Guests: Frank Donatelli, Pat Buchanan, Tom Matzzie
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the Monday edition of the show.
Barack Obama announces for president and is immediately denounced by at least one world leader.
Hillary Clinton comes up with a new excuse for her long-time support of the Iraq war.
And speaking of wars, the Bush administration may be laying the groundwork for yet another one. This one against a Middle Eastern country that begins with “I”.
More on those stories in just a minute. But first, the most popular war in America hasn‘t even been waged yet. If the activist left has its way, U.S. troops would soon head to Africa to stop the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Just about every prominent liberal in the Senate has urged the White House to do more about Darfur. Prominent Hollywood celebrities agree.
In virtually every appearance, meanwhile, Hillary Clinton calls for the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Darfur. That‘s something that would require American pilots at least. Putting American lives at risk to avert humanitarian disaster? This is something Senator Clinton and her federal liberals have categorically rejected in Iraq.
Their message to suffering Iraqis is simple: Go ahead and eat each other. We‘re leaving. Yet, when it comes to Darfur, they call for the Bush administration to weigh in and call them callous for not doing so.
You‘d think by now that opponents of the war in Iraq would have learned its most basic lesson, and that lesson is this: U.S. troops should be put at risk only to protect American lives. No other reason is good enough. It‘s a principle to live by, and someone ought to remind them of it, soon.
Well, here with analysis of Mrs. Clinton‘s weekend in New Hampshire, Mr. Obama‘s weekend on national television, and everything else from a very busy news day, we welcome MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan, and Republican strategist and former Reagan White House political director, Frank Donatelli.
Welcome to you both.
FRANK DONATELLI, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thank you.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Barack Obama I thought had—I don‘t know if you all saw his announcement speech—as someone who was not likely to vote for Barack Obama, I must say I was impressed. I thought he did a—he is—he is a powerful speaker, and he was—I thought it was impressive speech.
Amazing response to it. Almost immediately, the Australian prime minister, Howard, gets up and says this—“If I were running Al Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.”
Now, Frank, it‘s bad when world leaders accuse you of being on the same side of al Qaeda. On the other hand, if you‘re Barack Obama and you have been in the U.S. Senate for two years, isn‘t it good to be involved in any kind of colloquy with a world leader?
DONATELLI: Especially when a world leader criticizes your country. This is good for Barack Obama. For him to tell the Australian prime minister to mind his own business is very, very good, to have that sort of back and forth.
I agree with you. I really thought Obama was good. He is so much better on the stump than Hillary Clinton or, frankly, any of the Republicans, for that matter, Tucker. He is really good.
I do question whether or not he is going to have enough meat to put on the bones, whether he‘s—we‘re ever going to get to the point where he says these are the three issues that I am going to focus on and really get a little bit more substantive. But for right now, I really thought that he did a good job.
CARLSON: He did. And he was also—this was one of those media blitz weekends...
CARLSON: ... for Barack Obama, Pat, where he was everywhere. He was on “60 Minutes” yesterday, he was—it seemed you couldn‘t turn on the television without seeing Barack Obama.
There as a really interesting—I‘m not sure I really even understand it, but a back and forth between Steve Kroft, interviewer on CBS “60 Minutes,” and Michelle Obama, his wife. We met had Harvard Law school.
I want to put—I want to put it up and see what you make of this.
This is Michelle Obama and Steve Kroft.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KROFT, “60 MINUTES”: A number of years ago Colin Powell was thinking about running for president and his wife Alma really did not want him to run. She was worried about some crazy person with a gun. Is that something that you think about?
MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA‘S WIFE: I don‘t lose sleep over it because the realities are that, you know, as a black man Barack can get shot going to the gas station.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Now, what does that mean? As a black man—I mean, that strikes me—I live in the same country.
BUCHANAN: Right. I was—you know, listen, I watched—let me just say I agree with Frank. I thought Obama had a terrific weekend. I thought the “60 Minutes” interview was terrific, frankly. I thought he did a great job.
BUCHANAN: But, you know, I was sort of offended by that, because why are you raising this idea of somebody getting shot? Nobody‘s really thought of that. And then she mentioned the gas station. I mean, who‘s going to shoot her at the gas station? You know?
CARLSON: Well, I think the idea is, this is such a racist country, that as a black man going to the gas station is dangerous.
BUCHANAN: Well, yes, but it ain‘t going to be—I mean, look, Bobby Kennedy, George Wallace—yes, Martin Luther King, but a lot of folks were assassinated back in the 1960s. But the idea that is a uniquely phenomenon of white folks going after black folks, that plays in, I think, to a stereotype which is not true in this country.
CARLSON: Well, it‘s certainly been left behind by history.
Here is what Barack Obama himself said. And when I heard him say this, I thought, you know what? I really like this guy.
This is what he said to Steve Kroft about race. He said, “I‘m rooted in the African-American community but I‘m not defined by it. I am comfortable in my racial identity and recognize that I‘m part of a very specific set of experiences in this country. But that‘s not the core of who I am.”
Another way of saying it is, that‘s not all I am.
You know, can he keep up this kind of universalist rhetoric? And if he does, can Hillary Clinton beat him? I mean, if I like it, I‘ve got to think everyone left of me, which is everyone in the country, is going to like it, too.
DONATELLI: Well, I think that he can. Clearly, he‘s not going to run as a black candidate. He‘s going to run as a candidate for the Democratic Party who happens to be black.
His experience very much is not the old civil rights experience. It is, he considers himself an immigrant. And just as our parents were immigrants from Italy or Ireland or whatever, I think his experience is he is just an immigrant from Africa. And he brings that bias with him to the campaign. It‘s a much more appealing, sort of uplifting, much broader message then just black and white from the Old South.
BUCHANAN: He doesn‘t want to get dragged into the—you know, the African-American candidate. And he is above that and beyond that. And frankly, he has not been well served by a lot of reporters—“Are you black? Are you white?” All this other stuff.
Because I do think—I mean, there is a certain way in which—when he rose up, people did not think of him as automatic the black candidate. He‘s enormously attractive. Yes, he‘s African-American, he‘s extreme—a wonderful orator. He‘s got a terrific voice.
He does have a message of hope. He‘s very much oriented to the left. But if he gets dragged into the old “Are you going to get the black vote?” et cetera, et cetera, I think that drags him down and it drags him out of a broad center, where he might be able to win.
CARLSON: Well, he seems to be—the speeches that I see him give don‘t touch on race at all. I mean, he really seems to be trying to get above that.
I had an interesting conversation with a reporter who covers him the other day, who said, “The one thing you don‘t know about Barack Obama is that he‘s prickly.” I want to play you a clip. This is from Illinois this past weekend.
BUCHANAN: All right.
CARLSON: He was out in Springfield for his announcement.
Here‘s Barack Obama complaining about the media. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. OBAMA: The problem is not that the information‘s not out there, the problem is that‘s not what you guys have been reporting on. You‘ve been reporting on how I look in a swimsuit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So he‘s mad because, Frank, we‘re very shallow. We‘re shallow people here in the media. Now, we are actually more shallow even than people know. We are shallow, there‘s no doubt about it.
On the other hand, as “The Politico” pointed out, Barack Obama himself did a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz for “Men‘s Vogue”. OK?
So once you submit to a Annie Leibovitz photo shoot for “Men‘s Vogue,” you lose, it seems to me, the right to complain about people running pictures of you in your bathing suit.
DONATELLI: Well, doesn‘t it remind you of stars that play to the cameras all the time and then turn around and complain about the paparazzi when they feel like...
CARLSON: There‘s a Princess Di quality here, yes.
DONATELLI: Look, my advice is, since both of us are giving him a lot of advice, it‘s get over it, Mr. Obama, because the press right now is your best friend. They‘re focused on your personality and your story. And they love you right now.
So, what ever downside comes with that because you feel they went too far in a given way, the press is your best friend right now. You‘re in for a good ride, for a few months, anyway.
CARLSON: And the last thing you want is people to look at your ideas right now, right?
BUCHANAN: Don‘t attack your base, Obama. Your base is the media.
They‘re going wild over all this stuff.
Don‘t dump on those guys.
He is prickly. That problem he had with the ears—what did what‘s her name...
CARLSON: Maureen Dowd.
BUCHANAN: ... Maureen Dowd, you know? And he comes running after her in the audience. That‘s the worst thing you can do.
Everybody says, well, that—if he‘s nervous about that—but look, that could be a real fault if he is really—if he is this sensitive this early on, because he is really going to get hammered, and he hasn‘t been hammered at all.
CARLSON: No, he certainly hasn‘t been. I‘ve been nice to him, which tells you a lot. I mean, if I‘m nice, oh my gosh.
But, OK, he wants his words taken seriously? Let‘s take a few of them seriously.
He said in Iowa that thousands of American troops killed in Iraq so far had been wasted lives. That it was wasted. Now, he realized, being a smart man, that that was the wrong thing to say, and he very quickly told a reporter from “The Des Moines Register” that in fact he didn‘t mean wasted, but their sacrifices “have not been honored” because the Bush administration‘s policy is so terrible.
Here‘s my question to you, Frank. If you think the war is pointless and has been since day one, and Barack Obama apparently does, why haven‘t their lives been wasted? Like, they died in the service of what, if you‘re Barack Obama?
DONATELLI: Well, I think it‘s political correctness and it‘s a very harsh thing to say. And so he doesn‘t want to put it in those terms.
I felt that listening to his announcement speech, we didn‘t get a lot of policy discussion. But what we did—he was very careful to genuflect to the left on virtually every time he touched—he talked about more pay for teachers.
DONATELLI: He talked about it easier for unions to organize. He talked about a lot of things like this.
So, it‘s clear to me that he is going to go after Hillary Clinton from the left, primarily on the war, but other things, too.
BUCHANAN: This is exactly right. His competition is not right now Hillary. It is Edwards.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
BUCHANAN: Edwards is holding down a significant slice of the left.
He has got to clear the left out and then come at Hillary.
CARLSON: And yet...
BUCHANAN: So, he‘s in the semifinals, and Hillary, I think, pretty much gets a by all the way in...
CARLSON: That‘s exactly right. No matter what she does, she cannot show up in Iowa.
But you‘ll notice that nobody mentions abortion, nobody mentions gun control, nobody mentions gay marriage. Interesting. You think of those of sort of the classic left-wing social positions and they‘re not even mentioned.
We‘ll be right back.
Coming up, Hillary Clinton is quite a chef. She took a direct question at a campaign event about her vote for the support of the Iraq war and turned it into an instant waffle. How Mrs. Clinton‘s record and her current so-called stance on Iraq will play with Democratic voters when we come back.
Plus, the administration reveals evidence that Iran is providing deadly arms to anti-American forces in Iraq. Two questions. Why reveal that evidence now? And will anyone believe the U.S. government given the evidence we put forth four years ago on Iraq?
It‘s a sad story. Stay tuned for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know if right here, right now, once and for all, without nuance, you can say that that war authorization vote was a mistake. Until we hear you say that, we are not going to hear all of these other great things you are saying.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Knowing what I know now, I would never have voted for it. I have taken responsibility for my vote. The mistakes were made by this president, who misled this country and this Congress into a war that should not have been waged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: That was Hillary Clinton this weekend in New Hampshire.
Well, Barack Obama opposed the Iraq war from the very beginning. John Edwards voted for the war but has since pled mea culpa and said he wishes he hadn‘t done that. Hillary Clinton, either cleverly or foolishly, has a former ambiguous position—she voted for the war, she supported the war, and now she blames the administration‘s execution of the war. She says that‘s been the problem.
Is that a viable position in this presidential race?
Here to discuss it, Tom Matzzie, the Washington director of moveon.org.
Tom, thanks a lot for coming on.
TOM MATZZIE, WASHINGTON DIRECTOR, MOVEON.ORG: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Why can‘t Hillary Clinton just apologize?
MATZZIE: Well, I don‘t think it‘s about apologies. I think what people want to really hear is how Senator Clinton is going to help get America out of Iraq. That‘s a test for any presidential candidate in either party.
CARLSON: Well, wait a second. She‘s presumed guilty—she is basically up for parole. OK? She has done something that everyone recognizes was a wrong thing. And you, first among all of us, would recognize that.
Before she gets parole, she has got to show contrition. She‘s got to show that she understands she made a bad choice. Why can‘t she just say that?
MATZZIE: I think Senator Clinton should say that the vote in 2002 was wrong. I think, you know, there‘s a lot of people that need to say that.
CARLSON: Well, I‘m just talking about Hillary because she‘s the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
MATZZIE: Sure. And I think, you know, what Senator Clinton needs to also understand is that people who want to get America out of our Iraq aren‘t looking for what is going to happen after January of 2009. They want to know what you are going to do now to help America get out of Iraq.
MATZZIE: And that‘s the real test. And she can make up a lot of ground by articulating what she would do this year, in 2007.
CARLSON: I think—it seems to me this is a test for you, too, for the activist left. Not just moveon.org, but all left-wing organizations, liberal organizations, progressive organizations, how they approach Hillary Clinton.
Now, she‘s not just someone who voted for the war, she is someone who, up until last year, was one of its most vocal supporter. I could bore you. I‘ve got, you know, reams of paper with her quotes saying that things—she was in Baghdad a year and a half ago—there are lots of suicide bombs, and that‘s a sign that we‘re succeeding.
She was for the war when conservatives like me recognized it was a terrible idea. It seems to me she‘s getting a pass from liberal groups because they think she can win.
MATZZIE: I don‘t think that‘s true at all. And I think our call to action on any candidate, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, on down the line is, show us how you‘re going to help get America out of Iraq in 2007. You know, because this is a real challenge today that we face today. It‘s not just in 2009 and beyond.
CARLSON: Now, do you buy her line which has been the sort of road-testing this new lie, which is, we didn‘t actually vote for war, we voted to give the president authorization to go back to the U.N. and do something or other? I don‘t know if you were here in Washington in 2002 and 2003, but if you were, you know as well as I that was recognized as a war vote.
What do think of her explanation? Does it make you sick to your stomach?
MATZZIE: No, it doesn‘t make me sick to my stomach. I think, though, I‘m not going to re-litigate the past. We want people to say what happened in 2002...
CARLSON: Why not? We‘re living in the past every day. That‘s what you guys do. You say—that‘s what I do, that‘s what we all do.
We say the war was a mistake and here is why. Why not re-litigate her past?
MATZZIE: Well, because the real challenge we face is how to get American out of Iraq, and that‘s the question the American people want answered, it‘s the question we‘re focused on like a laser beam. It‘s the question we want presidential candidates to focus on.
CARLSON: So you forgive Bush for his mistakes up until this point?
You just want to know what he‘s going to do from here on out?
MATZZIE: Well, forgive this is up to George Bush and his maker.
We‘re here to push for an exit from Iraq .
CARLSON: All right.
Tom Matzzie, moveon.org. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.
MATZZIE: Thank you.
CARLSON: Coming up, there is evidence that Iranians are helping Iraqis to kill Americans. Is the administration gearing up to take a shot at a second point in the axis of evil?
We‘ll tell you.
Plus, if you haven‘t seen all the footage of this free-fall all the way to the ground, you must stick around. If you have seen it, I‘ll bet you stick around and see it again. It‘s that good. Amazing.
Death-defying video of your worst nightmare just ahead.
CARLSON: Over this past weekend, Pentagon and intelligence officials produced what they say is evidence that Iran is arming anti-American forces in Iraq with deadly explosives. The officials presented fragments of weaponry and military hardware of Iranian origin.
What does this all mean? Why is this revelation timed as it is, and what happens next?
For analysis, here again, MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan, and Republican strategist and former Reagan White House political director, Frank Donatelli.
Welcome to you both.
Do you buy this, Pat? Do you think Iran is arming the militias and the insurgents who are killing Americans with those arms?
BUCHANAN: Well, I assume this—I mean, I am assume these guys are honest. If they‘ve got some stuff in there, it probably did come in Iran. But there‘s a number of questions about this.
Why didn‘t these guys go public? Why didn‘t they have a big white paper about it, if it‘s serious? I mean, a lot of this was done anonymously.
And it doesn‘t look like a great deal of material. And your questions are exactly right, what is the conclusion?
The real problem here, Tucker, is this a part of a campaign to produce evidence as to why the United States has got to strike inside Iran? That‘s what concerns me. And it looks like the folks who are thinking of that haven‘t made up their mind to do it, because they would have made a more dramatic presentation, I think, and more public.
CARLSON: I heard a really interesting point today, Frank, and it‘s this—that the United States bogged down in Iraq at precisely the point when the conventional warfare was over. You know, we won the war pretty easily, in an asymmetrical way, superpower against third-world country, and then when it got, you know, urban and, you know, the insurgency fighting us and all of that, we bogged down.
Bombing Iran would be back to asymmetrical warfare. It would be pretty simple, actually. The ramifications might be profound, but it would be simple to do it.
And B, Bush has nothing to lose politically. He can‘t get less popular.
So why exactly wouldn‘t Bush bomb Iran at this point?
DONATELLI: Well, I mean, there are only so many wars you can fight at once. We‘re already in Afghanistan and we‘re in Iraq.
CARLSON: But an air war.
DONATELLI: Well, OK. I guess I would want to know the reason why we would do this. The focus now is on the infiltration into Iraq.
I personally think a much more important issue is potential WMD on the part of Iran. I think that it would be unacceptable to let them get nuclear weapons. And so I hope that our policy is being geared toward that and that‘s why negotiations are going on.
I will say one more thing, Tucker. Iran is not Iraq. Iran is much more Western.
There is a substantial segment of Iranian society that is unabashedly pro-Western. And I know our government officials can‘t say this, but I hope and expect that we‘re doing everything we can to destabilize Ahmadeinejad‘s government, because it does not in any way, shape or form represent the vast majority of Iranians.
CARLSON: Well, Pat, we learned today—remember North Korea?
CARLSON: The country we were so worried about and their nuclear weapons and everything.
CARLSON: Well, today it looks like the State Department has announced without all that much fanfare that negotiations have worked and that we are working toward a North Korean nuclear disarmament.
Could we do something similar with Iran?
BUCHANAN: Yes, I think we could.
First, I don‘t think Ahmadinejad is—he‘s got real problems inside his own country. And when we put pressure on him, frankly, we bring people to it. And let me tell you one of the things that could happen.
If you smack the nuclear sites—first, I don‘t think they‘re that far along --- you do that, and then the Shia rise up in the south, we‘ve got a 300-mile-long convoy line from Kuwait up to Baghdad that runs straight through Shia country. They could rocket that, shell that, fire on that to what you‘ve got in the Green Zone, is something like (INAUDIBLE).
There are hellish problems if we go to war with Iran. I don‘t think we have to. I don‘t think they are near a nuclear weapon. I don‘t think they are a threat to us.
And I think Ahmadinejad is basically losing support in his country.
And if we will pull back a bit, I think they will take care of this guy,
because I don‘t think Iran wants any part of a war with us or with Israel
CARLSON: It‘s so interesting, though. The evidence against Iran, Frank, is so much more substantial than the evidence against Iraq, the evidence that they have funded terrorism against us, going back to at least 1983 and the barracks bombing in Beirut, up to today, when apparently they are indirectly killing our soldiers. And yet, we can‘t—we really can‘t go to war with them, can we?
DONATELLI: Well, no, I do not think we can. And remember, there are
there is another difference, and that is Saddam invaded two of his neighbors, and he did use chemical weapons against Iran. So the feeling was in 2002 that he had these weapons and that he would use them. I don‘t think that you can make the same case against Iran right now.
I agree with Pat. There is more diplomacy to be run out here. And I agree Ahmadinejad is not in a strong position right now. Their capital markets are being hurt, and we should keep up the pressure.
CARLSON: But are there—quickly, Pat, are there elements in the Bush administration pushing forward with Iran that you are aware of?
BUCHANAN: Look, I‘m sure the Israelis are pushing like crazy. I‘m sure that the neo-cons are pushing for it.
I have read that there are elements inside the White House that are pushing for it. People believe Bush and Cheney can‘t go home without that nuclear program being knocked out. But I don‘t think—if you look at Bush‘s face and eyes, I don‘t think he‘s made the final call to attack Iran yet, but I‘m sure there are forces that say you can‘t go home without doing it.
CARLSON: Tony Snow said, for whatever it‘s worth—today the White House spokesman—the United States is not “going after Iran.”
BUCHANAN: Well, we aren‘t right now.
CARLSON: Well, we aren‘t right now. I am not having a sexual relationship with that woman.
Coming up, Hillary Clinton sounds downright Clintonian in defending her stance on the Iraq war. Is she tacking on the right tack, or would she just admit that it was a mistake?
The frontrunner and the issue when we return.
Plus, did Congress pass a law requiring Al Gore to be at every single award show? It looks that way. The big man rocked the Grammys last night. We have frame by frame analysis of it all.
We will be right back.
CARLSON: More than half of the country now opposes the war in Iraq, but Senator Hillary Clinton seems to be half opposing it. At the very least, her statements appear to be politically motivated. Is her muddy position on her own stance on the war good enough to survive the presidential primaries?
Here with their views, we welcome back MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan. We are also glad to see Republican strategist and former White House political director under Reagan, Frank Donatelli. Welcome to you both.
Hillary Clinton, we showed this a minute ago, in New Hampshire this weekend: I voted for the war only to give the president support to go to the U.N. and put more inspectors in Iraq. Now, I don‘t want to beat up on Hillary Clinton, but she could be president, so it is worth pointing out that, in fact, Hillary Clinton was for the war when it was waged. She was for the war before it was waged. She was for the war up until about 20 minutes ago.
Here is Hillary Clinton from April of 2004: quote, “I do not regret giving the president authority to invade Iraq, because at the time it was in the context of weapons of mass destruction, grave threats to the U.S., and clearly Saddam had been a real problem for the international community for more than a decade.”
Again, a lot of people were for the war and changed their views. I don‘t think that her position makes sense enough for her to get the nomination at this point.
BUCHANAN: I think her party is 90 percent anti-war. It thinks the vote was a horrible mistake. I think it‘s going to be a real burden for her. I think Obama is going to hit her, because he was out of it then, but he‘s anti-war, pure on the issue. Edwards has apologized for it. I am inclined to agree with you. I think the dynamic of the Democratic primaries is going to drag her to the left and further and further there. She is going to have, by I think, Tucker, the beginning of 2008, she‘s going to have—we‘re going to have to get out by a date certain.
But she has a problem with this. Look, why was your vote a mistake if you were voting for the war. Was it a mistake ever to go in? You couldn‘t know how Bush was going to run it? What is the reason for that? And how to defend the fact that the most important vote of your life, the worst strategic blunder in American history, you got it wrong. Therefore, you are to be president of the United States. She‘s got a very tough wicket.
CARLSON: Wouldn‘t it go away, Frank, if she were just to say, you know what, I completely blew it. And it was an error in judgment and we all have. It‘s like drunk driving. OK, I did it. I admit it, I am guilty, punish me and let‘s move on. She keeps the story alive, does she not, by continuing to make up these ludicrous excuses for her vote.
DONATELLI: She takes a mulligan on the this one. First of all, her position now, it‘s important to point out, is the same as John Kerry‘s was when he recanted, that he really did not vote for war, but just to give the president a greater hand in negotiating with a foreign entity. So, she can‘t be there. I think she will eventually have to back down on this. I predict that, at some point during the primary campaign, she will utter the M word, that she made a mistake.
But the problem is, as Pat says, is that you‘re saying that the most important vote of you‘re Senate career, you blew it. You made a mistake. It‘s not just any vote.
CARLSON: But everybody knows that. See, I think this—I am sorry to say this. This is a little bit mean, but this reminds me of Monica. It really does. If Clinton had just come out there and said, you know what, first of all, I have had problems in my personal life and I‘m not discussing them with you. So back off. It would have been over day one.
Instead, he has to perpetuate this ludicrous series of lies, attack his opponents. I really think—you don‘t think people would give her a pass is she just conceded?
DONATELLI: Except that when you look at the specific statements that she made back in 2002 -- you quoted one—but there are very specific statements from 2002, saying I don‘t really rely on what the president tells me. President Clinton said that this was—
CARLSON: That‘s right, which is true.
DONATELLI: She has very specific statements. There are going to read all of those back to her again. So I think she is stuck with this position.
BUCHANAN: You say you‘ve made a mistake and 3100 guys are dead, and 25,000 wounded, 400 billion, our position in the Middle East is gone, and you mistake? Why? And how?
CARLSON: But if she doesn‘t concede—
BUCHANAN: Then she‘s got into her defensive mode, and that is not a good mode to be running for president.
CARLSON: First of all, I don‘t know of a single reporter who would have the stones to ask her a question that antagonistically. I mean, most of the questions to Hillary Clinton—I have never heard a reporter ask a question like that, in any context.
BUCHANAN: But sure, even if you do it politely: look, you say you made a mistake, but because of your mistake three thousand guys are dead.
DONATELLI: And aren‘t you back to the Kerry position at that point? I mean, that was pretty much the evolution of John Kerry‘s position. He voted for it, then he regretted it, and then he finally said it was a mistake. And the Bush campaign beat him like a drum, saying that he was indecisive on this key point.
CARLSON: See that‘s the problem, he seemed like a phony. So they thought they were going to win—The Democrats thought, you know, with this guy, he‘s very sophisticated, he‘s multilingual, he knows everything about foreign policy, all of which is pretty true. They did not count on how powerful his phoniness would react with Americans. They didn‘t like him because they thought he was phony.
I think Hillary Clinton has the same problem.
BUCHANAN: But look, this is why Obama has a pure position. I mean, he comes right out and just, he says, look, this was a mistake. I knew it at the time. Feingold, other Democrats, knew it at the time. We were against it, and, you know, all these terrible things happened. And she was for it. I mean, you voted for the disaster.
DONATELLI: Remember what that one questioner said, the lengthy question in New Hampshire, which is, quote, it is hard to hear anything else you are saying as long as you won‘t use the M word, mistake. And I just think there‘s so much dislike for Bush and the war, on the Democratic left, that she is going to be increasingly confronted with this dilemma.
CARLSON: And yet—
BUCHANAN: She will be hammered by Edwards and Obama and Kucinich and all of the people on the left for it.
CARLSON: But you just heard the representative—the Washington director of MoveOn.org, which is about as pure left an organization—I think an organization with some integrity. I disagree with them, but they are about ideas more than politics, most of the time. And yet, he was essentially making excuses for her vote, because they want to win in the end. They‘re Machiavellian at their core.
BUCHANAN: Well, they‘re thinking, look, this could be our nominee. We don‘t want to get hurt. We will give you a pass. We all want to win the White House. Half our good people went the wrong way, and now, as long as we all get together, -- but not everybody will do that.
CARLSON: Well, speaking of principles, how can John McCain, who ran as the reform candidate in 2000, who has spent the last 15 or 20 years of his career pushing campaign finance reform as an answer for all that ails Washington, how can he do what the “Washington Post” piece pointed out this Sunday, how can he take money, Frank, from these donors who he has criticized in the past for giving money to independent expenditures, basically going outside the campaign finance reform system, basically playing dirty politics, by his definition, and now they‘re officials in his campaign, how can he do that?
DONATELLI: Well, I think there‘s two things. Number one is, McCain/Feingold applied only to soft money. It didn‘t apply to hard money. McCain‘s crusade has always been against soft money. Indeed, in the McCain/Feingold legislation itself, which I disagreed with, they doubled the amount of hard money. So McCain has always made a distinction between soft and hard money.
Secondly, as I understand it, the further problem with soft money, as he saw it, was that it was not disclosed anywhere. These 527s, until very recently, did not have to disclose. All of the hard money has to be disclosed. So, I must say, I think it is a little hit and run, as far as the Post is concerned.
CARLSON: But wait a second, OK, less than 2000 years ago McCain and Feingold filed a friend of the court brief against this 527, independent political group, to which the head of Univision had donated millions and millions and millions of dollars. So basically McCain shows up in court to argue against this group. The main donor to the group is now a finance co-chairman of McCain‘s campaign.
BUCHANAN: Well this is, as Jerry Brown around Proposition 13 time, that was then and now is now. So, he just switched. Look, you know what he‘s doing, is McCain is saying, look, I have got to win this election. This is a 100 million dollar operation to get the nomination. Now you got two guys, Giuliani and Romney, who both can raise it and I‘ve got to get these kind of guys in the ball game, and that is that.
And I think, frankly, there is no doubt about it. You know, I see a real inconsistency between what he was doing and what he was preaching, but what he‘s saying now, I want to be president of the United States. This is what I‘ve got to do.
CARLSON: Well actually, I am on McCain‘s side in the sense that I think you ought to be able to take money from anybody you want, in any amount you want, as long as it is disclosed. I think this campaign finance stuff is ridiculous. However, it goes to the center of who McCain said he was. That‘s the problem I have with it. He said I am a reformer on the Teddy Roosevelt model. Washington is more corrupt even than you know, and I am here to clean it up. He can‘t run that campaign again, can he?
DONATELLI: Well, but again, don‘t you see the distinction between taking 2,000 dollar, 2,300 dollar chunks of hard money, and having 100,000 dollar donations being used to influence 527s?
CARLSON: No, with all due respect, I don‘t see it, because he made the same moral issue. McCain said --
BUCHANAN: Is he going to take matching funds?
DONATELLI: I hope not.
BUCHANAN: No, see, he is blowing all of that stuff off.
DONATELLI: But that‘s not McCain/Feingold.
CARLSON: But I am talking about McCain the man. I am talking about the way McCain described himself as a Republican. The reform agenda was his agenda. Again, he was the one honest man. I am not saying he is dishonest. I‘m not saying he is doing anything wrong. He is doing what I would do. But he is doing exactly the opposite of what he urged others to do. That is my only point.
DONATELLI: How about the disclosure issue too, the fact that soft money, up until recently, was not disclosed, and the fact that now all the hard money has to be disclosed. I mean, I think that‘s the conservative position.
BUCHANAN: He feels that “Washington Post” piece—didn‘t he say it was the—
CARLSON: Worst hit piece he‘s ever seen.
BUCHANAN: -- he‘s ever seen. Well look, if what Frank is saying is true, that he is taking hard money, he‘s not going with matching funds, the guys he‘s brining in did do 527‘s, but they‘re not doing 527s for him, I don‘t know that there‘s a great inconsistency there.
CARLSON: I don‘t know. Look, if you say big tobacco is killing America, then don‘t hire tobacco lobbyists on your campaign. That‘s what I said to Al Gore when he hired Carter Esques (ph) in 2000. It just seems—
I don‘t know, it just seems phony to me. And I say that as someone who likes McCain and has voted for him. But, I am not impressed.
BUCHANAN: He wants to win.
CARLSON: Yes, well great. Coming up, the U.S. negotiates with North Korea, and voila, apparent success. We will touch on that and more in just a minute. We will be right back.
CARLSON: Nobody loves celebrities like the Clintons, and nobody loves the Clintons like celebrity. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Hillary Clinton asserted her support for U.S. intervention in Darfur. The genocide there is a human tragedy and, of course, a blight on the planet. It also happens to be a very fashionable cause in Hollywood at the moment.
As urgent as the problem is, can the U.S. actually fix it? Should we try? Here to examine the popular assumptions are two—I was about to say unpopular people—two deeply popular people, willing to challenge the popular, MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan, and Republican strategist and former Reagan White House political director, Frank Donatelli.
So Frank, the lesson of our Iraq, it seems to me is, do not wade into countries you do not understand, assuming you can make profound changes for the good. I would think liberals would understand that. Why are they pushing for intervention in Darfur?
DONATELLI: Well, there has always been a strain of pure
humanitarianism in places where liberals would like to intervene, and
Darfur fits that bill. It‘s a tragedy by anyone‘s reckoning. I‘m not sure
to speak bluntly, I do not know if there is a lot of strategic interest for the United States, besides the humanitarian. And that does appeal to a lot of liberals.
CARLSON: Just to make sure I understand what you‘re saying, it is appealing that there isn‘t a U.S. strategic interest there?
DONATELLI: Yes, but to be fair, the pure humanitarian tragedy that Darfur—with tens of thousands of people. Burundi and Rwanda would have been the same situation in another generation, generation previous. The main thing—the Bush administration has done a lot in Darfur on a diplomatic front. They have really pushed the parties very, very hard.
The real solution here is in the Arab League, in the African Union.
They could end this violence if they got their act together.
CARLSON: What was the last solution to anything to come out of the Arab League or the African Union?
DONATELLI: I can‘t think of one.
CARLSON: Good point, because I don‘t think there is one. Pat, how can you simultaneously argue that we ought to leave Iraq, and let the Iraqis eat each other, and they‘ll work out. The civil war will end once we leave. I‘ve had people sit in that exact chair and tell me that. How can you argue that, while at the same time arguing that we need to send troops, in one for or another, to Darfur to save people.
BUCHANAN: Well, you can‘t have any consistency there if you know what‘s going to happen in Iraq. What they say is they deny it. They think it‘s going to be like they felt Vietnam would be. As soon as we walk out, the war is over, this is wonderful. They didn‘t realize you‘ve got a genocide coming in Cambodia. And that is what will happen in Iraq.
There is no consistency. But I do agree with Frank, this is a horror show over there. But I don‘t think the United States has got to provide the troops to intervene. Really, the Europeans and these others do very little about these other things. And they ought to be responsible for dealing with situations like that, especially in Africa, where they were the colonial powers. And we would have to deal, as we did in Haiti, and places like that.
I mean, there‘s got to be a division of responsibility, and the Americans can‘t be the ones doing it all the time, and I don‘t think Darfur is primarily our responsibility. We ought to work with the U.N. on this.
CARLSON: The theme here, as always, is America guilty for everything, responsible for everything.
BUCHANAN: I remember Dean Rusk said, you know, there are some people who believe any time, any place in the world something goes wrong, it is somehow the fault of the United States of America.
CARLSON: Yes, they live on my street. I wonder if you saw the piece in the “Washington Post?”
BUCHANAN: That was my old neighborhood.
CARLSON: They do, they all live on my street. I‘m sure they‘re going to assault me when I get out of my car tonight at home. Rudy Giuliani, according to the “Washington Post,” goes to California, not so surprising that he is really popular with Republicans in that state. You don‘t think this suggest that, were he to be the nominee, California would be in play for Republicans, do you?
DONATELLI: It would be tough. I think California would be tough under any circumstances. If Giuliani were the nominee, I think New Jersey would be in play. I think maybe Connecticut would be in play, some of the northeastern states. I think Giuliani is more of a man of the northeast than he is California.
He has been well-received, even in conservative places, where he has campaigned all over the country. But again, let‘s just remember this, it is very, very early in the process. People know if Mr. Mayor, America‘s major, and the heroic response to 9/11. When the process continues, you know, these other issues that everyone that follows him know about, his social issue views, and so forth, are going to be part of the mix too. But he‘s an impressive guy and he‘s had a good run.
CARLSON: It could happen. I mean, in 1996 there were a lot of people running—you were, of course, one of them—but it was always Dole‘s to lose. In 2000, it was always Bush‘s to lose. Now, it seems—every week it seems more and more likely that Rudy Giuliani will be the nominee, and more and more conservative Republicans are saying, you know what, I could tolerate that.
BUCHANAN: I agree with Frank. You‘ve got 11 months to go. Look, I saw one survey where he had 70 percent approval, 14 percent disapproval. You cannot get through 11 months of primaries with those kinds of numbers. So he is coming down. He is going to come down in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and the only question is how far will he come down. He‘s not going to go any higher.
CARLSON: Is Hillary Clinton terrifying enough to justify his candidacy to conservative Republicans?
BUCHANAN: You will have to find out in the general election. I mean, if you nominate Hillary and you nominate Giuliani, I think a lot of conservatives might come home. But I‘ll tell you, down south, I mean, you take the personal baggage and all these things, pro-abortion, you know, not simply gun control, gay rights, marching and gay pride, and all this stuff. I mean, they won‘t abide that.
CARLSON: They seem to be abiding it though. I mean, quickly, are you hearing this too? I keep hearing from people who see Giuliani speak in the south that everybody, including the Baptist preachers, love him.
DONATELLI: Absolutely. But again, it is very, very early. Pat, the one group that won‘t forget though is the NRA.
CARLSON: Yes, good.
DONATELLI: And they thin that he is wrong on the gun issue, and so he‘s got a real problem.
BUCHANAN: They are very powerful on that up in New Hampshire. Do not mess with their guns. No, just the gun owners of New Hampshire.
CARLSON: Amen, gun owners unite. I‘m totally for that. Pat, Frank, thank you both.
Hollywood Al Gore warms up for the Academy Awards by making an appearance at the Grammies. Willie Geist tells us what on Earth the former vice president was doing on stage with Queen Latifa and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We‘re coming right back.
CARLSON: Joining us now, the best new vocalist in a musical comedy, Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And if only Al Gore would present me with that award, it would make my night. He‘s all over the place. It was a big night at the Grammys for opponents of the Bush administration. The Dixie Chicks, who have been banned from some country music stations for their ongoing Bush bashing, won five awards, including record and song of the year.
Meanwhile, the man who would be Bush, Al Gore was, for some reason, a presenter at the show. He was paired with Queen Latifa, naturally, to present the award for best rock album to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, another of his favorites. The ever hip Gore even hung out with the Chili Peppers at a hot after party in LA. He is really doing it up Tucker.
Apparently the irony was lost on the Grammy organizers of Al Gore presenting an award for music and rhythm. Have you ever seen this man clap at a campaign rally? Let‘s just say the next time claps on the beat will be the first time he ever does.
CARLSON: But I thought Gore and his wife were crusaders against obscenity in music and all that, or is that dating me?
GEIST: No, well sometimes he is, and sometimes he hangs out with Ludacris and Diddy and the boys. But, also, if you look at the clap from the Grammies, what‘s going on with—who claps like this? Let‘s cup the hands a little bit and get some—I don‘t know—
GEIST: He‘s really warming up for those Academy Awards. He is really working the after parties. He‘s going to be canoodling with Lindsay Lohan next time we look.
CARLSON: Something about that makes me sad.
GEIST: Yes, it is sad. Well, his friends, Gore‘s friends in the global warming business have already tried to convince us that wonderful warm weather is somehow a bad thing. And now those kill joys are even trying to spoil Valentines Day. A British environmental group says you‘re cliched gift of a dozen roses will help expedite the end to civilization as we know it.
Get this, here‘s the argument: the Carbon Dioxide emissions from the jumbo jets transporting roses from Holland and from Africa at this time of year contribute to climate change. Do you follow that Tucker? The group says each country should use home grown flowers, not ones that are flown in, to cut done on, quote, flower miles. They even have a name for it, flower miles. So Tucker, go ahead and get your wife those roses, but then just kiss your kids‘ future goodbye. You can‘t have it both ways.
CARLSON: Look, global warming, I‘m convinced it is real. It is getting warmer. But there is a deep anti-happiness agenda behind some of the politics here.
GEIST: I know. Well, also the argument here is a little bit thin, because kind of everything in the world works by jets now. So we couldn‘t have like food, for example.
CARLSON: Right, if you made that argument about Perrier, right do you
know what I mean, or Soy Late products—Right,
GEIST: That‘s right, everything, or like humanitarian aide missions to Africa, you know, stuff like that. Well, we are going to finish the show, Tucker, with some incredible video, and it‘s really evidence of a miracle. You are watching the nightmarish footage of a 25-year-old skydiver, barreling toward the Earth in New Zealand, after both of his parachutes had failed to open.
Michael Holmes spinning out of control there, after his shoots wouldn‘t open, and the entire ordeal captured by a cameraman in his group. Holmes chillingly waves to the camera, and you can‘t see him say this, but he later said, he said, I‘m dead, were his words. But his two-mile free fall ends right there in a blackberry bush, a blackberry bush that some how saved his life.
He suffered a punctured lung and a broken ankle, but he was out of the hospital in 11 days. He was knocked out. He blacked out, but actually got up and he was talked right after. Holmes, who‘s a veteran skydiver, says it was a one in a million freak accident, and he plans to go sky diving again as soon as he can. What else can you say Tucker? It‘s a miracle. I don‘t know. He fell two miles in a free fall and there he is. He got up and he was in the hospital for 11 days.
CARLSON: Yes, congratulations, I do think the fall may have affected his math skills, because I don‘t think skydiving accidents are, quote, one in a million.
GEIST: No, I don‘t think so.
CARLSON: There was—I remember reading in the 1960‘s a Russian stewardess who was blown out of the back of some kind of Russian plane that blew up or the tail fell off, or something, and she fell 37,000 feet into a snow bank and lived.
GEIST: It‘s amazing. And he said his helmet wasn‘t even scratched. And, you know, he was knocked out obviously. But a broken ankle and a punctured lung, I will take that after a two-mile fall. That‘s pretty good actually.
CARLSON: Are you kidding? I‘ve felt worse on Sunday mornings.
GEIST: I think I won‘t go sky diving though, just because of that now.
CARLSON: Willie Geist congratulations on your nomination Willie.
GEIST: Thank you, I appreciate it Tucker.
CARLSON: That does it for us. Thanks for watching. As always, up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. We‘ll see you tomorrow. Have a great night.
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