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'Tucker' for June 22

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Bob Shrum, Ed Koch, Courtenay Valenti

MICHAEL SMERCONISH:  Welcome to the show.  I‘m Michael Smerconish in again for Tucker. 

New Yorkers aren‘t shy to tell you that their town and the people in it are simply more important than everybody else.  Well, this week, they might actually be right.  The seismic political activity of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week to leave the GOP started a national conversation that‘s far from over. 

For one, will Bloomberg one for president?  For another, could he win?  And most intriguing of all, what‘s the deal with his relationship with the Republican frontrunner, Rudy Giuliani? 

Here are the facts.  Bloomberg is insanely wealthy and willing to spend his own cash for his political pursuits.  Bloomberg has, over the last two years, investigated the possibility of a national campaign.  In almost every poll, Bloomberg is more popular among the people of New York than Giuliani. 

So, where do we stand, and where is this going?  To answer, we‘re fortunate to have two men who know a lot about New York, a lot about Bloomberg, a lot about Giuliani, and a lot about presidential politics.  Bob Shrum is the author of “No excuses, Concessions of a Serial Campaigner.”  Ed Koch is the former mayor of New York City, and author of “Buzz, How to Create it and Win with it.” 

Mayor Koch, I know it‘s a tough job to run New York City, but does it necessarily qualify somebody to be president of the United States? 

ED KOCH, AUTHOR OF “BUZZ”:  Oh, I think without a doubt.  Being a mayor of the city of New York qualifies you if you‘ve been a good mayor, and if you‘ve handled the job correctly.  I can say about Rudy Giuliani that he‘s been a good mayor, but not a great mayor.  And the reason is he‘s a mean-spirited guy.  And you cannot be great at anything in public life where you deal with people if you don‘t like them, if you don‘t respect them. 

SMERCONISH:  All right, but if the trains run on time, does it matter

I don‘t buy into the fact that he‘s mean.  I like the guy.  I‘ve got a soft spot for him.  But if the trains run on time, does it even matter if he‘s mean? 

KOCH:  Well, that‘s what they said about Mussolini, didn‘t they? 


KOCH:  I think so.

SMERCONISH:  All right, I should have picked another example.  If the trash gets picked up. 

KOCH:  Listen, there‘s no question the trash has got to be picked up.  But you also have to be respectful to the people who you are serving and who you are fortunate enough to have been given the authority to lead.  I am telling you that Rudy Giuliani did a superb job on 9/11, but on 9/10, the day before, he couldn‘t have been elected dog catcher. 

SMERCONISH:  Bob Shrum, give me a scenario where Michael Bloomberg is not a spoiler.  Give me a scenario where Bloomberg wins this thing. 

BOB SHRUM, AUTHOR OF “NO EXCUSES”:  I think he has to go out—and that‘s what I suspect he is doing—he‘s got to get a business plan.  He‘s a numbers cruncher.  He‘s got to look at these states, see what prospects he‘d have.  See where the two candidates of the major parties are come January, February. 

But he has one advantage that people don‘t really talk about aside from money, which is you take a lot of states like Missouri, which he could never carry in a two-way race because of his position on gun control.  He could conceivably carry the electoral votes with 37, 38 percent of the vote, 39 percent of the vote.  So he may actually be advantaged in a three-way race in a way he never would be in a two-way race. 

I think the other question he‘s going to ask in that business plan is who does he help, and who does he hurt?  I think he doesn‘t want to help Rudy Giuliani become president of the United States, if Giuliani, although I think it‘s improbable, wins the Republican nomination for president. 

SMERCONISH:  Mayor Koch, what are those personal dynamics?  I—I mean, from 90 miles away in Philly, I thought the two of them were tight.  I thought that Bloomberg owed to Rudy the fact that he was even elected mayor, and now I sense this hostility. 

KOCH:  No, no, no, I don‘t think there is hostility.  And I don‘t think there was ever an intimate, close relationship between the two.  There is a cordial relationship between the two.  And I don‘t think that Bloomberg would go into a race just to stop Giuliani, not at all.  He‘d go into the race, and I believe he will be a candidate for president.  I don‘t think he‘s himself ultimately decided it, but I believe ultimately he will, and it will be because he thinks he can win and I think he can win. 

Now, I am committed to Hillary in the course of the Democratic primary, and I don‘t know what I‘ll do if I‘m faced with the situation where three New Yorkers are running for president.  I know in one case, I won‘t be for him.  That‘s Giuliani.  With respect to Hillary and Mike, I‘ll have to make a decision at that time. 

SMERCONISH:  Bob Shrum, identify for me the perfect running mate for Michael Bloomberg if he gets into this thing. 

SHRUM:  Oh, Chuck Hagel from Nebraska would be. 


SHRUM:  Because he‘s been a Republican who‘s been independent, who‘s spoken out against the war, has been pretty blunt about what he doesn‘t like about President Bush and would broaden, I think, Bloomberg‘s appeal to some of those Independents who lean Republican. 

But I want to say, Mayor Koch and I often disagree on a lot of things, but the reason that the mean-spiritedness of Rudy Giuliani, I think, would really be wrong in the next president, is the last thing we need is another president who polarizes the country more than it‘s polarized now. 

SMERCONISH:  Guys, I got to tell you, and I know we‘re on opposite sides of the aisle, but you‘re going to have to justify for me this mean-spiritedness because I don‘t see it. 

KOCH:  I can, I can, I can.  Shall I? 

SMERCONISH:  Go ahead, Mayor.

KOCH:  OK, the two top officials in the city of New York who were black were Carl McCall (ph), the controller, and Virginia Field (ph), the borough president of Manhattan.  They—sweethearts, wonderful public officeholders.  And for more than a year, they asked Rudy Giuliani for an interview, to meet with him.  And he wouldn‘t meet with them.  On one occasion, I said to him, Rudy, why won‘t you meet with Carl and Virginia?  And he said, I don‘t agree with them.  I said Rudy, you only meet with people you agree with?  That‘s mean-spirited. 

SMERCONISH:  But on this basis—and Mayor, let me just play devil‘s advocate, because I like Ed Koch.  I really do, and I come to the table with a lot of respect for you as well. 

KOCH:  Thank you. 

SMERCONISH:  Is part of what‘s going on here the fact that, you know, he was a successor of yours and he did a hell of a job and everybody thinks of Rudy as America‘s mayor and maybe that doesn‘t reflect so well on Ed Koch? 

KOCH:  No, no, that‘s silly.  In my judgment, it‘s silly.  I have a place in history, and I will leave it to the historians.  I came in when the city was on the edge of bankruptcy, and everybody concedes I was the one who saved the city from financial doom and a whole host of other things.  I‘ll leave that to the historians.  I don‘t have any animus to Rudy Giuliani.  I told you, I thought he was a good mayor. 

But what was missing—and I supported him twice.  The first time when he ran, and he said he couldn‘t have been elected without my support, and then I broke with him when he politicized the appointment of judges, and then, when his opposition was radical on the Democratic side, Ruth Messinger (ph), and I was not going to turn the city over to Democratic or Republican radical.  I supported Rudy. 

SMERCONISH:  All right, but the good news is—there‘s—the good news, there‘s much more to come with both of these great guests. 

And by the way, who could forget about the other New Yorker running for president, Hillary Rodham Clinton, or is it just Hillary now?  Does that mean she‘s dropping the Clinton from her campaign? 

Plus, Rush Limbaugh, another conservative radio talk show hosts are dominating the airwaves.  Should the government regulate what we get to hear on the radio? 

You‘re watching MSNBC.



SMERCONISH:  Bill Clinton is back on the campaign trail, barn-storming for his wife, but not for long.  He says this is all about Hillary Clinton, and not him.  Is she better off with or without him?



SMERCONISH:  When she was first lady, she took a lot of heat for standing by her man.  Now that it‘s Senator Hillary Clinton who seeks the presidency, will he be sticking by her?  Does she even want him around as she campaigns across the country or is Bill Clinton and his baggage just too much of a liability? 

A report out of their adopted home of New York today says that Bill‘s intention is to step aside and give his wife the limelight.  Will it come down to how much she may need him and can he really steer clear of a spotlight?  Enter Americans ready for another two for one Clinton campaign. 

Bob Shrum, author of “No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner,” and Mayor Ed Koch from New York City, former mayor, author of “Buzz, How to Create It and Win With It.”

Bob Shrum, if you got a call from Hillary Rodham Clinton and she said OK, how do I handle Bill relative to the 2008 cycle, what‘s the answer? 


She has to go out and do this on her own.  I mean, I write in the book that we had to go to some effort to separate Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in 2000 and 2004 from the Democratic nominees.  The rock star of the Democratic party.  Anywhere he goes, stands up, he sucks all the attention out of the room.  So we had to put him on Monday.  The nominee accepted on Thursday.  We saw this earlier this year, Michael, when Bill Clinton went down to Selma, Alabama, with Mrs. Clinton—with Senator Clinton and basically overshadowed her. 

It happened also at the funeral of Mrs. King.  So I think it‘s very smart of them not to campaign together.  He can do a lot for her.  He can raise money.  He can be very helpful in the African-American community.  He can be very helpful with Democratic activists.  But I think putting the two of them on the same stage at the same time, she is going to lose that comparison. 

SMERCONISH:  But Bob, if he is overshadowing her with favorability, then what‘s the down side?  I mean, I have to tell you, I think that the best thing she has going for her candidacy is him.  At least according to the polling numbers that I have read. 

SHRUM:  But the question here isn‘t favorability.  The question here is letting her develop into a potential president.  As a potential president, she can‘t be standing next to someone who all the time at every event—who if he introduces her and she gives a speech, people say gee, the introduction was better than the speech.  That‘s not good for her. 

SMERCONISH:  Mayor Koch, you agree with Bob Shrum‘s assessment? 

ED KOCH, FMR. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR:  Well, yes and no.  Gore lost the election because he wouldn‘t use Clinton. 

SHRUM:  Wrong. 

KOCH:  Well, I believe that and many people believe that, anyway. 

SHRUM:  I know, but it‘s an urban legend. 

KOCH:  Oh.

SMERCONISH:  See, this is what I like.  I need the two of you to start fighting amongst yourselves and take the burden off me. 

KOCH:  Alright.  But assuming that urban myth is true, I hope she doesn‘t make the same mistake that he did.  But I think that Bob is right,  they should not be campaigning on the same stage. 

She should use him everywhere.  And—I mean, he is incredible.  And there was a time when I thought I would never forgive him.  And now even I forgive him.  That was because of the pardons.  I just couldn‘t—

SMERCONISH:  Hey, Bob, clear up if it were an urban legend.  I would love to hear the real answer because I buy into the mayor‘s assessment that Gore would have been victorious if he treated Clinton differently. 

SHRUM:  Look, Gore out of pique would never have thrown away the presidency.  We would have anyone campaign who could have helped us win that election.  The problem was that in the battle ground states, among soft and undecided voters, and I lay all this out in the book, Clinton‘s favorable/unfavorable was in terrible shape. 

I mean, it was 39-47 in Iowa, generally.  And when you got to soft and undecided voters, it was worse.  And the focus group results were worse.  So had you to make a hard-headed decision about how you were going to try to win those states. 

Tom Harkin, the senator from Iowa is my client.  Called me the weekend before the 2000 election.  Said you have got to send Clinton here, you‘ve got to send Clinton here.  And we had a long discussion, he was getting pretty worked up and telling me maybe I would never work for him again.  And I said look, I‘ll give you the numbers if you—I don‘t want these out in the street before the election, but I‘ll give you the numbers, and when I went through the numbers and the focus groups, he said can you send Joe Lieberman?  Al Gore won Iowa by one point. 

SMERCONISH:  Mayor, how far do you go in delineating Bill Clinton‘s role if you are Hillary?  Is it some kind of a generalized concept of adviser?  Are you going to say forget Tony Blair as a Middle East envoy, why not William Jefferson Clinton?  How definitive is it? 

KOCH:  I, without hesitation, would say that she would be crazy if he was not intimately involved in the direction of the campaign.  You cannot get anyone better capable—better able than he in that particular realm. 

How she should use him, once again, I do believe he shouldn‘t be standing over her on the stage.  But he should be out there campaigning for her in his own amendable style. 

SHRUM:  He once told me that he would like to be a political consultant, maybe.  I think he‘s finally gotten there.  I think he‘s a political consultant. 

SMERCONISH:  Hey, Shrum, maybe this is why you‘re retiring and writing the book.  You‘re selling him the practice. 

SHRUM:  No, I just—you know, I have done it so long, I decided to stop.  Look, he is clearly, along with I think Mark Penn, the most influential force in that campaign.  I think strategically, he is her most important adviser. 

SMERCONISH:  Right.  And I ...

SHRUM:  And I think they actually really like each other. 

SMERCONISH:  I don‘t buy into the politics, but I agree with you.  He is the best of the political campaigners that we have got among us. 

Video killed the radio star.  Got to move on, well, only the liberal radio stars.  Then why are conservative radio hosts so popular?  And should the government do something about that to level the playing field? 

Plus John Edwards might have a lot of cash in his bank account but not his presidential campaign bank account.  In fact, he is millions of dollars shy of his goal.  Will he be able to raise enough money to compete with the other front runners? 

You‘re watching TUCKER, on MSNBC.


SMERCONISH:  Yesterday we told you about the release of a report from a group called the Center for American Progress and Free Press, which claimed that talk radio, my business, is dominated almost exclusively by conservatives each day.  They said that there is as much as 10 times conservative talk for so-called progressive talk on a daily basis. 

And now Senator James Inhofe is claiming that he overheard a conversation between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer wherein they said there is need for a, quote, “legislative fix to talk radio.” 

Both senators deny that conversation ever happened.  From Senator Boxer‘s communications director we got this. 

“Senator Boxer told me that either her friend Senator Inhofe needs new glasses or he needs to have his hearing checked, because that conversation never happened.”

And from Senator Clinton‘s press secretary, there was this:  “Jim Inhofe is wrong.  This supposed conversation never happened - not in his presence or anywhere else.”

Nevertheless, others are talking about whether some form of government regulation is necessary to level the political playing field in the world of talk radio.  Should the market sort out any imbalance in the world of talk radio or is some sort of government intervention warranted?  Back to talk to us on this are Ed Koch, former Mayor of New York City and author of “Buzz: How to Created it and Win With It.”  And Bob Shrum, author of “No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner.”

Mayor, I know that you, too, meaning in addition to yours truly, have a radio program. 

KOCH:  Yes, I‘m a commentator.

SMERCONISH:  I‘m a market guy.  I think that, you know, demand drives the bus.  What‘s your take? 

KOCH:  Exactly the same feeling.  I believe you don‘t want to listen to me or to any other commentators?  There is a knob on that radio box.  Just turn it off. 

And the market will determine who will stay on and who will be eliminated.  I don‘t want the government in that role at all. 

SMERCONISH:  Bob Shrum, you were on my show for 40 minutes in Philly today.  Can‘t we all just get along? 

SHRUM:  Actually, I enjoy arguing and discussing things with people who I don‘t agree with on everything.  I think it‘s a crazy idea to somehow or another mandate equality between ideologies.  How would you measure them to begin with?  I also don‘t believe Senator Clinton, who went to Yale Law School, ever said anything like this.  I think it would be an incredible interference with free speech. 

Now, here‘s—the obligation actually is on progressives.  I guess we‘re going to talk about this word later.  One of the things that has happened, is the conservatives invested a lot of money in some of these outlets, attracted and built audiences.  I think people on the other side have to do the same thing.  I think that‘s what may now be happening finally with Air America.  But that‘s the answer. 

SMERCONISH:  You know, Bob, I made this point earlier in the week here on MSNBC, that my employer is CBS.  And they would throw me out the door for morning drive in Philly and replace me with a communist if they could get more revenue.  I mean, it‘s all about money. 

SHRUM:  No, no, I agree with that, but I do think that there has been an investment on the conservative side.  Not with CBS, obviously, but on the conservative side that has paid off.  I don‘t think there has been a similar investment on our side.  And if we want to complain, then we ought to go out and some of the people who put lots of money into political campaigns ought to think about putting more money, for example, into this. 

SMERCONISH:  Some people say, mayor, we need to go back to the days of the fairness doctrine.  And my response is that today there is so much choice, not just on the radio dial, but in the blogging community, in the internet world.  There are so many sources of information that are out there that I think, you get whatever you‘re looking for. 

KOCH:  When they eliminated the fairness doctrine, I was distressed because I was always looking for equal time.  But I think I was wrong then, and I believe once again, as you do, that you can find the voice you‘re interested in listening to.  There are so many voices available. 

SMERCONISH:  I also—I took issue.  And I don‘t know if either of you fellows actually read the report from this group.  I never label myself.  I‘m for an exit strategy in Iraq.  I‘m pro-choice and same-sex relationships don‘t bother me.  I‘m also for profiling.  So, very quickly people say oh, the guy must be a, you know, a wing nut.  They called me a conservative on that list.  So, you know, I think the conclusion is right, meaning that, sure, conservatives dominate the world of talk radio, but the way in which they got there, to me, is flawed. 

SHRUM:  But that‘s what I mean when I say, how could you ever legislatively mandate some kind of balance of ideologies?  How would you judge them?  Would you—because, for example, you don‘t oppose gay marriage, well would you still be a conservative or would that somehow or other make centrist?  Or would you—I don‘t think you would like this at all, end up being called a liberal? 

KOCH:  But I do believe that when you see a conservative or you see a liberal, and hear him, I should say, you know who they are. 

SHRUM:  Oh, you mean, that‘s the old Potter Stewart test ...

KOCH:  On obscenity.

SHRUM:  ... on obscenity.  You know it when you see it. 

KOCH:  Yes, right.

SMERCONISH:  Well, I have to—dare I say it, here on MSN, I think it‘s a dangerous world post-Imus.  I mean, the thought police are out there and they are monitoring every single sentence.  They are just dying to catch somebody else in the wringer. 

KOCH:  And I was opposed to their eliminating Imus.  I thought he should be punished, but not eliminated. 

SMERCONISH:  Mayor, I agree.  I mean, I think the public flogging he took was sufficient punishment.  He said something bone headed and indefensible. 

KOCH:  Well, he could be fined, it wouldn‘t have bothered me.  He makes a lot of money. 

SMERCONISH:  Yes, he could have afforded it. 

Shrum from the proceeds of “No Excuses,” or you from “Buzz: How to Create it and Win With It,” you both could have taken good care of him. 

I‘m thrilled to have Bob Shrum and Ed Koch with me.  Good stuff, and more to come. 

Hey, John Edwards always talks about the two Americas, but pundits today are talking about his first two quarters of fund raising.  The guy is millions shy of his goal.  But does it matter so early in the race?  Can he catch up with the big dogs? 

Plus, Jack Valenti, he was a superstar, not on the big screen, but as the president of the Motion Picture Association of America.  Unfortunately his curtain call came early, but luckily, we‘ve still got his memoirs. 



SMERCONISH:  Leapfrog, the childhood game.  I think it‘s an apt metaphor for the juvenile way in which states are jumping one another to schedule their presidential primaries.  And now my home state of Pennsylvania is contemplating doing the same thing.  Our state‘s 2008 primary is currently scheduled for April 22nd, but there is a move afoot to switch to February 10. 

Those wishing to adjust the calendar have an important ally in Governor Ed Rendell, who recently said, I do not believe Pennsylvanians should be left out of the process, so I support advancing Pennsylvania‘s primary, which will join us with our sister industrial states.  But here‘s the problem: we‘re not just talking only about industrial states.  A total of nearly 20 geographically diverse states will go to the polls on February 5. 

Only Iowa‘s caucus, New Hampshire‘s primary and now Florida‘s primary are going to occur sooner.  Florida was willing to move forward despite the threats from the national parties to reduce by half the number of Sunshine State delegates at the national nominating conventions.  Why?  Well, because recently the only thing more irrelevant than national conventions are late presidential primaries. 

And yet I still say Pennsylvania should resist the temptation.  This craziness of moving primaries forward has got to stop.  The front end loading of the process is turning this into a superficial beauty contest, completely relying upon television commercials and devoid of any up close and personal encounters with voters, except in controlled environments.  You know, it was not all that long ago that you could meet presidential candidates who interested you with minimal effort. 

I will never forget 1980.  That spring, when I had just turned 18 and could vote, Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush were still competing for the GOP nod.  I met both of them at what were then obligatory campaign stops.  Reagan came to the Italian market in Philadelphia, and Bush paid respects at the suburban shrine of Shenstihova (ph).  I heard them both speak.  I shook their hands.  I looked them in the eyes.  I watched their mannerisms. 

In short, I formed opinions about each men based on something other than TV commercials and coverage.  You could say that I received the same kind of up close and personal look that Iowa and New Hampshire residents have long enjoyed, which enable them to ferret out candidate flaws.  It was this type of encounter, no doubt, that caused Winston Churchill to once observe that nothing so tests the character of an individual as the running of an election. 

Well, he surely didn‘t envision the way we elect our presidents today.  I think there was something to be said for entrusting just a few states in the dead of winter to winnow the field and then spreading out the process.  Call me nostalgic; I want it to return to those days.  I think the process suffers the longer we delay.  So, here is hoping that Pennsylvania bucks the trend and that others begin to reverse the process. 

Back with us, Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City, author of “Buzz, How to Create it and Win With It,” and Bob Shrum, author of “No Excuses, Confessions of a Serial Campaigner.”  Bob, do you agree with my assessment? 

SHRUM:  Well, first I need to say that I should have arranged for you to meet Ted Kennedy in 1980 or Mayor Koch should have arranged for you to meet Jimmy Carter.  Maybe we could have had you on the Democratic side.  I think there is a great irony with what is happening on Tsunami Tuesday, which is what I and Tim Russert call February 5th.  It is possible that you could see a situation in which Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire, John Edwards won Iowa, Obama was very close in both places, then won South Carolina. 

So you had three viable candidates going into this huge block of delegates on February 5th, and they could split the vote.  Then, under proportional representation, nobody would have a majority.  I think that‘s about a 20 percent or 25 percent chance.  So the states that came later would actually be more decisive. 

SMERCONISH:  Yes, Mayor Koch, that‘s one of the arguments that I used back home in Pennsylvania, that we should keep our powder dry because maybe, just maybe, we‘re going to be king makers this time. 

KOCH:  Listen, on this issue, I defer to Bob, because you have to have the mathematics and know each state, and I don‘t have that.  I will tell you, I think our whole system stinks and that what we should do—it won‘t happen—but what we should do is look at the British system of five-week election.  You get fined if you spend a single dollar before the period starts, and people don‘t get bored. 

This is going to be the most boring election imaginable.  It‘s two years in the making. 

SMERCONISH:  And it will all be over in a flash.  Bob Shrum, I mentioned Senator Edwards.  He‘s struggling, at least in terms of raising money.  In your book, I have to say the one moment in reading your book where I said wow, holy smokes, is that what happened, is when I come to this conversation that took place between Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards where—well, you tell the story.  You know where I‘m going.  It‘s a moment where he is evaluating Edwards as a potential running mate. 

SHRUM:  The only reason the story is in the book is because it‘s the reason he almost wasn‘t picked.  And he told Senator Kerry he was going to tell him a story he had never told before, and told him about when his son had been killed and how he reacted in the funeral home.  And it was chilling for John Kerry because he had been told the same story with the same preface a year before. 

Now, I said to you, when we talked about this earlier, that I have no idea whether in the pressure of that moment, John Edwards even remembered that he had told that story before.  And I think he is one of the three people most likely to win the Democratic nomination.  I have thought that for a long time. 

SMERCONISH:  Meaning Edwards. 

SHRUM:  Yes, and I think he can get over his money troubles.  Look, he has two options here.  The first option is to just keep raising money, see if he gets enough.  If that doesn‘t work, he can opt out of federal funding and spend some of his own money.  That‘s what John Kerry did when he was written off in the fall of 2003, traveled around in his SUV.  When we finally got a bus—I write about it—it had a hole on the floor and the snow blew in on the press. 

On January 1st, when voters got up and got serious in Iowa, where—the mayor is right.  They meet lots of people and they ask tough questions.  They asked themselves, who is believably president and who might have some chance to beat George Bush?  And the answer they decided wasn‘t Howard Dean.  So, you know, I—Edwards is in the position that—

SMERCONISH:  Did Edwards commit to Kerry that if they went down in defeat, he, Edwards, would not come back as a candidate himself in 2008? 

SHRUM:  If Kerry is running is what Senator Kerry told me, yes. 

SMERCONISH:  You have to look at the fine print.  Mayor Koch, this is sort of political potpourri.  I want to get into a semantic issue with you.  Are you a progressive or are you a liberal, and what‘s the difference, and does it make me a regressive? 

KOCH:  No, I am a liberal with sanity, very important.  And I will tell you what progressive means in New York City.  It means arch radical, on the left in the Democratic party.  For example, Bella Abzug (ph) said liberal was not good enough.  She was a progressive.  I believe today there are people who want to convey liberal is not good enough and will use the word progressive.  So when I hear the word progressive, I walk out of the room. 

SMERCONISH:  I thought it was one of these, you know, stewardess has become flight attendant.  Garbage man is now the sanitation engineer. 

SHRUM:  The mayor and I actually disagree about this.  I think Mario Cuomo, more than anyone else, made the word progressive a description of Democrats who held the kind of values he did.  I think it was an attempt to get away from the word liberal.  Now, you know, the irony of this is in 1960, John Kennedy stood up and said, I am proud to be a liberal.  I think Richard Nixon never described himself as a conservative during that campaign. 

In fact, the Goldwater people were very unhappy with him, because he made a deal with Nelson Rockefeller on the Republican platform.  One of the reasons that Republicans then after 1964 survived Goldwater, survived Nixon, and got to the Reagan era was because they stood up for their conservative beliefs, even if people didn‘t agree with it. 

SMERCONISH:  Well, I‘m not prepared to cede use of this word to either of you gentlemen, OK, because it would make me regressive.  I‘m for progress.  I‘m just not a liberal. 

KOCH:  I‘m a liberal, and I don‘t think anybody should run away from it, but I have great pride in saying that I‘m not an ideologue.  That‘s what I mean by I am a liberal with sanity. 

SMERCONISH:  rMD+IN_rMDNM_Yes, I‘m a liberal with conviction.  I have never hid the fact that I‘m a liberal.  In fact, I have been attacked as too liberal, too populist over the years.  But I think the Democratic party is only going to achieve real change when it gets out there and fights for ideas it believes in, instead of just focusing on tactics and waiting for the Republicans to mess up so it can win an election. 

SMERCONISH:  Great stuff.  Thank you both, I appreciate it.  Jack Valenti has been on the red carpet, the Hollywood walk of fame, but he has also been inside the White House and aboard Air Force One.  His daughter talks to us about his amazing life in war, the White House, Hollywood. 

Plus, did your older brother or sister call you stupid while growing up?  It turns out they weren‘t just being mean.  They were actually speaking the truth.  You‘re watching TUCKER on MSNBC.


SMERCONISH:  Several months ago, I had a meeting at Random House in mid town Manhattan.  I was there to pitch my third book.  In the lobby that day, I met a guy I had seen before on television.  He looked very distinguished, in a beautiful suit on his slight build.  He had slicked back silver hair, shiny cowboy boots. 

He wasn‘t there to pitch a book.  He was there to deliver one.  It was tucked underneath his arm that day.  It looked like it had been generated on an IBM Selectrics, not a modern word processor.  It was bundled together with rubber bands.  I could see post-it notes, along with comments in the margin.  It was all very old school, unlike my email presentation. 

That man was Jack Valenti.  Unfortunately, he passed before his book was published.  But it has just come out and it documents the most amazing of American lives.  When you see his face, you are no doubt going to associate him with the Motion Picture Association of America, where he was the man who instituted the movie rating system, among other things. 

But there was so much more to Jack Valenti.  Consider that he was a World War II hero.  He attended Harvard on the GI Bill.  He was in the Kennedy motorcade at Dealey Plaza, when President Kennedy was assassinated.  He then rode back to Washington with his friend from Texas, the new president, Lyndon Johnson.  As a matter of fact, Jack Valenti then served in the Johnson administration, even lived for a time in the White House. 

The incredible life of Jack Valenti is spelled out in his memoir, “This Time, This Place,” which is now available.  Joining me to talk about her father‘s book and his incredible life is Jack Valenti‘s daughter Courtenay Valenti.  Hey Courtney, it‘s great to have you here.  I was totally taken with my meeting with your dad and with this book. 


here.  Thank you. 

SMERCONISH:  So your father is rejected by the Navy because he has got a heart murmur and then joins the Army.  He‘s a B-25 pilot in World War II.  He flies 51 missions. 

VALENTI:  I know.  It‘s kind of incredible for a man who up to that point had never been in an airplane.  Yes, he flew 51 missions, interestingly enough, over his grandparents‘ native Italy. 

SMERCONISH:  So he sets himself up professionally in Texas.  He‘s an advertising guy.  He is very successful.  I guess it‘s from that business that the relationship springs with Lyndon Johnson. 

VALENTI:  That‘s correct.  Actually, he and his partner Weldon Weekley (ph), Weekley and Valenti were handling—handled a lot of political campaigns, but in particular they were handling the Kennedy-Johnson campaign through Texas.  And my mother had also worked for Johnson when he was both senator and vice president.  And they had met through some mutual friends, so he had contacts through two different arenas that brought him to Johnson. 

SMERCONISH:  Let‘s talk about that fateful day in Dallas, because we have been showing some images.  One of them a picture that everybody in the country has seen before of President Johnson being sworn in.  At the time of the motorcade in Dealey Plaza, your father is a couple of cars behind President Kennedy? 

VALENTI:  That‘s correct.  He was in the seventh car back, I believe.  He was riding with Evelyn Lincoln, President Kennedy‘s secretary, I believe, at the time.  When the shots rang out, as he describes it, the motorcade sped up, and he could feel the cars going incredibly fast toward the hospital.  And when they got to the hospital, he was told that—everybody was told at that time that the president had died.  And Vice President Johnson then said to my father to immediately get on the plane. 

They were taking the body and they were going with Mrs. Kennedy back to Washington.  And that is that very famous photograph that we all know, where we see them all standing there for the swearing in of the president. 

SMERCONISH:  We‘re showing it now.  Lyndon Johnson didn‘t wake up that day thinking he would end the day as the president of the United States.  Your father woke up that day thinking he was an ad guy from Houston and he would remain so.  Instead, he‘s now flying back on Air Force One with the body of President Kennedy, and he‘s now going to live in the White House, right? 

VALENTI:  That‘s correct.  In fact, as he recounts in his book, there are only two White House—two presidential assistants who ever have lived in the White House.  One was Harry Hopkins, FDR‘s special assistant, and one was dad.  So he spent the first few months living in the White House, keeping the president‘s rather crazy hours, because the president didn‘t sleep much.  So dad would be awakened at 4:30, 5:00 in the morning with the president saying, come on down, let‘s get to work. 

So he lived there for a few month, I believe. 

SMERCONISH:  I‘m hoping to go to the movies this weekend with the kids.  They want to see the new Steve Carrell movie.  When I get there, I confront the ratings system.  That‘s his handiwork as well. 

VALENTI:  That‘s correct.  When he joined the MPA, the Hayes Code was still in effect, which was essentially a form of government censorship.  And dad was an incredible believer in the First Amendment, the right of free speech.  He wanted to make sure that filmmakers had the right to say what they wanted to say in their movies.  But he also wanted to make sure that audiences, and most importantly parents, had the ability to get information before they went to see a film.  So he created this voluntary rating system, with the explicit purpose of trying to prevent government censorship. 

SMERCONISH:  Did he enforce it at home?  When you wanted to go to the movies, would he say to you no? 

VALENTI:  Oh, definitely. 


VALENTI:  Growing up, I was one of the few kids who didn‘t get to see the R-rated movies. 

SMERCONISH:  Unfortunately we lost your dad, but before we have go, you have to tell this story.  All of a sudden here comes the book.  He‘s not here to promote it.  And a call gets made to Michael Douglas.  Tell that story. 

VALENTI:  Oh, yes.  Even actually right when we knew daddy was very close to dying, and we were very concerned.  You know, he loved this book so much and we knew that he wasn‘t going to be there to read the book on tape or the audio book.  I called Michael and talked to him about this.  I couldn‘t even finish my sentence before he said, don‘t even give it another thought.  I will read the book.  I will do it immediately. 

And that weekend he did it.  He spent several days reading the book.  He was extraordinarily kind and generous with his time to make sure that this book came alive with the sound of someone reading it. 

SMERCONISH:  It speaks well of Michael Douglas.  Here‘s the book.  It‘s thick.  It had to have taken him several days.  I loved him in “Wall Street.”  I would love to hear his melodious voice read this.  “This Place, This Time,” it‘s a great book.  Your father led an amazing life.  It‘s a privilege to have you here. 

VALENTI:  Thank you so much. 

SMERCONISH:  The weekend is just about here, so ready for an ice cold beer?  I‘m not talking about draft beer.  A restaurant in Virginia is actually serving up beersicles.  But do they violate state regulations?  This is MSNBC.


SMERCONISH:  So you think you know all of the news now, right?  Well, think again, because here with the really important stuff, MSNBC vice president of prime time programming, Mr. Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, VICE PRESIDENT OF MSNBC:  Mr. Michael Smerconish, how are


SMERCONISH:  Tremendous job this week.

SMERCONISH:  I don‘t want to blow it.  I have one segment left. 

WOLFF:  I think we‘re going to be OK.  We begin tonight. 

SMERCONISH:  The prompter says don‘t screw up, so I‘ll try.  I‘ll shut up.   

WOLFF:  Good luck to you.  We begin with troubling news for little brothers everywhere, Michael.  Norwegian researchers, who have never been wrong, have found that eldest sons have higher I.Q. than their younger brothers.  The study examined men in the Norwegian military between 1967 and 1976 and, on average, sons raised eldest had I.Q.‘s two points higher than sons raised as second eldest. 

Additionally, the study showed that sons born second eldest, but raised eldest after an older sibling died, also had higher I.Q.‘s than their younger brothers.  That means the difference isn‘t biological.  It‘s environmental.  It‘s not chemical, but the way you were raised. 

Now, I am an older brother.  My brother works for a very successful dot com.  He lives in California.  He has a great time.  I am wearing heavy pancake makeup, sitting in a booth talking to you about birth order.  So who is smarter, really? 

SMERCONISH:  And I am a younger brother and I need to read all of my lines off that screen.  What does that tell you? 

WOLFF:  Conflicting evidence, Michael. 

SMERCONISH:  Speaking of birth order of boys, some groundless Internet gossip about Britney Spears now.  The website, which has never been wrong, reports that the oft mocked but secretly loved Miss Spears is considering pursuit of a restraining order to keep her mother Lynn Spears away from her two baby boys Jaden and Sean.  Britney and her ma are widely believed to have had more than their share of hard feelings lately. 

Now, speaking of birth order, Jaden, the first-born son, responded to the rumor by saying, quote, Internet gossip sites are unfortunate manifestations of a potential valuable communication technology in the modern age.  I hesitate to put credence to the information found therein.  The younger brother, Jaden, said, it was on the Internet, I believe it? 

Get it?  The older one is smarter. 

SMERCONISH:  Is Britney the one who is still in the slammer for the DUI thing? 

WOLFF:  No, we‘re getting to that, Michael.  Patience.  Britney is the one who is bringing on a new album that will be amazing and fantastic.  She is the one who was in rehab and is now out.  She has two kids by the guy Kevin Federline, who looks at you cross-eyed and you get pregnant. 

SMERCONISH:  The Bob Dole commercial; that‘s all I know about her.

WOLFF:  Precisely.  Now, the Norwegian study of birth orders did not include eldest daughters, such as Paris Hilton, who has three younger siblings.  Paris‘ stay as a guest of the L.A. County Correctional Facility enters its final weekend with a word from her parents that there will not be any wild partying upon her release, unless, of course, they‘re called out of town and she throws a kegger at their house.  I made that last part up.

Anyway, Paris told Ryan Seacrest, ever credible, of the E-Entertainment Television Work, that she is a changed woman, that she is much more grateful for everything she has.  And that, quote, I just realized that the media used me to make fun of me and be mean about it.  Frankly, I‘m sick of it, end quote. 

And therefore, I‘m going to resist the temptation to let Paris have it again.  I think she is a dear girl.  I‘m sure she has been rehabilitated in her three-week stay behind bars. 

SMERCONISH:  What does she do for a living?  I saw the movie, but beyond that what does she do for a living? 

WOLFF:  Paris Hilton.  She appears. 

SMERCONISH:  In that movie. 

WOLFF:  It‘s good work if you can get it, my friend.  Now some good news for people who prefer to lick their beer rather than drink it.  Rustico (ph) Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia now offers beersicles.  This modern hybrid of the popsicle and beer came to the attention of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Regulators, who said that beersicles might violate the Commonwealth‘s rules governing the serving and pouring of beer. 

The restaurant and the alcohol police have gone back and forth over the issue.  As it stands, the government says it plans to send an inspector to the restaurant to investigate.  In the meantime, customers of legal drinking age can get a cold headache and a hangover from the same item, marking a first in alcoholic history. 

SMERCONISH:  I am digging that.  I could see at a ball game having a beersicle. 

WOLFF:  I have a lot of respect for Virginia.  A lot of great people come from there, George Washington, Moses Malone.  But if you have rules regulating the pouring and serving of beer.  You regulate how you pour a beer? 

SMERCONISH:  Did you just say Moses Malone in the same breath as George Washington? 

WOLFF:  They both come from the commonwealth, my friend.  You tell me who is greater.  Finally, Michael, I‘ve got some breaking sports news from Central Park, New York City, the most highly anticipated softball game in all of morning television.  “The Today Show” and “Good Morning America” squaring off to settle once and for all, beyond a shadow of a doubt, which is the finer morning news program.  The winner, by the final count of eight to seven, in an extra inning game that wasn‘t nearly as close as the score would suggest, “The Today Show,” proving “The Today Show‘s” superiority in all ways in the universe in perpetuity.  We win.  We‘re number one. 

SMERCONISH:  Did Lauer bat cleanup.  I‘m thinking that‘s how they won the game. 

WOLFF:  They had Tiki Barber playing—

SMERCONISH:  He‘s a ringer.  The guy‘s a ringer. 

WOLFF:  He is an employee of the NBC Universal Corporation, my friend. 

SMERCONISH:  That does it for us.  “HARDBALL” is coming up next with Chris Matthews.




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