Guests: Peter Fenn, Anne Kornblut, Mel Martinez, Mike Evans
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: The Hillary Clinton campaign sparked an outbreak of Hollywood parties last night as the glitterati continued its long tradition of fawning over Bill and Hillary.
Mrs. Clinton‘s seemingly unstoppable march toward the Democratic nomination may face an obstacle in this weekend‘s New York Times Magazine, in which reporters Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta have adapted an article from their upcoming biography of the senator.
In the piece, Mrs. Clinton is portrayed as having voted for the war resolution without having even read the National Intelligence Estimate. By contrast, her colleague at The Times, Senator Bob Graham of Florida, said he did bother to read the NIE, and therefore voted against the war.
Another troubling assertion from the article, Mrs. Clinton found herself making the administration‘s since discredited case that al Qaeda and Saddam were allied while most of her fellow Democratic senators, even those who voted for the war, were not convinced of that.
Furthermore, Mrs. Clinton spoke publicly of the importance of diplomacy before military action, but she proceeded to vote against an amendment to the war resolution which would have required more diplomacy than the Bush administration ultimately tried.
And as recently as February ‘05, Mrs. Clinton went to Baghdad and returned with a relatively optimistic assessment. The problem is none of these accounts of Hillary Clinton‘s position at the time of the Iraq War Resolution and after squares with her current anti-war position.
The question, will anybody notice and will it do damage to her campaign? Joining us now, Anne Kornblut of The Washington Post; and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.
Welcome to you both. Peter, I think the most damaging thing to come out of this book, at least from what we have seen of the book, is not all the kind of salacious detail about how she dealt with her husband‘s girlfriends, but the fact that she did not bother to read the National Intelligence Estimate before voting for the war in Iraq.
By contrast, Bob Graham in the book says, you know, I actually did take the time out of my busy life to go schlep over and read it, and after doing so I voted against the war. How can she defend that? It‘s hard to defend.
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I‘ll tell you, Tucker, first of all, she said many times that she has been briefed thoroughly by her staff, by the administration, by others about it.
Secondly, importantly, six out of 100 senators read that. It came in 10 days before the vote. It comes in with a lot of other things. You know, in hindsight, when one says, boy, I should read everything and I missed it and I am just real sorry I didn‘t read the whole thing—but you know.
FENN: No, let me make this point. Would it have changed her vote? I doubt it very much.
CARLSON: Well, I wonder why though? Because Bob Graham says, as I said, it changed his vote. Moreover, yes, only six out of 100 may have read the NIE, but only one out of a 100 is the leading Democratic senator for the nomination, and that‘s Hillary Clinton.
You would expect a little more from her than you would from your garden variety senator, A. B, this vote is the defining act of her time in the Senate so far. And the NIE was the defining document of the debate. Why the hell didn‘t she read it?
FENN: Well, it wasn‘t the defining document of the debate.
CARLSON: Yes it was.
FENN: No, there were a lot of documents in the debate. But you know, Graham was very critical because he was on the Intelligence Committee, very critical of our intelligence.
CARLSON: But she was on the Armed Services Committee.
FENN: She—no, she got appointed after the vote. But at any rate, the basic point here is that you had folks—a lot of folks that were skeptical and concerned about this vote, but in the end, 77 senators voted for this. She also said.
FENN: There are two other quick points I‘ll make. One is that just before the vote, she went into a meeting with senators, and she questioned what would happen after we invaded, what would a post-Saddam.
FENN: No, it‘s not, “OK, great.” The point is that there are a lot of people that raised a lot of questions. The one guy.
CARLSON: She did not do her homework.
CARLSON: She didn‘t. Now I want to ask you, Anne, here is what the campaign says. They have not been hit on this very hard for some reason, and I am not sure why, maybe because the book has not really come out yet. But her spokesman said this.
Mrs. Clinton was “briefed multiple times by several members of the administration on their intelligence regarding Iraq, including being briefed on the National Intelligence Estimate.”
Her whole point is the administration is untrustworthy, was untrustworthy then, and yet her explanation is, well, they told me it was OK?
ANNE KORNBLUT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I mean, I can tell you that as a sign of how seriously they take this, there are talking points already on this question. I think they are expecting to be hit pretty hard.
CARLSON: What are the talking points?
KORNBLUT: Well, you have just heard quite a number of them.
FENN: I haven‘t gotten.
CARLSON: No offense, Peter. They were not very good.
KORNBLUT: I‘m sure very coincidentally. But what you are hearing from the campaign now is that she is not the only senator, as you suggested, who did not read it.
CARLSON: All the kids are doing it.
KORNBLUT: Yes, exactly. All the kids were doing it. But also that they knew the administration‘s case for war and that the NIE was merely a recitation of that same exact case that they had heard over and over, that there was no expectation there was going to be anything new in it.
They didn‘t—they say, of course, it would not—it too would not have changed her vote. So they—and they also are pointing out that, you know, the other candidates, not just other senators, did not read it.
Now there is an interesting new sort of kerfuffle coming up now about whether John Edwards actually read it. His campaign had put out a statement a few days ago saying that he had been briefed fully, the way the senator had. He has now been quoted, I saw on the wires before I came over here, saying that he did read it.
So I think the question now is going to be applied to all the candidates, did they or did they not read it?
CARLSON: Well, I believe later in the show we have an actual explanation for why he voted for the war from an unimpeachable source. Peter, here is something I did not know that apparently is in this Van Natta and Gerth book, that Hillary Clinton came out and gave this speech when she voted for the war and said, look, I‘m for more diplomacy, this is not a blank check for preemptive war, we need more diplomacy.
And yet she did not vote for the Levin amendment, which a lot of other Democrats voted for, which would have forced the administration to use more diplomacy. If she is so in favor of diplomacy, why did she turn down the opportunity to vote for more diplomacy?
FENN: Look, those two votes—and look, would I have supported the Levin amendment? Yes, I would have. Would I have supported—I‘ve been against the war. I was against the war to start with. So I‘m—but, you are asking me to defend her position, which of course, she can do very well on her own.
But that amendment, it got about the same number of votes as—in other words, there was 75 votes against the Levin amendment. So what—they were put in tandem and most people, aside from about four, voted for the war and against the Levin amendment.
Part of it, I think, was that it was micromanaging. They wanted to say, oh, you have to go and you have to get a resolution of such and such from the U.N. You have to do this, you have to.
FENN: But, look, what is interesting (INAUDIBLE) to bring it up now, Tucker, but—and this is through of the whole book, I don‘t see a lot of new here.
CARLSON: . the fact that she did not bother to read the single most important intelligence document in the whole debate tells you everything.
FENN: You are now saying this is the single most.
CARLSON: It‘s the National Intelligence Estimate! What is more important than that?
FENN: There are a lot of National Intelligence Estimates. These things also always do that, on one hand, on the other hand.
CARLSON: . that is just factually untrue.
FENN: Look, if it was so important, why did only six out of 100 senators read it?
CARLSON: Because they are lazy and negligent, that‘s why! Republican and Democrat.
FENN: Because they were given the information for weeks before that from this administration.
CARLSON: No, no, no. Because they did not do their homework, and they all ought to be embarrassed about it.
FENN: It depends on which homework you are talking about.
KORNBLUT: I think what makes this such an interesting debate, and certainly I think from your perspectives, is that after 9/11, the Presidential Daily Briefing that Bush did not read, that Condi did not tell him about, about planes flying into the White House, and Senator Clinton has portrayed herself as the uber competent candidate.
CARLSON: That is such a smart point. I totally bought that. You see, that‘s why this is a big story, in my view. All the things that I don‘t care for about Hillary Clinton, I have always taken at face value the perception that this is a woman who does her homework, who studies hard, who knows more than you do about everything.
And here you have a case where she just, for reasons I honestly don‘t understand, I‘m not just being—you know, I really don‘t get, didn‘t read the single most important document. And Bob Graham did his homework and didn‘t—I mean, I actually don‘t understand why she didn‘t read it. Like, why not? How busy is she?
FENN: Before, I am sure if she was going to get this much criticism.
FENN: But let me just say, that, you know, there is—things are synthesized for senators all the time. They have briefings. They have people who come in and give them information, and to accuse—the one thing that is really difficult with Hillary Clinton, is she is unbelievably thorough. She is and a strong, tough lawyer. She does dot her Is and cross her Ts. She knows the stuff backwards and forwards, and my.
CARLSON: But she did not, actually.
FENN: Well, I think she.
CARLSON: But see, the truth is she didn‘t in this case.
CARLSON: . it‘s so amazing to me.
FENN: You know who else she had briefing her? She had Bill Clinton briefing her all the time, too. So if there was anybody who went into that debate knowledgeable about Iraq.
CARLSON: And look what it got her.
FENN: Well, exactly.
CARLSON: And it got her a vote in favor of the war.
FENN: I agree—Tucker, you and I agree on that basic point, I am against it, too. And I wish more people had voted against it.
CARLSON: Here‘s the bottom line as far as I‘m concerned. I‘m not saying Hillary is evil at all. I don‘t believe that. I just think two things. One, I think she was negligent in not reading that. And two, people don‘t understand that she was more ferociously right-wing on the war than I ever was. And I am a professionally ferocious right-winger.
So that kind of tells you something. And now she is Ms. Moveon.org.
CARLSON: No, I‘m serious, though. She was out there making the Dick Cheney case for the war. I would never do that. I never believed that. And she did.
FENN: Well, Dick Cheney was making the Dick Cheney case. Dick Cheney was saying that they met in Prague. That there is a link.
CARLSON: OK. I remember. OK. I‘m just saying, she was.
KORNBLUT: And to be truthful, if you go back and read, what I find most interesting, reading her floor statement from around the time of the vote, which I have read many times, is that she—it‘s full of caveats.
It‘s not that she is one position or the other, you could read that statement at any point in time in this and come up with any kind of war position you want.
CARLSON: Well, that‘s true. I‘m sorry, I‘m being told we have a commercial break to take. So we‘re going to ahead and do that.
President Bush is losing support from fellow Republicans on the war in Iraq, but he never really had much support on the question of immigration. Is the president all alone on that? We know he has got at least two supporters. We will talk with one of them in a moment, the one who is not Ted Kennedy.
And the U.S. plans now plans to open its borders to more Iraqi refugees. Should we let them in? Is it our responsibility to take care of them? And is it good for America? You are watching MSNBC, the most impressive name in news.
CARLSON: Despite sagging national poll numbers, President Bush still has political allies in his struggling Iraq War policy. It‘s his proposed immigration legislation that more than any other issue has divided his own party. The question is, is the split within the Republican Party terminal? Joining us now, the chairman of the Republican Party, and also U.S. senator from the state of Florida, Mel Martinez.
Senator, thanks for coming on.
SEN. MEL MARTINEZ (R-FL), RNC CHMN.: Hey, Tucker, good to see you.
CARLSON: On Tuesday the president, while making the case for this immigration bill, said this. He said: “I‘m sure you‘ve heard some talk out there of people defining the bill. It‘s clear to me they haven‘t read the bill. They‘re speculating on what the bill says. They‘re trying to rile up people‘s emotions.”
In other words, the president is saying, if you disagree with the legislation, you‘re either uninformed, you‘re dumb, you haven‘t bother to read it, or you‘re a demagogue and you‘re trying to whip people into a frenzy. It doesn‘t seem like he leaves room for an honest disagreement with his position.
MARTINEZ: Well, I think there is room for an honest disagreement. But here is the point. I think there has been an awful lot of rush to judgment on this bill. I recall a lot of people saying “amnesty, amnesty” before they had an opportunity to read the bill.
And I think what it is, is that he and I both happen to have a strong opinion that this bill is not amnesty, that it does a lot to secure the border, which comes first, and also an internal enforcement by requiring an employment verification card which is going to be tamper-proof.
So those things come first before any talk of legalizing anyone, which there isn‘t a path to citizenship—an automatic path to citizenship. So all of these things frankly seem to get overlooked as people just rush to say “amnesty, amnesty.”
CARLSON: OK. Well, you are making an affirmative case for the bill. And I think that‘s great. That‘s what thoughtful people do. They take their position and they explain it. This president‘s M.O. is not to explain things, but to just say, I am right, you are wrong.
He said this, if you want to kill this bill, if you don‘t want to do what is right for America, you‘re against this bill, you‘re against America. Now the White House has come out and said, oh, we weren‘t claiming the enemies of the bill are unpatriotic. But that‘s in effect what the president is saying.
Why doesn‘t he bother to explain the bill rather than attack people who don‘t like it?
MARTINEZ: Well, I was there with him when he gave that talk and he did explain his position on the bill and explained the bill much as I‘ve done with you here today. But I think the fact of the matter is, the president is incredibly passionate about this issue.
It is something that he understands in his being. He grew up in Texas. He has been around this issue all of his life. He knows it as a governor. And I think he‘s very passionate about it.
And so I think at the end of the day, we need to understand that this is an issue that is divisive by the nature of the issue and the president has taken a courageous and strong position, trying to lead not only the country but also his party on a tough issue, one that is difficult.
And by the way, I don‘t know that it is a matter of isolation. I think at the end of the day—at the end of next week when this bill is voted on in the Senate, more than half the Republicans in the Senate will vote for this bill, I think. And I think that will be a surprisingly strong vote.
CARLSON: Well, what is striking to me though is the most vocal criticism of this legislation comes from the president‘s own supporters—or would-be supporters—or former supporters, his base, conservative Republicans, the people who put him in office twice, really the last people in the country who tell pollsters they like him.
And he comes out there and says, if you‘re against this bill, you don‘t want to do what is right for America. He seems to be almost intentionally picking a fight with the only people who like him. Why would he do that?
MARTINEZ: No. I think what he is trying to do is to persuade. I think he is trying to let people know how strongly he feels about the issue. And I don‘t think he was trying to make that comment in the way that it has been interpreted.
I don‘t think it was intended to be either you‘re with me or you don‘t understand what is good for America. I think what he was saying essentially is, I feel so strongly that this is the right thing for America, that this is a difficult thing for people to get their arms around, but it is right thing for our country.
At the end of the day, Tucker, I think this issue is as divisive as can be. There are Republicans that don‘t like it. There are Republicans who do like it. And there are Democrats who like it and Democrats who don‘t like it. It‘s just a tough, divisive issue.
CARLSON: But you—I mean, as the—you‘re the head of the Republican Party, so you of course spend your life thinking about questions like this and you‘re obviously familiar with what the head of the party in Arizona has reported, that all of these Republicans that came into Republican Party headquarters in Arizona and ripped up their registration cards—I‘m becoming an independent, they said.
He‘s claiming they‘re losing a lot of Republican voters in that state over this issue, do you believe him? Is that a problem?
MARTINEZ: No. I don‘t believe him. I‘m sure that we lost some support. There is no question. But I think overall, frankly, you know, when you‘re going to take a sample anecdotally, that doesn‘t really tell you the story.
I think we need to look at the polling. When you look at polls, over two-thirds of Americans support this position.
CARLSON: But what about conservative—what about primary-voting Republicans? Do they.
MARTINEZ: I think, frankly—I think this is a divided house and I think there is a small minority that doesn‘t agree within the Republican Party. I think a vast majority of Republicans understand it. This is a difficult problem that we‘re trying to do the very best we can to solve a difficult problem.
And frankly what is really absent is, what is the alternative? What else would people suggest we do in order to solve this problem?
One of the things the president said, frankly, is that it is simply impractical to deport 12 million people. It‘s just not going to happen, Tucker. Come up with an answer. What is your solution? You‘re not for the bill. You don‘t like it. Tell me what it is you think we should do.
What is the thoughtful approach that is going to unite America, that is going to solve a problem of a 20-year old broken down immigration system?
CARLSON: Well, I would actually punish employers for real who hire illegal aliens, I mean, actually punish them.
MARTINEZ: But that was suggested.
CARLSON: And I would build a border wall and I would stop complaining about how it‘s not possible. We‘re spending billions upon billions in this war in Iraq. I don‘t know, it seems to me we could secure our borders in a more genuine way.
And I‘d also make illegal aliens pay their taxes, something you all don‘t think they need to do.
MARTINEZ: No, the Senate last week moved an amendment so they would pay their back taxes and we are building a wall, 370 miles of it and more if needed, 200 miles of vehicle barrier, 18,000 Border Patrol agents, drones and electronic surveillance and other ways as well.
We‘re securing the border, Tucker. This is happening as we speak. It has been happening. The Department of Homeland Security says in 18 months they‘ll have essentially a secure border.
And at the end of the day, none of the other aspects of this bill come into effect until the border is secure.
CARLSON: OK. Mel Martinez, senator from Florida, head of the Republican Party, I appreciate you coming on, Senator, thanks.
MARTINEZ: Thank you, bye.
CARLSON: Are borders now opening up for more Iraqi refugees? The U.S. is letting them in by the thousands instead of the hundreds. Is it our obligation to take care of them?
Plus, Fred Thompson makes it clear the politician-turned-actor-turned-definitely running for president of the United States, will this give conservatives what they want? We‘ll find out. This is MSNBC.
CARLSON: Among the many tragic results of the Iraq War include the more than 2 million Iraqi refugees who have fled that country mostly into neighboring countries. Does the U.S. government‘s decision to invade that country make us responsible for the Iraqi refugees?
Well, under heavy political pressure just for accepting 800 refugees since 2003, the administration has announced a new plan, that is, 7,000 more will be welcomed into the U.S. by this fall.
We certainly broke Iraq, are we responsible for fixing it? Here with their views, Anne Kornblut of The Washington Post, and Peter Fenn, Democratic strategist and contributor to The Hill‘s “Pundit‘s Blog.”
It seems to me, Anne, this is one of these potentially pretty explosive political issues—or maybe not, maybe I‘m the only one who cares. But—I mean, the one consistent theme through history is one country invades another, in the end, the poorer country‘s population winds up in the richer country‘s country, right? And so do you think ordinary people are kind of excited by the idea of 100,000 Iraqi refugees living here?
KORNBLUT: Well, living here or, for that matter, living right around
you know, in the Middle East? I mean, I think it‘s an explosive political issue at this particular time given the last segment that we just talked about.
We have got immigration on the table. We have Arabs who are a large voting bloc in the Democratic Party. And we have now—what is it, you know, a fifth of the 7,000 that were supposed to be allowed in that have actually been allowed in.
I would expect that during the presidential campaign, it will actually be something of an issue.
FENN: I absolutely agree. And I‘m going to come out as a strong liberal on this. I mean, on the one hand, you have got Colin Powell when he said, you break it, you own it. And we broke it. And it‘s not just the 2 million that have left the country, it‘s 4 million that are homeless because of.
CARLSON: Hold it. When you say we broke it, I‘m not—you know, I think the war has been really bad for the United States. On the other hand, do you think if you had said in 2002, before the war began, 1992, if you‘re an Iraqi, you can come to the United States, do you think any fewer Iraqis would have come then than are desiring to come now? No.
I mean, Iraq has been broken—it‘s worse now than it has been, but it has been broken for decades.
FENN: Listen, I am not saying open up your borders to everybody, but what I am saying is if you look at the history of this, if you go back to Vietnam and you look at what ended up happening in Vietnam and the refugees that came to the United States, those are some of our most impressive, strongest citizens in our country. That‘s number one.
Secondly, you know, we had a lot of those Iraqis working with us. They‘re employed by us or by our contractors. They have put their lives on the line in that conflict. Those people will be dead unless they get out of there. They are serious political refugees. And I think something should be done for them.
But more important, I think the notion that we would only appropriate $20 million for refugee assistance is a crime. It‘s a complete crime.
CARLSON: So you think that millions—hundreds of thousands more Iraqis in this country will make this a better country? I wonder why the Europeans don‘t feel the same way, Anne. Europe has looked askance on this war, fine. But they haven‘t let many Iraqis in to the E.U., some of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden markedly has let a fair amount of Iraqis.
But you know, Germany and France, they have turned them way, why?
KORNBLUT: I‘m certainly no expert on immigration policy. But I would say that most of Europe believes this is America‘s war at this point and that the rest of the Middle East has absorbed a great number of refugees.
CARLSON: That‘s right. Jordan and Syria.
KORNBLUT: Syria in particular. So I think that‘s where we‘re going to get the diplomatic pressure from. It doesn‘t really matter what Europe does or doesn‘t do.
CARLSON: Right. I think it will come from Jordan. And I think Jordan can make a fair case with this many Iraqis within its borders. Actually, it‘s a destabilizing force. It‘s already a country made up largely of refugees anyway, Palestinians.
But I just think, in the end, the case that we somehow, after 3,000, more than, Americans have died in Iraq, that we owe it to Iraq to let‘s its population move here is not a very compelling argument.
FENN: I think we owe it to a lot of the people. I‘m not saying, as I said, open all the borders, let them all in, but 7,000 doesn‘t strike me as an outrageous amount. But you just can‘t wash your hands of this, Tucker.
CARLSON: Well, we are not—we will have hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in this country, no doubt. That‘s a prediction that I would bet my house on. We will.
FENN: I think you may be right.
CARLSON: I know I‘m right. I thought that when we invaded.
FENN: And you know something, I‘m not so terribly worried about it.
CARLSON: All right. Well, good luck to you.
She‘s not quite flying for free in Air Force One just yet, but Hillary Clinton is coming awfully close, taking advantage of a rule that lets her fly on hundred thousand dollar charter flights for mere pennies on the dollar. It is a good idea? It‘s allowed, but is it right?
Plus, after months of speculation and report after report saying he is going to run for president, Fred Thompson has all but made it official that he is in fact in. What does this mean for the other 10 Republicans who are already in the race? We‘ll tell you, we‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: The country has held its breath for the last two days about the man who took an international flight despite having a vaccine resistant strain of tuberculosis. That patient, who has been identified as 31 year old Andrew Speaker, is in a Colorado hospital today. The search is on for about 80 people who shared recirculated air with him on his flights to and from Europe.
But why was he allowed on an airplane or out of the hospital in the first place? Well, adjunct to this story is a cautionary tail in today‘s “Washington Times.” That recounts Northwest Flight 327, which took place in June of 2004. On that flight, 13 Syrian men with expired visas were allowed on board despite an FBI warning about potential terror attacks on airplanes.
After behaving suspiciously during the flight, the men were detained, but only two were questioned. Why were the men allowed on that plane in the first place? The tuberculosis story and the story of Flight 327 present perhaps the same question, are we to PC to keep ourselves safe?
Anne Kornblut of the “Washington Post” joins us again, as does Peter Fenn, the famed Democratic strategist.
FENN: You must have been ad-libbing quite a bit.
CARLSON: I was ad-libbing, but ad-libbing to your great benefit. Anne, it seems to me there is a public policy question raised even about the tuberculosis story. Is the U.S. government serious about containing communicable diseases like this, and is it capable of doing so?
KORNBLUT: What I find so incredible about this is just as this guy was being pulled off of his honeymoon, I was having my mascara and tooth paste confiscated on the way to Iowa. I think I‘ve spent a few hundred dollars on that very thing alone this year. What strikes me—and I travel a lot, as do the two of you—is how impossible it really.
It‘s hard for me to see what further precautions you could take at every step along the way, particularly at the airport with the TFA workers. Certainly not everything has been implemented so far, but they really seem stretched thin as it is.
CARLSON: Yes, I mean, the conversation, though, is almost solely about the rights of the afflicted in this and every other case in American society. Someone is sick with whatever virus or ailment it is, and that person has certificate rights and they can not be abridged. But you do sort of wonder at a certain point, what about the rights of everybody else. You have a disease that can be communicated—can be spread orally. You cough and I get it.
And we are unwilling to do anything about it, basically.
FENN: I think Anne‘s point is absolutely correct and you are right. How many of us, after every darn plane trip that we take, don‘t come back with some kind of a cold or a virus.
CARLSON: But this is a—
FENN: I understand that. But my point being, to agree with you, that we do not have in place now a system that handles this. You can put—they have done it, the studies. They have put a gun in a suitcase and it goes through the thing, and they pick it up and keep going. The stuff is not working very well.
CARLSON: But is there the will to do it. I think the last time we quarantined anyone—the last time the feds quarantined anyone John Kennedy was president. It has been 44 years.
FENN: I think, you know, probably, what has happened in a lot of this is they think, oh, TB, that‘s gone. It‘s done. We don‘t have to worry about that any more. Well folks, guess what, you do.
CARLSON: Yes, and speaking of airplanes—look, if you want to fly on an airplane, and I think it‘s fair to say—and you don‘t want to get sick. You‘re a germaphobe, you don‘t want to get drug resistant TB. A charter flight is probably your safest option. That may account for why Hillary Clinton flies on charters almost every day, sometimes literally three times a day.
For doing this, for this great privilege—rich friends of hers give her these planes—she pays, as you know, first class airfare. When, in many cases, it cost 100,000 dollars or more to fly these airlines. She says, “quote, these were not gifts. Whatever I have done, I have complied with Senate rules at the time. That‘s the way every senator operates. Those are the rules. You will have to ask somebody else whether that is good policy.”
It was allowed, so I did it. Is that sufficient as an explanation?
KORNBLUT: I am not going to judge the policy is an answer you hear a lot out of these candidates when they have done something that is technically legal, but the people will not like. I will say, in something of her defense, all of these guys do it.
CARLSON: Of course, they all do. No doubt.
KORNBLUT: If you look at their campaign schedules, they actually could not keep up with their campaign schedules if they did not get on these private planes. Her campaign would say, in her defense, that she supported legislation that passed in the Senate to increase the cost that you would pay for these flights. But as of now, look, there is no great political will to really want to move this thing, give that they all get really cheap flights.
CARLSON: I‘m glad you brought that up, because that make it even more puzzling to me. You support legislation requiring members of Congress to pay the actual cost of the flight. That legislation hasn‘t passed yet, so you don‘t abide by it. So she is for it. She could pay. She wanted—
But wait a second, you can change your behavior, but she doesn‘t. Why doesn‘t she?
FENN: Well, let me make a couple points here. First of all, if you are the sole person who does that, it is going to cost your campaign—
CARLSON: But it‘s the right thing to do.
FENN: It‘s absolutely the right thing.
CARLSON: Why doesn‘t she do it?
FENN: Here is what has happened with this. It started out that first class plus a buck or whatever the heck they do, and it was used very rarely. Everybody uses this stuff all the time now and it‘s outrageous. I mean, Tom Delay goes to get finger printed in Texas—
CARLSON: You‘re dodging the—
FENN: Let me just finish this point.—on a corporate jet, owned by the tobacco companies. Probably them too. I think we ought to stop it.
CARLSON: We don‘t need to stop it. All we need to do is look inside. Take a look at your conscience, say to yourself before you do something, is this the right thing to do?
FENN: But then what happens is you have how many millions of dollars less to spend on your advertising in Iowa, because you paid all this money, and everybody else has not.
CARLSON: You‘re saying, he is robbing banks, therefore I better.
FENN: What I am saying is that this has turned into an abuse by members of Congress. It has become more difficult to fly, more and more of them take these corporate private jets.
CARLSON: We don‘t need for that day to come. The blessed day could come now.
KORNBLUT: They all say, once I am elected, I promise I will turn around and change everything.
CARLSON: And trust me, I am not singling out Hillary, except to the extent she is more self righteous than most. All of them do this. Republicans do it as well.
CARLSON: But you are arguing for unilateral disarmament.
CARLSON: No, I am arguing for doing the right thing. I am arguing for doing the thing you voted for.
KORNBLUT: So are you vowing no private planes?
CARLSON: I am vowing that I will accept a ride on a private plane from anybody that offers one to me. OK, that‘s exactly right. But I am not running for president. And one claim I never make; I never claim to be better than anyone, ever, because I am not. She does claim to be.
FENN: You‘re taking care of the Carbon set asides, right?
CARLSON: I‘m telling you, if the Dioxide lobby wants to fly me to Vegas, I am there. OK, Fred Thompson, someone who has probably accepted a flight from that very lobby, is running for president. Here is what John McCain, the man Thompson endorsed in 2000, says, quote, McCain says, “Fred is a very good friend. I guess my words are, come on in. The water‘s fine.” Mildly amusing, gracious. Both ways to describe McCain. He‘s both those things. This hurts him though, doesn‘t it?
KORNBLUT: I think actually his supporters would say that this hurts actually Mitt Romney or the people who would be running for the conservative end of things. I mean, Fred Thompson really is entering the race because conservatives are the restive ones. They don‘t know who they like. They see him, rightly or wrongly, as their real conservative.
So, you know, McCain and Giuliani are still duking it out over similar turf. McCain thinks he can get the conservative turf. But I would say for now that that‘s really a Romney race.
CARLSON: I think you may be right. Speaking of races, Bob Shrum has written this piece about the last—this book, rather, that is really remarkable. It has not come yet. There was excerpt, however, in “Time Magazine.” And it has him explaining how he convinced John Edwards to vote for the war in Iraq.
He said Edwards was skeptical. He didn‘t want to vote for the war. His wife, Elizabeth, said absolutely not. And yet we knew that Edwards was on the Intelligence Committee, but he was too junior in the Senate. He didn‘t have the credibility to vote against the resolution. I said he had to be for it. As I listen to this, I watched Edwards‘ face. He did not like where he was being pushed to go, but he went there anyway. He did it anyway on the advice of his hired political consultant. That‘s like basically disqualifying. You can‘t be president after that. Can you? Seriously.
FENN: I‘ll tell you, the whole book, I don‘t know what Shrum really has it on for Edwards on a lot of fronts, because it‘s pretty damming all along. And, of course, Edwards can not get involved in a tit for tat, no, I didn‘t say this. I didn‘t say that in this kind of situation. But, I will tell you, going with your gut in these kinds of things, going with what you believe, it‘s always the best way.
CARLSON: Yes, I think that‘s right.
KORNBLUT: And reporters have said, by the way, that is not true, that this is not the reason that Edwards—
CARLSON: Of course, what else will they say? In the book, he also says that Kerry went against his own gut and picked John Edwards as his running mate. He thought Edwards was kind of a creep and a phony, didn‘t like him, actually gave him the willies. But he picked him anyway, partly because polling showed Hillary Clinton would have been too divisive. That‘s so interesting. Do you think that‘s true?
KORNBLUT: Well, finding polling that shows Hillary Clinton as being divisive is not very difficult. What strikes me most about this book is Shrum must really mean it when he says he‘s retired. Because after turning on all the people he‘s ever worked with, and in such really personal ways, you have to anticipate he‘s not going to be coming back to join the end of this campaign or any other.
CARLSON: Let me just say, when one of our producers writes a book about me, I just want to say it‘s untrue.
FENN: You will autograph it.
CARLSON: I‘m actually—I‘m kind of on Edwards‘ and Kerry‘s side in this. I do feel sorry for them, but I would not vote for them. Anne Kornblut, Peter Fenn, thank you very much.
None of the U.S. strategies seem to be winning the war in Iraq. Should our generals on the ground think of something completely new? Maybe try a new strategy like bombing Iran?
And just when you forgot about the old Nessie, it seems she has surfaced again. We‘ll check in with the president of the Loch Ness Monster Fan Club. That‘s, of course, Willie Geist, for the latest on Scotland‘s national treasure. All coming up next.
CARLSON: Is attacking Iran the way to win in Iraq? Is the next U.S. president likely to face a more horrific scenario than 9/11 if Iran is not dealt with immediately? Those are some of the provocative questions raised by Mike Evans in his new book “The Final Move Beyond Iraq, The Final Solution While the World Sleeps.” That book will debut number one on the “New York Times” paperback best seller list next week. Mike Evans joins us now in studio. Mr. Evans, thanks for coming on.
MIKE EVANS, AUTHOR, “THE FINAL MOVE BEYOND IRAQ”: Thank you, glad to be with you.
CARLSON: Thank you very much. Dealing with Iran, you say, is the key to the future of Iraq?
EVANS: Eighty five percent of the suicide bombings, the attacks, are coming from Iran. That‘s what the Iraqi government leaders are telling you.
CARLSON: What does that mean? That the suicide bombers are Iranian?
EVANS: Four hundred mile open border. You‘ve got billions of dollars pushing into the country every month. President Barzani, most of the Kurdish leaders have told me this. They said the cash, the IEDS, the intel, the proxies; there is a consulate in every city. There is an embassy in Baghdad.
This is an Islamic revolution, not Arab, by the way, non-Arab Islamic revolution pushing through an Arab country.
CARLSON: And it‘s being financed by Iran?
EVANS: Yes, and by the way; if we pull out, guess who dies? The millions of Arabs will be killed that were the allies helping us. All the Christians will be killed. And the Kurds will be killed, who were gassed. That‘s what we get, thank you very much. The Arabs will hate us in the entire world.
CARLSON: So what exactly is the solution?
EVANS: Well, the solution, number one, is to hit the bad guys with a baseball bat and knock them right around. What should we do first? Bankrupt them. It works.
CARLSON: The bad guys are who specifically?
EVANS: Iran. Iran needs to be bankrupt. How can you do it? Thirty five percent of their fuel imported, gasoline and oil. Shut it down. Stop the IPS. Bankrupt the country and do it quick. We can suck the oxygen out of Iran quick.
CARLSON: But wait, we have had an embargo against—we‘ve had no relations with Iran since 1979?
EVANS: It‘s completely the theater. Listen, look at what they did last week, a couple days ago, they showed up and they had tea in Baghdad. That‘s like going to Auschwitz and discussing fascism with Hitler during World War II. It‘s completely theater. Iran won in Baghdad. It‘s a game. Listen, this is not about democracy or stability. That‘s stupidity.
This is either the central front on the war on terror to fight the bad guys or get the heck out.
CARLSON: Iran is?
EVANS: Iraq is. It‘s either the central front on the war in terror, and stop the rhetoric about democracy and stability in Iraq, because it‘s nutty. How can you invite all the terrorists to come into a country to fight you, and then promise everybody democracy and stability. That‘s stupidity.
CARLSON: It seems to me that the United States has tacitly backed the Shiites in Iraq. They‘re the majority and the idea is in a democracy, the majority has to have the final say in anything. So it looks to me like we have thrown our weight behind the Shiites, who are the natural allies of Iran?
EVANS: You don‘t really believe that?
CARLSON: I do believe that.
EVANS: No you don‘t. Hitler was elected by a majority, a democracy.
CARLSON: I suppose my question is, do you think we made a mistake in backing a Democratic system in Iraq, because almost by definition that would empower the Shiites in the country?
EVANS: Yes, because there is no rule of law. Who is the most powerful boy on the block? Muqtada al Sadr. Not Maliki. The Mahdi Army. And by the way, what does Mahdi mean? This is the 12th Imam. They believe they‘re going to bring an apocalypse, a perfect human being, through a mushroom cloud. It‘s completely nutty. We have got to either fight terrorism in Iraq --
And by the way, we should apologize to the American people for what? For promising democracy and stability. That‘s the real problem. If we are going to fight the central front in the war in terror, than fight it as a war on terror, and help the Iraqis that are suffering right now. We need to help those poor refugees. They are suffering terribly. But there is a war to fight. We can‘t pull out of Iraq.
CARLSON: Should we bomb Iran?
EVANS: Listen, if we won‘t get serious about embargoes and dealing with them economically, we‘ve got to hit—according to the top Israeli general, former chief of staff, he said we have got to hit their hard spots. He said there is 1,110 hard spots. If we don‘t hit them, the Arab world is screwed. He said if they go nuclear, they are going to push right through Iraq, all the way to Lebanon with an Islamic Khomeini type revolution. Then they‘re going to go after the Arabs.
They consider the Arabs infidels. They consider Jews infidels. They consider Christians infidels. They will have a nuclear umbrella to protect them. What will we get in America? Asymmetrical terrorism, like Israel, 20,000 attempted suicide attacks in Israel. You think they won‘t come here? You‘re darn right they will if they have a nuclear umbrella, but they‘ll start with a 625 dollar package.
CARLSON: All right, Mike Evans, “The Final Move Beyond Iraq,” I appreciate you coming on.
EVANS: Thank you, delighted.
CARLSON: Thanks. A favorite goes down in a national spelling bee, shocker. What was the word that got him. And does Vegas really make favorites in spelling bees. Willie Geist has the answers to those questions when we come back. You‘re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: And now with more on our options with Iran, we welcome Willie Geist. Willie?
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Mike Evans is a man who believes in what he says. Do you get that impression?
CARLSON: Yes, I definitely did.
GEIST: He also has the courage to rock that beard too. Not a lot of people would be gutsy enough to do that. But a man believes in what he‘s saying. Tucker, I have some good tape for you here. An 84-year-old gal in Madrid getting back on the trapeze after 47 years off. She was in the circus back in the old days.
Inspirational, I think. Wouldn‘t have minded some tights. But other than that, pretty cool. Look at her go there, wow.
CARLSON: Let me just say, Willie. I can‘t believe you just put that video on our air.
CARLSON: I don‘t think—She is really in her 80‘s, that woman?
GEIST: Yes, she‘s 84-years-old. She was in the -- 47 years since she‘s been up there. They called her the space doll, Carmen Sanchez, back in the day. She can work it out. There she goes.
Well, Tucker, let‘s get right to the news here. You know, I would never call a 13-year-old boy a choke artist. That is just wrong and unfair. So insert your own more compassionate synonym to describe Samir Patel. He was the favorite entering this week‘s National Spelling Bee in Washington.
I‘m not sure exactly who sets favorites for spelling bees, probably one of those shady casinos off the strip in Vegas. Anyway, Samir Patel‘s juggernaut appeared to be steam rolling it‘s way to inevitable victory until this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMIR PATEL, SPELLING BEE CONTESTANT: Clevis, C-L-E-V-I-C-E, clevis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clevis is C-L-E-V-I-S.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: In the immortal words of Alex Trebeck, oh, sorry. By the way, clevis is a fastening device. But you already knew that. After Patel was eliminated, Tucker, he choked back tears as he lamented the mistake that will haunt him for a lifetime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATEL: The first thing that I thought was CLEVIS, duh, so obvious, easy. And then I tried to over think myself. My strategy is always to be slow and cautious. And if I had just blurted out the first thing I heard, I would have got it right. I don‘t know why I decided to outsmart myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: tucker, don‘t over think it. That‘s the lesson from Samir Patel.
CARLSON: It is not often you see a 13-year-old with Elvis-level sideburns. I appreciate it, admire it. I‘m for it.
GEIST: Yes, he looked good. This spelling bee, by the way, always provides great theater. You remember a couple years ago when the kid literally fainted in the middle of spelling a word, popped back up on his feet and got it correct. That was one of the great moments in sports history.
CARLSON: I believe we featured that prominently on our show for about eight days running.
GEIST: We absolutely did, and wouldn‘t you. And then there was the girl who, about ten years ago, who would say one letter and then talk into her hands, and then say the next letter. She won the entire competition. So, there should be some good stuff in the finals. Keep your eyes open.
CARLSON: We need a where are they now show, based on former winners of the spelling bee.
GEIST: I don‘t think you want to know. Well, Tucker, if you are still one of the naive fools who doesn‘t believe in the Loch Ness monster, try this definitive home video on for size. Nessie watchers are calling the amateur footage the best ever captured by the monster. The scientists who shot the video says he couldn‘t believe his eyes—you see it here—when he saw the 45-foot beast cruising near the surface of the 750 foot deep Loch Ness in Scotland.
There have been more than 4,000 reported sightings of the Loch Ness monster since it was first spotted in the 1930s. Tucker, as I watch this video, two simple words come to mind, case closed. Look at that. How are you going to refute that? It is video. It‘s right there. Are you going to argue?
CARLSON: Honestly, I am sold. I‘m sold. Yes, you don‘t need to convince me. I believe in that more than I do Social Security, let me put it that way.
GEIST: And you know what, that video is a little bit more convincing than the Big Foot footage, which usually get, which sort of amounts to a guy dressed in a guerrilla costume walking through the woods as his buddy shoots him. There he is, walking away through the yard. I think I am more prone to believe in Loch Ness than Sasquatch.
GEIST: Well Tucker, some politics for you; when you are competition to be the cool Democratic presidential candidate consists of the likes of Chris Dodd and Dennis Kucinich, your job isn‘t terribly difficult. Barack Obama seems to be winning the cool vote by a wide margin and he got some more help in that department when George Clooney and Matt Damon both announced in a new interview that they are supporting Obama‘s run for the White House.
The “Ocean‘s 13” cool guys say they are inspired by Senator Obama. Clooney did however warn that he supported his father‘s run for Congress in 2004 and, as we all know, that did not end particularly well. So, Tucker, I guess Obama cements his role as the cool Democratic candidate.
CARLSON: You know, I sort of get it. On the other had, Dennis Kucinich, he‘s a vegan. He‘s got a kind of glamorous looking wife. He thinks way outside the normal parameters most of us use to thinking within. I don‘t know, he seems to me the obvious cool candidate.
GEIST: Kucinich is a closeted cool guy. People don‘t know he is cool, but he actually is. Obama is sort of the more obvious one.
CARLSON: Yes, Dennis was using bio-diesel before bio-diesel was cool.
GEIST: That‘s right, always ahead of the curve. Eat your spinach Tucker.
CARLSON: He will always be a winner in my heart. Willie Geist, thanks Willie. That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. We‘re back tomorrow. Join us then. Have a great night.
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