Guests: Richard Wolffe, Joshua Green, Ed Rogers, Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I‘m a decision maker.
I had to come up with a way forward that precluded disaster. In other words, I had to think about what‘s likely to work. And so I worked with our military and I worked with Secretary Gates to come up with a plan that is likely to succeed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Amid continued congressional debate and Republican defection from his war policy, President Bush reminded the country what it already knows—he‘s in charge of foreign policy. But is he?
It looks like Congress may finally move to take the reins of the Iraq war. More on that in just a minute.
But first, a blast from the past. Just as the odor of the Bill
Clinton administration fades from memory, along comes Tony Rodham to remind us what it smelled like.
Rodham, you‘ll remember, is Hillary Clinton‘s brother. And six years ago, as Bill Clinton was leaving office, Rodham took a $250,000 from a pair of carnival operators in Florida who had been convicted of bank fraud. It doesn‘t sound problematic, does it?
It turns out the couple was looking to buy a presidential pardon from the president. And they got it. In the years since, Clinton partisans have argued with a straight face that nobody was able to buy pardons from Bill or Hillary Clinton.
Well, now comes more evidence to the contrary. Tony Rodham, we learned this week in court filings, took yet another $109,000 from those same carnival operators, some of it after the pardons.
A payoff? Apparently so.
It will be interesting to know what Hillary Clinton has to say about the connection between her brother, her husband, and a pair of convicted felons who ran a carnival. Maybe she will explain. Or maybe voters will remember all the ugly divisive drama over the first two Clinton administrations and not vote for her.
Now today‘s biggest story: America‘s role in the civil war unfolding in Iraq and the battle between the Congress and the president over that war.
For more on that we welcome “Newsweek” senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe; senior editor of “The Atlantic,” Joshua Green; and Republican strategist Ed Rogers.
Welcome to you all.
Richard, you cover President Bush, so I wonder if you could explain why he feels compelled to remind the country again and again that he is “the decision maker.” What‘s the idea behind that?
RICHARD WOLFFE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “NEWSWEEK”: Well, I guess this is a guy who likes to tell you he is the president. I mean, he wears the gear. He wears the jackets that says “President of the United States” on it all the time.
He does like to establish himself as the alpha male. And in a situation like this, where people are saying he‘s irrelevant, he‘s a lame duck, I think he bristles. He wants to show that he is still running this war.
CARLSON: But it does seem to signify weakness. I mean, he is the president. He doesn‘t need to wear the gear.
He is the man. He embodies the office. To say it out loud, “I‘m in charge,” again and again, suggests that he doesn‘t think he is.
WOLFFE: No, I don‘t think that‘s true. He knows he is, but he obviously does not like Congress trying to pretend like they can run the war when he thinks he has all the best options and the best advice.
Now, people can dispute, as everybody does, the way this war is being run, but the president says that he can do pretty much what he likes, and the calculation inside the White House is the Congress just won‘t have the guts to cut off the funding.
CARLSON: Well, so far that calculation is correct.
Josh Green, “The Washington Post” had a really good point, I thought, in an editorial the other day—two days ago—in which it said, look, here is General Petraeus, who is now newly in charge, voted, in fact, today by a unanimous vote in the Senate, running Iraq, running our war in Iraq.
All these senators come up and kiss up to him. You know, “General Petraeus, you‘re a genius.” You know, “I love you.” And then they vote or plan to vote on a series of resolutions condemning Petraeus‘ own strategy in Iraq.
What is that? I mean, that‘s—that‘s insane.
JOSHUA GREEN, “THE ATLANTIC”: Well, I think that reflects a little bit of confusion on the part of the Democrats. I mean, on the one hand, you know, supporting Petraeus, voting for him, you know. I was up at the Armed Services Committee the other day. Ted Kennedy was lavishing praise on Petraeus.
It‘s a way of sort of saying publicly that, you know, we want to change in direction, we‘re not happy with the way things are going. But, you know, one of the obvious Republican criticisms of the war in Iraq and the Democrats‘ approach to it is that, well, they don‘t have a competing plan and they don‘t really know what to do. So I think that‘s a reflection a little bit of that—of that tension and that muddled thinking on the issue of Iraq.
CARLSON: Yes. And also, Ed, a reflection of the fear Democrats I think have as being seen as anti-troops. We‘re not going to be seen as the ones de-funding the troops.
Do you think that is a credible attack? If—you know, if a vote comes to stop funding for the war, or part of the war, will Republicans come in and say you‘re against the troops? And will that work?
ED ROGERS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I wish everybody in the party from the Republican leadership on the Hill to the White House would start calling for a vote. Let‘s not have any of these resolutions. Forget all that.
Have a vote. Have a vote to cut off funding. Have a vote to roll back funding. Have a vote to make funding contingent. But no more of the pointless resolutions.
Let‘s put the new Democratic leadership‘s feet to the fire. Make them declare where they are as a matter of fact, and participate in the reality of the governance of this matter here.
Go ahead. Let‘s have a vote. Let‘s have real votes that really bind what this American administration, what the government can do.
CARLSON: I think that‘s, of course, a fair demand. Russ Feingold wants to rise to that challenge and do it.
ROGERS: Good for him.
CARLSON: That‘s exactly right. And I think he is actually an honest guy, Russ Feingold.
Is there going to be a vote on Feingold‘s idea to just go ahead and de-fund the war?
WOLFFE: I think in some states, you‘re going to get some voting on funding, yes. There may be some other restrictions they‘re going to come up with. There may be a challenge to war powers, that this could well get litigated in court as well. So...
ROGERS: That would be the Democrat way, take it to court. Sue somebody.
WOLFFE: Yes. I think—you know, but this is clearly going to be a clash of control of this war and where the authority lies to conduct war.
There is no two ways about it, though. The Democrats have this overwhelming pressure now from their base, they‘re feeling more emboldened. The president is clearly convinced that he has executive and constitutional authority to run the war. That‘s a clash right there, and it‘s got to go a step further than non-binding resolutions.
CARLSON: I‘m not even sure that that power has been challenged by the Democrats yet. I mean, I don‘t think it has.
Why, Josh Green, is Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Iraq right now? Why would
she has been really clear, like it or not, about what she thinks. She thinks that we ought to get out, you know, as soon as possible.
Why would she go to Iraq?
GREEN: Well, I think to put a little gravitas and a little bit of—kind of a P.R. effort behind that position. I mean, she‘s the new speaker of the House, the Democrats are now in control of Congress.
You know, on a certain level, you know, they now control the events in Washington. And the same way that you see presidential candidates going to Iraq doing visits, you know, trying to gain a little bit of experience, I think—I think the idea was the same thing there, to show that they are not just sort of armchair critics sitting here in Washington pointing fingers, but have gone over and, you know, explored the problem and talked to Maliki.
CARLSON: Right. You think she‘ll come up with a different conclusion when she comes back?
GREEN: No, I don‘t.
CARLSON: Right. So it‘s just—it‘s...
ROGERS: But it‘s good for her. Good for—I‘m glad she...
CARLSON: Oh, I agree.
ROGERS: More of them ought to go.
CARLSON: I completely agree with that.
You know, if you think about what—just going back to David Petraeus for a minute, General Petraeus, again, now in charge of everything, the other day on Capitol Hill before the Senate, McCain asked him, you know, what do you think of these resolutions being passed condemning the president‘s plan, the surge, the new way forward? Do those resolutions help the terrorists, help the insurgents basically?
And Petraeus said yes. That‘s exactly what he said—essentially yes. When you vote on this, you help the people who want to kill Americans.
That‘s a pretty heavy thing to say. You know, true or untrue.
ROGERS: But it‘s credible in his case. And commonsensically, does idle critical chatter help or hurt the cause? Well, of course it doesn‘t make a meaningful positive contribution to the cause on the ground in Iraq.
That‘s why they ought to end this. Let‘s not have any of these resolutions. Have real votes that are really binding as a matter of law.
CARLSON: But I guess my point is, when Karl Rove has implied things like that, Richard—and you‘ve certainly seen this—or when Tom DeLay came out and said something like that, you know, when you attack the war effort, you help our enemies in this war, people land on them as—you know, as McCarthyite.
But nobody is saying boo to Petraeus.
WOLFFE: No, he has a huge amount of credibility. And to be honest, the White House acknowledges that Petraeus has an—has an authority on the war that, frankly, senior members of the administration don‘t. Now, I just interviewed the vice president. He made exactly the same case about giving...
CARLSON: Was he as grumpy with you as he was Wolf Blitzer?
WOLFFE: Not quite. I mean...
CARLSON: He didn‘t bark at you? Did you ask about the pregnant daughter?
WOLFFE: You‘ll have to read “Newsweek.”
But, look, they are feeling more confident about the position. Just look at the vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They actually only lost Chuck Hagel, who they never had in terms of supporting the war.
So they are feeling a lot better about it. They think Petraeus is a good salesman for the war, much better than they are. And look, debating the war is not idle chatter when you have elected officials who have been put there, many of whom on a war platform or an anti-war platform.
CARLSON: That‘s their job.
WOLFFE: It‘s their job. And I think the question about comforting the enemy, you have to ask, where is the violence in Iraq right now? Is it terrorists or is it sectarian? Sunnis and Shia are going to be at each other‘s throat no matter what Congress says.
CARLSON: Right. They just don‘t care.
Very quickly, I want to ask you a super quick question here, Ed. Chuck Hagel—we went through at some length—I don‘t want to belabor it again—on this show yesterday his voting record, which is not only conservative, but among the most conservative in the entire U.S. Senate.
“The Washington Post” had a piece today about the potential for his campaign for president. And it said conservatives hate this guy. He‘s not one of them. They distrust him.
Why the hell would conservatives distrust and despise a guy who is more conservative than the candidates running against him?
ROGERS: Because the totality of that record probably isn‘t well known or well appreciated within the Republican faithful. I mean, he has been identified, for better or for worse, as the president‘s earliest persistent war critic within the party. And it‘s unfair to him.
CARLSON: It is unfair.
ROGERS: He has had a thoughtful position all along. He‘s been ideologically consistent all along. And in the 90 percentile, he supports the true blue Republican principles on every issue.
ROGERS: Ninety-five, whatever it is. And so it‘s a little unfair to him. And over the course of the campaign he may be able to correct some of that. It‘s unlikely given the field.
ROGERS: But nonetheless, he has a legitimate beef—a legitimate point to make.
CARLSON: I think the White House has been dismissing him as a liberal all along, and that‘s just—on justice grounds.
ROGERS: I want to defend both the White House and Chuck Hagel. I don‘t think they‘ve labeled him as a liberal, but there has been some chill and some distance between him...
CARLSON: All right. I‘m sorry. We can come back to this. We‘ve got to get a quick commercial break.
Coming up, Barack Obama is, among other things, in the Congressional Black Caucus. Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee would like to be in that same caucus but he can‘t because he is the wrong color.
Is Obama participating in institutional segregation? More on that in a minute.
Plus, just about everyone loves Jimmy Carter now that he is not president, or used to love him, anyway. Some are now saying he may be an anti-Semite. Can you believe it?
CARLSON: Another question of racial segregation in the U.S. Congress.
Yes, it does appear to exist.
The man who succeeded Congressman Harold Ford in November is named Steve Cohen. Sixty percent of Congressman Cohen‘s constituents in Tennessee‘s 9th district are black. Cohen tried to join the federally-funded Congressional Black Caucus, hoping, he says, to represent them better. He was refused point blank.
The reason—he has the wrong color skin.
Here to remind us what decade it is, “Newsweek” senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe; senior editor of “The Atlantic,” Josh Green;
Republican strategist Ed Rogers.
Welcome to you all again.
Ed, here‘s what William Lacy Clay Sr., a Democrat no longer in Congress, but one of the co-founders of the Congressional Black Caucus—a circulated a memo the other day telling members, “It‘s critical this group remain exclusively African-American.”
Why is it critical, I wonder?
ROGERS: Well, it‘s offensive and it‘s silly. And it ought to—they ought to pay a price at the ballot box.
I don‘t think we ought to start outlawing people that want a caucus in the Congress, but we need to be consistent. We want Christian groups to be able to meet and be sanctioned, but we want to say the blacks can‘t caucus. And so, come on, let‘s—let‘s get off that.
CARLSON: Wait a second. We outlaw racial discrimination in the private sector, much less in Congress. I mean, in every sphere of American society. The U.S. Department of Justice will jump down your throat if there is any evidence you‘re excluding people based on race in any sphere of public life.
ROGERS: Well, again, we need to be ideologically consistent—consistent in terms of what we want. We are against people grouping themselves by race. But if the black members of Congress want to meet, they ought not do it, but it shouldn‘t be forbidden either. We‘re against all that.
CARLSON: Boy, well that‘s the libertarian—that is—I don‘t think that is the Republican position, that‘s the libertarian position, that people ought to...
ROGERS: Well, it‘s...
CARLSON: And it actually happens to be mine. You ought to let people congregate with whomever they want, and sometimes it‘s repulsive and other times it‘s not, but they ought to be free to do it.
CARLSON: But that‘s not the position of the U.S. government. That‘s not the position of the U.S. public.
ROGERS: Well, we ought to work to change that position.
CARLSON: But it seems to me—and I wonder, Josh, why nobody makes a big deal about this. I was talking about this segment earlier today with a couple of people who just winced and looked at me like, you‘re not going to do that segment. That‘s uncomfortable. Nobody wants to talk about that. That‘s awful.
ROGERS: Sure, let‘s talk about it.
CARLSON: Right? It‘s somehow in bad form to bring up the existence of officially state-sponsored segregation in the Capitol.
Why don‘t people want to mention this?
GREEN: I don‘t know. I mean, I think partly it‘s a vestige of the old kind of identity group, Democratic Party. You know, it‘s not real comfortable for anybody.
It‘s a shame to see someone like Steve Cohen, who made a good-faith effort to go join this group on behalf of his constituents, who are—you know, it‘s a majority minority district. You know, you could even see how it would be a political opportunity for somebody like a Barack Obama, for instance...
GREEN: ... to maybe not resign from the CBC, but to stand up and say, listen, you know, I‘m sorry my organization didn‘t want to invite you in.
GREEN: I happen to disagree with that, and, you know, I would like to meet with you, talk with you any time. It would be a great, you know, Sister Souljah moment and allow Obama to do something smart and interesting on race that doesn‘t involve someone like Al Sharpton.
CARLSON: What do you think—I don‘t know Barack Obama, having only met him once, but he seems like a pretty reasonable guy to me. This seems like the kind of move he would make.
The members of this caucus aren‘t, by and large, going to endorse him anyway. They‘re going to endorse Hillary, it looks like.
Do you think they will do that?
WOLFFE: Probably not. I think that these are treacherous waters for him. He‘s already got to prove his credentials with the African-American community in an unexpected way, I think.
But, look, how can you find it offensive? Is it more offensive than Irish-Americans meeting on the Hill or Scottish-Americans? There‘s a French caucus you might find very offensive, too.
CARLSON: Right. I actually—I‘m the only conservative French defender in the United States. I love the frogs.
But no, the question is not is it offensive for the people of the same ethnicity to gather? I don‘t have a problem with that at all.
The question is, is it wrong to exclude others because of their skin color? And I think we‘ve concluded as a society that is wrong.
WOLFFE: I think only white folks could turn around and say, you know what? You shouldn‘t be considering these issues anymore.
Racism is still a problem. I don‘t see any problem in black legislators getting together for mutual support to pursue their agenda. Yes, could there be another caucus where black and white legislators could come together and discuss these issues? Yes, that‘s a great idea. And maybe that is something for Obama.
CARLSON: Well, I look forward to your...
WOLFFE: You don‘t have to exclude one and...
CARLSON: I look forward to your full-throated defense of the white caucus, when a bunch of creepy white supremacists are elected. If this crap keeps up, they will be. Because people resent it.
Just my opinion.
Coming up, it‘s not what but whom do Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have in common. The answer, of course, Al Sharpton. The political power of the Reverend Al on display this week.
We‘ll assess it. We‘ll assess it. We‘ll marvel over it when we return.
Plus, it‘s a long way from New York City to the rest of the country no matter what the map says. Rudy Giuliani is trying to make that trip. He begins this weekend in New Hampshire. It‘s a sure sign that‘s he‘s running for president.
Is he? We‘ll tell you.
We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: For an elderly former president, Jimmy Carter has made a lot of people mad at him lately. First, a passage in his book about the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians seems to condone violence against Jews if Israel does not accept conditions for peace.
Carter has since apologized for that, calling his writing, “stupid.” Now a report reveals that Carter once complained of his own Holocaust Memorial Council that there were “too many Jews on it.”
Here to make sense of this, “Newsweek” senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe; senior editor of “The Atlantic” magazine, Joshua Green; and Republican strategist Ed Rogers.
Too many Jews, Richard. This is breaking news from 27 years ago.
WOLFFE: How many were there? How many did he want?
CARLSON: That‘s a great question. What do you...
WOLFFE: I think there is some history here. I mean, as I recall, the reason—one of the ways that he set up the Holocaust museum, which was itself deeply controversial at the time, was because he needed to reach out to the Jewish population because he had been selling arms, I think, to the Saudis.
WOLFFE: So there was that—there was that history there.
CARLSON: And Ted Kennedy was going at that point to run for the nomination.
WOLFFE: Right. And there were a number of Jewish aides, notably his domestic policy advisor, Stu Eisenstat (ph), who encouraged him to take this act and invite rabbis into the White House and shore up his credentials with the Jewish community. So there is...
CARLSON: But they overdid it and there were “too many Jews,” in his words.
ROGERS: In whose words? In whose words?
WOLFFE: And too many fish in the sea.
ROGERS: I mean, come on. Let‘s give him a little bit of a break here.
CARLSON: I—you know what? I‘m being half tongue in cheek here. I actually don‘t think Jimmy Carter—I‘m not a great fan of his—I don‘t think he is an anti-Semite. And this—I mean, it does seem that this stems from the reaction to his book, clearly, his book about Israel and the occupied territories.
Do you think this is unfair?
ROGERS: Well, he said something in that book he ought not say. He has apologized. And former presidents are entitled to a certain amount of deference and respect, but they have an obligation to be rational as well.
In this case, he overstepped. He‘s apologized. I don‘t want to suggest that it‘s irrelevant, but I think too big a deal has been made out of this.
CARLSON: Yes. And also, you know what? This is one news account.
I‘m not even—I‘m not even totally convinced that those...
GREEN: Well, I wouldn‘t call it a news account. This is some right-wing wacko...
CARLSON: Wait, hold on. Wait. It‘s more than that.
GREEN: So, you know, let‘s take this with a grain of salt.
CARLSON: Hold on. This comes from Monroe Freedman, he‘s a professor of law at Hofstra. And he was appointed by Jimmy Carter the chairman of the Holocaust Commission in 1980. So this is not something that the fervent right-wing wackos dug up. You have got a liberal Democrat saying this.
GREEN: But this is also from 27 years ago.
GREEN: And he hasn‘t really seen fit to come out and make a stink about it until now. So there‘s a certain amount of opportunism on his part, which he admits, piping up now after this controversy with a book to step up and say this stuff.
CARLSON: Are you surprised that Jimmy Carter, who, you know, is to some extent a minor hero, a pretty minor hero on the left, has taken as much grief as he has over this book, Josh?
GREEN: Not really, given the fact that he was talking about, you know, Israel and Palestinians. I mean, that‘s always going to be a heated regardless of who is talking.
CARLSON: But you would think he would get the benefit of the doubt after presiding for Camp David and all that.
GREEN: You would think. I mean, he‘s a soft, warm, and fuzzy nice guy who everybody likes, who‘s done good things since his presidency. It is a little bit surprising that would be the object of an attack like this.
CARLSON: Richard, where is this in his obit?
WOLFFE: Oh, I think it‘s pretty high. I mean, look, people have debated one line in the middle of the book, but the title is offensive.
It has “apartheid” in it, and it‘s associated with Israel. That‘s offensive in itself.
Having said that, look, the Jews should not be exclusively represented like the black caucus when it comes to the Holocaust museum. There is a place for people who are not Jewish to take a role in learning about the Holocaust and expanding its message.
So, you know, sympathies both ways. But you can‘t name a book “apartheid” and put it in Israel and say everyone should be happy.
Are you—you‘re not enjoying this at all?
ROGERS: I‘m not sure that Carter works for us anymore. I‘m not—I mean, I‘m for flogging the Democrats.
ROGERS: The Jimmy Carter thing doesn‘t much give us much juice anymore.
CARLSON: Boy, that‘s a shame.
CARLSON: I guess—I guess there is a limit to all of it. You know what? I must say, I sort of—I sort of feel sorry for him just because he is so old. You know, at this point.
ROGERS: I‘m jealous of him.
CARLSON: Come up, speaking of Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter had a brother who couldn‘t stop embarrassing him. Bill Clinton‘s brother had his own problems.
Does Hillary Clinton have the same sort of conflicts with a would-be first brother? Carnis (ph), presidential pardons, and Hillary Clinton, that‘s all coming up.
Plus, from child preacher to Democratic Party power broker. How and why has Al Sharpton become the most important man on the left side of the aisle this week?
We‘ll take a look at that right after the break.
CARLSON: Still to come, Hillary Clinton is taking her first trip to the state of Iowa. Not a moment too soon. She is trailing in the polls there behind Edwards and Obama.
Will she be able to win over Iowans before next year‘s caucuses?
We‘ll tell you in just a minute.
Right now, though, here‘s a look at your headlines.
CARLSON: Hillary Clinton makes her first trip to Iowa this weekend as an official presidential candidate. Until California and New Jersey make up their minds on when to hold their presidential primaries, Iowa is square one on the board game that is the 2008 primary season. The most recent polls from there show Mrs. Clinton trailing John Edwards by a long way in that state. So how will the New Yorker, by way of Little Rock, via Chicago, play in Iowa?
For more analysis we‘re back with “Newsweek‘s” senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe, senior editor of “The Atlantic” Joshua Green, and Republican strategist Ed Rogers.
I‘m not sure, Ed, at this point, if Iowa is still as important as it once was. Can Hillary write it off?
ROGERS: Well, she can‘t run it off. She has to be a national candidate and compete everywhere. She doesn‘t want to come in third like George Bush did in 1988 before he went on to win the presidency. So Iowa has sort of lost some of its luster as being pivotal. You can lose Iowa and come back.
In her case, she would rather it not happened. Edwards has been working it harder than everybody else. Obama is probably a bunch of fluff. Vilsack remains to be the governor there, former governor there, has a sort of an unknown quality. She has to take it seriously. She has to campaign everywhere. She has to be a national candidate, period.
CARLSON: I wonder Joshua, you wrote one of the best pieces on Hillary I‘ve read in a long time in “The Atlantic,” a very long description of her career so far in Senate over the past six years. You make the point that she is great one on one politically. Is she appealing to people in Iowa? There are these ads—This is all a long prelude to this point. There are these ads now going up.
The conservative group Stop Hillary Now is putting up these ads that consist of registered Democrats in Iowa saying, there is something about her I don‘t like. I wonder, does reflect, conservative though it is, does it reflect a trend there?
GREEN: I don‘t know if it‘s a trend. I think it‘s sort of an existing state of affairs left over from the 1990‘s. One of the really interesting stories about Hillary Clinton in Washington has been her ability to win over Republican colleagues in Congress, but that‘s come on the basis of six long years‘ worth of one on one contact and getting to go know her.
Democrats and Republicans in the rest of the country haven‘t had that access, and so I‘m not sure that the change in how Hillary is viewed is going to be quite as pronounced in Iowa as it maybe is behind us in the Capitol.
CARLSON: I must say, I don‘t see her, Richard, as a kind of retail politician. I think she is very talented. She is clearly smart. She‘s the hardest worker running for president, probably who ever will run for president. However, I just don‘t see her wading into a crowd of people and answering their questions and feeling their pain. I don‘t think she could do that.
WOLFFE: That‘s not Iowa though. You said she is good one on one. Iowa is a front room, 20 neighbors together in a small town. The problem is it takes forever to get from one small place to another in Iowa. You have to spend a lot of time there. Given what she is trying to do, running a national campaign, being here, I don‘t think she can spend enough time in Iowa to really make a difference, not when you have John Edwards out there, who spent a lot of time there, a lot of people know him from 2004 and still like him.
And remember, Iowa‘s Democratic voters, and there‘s a big job in trying to get those people to caucuses, but they are to the left of the party. That‘s why Edwards is doing well, with labor, with the anti-war position he has taken. So the down side, a lot of down side for Hillary Clinton in Iowa.
CARLSON: OK, so Iowa, you‘re right. I think it‘s much more the small group setting, but in New Hampshire, certainly, I think in Nevada this year, without question South Carolina, you‘re going to have to speak extemporaneously in a compelling way and take questions from people.
ROGERS: She is not a great performer. It will be interesting to see how she handles him. What range of motion are we going to let a woman candidate have? If she shows a tear, what does that mean? If she gets loud, is she angry. So, she is going to have a hard time and she is not a great performer. She is a little wooden from behind the podium. She is stiff. She is no Bill Clinton.
CARLSON: You know who is a great performer is Al Sharpton. That‘s one of the people Mrs. Clinton has been sucking up to really without any kind of apology recently. Josh, you saw this. She said this morning in the “New York Times,”—I don‘t have the quote in front of me—but it was something like, I‘m honored to touch the hem of a garment of a man as great as Al Sharpton. Right?
CARLSON: No literally, it was over the top. Sharpton, of course, yesterday also met with Chris Dodd and most notably Barack Obama, but here‘s the point. In contrast to 2004, where there was kind of squeamishness about sucking up to Sharpton, now it‘s just out in the open. You know, we need Sharpton‘s endorsement. Do they need Sharpton‘s endorsement?
GREEN: I don‘t know that that‘s true. Sharpton plays a very specific role in a Democratic primary. He is there to (INAUDIBLE). He‘s there to build up support and visibility for himself. If he decides in the end he wants to turn around and reprise his role as court jester of the Democratic primary, he will probably get in and do that for a while until he drops out.
One of the awkward things for Democrats is that Al Sharpton has a problem they can‘t seem to eliminate, but at the same time you have to manage, because, you know, as Barack Obama is now seeing, he will come in there and put a flame under your feet if you don‘t kowtow to what it is he wants.
I think to Obama‘s credit, you saw Sharpton‘s quote this morning, saying he didn‘t feel fully catered to or flattered or maybe Obama didn‘t get down and kiss the ring quite the way Sharpton wanted him to. This will be an embarrassment for a lot of Democratic candidates.
CARLSON: What he didn‘t do, if I can speak for the Rev, and I think I can, he didn‘t unfurl the civil rights agenda. He didn‘t display to the Reverend Sharpton his civil rights agenda in detail, whatever that might be. Sharpton is a friend of mine, I love Sharpton. But this is a guy who has been indicted for tax evasion, who has had all these very well publicized controversies and hoaxes, went to jail for a while in his past. That doesn‘t taint anybody anymore?
ROGERS: They are all afraid of him.
CARLSON: I mean, I don‘t care, it doesn‘t taint me. I‘m a journalist.
ROGERS: He is a great performer. He‘s glib. He‘s got a following. All the Democrats are afraid of him. That‘s why I want him to run. He will be the best performer.
CARLSON: Are you afraid of him?
WOLFFE: I‘m afraid of no man, but—maybe Dick Cheney. Seriously, you don‘t want him as your enemy. You say he‘s a friend of yours.
CARLSON: I love the guy. I couldn‘t be elected to city council anyway.
GREEN: One of the reasons he has the power he does is because he is such a media friendly guy. You can always count on him for a loud quote, and people forget that, you know, 15, 20 years ago he was running around in a track suit, and his Flavor Flav medallions, crying racism, and showing up at—you know, he was a character in a Tom Wolfe novel.
CARLSON: So Joe Biden is getting in, officially, into this race.
ROGERS: He must have found someone outside of his family or Delaware that tells him he should run. It‘s remarkable. I can‘t wait to see that steering committee.
CARLSON: I like Joe Biden, because I think he‘s interesting. I think he is really deeply interested in his job, unlike a lot of senators who have been there since their 30‘s. First question, is he going to suck up to Al Sharpton? Second, does he have any chance or is this just for vice president?
ROGERS: I predict a press conference in the coming months where he will say that he finds that he will be more value as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee than he would be as president, so he is going to stay in the Senate. Come on, he has no emotional foothold in the party. He has no legitimate following outside of his home state. He wants to do it just because he wants to do it.
For him, I think there is a down side. I think for him to run and to be distracted and for his work as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a big deal, to be contaminated by running for president.
CARLSON: I‘m sorry. I need to stop you there, Ed. You used the term chairman. I don‘t think you got the memo, but the term chairman is now verboten along with the term freshman. We learned yesterday in “The Hotline” that, in fact, Jason Altmyer (ph), a new Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania, explained to reporters the Democrats are no longer using the term freshman, because that term is, quote, derogatory. It‘s derogatory. No, new, because freshman, there is a man in it, and therefore it‘s bad.
Just so you know, he is going to be the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee.
ROGERS: It will be interesting to see if he agrees.
CARLSON: Do you see a rationale for the Biden campaign?
GREEN: Outside of Joe Biden‘s own mind, not really. That‘s not fair.
He does have intelligent things to say about Iraq. He has a specific plan unlike a lot of the Democrats. I think a lot of people probably feel his time may have passed. Is there ever anybody to talk Al Sharpton down, Joe Biden certainly could. There will probably be a role for him in the campaign.
CARLSON: He can certainly talk. So in this case, in this campaign on the Democratic side, Richard, who is the kind of left wing insurgent? Who is the Howard Dean of 2008 or is that Barack Obama? Do you even have the space for that?
GREEN: I‘m not sure Barack Obama could really take that position. I‘m not sure he would want to. John Edwards is clearly positioning himself as a more populist, outside Washington candidate. It‘s not going to be Joe Biden who takes that position, but just to come back to Biden for a second, I think it really ate him up that in 2004, he was convinced not to run, and he looked—by Bill Clinton, among other people—and he looked at John Kerry and the way he went ahead and said all along to himself that should have been me.
So, I don‘t think there is going to be that moment where he backs out. Now that John Kerry is out, he has every reason to prove something to himself and to people around him that he is credible.
WOLFFE: In his defense, I don‘t think he‘s wrong about that either.
CARLSON: He may not be. In almost every election since 1992, in every one, you‘ve had a credible third party candidate. In some of those elections, 1992 for instance, they have made a big difference. You could argue in 2000, of course, Ralph Nader made a big difference. Are we going to see a third party candidate this time?
ROGERS: I don‘t know who. History would say yes. It probably has to be a self-funder, or somebody with a very narrow ideological slice. That person is not coming up out of the woodwork. And so I don‘t know who it would be. I‘m for a Green Party candidate.
CARLSON: Oh, of course, natural law party all the way. I completely
the mediators, I love them. However, those parties always coalesce around an idea or an issue, sort of, the moment. It would be the war in this election, obviously. If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and she runs against Rudy Giuliani, a relatively pro-war Republican, that leaves no anti-war candidate in the race. Why wouldn‘t you have a self-funding third party anti-war candidate?
GREEN: Well, you might. And you also have—we haven‘t talked about this—you are going to have a vehicle in 2008 for, you know, an Internet based third party. This Unity 2008 idea, where veterans of the Ford administration, the Carter administration have gotten together. They‘re going to get on all 50 state ballots. Chuck Hagel in a “Washington Post” profile this morning alluded to the fact that, yes, he might think about something like that. You know, Mike Bloomberg.
CARLSON: Excuse me, you didn‘t think Hagel was kidding?
GREEN: I‘m not sure he is. I don‘t see Hagel having a real good shot at the Republican nomination.
ROGERS: He‘s a party guy.
GREEN: And if he loses that nomination and he still wants to be president.
GREEN: It‘s not about being a cry baby though. I mean, might he not consider it if he doesn‘t get the Republican nomination? I mean, he‘s not a young guy anymore. He doesn‘t have too many more chances. If the vehicle is there.
ROGERS: Could he consider it? Yes, of course. Nothing about him really suggests he‘s going to go off on a fool‘s errand or a destructive—for the party.
CARLSON: Running for president in some sort of coalition—
GREEN: That doesn‘t mean you couldn‘t have a fairly serious third party candidate. Somebody like Michael Bloomberg, if he really wants to run an independent candidacy, would almost have to run on the Unity 2008 ticket. You can‘t have four candidates and expect, as an independent, that you‘re going to win. If the vehicle is out there for it, I think somebody legitimate might do that.
CARLSON: Do you see that as a possibility Richard?
WOLFFE: I think Chuck Hagel is going to run, but he will run as a Republican. Look, the anti-war position is going to be staked out by the Democrats. If 2008 is about the war, than no Republican is going to win, not even Chuck Hagel. But the anti-war candidates are going to be out there. I think you don‘t get the Democratic nomination unless you are anti-war.
CARLSON: What does the White House think? What percentage of the Republican base is still pro-war?
WOLFFE: Fifty, 60 percent of Republicans.
CARLSON: They really believe that?
WOLFFE: Absolutely, in poll after poll, yes. Poll after poll shows that.
CARLSON: Fifty percent of Republicans.
WOLFFE: Of Republicans.
CARLSON: Right, that‘s right, so that would be what?
WOLFFE: Twenty, 30 percent, which is exactly what the president‘s numbers are.
CARLSON: Interesting. They don‘t live in Washington, D.C., I noticed. Thank you all. I appreciate it.
Coming up, (INAUDIBLE) isn‘t President Bush‘s only remaining ally in Washington, but he almost is. Find out the latest defections from the president‘s ever-shrinking circle of friends right after the break.
Plus if you‘re Charlton Heston, you get to Washington to defend gun rights. If you‘re George Clooney, you talk about genocide in Darfur. If you‘re Tom Cruise, we‘ll give you one guess how he found his way into the Scooter Libby trial. Check your guess against the truth, next.
CARLSON: Just because we spent a lot of our week talking about Senate hearings and a certain presidential speech doesn‘t mean that‘s all that was going on here in Washington. To fill in the gaps, we welcome Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts. They are the women behind “The Reliable Source,” “The Washington Post‘s” universally read gossip page. Ladies, welcome, what‘s going on?
AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Hello, lots of different things. Well, the big question for a lot of people, coming out of the State of the Union Address, of course, as you know, was hey, this is baby Einstein lady, what‘s her deal?
ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: And how did she get a free commercial during the State of the Union?
CARLSON: Good question.
ARGETSINGER: There were two questions about her. One, how did she, of all the wonderful entrepreneurs who have given back to their communities, how did she get singled out? And two, is she single? She is a blond millionaire, not bad looking, really.
ROBERTS: She is cute. The answer, number one, is no, she is not single. She is, in fact, married.
ARGETSINGER: And the second thing is that no, she is not a Republican donor. She is not a political contributor at all, although it comes to turn out that her husband is a pretty prominent Republican contributor.
ROBERTS: Yes, but still, this was like a multi-million dollar free plug for Baby Einstein.
ARGETSINGER: I don‘t know about that. You think so?
CARLSON: Do you think she is worthy?
ARGETSINGER: I‘m more of a Tele-Tubbies kid myself. I haven‘t seen any of the Baby Einstein videos.
ROBERTS: My son‘s formative years were watching Wheel of Fortune.
ARGETSINGER: You‘re a terrible mother.
ROBERTS: He learned the alphabet.
CARLSON: Oh god. So what else is happening?
ARGETSINGER: Well, we had a big resignation at the White House this week. The White House Social Secretary Leah Berman announced that she is stepping down, after how many years on the job?
ROBERTS: Two years, but she has been working for the administration the last six years. Those are usually 18-hour days. She is ready to take a break, which means I‘m probably not going to get invited, but I wasn‘t getting invited anyway. How about you, Tucker?
CARLSON: Actually, I was not getting invited, although I know Leah Berman and I think she‘s wonderful.
ROBERTS: Isn‘t she a doll?
CARLSON: Yes, she is my favorite person in the whole White House actually. That‘s not saying much, but I really like Leah Berman a lot.
ROBERTS: Now you‘re definitely not going to get invited.
CARLSON: I wasn‘t anyway. So who is replacing her?
ROBERTS: That‘s a secret for the moment. We‘re trying to dig that out and figure out who wants to deal with the last two years of the administration. You know, it‘s harder to hire in the last two years, because there‘s a lot of change. It‘s a lot of work.
ARGETSINGER: They‘ve been entertaining more too, haven‘t they?
ROBERTS: They have been. So, it‘s a lot of work, but it‘s still a big deal.
CARLSON: Well, here is a question for you: Are they still having parties there? Did they ever? This is not an administration that has a lot of late-night parties. Are they still coveted, the tickets? Do people still want to go?
ROBERTS: I think people still always want to go. Truthfully, I think, particularly in Washington, an invitation to the White House, if you are not politically put off by the president‘s policies, if you can get past those things and just look at it as the office of the presidency and the first lady and their hospitality, it‘s still an honor to be asked, yes.
CARLSON: Has Bush had fewer than previous presidents, or is that just my imagination?
ARGETSINGER: For the first couple of years, yes.
ROBERTS: No, he still has had far fewer. He doesn‘t like to entertain. He doesn‘t like to put on a tux. He doesn‘t like to stay up late. So what he likes to do is do things very casually. He likes to do them early. That doesn‘t mean a lot of formal nights. So, they have sort of the smallest number of former affairs in a long, long time.
CARLSON: And what exactly is the pressure that the White House social secretary faces? Are people calling up and trying to get invited? Are you getting your arm twisted to hand out tickets?
ROBERTS: That‘s part of the job, but the other part of it is every single thing that happens. If anything goes wrong, it‘s your fault. You have to know everybody‘s name. You have to know where they are sitting. If there is unexpected things that happen, it‘s your job to fix it, no matter what it is. There is a lot of pressure.
ARGETSINGER: There has been turnover in the other staff, the chef.
ROBERTS: The chef left. They are hunting for a new pastry chef now. And a big loss is the chief usher. He‘s leaving. He basically ran the whole staff. He was sort of the downstairs of the upstairs/downstairs of the White House, and made sure everything went smoothly in all the other operations, and he‘s leaving as well.
CARLSON: So the pastry chef, the chief usher, and the social secretary have all split, the war in Iraq is out of control. Really, this country is in peril.
CARLSON: Roxanne Roberts, Amy Argetsinger, thank you both very much for bringing us that tragic news. I appreciate it.
Well, break out the Jesus juice. Michael Jackson has returned to the U.S. Willie Geist will tell us why Michael came back and what you can do to protect your loved ones. We‘re coming right back.
CARLSON: All right, here‘s a prediction, a few years from now you will be in the grocery store. You will pass the checkout ails. You will see “People Magazine.” You will pick it up. On the cover you will see a photograph, “People‘s” sexiest people in America. You will say to yourself, I recognize that man from MSNBC. Wasn‘t he on the Tucker show? Indeed he was. He is here now. His name, Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: A boy can dream. Boy I would really have made it if I could reach that point. More likely to be a mug shot sadly. That was actually devastating news about miss baby Einstein. I think there was a lot of hope for American on Monday night.
CARLSON: I know. You expressed that hope. I remember that.
GEIST: And, of course, she‘s married to some rich guy. It‘s always that way.
CARLSON: I bet he‘s unworthy.
GEIST: Of course he is. Well, as you mentioned earlier, Tucker, Hillary Clinton will travel to Iowa this weekend to begin buttering up voters for next January‘s caucus there. But there will be no buttering of the Hillary haters, who are waiting to greet here tomorrow. Here‘s a look at that spot you talked about earlier, made by Stop Hillary, that will be running on major cable channels all over the state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think about Hillary Clinton?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I don‘t know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh gosh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (LAUGHTER)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clinton?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They‘ve had their day, as far as I‘m concerned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t know if the world‘s ready for a Hillary administration yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she would be a great running mate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She carries money baggage for me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think if she sits back for another eight years, gets everything going right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Politics as usual, baggage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There‘s other people that are a lot better qualified than her, less baggage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She‘s cynical. She‘ an opportunist. I don‘t think she‘s very principled. I wouldn‘t vote for Hillary because of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know it‘s a mean thing to say, but it‘s a fact.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m Democrat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I would say staunch Democrat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Strictly a Democrat, liberal too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m definitely a Democrat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One with values.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m just not a big fan of hers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t trust Hillary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop Hillary PAC is responsible for the content of this advertisement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: So, the point is made, Tucker, but let me get this straight, so they just asked the same four people coming out of the A & P a series of questions? Four Democrats in Iowa think she‘s terrible.
CARLSON: Yes, they asked a series of four unemployed people who hadn‘t shaved by 5:30 in the afternoon. But that got—I mean, that‘s the Democratic party in Iowa. But, you know what, I think—this is put together not by Democrats, of course, but by conservatives who don‘t like Hillary. I think it will backfire. I think every attack on Hillary makes her stronger. She‘s like one of those, you know, animated Japanese monsters. She‘s just grows more powerful, really.
GEIST: You know, I kind of agree with what you said. I don‘t see her going into these living rooms in Iowa. I know she‘s from Chicago, but she doesn‘t get that sort of Midwest, home-spun things. You know what I mean? I don‘t know if she‘s warm enough.
CARLSON: But don‘t attack her. It will just make her more powerful.
GEIST: I would never attack her. I‘ll leave it to the commercials like this. Brilliant piece of production there.
Well Tucker, hide the women and children, mainly the children, Michael Jackson is back in the United States. Jackson and his spokesman confirmed today that Michael has returned to the U.S., but they wouldn‘t say where he is. Jackson has been in self-imposed exile in place like Bahrain, Ireland and France since his acquittal in that 2005 child molestation trial. Michael also announced a series of fan appreciation events in Japan, where for a mere 3,300 bucks, you get a chance to meet the man himself. That sounds pretty pathetic.
And that‘s, also Tucker, I think, the first sign that you‘ve completely fallen from grace, when you are going to foreign countries to make money at events like this. It‘s like they wanted Mike Tyson to go wrestle a Grisly Bear in some Indonesia country for 1,000 bucks when he was bankrupt. It‘s just not a good sign when you have to go outside the country for money like this.
CARLSON: It looks like pretty easy money though, honestly. I don‘t know, I‘d have some fan appreciation events in Tokyo for 3,300 dollars.
GEIST: Well, you‘re shameless. I know you would do that. Like Pete Rose signing T-shirts at the mall in Spokane.
CARLSON: I saw him Vegas one day, signing T-shirts. It was so sad.
GEIST: Oh god, he‘s totally shameless. He‘s totally shameless. So Michael‘s back in the U.S. and if you have 3,300 bucks and you want to buy a trip to Tokyo, you can shake his gloved hand, hopefully it‘s gloved. Don‘t know where that‘s been.
Well, finally Tucker, from the irony file, we bring you the story of a two-time Indy 500 champion arrested for bad driving. Police say Al Unser Jr. side-swiped a car on a Los Vegas highway yesterday. Then sped away from the scene. He later failed several field sobriety tests and was charged with driving under the influence and misdemeanor hit and run. No one, luckily, was injured in the accident. Tucker, we don‘t want to rub it in whatsoever, but we just point out the irony. It‘s kind of like a couple months ago we pointed it out when Pete Coors was pulled over for DUI. Sort of can‘t pass up the story.
CARLSON: No, you really can‘t. Remember, innocent until proven guilty, that‘s what I would say about Al Unser Jr.
GEIST: OK, well.
CARLSON: I would. I don‘t know.
GEIST: Sure, OK.
CARLSON: I feel sorry for people whose public misdeeds -
GEIST: I agree. I‘m not going to pile on. I‘ll wait and see. One other piece of video, we can‘t leave this week without pointing it out, our man of the week, the Costa Rican dude who has a pet alligator. We just want to—mainly want to hand out the award now, because he may not be with us next week. So, we want to get this in before things go sour.
There he is, head butting and wresting with his pet 16-foot alligator.
So, happy weekend Costa Rican guy with the alligator.
CARLSON: That‘s incredible Willie. If we could end this show on animal video every day, it will be terrific. Willie Geist, have a great weekend.
GEIST: All right Tucker, you too.
CARLSON: You too out there, do the same. We‘ll see you Monday. Have a great night.
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