Guests: Ron Paul, Peter Beinart, Peter King
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: It isn‘t easy standing alone as one of the last true small government conservatives in today‘s Republican Party, even your colleagues are apt to call you names: eccentric, odd, crazy. Congressman Ron Paul of Texas doesn‘t seem to care.
He was at it again last night at the presidential primary debate in New Hampshire, reminding his party and the country what it used to mean to be a Republican. In previous debates, Dr. Paul has gone after frontrunner Rudy Giuliani and his lack of foreign policy experience. He even gave the former mayor a homework assignment on what he and the CIA see as the true causes of terrorism and ill-will toward America.
Some were offended. To others Ron Paul rose instantly to the level of folk hero. He himself joins us now. We are glad to be welcoming from Capitol Hill, physician, presidential hopeful, and Republican Congressman Ron Paul.
Dr. Paul, thanks for coming on.
REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Tucker.
Good to be with you.
CARLSON: I noticed that a number of different candidates in last night‘s debate went after President Bush. President Bush is still really popular among Republican primary voters. Is that a wise strategy, do you think? And why do you think the president is still popular with people who define themselves as conservative?
PAUL: Well, of course, the first two debates, they didn‘t do it. They did it more last night. But maybe his numbers are getting so low that they think there is an advantage to it. I‘ve generally tried to stay away from personalizing things. I usually try to stick with the philosophy.
And as you said in the introductions, it is sort of strange that they call me eccentric and strange when I defend the Constitution. But I think that‘s the point where we‘ve gotten to where defending the constitution is a little bit different.
But just why they have started to pick on George Bush, they must think it is better strategy than ignoring him.
CARLSON: But what does it tell you about the condition of the party? That it is not just people in Washington. The conventional explanation is the party in D.C., the Republicans here are corrupt and they have been corrupted by power. But ordinary republican voters, primary voters still like and approve of President Bush and his performance. What does that tell you?
PAUL: Yes. Well, I think the party is in shambles. You know, they asked questions to the other candidates last night about what we might do and how we can put the party back together. And unfortunately I didn‘t get to answer that. But I am considered pretty conservative.
I vote for the least amount of spending and taxes in the entire Congress. So that makes me pretty conservative. And yet they think that I don‘t fit in and I‘ve even been asked to leave the Republican Party. But they won‘t admit that the foreign policy is flawed and that the war is the real issue.
And if they don‘t admit to that, I don‘t see how they can come up with a candidate that is going to be electable unless they decide to pick me and have an anti-war candidate. But right now, it looks like they won‘t admit that the spending that has been involved with foreign aid and foreign spending and foreign militarism, and all the deficits plus the entitlements, I don‘t know how they can salvage the Republican Party here in a short time.
CARLSON: But there isn‘t really an option. I mean, it‘s not like the Democrats are against nation-building or foreign aid. They are neocons too, they just are against the war in Iraq. But they are for sending troops to Darfur, for instance. So if you are not for neoconservativism, where do you turn in this election?
PAUL: Well, that‘s the real problem. And that‘s why I have been working hard to bring the conservatives and the non-interventionists and the anti-war people into the Republican Party, because we do have a tradition in the Republican Party that represented these views.
But I have to admit in the last six years, it has been undermined. But there is a pretty good tradition. So I think the message that has to be gotten out is that conservatives can be opposed to military adventurism and wars and huge spending that entails operating an empire. And if we don‘t accept that message, I don‘t know where they are going to go.
I think many of them are going to just flat out stay home, because you‘re right, the Democrats don‘t offer a real option. Last night the issue of taking options off the table, like nuclear first strikes against Iran, the Democrats haven‘t offered to take that off the table.
So a lot of people are annoyed and very upset. So I‘m afraid that if we don‘t get a candidate in either party that represents these views, I think there are going to be a lot of Americans that are going to take a walk.
CARLSON: You—about Iran, you said last night, no candidate here is willing to remove, as you just said, the preemptive nuclear strike option against a country that has done no harm to us directly and is no threat to our national security, Iran.
But there is evidence actually that Iran funded the bombings of the barracks in Beirut in 1983 that killed all those U.S. Marines. And they do fund terrorism. And it‘s not like Iraq circa 2002. We know that Iran has funded terror. They are not a threat at all to us?
PAUL: Not really. I—sure, what I was thinking in my mind there when I said that was they are not a threat to our national security. This idea that they are on the verge of having a weapon and we have to put anti-ballistic missiles up in Europe because the Iranians might attack us, I mean, that‘s a bit of a stretch.
You know, they are not capable of it. They don‘t have an air force. They don‘t have a real military. They have essentially no navy. For them to be a threat—and you say, well, they‘ve said nasty things against Israel. Israel could wipe Iran off the face of the Earth with few nuclear weapons in no time.
And the Iranians are not going to attack. I mean, they talk belligerently, but so did Khrushchev. I mean, they talked about burying us, and yet we stood up to the Soviets. They had 40,000 nuclear weapons.
So this idea that we have to be so bold and so intimidating and looking for another war or to spread the current war—I mean, we have enough problems on our hands and yet here we are threatening to spread the war into Iran. I think it‘s very, very dangerous and doesn‘t make any sense to me.
CARLSON: Rudy Giuliani had a line last night that I‘m not sure many people noticed. But it had to do with the national ID card. It was within a context of a debate about immigration. And he said, we need a tamper-proof ID card and a database that figures out why—who they are, immigrants, why they are here, and whether or not they are legal. That‘s a national ID card. Are you for that?
PAUL: Absolutely not. I voted against the Real ID. I think the Real ID is the national ID card. It‘s essentially going to be introducing the notion that we will be carrying our papers.
You can‘t do that—gather that much information on an ID card for illegal aliens or Hispanics and not include everybody. It just doesn‘t make any sense. So the age of carrying our papers and national IDs, it is here.
And I‘m concerned about that. And it is all done in the name of safety. Everybody is frightened to death. And if you don‘t sacrifice your liberties, you can‘t be safe. And yet the dangers exist but they‘re not quite bad enough and they never should be bad enough to sacrifice liberty. There‘s no reason to sacrifice liberty in thinking that you are going to be safer.
CARLSON: So just sum it up for me in three sentences. If you get in an argument with someone about the national ID card, the response you‘re likely to get is, well, gee, the credit card companies have a lot of information on you. And you don‘t feel like your liberty is being abridged because of that. Why is a national ID card a threat to liberty?
PAUL: Well, one is private and one is government. I don‘t want the government snooping on me. I would give my fingerprint to Continental Airlines, the airlines I fly, in order to get through the line and to be assured that I‘m a safe passenger.
But I don‘t want to do it with the government. The government is there to protect privacy, not to invade our privacy. Now our government, it does more to protect their secrecy and they violate our privacy.
So there is a big difference between a credit card company—if they violate our privacy, then you can use the government to enforce laws because they promise me to keep my privacy confidential. So there‘s a big difference. It‘s sort of like the government should not have your medical records, but I, as a physician, can have access to your medical records, but I had better not violate that confidence.
CARLSON: Amen. Yes. I hope you can come on regularly, just for a tutorial on what it means to be free, Dr. Paul. I really appreciate your coming on, it was a great explanation. Thank you.
PAUL: Thank you very much.
CARLSON: Fred Thompson was not at the last debate last night, instead he was talking about Scooter Libby, about what a raw deal Libby got and how he ought to be pardoned. Will Scooter Libby receive that pardon?
And hold on a second, was that Elizabeth Edwards comparing her husband John to the conservative senator, Jesse Helms? She says they are more alike than people realize. Are they? You‘re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: Republicans were at it again during last night‘s debate in New Hampshire. Only this time, most of them could be seen running from President Bush while pointing fingers over immigration reform and what to do about the war in Iraq.
How much was a presence—was Fred Thompson? He didn‘t even show up, but his shadow cast over the entire evening‘s event. MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan joins us; as does senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and editor-at-large for The New Republic, Peter Beinart.
Welcome to you both. There were moments that were biting, I thought, about President Bush. Here is Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin, asked, how would you use Bush if you became president? Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOMMY THOMPSON ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I certainly would not send him to the United Nations. I believe George W. Bush has tremendous characteristics. He‘s very honest. He is very straightforward. I would put him out on a lecture series talking to the youth of America about honesty, integrity, perseverance, passion and serving the public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: I would put him out on a lecture series talking to the youth. Peter, that may be the single most patronizing thing I have ever heard in my entire life. I mean, that is—he is basically calling the president retarded. Is that a—a lecture series? Going to like high school gyms?
PETER BEINART, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE NEW REPUBLIC: And telling them what? You don‘t need to do well? You know, you could drink a little, smoke a little and you‘ll do fine in the end. He can‘t say, hit the books.
CARLSON: The guy went to Harvard and Yale. And he had higher SAT
scores than Senator Kerry did. So I mean—and a higher IQ than Kerry
BEINART: If you had his parents, you would have gone to the moon.
CARLSON: Look, my only point is, this is an attack on Bush. Is this wise politics considering he is vying for votes from a demographic that likes Bush?
BEINART: And Thompson was in his cabinet too.
CARLSON: Good point.
BEINART: You know, I—my guess would be that it‘s not that good politics. It‘s fine to say that the Iraq War was mismanaged, as Romney and McCain did, but these are marginal candidates who are really going after Bush in personal terms. I‘d be pretty surprised if you saw that from Romney or Giuliani or McCain.
CARLSON: As a Harvard graduate, and when you look on at presidents.
BEINART: I‘m not.
CARLSON: Oh, you‘re not a Harvard.
BEINART: Believe it or not, I‘m a man of the people.
CARLSON: Oh my God, I had no idea.
BEINART: Like Pat.
CARLSON: Boy, we‘re going to have to think having you on this show.
BEINART: I know, why do you have me?
CARLSON: I don‘t know. I thought you went to Harvard. I was so impressed.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Thompson was sandbagged by the question. I don‘t think he was prepared for it. I think he tried to get off a funny joke and there wasn‘t that much laughter. I wouldn‘t send him to the U.N., which is kind of funny because, you know, the guy doesn‘t have a great image overseas.
And I think he has tried to recover and he couldn‘t think of what he is going to do (INAUDIBLE) said, ah, Washington Speakers Bureau, that‘s the place for Bush.
CARLSON: A lecture series. I mean, that‘s even more sad.
BUCHANAN: Well, he couldn‘t think of what he...
BUCHANAN: I would have had a tough time with that myself.
BEINART: It‘s not easy.
BEINART: What, commissioner of baseball?
CARLSON: That‘s actually not a bad idea. But, I mean, this reminds a little bit, someone suggested this to me today. This is like the quandary that Gore faced in 2000. Do you run on the Clinton legacy? Do you run against it? Do you try to ignore Clinton? Seven years later, it turns out, Democrats love Bill Clinton.
CARLSON: . seven years from now, will Republicans look back fondly.
BUCHANAN: Gore should have separated himself from Clinton and called him and said, can you go down to Arkansas? Can you help me? In areas where he can help. I mean, I can understand why you separate yourself. I mean, Nixon did, mistakenly, from Eisenhower, frankly, too much so. But he should have had Ike out there helping him out. Ike was enormously popular. Clinton could have carried Arkansas for him.
BEINART: But Clinton was more popular when he left office than Bush is, both within his party and the population as a whole. Republicans are lucky they don‘t have a vice president who is on the ticket, because vice presidents have terrible times establishing their own identities. They are answerable for everything. They are lucky that they have a bunch of guys who are less tied to the Bush.
CARLSON: They‘re lucky?
BEINART: Yes, because those people can more credibly say, look, I wasn‘t involved in the management of the Iraq War.
CARLSON: Hold on a second. All the money, all the time, all the energy, wasted on this primary on the Republican side, they‘d be better off with this than if they had one guy around whom everyone could unite?
BEINART: Because—but they would not unite with—this person would have Iraq like a—and Bush like a millstone around their neck, even if they were more presentable than Dick Cheney, the guy we have.
BUCHANAN: You know, I‘ll tell you what was interesting last night, what was really thought through and somewhat malicious was Tom Tancredo‘s nice response.
CARLSON: Yes, it was unbelievable.
CARLSON: Can we put that up? I think we have it. This is Tom Tancredo, asked—we don‘t have it. I‘m going to.
BUCHANAN: He talks all the time about how Karl Rove said, don‘t let your—what is it, face darken the door of this White House ever. And then he says, I think I would say that to President Bush.
CARLSON: He says, as president, I would have to tell George Bush exactly the same thing Karl Rove told me, don‘t even bother showing up. Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul are running these insurgent campaigns.
BUCHANAN: Right. Listen, they both.
CARLSON: From the right.
BUCHANAN: They both got separate, sustained—it wasn‘t as huge as McCain. Separate, sustained rounds of applause, frankly, when Tancredo said, I will get out of Iraq if it doesn‘t work, Petraeus‘ plan. And of course, Ron Paul said, we ought to get out of Iraq. And this was Republicans and independents, and both of them got applause after those answers. It wasn‘t like McCain‘s. But they got applause.
BEINART: Yes. I think it‘s worth noting, if you compare this to the earlier debates, there is an—the Republican candidates are increasingly tepid about the surge. And more and more their emphasis—even someone like Duncan Hunter, who is a hawk‘s hawk, basically saying, put the Iraqis out there so we can start to go home. I think that was quite striking.
CARLSON: Did it strike anyone else, Giuliani‘s bellicose answer on immigration? I‘m for enforcement, you know, we have to be tough, set up this database. Am I misremembering—I haven‘t had any time to check this out, I should have.
CARLSON: Probably not. Didn‘t he preside over essentially a sanctuary city in New York City?
CARLSON: If you got to New York City as an illegal, you can stay there? What the hell is he talking about?
BEINART: The Underground Railroad.
BUCHANAN: If the cops arrest somebody, you can‘t ask them if they are illegal.
BUCHANAN: . up there in a sanctuary city. He was very liberal. He was McCain-Kennedy guy. And now he has seen the—he said, OK, John, over to you. I think he is lateraling the ball behind the line of scrimmage.
BEINART: Giuliani and McCain and Romney on this immigration stuff are so full of it. It is unbelievable.
CARLSON: I think Romney is more believable.
BEINART: Romney was the guy out there. I heard him saying, the big thing we need to change in our immigration system is get high-skilled people in there, not family reunification. This was his big theme (INAUDIBLE). This immigration bill, whatever you think of the rest of it, is a revolution in that regard, in exactly the direction he wanted. And he is still running away from it.
CARLSON: No, I don‘t think that‘s exactly right. I think the bill has changed. I think that was the original intent of it. I think if you look at the state of the legislation right now, it doesn‘t reflect those priorities in the way that it did. And I think you can be for—against illegal immigration and for increased legal immigration of people on H-1B visas who, you know, know a lot.
BUCHANAN: I think Romney has grown on this issue, as they say in town. I think he was pretty liberal on it up there in Massachusetts...
CARLSON: But do you buy it when you see him up there? Do you—does your phony alarm go off (INAUDIBLE)?
BUCHANAN: No, no, I think the guy—I mean, even when he is pro-life, as he—you know, he has changed, he said, OK, I changed. And I accept it. You know, I don‘t know what is in a guy‘s heart. But I think if he gets in, he knows where the party and he knows where the country is. And I think he will do it.
Like George Bush senior. I don‘t think in his heart he was really pro-life. But he comes out pro-life. And in his presidency, he did everything that pro-lifers wanted.
CARLSON: Maybe I‘m just getting weaker and more gullible in my older age. But I sort of believe Romney. I don‘t laugh at him Romney reflexively the way I did two months ago.
BEINART: Wait, he said that he changed his mind on abortion because he was talking to some.
CARLSON: I know, I know, I know, I know..
CARLSON: No, I don‘t! I think it‘s ridiculous. On the other hand, I look at him and I don‘t feel as contemptuous as I.
BUCHANAN: And he is a very likeable guy. He is somebody who can, I think, move across into the center on his personality.
BEINART: Well, he was in the center.
CARLSON: Yes, exactly.
BEINART: . got move back.
CARLSON: All right. A programming note for tomorrow. Right here on our program tomorrow, Thursday, when you tune in, we will have the interview everyone has been fighting for. The man behind Rudy Giuliani‘s ferret rant. The very man Rudy called “sick” and recommended he get professional psychiatric help. Tune in to see it. You won‘t be disappointed.
We still don‘t know where the soon-to-be candidate Fred Thompson stands on most issues except for one, he says President Bush ought to definitely pardon Scooter Libby. Is that likely to happen?
Plus, the House votes to investigate Democratic Congressman Bill Jefferson of New Orleans. But not all the members of the House vote for that. Not all the members of the Ethics Committee vote for it. Why not? You‘re watching MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM FOX‘S “HANNITY & COLMES”)
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST, “HANNITY & COLMES”: I only have a second in the segment. If you were president, would you pardon him? And do you think the president would pardon him? And would you pardon him now?
FRED THOMPSON ®, POSSIBLE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would.
THOMPSON: It‘s a gross injustice perpetuated in large part by this CIA and this Justice Department and this special counsel who they appointed. And it ought to be rectified.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: We still don‘t know if he is running yet, but that was potential presidential candidate Fred Thompson, weighing in on the fate of Lewis “Scooter” Libby. He is not the only one calling for a president—a pardon of Vice President Dick Cheney‘s former top aide, who could be headed to jail.
While President Bush says he feels terrible for Libby‘s family, he does not plan to “intervene” in the case, at least not right now. What kind of political storm would develop if Bush changes course and decides to pardon Libby? We welcome back MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan; and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Peter Beinart.
Welcome to you both. What—what—I mean, it‘s interesting, don‘t you think, that Fred Thompson, who is a blank slate from our point of view, anyway, in the press, on so many issues, has weighed in so forcefully on the Scooter Libby matter. Does he speak for the Republican masses when he says that or is it a personal thing?
BUCHANAN: No. I don‘t think so. But he does speak for the Beltway right and the neoconservatives. And he has been a leader in this campaign I think to raise funds for Scooter Libby. But inside the Beltway and among the neoconservatives, this is really a burning issue.
But Bush, I don‘t think, is going to pardon him. I think Libby is going to go to jail and what is going to happen is after November 2008, Dick Cheney is going to go in and say, I have served you eight years, I‘ve taken a lot of arrows for you. You‘ve got to give this one. And I think he gets a pardon then, that would be my guess.
CARLSON: When? At what point?
BUCHANAN: I would guess at the end of Bush‘s term.
CARLSON: After Libby has been languishing in jail for a year-and-a-half?
BUCHANAN: Yes. That‘s why—yes, I think they are probably hoping they could have the appeal run through to then. But now, Libby is going to be up at Allenwood or something.
CARLSON: See, but at that point, you wonder, what is the appeal of Bush exactly? I mean, he is not a conservative ideologue. So you can‘t say he stayed true to conservative principles, obviously, at this point.
But you can say, he is a loyal guy who repays loyalty with loyalty.
But if he doesn‘t pardon Scooter Libby, then, like.
BUCHANAN: This is an open and shut case of perjury and obstruction of justice. And the Republicans Party stands for the idea that high officials should not be lying to special investigators. What is the justification of a pardon?
CARLSON: The justification is that two-and-half years prison, a quarter million dollar fine, 4,000 hours of community service, when you have two little kids, is disproportionately harsh as a sentence considering that people lie all the time, including under oath, including the former president, and don‘t go to jail. I mean, it‘s just a ridiculous sentence.
BEINART: But I think—conservatives are ill-suited to make the argument for this kind of—you know, there a lot of people have two little kids who go to jail.
CARLSON: That may be right. I mean, I‘m not a big law and order guy myself, anyway. I don‘t feel any personal contradiction in making that case. But Bush isn‘t conservative, we all know that. So it‘s not like, why does he care, in other words.
BEINART: Well, I (INAUDIBLE) totally agree with you—disagree with you, I think Bush is far more conservative than Ronald Reagan. I think he is the most conservative president we have had in the modern era. On taxes, on social...
CARLSON: Are you being serious?
BEINART: On justices. He‘s much more conservative than Reagan on taxes. raised taxes three times. Reagan raised taxes to save Social Security as it is. He never tried to privatize it. He had liberal judges at the Supreme Court. Bush has been down-the-line great on all of those things for conservatives.
CARLSON: this is like, I suppose, a whole different conservation, but I mean, look at the growth of—the scope, the power of the federal government.
BEINART: It happened under Reagan too.
CARLSON: Yes. Not to this extent.
BUCHANAN: No, Reagan would not—you‘re right about the other thing, the judges and taxes. But No Child Left Behind, Reagan would not have done that. And he would not have not have done Medicare prescription drugs.
CARLSON: Yes, it‘s the prescription drug.
BEINART: But Bush tried to do Social Security, which is the big enchilada for rolling back the whole New Deal infrastructure. I mean, if you can do that, the other stuff is peanuts.
CARLSON: Didn‘t try to extent that he is trying on immigration. I mean, whatever, this is whole separate.
CARLSON: We should write dueling books on this question. But here‘s the immediate question. Given that he is so unpopular, why wouldn‘t he—and he has this reputation for personal loyalty, why the hell would he pledge to stay out of this and not pardon him?
BEINART: Well, I think Pat‘s argument is pretty persuasive. I think Bush is—does seem to be a very, very loyal guy to his people. The question is, was Libby really his guy or was he Cheney‘s guy? My sense is he was really much more Cheney‘s guy. So I don‘t know if he has that personal relationship that someone like a Gonzales has with Bush.
BUCHANAN: There is a good case that they make about, you know, Patrick Fitzgerald had the guilty guy in hand, and he kept pursuing this.
But nobody else was indicted except for Libby, and that‘s because he lied -
frankly he lied about a crime he didn‘t commit.
CARLSON: Yes. But it had nothing (INAUDIBLE) -- nothing to do with -
can I just say—we‘ve got to go (INAUDIBLE) Ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife issue a statement today saying they were outraged that Libby would knowingly lie, from a known liar. I mean, just the amount of self-righteousness that this case has brought out of people is nauseating.
Andrew Speaker, speaking of nauseating, the man who crisscrossed the world while knowingly carrying drug-resistant TB, defended himself before the Congress today. What is his defense exactly? We‘ll find out in a minute.
CARLSON: Now that 16 charges, ranging from bribery to money laundering, have rained down upon New Orleans Congressman Bill Jefferson, who is going to stand behind him. We may have gotten a few clues when the House voted overwhelmingly to investigate any member who gets indicted. John Conyers of Michigan cast one of just 10 votes against that bill, while Maxine Waters of California and 14 others voted present, which is essentially the same. When will Democrats running for president weigh in on Jefferson‘s apparent ethical lapses?
Speaking of Democratic hopefuls, guess who Elizabeth Edwards is comparing her husband to, well, Jesse Helms of course. You know that was the first word that popped into your mind. What is she talking about?
Joining us now possibly to explain, MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and editor at large of “The New Republic,” Peter Beinart.
Peter, he‘s the question. The second vote in the House yesterday, resolution by Steny Hoyer, House majority leader, any member indicted or formally charged with criminal conduct ought be investigated by the Ethics Committee. How in the world could you vote against something like that.
BEINART: My guess is the people who voted against it are people who have some personal connection, and did it out of—you know, talking about Scooter Libby—sheer personal loyalty to Jefferson. But this is not a divisive issue in the Democratic party. There‘s no problem for a Democratic presidential candidate being against Jefferson. It‘s not a controversial—
CARLSON: Of course, it is. Almost every member of the black caucus has supported him, forced him to keep his committee seat after he had been found with 90,000 dollars wrapped in tin foil in his freezer, two of his closest associates indicted. One of them pled. We knew this was coming. We knew that all signs point to the fact he was dirty. And he got a committee seat because the Congressional Black Caucus forced Nancy Pelosi to give him one.
BEINART: I don‘t think the Congressional Black Caucus is going to give any presidential candidate a hard time—
CARLSON: I‘m not saying presidential candidate. I‘m saying within the whole Democratic caucus, this is absolutely controversial, coming down on Bill Jefferson.
BEINART: Well, the Congressional Black Caucus is a different place, but that‘s different from saying—This is a first order issue for them on which they are going to try to hold Democratic presidential candidates to the fire. I don‘t think Obama or Edwards or Hillary would lose any of their support.
CARLSON: I absolutely agree with that. It is interesting that it is somehow a matter of principle. I mean, the guy is a member of Congress. He‘s accused of soliciting bribes in the House dining room? I mean that‘s sort of a big deal.
BUCHANAN: As soon as that thing hit, you know the 90,000, the Ethics Committee, I think, should have started its investigation a long time ago. I don‘t know who it is—
CARLSON: You hear giggling in the background, Pat. Do you think that there is a contradiction between the claims of the speaker of the House that this is the most ethical Congress in the history of representative government—
BUCHANAN: Look, I think they did this belatedly. I agree with Peter. These are a bunch of friends, most of them from the Black Caucus, but I think Doolittle—didn‘t Doolittle vote not to?
CARLSON: Yes, Doolittle did.
BUCHANAN: And he has some problems of his own. I think a lot of these guys have their own reasons for doing this.
CARLSON: Nothing makes you empathetic like problems of your own, is what you‘re saying. Interesting. See if you can explain this; here‘s the riddle of the day? Mrs. Edwards—
BEINART: I can.
CARLSON: John Edwards wife—I think I can to—comes out and says this: “I remember one time somebody saying that John Edwards reminds me of Jesse Helms. They didn‘t agree on a single policy, I don‘t think, but here‘s what they agreed on, that people should know where they stood.”
BEINART: This is a very sophisticated dog with some certain elements of the net roots. If you look at the liberal blogosphere, there‘s a theory about the idea that you need people who, in a big fight, can be counted on to stay on your side, partisan loyalists, called the Bar Fight Primary. And Helms is looked at as crucial to the conservative revolution, because he was the guy who would never back down.
Liberals have been reading a lot about the conservative movement‘s rise to power. And I think Elizabeth Edwards invoking Helms is a signal to liberal activists to say John Edwards will always be with you, no matter how tough the going gets.
CARLSON: I think you‘re exactly right.
BUCHANAN: I think it‘s very good analysis, but I think it‘s ridiculous to compare John Edwards, who has flopped all over the lot on this thing. But I do recall, remember when Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the vote in the Senate for her, ACLU liberal Supreme Court, was 96-3. And the first question I asked was who are the other two? Because everybody knew Jesse would be there.
But I think the one who is closest to Jesse Helms on the other side, excuse me, is probably Teddy Kennedy. I mean, he fights and goes down the line for his beliefs. He‘s in the all time. Except he is more of a compromiser, like this immigration bill, than Jesse was.
CARLSON: Isn‘t this—the Edwards campaign‘s attempt—and I think Mrs. Edwards is at the top of the pyramid that constitutes the Edwards campaign. She really is advisor in chief, no question. Their attempt to combat the sneaking suspicion many people have that he is a phony, that he is not authentic, that his whole story is a schtick and that he just isn‘t what he appears to be.
BEINART: Well that‘s true. There‘s a very strong self-conception amongst liberal activists today, which is very different than it was in the 1980‘s or the 1990‘s, of themselves as a movement, a multi-decade movement trying to fundamentally shift the center of gravity in American politics. I don‘t even think that‘s really true of Ted Kennedy. It‘s more true of some of the younger members. You talk to someone like Sherrod Brown; they‘re talking of themselves in decades long terms of a movement to shift the center of gravity. That‘s what Edwards is trying to position himself as.
BUCHANAN: I think you are dead right with that. He wants to say to those folks, I am a guy that will go to the wall with now, unpopular though it may be. That has tremendous appeal to, if you will, what we call the Goldwater/McGovern wing of the Democratic party.
CARLSON: But I don‘t see—Here‘s the difference between say the Republican party post-Goldwater 1964 and the Democratic party right now. I don‘t see Democrats trying to articulate a coherent world view of any kind. I see them attacking President Bush, but I don‘t see them explaining in positive terms, affirmative terms, what their foreign policy ought to be. I never hear that. I still don‘t understand what the Democrat world view is.
BEINART: I think you‘re right. And I think the biggest problem with the Goldwater analogy is that Goldwater came after a lot of intellectual work that took place on the right in the 1950‘s.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
BEINART: -- with people surrounding National Review, fusionism, and Goldwater basically ran with that. I don‘t think that there‘s been that level of work in the Democratic party intellectual orbit preceding say Howard Dean or now John Edwards.
BUCHANAN: But you can‘t do now what we did in 1960s. Because we had the Cold War, which was the defining conflict, united us all. When that broke down, even Republicans—you just had on Ron Paul. Where do Ron Paul and Conservative John McCain stand together? Nowhere. There‘s been a total collapse of a consensus on foreign policy in both parties.
CARLSON: And I unfortunately think that in the Republican party it‘s not at all clear that the conservative wing is winning. Speaking of the liberal plans for the transformation of America, Hugo Chavez‘s Venezuela, which is really the first thing that comes to mind when I think of that.
BEINART: If only we could have Chavez in power.
CARLSON: If only. If only.
BUCHANAN: In the old days you‘d be down there cutting sugar canes for him.
CARLSON: And to some extent they are. You do find—we had a Madea Benjamin of Code Pink, a liberal icon, on the show the other day defending Hugo Chavez. The situation in Venezuela is becoming authoritarian. I mean, there‘s really no other way to read it. Are you going to see Democrats criticizing Chavez?
BEINART: Oh sure. I don‘t think there‘s any real backlash—
CARLSON: But hold on then. Was it two or three years when there was an attempted sort of half hearted coup in Venezuela, and the U.S. State Department too quickly said that‘s fine, the left --
BEINART: But that‘s completely different. Criticizing Chavez, saying he is anti-Democratic is very different than trying to launch a coup against him, because then you, in fact—If you condone a coup against him, then you are as bad as he is. The point is, the Democrats were right. The Bush administration undermined the anti-Chavez position because we condoned a coup.
CARLSON: What do you mean? You try and bump off the dictator; that‘s the basic precept of America. Sam Adams was for that.
BEINART: The guys we were in bed with in Venezuela who were doing that coup were not Democrats. People who come to power by force are usually not the true Democrats.
CARLSON: They aren‘t, but I think you also have a right to move the dictator aside, don‘t you?
BEINART: By democratic, non-violent purposes. That‘s what we saw in Ukraine and Lebanon. That‘s the model.
BUCHANAN: That‘s exactly—you know, there was tremendous intervention by National Endowment for Democracy in all those places, Lebanon and Georgia and Ukraine and all of that stuff. But the left wing, Tucker, they‘re after the president of Colombia now. And they‘ve really got a case against him, because they allege he‘s been connected with the right wing death squads over there.
But here‘s a guy who‘s the best friend of this country, who‘s standing up against the drug lords, and you guys are on his case.
BEINART: But you‘re not making an argument about Democracy. Now you are shifting the terms here. I think—
BUCHANAN: Why are you not against the guy in Venezuela, but you are against the guy in Columbia?
BEINART: Well the question is are we talking about people about Democracy, because there are right leaning people in Latin America who also don‘t have a great on democracy. Or is the question we‘re talking about the war on drugs? Yes, Uribe is good on the war on drugs. I happen to think that there are some problems with the fact that the war on drugs dominates our foreign policy with Latin America. It‘s a very different question --
BUCHANAN: Do you buy the dictator‘s double standard argument of (INAUDIBLE)
BEINART: No, I think it was disproved by 1989.
CARLSON: We are getting so deep here. I feel like this is—We are almost at Hoover Institution symposium level. We have to stop before we get any deeper and I drown. Pat Buchanan, Peter Beinart, thank you very much. Where is E.J. Dionne and David Brooks at a certain point?
Remember the incident last fall when six Imams were removed from a plane because they were acting suspiciously? Well, wouldn‘t you know it, the airline and the heads up passengers are being sued. We‘ll talk to New York Congressman Pete King about why this case could have dire implications for your safety.
And it was the moment of the presidential debates to this point. Rudy Giuliani received a sign from god as he explained his position on abortion. Willie Geist brings us the details, the heavenly details.
CARLSON: Is political correctness hurting this country‘s ability to protect itself from terror attacks? Last November, six Muslim Imams were forced off a flight after passengers in Minneapolis reported suspicious behavior and talk of Osama bin Laden. Now those Imams are suing on the grounds their civil liberties were violated. Weren‘t those American passengers doing exactly what the government has encouraged all of us to do?
Confused, outraged? You are not alone. We are joined now by Republican Congressman from New York Peter King. Mr. King, thanks for coming on.
REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: Tucker, great to be with you.
CARLSON: Is that—Have I characterized the story correctly? There are passengers on a plane. They look over. There are these Imams doing things that are not only suspicious but just odd, I mean really weird. They complain and now they‘re in trouble?
KING: Yes. The Imams, through CARE and other groups, are bringing a lawsuit. And they have designated John Does, which means they want to get the identity of the people on the plane who actually called up. Most of them made cell phone calls.
By the way, Tucker, ever since September 11th, 2001, we have been saying, if you see something, say something. If the passengers on the flights that day, 9/11, had done what these passengers did, we would have had thousands of lives that could have been saved. So the point I‘m making is that this was absolutely outrageous.
To me it was an attempt to intimidate good people. The police, FBI and law enforcement can‘t be everywhere. They need the eyes and ears of millions of good Americans every day who, if they see suspicious activity, should report it.
CARLSON: Did anyone from the government congratulate these people on doing what they‘ve been asked to do, reporting suspicious behavior, or were they treated like they are bigots?
KING: Well, what I have done is I introduced an amendment on the House floor to a transit security act, which would give immunity to anyone who reports in good faith or truthfully reports suspicious activity, that that cannot be sued. And it passed by a vote, I think, of 304-121. Unfortunately, a majority of Democrats actually voted against the amendment. It was 121 to 105, or something like that.
CARLSON: On what grounds?
KING: They felt it would lead to racial profiling, they said, which to me is absolute nonsense. We are talking about people who truthfully report what they see, what they hear. I think it was a knee jerk reaction. There are too many Democrats where if, even if you‘re say you‘re against al Qaeda or against bin Laden, somehow they see that as being pro-George Bush, and their gut reaction is to vote no.
Now, I think a lot of them have scampered since then. And I expect that, in the final analysis, this bill will pass both the House and the Senate. It passed the House. It‘s going to be part of a conference committee. It‘s going to pass, because Democrats have caught a lot of flak for this.
CARLSON: Do you think there‘s any possibility that these Imams and their lawyers could get ahold of the identities of the people who reported their suspicious behavior?
KING: It appears that they are already backing off, in view of the publicity. I would certainly hope not. This would be an absolute disgrace. I‘m serious about that. This is—For us to survive as a nation, we have to have the ordinary citizen being eyes and ears. And if people are intimidated. If someone does report it and is faced with a lawsuit, threatened with a lawsuit, and threatened with having your name made public and leaving yourself open to attack, it would be absolutely a chilling effect. It would be disgraceful. And it really would fly in the face of everything we, as Americans, say we stand for since 9/11.
CARLSON: That‘s for sure. Very quickly, congressman, a number of people on the left, some prominent people on the left, have suggested that this JFK airport conspiracy was essentially made up or hyped by the Bush administration for political reasons. Are you satisfied that it was real and an actual threat?
KING: No, it is real and it was a threat. The Bush administration had nothing to do with this other than the fact that the FBI was involved. But no, I was actually involved in this for about the last 12, 13 months.
I‘ve been aware of it. I‘ve met with the NYPD in New York and the FBI.
They‘ve been working on this. They took it very seriously.
Now I‘m not saying it was as dramatic as the U.S. attorney said it was the other day. But there‘s no doubt in my mind that you would have had—many people could have been killed. I‘m not saying there would have been a conflagration from New York to New Jersey. But if you let explosives go off at Kennedy Airport, you are talking about at least hundreds of people being killed. And also, this was for real. There‘s no doubt about it.
CARLSON: Congressman Peter King, I really appreciate your coming on.
KING: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: This is one way to get an audience with the Pope. Unfortunately this way only lasts about five seconds and it ends with you getting pummeled by body guards. What exactly did this guy want and how did the Pope stay so cool through it all? Willie Geist, our chief Papal correspondent, has all the answers when we come back.
CARLSON: Joining us now, and you can almost hear the screaming teenagers in the background as I announce the name, Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Running for their lives. That‘s what they‘re doing Tucker, running for their lives.
CARLSON: That‘s not the image I had in mind Willie, at all.
GEIST: OK, more of a Beatles thing?
CARLSON: Yes, more of a Beatles thin.
GEIST: Tucker, you remember the Pope John Paul II‘s Pope Mobile with the bubble, sort of the boy in the plastic bubble look?
GEIST: We may be going back to that look because of something that happened today. Now I‘m not saying for certain this guy is destined for hell, but his chances at eternal salvation took a major hit when he leapt out of the crowd at St. Peter‘s Square and grabbed onto the back of the Pope Mobile as the Pope passed through the crowd today.
The Vatican says he is a deranged 27-year-old German man, whose agenda remains unclear. He didn‘t get very far before security guards wrestled him to the ground, as you can see. But take a look at how cool the Pope remains throughout the entire incident. He doesn‘t even look back. I guess you don‘t really have to worry when you‘re that tight with the man upstairs, Tucker. That is some poise.
CARLSON: That actually is extremely impressive. If you think about that, if you‘re driving along and you see this guy flying through the air behind you, wouldn‘t you at least whip around?
GEIST: Right, not to mention the whole crowd looking back and armed guards swarming into the back of the car. And you just keep the poise. I mean, I guess that‘s how he got where he is.
CARLSON: My respect for the Pope, and I say this as a Protestant, has just gone way, way, way up.
GEIST: He really is Pope material. He deserves the job. Well, Tucker, speaking of people with no chance of going to heaven, that Washington, D.C. area judge who sued his dry cleaner for 67 million dollars because they lost a pair of his pants has now shown he‘s willing to compromise. He‘s lowered his price to 54 million dollars.
Roy Pearson, whose home phone number and address we would give out if we had it, had included in his original figure the price of ten years of car rentals to get to another dry cleaner, also something about pain and suffering. He now says he wants 54 million dollars because the dry cleaner‘s satisfaction guaranteed sign is misleading.
Tucker, he‘s been harassing these people. They are immigrants who started a dry cleaning business. They say they gave him the pants and they still offered him 12,000 dollars that they didn‘t have to go away. But he won‘t take it. He‘s hammering them for 54 million. Your thoughts?
CARLSON: Can we put our investigative unit on getting his home number and email address?
GEIST: Yes! I‘m going to make it my mission.
CARLSON: That would be great. We can just put it at the top of our graphics every day for the next year.
GEIST: Or we can just run it on a scroll on the bottom of MSNBC.
It‘s hard to imagine a worse person on earth, but I‘m sure there is one.
I‘ll think hard.
CARLSON: Slobodan Milosevic? No, not as bad.
GEIST: No, not even in that league. Well, Tucker, you saw the debates last night. And, in case you missed him, Rudy Giuliani provided the most entertaining moment of the Republican presidential debate, but he didn‘t intend to. The laugh came courtesy of a lighting storm or of a higher power, depending on who you ask. It came as Giuliani was explaining his position on abortion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The lightning is having an effect on our system.
RUDY GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They‘re going to leave me alone, John. Well, I guess I‘m here by myself. Look, for someone who went to parochial schools all his life, this is a very frightening thing, this happening right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: Now Tucker, that‘s going to feed a lot of thoughts, isn‘t it, certainly people thinking his position on abortion had something to do with that?
CARLSON: Yes, and, in fact, I‘m not here to contradict those --
GEIST: So you think God is actually watching the debates on our rival cable news network?
CARLSON: I wouldn‘t put it past him. I never weigh in on what I think God thinks, but, you know, we don‘t know.
GEIST: I guess he‘s everywhere. Tucker, that is a good Giuliani moment, but not half as good as the ferret phone call, which—
CARLSON: No, nothing is as great.
GEIST: We should point out to our viewers—I know you mentioned it earlier -- tomorrow, we have the ferret man on the program. If you don‘t know the story, Mayor Giuliani, then-Mayor Giuliani had a call-in show in New York City, where he answered people‘s problems. One guy had a ferret problem and Giuliani just unloaded on the man, called him sick, hysterical, said he needed psychiatric help.
It‘s really one of the most remarkable pieces of tape you will ever see. We now have the target of the tirade on our show tomorrow. You cannot miss it. Trust me.
CARLSON: It‘s one of the greatest things I‘ve ever heard in my entire life. We are not over-hyping this. Tune in tomorrow. We have the actual ferret guy. It‘s going to be tremendous.
GEIST: We have the sound and the ferret guy, can‘t miss that.
CARLSON: Willie Geist, thanks. For more of Willie Geist news you cannot use, check out ZeitGeist at Tucker.MSNBC.com. That does it for us. See you tomorrow.
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