Guests: Joe Lockhart, Peter Beinart, Pat Buchanan, Judy Woodruff
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL ®, NEBRASKA: I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam if it‘s carried out. I will resist it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the Thursday edition of the show.
That was Senator Chuck Hagel. He‘s a Republican of Nebraska, who in explicit and, as you saw a second ago, indignant terms, joined the bipartisan opposition to President Bush‘s new Iraq plan. Apart from a few Republicans and Democrat Joe Lieberman, virtually the entire U.S. Senate opposes the idea of sending additional troops to Iraq. The sentiment in the Senate pretty much mirrors that in the House, not to much among ordinary voters.
Bush tried his best last night to make the sale, but so far he hasn‘t. It hasn‘t worked, which raises several immediate questions. Can the president send more troops to Iraq, anyway? And if he does, will Democrats attempt to stop him by de-funding the war?
And speaking of Democrats, do they have a plan for leaving Iraq safely and with honor? And if so, what is it? And that‘s just the beginning of the questions. By the end of this hour we hope to have answers.
Joining us now with them, Joe Lockhart, co-founder of hotsoup.com and former press secretary for President Bill Clinton; Peter Beinart, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and editor-at-large at “The New Republic” magazine; and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
Welcome to you all.
Pat, last night there were many things in the president‘s speech, but one noticeably missing, any kind of sanction against the Iraqis if they don‘t stand up and take control in the way that he said they would. Why?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he did say that this is not an open-ended commitment and they‘re going to do the following. I don‘t know why that was wasn‘t in there, Tucker, but I do think this is a conditioned commitment by the president of the United States. And I do think if Maliki does not take on Muqtada al-Sadr, which is the key, will he take on his own people, his own thugs?
I think the president‘s position becomes untenable.
CARLSON: Why not just say, Peter, since the president was saying everything else from, you know, I blew it, I‘m sorry, our former strategy didn‘t work, I‘m unhappy with the war—I mean, he was pretty open for Bush. Why not go ahead and say they‘ve got six months to do it? Why wouldn‘t you say that?
PETER BEINART, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, I think implicit in his idea is that we‘re going to surge as they start to meet these new benchmarks. I mean, that was actually in some ways the new wrinkle that we found out about the speech in the last few days, which does give Bush an easier way to climb down form this than it seemed like he was going to have. And I think Pat is exactly right.
One of two things is going to happen. Either the surge is not going to take place, or we are going to go to war with Muqtada al-Sadr. If we go to war with Muqtada al-Sadr in Sadr City, it‘s—all heck is going to break loose, and it‘s going to be—it‘s going to be very ugly.
That‘s either going to happen or we‘re going to leave (ph).
CARLSON: I don‘t understand. I mea, why either or?
BEINART: Because the only—if you‘re serious about taking back the streets in Baghdad, who are you going to take them back from? Sadr is the 800-pound gorilla in this.
BEINART: Sadr City is the area where we need to go and secure. Other Maliki is going to do that with us, or if he‘s not, then I don‘t think ultimately we‘re going to go through fully with the surge.
CARLSON: Well, it seems to me—I mean, the British (INAUDIBLE) has pretty good records as colonialists, actually, as much as everyone hates them. And they rarely, except under certain circumstances, went to war with people like Sadr. They co-opted them instead.
Would it be outside the bounds of American foreign policy to buy the guy off and make him our ally? Why wouldn‘t we?
JOE LOCKHART, FMR. CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY: Well, it would certainly be in the tradition of our foreign policy over the last 200 years, where we go and we cooperate with people whether we like them or not and whether we like their politics or not, whether they‘re despots or Democrats, when it‘s in our interest. I think what was missing last night was any sense—I mean, the president said, I‘m sorry, we got it wrong, and then repeated the same set of principles that the ground zero of the fight on the war on terror worldwide is in Baghdad. And it‘s not. And until we realize that...
CARLSON: Where is it?
LOCKHART: It‘s all over the world. It‘s in Afghanistan. It‘s in Syria.
It‘s in Iran.
But until we realize that what we‘re in the middle of is a sectarian civil war—and yes, it has consequences, but it is not the foremost threat to the United States‘ national interest and national security. We‘re not going to—it‘s not a new policy.
CARLSON: Well, it is now, isn‘t? I mean...
BUCHANAN: Tucker, you‘re suggesting that there‘s—and everybody‘s talking about a political solution and buying off Muqtada al-Sadr. I think these folks now have it in their bit, if you will, they‘re going to take down the last superpower.
They‘ve defeated the United States in our own country, and I think they want the United States defeated and humiliated and our puppets, who they would consider Maliki, thrown out, and they want a victory. It would be an incredible victory for the Islamic extremist militants, al Qaeda, everyone. And I think the enemy has that in mind.
Where I do agree with the president—I don‘t necessarily agree with his policy. I do agree with the consequences when this thing goes down. He says killing on an unimaginable scale, the fall of the government, Iraq breaking up, the militants being enthused, and our friends and allies, moderates, being in real danger.
I do agree with that, and I think they‘re going to go for victory? Why not?
CARLSON: Well, that‘s a good point, except something in what you just said, Peter, struck me. And I‘ve heard a couple other people say this in the last few days, that perhaps this is all—this being the surge in the president‘s speech last night—cover for the inevitable, which would be withdrawal, or redeployment, or whatever, a phony euphemism we‘re using to describe a retreat.
Do you think Bush has in mind over the next year bringing the troops home?
BEINART: Well, I think—I think if Maliki continues to act the way Maliki has, by Bush‘s own rhetoric I don‘t se how we can continue to go through with the surge. Bush said, oh, well, Iraq‘s going to—Maliki‘s going to have to do certain things...
BEINART: ... like sharing the oil wealth and bringing the Ba‘athists back in. He‘s shown no willingness to do that. He didn‘t want this surge at all.
Muqtada al-Sadr is the kingpin in his government. I think it‘s entirely possible that Maliki will not do the things that Bush wants him to do, and that will provide a way for forces in the administration that were already ambivalent about this to not go through with it.
Did you see that? I mean, that‘s—it‘s—actually, I mean, I have no idea whether that‘s true or not, Joe, but could you imagine that, that this is all a kind of elaborate setup on the part of the administration to basically withdraw with honor or a kind of honor?
LOCKHART: I think the calculations that have gone on in the White House in the last month or so have been political calculations rather than military or security calculations. And there‘s two reasons that I say that.
One is something that Peter alluded to, which is if you read the papers today, Maliki didn‘t want the surge. He didn‘t get that from the president last night. You got the impression Maliki was saying, bring them, bring them.
LOCKHART: You know, his people are saying, we don‘t want this.
The second thing is, all the people who are fanned out today to support this, according to the people in the Iraq Study Group late last year, said a surge would be a disaster. So this was a political—something that the political arm of the White House pulled together...
LOCKHART: ... to say, we need to do something quickly, we don‘t have an open-ended—let‘s try this, see if it works, and then politically we‘re going to have to find a way to get out.
BUCHANAN: Strategically that‘s right, because I don‘t think it‘s credible strategically and militarily. But politically what it does say is that George Bush gavet it every last shot. He went to the wall to try and save this thing, he did everything he could, and they just weren‘t up to it. As someone said at the time that the Baker group came out, it is a blame-and-run strategy.
LOCKHART: Yes, but the problem with that is that you‘re sending 20,000 human beings into a street fight with al-Sadr in the middle of Baghdad. And if this was politics about, you know, what kind of deal are we making to balance the budget or get a vote on this or that, that would be one thing. But these are troops we‘re talking about here, and there‘s a certain cynicism here.
BUCHANAN: I think he does believe it is a last shot and it may work. And what he does believe is the alternative is certain disaster if we pull out, according to...
CARLSON: Well, I think everyone agrees—I don‘t know who doesn‘t believe that.
Peter, I don‘t think it‘s too early to start drawing lessons from all this. Bush said in one of his first paragraphs last night, we believed last year after 12 million Iraqis voted that everything would be fine. We were terribly wrong.
Isn‘t one of the lessons that people will learn when they study Iraq that democracy not a panacea? Just because people vote doesn‘t mean they‘re going to live in peace, and some of the democratic institutions we‘ve tried to erect in the end meant nothing in the face of the chaos in the streets?
BEINART: I think what we will learn is that the rule of law is more important than elections, per se. That institutions that have checks and balances in a political system are more important than elections, per se. When you have those, elections, of course, are extremely important. But without them, elections can actually be polarizing and radicalizing for...
CARLSON: That‘s right.
BEINART: Elections do sometimes precede civil wars. It‘s happened in other countries. It‘s happening in Iraq.
CARLSON: Joe, you just said that, you know, maybe we should act in America‘s (AUDIO GAP) that‘s what we have to do because it‘s in our interest. Do you think that, you know, Jimmy Carter foreign policy circa 1977, you know, where we make alliances with good people because they are good and we are, too, is that totally dead? Are you going to not hear liberals talk that way anymore ever?
LOCKHART: You know, I think what I—well, I wouldn‘t look it as liberal-conservative. I‘d say they‘re smart people. And I think if we were a little smarter about this we wouldn‘t have gotten into the position we are.
CARLSON: But also more cynical. I mean, the idea that...
LOCKHART: It‘s not cynical. It‘s realistic. And understanding that we have national interests.
And it‘s not like we‘re saying as we move forward we‘re going to do business with Baghdad. We‘re doing business with Baghdad now. Fighting the war on terror, we‘re co-opting...
BUCHANAN: Wilsonianism is dead as it can be. Neo-conservatism, the idea that we‘re going to use American power to impose democracy is dead.
I‘ll tell you what else is going to be dead, and that‘s the Pox Americana.
CARLSON: Well, that‘s sad.
BUCHANAN: That we went through this 15-year period when we were the unipolar power, the sole nuclear power, all that. That is really over if this thing goes down as it appears like it‘s doing.
CARLSON: I hope not one single person after today gets up in public and says we need to send American troops to Darfur. I mean, I really do. I‘d like to hear the justification of that.
Unfortunately, we‘ve got a commercial.
Maybe you‘ve got a justification. I thought maybe you did.
BEINART: Neo-conservatism may be dead, but neo-conservatism and Wilsonianism are very different things.
CARLSON: Yes, I know they are. They‘re both dumb. In my view.
But anyway, we‘ll be back.
BEINART: Tell it to Franklin Roosevelt.
CARLSON: I‘d love to.
Coming up, there‘s still a crazy Islamic fundamentalist world leader out there bent on getting nuclear weapons. Is Iran next on the administration‘s tour of the Middle East?
Plus, Condoleezza Rice faced the heat of the Democratic Congress today. What did they ask, what did she tell, and which cable news network does she love most?
They‘re all poorly-kept secrets. We‘ll tell you what they are anyway when we come back.
CARLSON: How did President Bush do last night, compared with previous presidents and compared to his own oratory track record such as it is?
Here with analysis, also with insight into the emerging generation of American voters, longtime political anchor and all around expert on everything, Judy Woodruff. She‘s now special correspondent for “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.” She‘s also host to the PBS documentary “Generation Next: Speak Up, Be Heard.”
Judy, thanks for coming on.
JUDY WOODRUFF,: Hi, Tucker. Thank you for having me on. It‘s great to see you again.
CARLSON: Great to see you.
What did you think of the president‘s speech last night?
WOODRUFF: Well, I kept looking at the room, and I hate to tell you how old I am, but I covered the Jimmy Carter administration, and it reminded me of those speeches that Jimmy Carter made back during the late ‘70s when he wore the sweater and so forth.
I think the president looked like someone who knew this speech was a big deal, that he had to make an impression on the American people. And I think what‘s important about it now—and you were just talking with your guests about it—is that the debate has been joined. For four years this war‘s been going on, and I think now finally we are having all over this country, in Washington and everywhere else, a serious debate about this war and whether we should continue it or not.
CARLSON: Is this debate going on, do you think, among people, say, under 25? And I ask this because, as I said in the intro, you‘ve just done this excellent documentary series on young people and what they think. Are they debating Iraq, or does everyone think one thing about Iraq?
WOODRUFF: Well, I‘ll be very candid with you. We did a survey—the Pew Research Center did a survey for us last fall, late last fall, and most young people are opposed to the war in Iraq. Most of them believe American troops should come home, more even than older generations. And I think their views are significant because they‘re doing most of the fighting and the dying. They are the plurality of those who are losing their lives in Iraq, those 25 and younger.
But, Tucker, we also talked to young people who are passionate when they say the U.S. should stay in Iraq. We, for example, interviewed at length a young man in Pueblo, Colorado. He‘s done two tours of duty in Iraq, he‘s going back for a third tour. And he talks about the people he met there, and he said, “We have the stand for something in the United States, they deserve our help.”
So, you‘ve got young people who are thinking about this, who are engaged on this subject. They are every bit as invested in whether the United States is in Iraq or not as the older generation.
CARLSON: Well, you know, every election cycle—and you know this having covered far more elections than I have—but every election cycle you hear people, politicians, usually say, the young people are going to vote and they‘re going to make the difference. But every cycle it seems like the percentage of people under 30 who vote is disappointing.
Why is that?
WOODRUFF: Well, that‘s an interesting question, and I‘ve heard the same thing, Tucker. I mean, I‘ve talked to politicians and they pay lip service to young people. But when it comes right down to it, they actually don‘t campaign that much for the young people‘s vote. And young people know that.
And we had young people all over the United States say to us over the last year, you know, “I just wish the politicians would talk to us.” But, you know, what we saw in 2004 is that the young voters, those 25 and under, their voter turnout percentage increased more than any other age group in ‘04. And in ‘06 you had a similar significant jump among the young voters.
Something is catching their interest right now. Part of it is Iraq. Part of it‘s education. They‘re upset about the cost of education.
But you are seeing a greater and greater interest. But you‘re right. Overall, fewer of them are voting than Americans overall. And I think that we ought to be asking ourselves, why aren‘t we listening to them? And that‘s what we‘re trying to do.
Judy Woodruff, once again, of “The News Hour.”
Thanks a lot, Judy. I appreciate it.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, Tucker. Great to see you.
CARLSON: Coming up, Washington chooses sides over President Bush‘s Iraq plan, and most choose to oppose it. We‘ll take their names and we‘ll keep score after the break.
Plus, just when the Duke lacrosse case couldn‘t get anymore infuriating, it does get more infuriating.
Stay tuned for the latest outrage from Durham.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria and we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Maybe the only good thing he could have said about Saddam Hussein is that he kept both Iran to his east, Syria to his west, occupied with fear and loathing all those years. He‘s gone now, though, and Syria and Iran pose bigger problems than they ever have.
The question is, what do we do about it?
Back again, our panel—Joe Lockhart, co-founder of hotsoup.com and former press secretary for President Bill Clinton. Also, Peter Beinart, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and now editor-at-large at “The New Republic.” And finally, Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst.
Pat, this is hot off the wires. American forces in northern Iraq have entered an Iranian consulate and detained six people.
Is this the beginning? Was last night‘s speech the beginning of some new offensive against Iran?
BUCHANAN: This is the—there is one more card to play.
CARLSON: The U.S.—by the way, let me just say—my producer‘s saying in my ear, the United States government has not confirmed that. This is Iran‘s claim.
BUCHANAN: Let me tell you what the president‘s—these folks who wrote that speech got in mind.
The key word there is those networks for advanced training, advanced weaponry. Those networks have to be outside of Iraq, or otherwise we would have destroyed them.
You‘ve got carrier—a new carrier going into the Persian Gulf. What do we need new aircraft for, strike aircraft? We‘ve got plenty to deal with Iraq.
You got Patriot missiles going in. You heard the president say to our friends and allies, what do you need Patriot missiles when the insurgents and the jihadis have no missiles?
What the president intends to do is strike these networks. He‘s going to hit them, in my judgment, in Iran. The Iranians are going to respond.
We‘ve got the Patriots for the response. And then the president‘s going to take out the nuclear sites of Iran.
CARLSON: Holy smokes.
BUCHANAN: I believe that is written right into that speech if you read it very, very closely and take—there‘s no other explanation that makes any sense. Who needs a Patriot missile when you‘re fighting jihadis?
CARLSON: Going to war with Iran. And I assume you‘re not endorsing this.
This is just—this is what you see.
BUCHANAN: No, I‘m not. No, I‘m not. I do see this as exactly what was threatened in there, and more than threatened. We are clearly planing it if you‘ve got this new aircraft carrier over there.
BEINART: After that it‘s Armageddon and the rapture.
CARLSON: No, wait a second, though, because I don‘t think—well, first of all, if I could just answer for Pat, quickly, you know, I don‘t know anybody who called the Iraq war and many of its details more precisely than he did.
But just as an analytical matter, what do you think? I mean, do you think it‘s—why wouldn‘t we attack Iran? They‘re building a nuclear weapon.
LOCKHART: Go ahead.
BEINART: If we go to war with Iran, there will be hell to pay for our troops in Iraq.
BEINART: Our troops in Iraq will be sitting ducks for a people who—for an Iranian government, to understand that society, has many more networks than we do, not to mention the impact on the price of oil and global terrorism against the United States. This is—this would be—if they‘re just trying to scare Iran, that‘s one thing. But if they‘re starting to play fast and loose with provocations that could lead us to war, the American people—this will be a political and constitutional crisis, because this has not been debated...
BUCHANAN: Well, let me tell you something. This is the exact way you get in there without any constitutional declaration.
Let me tell you this, Tucker. If the president hit those nuclear sites after Iran counterstruck us, our guys, Hillary and Biden and Kerry and the whole gang would stand up and cheer.
The Saudis want to see the nuclear sites taken out. The Israelis are about ballistic to get them taken out. The neo-cons want them taken out.
And what would President Bush‘s legacy be? It wouldn‘t be a lost war in Iraq. It would be he denuclearized Iran and saved the world from an Iranian nuclear threat.
CARLSON: So, Joe, what is worse? What is worse, a war with Iran or a nuclear-armed Iran? A country that‘s pledged to destroy Israel, that could attack us with nuclear weapons. I mean, which is worse?
LOCKHART: This—I mean, this is the question we should have spent the bulk of the last five years debating.
CARLSON: I agree with you. But now that it—now that it‘s arisen, what‘s the answer?
LOCKHART: So perhaps rather than trying to take a mistake in Iraq and extend it into Iran, we should do what‘s in our interest, which is—and it‘s not necessarily a military solution. But sending 20,000, 30,000 more troops into Iraq and bogging them down further in Baghdad doesn‘t seem to me to be a sensible way to go about fighting the bigger threat to us, which is Iran and Syria.
CARLSON: Well, unless its does what the president hopes it will do. And I have no confidence it will. But if it were actually to stabilize Iraq, that would be great for the world.
BUCHANAN: Tucker, someone apparently...
LOCKHART: It would be great for Iraq. I‘m not sure the ramifications beyond Iraq, though.
BUCHANAN: But Tucker, somebody asked today the secretary of state, “Does the president have the authority now to strike Iran?” And I think if you look at what the president‘s authority is in going to war against Iraq, and if they‘re being aided from outside and they‘re killing Americans, I think there may be an inherent authority of the president to strike outside Iraq‘s territorial area if it‘s to preserve the Americans inside Iraq.
BUCHANAN: That would provoke the response, and then you would get the war without getting a declaration of war or an authorization of war. This is why this Congress, instead of worrying about their stupid vote in 2002, had better tell the president he does not have the authority to attack Iran unless they attack us or unless he comes to Congress and...
CARLSON: But would it—I mean, leaving aside how we get there, would it be a good idea?
CARLSON: OK. It would not be a good idea. But then we‘re all just sort of standing—and I‘m not saying it would be a good idea either, but I do think that the alternative—that is, standing back and letting this country run by lunatics acquire nuclear weapons—is kind of a big deal.
BEINART: It‘s not the only alternative.
BEINART: At the very, very least, before you launch another war, another war with America, you would put everything on the table with Iran and say, if you don‘t test a nuclear weapon, we will—we‘ll give you full recognition, lift all sanctions, and bring you back into the international community, which would cause a political crisis in Iran because there‘s some people in the government who would want to say, heck, no, and some who would want to—at least you would try that first, and we have made no such effort.
BUCHANAN: See, let me agree with Peter on that 100 percent. We ought to make a grand bargain offered to these guys. But this is—this is the back door to war with Iran. And quite frankly, I think there are enormous forces in this city and abroad, in the Arab world, the Sunni world, Israel, and a lot of places that would like to have it done, to hell with the constitution.
LOCKHART: I think the scariest part of what Pat said before is when he talked about the president‘s legacy. And right now, I think he‘s obsessed with his legacy and how he will be looked at, and he‘s acting in ways that may increasingly become reckless.
CARLSON: OK. You may be absolutely right, but there is no denying that there are forces much large and much more lasting than the president‘s ego at play here. And the countries that you named are...
LOCKHART: And to argue that the only way to get Iran and neutralize their nuclear capability is to invade, or to go in and attack them, that‘s silly.
CARLSON: No. And I don‘t think—no one at this table is making that argument.
We‘re going to go to a quick break here. Here‘s the man of the hour still ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: Here‘s the problem. And I said this directly to the president, and I didn‘t get an adequate response. What are the consequences under the president‘s plan if there is a failure to meet various benchmarks and milestones?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: A good lawyer never asks a question to which he doesn‘t know the answer. But good politicians apparently do.
Barack Obama and others raised perfectly legitimate concerns. Concerns I share. What are their answers, though? We‘d like to hear them.
Plus, hearts be still. David Beckham is inevitably maybe coming to America full time. So is his wife, by the way. Will soccer finally catch on in this country?
We hope not. Expert opinion on this earthshaking news. Stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), CALIFORNIA: I have not been told the truth. I have not been told the truth over and over again by administration witnesses and the American people have not been told the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Everybody‘s a critic, but that adage is literally true here in Washington these days, particularly in the Democratic party. Everyone, from Barak Obama to Hillary Clinton, to Dennis Kucinich has expressed opposition of the president‘s new Iraq plan. However, the world continues its vigil, as if awaiting smoke from the Vatican, to hear the Democrat‘s own plan for what to do in Iraq.
For their views on what the Democrats are doing, what they ought to do, we welcome Joe Lockhart, co-founder of HotSoup.com and former press secretary to President Bill Clinton, Peter Beinart, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, also editor at large of the “New Republic” magazine, and Pat Buchanan, former presidential candidate, and MSNBC political analyst.
Joe, what‘s the Democratic response to this speech? They don‘t like it. They don‘t want a troop surge. They could defund the war. They could stop the surge tomorrow, but are the gonna?
LOCKHART: Well, they‘re pretty united on the idea that they don‘t want a surge. There‘s a lot of different ideas on what they should do. I mean, Senator Biden‘s put forward this idea of partitioning the country, which a lot of foreign policy experts think would make a lot of sense. There‘s this idea of phasing out and redeploying the troops into the region, as a way of giving the Iraqis both the ability and mandate, or responsibility, sorry, to do the job.
There‘s not one single idea but—
CARLSON: OK. All—I don‘t think the Democratic party has a moral obligation to have a comprehensive Iraq plan. I do think they have a moral obligation to respond to this series of ideas the president laid out yesterday. It‘s not enough to get up and say, these are bad ideas. What are they going to do? Are they going to stand by and allow these 20,000 troops to be added, I guess starting Monday? Or are they going—they are the Congress, after all. They were elected to do something. Are they actually going to do something?
LOCKHART: It‘s not just Democrats. It‘s Congress as a whole.
CARLSON: They‘ve got the votes. They could do it.
LOCKHART: It is not clear at all, constitutionally, whether they can stop the president from doing this. He is the commander in chief. Down the road, they can play with the funding, but they have the funds right now to do this. They have the planes to get them there. They‘re going to do it. So, I don‘t think this is a question of what Congress can do to stop this at the outset.
CARLSON: Well, they could certainly, Peter, short-circuit the war. They do have the power to do that. Congress appropriates the money for the war. They could do it.
BEINART: The conventional wisdom is that that would be political suicide for them.
BEINART: But, I think that conventional wisdom could change. It‘s interesting that John Edwards, who is the guy with probably, I think, the best finger on the pulse of where the Democratic party grass roots is right now, has come out for that. And the other to look forward --
CARLSON: What‘s Edwards‘ idea?
BEINART: I think he supports the Kennedy idea, which is basically no more funding for new troops. But the interesting thing to see is whether they could someone like Hagel to go along with that. Or whether they could get some bipartisan cover, because, of course, they‘re very afraid that the Republicans will attack them as anti-troop. But you listen to the way Hagel is talking, maybe Hagel—
CARLSON: Since you pointed out, let‘s listen. Here‘s what he said. This is Chuck Hagel, this is a conservative Republican from Nebraska. He‘s not a liberal. This is no Chris Shays. This is no John McCain, actually, this guy‘s a conservative. He says, quote, this is a dangerously wrong headed strategy that will drive America deeper into an unwinnable swamp at a great cost. It is wrong to place American troops in the middle of Iraq‘s civil war. It is not in America‘s national interest. It goes on and on and on.
We cannot want success in Iraq more than they want it for themselves.
More American troops, treasure and casualties will not change this reality. It will only make it worse. I mean, that is just no. That is tougher than Ted Kennedy.
LOCKHART: The political dynamic all along, up until today, has been the White House and the Republicans saying, we‘re going to stay strong and we dare the Democrats to look weak.
LOCKHART: And I think with this resounding chorus of Republicans rejecting it, the political dynamic has changed. What it changes to, and if it changes to a place where they actually will defund it, I don‘t know, but the dynamic that—the political premise on which the president gave the speech right now is outdated. People are not afraid to challenge him on this and afraid to look weak.
BUCHANAN: The non-binding resolution, I think, is going to pass overwhelmingly.
BUCHANAN: But I think a lot of people will say let‘s defund them.
But they don‘t want to do that for the simple reason that I think the president, as I said, is in correct in terms of what happens when we pull out, a complete disaster. Why would the Democratic party want to assume responsibility and accountability for that. I don‘t think they‘re going to do it. Edwards and these other fellows might say we‘re going to do it and Kennedy and the rest, but I don‘t think they‘re going to do it.
CARLSON: See, here you‘re going to have, I mean, it seems to me, the only thing—I think you make a very smart point Joe, and I can see that. If there was ever a moment for the Democrats to actually vote their conscious, that‘s something you don‘t see very often, it is now, because they have cover from Republicans on the war.
However, the only thing I think that could make Bush popular again is Democratic support for the debacle that will be the aftermath of the withdrawal of American troops.
LOCKHART: And shock, a lot of what happens in Washington is the gamesmanship of trying to influence the policy. I don‘t think it‘s clear what will happen. I think Pat‘s right.
CARLSON: How much time have people spent thinking about what the actual withdrawal will look like. What will it look like? It will look like hell.
BEINART: They have put out a whole a series—it‘s basically getting out, but not doing it so fast, but it‘s trying to get out slowly. I think that what Bush is doing, and the Republicans keep on saying is what is your plan for victory? The Democratic honest answer, I wish they would say this, we have no plan for victory, because we have lost. We have a plan for not sending more American troops to fight a war that we‘ve already lost.
BUCHANAN: You know Tucker, you‘ve got a very good point. What is it going to look like getting out? This is why the Baker thing seemed to me so ridiculous. They‘re going to take out all 15 combat brigades, out of Iraq, that government goes down and the insurgents are on the verge of victory. You got supply troops and all these other guys, contractors, the green zone and everything. And frankly, if you‘re going to come out of there, the idea that we can retain a nice small presence inside that country after this war, the way we are hated and despised by so many of those people, with many of them have got blood vengeance on their mind, I think it‘s utopia.
CARLSON: It‘s always ugly at the end and this is going to particularly ugly, but Joe I think you‘re right that Republicans have spent the last four years bashing Democrats over the head with the idea that if you‘re not for this, you‘re not for victory, and you are therefore for defeat. But it‘s actually kind of true. I mean, pulling out, redeploying, all these stupid euphemisms they use for withdrawing, for running away, that is tantamount to conceding defeat and it is humiliating. It may be the best option, but it‘s still a terrible option.
LOCKHART: There are no good options and it‘s because we took the wrong steps.
LOCKHART: If you look at this again—
CARLSON: So you honestly don‘t think, in the end, Iraq could be a decent place where America‘s not hated.
LOCKHART: I think this administration misunderstood the situation on the ground. I don‘t think, if you asked the president, in his heart of hearts, with complete candor and honesty, could he have, before he ordered the invasion, really understood the sectarian differences in that country. And there were people out there who were predicting this and they were muted. There were people, General Shinseki who was out there saying, we can‘t do this with the amount of troops. He got fired. They had it in their head—
CARLSON: No, they screwed up, but look, I‘m not defending them. I‘m merely saying, you have to make decisions about how to proceed.
BEINART: Sometimes political leadership, great political leadership means accepting agonizingly painful, humiliating—Ronald Reagan pulled our troops out of Lebanon. The United States pulled out of Vietnam and we recovered because we stopped—because we began—when you‘re in a huge hole, sometimes you have to stop—
CARLSON: Really, you think it was wise to pull out after the 1983 barracks bombings. I mean, every time you read a statement from Osama bin Laden or Zarqawi or whoever, they‘re saying look—
BEINART: There were costs, but what would have been the costs of staying in Lebanon?
BUCHANAN: It was a mistake to go in and Reagan had the courage to pull them out and take the heat for it. It was a mistake to ever have gone to war in Iraq. We shouldn‘t have gone into, but I‘ll tell you this Tucker. You‘re right. We better look in the face at the consequences of this, because I think the president is right. You go through those list of things. This is going to be a disaster for the United States, unlike any we have seen in our lifetime.
CARLSON: Why is it so dangerous, Joe, for Democrats, as Peter suggested, to strip away the euphemism and just say, you know, this is going to be so horrifying. You thought Darfur is ugly, wait until you see Baghdad. Why don‘t they just say that outloud, to prepare people for the reality of withdrawal?
LOCKHART: This is already a disaster. We‘re talking about a series of bad choices and what‘s in our best interest. And again, if you go back to -- and I agree with the president, the fundamental question here is fighting the new threat, the new global threat. I don‘t necessarily believe Osama bin Laden when he speaks and what they‘re saying is the truth. What do you think they‘d rather have? Us bogged down in Baghdad, with 150,000 troops in Iraq, or 100 billion, 200 billion, 500 billion dollars in the bank, not going further over there and fighting them where they are, which is not in Baghdad.
CARLSON: I‘m not sure it‘s clear where they are. I‘ve heard people say that. It‘s like, what exactly are you talking about? Where should we fight them? Do you know what I mean? Because I think that‘s one of the reasons we went into Iraq in the first place. We didn‘t know where else they were.
LOCKHART: That now doesn‘t look like a very good idea.
CARLSON: I‘m not saying it is. I‘m saying it‘s a failure of imagination, but it also points up to the reality that we actually—
BEINART: While it is true that they are in Iraq and they would have a safe haven there. It‘s also true that they‘re not particularly well liked amongst Iraqis, these foreign fighters. And once they went across the border to Jordan, and blew up that hotel, it brought the Jordanians out in the streets, marching against them.
These people are horrible, but we should remember, they have an ideology which is not very appealing, even to most people in the Middle East.
CARLSON: Certainly not to me. Peter, Joe, Pat, thank you all very much.
Coming up, if you we‘re convinced the Duke lacrosse case was an utter fraud before today, stick around. It will change you mind. If you were convinced, stick around for another log on your own fire of outrage.
Plus, the first lady of foreign policy gets caught speaking out of school. It turns out she does have a favorite cable news operation. Could it be the one you‘re watching? Right. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: It‘s that time again, when I ask why the Duke case, now a sexual assault and kidnapping case, hasn‘t been dropped yet and the prosecutors sent to jail. The latest, the accuser is now saying that Reid Seligman—he‘s one of the three lacrosse players charged—was only a witness to the alleged crimes and did not take part in the sexual assault. That‘s a long way from what she claimed about three years ago, that three Duke lacrosse players, Seligman, Collin Finnerty, and Dave Evans, raped her.
Here with more on this amazing development MSNBC general manager and NBC News chief legal correspondent Dan Abrams, joining us from headquarters. Dan, tell us what we now know.
DAN ABRAMS, NBC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we now know that there are more problems than we thought even last week in this case. This is really a here we go again, right? Up to this point we‘ve known that she‘s been telling inconsistent stories. Up to this point we‘ve known that she has changed her story as to when it happened. She‘s changed her story as to how it happened. She‘s changed her story as to who was there. She‘s changed her story as to how she ended up in the bathroom, et cetera.
Now we learn that the man who she initially said to the authorities was the one who forced her to perform a sexual act actually didn‘t. I mean, it‘s really—it‘s really—it is really stunning that this case remains an indicted case, that this prosecutor is moving forward with this case. Again, the question of what actually happened is almost a separate question from should the prosecutor drop the case.
CARLSON: This is a case—correct me if I‘m wrong—that hangs entirely on what the accuser claims happened. There are no other witnesses who claim they say sexual assault. There is, as far as I know, no DNA evidence.
ABRAMS: There are witnesses who actually contradict her story.
ABRAMS: Including the second stripper, who was there with her, who says, you know, I know she claimed that, you know, I was apparently helping to walk her in there. Not true. She doesn‘t think that there‘s anything to indicate that this woman was raped. She has repeatedly contradicted the story of the first woman.
CARLSON: Now, we are hearing about this today, but apparently this information arose during an interview conducted several weeks ago. How do we know about it now?
ABRAMS: Because the defense team is putting it into a motion where they‘re saying, you know, they‘ve moved to have much of the evidence in this case excluded. And they are laying out, in this motion, all of the inconsistent statements. Because remember, she gave a statement to the police in writing. She also gave a statement to the sexual assault nurse.
She gave another statement to another doctor. Now she‘s giving another statement to the district attorneys. She identified the young men at a different time. So the problem is that each and every time she‘s identifying one of these guys or all of these guys there‘s some major discrepancies. We‘re not talking about a little detail, about he was wearing a blue shirt versus a red shirt. We‘re talking about it was this guy, who had a mustache, versus a guy who didn‘t have a mustache.
There are major discrepancies again and again and this is really the most glaring one. On the one hand to say he was the guy who forced me to do it, and then on the other hand saying, oh, actually, what he said at the time was he was about to get married and therefore couldn‘t engage in any sort of sexual act.
CARLSON: So here you have an accuser who‘s not credible. She‘s literally in-credible and you have a prosecutor who‘s going forward with these felony prosecutions, despite the fact his only witness is clearly lying. Is justice going to be done? I mean, could criminal charges be brought against either one of these, the accuser making the false accusations or the district attorney, brining them to court?
ABRAMS: Not the district attorney. The district attorney has his own problems with the North Carolina State Bar Association right now. Actually, they just set a hearing date for him about a number of the statements that he made in this case, both statements that he probably shouldn‘t have made, just with regard to keeping the evidence under wraps, but also statements that he simply couldn‘t support later on.
So he‘s got his own problems with the North Carolina State Bar Association. Absolutely, she could be prosecuted if they can demonstrate that she has made false statements, but you got to find a prosecutor to go after her. See, what‘s going to happen here, I think, is you‘re going to see the North Carolina Bar Association, I think, come after Mike Nifong and they‘re going to sanction him. They‘re going to say, you know, he did things wrong, et cetera.
Then you may see the governor or the attorney general or the feds step in and pile on to Nifong and that really could be the end of the case.
CARLSON: Good, I hope he goes to prison and he stays there. This kind of abuse of power, in my view, needs to be punished severely. Dan Abrams, thanks a lot Dan.
ABRAMS: Tucker, good to see you.
CARLSON: Is there really a love affair between Condoleeza Rice and Bill O‘Reilly? One of them says there is. We‘ll explain when we come right back.
CARLSON: I‘m hosting this show currently from Washington, but if you want to really know what‘s going on in the capital city, you got to talk to Willie Geist, who‘s actually in New Jersey, Willie, it‘s happening here?
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: That‘s right Tucker. I‘ve got the beltway gossip tonight, since you didn‘t do it. Here it comes, you ready for this?
GEIST: When she‘s not busy drawing up a new a way forward for this country, it seems Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is fawning over the fellows at Fox News. Rice was caught, off the record, on an open microphone, in between television interviews yesterday, saying, quote, my Fox guys, I love every single one of them. That presumably includes the man seen here. Rice also said she would love to do an interview with Harry Smith of CBS, because he‘s a, quote, decent guy. Sadly Tucker, no mention of you on that list. So we‘ll try not to take it personally at MSNBC. I have to say, --
CARLSON: Of course not.
GEIST: I take it personally, but I want names. Are we talking O‘Reilly? Are we talking Geraldo, Hannity, Colmes? Because when you say every single one of them, frankly, it sounds a little promiscuous. So I want to know exactly who are we talking about here. I want names.
CARLSON: I think it‘s Allan Colmes.
GEIST: Do you really?
CARLSON: Yes, and Harry Smith actually is a very decent guy.
GEIST: He‘s a very good guy. But she did take a shot at his ratings too, off camera, but a little unfair for the off the record comment.
CARLSON: Never criticize another man‘s ratings. That‘s my rule.
GEIST: No, when you are on the satellite, zip it. We know that, don‘t we Tucker.
GEIST: Well if Tiger Woods is not the biggest sports star in the world, then David Beckham is. A soccer team in the United States plans to pay him like it. The British soccer icon and husband of the former Posh Spice announced today he will leave his team in Spain later this year to join the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer. He has agreed to a five-year deal that will reportedly pay him 250 million dollars. Yes, 250 million. It‘s the biggest pay package ever given to an individual athlete.
Tucker, this is making such waves because the MLS in this country is not particularly popular. In fact, the Galaxy are one of only two teams that turn a profit in the entire league. You know, it‘s soccer. It hasn‘t caught on. I‘m not into soccer, I think, you know, if you can‘t use your hands in a sport, then what‘s the point of evolution, but that‘s a whole other argument.
CARLSON: Well yes, I don‘t think anybody over the age of nine in this country is into soccer. Is that right? Unless something‘s changed.
GEIST: We weren‘t raised on it, but I think they are counting on Beckham coming over her and changing that. We say Alex Rodriguez for the Yankees is paid 25 million dollars a year, that‘s outrageous. Well, he‘s getting half of what Beckham is getting to play a sport that people actually care about and have huge television contracts for. So, anyway, we will see how it turns out. It‘s a big gamble but it might work, who knows?
A day after Rosie O‘Donnell and Barbara Walters showed a united front against Donald Trump on “The View,” Rosie got another shot of public support from her old friend Madonna. Madonna was on “The Today Show” this morning and made very clear what side she is on in this epic battle of evil versus evil.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADONNA, SINGER: I sent her an e-mail and I said, is everything OK. What‘s going on. I have to hear it from the horse‘s mouth. I have a feeling that if every stand up comic was penalized for saying politically incorrect things, or provocative things, I think they would all be hung in the public square. So if people are giving Rosie a hard time, I wish they would stop. I don‘t think it‘s fair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: First thing, the English accent, come on.
CARLSON: Isn‘t she from Detroit? What is that?
GEIST: Enough with the English accent, please. Stop inflecting your questions that way. It‘s wrong. Isn‘t this starting to remind you a little bit of the lead up to World War I? Let me remind you. Rosie‘s opening salvo was kind of like the little assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, and all of a sudden the super powers come in. Here comes Barbara Walter. Madonna chimes in. This thing could escalate and get ugly very quickly, if we‘re not careful.
CARLSON: They are the axis powers. You know what, I hate to say this, I never thought I would, I‘m on Donald Trump‘s side completely. He is telling the truth. If you read his statements about his conversations with Barbara Walters, he is not lying.
GEIST: You know where I stand, Trump.
CARLSON: I know you do. Willie Geist.
GEIST: All right Tucker.
CARLSON: Thanks Willie. That does it for us. Thanks for watching.
As always, “HARDBALL” with Chris is next. See you tomorrow.
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