Guests: Bill Press, Pat Buchanan, Tom Andrews
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the show.
If yesterday was Barack Obama‘s day, Hillary Clinton tried to make today hers. Just back from Iraq, Mrs. Clinton‘s stance on the president‘s new way forward competed with attention with two separate Iraq proposals from other senators running for president. There are a lot of them. Chris Dodd of Connecticut proposed a cap on troops in Iraq, while Joe Biden and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska presented a non-binding bipartisan resolution condemning the war there.
More on those developments in just a minute, but first, Mrs. Clinton‘s much anticipated statement. She gave it this afternoon. Here‘s part of what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: What I‘ve heard out of the administration thus far, I think we will eventually have to move to tougher requirements on the administration to get their attention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Joining us now to make sense of what that might mean, Bill Press, author of “How the Republicans Stole Religion,” and Pat Buchanan. MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate.
Welcome to you both.
BILL PRESS, AUTHOR, “HOW THE REPUBLICANS STOLE RELIGION”: Tucker, good to see you.
CARLSON: Bill, what does that mean, Mrs. Clinton up there? I mean, is she -- Mrs. Clinton has been criticized by fellow Democrats, people on the left, for being an accommodationist on this war. Is she finally drawing a line in the sand?
Is this, in fact, a tough statement? It didn‘t seem to be one to me.
PRESS: Here‘s what I think is happening. I think it‘s pretty clear she‘s going to announce pretty soon she‘s running for president of the United States.
CARLSON: I‘ve heard that, yes.
PRESS: Iraq is her number one problem because she voted for the resolution.
PRESS: So I think she is moving toward that announcement by clarifying her position on Iraq. She goes to Iraq, number one, over the weekend, and Afghanistan. She comes back, she has a news conference today, kind of charting her course somewhere in the middle between Barack Obama or Dennis Kucinich—not that he‘s as far left—Barack as far left a Kucinich—on one side, and George Bush on the other side, saying no more troops in Iraq but we need more troops in Afghanistan.
PRESS: I think it‘s a pretty smart move on her part.
CARLSON: Pat, here‘s what John Edwards...
PRESS: Not that I agree with it, necessarily.
CARLSON: Right. No, but...
PRESS: But I think politically it‘s a smart move.
CARLSON: I mean, there are two different arguments. One is the argument about what she needs to do in primary, the over in the general.
Here‘s what she faces in the primary, Pat. John Edwards, former senator from North Carolina, gave a speech this weekend at Riverside Church, a left-wing church in New York City, and he said this about Hillary Clinton indirectly—“Patriotism is about refusing to support something you know is wrong and having the courage to speak out with strength and passion and backbone for something you know is right.”
In other words, Hillary Clinton—and it‘s obvious what he‘s saying—
Hillary Clinton is not patriotic in her stand on Iraq. That‘s how tough the criticism is from the left on Hillary.
Did she do anything to placate the left?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, not really. Well, she did something.
Look, what Edwards is doing is trying to make this a moral issue. He has got to get—get the left wing of the Democratic Party, so you say Hillary is basically an opportunist, she‘s a centrist, she doesn‘t take a stand on the war, she‘s not a leader. That‘s what he does to rally the left.
Hillary is smart in this sense, Tucker. Hillary knows she can‘t go that far left. She‘s going to go partly left.
You go that far left, maybe you get the nomination, then the general election is gone. She sees herself as a candidate for president of the United States in the general election. And if you do that, you do not take the Edwards-Obama position, which are positions that are going to have to be taken by people who have to knock over a frontrunner. But after they do that, it would have been like Howard Dean getting the nomination.
CARLSON: Right. Yes.
BUCHANAN: Fine, he gets the nomination. Then he loses by 20 points.
So she has moved herself away from Bush to the center, taken a hawk position on Afghanistan, more troops, this is where we‘re winning, and a tough line on the Maliki government. I think it‘s—I mean, politically speaking, she is positioned about as well as she can be.
CARLSON: I wonder, Bill, if Democrats—I mean, are they partisan enough to swallow that? I mean, here the average Democrat, the average activist Democrat, the people who actually vote in primaries, totally, unalterably opposed to this war, passionately opposed to this war.
Hillary Clinton, the leading hawk in her party after Joe Lieberman, would they really vote for her in the primary simply because she‘s famous, her husband was popular, and she‘s a Democrat?
PRESS: No. Just a quick answer.
I really—I really think she has to move more to—I don‘t disagree with Pat. I‘m just saying, to get the nomination, she‘s got to have to move, in my judgment, a little further to the left.
She‘s going to have to say this war is a mistake. She‘s going to have to say it was a mistake for her to vote for it.
CARLSON: You really think she‘s going to say that?
PRESS: I think she‘s going to have to come out and say that she‘d be willing to support—I mean, to vote for no more funding for additional troops in Iraq.
Let me just say, this is anecdotal, I know, but on my radio show this morning, I just opened up the phones, Barack or Hillary? These are—listen, mostly Democrats listening to me, right? Ten to one for Barack Obama. And the issue is the war.
BUCHANAN: That‘s Bill Press, Sirius Radio, and Bill Press. I‘m not surprised there was more.
But look, what Hillary can do, you‘re right, she can keep moving over. But what she‘s got realize, Tucker, is not where we are now. There‘s no doubt you must have 90 percent of the Democratic Party wants to get out.
Where is the country going to be in mid 2008? Suppose this thing collapses and all hell breaks loose there and people say, who undercut us?
BUCHANAN: And so she‘s got to be aware of that.
She will move gradually and slowly, and I think she will, I think, say, “I made a terrible mistake,” or “I was misled in going and voting for this war.” I think that would be a mistake.
What she ought to say is, “They botched the job. The administration botched it in every way they could. I voted for this war, they mishandled it, and we need new leadership now to get us out of it.”
CARLSON: See, here‘s the problem, Bill, with taking the middle road. If you‘re against the war, you think it was a mistake, we ought to pull out and face the consequences of doing so. That‘s, I think, a coherent, if wrong, position.
If you think that the war is a good idea, we need to fight it through to the end, that may be wrong, but it makes sense. But the idea that the war is a war with positive aims. Like it—you know, it was a good idea at one point but it‘s not going well, but we should keep the troops we have there but not add anymore—in other words, we should keep fighting but not win, that doesn‘t make sense. And that‘s her position.
PRESS: I think that‘s Bush‘s position.
CARLSON: It is Bush‘s—no, Bush‘s position...
CARLSON: ... is we‘ve got to add more to win. She‘s saying we have to win but we can‘t add more. That doesn‘t add up.
PRESS: No, she‘s also—she‘s also redeploying our troops from Iraq starting in four to six months. I mean, she supports the Democrats‘ position in the Senate.
I just think, you know, she‘s got—Pat, I want to come back to your point. If this whole thing collapses, we‘re in the middle of 2008 this whole thing collapses, and she is not where John Edwards and Barack Obama are on this war, she is in trouble. She‘s in trouble, I believe.
BUCHANAN: Well, I think, Tucker, you‘re right...
PRESS: So I think she has to move as far left as she can...
BUCHANAN: All right. Sure.
PRESS: ... without—without cutting off her chances to still present herself as a strong general election candidate.
BUCHANAN: Well, you were talking two things.
One, we‘ve been talking the political position of Hillary.
BUCHANAN: But you are talking, what is right about Iraq? And you are exactly right.
Here Bush is correct. He said, look...
CARLSON: That‘s the first time on this subject.
BUCHANAN: ... I looked at the stay the course—he said, I looked at the stay the course, that is slow defeat. I looked at the Iraq Study Group‘s let‘s get out now. That is accelerated defeat. I am trying to stave off defeat with this, and it may work.
In terms of a military strategy, Bush makes much more sense. But talking political strategy, let me tell you, Bill, if this thing starts going down and collapsing, I don‘t think running around saying, I was antiwar and I was against this, I‘m not sure that‘s going to be that popular. The American people could be in a mood to kick somebody‘s butt.
PRESS: I have to just say, I strongly disagree with that. I think if you‘re right on the military strategy and George Bush is saying you can‘t stay the course and you can‘t pull out, so you‘ve got to win, and then he puts...
BUCHANAN: Well, that‘s...
PRESS: ... a piddly 10,000 troops in Baghdad, that‘s a joke. There is no way that 10,000 troops or 20,000 is going to make the difference, particularly when you depend on Maliki‘s government, Pat.
BUCHANAN: If you stave off defeat.
CARLSON: You may be right that those are flaws, that this plan won‘t work.
You wonder, though, what is the alternative?
Without Maliki you don‘t have a government. You don‘t have a Democratically-elected government, anyway. And you have something that I don‘t think people have focused enough on.
You have a humanitarian disaster. You have not only a humanitarian disaster, but one that is going to be on film.
This is not central Africa. This is Iraq. We‘re going to see the results of this on television. And can the American people, or the Democratic Party, or the Republicans, for that matter, sit back as these people eat each other on TV?
BUCHANAN: You‘re going to have...
PRESS: Tucker, we have a humanitarian disaster today.
CARLSON: Oh man.
PRESS: Which we created.
BUCHANAN: When you see...
PRESS: And the longer we stay, the worse it gets.
BUCHANAN: When you see friends of the United States who were with us dragged out of their homes and shot on Al-Jazeera, which you‘re going to see—if this government goes down, which it will if we pull out, and the army breaks apart, the country breaks apart, you have a massive civil war all over the place, it is a general disaster. And, you know...
PRESS: Pat, we have that today. We have it today.
CARLSON: Man, I don‘t know.
PRESS: And American troops are in the middle of it. Get out.
BUCHANAN: All right. Well, that‘s exactly—that‘s the emotional position today, but I‘ll tell you, 18 months from now, it might not be that attractive.
CARLSON: It‘s going to be Darfur in primetime. That‘s my prediction.
Coming up, Barack Obama was out in front of the wake of President Bush‘s war speech last week. Did it hurt Obama or help him in his aspirations to be president? Surprising new Gallup poll results are out. We‘ve got him.
Plus, it could not be easier to ridicule President Bush‘s three-and-a-half-year-old declaration of victory in Iraq. The mission certainly remains unaccomplished. On the other hand, what, if anything, will today‘s congressional antiwar resolution accomplish ever?
We shall see next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL ®, NEBRASKA: America looks to its government for responsible policy, and that policy can only be sustained if it‘s bipartisan and there‘s a consensus of purpose as to what it is we want to accomplish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Republican senator Chuck Hagel and Democrat Joe Biden in Delaware presented their non-binding resolutions on Iraq today. It sounds oxymoronic, though, to have resolutions that are non-binding. So what will they accomplish, if anything?
Here now, Tom Andrews, former Democratic congressman from Maine, and now national director of Win Without War.
Congressman, thanks for coming on.
TOM ANDREWS (D), FMR. MAINE CONGRESSMAN: Tucker, it‘s great to be here.
Last time I saw you had a bow tie and were working for some other outfit.
I can‘t remember who they are.
CARLSON: I have grown. A series of midlife crises later, here I am.
ANDREWS: There you go. Good to see you.
CARLSON: Are you as someone who has been—and I remember interviewing you in 2000 and 2003, before this war—you were passionately opposed to this war. You were right in many ways, by the way. Are you plead to see Senator Hagel come out with this non-binding resolution? I heard you criticize it this morning.
ANDREWS: Well, you know, we are, because, you know, there‘s nothing non-binding about the hell that these soldiers are going through in Iraq. There‘s nothing non-binding about the disaster this administration has forced this country.
We worked very, very hard, many people across the country, to elect a Democratic Congress to challenge, stand up and challenge the president of the United States, and change course in Iraq. And if the best we can do is a non-binding resolution, I mean, there‘s nothing non-binding about the disaster we‘re in. And people...
CARLSON: Well, wait a second. Are you saying, Congressman, that you—and you‘re a wise man—I know first hand—you believed in the Democratic Party? You voted for Democrats, really believing they were going to vote their consciences, the same people who gave a green light to this war four years ago? You actually trusted them again?
ANDREWS: Clearly, the Democratic Party was the best chance this country had of turning—why? Because everything‘s relative in politics, Tucker, as you know. And with the Republican Party, I mean, it was a blank check, it was a rubber stamp. There was no accountability whatsoever.
CARLSON: As opposed to the Democratic Party? What did Hillary Clinton do to put the brakes on? Nothing. She complimented the war up until about 20 minutes ago.
ANDREWS: The fact of the matter is we‘re now having hearings for the very first time, oversight hearings, investigative hearings. We‘re going to get to the truth.
But it seems to me, Tucker, and where I think you‘re on the right track, is the Democratic Party owes it to the American people who elected them on November 7th, principally on the basis of this issue. They owe them more than non-binding words and phrases. They owe them action, and the action that they have available to them is the power of the purse.
And listen, if this resolution is a step in the direction of taking real action, fine. But lay out to me and to us what those steps are, and we can make sure and push—put the pressure that we need to on the right people to make sure that action is actually taken.
CARLSON: Well, here‘s what you get in the non-binding resolution. And we haven‘t—just to be perfectly clear—not seen this resolution yet. It‘s only been characterized for us in the press.
However, we are pretty certain it will not call for cutting funds or restricting funds. It has not called for caps on the number of U.S. troops serving in Iraq, or for further troops who might be sent to Iraq.
It doesn‘t really do anything at all. It‘s a growl put on paper.
ANDREWS: Right. And so...
CARLSON: It‘s pathetic.
ANDREWS: Well, it‘s pathetic if that‘s where it ends. And my fear, having served in that institution, is, if you‘re going to have some Republicans saying, OK, I‘ll cast my vote for the meaningless resolution that does nothing, then when you have real choices in front of you, when you can actually direct some of these funds away from the surge, they‘ll vote against it for whatever reason.
ANDREWS: Yes, but I‘m on record. I voted for the escalation, so I‘m on record and I‘m covered. That‘s the danger. We take the pressure off and we don‘t—and we sit back and allow the Congress to do nothing. That‘s the danger.
CARLSON: But are you guys going to—“you guys,” meaning liberal activist groups—are you going to go after Democrats? I know you zeroed out Lieberman, you‘ve been mad at him for a long time, and I understand why. But there are other Democrats who are also sort of in a Lieberman mold.
Are you going to target them, too? I mean, this is a bipartisan effort, isn‘t it? It‘s not just partisan.
ANDREWS: It‘s completely bipartisan, and exactly right.
You know, someone was asking me the other day about the relationship between this movement, antiwar movement today, and the antiwar movement in the Vietnam era. And the difference as this: We hit those streets by the thousands and thousands. We contributed literally tens of millions of dollars to these campaigns on November 7.
Why? Because of Iraq. And we expect more than just meaningless words and phrases and non-binding resolutions. If people do not deliver, then the hope that people had going into those elections and the energy they invested and money they invested, they will feel that they have been betrayed, and they‘re going to approach directly those people who betrayed them.
CARLSON: All right. Congressman Andrews, thanks a lot for joining us. I appreciate it.
ANDREWS: My pleasure.
CARLSON: Coming up, the latest 2008 presidential poll has arrived and Hillary Clinton‘s running up front. But it‘s not all good news for the senator from New York. Stick around for the complete analysis of our next president, whoever he or she may be.
Plus, you know who else has been getting a pass on the fraudulent Duke lacrosse case? The Duke faculty has. Well, that pass gets revoked today on this show.
Stay tuned. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Senators Hagel and Biden aren‘t the only ones in the Senate with something to say about Iraq. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, also running for president, calling for a cap on troops in Iraq. That idea was echoed by no less than Hillary Clinton herself this afternoon, of course. But is it a good idea?
Joining us to tell us, Bill Press, author of “How the Republicans Stole Religion,” and Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate.
Welcome to you both.
I‘m not sure this is a good—I mean, again, it gets back to what we were talking about a minute ago. If you are against the war and you think it will never succeed, and that every day we spend there is—compounding the disaster, pull the troops out. But capping the troops doesn‘t make sense.
PRESS: Can I talk about the resolution first?
CARLSON: Of course.
PRESS: Because I thought that was a very interesting interview with Tom Andrews. And I started out thinking like Tom Andrews, that this resolution was a total waste of time. I‘m totally anti-war, and I want to see—I want to see some action. But I‘ve come around on that.
I really think as a first step that if you can get 12 Republican senators or however many Republicans in the House and in the Senate to join Democrats in a statement that this madness has to stop and we‘re not for it, even though—and all resolutions are non-binding—I think that‘s a powerful statement that‘s worth doing. And it will be followed up by some -- some action on funding.
CARLSON: But it will achieve what? I mean, I see your point. I don‘t think—I don‘t think it‘s a dumb point at all.
CARLSON: However, Pat, you have a president who is in the 20s in his—or has been in his approval rating, and it didn‘t move him on Iraq. It didn‘t.
His party was creamed in this last election and he‘s still adding troops to the conflict. So, is there any evidence that disapproval from a bunch of members of Congress is going to get the president to do something?
BUCHANAN: No, he‘s going to send—the surge is going to go forward. He‘s going to put the troops in. He said so. He said, I‘ve got the authority.
It will do what Bill says. It will put the second—or first branch of government of Congress, if you can call it that, on record against the war.
But your point—the question that you asked earlier is really valid. In terms of the war and whether we‘re going to win it or lose it, it doesn‘t make sense to me to see Democrats imposing upon the president a stay-the-course strategy which the president said is slowly losing the war, which Colin Powell said is losing the war, and they won‘t give him any more troops, but they said you can keep in there the 130,000 you‘ve got. What they‘re saying, in effect, is they‘re going to bleed us to death in a war they‘re not going to win.
That‘s the Democratic position.
CARLSON: You know what? That is exactly—how do you respond to that, Bill? I know you‘re not endorsing it, but it is a stay-the-course strategy. They are advocating a strategy that they themselves have said doesn‘t work.
PRESS: First of all, I think the president‘s strategy and one of the things about his plan is totally open ended. We don‘t know how long this surge, if you want to use that, or escalation is going to last. I frankly think his strategy is to run out the clock until he is back in Crawford, Texas, and somebody else has to clean up the mess.
But Pat, I see a difference in what the Democrats are proposing. You‘ve got two Democratic plans, basically. One is the Kucinich plan—Obama‘s getting close, let‘s just—or Edwards is there. Or, you know, let‘s just pull them all out and get out of there.
The other, I think, is, don‘t—no more money.
CARLSON: Can we continue to call it the Kucinich plan, by the way? I just love that.
PRESS: Well, you‘ve got the McCain and the Kucinich plan. OK.
PRESS: They‘re saying no more money for additional troops, and then start redeploying the troops in four to six months. That is not stay the course, that is not an open-ended commitment.
I think there‘s a big difference. And I think that‘s where Democrats are going to come down in terms of action to follow up on the resolution.
CARLSON: But the people who can—you may be right, but the people at this stage—and everything changes in politics, and we‘ll talk about that in a minute—but at this stage, the people who are poised to actually capture the nomination—Dennis Kucinich is not on that short list, incidentally, unfortunately...
CARLSON: ... are the ones calling for what Pat just described correctly, I believe, as a stay-the-course strategy. And I think it points up a certain, frankly, cowardice. I mean, I hate to agree with John Edwards here. I don‘t think it‘s unpatriotic, but I do think it‘s cowardly.
PRESS: Well, I think the short list is Edwards, Clinton and Obama, and Edwards is...
PRESS: ... let‘s get the hell out. And Obama is certainly let‘s redeploy sooner than Hillary Clinton is saying—more troops to Afghanistan and fewer troops to Iraq.
BUCHANAN: What do you think would happen if Edwards‘ policy were followed right now? What would happen in Iraq?
PRESS: If Edwards policy were—my own opinion is...
BUCHANAN: That‘s what I would ask for, yes.
PRESS: All right. For what it‘s worth, I just want to make clear, I don‘t speak for the Democratic Party or anybody.
PRESS: What I think would happen is what‘s going to happen. Is Iraq is going to break up into three different states, and it‘s going to happen whether we leave today, or whether we leave in three months from now, or three years from now.
BUCHANAN: If the bloodbath...
PRESS: You‘re going to have the Shiites and the Sunnis and the Kurds...
BUCHANAN: If the bloodbath is inevitable...
PRESS: It‘s not. It‘s not.
The bloodbath is not inevitable. They‘re just going to do it because we‘re out of the way.
Pat, you are sticking to the old domino theory about all of Southeast Asia was...
CARLSON: May I make an obvious—may I make an obvious point?
PRESS: All of Southeast Asia went.
CARLSON: Why is it all of a sudden Democrats, who have for the past 35
years in the United States told us about the value of diversity, right, and
no, I‘m serious. I mean, different people with different views and different backgrounds lived together in this glorious mosaic, right?
All of a sudden, they are conceding that the problem with Iraq is people of different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities can‘t live together. That‘s‘ kind of the fundamental state of man. That‘s what they‘re acknowledging in Iraq. And so the answer is indeed segregation.
PRESS: I want to tell you something. I believe there are places on the planet where that is true. Yugoslavia is one of them.
I was there. I was there in Vukovar when they bombed Vukovar. I was there in the middle of the war in Croatia.
The Croats and the Serbs could not live together, and they still can‘t today. And I really believe that the Shiites and the Sunnis and the Kurds, it‘s tribal. They‘ve hated each other for centuries. Let them go their separate ways. We forced that country together after World War II.
CARLSON: Well, you may be right. I‘m trying to get to what the underlying principles are on the Democratic side, or, for that matter, the Republican.
Pat, we‘re almost out of time, but what do you think?
BUCHANAN: The underlying principles in the Democratic Party?
BUCHANAN: I really think the Democratic Party is an institution that believes profoundly in power. It will do what it has to do to get there.
The Republican Party has principles, but it doesn‘t follow them.
CARLSON: No it doesn‘t. Sadly.
Coming up, do you want a Republican presidential frontrunner? You‘re looking at one. America‘s mayor leads the latest Gallup poll by quite a ways. Find out how the rest of the Republican candidates stack up. Those numbers when we come back.
Plus, America‘s at war, the Earth is warming, New Orleans is a mess, illegal immigration continues almost unabated. Where does this country turn its lonely eyes at a moment of crisis like this? To “American Idol,” of course. The what, the why, and the wow of it all when we come back.
CARLSON: In sports, they are called point spreads and they‘re in the paper every single day. In politics they are called polls. And today‘s brings the latest from Gallup, which, among other things, ranks the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates for the nominations. Those are still a year and a half away. Your morning line favorites, Hillary Clinton, followed by Barack Obama, and a live underdog John Edwards. For the GOP, Rudy Giuliani leads John McCain and Mitt Romney.
Here fore analysis, two of Washington‘s most renowned touts, Bill Press, author of “How the Republicans Stole Religions,” and Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst.
Welcome to you both. Before I get to the poll numbers, just a little context here. The “Chicago Tribune” today, very helpfully, reprinted poll numbers from 2002, two years before the last election, to give us some sense of how protective these polls are. Answer, not much.
Here‘s where it stood two years before 2004, Al Gore was at 26 percent, Hillary 19, Tom Daschle, remember him at eight, Joe Lieberman at seven, Dick Gephart at seven, John Kerry at six, John Edwards at two, Howard Dean at one. It turns out, of course, that the under dogs became the nominees there.
That said, let‘s look at the Democratic side first. Hillary is now at 29 percent, that‘s down from 33 percent in December, last month, interesting. Barack Obama at 18, that‘s down form 20, John Edwards at 13, that‘s up from eight. Do you see any trends there Bill that are worth commenting on?
PRESS: Well, I kept waiting for Dennis Kucinich on this list. By your analysis, whoever‘s down around six, Tucker, is going to end up being on top.
CARLSON: Unfortunately, Dennis Kucinich is at an asterisks, which I believe signifies support too small to measure. But, you know what, he is still the candidate of my heart.
PRESS: Well, the three that we talked about, look, I think are the front runners. It could be either one of those. Certainly, the man of the moment is Barack Obama, you know, not since Pat Buchanan has any candidate generated so much excitement so fast as Barack Obama has in this campaign. It‘s interesting what James Carville said the other day. He said that he thinks Barack Obama is 75 percent inspiration and 25 percent perspiration.
PRESS: And Hillary is 75 percent perspiration and 25 percent inspiration.
CARLSON: She‘s one sweaty candidate, I agree with that.
PRESS: So no matter how exciting this Barack Obama is today, I guess that you can not underestimate Hillary‘s strength. She has an incredible operation, a huge network. She can raise money like nobody‘s business. She has got people that are loyal to her, go way back to Arkansas days, and certainly the Clinton White House. If anybody can beat Hillary Clinton, it would be Barack Obama, but I still have my doubts.
CARLSON: Yes, well here‘s the under sold headline, in my view Pat, John Kerry, he‘s down there below Edwards, his former running mate, Al Gore, the man who preceded him as nominee. He‘s down at eight percent. Now, that‘s up from six percent. Whatever happened to John Kerry? I mean, he was embodiment of the Democratic party. He was the nominee. Why is he not being taken seriously by Democrats?
BUCHANAN: Well, there‘s two reasons. One, he blew an election he should have won. Democrats believe that. And secondly, in the end of that last campaign, he had that very funny joke about if you‘re dumb, you wind up in Iraq, and that just sank him.
But the important figure in those polls is Edwards has—you know, he gained about 60 percent there, if he went from eight to 13. The key polls, Tucker, are how are you doing in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, for the Democrats, and South Carolina. And he is even stronger there. Edwards is sort of like he‘s placed just behind the two front running horses, and I‘m surprised Obama has dropped two points after a month of the most incredible publicity I‘ve ever seen. So I think you should keep an eye on Edwards.
Now, if Obama is as good and strong as, you know, his routers and everybody else say, it is going to be very tough to overtake him. But those three are eating up all the oxygen. Right now, I just don‘t see any other Democrat that can make almost any kind of move.
CARLSON: I agree with that. It‘s a tough time to be Chris Dodd, who actually is a pretty appealing guy, in my view.
PRESS: Edwards is very strong, very articulate, very attractive and I think is the best message of all of them.
CARLSON: He is also unemployed, which gives him some time to campaign.
BUCHANAN: You know, he has the poverty thing. If he raises up in the middle class, he‘ll do well.
CARLSON: And the Republican side actually is wide open. And these polls tell you all about it. The top four candidates, in order, Giuliani, McCain, Gingrich and Romney, in that order. So, out of the top four, two are not only unannounced candidates, but actually really may not run. What does that tell you, Rudy Giuliani, he‘s at 31, that‘s to McCain‘s 27. He‘s up four points from last month. Clearly some momentum, why?
BUCHANAN: Very simply, Rudy Giuliani, nobody know anything about him post 9/11, other than he was the mayor that did two things, he cleaned up the crime in New York and he was the mayor that held the city together, man of the year 2001, from 9/11. He gives a great speech. No one has attacked him and no one has a reason to attack him. So he stays up there.
Secondly, on John McCain, McCain is strong for this reason; he has been vetted and hammered. He‘s been through it and everything. And he is like Hillary. He is out there. He‘s deep in talent. He‘s deep in money. And people are lining up with him. I think the only guy right now who has a chance to stop him is Romney, who has his own problems. I don‘t think Newt‘s going to get in until the Fall, which means --
PRESS: I would just add about Giuliani, is the other thing he has got going for him, he‘s not from this building over here. You know, he is not out of Washington, D.C. He‘s an outsider, and Romney‘s got the same advantage. I think this time around, given the mess that we‘re in, the people are not necessarily going to look to Washington, or someone who‘s been here a long time, to fix the mess.
CARLSON: If I was running against Giuliani, as a Democrat, the very first thing I would do would be to play the opening couple of minutes of his speech at the Republican National Convention in New York last time around. He got up and he said, 9/11 happened. I looked up, I saw the buildings in flame, and the first thing I thought was thank god George W. Bush is our president. I mean, I‘m not even taking a position on it, I just think that is ripe for parody, frankly, at this point.
Here‘s another question that I don‘t actually know the answer to, at all, if you are Hillary Clinton, how do you run against Barack Obama? The “San Francisco Chronicle” today has a very interesting point. They went through the voting records of Mrs. Clinton and Senator Obama and they found that of the 618 votes the two cast over the last two years, they voted the same way 576 times. These are essentially, ideologically, identical candidates. People say Obama is to the left of Hillary, no he‘s not. How does she run against him exactly?
BUCHANAN: Don‘t attack Obama. I mean, Obama is going to have to be brought down by his own mistakes, and his adversaries in the Democratic party, besides her, Republican attack group, and the opposition research crowd. Because they are going to want to get all the garbage out and get all his votes out. They are going to want to push Obama to the left.
In the event Obama is nominated, they want to define him before he gets there. So, if I were Hillary, I would treat him with respect and deference, and move ahead, and do not go after him.
PRESS: The way I would put that is I would out run him and out gun him. I mean, this is a Democratic nomination. He is going to have to go to every state, every Democratic chairman, such as I was in California, every Democratic club. Do you know who has been there before him, and already has them locked up? Hillary Rodham Clinton. So she has got the organization. She‘s got the money. She‘s got the machine. She‘s got all the consultants she needs. I agree with Pat.
BUCHANAN: He‘s a sprinter and she has got a steady long distance pace and he is going to be way out there and he is either going to burn up, or he might be a sensation that goes all the way. And if that‘s the case, there isn‘t anything she can do about it. maybe burn up or he might go all the way. There‘s nothing she can do about it.
CARLSON: Or, to change the metaphor, she may be a civil war ironclad. You know what I mean, apparently bullet proof, impregnable. You can‘t sink one until it tips over and sinks.
PRESS: The other guy‘s got one.
CARLSON: I actually want to get completely off the topic of politics and talk about something that may influence this election, “American Idol.” Who is going to win?
No, I don‘t think people have thought it terribly much, Fidel Castro. He is very sick. I don‘t know if his death is imminent. It sounds like it may be. I don‘t think he will be around by the time of the 2008 election.
BUCHANAN: I think he will probably be gone by the end of the month.
CARLSON: That‘s exactly right. When that happens, that‘s a massive island. You know, Cuba is bigger than people realize. It‘s 700 miles long and you‘re going to have hundreds of thousands of Cubans trying to come to this country.
BUCHANAN: Will they try to come to this country?
CARLSON: I believe they will.
BUCHANAN: I‘m not sure.
CARLSON: They try now in rafts, and once they‘re allowed it, -- How is it going to affect this.
BUCHANAN: I think we should have lifted the damn embargo when the Soviet empire collapsed.
CARLSON: I agree with that.
PRESS: Yes. And I would just say, I would hope—and by the way, Republican or Democratic, doesn‘t matter, neither one have done anything about a sensible trade policy toward Cuba, and I would hope that the death of Fidel Castro would mean, would bring us around to saying, OK, at least this ogre is gone, which we‘ve made him an ogre, unnecessarily, I think for 70 years.
BUCHANAN: I don‘t think we made him an ogre, I think he is an ogre, but go ahead.
PRESS: But we exaggerated his threat to the—
CARLSON: Well, he had nuclear weapons pointed at us?
PRESS: They‘ve been gone for 15 --
PRESS: All I‘m saying, I hope we have a better and more sensible trade policy toward Cuba.
CARLSON: I think they ought to cut a deal with his brother and just say, look, get rid of your spies and all this other junk, and get out of there, and we‘ll open up tourism and trade.
PRESS: And when that happens, there won‘t be so many people fleeing to the United States, because they will better off in Cuba.
CARLSON: We ought to have a hand in who controls Cuba, because it‘s in, it goes without saying, our economic and strategic interests, but because of Iraq, I think we will be much for passive than we need to be, and allow, maybe, a Venezuelan influenced government to take control.
BUCHANAN: I‘ll tell you what our problem is, the Cuban folks in south Florida. You be nice to Castro‘s brother and you lose Florida.
CARLSON: I think that‘s exactly right. Bill Press, Pat Buchanan—
PRESS: Let them chose their own president.
PRESS: Yes, let‘s other countries choose their own leaders, for once.
CARLSON: That‘s a great idea, let‘s let the Saudis and the Egyptians do that. They‘ll elect Osama bin Laden.
Coming up, just about everybody now admits the so called Duke rape case is a hoax and a vicious one at that, everyone except the geniuses on the faculty of Duke University. They are still defiant and defiantly absurd. We‘ll show you their latest statement, if you can stomach it.
Plus, maybe it‘s the mean British guy, maybe it‘s the apparently drunk, but still mysteriously appealing, Paula Abdul, or maybe it‘s the delusional would be performers they rate. Whatever it is, “American Idol” has crossed over from a television show to a cultural happening. Expert analysis from MSNBC chief escapism correspondent Willie Geist, coming up.
CARLSON: Last spring, 88 Duke University professors collectively published an ad that basically condemned the university‘s lacrosse players after a woman accused three of them of raping her. Now, almost a year later, and many holes in that woman‘s story later, many of those same 88 professor are speaking out once again. But no, amid all the controversy the ad generated, they are not apologizing for it, and said they are saying the ad was misinterpreted and, quote, read as rendering judgment in this case.
Here to tell us what exactly they are saying and what they said once upon a time, MSNBC general manager, NBC News chief legal correspondent, and Duke alum, Dan Abrams. Dan, welcome.
DAN ABRAMS, NBC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Tucker.
CARLSON: So they are claiming, these 88 professor, are claiming that, you know, they never implied that this crime took place. They never took the side of the accuser. They seemed to me.
ABRAMS: Yes, they are claiming now that everything is being misinterpreted. This ad has been read as a comment on the alleged rape, the team party, or the specific students accused. They are claiming this was all just about racism in general, and racism on campus. Yes, that was a part of it, but you don‘t put this note out only days after this case is exploding on the Duke campus, with all these quotes about racism, et cetera, and in particular, they just can‘t get away from some of the language in their original note.
I mean, in the original note, these professors—in the original ad, these professors said, these students, referring to the students who were talking about racism, et cetera, are shouting and whispering about what happened to this young woman and to themselves. They simply can‘t back out now. They are not willing to stay, you know what, now, based on everything we have learned, we are sorry. We put it out at the wrong time. We should not have said it in the way that we did. They are unwilling to just say we blew it.
CARLSON: Well, and they have a lot to atone for, it seems to me. Because at the time, you remember well since you covered this closely and you went to Duke, they really were part of the reason there was this witch hunt on campus, that resulted in the firing of the lacrosse coach, the suspension of these players before they were convicted. They added to the hysteria, and in the original ad, they thanked students for anti-lacrosse team protests.
ABRAMS: Right, and remember, it wasn‘t just this ad. I mean, let‘s not make it all about this ad. There were also letters being sent to the administration by various professor that were much stronger than the ad, basically saying, it‘s time to act; why are you just sitting around? Why aren‘t you doing more? Why aren‘t these students being expelled faster, et cetera, et cetera? And again, you don‘t hear that those professor out there publicly saying, you know what, I‘m sorry. We shouldn‘t have pushed the way we did.
CARLSON: But why isn‘t the president, President Broadhead, the head of Duke University, pushing them to do so? I mean, look, we all make mistakes, not all of us in such a fascist way as the professors at Duke, but some of us do make mistakes. You atone for them. You say, look, I blew it. Why isn‘t the administration, even as a matter of public relations, pushing its faculty to do that?
ABRAMS: I think that is going to happen when this case goes away. I think that, you know, they‘re doing, at this point, they are doing the right thing. And I say, at this point, meaning when the choice is to come out now and say, we totally blew this at every phase of the case, versus waiting what will probably be a month or so, if not less, for the attorney general to review the case and say we‘re not moving forward. At this point, after everything that has happened, and everything that has been done, they might as well just wait a little while longer, let the attorney general say there are going to be no charges filed.
The problem is going to be, you are not going to hear the attorney general, regardless, use the word innocent. You are unlikely to hear the attorney general use the word hoax. You may hear him say, well, there wasn‘t enough evidence here. They may even criticize Nifong, et cetera, and so, again, the university is going to be put in the position to decide how far do they go? And I think, in the wake of everything that we‘ve seen, I think that they should go pretty far.
CARLSON: And, just in the minute we have got left, you now oversee a news organization, many news organizations, including, most notably, “Newsweek Magazine,” really jumped on this case on the accuser‘s side, repeated things that weren‘t true, and really relied on stereotypes to shape their view of the case. Will there be changes? I mean, is there any repercussions of that or are we just going to forget we ever did it?
ABRAMS: Well, I would way say the “New York Times” is actually even more to blame than anyone else. You remember Tucker, even recently, a few months ago, you and I talked about this on this show. The “New York Times” came out with a front-page article laying out the strengths, or the seeming equity of the defense and the prosecution in this case, laying out—what people didn‘t know was the prosecution has this and this and this and that.
That was a bunch of nonsense, and the “New York Times” should be ashamed of itself for its coverage in this case.
CARLSON: You‘re whipping me into a frenzy Dan. You are absolutely right. Dan Abrams, thanks a lot.
ABRAMS: All right.
CARLSON: You may have heard the new season of “American Idol” debuted last night, but how could Paula Abdul possibly be more entertaining on the show than she was promoting it. We‘ll take a look back again, and again, when we return.
CARLSON: Joining us now, a man who should have won something the other night at the Golden Globes, but didn‘t because he was robbed by a corrupt system that desperately needs reform immediately, Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I wanted best foreign film and I was robbed against this year. It‘s absurd. It‘s the last foreign film I ever make. Speaking of foreign film or foreign concepts, or foreign people, Paula Abdul‘s giggling, incoherent publicity appearances for “American Idol” appeared to have paid off. Last night‘s two hour premier averaged more than 37 million viewers. That‘s the second largest audience ever for an episode of the show.
People tuned in not only to watch the slow speed train wreck that is Paula Abdul‘s life, but also to see moments like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON COWELL, “AMERICAN IDOL”: All right Jason, you have just summed up Minneapolis mate. That just sums up the day, useless at everything. I mean, even the juggling was pathetic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a golden ticket in your boy‘s hand, who‘s never sung for you before?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) them. Those son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) cut me off. They said I couldn‘t sing. They said was perfect for juggling, could dance. Paula, oh my god, she was just so (EXPLETIVE DELETED) rude, in her face for me. I could tell they hated me. (INAUDIBLE) I‘ve never been so insulted in my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: I know we are going for ratings, Tucker, but should we really be dragging kids out special needs classes and depriving them of their ritalin, just for the value of a rating.
CARLSON: You know, the problem is deeper than that Willie. There is way too much self esteem in this country. I mean, wouldn‘t you take a shower if you were going to be on television. I‘m serious. People have this insanely inflated view of their own talent. Those of us who are wise know we have very little talent.
GEIST: And the idea that they‘re shocked when they‘re rejected is amazing to me.
CARLSON: It‘s unbelievable, too much self esteem.
GEIST: We should disclose Tucker, although I am the chief “American Idol” analyst, I have not ever seen the show. I just want to put that out there.
CARLSON: That‘s why we hired you.
GEIST: No, did you catch any of the show last night?
CARLSON: Some on, no.
GEIST: Oh sorry, mister I don‘t do, wait, I was on a reality TV show.
I didn‘t see it either, but I hear Paula Abdul was actually kept in check.
She was pretty well behaved.
CARLSON: I love her. I like a drunk girl. I think she is totally appealing. I‘m not going to pile on Paula Abdul.
GEIST: I wish she wouldn‘t be in check. The show would be better for it.
Well, speaking of train wrecks, Tucker, now that Kevin Federline has left Britney‘s nest, he is out in the world, learning how to fly on his own and it‘s adorable really. Federline has been hired by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Policy Company to sell term life door to door. No, Federline is actually going to appear in a Super Bowl commercial for Nationwide as part of the company‘s life comes at you fast campaign. Federline will be starring in a rap video one moment, and then working at a fast food joint the next.
Tucker, some of the other people who have appeared in this campaign, Faveo and M.C. Hammer. So, it‘s not really a tribute to you in any way. But the spokesman for Nationwide said, you know what, it shows that Kevin can laugh at himself. He personifies this idea that things happen to you quickly and it‘s hard to handle them sometimes, and you come out on the other end.
CARLSON: no, I want my insurance guys to be stolid and conservative.
I don‘t want them hanging out with Kevin Federline.
GEIST: I totally agree. I want pasty guys, who where button downs with short sleeves and ties.
GEIST: Also, the part about him starring in rap videos in his old life, that never happened. So, actually both parts of it are false, but—
Well Tucker, we end with a little news that in hindsight, probably should have been a little higher in the show. The world is about to end, this according to the scientists who control the super depressing dooms-day clock. The clock was moved ahead two minutes today because of the threats posed to the world by nuclear weapons and by climate change. The time is now five minutes to midnight. That is, of course, the hour that symbolizes the end of days and the time we‘re all going to die.
Tucker, this is put together by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the group that works with the dooms day clock. That just seems like a really, really depressing way to live your life, doesn‘t it? If we‘re really two minutes away from death, leave the clock behind, go out and enjoy yourself. Go to Disney World or something. You know?
CARLSON: Well, if there‘s one group that is not enjoying itself, if there‘s one group whose dinner invitation you want to turn down, for certain, it‘s the atomic scientists. Talk about a group of no fun people.
GEIST: Seriously, all they do is watch the clock tick to the end of days. I think they should just bail on the clock and go sky diving or something. I mean, just live your life. As long as we‘re going out, go out with a bang.
CARLSON: Well, I was pleased to see, looking at the video you just put up, that the press conference, many of the seats in the room were empty.
GEIST: They‘re enjoying their lives. It‘s over.
CARLSON: Amen. Willie Geist from headquarters.
GEIST: All right Tucker.
CARLSON: Thanks a lot Willie. That does it for us today. Thanks for watching, as always. Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. We‘re back tomorrow at the same time. Have a great night.
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