noticed that, too. They don‘t really do all they can to help the guy running for their party. Is Bush having any role? Will he and Karl Rove have any role at all in deciding who the nominee is going to be in 2008?
DONATELLI: Well, look, I don‘t say this with any malice, but the answer should be no. And just like Ronald Reagan did not have a role in the nomination process in 1988 -- you know, Reagan was for Bush, but he never said that publicly. And he never participated in the primaries.
I think it‘s wrong that a president would try to declare who the next nominee is. I think it‘s much, much better to have an open contest, and then the president get behind the nominee. You know...
CARLSON: But helping with donors? Pardon me. Of course, he‘s not going to say so publicly, but he can steer—you know, Bush is a great fundraiser, and he can steer donors to some of the candidates. You don‘t think he would do that?
DONATELLI: That‘s correct. Well, I‘m just telling you what I think should happen. I think it would be best for our party if we had an open, clear, free nomination, where everybody had an equal shot. I don‘t get the sense that he‘s going to do that. I think what he‘s more likely to do is prepare the Republican Party. He needs to get the party back into strong shape, strong financial footing, donor lists, that sort of thing.
But most importantly, you know, how the president is perceived is a big issue as to how good his nominee does in 2008.
CARLSON: Right. It can be definitive. Frank Donatelli, thank you very much.
DONATELLI: Thank you.
CARLSON: Coming up, Barack Obama for president. It is all Democrats are talking about. Does he really have a shot at winning, though? And does a Mormon have an opportunity to win the White House? Mitt Romney thinks he does. Is he right? Will bias against his religion keep him from the White House? That story, when we return.
CARLSON: Here‘s a radical proposal for restoring order in Iraq:
Bring back Saddam. It‘s not me suggesting that; it‘s my next guest.
In an editorial in the “Los Angeles Times,” he wrote, quote, “Restoring the expectation of order in Iraq will take some kind of large-scale psychological shock. The Iraqi elections were supposed to offer that, but they didn‘t. Returning Saddam Hussein, a man every Iraqi knows and who many of them fear, would do the trick.”
“I know why restoring a brutal tyrant to power is a bad idea. Someone explain to me why it‘s worse than all the others.”
Joining me now, Jonathan Chait. Jonathan Chait, thanks for coming on.
JONATHAN CHAIT, “LOS ANGELES TIMES”: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Hard to imagine a more cynical proposition, “Bring Back Saddam”? That‘s like bring Pol Pot.
CHAIT: It‘s pretty cynical.
CARLSON: Yes, why?
CHAIT: Yes, why? Look, I didn‘t mean it as an entirely 100 percent serious proposition, but use sort of as a conversation-starter. Because all the options are awful in Iraq. Why not that one? That‘s the short argument. You want a longer version?
CARLSON: Yes, I mean, well, let me put it this way: Should there be
it raises the larger question—should there be a moral component to American foreign policy?
CARLSON: I mean, part of the beauty of removing Saddam is he‘s a bad guy who deserves what he‘s getting.
CHAIT: That‘s right.
CARLSON: Once you acknowledge that he did a better job of running the country, then the whole moral basis of your foreign policy kind of evaporates, doesn‘t it?
CHAIT: No, because everyone knows he did a better job of running the country. Not that he did a good job, he did a horrible job. He was a blood-thirsty, vicious, you know, brutal, psychotic tyrant. But I think one of the things we‘ve learned is that there are worse things than totalitarian, and one of them is unending chaos.
CHAIT: You know, I think more people are probably getting killed in Iraq than they were under Saddam‘s regime. It‘s more violent; it‘s more chaotic. The average person has more uncertainty that they‘re going to wake up and go to their job and come back to their family and not be killed and tortured than they did before.
CARLSON: I mean, I agree with you completely, that chaos is the worse
always and everywhere, the worst possible outcome of anything is chaos, because you can‘t predict it, obviously.
CARLSON: But, I mean, isn‘t there something to be said though for hope? And, you know, isn‘t, even in a chaotic situation like Iraq, people can leave and go to Jordan, and Syria, and they are, by the hundreds of thousands? I mean, for a lot of people, it is better.
CHAIT: It‘s true. For the people who have left, it‘s better. I
don‘t think everyone can leave the country, though. I mean, you can‘t even
you know, that‘s still a small sliver of the population that‘s been able to leave.
CARLSON: Well, for the Kurds, who have essentially created their own country in the north, I mean, it‘s undeniably a better situation.
CHAIT: But the Kurds had pretty much the same thing before. You know, they had a no-fly zone. They were essentially autonomous. It‘s the same as now.
Look, I mean, my argument—again, it‘s not an entirely serious proposal, but something to get people thinking. And the argument is this:
You need something to shock people out of their expectation of chaos. And one of the things that foments chaos is the expectation of chaos. People‘s behavior changes when they don‘t see any established order.
And one of the few things that would be able to do it, I was sort of supposing, might be the return of Saddam Hussein. He has what you would call high name recognition. People know who he is; they know what he‘s capable of doing.
And you have—it‘s still recent enough that he was in charge of the state that you still have the Baath army units and the Baath infrastructure that could be put in place. So I hypothesizing that this may be the only force capable of actually ruling the country, not that you want, you know, what he did by any means. I mean, it was horrendous, but simply having some kind of order, I mean, it might be the best of some very, very, very bad alternatives.
CARLSON: Best for us. I mean, it seems to me the one thing about
Saddam, as deranged as he may have been, he at least had something to lose:
He didn‘t want to die. He wasn‘t a religious nut. He was incredibly brutal. Does that tell something about what we would need to do in order to secure Iraq? I mean, he killed people with poison gas. Is that what he had to do? Is that what Iraq requires for it to remain orderly?
CHAIT: No, I don‘t think so. But, look, I mean, because he‘s psychotic, so I don‘t think you can assume that anything a psychotic man does is something he rationally had to do. And he would still be psychotic if he was in power; there‘s no doubt about it.
Look, I mean, I think—it certainly would be better for us. You wouldn‘t have the Iranian influence, and you wouldn‘t have Iraq becoming potentially a terrorist haven, both things that threaten us a great deal, if Saddam was in power. You would have someone who brutalized his own population, but, again, you‘re getting that right now anyway, and you might possibly be getting less of it if he returned.
CARLSON: Then why shouldn‘t we—obviously, we‘re not going to bring Saddam back. But because there is a civil war, and according to NBC officially it begins today—today‘s the day upon which we‘re, you know, calling this a civil war—that kind of implies we ought to pick a side. Should we pick a side and, in fact, pick a strongman to preside over the country, one hopes in a less brutal way than Saddam did, but in a brutal way, nonetheless, and kind of keep that place under control, as it was?
CHAIT: I don‘t know. I mean, you know, I think I‘m probably like you. You know, read all these proposals about what to do with Iraq, and they‘re all people who specialize in the topic and know more about it than I do, and probably more than you do.
And it just doesn‘t sound that convincing. And maybe when they pick apart the other guy‘s proposals, when they say, “You know, well, here is why we need the strongman, and here‘s why partition won‘t work.” And you say, “Yes, you know, that makes a lot of sense.” And the other person says, “Here‘s why we need partition, and the strongman doesn‘t work.” You know, hey, that seems right, also.
So, you know, that‘s sort of the boat I‘m in. I just don‘t know exactly what to do. The only time anyone seems convincing is when they say why everything else won‘t work.
CARLSON: Yes. Jon Chait, two cheers for Saddam. I can‘t wait to hear about the hate mail you get today.
CHAIT: Well, I‘m sure you‘re contributing to that, Tucker.
CARLSON: Thank you.
That‘s not only my job, and my honor, but my pleasure. Thanks, Jon.
CHAIT: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Still to come, it could be the Democrats‘ presidential dream team if either one of them ever admits to running for president. The latest on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, when we come back.
CARLSON: He is the rising star of the Democratic party. Now it appears Illinois Senator Barack Obama has taken the necessary steps to mount a presidential bid in 2008. According to the “Des Moines Register” Obama has sought advice from top campaign aides and surrounded himself with advisers rich in experience in Iowa, the lead of caucus state. Does this mean he is a sure bet to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination? Let‘s ask a true member of the Barack Hussein Obama fan club. He‘s the author of “How the Republicans Stole Christmas,” from Washington Bill Press.
BILL PRESS, “HOW THE REPUBLICANS STOLE CHRISTMAS”: His Tucker, how are you doing?
CARLSON: Is he running, Bill?
PRESS: I don‘t know. Nobody knows now, but he is certainly, I think, doing what he has got to do. You know what, I wish we would, like, enjoy the moment and savor the victories of November 7th.
CARLSON: You‘re Democrats, you can‘t do that.
PRESS: Exactly. But the way that everybody demands right now that we jump right into the next race. So Barack Obama can‘t afford to sit on the sidelines. He has got to take some soundings. He‘s got to talk to some people. He‘s potentially, I think, a very, very strong presidential candidate, and he is taking it—he is certainly talking to people. I‘ve talked to some people he‘s consulted. He‘s taking it very seriously, and if I had to bet, I would bet he goes and I think he should.
CARLSON: You‘re wired in that world. I mean how—it‘s hard to know from the outside looking in, to what extent is Hillary Clinton dominant? I mean, does she have all the fund raisers or all the best consultants working for her? Is there actually room for another front runner, co-front runner, like Barack Obama.
PRESS: I would have to say, you know, If Hillary goes, she sucks all the Oxygen out of the room. It would be difficult for anybody, anybody, but you don‘t know whether or not she is going to go. We really do not. So you can‘t just sit on the sidelines and wait for her to make up her mind or wait for her to take her first move. And the other thing is, Tucker, if there is anybody in the Democratic constellation who could beat Hillary in a primary contest, it is Barack Obama. It would still be really, really tough for him, particularly from the money point of view and the organizational point of view, but if anybody could—you know, forget about, I would have to say, Evan Bayh, you know, or Joe Biden or any of the others talking about it. It would be Barack Obama.
CARLSON: Anybody who runs against Hillary for the nomination is going to have to run to her left. No one will able to run to the right of Hillary. I think she will be the most conservative Democrat in the race. That‘s my view, but I would be willing to be my house on in it. He is much more, Barack Obama is much more in tune with Democratic primary voters. He‘s been against this war since day one. He‘s more liberal than Hillary Clinton. It‘s not like they‘re going to say, I have to vote for her because she‘s the first woman. He would be the first black president. I mean, I‘m not exactly sure what advantage she has over him.
PRESS: No, and Barack Obama has a great life story, you know, the son of immigrants and then he comes to this country. He‘s in Illinois and, you know, elected to the state Senate. Now he‘s a United States senator. And again, I think now is the time to go. The rap he hear, Tucker, as you know, against Barack Obama, is he has not been in the Senate long enough, which I think people who say that don‘t understand presidential politics.
CARLSON: Right, that‘s right.
PRESS: There‘s a scale over in that building over my shoulder, right. That the more time you spend here, the less likely you are to be elected president of the United states. So my advice to Barack Obama—by the way, I‘ve never Senator Barack Obama, but—believe it or not—but my advice to him would be get out while you can. The getting‘s good.
CARLSON: Yes and also, I mean come on, he‘s been in elected office. He‘s had a paying job a lot longer than Hillary Clinton. He‘s been in politics longer than she has, in office. So, I mean, that‘s sort of a dumb complaint.
PRESS: He‘s a good legislator and he‘s a rock star. He really is a rock star.
CARLSON: Yes, and he‘s got interests—He‘s more interesting. People feel better about voting for him than Hillary. That‘s my view. You said a second ago, where is the honeymoon? Great question, where is the hundred hour transformation of Washington and corrupt political culture here and all that, that your friend Nancy Pelosi promised. What the hell happened to that.
PRESS: Wait, Tucker, wait, they haven‘t even taken over yet. All right, this is not January. Republicans are still in charge. So you can‘t dump—I know you love doing it—but you can‘t dump on Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats for not doing anything yet, because they are not in charge yet, Tucker. Relax, give them time. They have got a plan and I think --- here‘s—getting right to the point. I think what they are going to do, and by the way, they‘ve surprised me and they have impressed me.
CARLSON: They have impressed you?
PRESS: You would expect Democrats being Democrats—in this sense—you would expect, Democrats being Democrats, to run in, right, be so eager that we won, and over do it, over step things, and just—and fall apart. But they‘re not. They‘re taking their time and they have said, we‘re going to six things and we‘re going to do those well and we‘re going to focus on those and it‘s our agenda, and that‘s what we‘re going to do. And they‘re not going to get pulled off in a lot of different directions. I think it‘s very smart.
CARLSON: They haven‘t come out for mandatory cross dressing yet, you‘re right? But, I mean, short of that, I think they‘ve kind of screwed it up. We‘ll have plenty of time to chew it over. Bill Press, thank you very much.
PRESS: Hey Tucker, always good to be with you man.
CARLSON: Well Barack Obama may have to overcome his race to become president. An intriguing potential Republican candidate may have to overcome his religion. Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon, has become a possible Republican nominee. He‘s the most conservative man in the races so far, according to many descriptions. A new piece in “Time Magazine” deals with the question of whether Romney‘s faith will overshadow his qualifications for office. Michael Graham hosts the Natural Truth radio show in Boston. He has watched Romney closely in Massachusetts. He joins me now. Michael welcome.
MICHAEL GRAHAM, HOST, “THE NATURAL TRUTH”: Glad to be here and I just want to say, on the record, I‘m not a Mormon, neither are any of my wives. I just want that out there. I don‘t want any confusion.
CARLSON: They just love you.
GRAHAM: I love Bill Press, but Barack Obama—the fact that Barack Obama is the front runner for the Democrats, and he is, according to this new poll which ranks all the candidates base on their—what is it called, like the heatness, or celebrity quotient or whatever—just shows that there‘s nobody in the Democratic gang that the American people like and want to be their president. Meanwhile the Republicans have a full raft of candidates. Rudi Giuliani and John McCain both at the top of that poll I just mentioned. Mitt Romney coming in somewhere in the middle. I think he‘s like 12th out of 20.
CARLSON: I‘m not surprised. I mean look, the leader of the Democratic party, Oprah Winfrey, endorsed this guy. So, I mean, it‘s not surprising at all that the Democrats are supporting him. But Romney‘s religion. Romney is staking out this position as the most conservative candidate in the field so far. Whether he is or not is a separate question, but be his a Mormon and people, it seems to me, are—whether they ought to be or not is a totally separate question—but they are concerned about that. Should they be?
GRAHAM: No doubt about it. They are concerned. They‘re not familiar with the religion. They don‘t know a lot about it accept for Donny and Marie and they used to have really great commercials telling you to stay home and do your homework with your kids. That‘s Mormonism to most people. As you know, I went to Oral Roberts University, evangelical Christian University, and the debate about where Mormonism fits in the Christian pantheon is one I‘m very, very familiar with.
I will tell you this, Mitt Romney shows up in places like South Carolina, he can absolutely do well. Because he does not send out the freaky religion vibe. And if you can‘t imagine what the freaky religion vibe is, think Gary Bauer. Bauer could have run for president as an atheist and he would still send out the freaky religion vibe. Mitt Romney looks like a president. He‘s central casting. He sounds like a president. He is great on television and Mormonism doesn‘t—I mean, although people aren‘t that familiar with it, other than a very technical theological debate inside evangelical Christianity, it doesn‘t send a problem.
In fact, Mitt Romney is the kind of guy that you are embarrassed to bring up his religion. I thought “Time Magazine,” for example, their piece where a reporter asked Mitt Romney, do you wear the garment, as it‘s known in the Mormon faith. The reporter came across as a jerk. Now it is true. It is a weird religion thing, not to pick on my Mormon friends, but it‘s a weird religions thing.
CARLSON: Right, the garment being special underwear.
GRAHAM: You know, it doesn‘t say Haines until Jesus says it says Haines, you know, I don‘t really get the whole deal. But Mitt Romney, you feel like, what a putz. Who would ask him about that. So it‘s not going to be a problem for Mitt Romney because of who Mitt Romney is.
Meanwhile, if it is the case that 2008 is a presidential election about domestic policies and not terrorism, Mitt Romney can say, I‘m a conservative Republican that southern Republicans can support, who is able to govern the bluest state in America and get some things done. That tells normal people, that tells the independents the Republicans lost, I‘m not a freak. I‘m not a weirdo. I‘m not here to polarize us for 16 more years of this, you know, hammer and tong debate.
CARLSON: Wait a second, you have to get past, as you just said, you have to get past all those South Carolina primary voters in the Republican primary. I didn‘t go to Oral Roberts, but last time I checked, evangelicals consider Mormonism not a species of Christianity, but a cult. They don‘t like it at all. That‘s not a problem?
GRAHAM: And the last time I checked, evangelicals didn‘t consider
Judaism a form of Christianity either, and yet Joe Lieberman is wildly
popular and is probably the most popular Democrat among southern
Republicans. In the modern era it is not one religion versus another. In
the modern era, where the media is anti-religious, where people feel like
Christmas itself is under assault and where any time someone of faith
stands up, they‘re called rubes and rednecks and idiots and Christianists -
the line here is for god and against god. Anybody who is on god‘s team, with the possible exception of Islam right now, everybody is on—that‘s on the god team will be welcome by southern Republican voters.
CARLSON: That is, I think, a really smart point. Michael Graham, thank you very much.
GRAHAM: Glad to be here. Thank you.
CARLSON: What‘s an insulting tirade from a former cast member of the Seinfeld worth these days, in dollar terms? You‘re about to find out. The targets of Michael Richards‘ rant want to get paid for their suffering. We‘ll talk to their attorney, Gloria Allred, when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL RICHARDS, COMEDIAN: You can talk, you can talk, you can talk you‘re brain now you mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED). He‘s a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). He‘s a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). He‘s a (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my god.
RICHARDS: A (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
In the course of doing the show and getting tripped up and using racial language to hurt those that I felt hurt me, using that language to hurt and then seeing the pain, of course, that‘s come from this hurt, the show is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Former Seinfeld star Michael Richards continued his increasingly pathetic contrition tour yesterday with that apology on Jesse Jackson‘s radio show. You couldn‘t make this up, but it appears words may not be enough for the men Richards went after at a west Hollywood night club a week and a half ago. Listen to their attorney, Gloria Allred, on the “Today Show” last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: Well we think after he hears the pain that he has inflicted on them, he should listen to the recommendations of a retired judge as to how much compensation he should pay to them, because Matt, if our children took a rock and threw it through the window of a next door neighbor‘s, we would say to that child, go to the neighbor, apologize directly to the neighbor, and pay the cost of that window that you broke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Joining me now from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Gloria Allred, attorney for Frank McBride and Kyle Doss. Gloria, I am really glad to see you and I can‘t wait to hear you explain why getting your feelings hurt entitles you monetary compensation. Go crazy.
ALLRED: Well Tucker, thank you for having me. And first of all, this is not about hurt feelings. This is about racist comments and behavior. This is about my clients being innocent victims, going there to celebrate a birthday, and the first thing that happened, and this not on the tape, Tucker, the first thing that happened is Michael Richards, referring to my clients and their friends, as saying, oh, some remark about dumb Mexicans and Blacks in the cheap seats, at which point my clients said, my friend doesn‘t think that‘s very funny because his friend was Mexican-American. At that point Mr. Richards flipped him off and uses the N-word and then engages in the racist rant that you saw on the tape, and by the way, also said other things that you didn‘t see on the tape.
CARLSON: I‘m sure he did. Look, let me just make something totally clear, and I should have said this at the very outset, Michael Richards is a pig and also not very funny. This is in no way a defense of Michael Richards. I‘m just merely pointing out that people are pigs and they behave that way some times. They do and it‘s awful. It‘s one of the really sad things about the human condition. But it doesn‘t entitle the people who were offended by it to get money. And that‘s, I think, an important distinction.
ALLRED: OK, well, this is not about whether he‘s a pig and we‘re not here to do any name calling about Michael Richards. This is about his victims, and those are my clients. This is not about being insulted. This about being hurt.
CARLSON: Hurt in what way? Were they able to go to work the next day?
ALLRED: This is about having Mr. Richards say in front of a large group of people, fifty years ago we would have you upside down with an F-ing fork up your, and I won‘t use the crude word he used.
CARLSON: Yes, OK.
ALLRED: That is disgusting and suggesting that—Mr. Richards
suggesting that he‘s rich, he could get my clients arrested, throw them out
placed my client in fear. And what this is really about though—let‘s go to the heart of the matter—is we think that Mr. Richards needs to apologize directly to my client.
CARLSON: OK, but you also—but you also want money. Wait, but hold on, there‘s huge difference between apologizing and saying look, I behaved in this awful way and I think he‘s done that and I‘m sure we‘ll see him that at this year‘s Kwanza celebrations continuing to do that.
ALLRED: He hasn‘t done that.
CARLSON: I‘ sure he will though. There‘s a huge difference between that, hold on, and getting money. And I want to know specifically why your clients are entitled to money. Are they now unable to perform their jobs, their marital obligations? Are they impotent now? I mean like, what is the damage done to them specifically?
ALLRED: OK, let me explain. What we are suggesting, and we issued this challenge to Mr. Richards, to come into a room, sit down with a retired judge and our clients, and face-to-face, man-to-man, hear the pain that he has inflicted on them, and acknowledge it and apologize to them, and then the retired judge can make recommendations as to whether Mr. Richards should be punished. The monetary aspect is whatever the retired judge says, Tucker. if he says, no, Mr. Richards should not be punished for his indefensible, racist comments, which were, by the way, directed at my clients.
CARLSON: But we have freedom of speech. Wait hold on. I‘m sorry Gloria. Gloria, you are—it‘s a good thing for you, because you would have been in prison a long time ago. We are protected by the first amendment. We can say what we want, as long as we are not trying to cheat someone, for instance. You know the general parameters here, but you‘re allowed to be a pig. You can say horrible, ugly things. You are allowed to. The government protects your right to do that. There‘s no crime here, in other words. You have no—there‘s no legal mechanism where you can force Michael Richards to pay you. Am I understanding this correctly?
ALLRED: Well, first of all, we never said there was a crime here. And secondly, we are not talking about free speech. We are talking about hate speech and we believe that hate speech does have consequences. So what we are doing is inviting Mr. Richards into a conversation with our clients and the retired judge can say, no, he shouldn‘t be punished for his indefensible racist rant, directed at our client.
CARLSON: How much do you think your clients should get? And are you taking any of the money? I‘m sure you‘re doing this pro-bono, right, because you‘re righting a wrong here, obviously. How much, specifically, do you think they should get?
ALLRED: I guess, Tucker, you didn‘t hear what I just said.
CARLSON: Yes, you want the judge to decide, but I want to know what you think.
ALLRED: OK, may I speak please? May I finish a sentence without being interrupted? Thank you so much. Whatever the retired judge recommends, we will accept. If the retired judge says, Mr. Richards need not been punished at all. He does not have to pay one cent for this, we will accept that. If says he does have to be punished in some way by paying some compensation, we will accept that. The point is, he must be punished. There has to be consequences for hate speech.
CARLSON: You know what? You are hurting my feelings, Gloria. I disagree with you. The things you are saying are upsetting my. They‘re wounding me, in fact. Why don‘t you and I go before a retired judge and he can decide how much you should say me, because the things you are saying are actually wounding me as a person, OK. And I think that you owe me money.
ALLRED: I regret that you don‘t understand the difference between the impact of racist speech on an African-American, who is called the N-word from the stage more than ten times.
CARLSON: Oh, I‘m not defending it. You just don‘t deserve money for it. That‘s my only point.
ALLRED: And your feelings being hurt, as a privileged white male, by a white woman, who simply disagrees with you, and did not engage in any kind of racist attack on you.
CARLSON: OK, I disagree Gloria, you owe me money and some day I am going to get it from you. Watch out. Gloria Allred, I appreciate it. Thank you.
ALLRED: Thank you Tucker.
CARLSON: Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock get the old three and half month itch. Is this story book romance headed for a tragic end? We‘ll bring you the heartbreaking details when we come back.
CARLSON: Joining us now a man who, if insults are financial liabilities, owes Hollywood a lot of money, Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And you owe me a lot of money, Tucker. You should hear the things this guy says to me around the office. It‘s disgusting. I‘m wounded and my feelings have been hurt. You will be hearing from my attorney, Gloria Allred, I hope, actually.
CARLSON: I hope so.
GEIST: She‘ll make me rich. Quick note off the top, the Bush twins, Tucker, there is a report that the United States embassy has actually asked them to leave Argentina. You remember Barbara had her purse and cell phone stolen while she was eating dinner. It created such a stir down there that it has compromised their security apparently, and also upstaged the arrival of the new United States ambassador to Argentina. The Bush twins probably say, no, we‘re not leaving. They stayed through the weekend. They are having a big 25th birthday celebration and they would not leave town. So, I guess they get what they want.
CARLSON: I am on their side.
GEIST: Me too. Other news Tucker, if you had the under on four months for the Pam Anderson/Kid Rock marriage, you won yourself some cash today. TMZ.com reports Anderson and Kid Rock both filed for divorce this morning, citing irreconcilable differences. They were married on August 3rd, a mere 116 days ago. Anderson confirms the divorce on her website, saying, quote, it‘s true, unfortunately impossible. And I will say, Tucker, that‘s the first time I have ever gone to her website to read text. That‘s the first time I have ever done that. It was fascinating. Are you surprised by the break up?
CARLSON: I was thinking—yes, I mean, for me, it‘s the day the music died. I mean, I was thinking at least nine months.
GEIST: Even by Hollywood standards three and a half months is pretty short. It‘s too bad. They will land on their feet. Good kids both. Finally Tucker, just when you thought things could not get any wilder on “All My Children,” and they are wild, they go and throw a trans-gendered character into the romantic mix.
The character‘s name is Zarf. He is a rock star, who makes the transition from a man to a woman after making out with a lesbian. I think that‘s how it goes. Actor Jeffrey Carlson, seen here, plays Zarf. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation calls the character, quote, ground breaking, and Tucker, I‘m glad to see uncle Jeffrey working again. He deserves such good things. Jeffrey Carlson, a good man.
CARLSON: I don‘t call this ground-breaking. It‘s more confusing than ground breaking.
GEIST: Well, I don‘t follow the logic. He is a guy who made out with a lesbian so then he decided he wanted to become a woman. Why couldn‘t he just be a guy making out with a woman? And then you save yourself the surgery and the whole bit. So, I don‘t know. Maybe I don‘t understand. Maybe Glad will call and help us out.
CARLSON: I think he is drawing all the wrong conclusions from his attraction to lesbians. Just my view. Willie Geist.
GEIST: All right Tucker.
CARLSON: Thanks Willie. That is our show. Thanks for watching us.
See you back here tomorrow at 4:00. Have a great night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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