Guests: Peter Fenn, Pat Buchanan, Patty Culhane
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Hillary Clinton morphs into Scarlett O‘Hara. Well, she talks like her anyway. Wait until you hear the southern twang Senator Clinton put on for the congregation at a Baptist church in Alabama this weekend.
Did anyone buy it? We‘ll tell you.
Plus, the heat has turned up on the government to do something about the way our wounded soldiers are being treated here back in the U.S.
We‘ll have a live report from the congressional hearings on the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
But first, joining us now to make sense of the day‘s news, MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan, and Peter Fenn, Democratic strategist and contributor to “The Hill‘s Pundits Blog.”
Welcome to you both.
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thanks, Tucker.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, Tucker. How are you?
CARLSON: Hillary Clinton, not only in Alabama, but of Alabama. Hillary Clinton raised in Illinois, representing New York in the United States Senate, heads down to Selma, and just picks up so much local flavor that she sounds like this. This is Hillary Clinton this weekend in Selma...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I want to begin by giving praise to the almighty.
I don‘t feel no ways tired. I come too far from where I started from.
Nobody told me that the road would be easy.
I could have listened all afternoon. That pulse.
And the chair of all the mayors in the country, Mayor Palmer, from Trenton, New Jersey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Well, Peter Fenn—now, we should point out that “I don‘t feel no ways tired” is a fairly famous Protestant hymn. The late Reverend James Cleveland made it famous, though I don‘t believe he wrote it. I think it‘s a traditional him.
In any case, her accent extended beyond just quoting from the hymn, though.
FENN: I thought—I thought she hit it right on.
CARLSON: Have you heard ever heard anything more phony than that, ever?
FENN: Well, it‘s some creative editing, I understand, from some of that.
CARLSON: I think that was an NBC news tape, actually.
FENN: Well, they edit creatively, too.
Look, I think she gave a great speech. I think the southern accent, she should probably not try a southern accent unless it‘s southern Chicago. What do you think? But no, I mean, she was quoting that hymn and she was doing it like a hymn. And if you took the whole section you‘d pick that up.
CARLSON: Well, I don‘t know. That‘s definitely—that‘s definitely the excuse. We could play it again if you like.
FENN: No, you could play—I understand Barack Obama opened his with a nice southern...
FENN: ... Chicago drawl too, “Y‘all,” he said. “Y‘all.”
CARLSON: But don‘t you think...
FENN: I think when you‘re in the South, do as the southerners do.
CARLSON: Is that true? I don‘t know.
It seems to me—I would contrast this—the reason I think this is significant, the two reasons, Pat, one, I think Mrs. Clinton‘s Achilles heel is her authenticity or lack of it. I mean, there is this feeling that she‘s not fully herself, and I think that feeling is rooted in reality.
And second, contrast her to Barack Obama, who, as Peter pointed out, did adopt a southern accent in a way for part of this. But he comes out in front of the black audience and says, “Look, I‘m descended from slaveholders.” He said that this weekend in Alabama.
The point is, he is far less a panderer, at least before this audience, than Mrs. Clinton. And I think it helps him.
BUCHANAN: Well, his mother was a slaveholder—great, great, great grandmother. It wasn‘t Barack Obama, his father, over there in Kenya.
CARLSON: Right. Right.
BUCHANAN: So I guess that‘s right. But that‘s the Strom Thurmond situation.
CARLSON: But it‘s an interesting and sort of a bold thing to say in a black church. I mean...
BUCHANAN: Oh, yes. I thought Obama‘s speech, I though, was sort of, you know, wide open, loose. But I‘ll tell you, I thought Hillary delivered a pretty good speech.
And if she‘s citing that hymn and “I‘m no ways tired” and things like that, she‘s consciously doing it, to be honest, I thought she was delivering a pretty good speech. From the segment I saw now—I hadn‘t seen it, I had read it.
BUCHANAN: But the segment, it looked pretty good. It looked like frankly for her—and she‘s not a great speaker—it looked like she worked on that and did a pretty good job, and the reception seemed good.
CARLSON: The reception seemed great. I mean, I think people always appreciate when you, you know, use—quote hymns they‘re familiar with.
CARLSON: I mean, I like hearing hymns I‘m familiar with. However...
FENN: And she told her own personal story. And look, I think...
CARLSON: It‘s just so—she‘s just -- did you read her book, by the way?
FENN: Her book?
BUCHANAN: “It Takes a Village”?
CARLSON: No, the latest one, the Hillary—you know, the 9,00-page autobiography. If you read that—and I recommend that every person tempted to vote for her—you come away thinking this is a person who either doesn‘t know herself or is attempting to cloak her real self from us.
BUCHANAN: Well, somebody surely ghosted that thing for us, is my guess. Didn‘t they, Tucker? But you‘re right, if she doesn‘t have any authenticity, anything of herself, you can spot it in these biographies.
FENN: And listen, if she had no authenticity, she wouldn‘t have gotten elected senator from New York.
FENN: If she had no authenticity, she wouldn‘t be the leader in...
CARLSON: And how long have you lived here?
FENN: Come on, listen. You know, Tucker, this woman is highly substantive, she‘s highly educated.
CARLSON: Yes, she is.
FENN: She‘s very—she has clear ideas on issues.
FENN: She‘s going to be, as you know, a very strong candidate in this race.
CARLSON: Everything you said is true. No, I agree. I think she‘s a substantial person and is smart.
FENN: I think she‘s very authentic, and I think one of the things...
CARLSON: There‘s no way you can think that because it‘s not even...
FENN: Because I‘ve been around her. I‘ll tell you one of the things that I think a lot of candidates have to do is they have to get out before people and show their real selves and they have to show themselves under three dimensions.
CARLSON: Well, you know what? Obama...
BUCHANAN: She‘s got the Nixon problem. Nixon‘s public persona was very formalized and stiff, and he couldn‘t deliver a good speech, a really good speech when he wanted to. But the personal guy, frankly, was an awful lot different, an awful lot more relaxed. Everything you hear about Hillary is that in personal relations she‘s terrific and she‘s well liked.
CARLSON: I must say, every time I‘ve dealt with her I‘m come away thinking she‘s a warm person. But, you know, personal dealings do not make a president. You need people to convey...
CARLSON: ... some sense of who you are, and she doesn‘t strike me as able to.
I want to contrast her, though, her performance this weekend to that of Barack Obama. Here‘s what he said. And this is part of a quote. And his speech is worth reading, by the way.
“We have too many children in poverty in this country, and everyone ought to be ashamed. But don‘t tell it doesn‘t have to do with the fact that we have too many daddies not acting like daddies.”
CARLSON: “Don‘t think that fatherhood ends at conception. I know something about that because my father wasn‘t around when I was young and I struggled.”
BUCHANAN: It‘s Bill Cosby, and it‘s excellent.
CARLSON: It is. That‘s exactly—it is excellent. You compare that to Hillary Clinton‘s speech, the essence of which is, you are oppressed, the government, white people, people more powerful than you are responsible for your problems.
Why doesn‘t she have the boldness to say that every person, no matter what his or her color, is at least partly responsible for his or her own condition and that personal responsibility matter? Why does it take Obama to say that?
FENN: I think if you read “It Takes a Village” you‘ll see that. It talks about personal responsibility and people being responsible for their own lives. You know, she was...
CARLSON: Why not mention...
FENN: ... blessed, and she said so with a wonderful father and mother. She had a good family situation, unlike her husband, who had a terrible family situation.
BUCHANAN: It‘s easier for black folks—black—or to say that than it is a white person, and it‘s far better received, I think. If you get up and you‘ve got a conservative—say a conservative Republican got up said this is a problem, broken homes, illegitimacy, all these other things, it would not be received well. But for Barack Obama to say to us, we‘ve got to deal with our problem, I think it goes better.
CARLSON: I think a white liberal would get a lot of points for having the courage to say that.
But let me just ask you a question that doesn‘t have anything to do with race, and it has nothing to do with right or left, is the question of out of wedlock births, which are rising among all groups in this country, and it‘s the single most reliable predictor of poverty, whether you grow up in a two-parent household. That is number one more than anything else, for education, for income, you name it. That determines a lot.
She didn‘t even mention that. How can you talk about poverty and not mention that?
FENN: Well, you‘re not going to mention everything in a speech, Tucker.
But look, with a third...
CARLSON: That‘s the one thing you should mention.
FENN: ... with a third of African-American males either in the system or, you know, in jail, probation, parole, that‘s a fairly scary statistic.
CARLSON: Yes, it‘s a terrible scary statistic.
FENN: Which a lot of people should be talking about. And the importance of families. And I totally agree, I think Barack Obama hit that hard and it was a good thing for him to hit because he had a personal story with it. I think—I think that this is something that we all should be talking about.
CARLSON: Yes, I agree.
FENN: Because, you know, when we talk about education, you know, what is the greatest positive police that you could have to move people...
CARLSON: Married parents.
FENN: It is the involvement of parents.
CARLSON: Yes, but nobody says that. Even for a liberal to say “married parents,” ooh, they recoil, that‘s judgmental.
CARLSON: I can‘t remember the last time I heard a liberal Democrat say, you know what? The single most important thing you can do for your kids is stay married, or get married. Nobody ever says that.
BUCHANAN: Divorce is wrong, living outside of marriage is wrong. You‘re not going to hear that...
CARLSON: With children it is, anyway. I mean, it‘s like bad...
FENN: Well, this is the scary thing now. We‘ve gone below 50 percent in this country...
CARLSON: I agree.
FENN: ... of married couples. And that‘s not helping...
CARLSON: And even conservatives don‘t mention it as much as they ought to.
And they ought to.
Coming up, it‘s been a tough few weeks for the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and it ought to be. Its countless inadequacies exposed, followed by the forced resignation of the Army‘s secretary. But not nearly as tough as the endless months our wounded Iraq War veterans spend at that hospital, neglected, poorly treated, forced to withstand unacceptable living conditions.
We‘ll hear some of their stories when we come back.
Plus, while Hillary Clinton took the lead among members of the Democratic National Committee poll, Mitt Romney got the nod from the Republican National Committee. What is he doing right? Have we underestimated Mitt romney?
We‘ll tell you. We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPC. JEREMY DUNCAN, U.S. ARMY: Conditions in the room in my mind were just -- it was unforgivable for anybody to live—it wasn‘t fit for anybody to live in a room like that. I know most soldiers have—they‘re just coming out of recovery, have weaker immune systems. The black mold can do damage to people, and the holes in the walls.
I wouldn‘t live there even if I had to. It wasn‘t fit for anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STAFF. SGT. JOHN DANIEL SHANNON, U.S. ARMY: I want to leave this place. I‘ve seen so many soldiers get so frustrated with the process that they will sign anything presented to them just so they can get on with their lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNETTE MCLEOD, WIFE OF CPL. WENDELL MCLEOD: My life was ripped a part the day my husband was injured, but then having to live through the mess that we lived through at Walter Reed has been worse than anything I‘ve ever sacrificed in my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: It was an emotional day at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where wounded Iraq War veterans and their families testified at a hearing before the House National Security Subcommittee. They‘re hoping their stories of poor treatment, inadequate medical attention and deplorable living conditions will shed more light on the unacceptable care they‘ve been receiving and better conditions for the wounded soldiers of the future.
Joining us now from outside Walter Reed is NBC News‘ Patty Culhane—
PATTY CULHANE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You know, Tucker, what first brought—got so much attention to the story were the physical conditions, details of soldiers living among cockroaches and rats, black mold hanging from the ceiling. Army officials were quick to send crews in there to try to fix that up instantly, but it also brought to light the bigger issue of the bureaucratic nightmare that these wounded veterans find themselves in when they come home form war.
One soldier described having no accountability. There was a soiled, stained mattress. He said could not find anybody to replace it. Couldn‘t find anyone to give him even a clean T-shirt.
The soldier also talked—you saw him there. He said that he was an inpatient. This is a gentleman that had a severe brain injury.
He was shot in the head with an AK-47. He was disoriented. When he was sent to outpatient, he says that the officials here at Walter Reed handed him a map and told him to find his own room.
This is on a 113-acre facility behind me. He said he wandered around for hours.
We also heard from an Army wife. You showed a little bit of her there. She talked about the medical problems her husband, also with a brain injury, not getting the medicine that he was ordered. She says a doctor ordered an MRI for him and the case manager denied it, saying it was too costly.
One of the big issues that came up in testimony before this subcommittee today was the one of disability. Now, the Army wife said, you k now, her husband has a brain injury, was injured in an 18-wheeler accident. She says the medical officials said it was a preexisting condition because he had taken some special ed classes in high school, so said that he qualified for zero disability. That means no money when he leaves the service.
She started crying, saying, you know, she was able to be a spokesman for him, she was able to get that reversed. But she said, what about all the thousands of soldiers who are in the system who don‘t have anyone to fight for them? And that was one of the biggest complaints we heard here today, that there is not one advocate for these soldiers. The case managers, they say, work for the government and have the government‘s best interest at heart.
It then was the turn of the Army generals. And they were grilled by Congress.
The biggest questions they had for them is, “How did this happen? How did you not know it was happening?” And “How can you keep this from happening again?”
We didn‘t really hear any concrete answers, any big solutions coming from the two, three and four-star generals that testified today—Tucker.
CARLSON: Patty, typically there are two sides to every story. I don‘t see the other side to this story.
Did any of the generals who testified today offer a defense of the treatment at Walter Reed? Was there any defensiveness at all on their part, any explanation that seemed to hang together?
CULHANE: Well, you know, General Kevin Kiley, he‘s the chief medical officer for the entire Army, he‘s a former commander here at Walter Reed. When this story first broke, he came out and he said this does not represent the treatment most veterans are getting, this is a small segment of the population. And he was hammered by Congress, even, you know, as far up as the administration, saying that was not an appropriate response. Instead, what we‘ve seen is a lot of political fallout.
As you mentioned, the Army secretary‘s resignation was handed in Friday, it was asked for. We saw the two-star general in charge of this facility. He was relieved of command in the civilian world. That means you‘re pretty much fired. And a lot of people saying that the firings are going to continue.
So, a lot of people right now very hesitant to say that it really wasn‘t that bad, because we‘re starting to hear from more and more soldiers saying it is that bad, and it‘s not just that bad here, it‘s that bad across the country.
CARLSON: It sounds like they‘re right, too.
NBC‘s Patty Culhane at Walter Reed.
Thanks a lot, Patty.
CULHANE: You bet.
CARLSON: Up next, we‘re learning just how bad it is at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. But does it really just stop with Walter Reed? Are the other V.A. facilities just as appalling?
Why are our wounded soldiers forced to withstand some of the worst medical care in this country, and why have they been for years?
Plus, five years ago Rudy Giuliani was dubbed “America‘s Mayor.” Now he‘s having trouble rallying support from at least one of his own relatives. Will his family drama hurt his quest for the White House?
We‘ll tell you. We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There will be no excuses, only action. And the federal bureaucracy will not slow that action down.
As we work to improve conditions at Walter Reed, we want to find out whether similar problems have occurred at other military and V.A. hospitals. These brave men and women deserve the heartfelt thanks of our country, and they deserve the very best medical care that our government can possibly provide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Ask anyone who‘s been treated at a V.A. hospital what his experience was like, and chances are you won hear a five-star review. Is the exposure of the disgraceful situation at Walter Reed shedding light on a widespread problem among our V.A. facilities?
Joining us again, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.
Welcome back to you both.
You saw, Pat, the vice president, who‘s been quite willing to make a series of excuses about Iraq and the lack of progress there, say point blank, no excuses, this is a disgrace.
CARLSON: Is that a recognition that this is a potentially fatal political scandal? I mean, this is a big deal.
BUCHANAN: This is a big deal, and that‘s why you see the secretary of defense, the president got out in front of it, did his Saturday radio address. Gates it‘s out in front of it.
When you‘ve got the secretary of the Army fired, you‘ve got the head of Walter Reed fired, his successor fired, and they‘re moving down the line, they are really dealing with this, Tucker. But I think you‘ve really got to give credit to Dana Priest and “The Washington Post” obviously for doing this.
CARLSON: Certainly do.
BUCHANAN: And it looks like what the situation is, when these guys get wounded on the battlefield, they‘re taken care of, they‘re taken care of at that air base in Germany well, they get to Walter Reed. I talked to a woman that worked over there, said they‘re bringing them in every week.
I think the immediate care and things like that are probably as good as you‘ll find anywhere in the world. They‘re saving so many soldiers. But then they start moving them out to building 18, and they move them out from there. And they‘re heading home. And at that point I guess you get into the bureaucracy and all the other problems attended to it, and it is—it‘s a disgrace.
CARLSON: Well, it is. And it‘s also not—I mean, there‘s no making excuses for what has happened at Walter Reed, and I agree with everything. I‘ve heard the immediate care and some of the prosthetic limbs they fit there are amazing, and there‘s a lot that‘s good about Walter Reed. But the V.A. system has been the butt of bitter jokes my whole lifetime. As a matter of fact, I don‘t think I ever met anybody who had a nice thing to say about the V.A. system, and no one has ever done anything about it.
Why is that?
FENN: Well, you know, I think that it‘s been the poor stepchild. They employ 350,000 people, I think, in this system. That‘s a lot of people. The fact that Jim Nicholson, who I like very much, nice fellow, but no real background in this, former chairman of the RNC, he‘s kind of a fish out of the water right now trying to solve this problem.
But, you know, Tucker, the important thing I think here is—and I thought the vice president‘s words, to be honest, were hollow. I mean, look, we‘ve been dealing with four years, all those folks are talking about how they‘re making forays to Walter Reed, seeing patients, seeing folks, and they didn‘t hear anything about this? They didn‘t see anything about this? You know...
BUCHANAN: But to be fair, look, journalists have been over there at Walter Reed again and again and again, folks at MSNBC, every journalistic operations had people there. They didn‘t see it.
FENN: Well, you know, I think this is absolutely right. I mean, I hand it to Dana Priest in “The Washington Post,” because this is very thorough. This wasn‘t one story, a quick little thing, this was a lot of reporting.
But, you know, it shows real promise in the whole system.
CARLSON: Well, there is...
FENN: And let me just make this one point, because, you know, when folks - - oh, 23,000 injured, well, that doesn‘t sound like very much. But 205,000 people have gone to the V.A. for help, and a lot of them have not gotten it. At the same time this came out, Bob Woodruff‘s special about brain injuries, which a lot of those people probably in the old days would have died on those battlefields, now they need constant...
CARLSON: Well, that is a good point. I mean, that is a good point.
I mean, I hate to use this to draw a larger political point, but it‘s just true that government services always and everywhere tend to be inferior to those in the private sector.
BUCHANAN: Sure. Right. What are you talking about, 250,000 employees or something like that?
BUCHANAN: That‘s a massive government bureaucracy.
FENN: It‘s the second highest...
BUCHANAN: And there‘s a second problem here, Tucker.
FENN: The Pentagon. The Pentagon‘s highest...
BUCHANAN: Look, the World War II generation, the greatest generation, they‘re dying at 1,000 a day. When I was out campaigning in the ‘90s, guys would come up to you on the plane, veterans, “They‘re doing this to our hospital, they‘re moving us out.”
The problem was, 1,000 a day are dying. A lot these veterans hospitals are emptying out, so they‘re merging them with the regular hospitals, and all these processes is going on. And obviously it‘s a mess for a guy, you know, who was at (INAUDIBLE) or something like that in his 70s or 80s now is being moved around.
So some of its sort of the natural problems. Others are the bureaucracy, and others is probably the scandal.
CARLSON: Hold on. Just to give some perspective here, OK, you saw Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama go down to Selma this weekend and both implied that the federal government is not doing enough in the aftermath of Katrina for racist reasons. That was the implication. We‘re not doing enough, these people are suffering.
We‘re spending—we‘ve pledged $100 billion and New Orleans is still a shell in many ways.
CARLSON: How much money—I mean, let‘s be real here. To fix the V.A., if $100 billion can‘t fix a city of 400,000 people, what are we talking about?
FENN: Maybe this is a good argument for a national healthcare program, Tucker. I mean, maybe we should not—maybe we should have a program that actually works out there.
BUCHANAN: Why do you think Mardi Gras was so...
CARLSON: Very, very quickly, since you brought it up, what national healthcare program, as you put it, works around the world? Which would you point to as the model program?
FENN: Well, I will tell you, our—the cost of our healthcare...
CARLSON: Wait, no. Don‘t duck the question. I want to know the answer.
BUCHANAN: The best healthcare system on earth...
FENN: You want me to point to the Netherlands? I don‘t know.
CARLSON: The Netherlands?
BUCHANAN: Are you going to The Netherlands for heart surgery?
FENN: Listen, my point is—my point is that what we have ain‘t working, and we ought to figure out a way to solve it, and maybe, just maybe we could spend some of that money you‘re talking about in a little more productive way.
CARLSON: You make a solid point. And when you find the model country whose nationalized healthcare we ought to emulate, give me a buzz, and I promise I‘ll bring that message directly to the Congress.
FENN: I know most think there are several of them that are a lot better than ours right now, but...
BUCHANAN: They all come here. They all come here and they‘re seriously ill, all of them.
CARLSON: And a program note here.
Gentlemen, be certain to tune in tonight to MSNBC beginning at 10:00 to hear firsthand from wounded soldiers about what‘s it really been like to come back home, about the care they‘ve received or not received. That‘s tonight at 10:00.
Coming up, remember the little kid at Rudy Giuliani‘s side during his inauguration? Well, he‘s not at his father‘s side anymore, and he‘s not that little. Twenty-one-year-old Andrew Giuliani speaks about out his strained relationship with his father.
Will family drama get in the way of the former mayor‘s run for the White House? We‘ll tell you.
It‘s been a few months, but Ann Coulter is back at it, raising eye brows and raising hackles. This time she took a swipe at presidential hopeful John Edwards while speaking to the Conservative Political Action Committee. Did she go too far? Of course she went too far. But what does it mean?
We‘ll tell you.
CARLSON: Mitt Romney, perhaps best known for organizing the 2002 winter Olympics, being a Mormon, flip flopping on the issues, like abortion, gay rights and stem cell research, is apparently more well liked than we‘ve been led to believe, at least among conservatives. He won over leaders of the Republican National Committee, as well as the Conservative Political Action Committee, according to recent polling.
Here with the break down of the numbers, MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidates, Pat Buchanan and Peter Fenn, Democratic strategist and contributor to the “Hill‘s” pundit blog. Welcome to you both.
Pat, you‘ve been exactly where Mitt Romney is today, competing in the Republican primaries as a conservative. I want to put on the screen a poll from the “L.A. Times,” support within the Republican National Committee, Romney 20 percent, Giuliani 14, McCain 10, Gingrich 8. These are so different, these numbers, from what we‘re seeing in national polls.
BUCHANAN: This is the RNC? You‘re talking about 150 people.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
BUCHANAN: You‘re talking about 30 people. As governor, he probably did a good job of moving around to these state chairman and these national committee men and women, spoken to them a number of times. I‘m not too impressed with that, although it does show that he‘s got in-roads among the Republican establishment, because that‘s it.
CARLSON: Is that, in the end, significant? Does it count for anything?
BUCHANAN: I don‘t think it‘s great. I think much more important is, frankly, for him—look, it all depends on Iowa and New Hampshire. If he doesn‘t win New Hampshire, it‘s all over.
CARLSON: We also have results from the CPAC straw poll—CPAC is the Conservative Political Action Committee -- Romney 21, Giuliani 17, Brownback 15 --
BUCHANAN: That‘s the result of forced busing.
CARLSON: That is the result of forced busing. That‘s exactly right. It‘s interesting, apparently his people, Romney‘s people bought 400 tickets to see CPAC.
BUCHANAN: He didn‘t get 400 votes.
CARLSON: Doesn‘t this remind you of Steve Forbes running in 1996 and 2000, and the idea was that he was also this outsider. He was a late edition to the social conservative‘s ranks. And he decided he could kind of buy the nomination. I mean, do you take Romney as someone who might manage a campaign—
FENN: I think he‘s in a little bit better shape than Steve Forbes, I must say. Someone once told me I look like Steve Forbes. That was not fun for me. Well, he‘s a nice fellow. Here‘s the other thing that happened at CPAC, which is interesting: The Giuliani speech, big applause when he‘s introduced, big deal. He spent 40 minutes and just went down. By the end he got tepid applause.
In contrast, Romney started out with tepid applause and by the end of his speech had folks cheering. He provided the red meat for that crowd.
BUCHANAN: That‘s the way it goes. Romney is here. I saw some national poll where he‘s at about three or four 4 percent, McCain‘s about 20, and Rudy is about 35 or 40. Romney‘s starting and Rudy‘s going to start down. They‘ve got a long way to go.
CARLSON: I look, just as a conservative, I look at these candidates, and, of course, I‘m dissatisfied, as I think most conservatives are, by the field. But I look at Romney and I say, well this is a guy whose positions have not evolved. They‘ve turned 180 degrees from where they were about 15 minutes ago. Now, he may have good reason for changing them, but he hasn‘t articulated those reasons.
BUCHANAN: You know, you‘re exactly right Tucker. Look, if he were authentically conservative on life and gay rights and the social issues, and his record in Massachusetts, he‘d be right up there. All the conservatives would move to him. That‘s what‘s stopping him from going, because they believe the guy is not honest. He flipped for political reasons.
CARLSON: But then on the flip side, Peter, I‘ve seen, personally I know, a number of conservative activist types, who devoted their lives to forwarding these conservative ideas, who all of a sudden are making common ground with Rudy Giuliani, because they think he can win.
FENN: He can win. Clearly that‘s the big issue that‘s out there. Who can win. But I have to—I don‘t understand what you guys are complaining about though. I mean, he‘s a lifetime member of the NRA, Romney is. He joined last august. But here‘s the—
CARLSON: Actually, you know, you laugh, I laugh too, but that may be the best you‘re going to get.
FENN: A lot of people are saying, look, he was running for governor in Massachusetts. We knew he‘s a Mormon. He‘s got to be pro-life. He‘s from the west. He‘s got to be pro gun. But just because he was in Massachusetts, he had to play this game, and now he‘s coming back to who he really is, and we‘ll support him now. I don‘t quite get that. But that could be—and the other thing is he is extraordinarily impressive in these outings.
You‘re right. If he comes out, Giuliani starts to dip, he starts to come up, wins in Iowa, wins that early stuff, he could take off like a rocket.
BUCHANAN: Interesting thing is McCain has such a foundation in the base, and he just seems to be moving down gradually. There is no—I detect no enthusiasm. And as you know, they don‘t like John McCain. Incidentally, I don‘t think he likes them too.
CARLSON: Of course he doesn‘t like them because—
BUCHANAN: Every chance he gets—
CARLSON: Can I just put in a word for McCain? I‘m as conservative as any conservative activist I have ever met, and I can‘t stand most conservative activist, because they‘re annoying, even though I agree with them.
FENN: Except Pat.
CARLSON: I‘m talking about people, you know what I mean, on both sides.
BUCHANAN: You‘re right, they can be a very difficult crowd.
CARLSON: Yes, that‘s exactly right. But I‘m wondering this—one of the reasons I am annoyed by them is because they are unprincipled in annoying little ways, like John McCain is far more conservative than Rudy Giuliani has ever been for his whole life. McCain has a 25-year pro-life voting record. They ignore it. Rick Santorum said the other day, anybody but John McCain. Rick Santorum is a principled conservative. Why would he support Rudy Giuliani?
BUCHANAN: I agree with you. McCain has a far better record on conservative issues—I got problems with the judges and other things—far better record than Rudy Giuliani will ever have.
CARLSON: But you talk to your average conservative activists, evangelical, in Iowa or New Hampshire, and they say, oh, John McCain hates us. We‘re for Rudy Giuliani.
FENN: Two things, it‘s personal with McCain. They‘re nervous about him. they‘re worried about his temper and a lot of people don‘t like him personally. That is the fact. Second thing, immigration is big with a lot of folks. They‘re mad at him on immigration. And Rudy is the same way.
BUCHANAN: That‘s why they come to Romney.
CARLSON: What about George W. Bush? I can‘t tell you how many people have said, I don‘t like John McCain because he supported campaign finance reform. Well look pal, who signed it? George W. Bush. I don‘t like him because he‘s liberal on immigration. Not as liberal as the president you support. Why does Bush have the support of conservative activists, still to this day, in very high numbers -- 75 percent say they support him—and John McCain doesn‘t, even though they‘re almost identical?
BUCHANAN: Well, I‘ll tell you why. He‘s president of the United States. He came in. He appointed those two judges. He was Mr. anti-terror. And they followed him into the war. And they‘re very royalist and loyalist. Let me tell you something, Richard Nixon had still about 67 percent of the Republican vote the day he was impeached and left office. Republicans are very loyal.
CARLSON: You what I think also it is? It‘s cultural. It‘s tribal. They look at George W. Bush and they say, he‘s an evangelical. He understands us. They look at John McCain and they say, he‘s a high church Episcopalian, who sits in bed and reads the Sunday Times, rather than go church. Right? There is a cultural divide.
BUCHANAN: He hit the agents of intolerance line. That came right home, when he called Robertson and Falwell agents of intolerance down there, compared them to Sharpton and Farrakhan. They recall that. They have long memories.
CARLSON: But the tragedy is that Falwell and Robertson don‘t represent most evangelicals. I know a lot of evangelicals. They‘re this 1978 representatives of evangelicals. It‘s like a whole new world now. Are we really going to tie Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell to the future of the Republican party?
BUCHANAN: No, I don‘t think so. But I think they think like a lot of evangelicals do. And they still think that well. Falwell is much more pro McCain now. But I am surprised. I‘ll tell you, if the evangelical Christians or conservatives go for Rudy Giuliani, there‘s a real problem there, because Rudy is so—I mean, he is completely against every single thing they believe in.
CARLSON: The party is over, as we have conceived it. It‘s not the same Republican—It‘s a completely different Republican party.
FENN: Let me raise this, because there are a lot of other names. I think Mike Huckabee is a very attractive guy. I think the system is against him.
CARLSON: Now you‘re just being mean. You‘re being mean Peter.
FENN: If he had some money—I‘m just saying these guys are all—
CARLSON: You‘re mocking the process.
FENN: They‘re fatally flawed. I think these three guys—One of them may get the nod.
BUCHANAN: It‘s wide open. There is an alley right down there to the end zone, if somebody were out there and could do it.
FENN: Pat, are you going to announce now?
BUCHANAN: No, I‘ve been looking at—
CARLSON: Boy, I would vote for you. But let me ask you quickly, I almost feel guilty bringing this up, but there‘s no way around it. It‘s the news. Andrew Giuliani, the 21-year-old son, I believe a student at Duke, wants to be a professional golfer, son of Rudy Giuliani, famous from that moment at Giuliani‘s first inauguration, when he was up by the—
CARLSON: -- gave an interview to the “New York Times” and then, subsequent to that, to ABC News, in which he said, I don‘t talk to my father, essentially, very much, if at all, any more, because of his second or third wife, Judy Nathan, whom I dislike. We have this fractured relationship. I‘m not campaigning for him. Is this a problem?
BUCHANAN: I don‘t think the estrangement of a son—Because most Americans now know families where there‘s real problems like this, but if it draws out the whole, you know, the three marriages, and the problems with the third marriages, and Gracie Mansion, that soap opera before 9/11, that‘s a problem. I don‘t think a simple estrangement of a son is.
CARLSON: I want to put up quickly Mr. Giuliani‘s response to these stories. Here‘s what he said himself about his son:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These problems with blended families, you know, are challenges, sometimes they are. And the challenges are best worked on privately. In other words, the more privacy I can have for my family, the better we‘re going to be able to deal with all these difficulties. And the best way to kind of handle that is to make as little comment about this as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Good for him, and I agree. It must be said though that his son voluntarily talked to news organizations.
FENN: Right, I think these are tough things for any family and tough things if you‘re a politician, and I don‘t like to see them out there. I will tell you though that the public likes to see a three dimensional sense of a candidate. This is the most personal vote that anybody ever casts, is for president of the United States. They want to know these people. And they want to know what makes them tick and how they‘re ticking. And it‘s tough.
BUCHANAN: Our three top candidates have got eight wives among them.
Romney‘s grandfather had 14.
CARLSON: And yet, the Mormon candidate is the only one who has had one wife, amen. Boy, it‘s an irony-rich environment.
Up next, Anne Coulter strikes below the belt speaking before the Conservative Political Action Committee. She resorts to name calling and attacks the sexuality of a Democratic presidential hopeful. We‘ve got an update on the fallout from that.
Plus Michael Jackson still has it, a fan base that is, but he had to go to Tokyo to get it. His fans in the far East paid big bucks to get a glimpse of their King of Pop. We‘ll have the nauseating details when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNE COULTER, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: I was going to have a few
comment on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but
it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word faggot. So
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: That was Anne Coulter. And I‘m sorry. I was hoping to get an opportunity to warn you that she might say something that would offend you, but you already heard it. Our apologies. When you invite her to speak at your conference, you get exactly what you pay for. She used part of her time at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday to attack Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. You just heard it.
We‘re joined again by our all star panel of Pat Buchanan and Peter Fenn. Huh, there was a lot of—
FENN: I got to take a shower. The crazy thing about—and, you know, she‘s got a new book, got to sell that book, got to move that book. But this is—this isn‘t even isolated. She was on “HARDBALL” the other day and she said, I was joking. And she called Al Gore a fag. And then she proceeded, somehow, to get into a whole discussion about how Bill Clinton had gay tendencies. Now, I don‘t know what planet this woman is on.
CARLSON: Well, actually, you know, it‘s funny, I just pulled this today, because I was remembering this. She called me one, too. In 2002 --
I checked the date. It was exactly one month after my fourth child was born and she implied I was gay in an interview to the “New York Observer.” I can‘t exactly remember what the predicate for it was. I‘m not, by the way.
CARLSON: This is clearly a psychological—Here‘s the point I‘m making. I‘m obviously—unlike John Edwards, I‘m not pretending I‘m a victim or I‘ve been slurred. I didn‘t cry, actually, after she called me that. But like who cares what she says, I guess that‘s my point.
BUCHANAN: Let me say this. Let me speak up for him. I do think she‘s a very, very courageous individual. She‘s written some of these books, being one of the few people that came out and defended the late great tail gunner Joe McCarthy. I mean, --
BUCHANAN: -- from a justified point of view and done other things. She‘s been very, very gutsy. But sometimes she goes over the line, and no doubt about it. So why don‘t we agree to 15 yards penalty and loss of downs.
CARLSON: Wait, hold on. Let me get in here. Pat, I‘ve said this right to her face when she comes on, and we‘re always happy to have her on. She‘s great TV. She makes smart points. She‘s courageous. She‘s actually a very talented writer, believe it or not. She‘s a great stylist. She‘s pretty witty.
She completely discredits herself when she talks that way. Nobody hears what she says, like when she attacked the 9/11 widows and said, partly fairly, but then she went on to say, if your husbands had lived they would have divorced you. The second she said that, I thought, you know what, I can‘t even hear anything else you say, because that‘s so unreasonable.
BUCHANAN: But she made a very good point there about victims coming forward and being experts. And I‘ll tell you—
CARLSON: But it got lost.
BUCHANAN: I saw it with Katie Couric. I mean, that was as fine a job of TV counter punching as I‘ve ever seen done. But you‘re right in the mistakes. And she makes mistakes, no doubt about it.
FENN: Well, it‘s not only just makes mistakes. She‘s so over the top. When she was talking about Muslim countries and she said—she wrote this—but she wrote it. It wasn‘t even a slip of the tongue. She said we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.
CARLSON: I don‘t think it‘s that—In the world of ridiculous things, I‘ve heard more ridiculous than that.
BUCHANAN: I‘m an isolationist, but I‘ll go with the conversion.
FENN: That‘s a good way to get along with Muslims.
CARLSON: Peter, can I just say one thing? In the 30 seconds we‘ve got left, this is a sin, obviously. You shouldn‘t call people names like this. On the other hand, the sin of self-righteousness is also a sin, and I‘m wonder are Democrats getting up and saying, you have to apologize, on her behalf, to Republican candidates, like she‘s their problem.
FENN: They‘ve already apologized. But here‘s my point. I made the point in a blog today which was, hey, guess what, folks, with friends like that, the Republicans don‘t need enemies. She is the worst thing for Republicans right now.
CARLSON: But I haven‘t seen any Democrats apologizing for Louis Farrakhan, an active Democrat. I‘m dead serious.
FENN: Well, a lot of people went after Farrakhan, sister soldier moment, for Bill Clinton was key in his campaign. My point though is, and Republicans are being forced to disavow her, but then they bring her to their fund raisers.
CARLSON: Unfortunately we are out of time. Boy, she gets people wound up. Peter Fenn, Pat Buchanan, thank you.
Hillary Clinton‘s temporary southern twang was about as authentic as astro turf and it hurt just as much. But will it get her a spot along side Madonna in the phony accent hall of fame? Our resident linguistic expert Willie Geist joins us with the answer, next.
CARLSON: Joining us now, literally the best educated man in all of television, Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Wow.
CARLSON: You know, Willie? Every day we introduce you as our resident expert on one thing or another. Today it‘s linguistics. You‘re better than Joyce Brothers at this point.
GEIST: Breadth of knowledge, that‘s what I bring to this program, nothing important, but breadth. Well Tucker, Jesus juice and Neverland Ranch sleep over parties may have soften Michael Jackson‘s appeal here in the United States, but there‘s one place where Jacko will always be able to incite a Beetle mania style airport riot, Japan. That‘s right.
Jackson arrived yesterday in Tokyo, where he‘ll host a party for fans, with pay day reported 3,500 dollars to spend between 30 seconds and a minute with him, not that Michael‘s strapped for cash or anything. For 3,500 bucks, the fans don‘t even get to see Jackson perform. They just get to shake his hand.
As I have said before, Tucker, this is not good. This is an act of desperation. This is Mike Tyson wrestling an alligator for pocket cash. This is really bad.
CARLSON: On the other hand, I see so many business opportunities in Japan, Willie. I mean, smart people, who are probably the most gullible nation on Earth. We ought to take our act over there. We could make some serious cash.
GEIST: Absolutely. Also, who‘s still screaming in airports for Michael Jackson? He hasn‘t made an album for like 15 years.
CARLSON: You know, that‘s a country ripe for a religious movement.
GEIST: We‘ll talk after the show. Let‘s put something together. Well Tucker, you remember that American pizza chain that had the promotion for the last couple of months, where you could actually pay with Mexican Pesos? Well, it went so well that Pizza Petron is now making that its permanent policy.
The Dallas-based company says more than 60 percent of its customers are Latino and that many of them carry their pesos from frequent trips to Mexico. So, from hear on out, United States dollars completely unnecessary at Pizza Petron. The company says it is not trying to make any political statement with the policy. I‘m not an economist, Tucker, but it seems it‘s probably not a good thing. Maybe we need to get Margaret Brennan back out here, from CNBC, to explain it. But isn‘t there somebody bad about this? I think.
CARLSON: Well, the idea that, yes, we‘re accepting foreign currency for our product, but no, we‘re not making a political statement, I love that.
GEIST: Right, you know what, I think McDonald‘s should accept the Irish pound.
CARLSON: I totally agree with that. Or the Burkino Faso Shilling or something.
GEIST: Yes! We need to get more on this story. It strikes me as a little wrong.
Well, Tucker, you talked about it earlier in the show. Hillary Clinton revealing her inner southern belle to the Congregation at First Baptist Church in Selma, Alabama yesterday. In case you missed it, here is the stuff that “Saturday Night Live‘s” dreams are made of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I want to begin by giving praise to the almighty. I don‘t feel no ways tired. I come too far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be easy.
I could have listened all afternoon. That pulse and the chair of all the mayors in the country—Mayor Palmer from Trenton, New Jersey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: Shocking to say the least. But let‘s keep it in proper perspective. Sure, she was citing something else and her phony accent, to this point, as far as we know, has been isolated to just that one event. We‘ll certainly keep a close eye on it. But it‘s nothing compared to the on-going charade that is Madonna‘s phony accent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADONNA, SINGER: You have always heard about sexual fantasies and you always saw women objectified sexually, but always from a man‘s point of view. I thought it was about time that it came from a woman‘s point of view.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: Sexual fantasies, huh? Madonna, of course, the charter member of the phony accent hall of fame. Kevin Federline, of Fresno, California, has adopted a serious hip-hop accent. That lands him at a distant second place. And because it comes in the context of an important presidential race, Hillary Clinton slides in to the third spot in the hall of fame, just ahead of Gwyneth Paltrow, Lance Armstrong after the Tour de France, country music singers from Canada, and college students just back from semesters abroad, Tucker.
CARLSON: I‘m not voting for any of them, Willie, I have to say.
Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. Willie Geist! Thanks Willie.
That‘s it for us. Stay tuned for “HARDBALL.” We‘ll see you tomorrow.
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