Guests: A.B. Stoddard, Peter Fenn, Michael Capuano, Jean Twenge
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the show on this, blessedly, the final day of the short but somehow very long month of February.
As winter ends, a new poll shows Rudy Giuliani clobbering John McCain of a stunning margin of more than two to one. Have evangelicals decided that Rudy is their man? It sure looks that way.
Plus, Angelina Jolie reminds us of our moral responsibility to intervene in Darfur. But wait a second. What about Iraq? Haven’t we learned anything about intervening in other people’s civil wars?
Also, not only have America’s kids become egomaniacs, they have very little reason to be.
More on those stories in a minute. But first, an update on the travesty of Walter Reed Army Hospital.
Earlier this month, “The Washington Post” published a devastating series of stories on the substandard care many wounded Iraq veterans have received at was is supposed to be one of our nation’s bets military hospitals. Crumbling rooms, stifling bureaucracy, pointless and life-threatening delays in treatment—Walter Reed had them all.
The stories were a national embarrassment. How the Army has responded?
Well, according to today’s “Army Times,” patients at Walter Reed have now been told that form now on they’ll have to wake up at 6:00 a.m. every morning for room inspection. It’s a new regimen, and it looks a lot like punishment.
The patients have also been instructed not to talk to the media. At least two news documentaries on the Army hospital system have been canceled. According to the Pentagon, “It will be in most cases not appropriate to engage the media on anything having to do with military healthcare.”
Butt covering? Of course it is. It’s also deeply offensive. If anyone has earned the right to tell the truth in public, it is, of course, wounded veterans.
Congress will no doubt step in soon to protect these soldiers’ First Amendment rights, as it should. But the rest of us ought never to forget the first lesson of Walter Reed, and it’s this: A bureaucracy’s first and primary overriding instinct is always to protect itself, not to help you.
Well, joining me now, the associate editor of “The Hill” newspaper, A.B. Stoddard, and Democratic strategist and contributor to “The Hill’s Pundit’s Blog,” Peter Fenn.
Welcome to you both.
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: Now, starting with a caveat that early polls...
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, “THE HILL”: That I blog, as well as Peter...
CARLSON: You blog as well as Peter, that’s exactly right.
FENN: Twice as much as I do.
CARLSON: You’ve both got some free time.
Early polls, national polls in presidential races are not predictive most of the time. In fact, most of the time they are ridiculous, when you look at them five years later or so. But, trends are instructive.
I want to put up on the screen a poll that I thought was interesting. This is a “Washington Post”-ABC News poll that asks likely Democratic voters, “How do you feel about Hillary Clinton? How do you feel about Barack Obama?”
In January of ‘07, Hillary led 41-17. Today, February of ‘07, just a month later, the number is 36-24. Now, let’s break it down just one more step here.
This is a poll also by “Washington Post”-ABC that asks black Democratic voters, “How do you feel about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?” In January, 60 percent of black voters were for Hillary, 20 for Barack Obama. Today, only 33 for Hillary, 44 percent for Obama.
A.B., what’s interesting, Hillary has dropped 27 points, Obama has gained 24. This, despite almost no black leaders—Jesse Jackson, for instance - - endorsing Obama. They’re too cowardly to take a position right now.
This is—this is a trend, this is real. What is behind it?
STODDARD: I don’t know—I really actually don’t know that it’s something that will hold. I’m in a wait-and-see mode on those poll numbers.
I just have to—I have to hear the anecdotes that usually accompany these polling...
STODDARD: ... to really believe it, because through December and most of January, what we were being told is that African-American voters were not yet galvanized by this candidacy...
STODDARD: ... and they weren’t really inspired by Obama the way that the rest of the Democratic Party was. So I don’t know—I think—I think generally speaking, Hillary Clinton’s refusal to budge or back down on the war has not been great for her over the last four or five weeks with the whole Democratic Party, and this could be affecting black voters.
CARLSON: Yes, I thought that—wait. But, I thought that, too, and I wanted to ask you about a poll question that breaks it down even further. And it’s this—and I agree with you, that seems logical. She’s intransigent on that position, she’s supported the war for years, that should hurt her.
Listen to this. It doesn’t seem to be hurting her.
Among Democrats who call the war the most important issue, the issue that they care about most, Hillary still leads Obama 40-26. These are not people who are voting their consciences, in other words. They’re supporting Hillary because they think she can win. That’s my take on it.
FENN: Yes. I think there’s a couple of things going on.
First of all, there’s no question but that the announcement for Obama was a good hit, it gave him—you know, it gave him an upswing.
FENN: There are a lot more people now who know a little bit more about him. So I think you had a false sense of security if you were a Hillary person and thought you were going to get the African-American vote by 2-1. I mean, that ain’t going to happen in any case, I don’t think.
The other point I would make about this is, the more that this gets put as a two-candidate race...
FENN: ... Obama can win, Obama is close, Obama and Hillary, Obama and Hillary and Obama—it’s one thing if there’s an African-American candidate that is way down in the polls is not viewed as that much of a serious candidate, but the fact that now everybody else is kind of down there and it’s Obama and Clinton has helped Obama...
STODDARD: Right. He’s a real threat, yes.
FENN: ... with the black community, no question.
CARLSON: No, I agree with you.
Now, if you think that’s a trend—and maybe you do and maybe you don’t—
I happen to see a trend in this—look at these numbers. I want to put up on the Republican side a far more, I think, wide-open race at this point.
This is Rudy Giuliani and John McCain.
Last month, it was 34 Giuliani, 27 McCain. This months, 44 Giuliani, Alexandra, 21 McCain. If you take Gingrich—Gingrich is in there too. We don’t have him on the screen.
STODDARD: I know. He was up like 15 or something, yes.
CARLSON: That’s right. Which is amazing, considering he’s not running and I don’t think he’s going to run.
CARLSON: If you take him out of the equation, the numbers are Giuliani, among likely Republicans, 53 percent, McCain 23 percent. Giuliani, in other words, two to one over McCain. That’s tripling his margin in the last month.
That is a trend.
STODDARD: It’s really—it’s really staggering, but that, I believe—and the reason I believe it is, I was sort of refusing myself to budge on this notion that the evangelical Christian right was going to pick...
CARLSON: That’s right.
STODDARD: ... a winner over someone who backed their social agenda...
CARLSON: Someone who actually agreed...
STODDARD: But now someone has actually looked me in the eye and told me, “I have decided”—after spending his entire life, someone I’ve known a long time in public office, devoted really to the life issue, primarily, has decided that defending our homeland is more important. And on that notion, he refuses to back Romney, who he believes is a flip-flopper for many reasons. But that looking at McCain and Giuliani as the two choices, Giuliani, who is not lying about his views on social issues...
STODDARD: ... who is just saying, I have the national security gravitas, I am the matcho candidate who can win, who can beat Hillary, he becomes the more appealing candidate.
CARLSON: So, in other words, your friend—no offense to your friend, because I think your friend is a stand-in for thousands of evangelicals across the country...
STODDARD: I really didn’t believe it would happen, but it happened.
CARLSON: ... has decided basically, “I have no principles, I don’t care.
I just want to back the winner.”
STODDARD: They are deciding that their concern about defending our country and the threat of terror is more important, is more the pressing issue.
CARLSON: Can we just see very quickly the reality of this?
John McCain has been in the Congress I believe since 1982. Right? This guy actually with a lot of foreign policy experience. Rudy Giuliani, great guy, great mayor, was the mayor of a city. By definition, no foreign policy...
FENN: They think he was secretary of state. I mean, they have—I mean, it’s amazing—I mean, not really, but, I mean, they put him in that category.
Here’s the situation I think with this.
McCain is suffering because of the flip-flopping in the last couple of years. He’s also suffering because of the war. He’s the out front guy in the war right now. Giuliani is saying very much the same thing as McCain is, but he ain’t getting...
CARLSON: Well, here’s...
FENN: But let me—wait. There’s another very important point here, though, because the evangelicals, just hold on a minute with them, because you’ve got two out of 10 voters, 20 percent, Republican voters, who say they would not vote for Giuliani. You’ve got 40 percent of Republican voters in that same poll who say they have serious questions about Giuliani.
FENN: The interesting thing to me about this is, if I were a Republican looking at this, I’d be careful, because this leads to—if he gets that nomination, you very well could have a third party pushed by evangelicals.
CARLSON: Let me just point out, the final most interesting number of the week, McCain will be 72 the last couple of days of August, going in to the election.
CARLSON: Next August he will be 72. Fifty-eight percent of voters just polled by “The Washington Post” said they would be less likely to vote a candidate over 72. I don’t think it’s fair. I think age, though, a big factor here.
Coming up, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats swept into power with the promise of change in Iraq. When exactly were they planning on getting around to that change in Iraq? We’ll ask a leading Democrat in mere moments.
Plus, Angelina Jolie once again calls for action in Darfur. It may sound like the humanitarian thing to do, and it may be, but why should we send our troops into another civil war halfway around the world? What about the lessons of Iraq? Are there any?
We’ll have more when we come back.
CARLSON: Straight from a “Why should this week be any different?” file, Democrats apparently can’t agree on an Iraq war policy. The Senate put on hold for at least another week the debate on rewriting the 2002 resolution that authorized the war in the first place.
Meanwhile, on the House side, thinks are moving no faster. Congressman Jack Murtha may have proposed his plan for Iraq over a week ago, but at this point no one can seem to rally around it and move it forward. At this rate, it appears the Iraq war might end on its own before Democrats can come together on a strategy.
Joining me now to explain what is happening or not happening, Democratic congressman from Boston, Massachusetts, Michael Capuano.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. MICHAEL CAPUANO (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Happy to be here, Tucker.
CARLSON: Last night, House Democrats, as you know, met for an hour and a half behind closed doors, trying to figure out what exactly the Democratic position on Iraq is. Democrats say simultaneously, we were elected on our position on Iraq.
Isn’t this the kind of thing the Democrats should have thought through as a group maybe before the election?
CAPUANO: No. I mean, it’s—the Democratic Party is not he Republican Party. The Democratic Party embraces diversity, embraces debate. We’re doing it in our job—obviously a lot of that debate is done in public, it’s messy.
CAPUANO: But we did this for the resolution a few weeks ago. We ended up with a resolution that got all but two votes on the Democratic side and 17 Republicans. I think we will end up in the some place at some place in the near future.
CARLSON: But, I mean, of course, that resolution doesn’t do anything concrete to end the war in Iraq.
CAPUANO: No. And this next vote will. And that’s why it becomes even more difficult to come to a consensus.
CARLSON: Well, let’s get to some of the specific ideas that Congressman Murtha has said he is for. Apparently the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, is also for—at least two of them. Troops must have at least one year at home between combat deployments and combat assignments, coud not extend beyond one year in the field in Iraq.
Those seem awfully specific.
Does Congress—does the Democratic-controlled Congress really want to be in a position where it’s seen as micromanaging the...
CAPUANO: We may not get there. That’s one of the proposals from a week ago.
CARLSON: What do you think of those ideas?
CAPUANO: I’m going to vote probably against the supplemental. I need this war to end. I want this war to end.
I don’t—I don’t accept, I don’t buy, my constituents don’t buy the nonsense that if I vote that way, somehow I’m against the troops. That’s nonsense.
The American public, in my opinion, has spoken, my constituents certainly have spoken.
CAPUANO: They don’t want this war to continue. And so, therefore, for me it’s easy.
And I think that anything after that is ways to get people to give you the same place (ph). You are right, this war will end. It is only a matter of time. It may be a matter of a year’s difference between the House Democrats and where the president is, but in the very near future, in the foreseeable future, this war will be over.
CARLSON: OK. So, as you just said, it’s simple for you. You want the war to end. That’s what your constituents want, that’s what you want.
What happens then when American troops leave? What happens to Iraq? What do you think Iraq will look like five years down the road?
CAPUANO: Personally, I believe—well, I don’t know about five years.
CARLSON: How about two years?
CAPUANO: Immediately, they will probably be in the middle of a civil war. Which is what they’re in now. The only difference is, we won’t be standing in the middle of their civil war. It will be their civil war.
The region is a mess. That’s why I voted against going to Iraq in the first place. I think that this was foreseeable by anybody who understood human nature. We are where we are at the moment.
CARLSON: I tend to agree with you on that.
CAPUANO: Which is why I believe Jack Murtha’s original proposal—and again, for me, as one member, not for the Democratic Caucus...
CAPUANO: ... redeploying troops, probably keeping them in the region, keeping materiel closer to the region, unfortunately this region is going to be unstable for a long time.
CARLSON: So we can go back in to Iraq?
CAPUANO: I hope we never have to, but I’m also realistic to know that some day it might happen.
CARLSON: But it seems to me if you’re—here’s my problem. If you’re—
I mean, I agree with you. It was easy to foresee that this would be a lot more difficult than it’s boosters led us to believe. But it seems to me, if you’re advocating withdraw, you ought to have thought through in some great detail what might happen when you do withdraw.
And I don’t get the sense—I haven’t met a single Democrat who spent any time thinking about it.
CAPUANO: No, I thought about it a lot. I just don’t think that there’s any clear route. I mean, I don’t know exactly how far a civil war will is going to go. I don’t know if they’ll come to—if other countries will try to interfere in a direct or indirect way. It’s impossible to read a civil war. You couldn’t have done it with the American Civil War if you looked at in 1859.
CARLSON: So just hope for the best?
CAPUANO: Not hope for the best. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst, yes.
And finally, you say redeploy troops in the region. If American troops are destabilizing Iraq by their very presence, which is the position—I assume your position—won’t American troops in neighboring countries destabilize those countries? And why would that be a good idea?
CAPUANO: This is—to me, there are no good options. This is the least worst option—least bad option.
Again, had we not gone—it was always a messy region as far as geopolitical problems go. I don’t see an easy solution to this. And I know it would be nice to have a simplistic thing—if we do this, and this is a guaranteed result. There aren’t any.
I haven’t heard anybody from either side of this issue. And that being the case, I think you have to understand you do what you can do for a short term and you understand that things could change tomorrow either in Iraq or in Iran or in Syria or in Israel.
CAPUANO: And you have to be prepared to deal with those situations as they come up.
CARLSON: Congressman, thanks very much. I appreciate it.
CAPUANO: Thanks very much.
CARLSON: Up next, we don’t necessarily expect the Democrats to agree with the Republicans, but can they agree with each other, at least on Iraq?
We’ll tell you.
Plus, we keep hearing how bad it is in Darfur, but with out troops spread out across the Mideast, caught in the bloody treadmill that is Iraq, who exactly would we even send to Darfur to help? And why would we do it?
We’ll tell you.
We’ll be right back.
CARLSON: They can’t seem to agree on how to fix the Iraq war, but will the Senate succeed in overhauling our immigration policy? Today the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on comprehensive immigration reform, whatever that is. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff testified, along with Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. The two support the president’s plan, of course, to increase border security, while at the same time allowing for guest workers, which essentially means giving more than 10 million illegal aliens a chance at citizenship.
Will this happen? Should it happen? Back again, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and Democratic strategist, and most importantly, contributor to “The Hill’s” pundit’s blog, Peter Fenn.
FENN: Jimmy Carter—
CARLSON: It seems to me that the president’s plan, which has relatively weak enforcement elements, you know, double the size of the border patrol, keep in place this relatively small fence that they have been authorized to build, and allow 12 million illegal aliens to become Americans. That’s about as liberal as the Democrats are ever going to see and yet they are not jumping on board right away purely for partisan reasons.
I don’t want to see this pass. I’m glad that they’re not embracing it.
FENN: The 700-mile fence, it turns out, looks like it will coast about 50 billion dollars. So, I think, there a few folks that are concerned about—
CARLSON: It has nothing to do with the cost, come on.
FENN: Here’s the question: Can you put together, as the president wants to and others on the hill want to, a comprehensive plans that folks will buy off on? You know, the scary thing about this is the closer you get to a political campaign, the harder it is going to be to do that. You’ve got folks that are staking their political futures on the anti-immigration hoopla, and they’ll pull everybody out of it.
So this president, if he is going to accomplish anything on this, which clearly he really wants to, he’s going to have to do it in the next six or eight months.
CARLSON: Both sides seem to me, A.B., to be terrified of Hispanic voters, whom they believe, on the basis of what evidence I don’t know, are instinctively pro-immigration. If you have a Hispanic surname, the idea is you’re for illegal immigration. Is there evidence to support—I don’t buy that. Is there evidence to support that? Republicans really think they’re going to get a lot of Hispanic votes by allowing 12 million illegal aliens to become citizens? Are they?
STODDARD: No. Republicans hate this. This is—I am not going to make a prediction. I’m going to tell you why it would be good for the Congress to block this. OK, cynical as this might be. Republicans can’t stand this. They don’t want it to pass. It is good for Ted Kennedy, who always likes to legislate and do the right thing, and try create progress.
CARLSON: Do the right thing and create progress?
STODDARD: I’m not talking about the bill. He just wants to pass legislation. He wants the Congress to act on the nation’s problems. He always does and he’s not running for president. John McCain, it’s good for John McCain to try to push this. And it’s good Bush.
It’s not good for the Democratic majority and it’s not good for the Republicans.
CARLSON: Why is it good for McCain, do you think?
STODDARD: John McCain is trying to look like he solves problems and it’s good for him. He believes in the general elections—John McCain really believes this. I understand why he is pushing this. I believe, for the Democrats, they are going to run into trouble, and they know this, on the guest, earned legalization thing. They are going to run into problems with swing voters. On any kind of serious enforcement with teeth they run into problems with business. They possibly run into problems with black voters.
I seriously do not see them pushing this. Why, after the wells and poison on Iraq, are they going to Bush something.
CARLSON: I think that’s a totally good point, and also, I do think it would cause them problems with black voters, which is something that nobody ever says, but I think a lot of people understand intuitively it’s not actually good for black voters.
Let me ask you this, part of this plan, the president’s plan, that some Democrats like, would require these 12 million undocumented workers, as they say in this country, to become proficient in English before becoming American citizens. Now the last time someone pushed, as I remember, in the Congress to make English our official language, Harry Reid denounced it as, quote, racist. Are Democrats really going to get behind a program that espouses English as the one true language?
FENN: That’s not what it says. It’s not English only. What it is is it’s an effort to get people to get educated in English and speak English, which is a different matter.
FENN: Everybody is for learning English.
CARLSON: No, not everyone’s for learning English, actually.
FENN: Well, most people are for doing that. The problem is, you can’t say it, and then not put money behind it and teach people and have programs for them. You know, the key thing with this is that if you have a system that does work, which says, look, you know, there will be enforcement. Simpson Mazzoli, 25 years ago, did not have those kinds of things in them.
If you have that and you have a system that does put them through, gets them into the English classes and into good jobs—look, what are they going to do, export 10, 12 million people? No, of course you’re not. You’re going to kick them out of the country? That’s not going to happen.
FENN: Then you have the status quo.
CARLSON: Well, you don’t have the status quo. I mean, you have a clear incentive for people from other countries to come here illegally. I mean, that happened in 1986, with Simpson Mazzoli, as you pointed out, and I think it would happen this time.
But tell me A.B., you said twice, Republicans hate this, meaning Congressional Republicans, Republicans on the hill --
STODDARD: Congressional Republicans are opposed to this package, which is last year’s package, because they don’t want to—they are opposed to guest worker, largely, not every last one of them.
CARLSON: OK, you’ve got Tom Tancredo out there saying, this is wrong, and I think he’s very articulate on the subject, and clean also. But you have very few other Republicans coming out and attacking this plan. I mean, if they hate it, why aren’t they standing up to Bush?
STODDARD: This is not the election season. They were very vocal about this last summer. At this point, believe me, if—I don’t think they expect this to come to—on the fast track in Congress? I mean, if this really gets there, believe me, they’ll throw some bombs. They don’t need to be in the press right now talking about immigration.
FENN: You hit it with the politics. There’s a big difference in the Hispanic vote from 2004 to 2006. Democrats kicked up, Republicans went down. There is a concern about that and it is a legitimate concern that Republicans have for the future and Carl Rove and the president get that.
CARLSON: So you’re making the argument that they are making. They’re making the argument that if you’re Hispanic—this seems to me a very patronizing argument that the Republicans are making, and the Democrats are also making. If you’re Hispanic, you’re for illegal immigration. Aren’t there a lot of Hispanic Americans who are against illegal immigration?
FENN: You will see ads. If this things goes and becomes hot, you will see ads that are so vile and horrible, bashing Hispanic voters. That’s what you’re going to see.
CARLSON: This get gets me going. There is—Illegal alien and Hispanic are not the same thing. Illegal alien is a legal category, Hispanic is ethnic category. They are not the same. This leads to the story that maybe you can explain. The college Republicans on some campuses have started this game called “Catch an Illegal Alien,” where it’s like hide and seek, but one’s guy’s the illegal alien.
OK, fine, it’s in bad taste. It’s vulgar, whatever. Here’s the interesting thing, the Democratic party has attacked this as racist. The Republican party, which has nothing, strictly speaking, to do with the college Republicans, has also repudiated it as racist. Here’s my question, is it verbotent to be against illegal aliens, against illegal immigration, is that racist?
FENN: First of all, the word alien, I think, is a lousy word and you had a person who was complaining about that.
FENN: I would like to use immigrant. Second, look, in September, they were playing this game. In September, the Democrats said, look, what the heck is this? What are the college Republicans doing putting forth this game, and then you had the Republican national chairman saying, gee, that’s not a very nice and now they are doing it more. Now to say that they have no connection—wait just a second.
This is demeaning. It’s obnoxious. Both party chairman have condemned it.
CARLSON: I know. I don’t know why. Wait a second, you haven’t answered my question, what is wrong with saying illegal immigration is wrong? I don’t quite get that.
FENN: That’s not what they’re doing. It’s catch the illegal immigrant. One person becomes the illegal immigrant, and the others catch it.
CARLSON: So why is that—
FENN: Oh, come on.
CARLSON: Come on, why won’t you answer my question?
FENN: Because I think that is racist.
CARLSON: In what way is it racist?
FENN: It’s a disgusting game.
CARLSON: There are illegal aliens from around the world. What the hell are you talking about?
FENN: Tucker, you disagree with the Republican national committee chair and the Democratic chair.
CARLSON: I absolutely do.
FENN: So, this shouldn’t be something that the young Republicans should do, and have games? Why not have it with blacks? Catch a black?
CARLSON: Because illegal aliens are not the same thing as Hispanics. That’s the point I’m making. And I think it’s horrible to imply that they are the same. They’re not the same thing.
FENN: Why not have it as an alien from Mars, instead of immigrant.
CARLSON: Because I think it’s OK to be against illegal immigration. It doesn’t make you a racist if you are, and there are a lot of Hispanics that are against illegal immigration.
FENN: This isn’t about immigration. That’s a racist game.
CARLSON: I think that’s a total crock. I really do. Let me ask you this question, as a noted Darfur expert now A.B. No, I’m just kidding. Angelina Jolie had this op-ed this morning in the “Washington Post,” saying pay more attention to Darfur. We just had Congressman Capuano of Boston on, who said that he had sponsored legislation to send American troops to Darfur. How can you be an opponent of the war in Iraq, recognize that it’s wrong to send American troops into a civil war, and then advocate doing the very same thing, just in a different continent.
STODDARD: I cannot speak for the congressman and I cannot answer that.
CARLSON: Is this a common position on the Democratic side?
STODDARD: No, I don’t think it’s—There are members in both parties that are concerned about the situation in Darfur, as the president is. There’s just a huge spectrum, from peace-keeping, to peace-making, to armed intervention. This is a very complicated process and we’re not—we are the only nation that’s calling it genocide. We are a long way from actually going over there and fixing this problem.
CARLSON: We certainly are.
STODDARD: And at this point, I don’t see any consensus, in either party, about what we should do. I can’t answer that question about whether or not you can be opposed to our presence in a civil war versus our protection against genocide.
CARLSON: Boy, I don’t get it. Let me just ask you, quick question. John Kerry, yesterday, up on the hill, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, there’s a hearing for a guy called Sam Fox, business man from Missouri. He’s been nominated to be Ambassador to Belgium. He gave 50,000 dollars to an independent expenditure group, that apparently helped fund these Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads.
So John Kerry, in the middle of this hearing that’s supposed to determine if this guy is fit to represent the United States in Belgium, right, starts whining about how this dude contributed money to a campaign against him in 2004, as if that disqualifies him from being ambassador.
FENN: What I loved is that Fox came before that committee and came before John Kerry, and called him a hero, and said how terrific it was that he served his country and won these medals. And then Kerry says, now wait a second, you gave 50,000 dollars so these guys could lie about me.
CARLSON: First of all, I’m not sure they were lying.
FENN: About the medals they were lying.
CARLSON: Is it allowed to attack a guy for opposing you in the last election in the middle of a hearing on his fitness to serve as ambassador?
STODDARD: Apparently it is. (INAUDIBLE) is widespread in both parties. It was an interesting—I think Mr. Fox was embracing the adage of when you find yourself in a hole, keep digging.
STODDARD: It also provided a good moment for Senator Obama.
FENN: Obama came to Kerry’s defense.
STODDARD: That’s why John Kerry was not cut off.
CARLSON: Boy, I just thought it was unbelievable.
STODDARD: It was pretty rich.
CARLSON: Thank you both very much. Thank all of you who didn’t vote for John Kerry. Coming up, have you ever noticed that today’s college students seem narcissistic, overly sensitive? Ever wonder why? Well, according to a new study, look no further than their ego boosting parents, you.
Plus, President Bush just can’t seem to get a break these days. We’ll tell you why a routine White House photo op with Shaquille O’Neil—as if there were such a thing—and the Miami Heat, turned into an embarrassing moment for the president. That’s all coming up.
CARLSON: I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And gosh darn it, people like me. Stuart Smalley said it so well on “Saturday Night Live,” and when you think about it, isn’t that exactly what we want our kids saying every time they look at themselves in the mirror? Well, not really, according to a new study that says all the ego stroking parents did to their kids in the ‘80s and ‘90s turned those confident little second graders into narcissistic and, frankly, pretty annoying college students.
Joining me now is the author of that study, “Egos Inflating Over Time,” Jean Twenge, who also wrote the book, “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled and More Miserable Than Ever Before.” Jean, thanks for coming on.
JEAN TWENGE, AUTHOR, “GENERATION ME”: Thank you.
CARLSON: How can it be that making your children feel good about themselves makes them bad people?
TWENGE: Well, the original intention of the self-esteem movement was to have kids become confident, but it really got taken way too far. So we now have pre-schoolers singing the song, “I Am Special, I Am Special, Look At Me.” Well, thinking you’re special and wanting to seek attention all the time, that’s narcissism. That’s not healthy self-esteem and narcissism is correlated with all kinds of bad things, like being inconsiderate to others, not having empathy and just wanting to take it all for yourself.
CARLSON: It’s ironic, if you think about, because the group of people who seem to be the most self-satisfied anyway, the most certain of their own opinions, with the least perspective on nuance and the way the world actually works, are young people. I mean, I know I was much more arrogant at 17 than I was at 37. So why exactly is this the group people feel like needs to be bucked up?
TWENGE: Well, I’m not sure why there’s been this focus on raising kids’ self-esteem, because I think the vast majority of kids don’t need it. So, for the few who need it, we could be helping them. But instead, we are giving this medicine, with known negative side effects, to a whole population of people who don’t need.
And the other interesting thing is, you’re right, teenagers are naturally somewhat narcissistic, but the news in this study is we found true generational differences. Eighteen year olds back the ‘80s were not as narcissistic as 18 year olds are now.
CARLSON: But I thought that—I mean, at least the psychologists and the school teachers, self appointed, you know, deep thinkers about America’s youth tell us that there is a correlation between self-esteem and achievement. If you feel good about yourself, you’ll do better. That’s not true?
TWENGE: It’s not true. There’s a small correlation between those two things, but it’s explained by third variables like family income. So rich kids feel good about themselves and do well in school. And then even the small causal relationship, it goes the other direction. So when you behave well and make good grades, that helps you feel good about yourself. It doesn’t really go the other way around. This idea that you can boost a kid’s self-esteem and that will lead to good outcomes puts the cart before the horse.
CARLSON: That makes total sense. So you feel good about the things that you do, right? Not just because you’re there. So how exactly does this translate into parenting? What should we as parents do differently?
TWENGE: First, we shouldn’t be telling our kids that they are special. We shall tell them that they are loved and we should praise them when they do good things, but we should stop giving a trophy just for showing up because the world doesn’t work that way. A lot of kids games, they don’t keep score. Parents tell me that the kids keep score themselves, so it ends up being kind of defeating, the purpose. I like to use sports analogies to explain this. How fun would it be to watch an NBA game if they didn’t keep score. Not really that much fun. And kids actually kind of like competition. And it gives them good information about what they’re doing wrong and what they’re doing right. And we need to do that instead.
CARLSON: Good for you. You know, I hope you lead a one-woman crusade against self-love and self-satisfaction. Jean Twenge, joining us for what looks like La Jolla, California, I appreciate it.
TWENGE: You’re welcome.
CARLSON: Did a party thrown to celebrate the “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue leave some of its guests, including cover girl Beyonce with an ugly disease? Our chief catering correspondent Willie Geist joins us with the strangest story of the day, maybe the week. We’ll be right back.
CARLSON: Joining us now, a man who is not only good enough and smart enough and who doggone it is actually loved by people, but who has no self-esteem issues all.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: No self-esteem issues, none at all.
CARLSON: Willie Geist.
GEIST: Let me say something about that, though. I was listening to your guests talking about sports. When I used to play little league, this is true, all the kids had to play, right? So I would come up to the plate, all of the sudden there are 15 kids in the outfield. What about my self-esteem, you know? It’s ridiculous.
CARLSON: But you’ve never had a self-esteem problem, Willie, that’s why I like you.
GEIST: No, I’ve never been low in that department.
CARLSON: Good for you.
GEIST: I want to do a quick cheap ratings ploy for you here, Tucker. Look at this cute little tiger and orangutan playing together. Look at that. That’s for all the ladies in the house. They’re in Jakarta, Indonesia, a-month-old tiger twins and orangutan twins. Both endangered species, playing together and they’ll enjoy it now before they maul each other in the wild in a few short years.
CARLSON: I don’t understand, what’s the news peg there?
GEIST: There isn’t one. It’s called a cheap ratings ploy, don’t you understand? Adorable, fuzzy animals, who normally don’t play with one another, playing with one another.
GEIST: Isn’t that sweet?
CARLSON: I get it.
GEIST: Good, well let’s get to the news. President Bush, Tucker, must look forward to things like White House photo ops with basketball teams these days. It’s a nice little break from the reality of the job for him. But it seems the president can’t even get through an afternoon with Shaquille O’Neal and the Heat without incident. The world champion Heat visited the White House yesterday and when poor President Bush tried to dribble a basketball for the cameras, this happened.
You see he’s holding the ball right now. Let’s give that a little bounce and see if you can’t make that back come up, Mr. President. And it’s coming soon, I promise. We have a picture. And oopsie daisy, it didn’t come back for him. I want to know who’s in charge of inflating the basketballs around this place. Or maybe it was just a dead spot on the floor. The Heat enjoying a laugh. There’s Shaq, shaking his hand.
Either way you look at it, Tucker, somebody is getting fired. Again, that’s not his fault. Those are the from the same handlers who brought you him a lab coat and lab goggles last week.
CARLSON: You know, when you’re in the thirties in the polls, everything is a metaphor.
GEIST: Exactly. But, I just want to remind there is somebody he is better than that, Prince Charles playing basketball, I don’t know if you remember this from about a month ago.
CARLSON: Vividly, yes.
GEIST: He was in Harlem. At least our guy is better than that. What is that? President take solace, Prince Charles is much, much worse and he hates McDonald’s. So, that’s another point.
Well Tucker, when you go to the “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit party, there are a lot of things you’re hoping to pick up. Acute Hepatitis A is not one of them. The Los Angeles County Health Department recommends that anyone who ate uncooked food at the Valentine’s Day bash get immediate treatment to avoid developing the very serious liver disease.
The warning came after a caterer who was working at the party was diagnosed with Hepatitis A. Guests included Beyonce Knowles, Guns ‘n Roses guitarist Duff McKagan and many, many well-known swimsuit models.
Now, I think we’re OK, we’re in the clear here, Tucker. A, models don’t eat, so we’re fine there. And B, do you really think there’s a hepatitis that GNR guitarist Duff McKagan does not have? I mean, I think he’s pretty much immune to stuff like that at this point in his life, don’t you think?
CARLSON: I don’t think there’s any question.
CARLSON: You’re not going to fail a Guns ‘n Roses guitarist from Hepatitis A, come on, that’s like the sniffles to those guys.
GEIST: That’s child play. So we just have to focus on Beyonce.
Hopefully she’s OK.
Well, it is a story we brought you first a couple of weeks ago. Today though, we got the incredible surveillance video of a car crashing into the DMV office in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Now you might remember the irony that the driver had just completed a driving test when she threw that baby into drive instead of reverse on the way out of the parking lot.
It’s hard to believe looking at this, but no one was seriously hurt. We do not believe that the woman passed her driving test. No quicker way to fail than driving through the front of the DMV office, Tucker.
I wonder if that actually even awoke the federal employees working there. Just kidding. I cherish my license, I do. Thank you.
CARLSON: I live in D.C., so I agree with you. It’s just a joke.
GEIST: Exactly. Now there’s one other piece of surveillance video I want to show you.
These are a couple of bandits, bank robbers actually. Teenage bank robbers in suburban Atlanta. They walked into a Bank of America inside a grocery store yesterday, passed a note demanding cash, all the while smiles across their faces and walked away with an untold amount of money.
They haven’t been caught yet. But look at that, just laughing. They’ve got the big Paris Hilton sunglasses on. Basically, a couple of suburban high school chicks holding up a bank, Tucker, and I will promise you that they will be on the cover of “Maxim” as the bandit babes within I’d say six months or so, wouldn’t you say?
CARLSON: Yes, I mean, I don’t want to put too fine a point on it but there is something mildly erotic about that.
GEIST: I don’t think it needs to be said. Not your average bank robber.
CARLSON: The beauty of the unarticulated thought. We’re exercising that now.
GEIST: We’ll let the picture tell the story, Tucker.
CARLSON: Willie Geist, as always, thanks a lot, Willie.
GEIST: All right, Tucker.
CARLSON: That does it for us. Thanks a lot for watching. We’ll be back tomorrow. I hope you’ll tune in then. In the meantime, have a great night.
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