Guests: Steve McMahon, Dick Armey, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Rep. Ed Royce
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: President Bush is the most famous and powerful person on the planet today, and in some cases the most controversial. When he meets the press for some unscripted communication, it is, by definition, pretty compelling.
We‘ve got all the highlights of Bush‘s news conference this morning in just a minute. But first, a crime story from Capitol Hill.
Police were called to the Longworth House Office Building this week at the request of freshman Democrat Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Ellison had learned that the congressman next door, Tom Tancredo of Colorado, had lighted an actual cigar inside his personal office which, as you know, is a felony. Actually, it turns out it‘s not, as the cop who arrived on the scene tried to explain to Ellison.
Members of Congress are in fact allowed to have a cigar after work if they want. It‘s legal.
Well, Ellison didn‘t care. He demanded that the officer march into Congressman Tancredo‘s office and confront him anyway, which the officer did, sheepishly.
Now let‘s take three steps back here for a second. Somebody lights a cigar, so you call the police? You, my friend, are a hysterical little girl. Get some counseling. Quick.
And yet, Ellison isn‘t alone. Something about tobacco turns Democrats into bible-beating moralizers more self-righteous than Jerry Falwell ever thought of being.
One of the first things Democrats did when they took power this fall was ban smoking in public place in the Capitol Hill. They still haven‘t done anything about Iraq. To a lot of liberals, smoking isn‘t just a health problem—and it is—it‘s a moral crime, somewhere between genocide and driving a Chevy Suburban. They‘ll fight to the death for your right to commit partial-birth abortion, but light a cigar after work and they call the cops.
Get some perspective.
Well, joining us now, two with some actual perspective on the president‘s performance and the rest of the day‘s news.
We welcome former House majority leader Dick Armey, who is chairman of freedomworks.com, an organization that promotes lower taxes and less government, thank god, and the renowned Democratic strategist Steve McMahon.
Welcome to you both.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thank you.
CARLSON: Well, you both saw the president‘s press conference this morning, Steve, in which he made the same point a couple—maybe three times.
MCMAHON: He‘s been making the same point now I think for about five years.
CARLSON: Well, he has. He has. Though actually...
MCMAHON: Not to great effect, by the way.
CARLSON: If I can say, it was interesting. And I‘ll just start with this—the president did not mention anywhere in the press conference democracy in Iraq or the Iraqi constitution. It does seem like everybody has kind of given up on the notion that spreading democracy in the Middle East is a good idea.
Don‘t you think that‘s true?
MCMAHON: I hope—I hope that‘s true. I mean, it doesn‘t seem to be taking, if that‘s the goal. And if that‘s the goal, we could be there for 1,000 years.
I mean, the president obviously has a problem there, and I think he‘s trying to dig his way out. He might start by listening to the bipartisan commission that‘s recommended a phased withdrawal. He might start by recognizing the election results where the American people said pretty clearly it‘s time to get the troops home.
CARLSON: Yes, they did. With that in mind...
MCMAHON: He‘s pretty intent on doing just the opposite.
CARLSON: ... that‘s what I was so struck by that.
I will say, Congressman, I think the American people are dissatisfied with Iraq. The president today he was.
Democrats were elected to do something about it, and yet—and Bush pointed this out three or four—three times this morning—they in the Senate confirmed General David Petraeus, the guy in charge of, you know, working out the plan they hate so much. They voted to confirm him unanimously. Why would they do that?
DICK ARMEY ®, FMR. HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, it‘s very much of a dilemma. Let me say, first of all, about Iraq, I think the whole nation is just sort of sitting there saying, we don‘t want any more cheese. We just want out of the trap.
ARMEY: We want to get out of here, find a way to—you know, manage a way to resolve this, get our folks out, and then leave some semblance of order behind, if it‘s at all possible. It is a dilemma for everybody.
I think the Democrats confirmed a man that they thought was probably as competent as any available to them. They—they‘re not happy with where we are.
They see a political moment, and that‘s kind of the shameful part of it. But, you know, I mean, wouldn‘t it be wonderful if the Democrats were the only people that committed politics in America? Unfortunately, it‘s a sin that you find on both sides of the aisle.
But they are right now, I think, trying to exploit a national dissatisfaction with this for political purposes. It doesn‘t make them as attractive as they might otherwise be. Yet, they said, let us now take our opportunity granted to us by the voters to really assert some leadership here with some creative thinking and maybe some courage about how to resolve these issues. Instead, they have decided to limit the debate to battering Bush.
It‘s a political debate. I wish it could have been more.
CARLSON: Well, it‘s interesting. The one subject that has kind of been playing out against this backdrop of the debate over the debate over the debate over the non-binding resolution that means nothing is this question of Iran. And the president said again today we have evidence that this elite unit within the Revolutionary Guard, part of the Iranian government, has been arming insurgents, fighting against our soldiers, killing our soldiers in Iraq.
What do Democrats say to that? I mean, do they not believe it? Do they believe it and want to ignore it?
MCMAHON: First, one of the tragedies of what‘s happened in Iraq is what‘s happened to the president‘s own credibility. So he now comes forward—and it may be true that everything he‘s saying is actually occurring, but the first question is one of credibility. Not just with Democrats, Tucker, but, frankly, with the American people.
There are a lot of people out there who believe the president is trying to set the table to go to war in Iran. Now, I don‘t know how we in the world he would do that given the—given the condition of the troops and the fact that...
CARLSON: Well, wait a second.
MCMAHON: ... we have so many pinned down in Iraq.
CARLSON: Isn‘t it sort of irresponsible not to evaluate the facts and the charges as they appear? We‘re not talking about the president, we‘re talking about hundreds of thousands of people who work for the executive branch of the United States government are, in one way or another, coming up with evidence that supports, or doesn‘t, this allegation that Iran is involved. I mean, it‘s not just Bush‘s credibility. It‘s the intelligence services, the military.
ARMEY: Let me mention something here.
ARMEY: The administration has a bit of a dilemma here because the principal source of the most confirmed, reliable information about Iranian armaments coming across into Iraq...
ARMEY: ... comes from an organization, an international organization of dissidents called AMEC. AMEC is an organization that the Clinton administration put on a list of undesirable people. They‘re considered a bit of an outlaw rogue I think unfairly, inaccurately.
So the dilemma for the administration is, we have on one hand a principal source of information consistently validated time and time again as reliable that is important to our defense. On the other hand, we‘re getting it from a group of people we don‘t want to...
CARLSON: But as far as I understand, the U.S. military has in its possession actual pieces of IEDs they say were made—high-tech IEDs that they say were made in Iran. I mean, they either have them or they don‘t. There they are. They‘re either lying or they‘re not.
I mean, you kind of have to deal with this allegation, don‘t you, at some point?
MCMAHON: Well, they have some evidence that there are IEDs that were made in Iran.
MCMAHON: There are two or three steps to go from made in Iran, to sanctioned by the Iranian government, to provided by the Iranian government. So, again, it‘s a case where the administration sadly, unfortunately, has used up all its credibility, if you will, and now, you k now, they come out with these claims. And frankly, there‘s not any great enthusiasm on Capitol Hill to go—to go into Iran anyway.
CARLSON: No, there‘s not.
MCMAHON: And so, you know, there‘s not a lot of options, frankly, on the table to begin with. And none of them look very appealing.
CARLSON: Well, it is sad, because this actually could be a big deal.
I was struck by—speaking of a new tone and a chastened president, I was struck by response to the question, wait a second, Western Europe is still doing business with Iran, we want to pose sanctions on the, and for business reasons, the Europeans are ignoring our requests that they cut off business relations. Here‘s the president‘s response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Commercial interests are very powerful interests throughout the world, and part of the issue in convincing people to put sanctions on a specific country is to convince them that it‘s in the world‘s interest that they forego their own financial interest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: God. Are you surprised, Congressman, by the gentleness of that? I mean, he could just say, you know, as he‘s essentially said before, these are amoral, cheese-eating, surrender monkeys who aren‘t interested in world peace. And instead, he is kind of making apologizes for the French and the Brits and all people who are doing business with Iran.
ARMEY: Well, my own view is he‘s probably trying to find a way to persuade some nation States to join us in an effort, be, as it were, a rounder commercial interest. And he wants to be gentle on that subject right now in the efforts to do so.
It is a frustration. We will see this in many part of the world today, where, for humanitarian purposes, we might want to do something, say, in Sudan, but we have the Chinese interfering because of their commercial interest. So it is a difficult thing to get nation States, individuals and organizations to rise above their self-interest and act on part of the public interest. It‘s difficult for great nations, it‘s difficult for political parties.
CARLSON: I know. But you think Iran getting a bomb—I mean, I think everyone agrees that‘s bad. You would think.
Coming up, one of the effects of the president‘s news conference today was distraction from the House debate on the war in Iraq. That debate did go on, though, and we are joined by a House member in just a moment to talk about it.
Plus, it‘s Valentine‘s Day, and a lot of people have a crush on Barack Obama. But not everyone. Does today‘s “New York Times” op-ed page signify the end of the honeymoon? And was it consummated?
We‘ll tell you.
CARLSON: Time now to check “The Obameter.”
There is no love like young love. The kind of love much of the Democratic Party feels for Barack Obama. But “New York Times” columnist Maureen Dowd, whose most recent bestseller questioned the necessity of men, took some of the bloom off love‘s rose in a column about Obama today.
To discuss Obama and the press, we welcome back former House majority leader Dick Armey of freedomworks.com and Democratic strategist Steve McMahon.
This is just so great, Steve, I have to say. I have not enjoyed Maureen Dowd...
MCMAHON: And on Valentine‘s Day.
CARLSON: I know.
MCMAHON: What‘s up with the timing?
CARLSON: It was—I think it was 1998 since I enjoyed a Maureen Dowd column or even read one this much.
Here‘s what she says about Barack Obama.
She followed him around and watched him on three separate occasions become indignant because the press was focusing on a series of photographs of him coming out of the surf in Hawaii wearing swim trunks. And the idea is that we‘re very, very shallow in the press, unlike Barack Obama, who‘s very, very deep, to which she said, “He poses for the cover of ‘Men‘s Vogue‘ and then gets huffy when people don‘t treat him as Hannah Arendt, the famous—the famous philosopher.
I mean, there is a kind of phoniness here, don‘t you think, accusing us of being shallow?
MCMAHON: I don‘t think there‘s a phoniness at all. I think this is part of the natural progression of becoming—going from being a Senate candidate in Illinois running against Alan Keyes, to being a candidate for president of the United States, running against a very, very talented field on both sides of the aisle.
And, you know, he‘s—he‘s evolving as a candidate. I think, frankly, he‘s done a remarkably good job. He‘s gotten a pretty good ride from the press.
Probably, it‘s not a very good strategy to be engaging or bickering with the press. He ought to just enjoy the ride. He‘s doing fine.
CARLSON: Let me just read another line. It says, “For a man who couldn‘t wait to inject himself into the national arena, who has spent so much time writing books about himself, Obama is oddly put off by press inquisitiveness.”
ARMEY: Well, it is a little thin-skinned on his part. And I think we ought to tell him, you know, there‘s an old saying in Texas, you can‘t hunt with a big dog dressed (ph) in a swim suit.
CARLSON: Is that on old saying in Texas?
ARMEY: That‘s an old thing to say.
MCMAHON: As of now it is.
ARMEY: But you know, look, I think he made a—from what I read earlier, a campaign strategy to live off his ceremonial adequacy for as long as he could, and he understood politics is quite superficial. So, I mean, he—right now he‘s got a great (INAUDIBLE) for ceremonial adequacy and he hasn‘t had to say something with any depth or conviction on any of the serious issues of our time.
If he wants the press to quit talking about what he looks like in a swimming suit, then he ought to say, I have a real plan about retirement security in America. I know how we can correct the frailties of the tax system. Let me tell you about my healthcare plan.
Say something substantive and I‘ll bet the press will respond.
CARLSON: Boy, I can‘t—I mean—but—I mean, I agree with you, that would be the honorable thing to do, and we would enjoy it, because we could pick apart the substance rather than just, you know, the flash. But is that the wise choice?
As Karl Rove pointed out the other day...
MCMAHON: No, it‘s not.
CARLSON: Right. This campaign is starting earlier than any other campaign.
MCMAHON: That‘s right.
CARLSON: There‘s going to be a campaign fatigue that sets in.
Shouldn‘t he continue to just kind of float along as long as he can?
MCMAHON: I mean, I think Congressman Armey is ultimately correct.
CARLSON: Yes, of course.
MCMAHON: He‘s going to have to do all the things. But for as long as he can float above it all, for as long as he can offer hope while everyone else is offering policy papers or white papers, I think it benefits him.
I mean, this is—this is a man who is in this race to inspire America, to offer a different kind of politics. It‘s not the politics of incrementalism, where one plus one plus one equals three and, therefore, you should vote for me. It‘s the politics of hope. It‘s the hope for change.
CARLSON: It‘s the new math. It‘s the one plus one plus one equals a million.
MCMAHON: This country—this country is desperate. And he wants to be John Kennedy, not Bill Clinton. And I don‘t just say it pejoratively, because Bill Clinton was a very effective, successful politician.
CARLSON: Right. He was a...
MCMAHON: But he doesn‘t feel like he‘s going to get there by out-Hillaryring Hillary. He feels like he‘s going to get there by offering a different kind of candidacy and different kind of campaign. He may be right, he may be wrong, but that‘s his strategy.
CARLSON: It‘s a campaign against cynicism. Down with cynicism.
Coming up, he is both ridiculous and he‘s terrifying. He is Kim Jong-Il of North Korea. And he says he will give up his nuclear program. Has the Bush administration won a victory for the world, or has it been suckered by “Little Kim”?
We‘ll tell you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER HOEKSTRA ®, MICHIGAN: Do any of us really believe that the resolution in front of us today is a serious piece of legislation? Does it properly recognize all of America‘s military and other national security professionals who defend us day and night?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Rhetorical battle lines have been drawn in the House of Representatives on the direction of the Iraq war. President Bush‘s supporters warn of disaster if the U.S. withdraws from Iraq, while his detractors just want out.
Here with her view of the war and the debate in her chamber of Congress, Democratic congresswoman from Texas Sheila Jackson-Lee.
Congresswoman, thanks a lot for joining us.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON-LEE (D), TEXAS: Tucker, it‘s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
CARLSON: You just heard your colleague Mr. Hoekstra say that this legislation, this non-binding resolution, is not very serious. I want to read the key line here, and I want you to say whether you think this is serious.
“Congress disapproves of the decision President Bush announced on January 10 to deploy more than 20,000 additional troops into Iraq.”
We disapprove. That doesn‘t sound very serious to me.
JACKSON-LEE: I think, Tucker, what wasn‘t serious is our president some two years or so ago taking a political sound bite and making it national policy. And that is his one statement claiming three nations as “axis of evil.” That probably was history‘s greatest political blunder and certainly greatest presidential blunder.
Today we have—and yesterday and tomorrow—we have serious activities on the floor of the House, and I congratulate our leadership, Nancy Pelosi and—the speaker of the House—and the majority leader, Hoyer, for allowing this very thoughtful debate to go forward. It is not unserious, if you will, and the reason is if this particular resolution passed, it will send a resounding message to the president that the United States Congress, in a serious debate, is not supportive of a failed escalation.
We have surged before. We surged two years ago when we had some 500, if you will, insurgents and 500 terrorists maybe, and 5,000 insurgents, and then we surged again when we had 5,000 terrorists and 15,000 insurgents. And we all did this in the—in the spirit of suggesting that this was going to help us end the violence in Iraq. And that‘s not happened.
CARLSON: Right. OK. OK.
So if we begin a phased redeployment, if we begin bringing the troops out of Iraq, the president says, as he said today, the government would collapse, chaos would spread, there would be a vacuum, into that vacuum would flow more extremists, radicals, people with the stated intent to hurt Americans. That‘s almost a verbatim quote from the president.
Do you disagree with that, if we leave there won‘t be chaos, there won‘t be genocide, there won‘t be a haven for terrorists created?
JACKSON-LEE: Well, Tucker, there is genocide, there is chaos, there is violence now. The president‘s message is stale. His policies are stale.
JACKSON-LEE: Frankly, what we need are new ideas.
CARLSON: OK. But let‘s just start...
JACKSON-LEE: We do not—we do not want failure in Iraq.
CARLSON: But with all due respect, Congresswoman, can you just answer that question?
JACKSON-LEE: We don‘t want failure in Iraq.
CARLSON: OK. I don‘t think anybody does.
JACKSON-LEE: No. But let me suggest to you...
CARLSON: It‘s bad enough. Do you believe it would get worse when American troops leave? A simple question.
JACKSON-LEE: No, because I don‘t believe that the policies the Democrats are representing are having American troops leave in order to make it worse. We have alternatives. And let me suggest one.
JACKSON-LEE: First of all, you know that I‘ve offered House Resolution 930 which claims the troops—and that is that there has been a successful effort by the United States military, and to thank them for their service and to begin deploying them and finish the redeployment by October of 2007 of this year. So it‘s a measured redeployment.
But what it really talks about is what the president has failed to do, what his ambassadors failed to do, what the secretary of state has failed to do, is to force the Iraqi government to take the responsibility of political reconciliation. And so I ask for the appointment of a special envoy specifically for surging the diplomacy.
JACKSON-LEE: Bringing together the Kurds, the Sunnis, and the Shiites. We have not done that. This violence, by our own intelligence, is one of a civil war. No, our soldiers cannot solve a civil war.
CARLSON: OK. Congresswoman, I‘m not—OK.
But let‘s say when we leave you‘re wrong and things don‘t get better, and there‘s not this kind of magical political solution, and the civil war becomes more intense, as I‘m sure you‘ll agree it could. It could become much more intense.
What do we do then? Do we sit back and watch it and watch hundreds of thousands of people kill each other?
JACKSON-LEE: Well, Tucker, suppose we surge and see thousands and thousands of American troops being killed and nothing improves. Obviously, we would respond differently. And if this was to occur, we would encourage our allies, we would work with our allies, we would be redeployed to the borders and be able to assist if necessary.
But I would suggest to you that the Iraqi government has a lot more inside of its deep pockets to ensure the security of its people than it‘s allowing itself to do. It must utilize Iraqi national forces.
JACKSON-LEE: It must utilize the Iraqi police forces.
They have got to do the job, and they‘re not doing it because we are their crutch. They‘re relying upon us, and they‘re not moving forward as leaders of government should.
CARLSON: Given all our disappointments in Iraq, and assuming that we‘ve learned some lessons from the tragedies there over the past four years, why in the world would we ever commit a single American soldier or diplomat on the ground in Darfur, as I believe you suggested? Wouldn‘t—
I mean, isn‘t that a recipe for disaster? And moreover, if we are so concerned about the bloodshed in Darfur, why are Democrats so seemingly unconcerned about the bloodshed that would take place in Iraq once we leave?
I don‘t understand what the principle is.
JACKSON-LEE: I think you raise a very good question. And I think the premise is wrong.
Democrats are very concerned about the bloodshed in Iraq. We have seen the lives of our soldiers laid down for the Iraqi people. Much blood has been shed in Iraq, and what we are saying is it‘s time now for the Iraqi that represents the Iraqi people to surge forward on diplomacy, to cease the civil war.
In the instance of Darfur, we are being called in to by a collaborative effort. The world wants a cessation of the violence in Iraq. We‘re collaborators in Iraq.
We are pushing the United Nations Security Council to be more effective. We‘re pushing the African Union soldiers to be more effective. And therefore, United States effort in Sudan would be a collaborative effort. It would be a humanitarian effort.
That is not the case that we have here. This is a bloody civil war that United States military cannot...
CARLSON: Well, of course it‘s a humanitarian effort, Congresswoman.
I mean, let‘s just—you know what?
JACKSON-LEE: ... cannot be an effective tool.
CARLSON: Hold on. I‘m sorry, you can over-talk me, but that‘s just not true.
We‘ve spent billions of dollars trying to rebuild the country, giving food aid, rebuilding the electrical grid, the oil distribution pipelines. I mean, of course this is a humanitarian effort.
JACKSON-LEE: I‘m glad you said that.
CARLSON: It may be failing...
JACKSON-LEE: I‘m glad you said that, Tucker. And it is a failed seeping hole.
JACKSON-LEE: Do you know that we have spent $9 billion to Iraq that we‘ve lost and cannot find?
CARLSON: Yes. I‘m fully aware. I‘m not defending it.
JACKSON-LEE: So it hasn‘t gotten to the Iraqi people.
CARLSON: I‘m just worried the same thing could happen in Darfur.
That‘s all I‘m saying.
JACKSON-LEE: Well, I think the—it is strongly distinctive. And I think the real question for the president is to ask the Iraqi government to begin to address their civil war. And in the instance of the Darfur situation, there are not Darfurians who are prepared to defend themselves as Iraqis are prepared to defend themselves.
JACKSON-LEE: And therefore, it is a need for large humanitarian help. That‘s why we‘re supporting a collaborative effort in Sudan, unlike the effort in Iraq, which is not collaborative.
Sheila Jackson-Lee, congresswoman from Texas.
Thanks a lot, Congresswoman.
JACKSON-LEE: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
CARLSON: Coming up, remember this guy? John Edwards is talking as loudly and as clearly as he is capable of, but are voters listening? And should they listen?
We‘ll tell you.
Plus, it is Valentine‘s Day all over the world, and that includes here in Washington. Can love blossom across the aisle? The question of bipartisan romance up for discussion next. Watch it with someone you love and agree with.
CARLSON: He‘s the third wheel in the race for the Democratic nomination for president, but John Edwards is huffing and puffing, and trying to elbow his way back into the conversation. Today Edwards released his comprehensive plan for American involvement, or de-involvement, in Iraq. Here to discuss its merits, or not, former House majority leader and current chairman of FreedomWorks.com, Dick Army, and Democratic strategist of some great renowned, Steve McMahon.
Here‘s the essence of the Edwards plan. I want to read it to you: by leaving Iraqi, the Iraqi people, regional powers and the entire international community will be forced to engage in a search for a political solution that will end the sectarian violence and create a stable Iraq.
In other words Steve, we leave and everything is going to be great.
Bush has never said this anything this faith based, ever.
MCMAHON: No, he‘s done some other things.
CARLSON: That‘s kind of demented, isn‘t it, a little bit? We leave and—all those fears you have, once we leave, they will all be better, just magically.
MCMAHON: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
CARLSON: I‘m not defending Bush.
MCMAHON: There are thoughtful people are out there, and John Edwards is one, who are proposing a different path, and some of them are Republicans by the way. Jim Baker, I think, is not a rabid, crazy Democrat, and he thinks that the solution in Iraq is largely a diplomatic one, a political one, if you will. It involves engaging countries that the president would prefer not to acknowledge the existence of, Iran and Syria being two, and actually coming up with a regional solution.
I think we have demonstrated that we are probably not the best arbiters of peace in Iraq. We‘re not the people who are going to bring it there and maybe it‘s time to try something different.
CARLSON: I just think there‘s this kind of weird unwillingness on the part of Democrats to address what would happen if we actually did what they are suggesting we do, which is to leave? So what happens then?
Here‘s what Edwards says, congressman, he says, “we should not leave behind any permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq,” as if we have no compelling interest in Iraq. We will always have interest there.
ARMEY: It‘s a line of thought. You‘re kind of betting who is right.
Am I right or is the other guy right? Within the Democrat party—I‘ve
listened to a lot of the debates—I think I‘ve discerned this correctly -
a lot of people who feel like our presence there is such an aggravation that it results in a recruiting of people to violence against the west. There‘s a lot of thought that says the Americans are the great enablers. The Iraqi government doesn‘t accept its responsibilities. Other nation states won‘t accept theirs because we‘re there letting them off the hook.
And I think what he is saying here is, let‘s test this theory, let‘s us pull out of there, say, all right, we‘re done, and see, does the Iraqi government rise to the occasion? Do the French rise up? It‘s a test.
CARLSON: That‘s an interesting point of view though, that we‘re the splinter that is causing the infection in the region. Given that, how do you make sense of the next paragraph of Edwards‘ plan. After withdrawal Edwards believes that sufficient forces should remain in the region to contain the conflict. Now where in the region? In Kuwait? In Saudi Arabia? In Turkey? If our presence destabilizes the region, why the hell would we remain in the region, and are these countries in the region, whatever that means, really anxious to have our troops show up and wait there in their Humvees with their 50 caliber machine guns.
MCMAHON: Well, first of all we do have some terrorist activity in the mountains of Afghanistan. I would remind you that Osama bin Laden is still on the loose fight years later, and I think the Democrats are smart enough to recognize that pulling the troops out of Iraq is a calculated gamble. As Congressman Armey just said, it‘s sort of like are we right or is he right. We‘ve given him five years to figure out that he‘s wrong, and he hasn‘t figured it out yet, but we have.
Now the question is, are we going to try something else and do we do a phased withdrawal, do we redeploy troops.
CARLSON: But where, redeploy them to where?
MCMAHON: Outside of Iraq.
CARLSON: To where? There are all these countries, these sovereign countries that border Iraq. I love this, in the region—these are almost always people who have never been to the region, but what does that mean? Where specifically? The Saudis don‘t want us. The Kuwaitis, we have a lot of troops in Kuwait right now. Any more, we could destabilize the country.
MCMAHON: Do you know why there‘s not a place in the region that really welcomes Americans, because of what this president has done with American foreign policy, and because of the way he‘s isolated this country. We could find countries in the region that would take our troops.
CARLSON: Part of the region is because we are Christians and Jews and they hate us for that.
MCMAHON: But there are people in the region who recognize the instability that we‘re causing. And they would like us out of Iraq as much as most Americans would.
ARMEY: Before I get accused by all my friends of having signed on to this plan, let me just say, I think one of the things that some of the military have said, sort of still stinging over how things ended in Vietnam, what they argue is, if you‘re going to be there at all, then have your presence by definitive, and I think the possible—the point the president is making is, alright we are going to do a surge. We‘re going to create a defining create, from which we can stipulate conditions that will prevail upon our departure.
Again, are you going to take a bet on that? The one thing that I always end up with, we have one commander in chief. He has the authority. He has the responsibility. And he can command the resources. So to some extent, you have to bet that the Bush theory will be actually tested and this other theory—
MCMAHON: Would you bet on it, congressman? Would you bet on it?
ARMEY: You know, I thought about that and I talked to a couple of my friend in the House today about they might vote. I think right now, we‘d probably have to bet on the president‘s plan. I‘m not happy about it. It‘s not a good bet you have to make.
CARLSON: Well no one is happy about it, but the other side seems—the downside is so profound, and whenever you see someone who‘s unwilling to really consider the consequences of his actions, as Democrats are now. Democrats now are like Bush was in 2003. You‘d say, well what if this goes wrong. He‘d say, it‘s not going to go wrong, moron.
Democrats are acting exactly the same way now. Everything will be fine as seen as we leave. Where is the empirical evidence for that?
MCMAHON: There is no empirical evidence for anything that we‘re doing over there. So the question is, do we want to keep doing what we‘re doing, and keep meeting the same result. By the way, is the surge really a surge? We are taking the troops levels now back to 158,000 or so troops, which is where we were three years ago, or four years ago.
CARLSON: I would rather keep doing what we‘re doing than have a war between nine countries in the Middle East.
MCMAHON: There already is and there has been for a thousand years.
CARLSON: No there isn‘t. No there isn‘t. It could be much worse.
MCMAHON: That‘s why John Edwards‘ plan, for instance, the one that
you‘re kicking the crap out of right now, would move the troops out of
Iraq, but not necessarily our of the region. rMD+IN_rMDNM_
CARLSON: Right, they would go destabilize a lot of other countries.
MCMAHON: So that if you‘re right, and if there‘s this terrible civil war, and if other countries don‘t step in and can‘t keep the peace, then perhaps there is some role for the United States, but it would be part of a global force, as opposed to an occupying force.
CARLSON: Because are very interested—
CARLSON: Let me go through a couple quick political topics, because I have two political geniuses on the set. I want to know what you think. California apparently has voted to move their primary up to February. This seems like a snore, seems very boring, this will help define, will it not congressman, who is chosen president?
ARMEY: Yes it will. The states do this because they want to be relevant. It‘s cracking me up a little bit, poor little old California needs to move their primary up so they can feel like they‘re relevant to the process. This again is politics. Politics, by definition, is either silly or delinquent, one or the other, so any political decision you make, even the people at the helm in California, in this instance, to me, they‘re looking silly enough they ought to save themselves the embarrassment.
CARLSON: Yes, but they‘re going to do it and it‘s going to make it pretty hard to—
MCMAHON: If they do that it‘s a very significant advantage for Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
CARLSON: And do you think it‘s a deal killer for Barack Obama and John Edwards?
MCMAHON: No, I don‘t. I actually think John Edwards is much stronger than you do because of his position in Iowa and South Carolina, two of the early four primary states.
CARLSON: And I think he‘s very talented, as well, politically.
ARMEY: He‘s put himself here, by the way, in an enviable situation. There‘s no place better for a politician to be. The guy with the plan that never got tested, so that when things go bad, he can always say, if they had tried it my way, we‘d have made it.
CARLSON: Now, in the minute we have left, since it is Valentines Day, do mixed political marriages work?
MCMAHON: You would have to ask James Carville and Mary Matelin. My marriage is between a moderate Democrat and a very liberal beautiful, wonderful, talented woman, who you know, so mine is mixed, but it‘s sort of left and far left. I don‘t really know.
CARLSON: Do you know people, apart from James Carville and Mary Matelin, who have happy, enduring marriages where the participants don‘t agree politically?
ARMEY: No. You know, I really don‘t. My wife and I have had 10 years during the time I was in office. For ten years we had some heartfelt differences of opinion on some key issues. We always managed, because we loved each other so much to get by that, but we were both always Republicans. I was a correct thinking Republicans. She was a bit misguided Republican, for a while. But now we are in perfect agreement.
MCMAHON: Does she support the surge?
ARMEY: Now, of course, I‘m going to go home tonight and sleep on the couch for what I just said.
CARLSON: Are you the one who came to understand the true faith or was she?
ARMEY: It think it was a couple of opinions where she, in fact, came to my position. Right now, we have a bit of a difference of opinion for example, on Iraq. I think she has got a little bit different insight. I think you have to understand, everybody has the right and the privilege to be your own person and respect one another in that. I don‘t know whether I could be successful married to a Democrat. I‘ve had a tough time just talking to him over here.
CARLSON: Well you‘ve done well today. Thank you. Congressman Dick Armey, Steve McMahon, thank you very much.
Coming up, if Kim Jong-Il actually does dump his nukes, will the Bush administration be able to pull the same trick with hostile Iranian Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? We‘re joined by a key member of Congress on that question next. Plus, Al Gore‘s global warming epic runs into a problem with regional freezing. The irony files, stay tuned for details of an inconvenient blizzard and the trouble it caused the movie. We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I changed the dynamic on the North Korean issue by convincing other people to be at the table with us, on the theory that the best diplomacy is diplomacy in which there is more than one voice, that has got an equity in the issue, speaking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: That was President Bush earlier today patting his administration on the back for its apparent success in denuking the rogue lunatic dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-Il, but can we trust a man who once claimed to have shot 38 under par the very first time he played golf? Here with his insight is the ranking member on the subcommittee on International Terrorism and Non-Proliferation, Republican Congressman from California Ed Royce. Congressman, thanks for coming on.
REP. ED ROYCE (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you Tucker.
CARLSON: North Korea is a country that has resisted many efforts over the years to get it to disarm in one way or another. They cheated the Soviets basically in the 1980s. Of course they famously hood-winked the Clinton administration. Why do we think they‘ll abide by this?
ROYCE: Well, I am skeptical and they are untrustworthy, but the United States has figured out a new strategy here. And it what it has to do is to take their banking system, which is run through Macao, China, and we created a run on that bank, we basically froze their assets by pointing out they were counterfeiting 100 dollar bills.
At the same time, we put pressure on China to cut off the energy, pressure on South Korea to cut off the rice, and pressure on Russia to cut off the fertilizer. So now here we are a few months out and Kim Jong-Il can‘t pay his generals and he is getting desperate. And so right now we have a promise of a negotiation. We don‘t have a deal yet, but we have a promise of a deal.
Our goal here is to use the Libya model, the model that was successful with Moammar Qadhafi, and bring that kind of pressure and threats, in order to get compliance.
CARLSON: Why would John Bolton, who is obviously a former high ranking member of the administration, someone who worked on the question of North Korea for many years, he was held up by the president himself as a man of great judgment, he described this deal yesterday, he said it‘s a bad disappointing deal, and the best thing you can say about it is it will probably fall apart. Why would he say that?
ROYCE: Well, as I say, I‘m skeptical about the deal, and I‘m the one who raised the question with former Ambassador Bolton and he laid out exactly why it is problematic to believe that Kim Jong-Il will follow throw. What I‘m arguing is that the only way to make sure he does is to keep on the pressure, is to cut off the flow of funds of hard currency that go into that regime, and to continue to keep the pressure on other countries in the region, because that‘s the only thing that‘s going to get their attention.
Ultimately, I think the answer, as we‘ve discussed before Tucker, is simply to shut down their economy and implode that regime by cutting off their sources of illicit funds, that come through counterfeiting and drugs, and everything else.
CARLSON: Counter-fitting cigarettes in addition to selling methamphetamine and 100 dollar bills, as you know. The president today said that this deal will require the North Koreans, within 60 days, to shut down their primary nuclear facilities. Does that mean their secondary and tertiary facilities can remain open? What does that mean primary? It‘s kind of—
ROYCE: That means in 60 days the IAEA, the inspectors go in and look at the Yongbyon, at the main facility there, but subsequently, the administration is saying, there are other potential facilities that need to be inspected and that‘s to be negotiated down the road. Again, this is all problematic, but as along as we keep the pressure on, and they don‘t have the hard currency to develop their nuclear program, which we can cut off.
If they can‘t pay their generals and can‘t do their research and development, we can put the pressure on to freeze it. My hope is that we keep the backbone to keep the pressure on and don‘t start giving in and don‘t start giving them the wherewithal slip out of the noose.
CARLSON: Very quickly, congressman, do you have a moral problem with this, Negotiating with a madman like Kim Jong-Il. President Bush, for the first couple years of the administration, implied that we wouldn‘t even talk to people this evil, and yet we‘re negotiating with him now. Does that bother you?
ROYCE: Well Tucker, you know my position, in terms of how I think that the regime should be brought down, but given the fact that the administration has embarked now on an approach which is applying the types of tactics that I wanted to see deployed against the regime, if they negotiate at the same time, and can get to that goal, I am going to give them that breathing room, as long as they continue to keep the pressure up. We will have a hearing in two weeks where we will be looking in greater detail at the arrangements that are being made, to make certain that they hold up.
CARLSON: Good for you, Congressman Ed Royce of California. Thanks a lot congressman.
ROYCE: Tucker, thank you.
CARLSON: Here‘s a question, what‘s the best move to use when you‘re begin pinned in a wrestling match? Well, the one where your dad storms out of the bleachers to rough up your opponent. Willie Geist shows us a family game of tag team wrestling when we come right back.
CARLSON: He‘s tyrannical. He‘s despotic. He rules with an Iron hand. He may be deranged. And he has nuclear weapons. He is Willie Geist, and he joins us now.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: What are you going to do about Tucker? Nothing! That‘s exactly what I thought. You know Tucker, I have a little report from the irony file for you. A screening of Al Gore‘s global warming movie “Inconvenient Truth” canceled at Maryville University in St. Louis last night because the globe wasn‘t very warm. A snowstorm knocked out the screening. So, not much to it, but just a little bit of irony for you.
CARLSON: It made my day.
GEIST: I‘m sure it did. Well, in other Valentines Day news Tucker, it can certainly be a miserable holiday if you don‘t have special someone to share it with. Apparently these angry gals in Cashmere don‘t have a special someone this year. I can‘t imagine why. They are part of a women‘s group that held a rally today in Cashmere‘s ancient capital city to protest Valentine‘s Day. The fun includes Valentine‘s Day card burning and the always festive chanting of anti-American slogans.
The group says the holiday is just another example of the West‘s unwanted influence on the rest of the world. Tucker, are they really threatened by Valentine‘s Day? This is a holiday where we buy each other Teddy bears that have birth certificates. This is progress? Our civilization is slipping. You are winning. Don‘t you see?
CARLSON: You know, it‘s funny, watching that video made me want to resign my membership in the Episcopal church and join whatever religion they are involved in, because it looks fun. You know what I mean, burning Valentine‘s Day cards, that‘s my kind of religion.
GEIST: Oh my goodness. I think the hate is a little misguided. There is so much more to hate than Valentine‘s Day, a day of love, very sad.
CARLSON: Looks like a recruiting film.
GEIST: Well, there‘s no question that tag team wrestling obviously fun to watch. If you ever saw Jimmy “Super Fly” Snookus (ph) slap hands with Ricky Steamboat, you know what I‘m talking about. But I‘m pretty sure tag teaming with your dad is not allowed in the 11 year wrestling division. This disturbing home video shows the father racing to his son‘s aid in the middle of match the other night, and throwing the boy‘s opponent backwards off of him.
The man also, watch this, gives a theatrical yes, pointed at the camera, WWE style, just for good measure. He now says he is embarrassed by his actions. You know, it‘s a terrible deal. He immediately was embarrassed. The other dad, they got into it. But it does bring up an interesting idea, what if dads were allowed to tag team in kids wrestling? Wouldn‘t that make it a little more interesting?
CARLSON: It will be great. And have I to say—I mean, I‘m obviously against that, but the guy had some pretty good moves, pretty athletic for a dad.
GEIST: Yes, he was pretty good against the scrawny 11 year old, wasn‘t he. That is so pathetic. He is ashamed of himself and he ought to be.
Well, you know everybody, if you thought Tucker Carlson was an odd choice for “Dancing With The Stars,” how does the name Heather Mills sound to you? The estranged wife of Paul McCartney is reported to be one of the contestants for the show‘s upcoming season. Now, you remember Mills lost her leg in a 1993 motorcycle accident. That will certainly make competitive dancing a challenge. But there is hope, if she goes with the sit down choreography, pioneered by Tucker last season.
Tucker boldly challenged the stale conventions of Ball Room Dancing by taking legs completely out of equation. And it might work for her too. Just an idea, Tucker, what do you think?
CARLSON: Well, keep in mind, Willie, that it, in fact, didn‘t work for me.
GEIST: Oh, that‘s right. I didn‘t mean to bring that up again.
CARLSON: I don‘t really believe that Heather Mills is going to. I mean that does sound like the opening of a bad joke, but she will probably do better than I did. I‘ll give her that.
GEIST: As you know though, it‘s tough. I mean, all joking aside, you practice four hours a day. It‘s not easy. It‘s not going to be easy for her.
CARLSON: Tougher for some than for others. I was in the former category.
GEIST: That‘s right. I think I told you earlier today, Tucker, there was a guy in New York who brought the cast of “Dancing With The Stars” to his daughters bat mitzvah for like hundreds of thousands of dollars. I thought that was pretty obnoxious.
CARLSON: My only regret is that I wasn‘t asked. Willie Geist, thanks a lot Willie. That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Up next, “HARDBALL.” See you tomorrow. Have a great night.
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