IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'Tucker' for July 23

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Eugene Robinson, Lynn Sweet

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Welcome to the show.  More than eight months after taking over Congress on the promise to get America out of Iraq, the Democratic Party has almost nothing to show for its effort.  The war still rages and so do members of the party‘s activist base.  They‘re more frustrated than ever.  They‘re frustrated at the president and at their own apparently impotent leadership in Congress. 

Well yesterday on NBC‘s “Meet the Press,” the leader of the Democrats madder than hell caucus, Minnesota Senator Russ Feingold announced his plan to officially rebuke George W. Bush for his Iraq policy. 

Here‘s some of what Senator Feingold said. 


SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN:  I will be shortly introducing censure resolutions of the president and the administration.  One on their getting us into the war in Iraq and their failure to adequately prepare our military and the misleading statements that have continued throughout the war in Iraq.  And a second on this administration‘s outrageous attack on the rule of law. 


CARLSON:  This isn‘t new for Feingold, who incidentally is from Wisconsin, not Minnesota, that was a slur and unintended.  Last year he threatened censure over the administration‘s wiretapping program. 

But this does mark the first time that anyone in Congress has suggested formal reprimand for the Iraq war.  In fact, censure amounts to a pretty hard slap on the wrist, impeachment-like.  It‘s a formality and may be a waste of time.

Only once before has a president suffered that indignity, Andrew Jackson in 1834.  And that rebuke was expunged three years later when Jackson‘s party, the Democratic Party gained control of the Senate.  It was a political play that backfired then.  The question is, would history repeat itself now?

Censure would not change the course of the Iraq war and President Bush would certainly have defenders on Capitol Hill.  Could Feingold actually muster enough support to follow through on this threat?  If he did, would it help or hurt his cause and the party he represents? 

Here to discuss the possibility of censure is someone who thinks it is a good idea.  Editor and publisher of the “Nation” magazine, Katrina Vanden Heuvel.  Katrina, thanks for coming on. 


CARLSON:  So “The Nation,” which always does live down to its own stereotype, and I mean that as a compliment, has this remarkable editorial on this question this week.  Twice the editorial refers to shredding the constitution.  And then it has this line.  “The case for impeachment was given the air time it richly deserves in an extraordinary July 13th Bill Moyers journal.”  This is like a parody.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  But Tucker, let me.

CARLSON:  Did you write this at Laurie David‘s house while sipping Chardonnay?  I mean, do you quote Jackson Browne?  I mean, it‘s got everything, you know what I mean?

VANDEN HUEVUL:  Tucker, I believe that respecting the constitution is not a fringe position.  We have lived with a president and vice president who have had staggering contempt for what the founders of this nation intended.  That is checks and balances, a Congress that is the co-equal, a Congress that checks a president, holds a president accountable when he misleads us into war, redefines torture as an American policy, spies on American citizens, and refuses to hold his administration‘s members accountable to Congress for hearings.

So Tucker, if you feel a constitution is a radical document, then you should be sipping something much stronger with your partisan colleague.

CARLSON:  I‘m merely saying Katrina, you have policy differences with the Bush administration.  You don‘t agree with a lot of things they‘ve done, maybe anything.  But hold on, that doesn‘t mean that they‘re shedding the constitution.  I‘m merely saying, isn‘t hysterical language like that counterproductive?  In fact, a little bit silly and embarrassing?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I think James Madison, I think Benjamin Franklin and I think Thomas Jefferson, who fought a revolution to liberate this country from a monarchy, would see this administration as shredding the constitution that they designed.

CARLSON:  Well they‘re not here to speak for themselves. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I do believe that very strongly. 

CARLSON:  Well now you‘re invoking the founders. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Doesn‘t reality get informed by history? Shouldn‘t we adhere to our principles?

CARLSON:  Let me inform present reality with history.  The founders set up the system to have checks and balances.  They‘re called elections.  We just had one and the president‘s policies were roundly rejected.

We‘re having another in which I believe they‘ll be rejected once more.  Why not allow the system to work itself out as it was designed to do?  Democrats are elected to take the White House in ‘08 because of the president‘s war.  So why can‘t we wait for that?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I think, I really believe, Tucker, that we‘re a constitutional crisis in this country when you have an executive which is subverting the constitution.  And I think elections are the bedrock.

CARLSON:  What the hell are you talking about? Katrina, I don‘t like Bush‘s policies either.  Let‘s be real here.  That kind of language doesn‘t get us anywhere.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  There is no question of this administration.  This administration has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.  I have as many questions as answers as I do about the remedy of the impeachment. 

There are, there is a majority now in this nation, 54-40 would like Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney. 

I‘m not sure that is the political remedy.  I do think there is a moral, historical marker to be set because I think, I do think that impeachment is not necessarily a constitutional crisis. 

But perhaps it is the cure for the constitutional crisis we face.  A majority of Americans at the moment believe that in terms of Vice President Dick Cheney shredding of the constitution. 

CARLSON:  The majority of Americans appear to believe that.  We‘re not arguing about public opinion here.  We‘re arguing about what‘s right.

And I just would like to know if you apply your same standards across the board regardless of partisan affiliation.  You have a lot of Democrats who voted for the war in Iraq.  You have at least one running for president, in fact is the frontrunner on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, who has not apologized for that vote.  She also voted for the Patriot Act.  I wonder if you‘re holding her to the same standard you‘re holding the president.  Probably not, I would imagine. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I believe that this president as the executive misled this nation into war.  I think the Congress behaved, the Senate, not the House.  The majority of Democrats in the House opposed the war resolution.  I don‘t speak for Democrats.  I truly, Tucker, and you may snicker, I truly speak for “The Nation” magazine which is an independent publication since 1865.  It has seen many other crises in this country.

CARLSON:  That‘s my question.  How independent are you?  Are you independent enough to hold the Democrat who presumably is your standard bearer to the same standard you hold the president? And I suspect not.  Why aren‘t you attacking—it is Bush‘s war.  I‘m not blaming Hillary for the war.  But am saying she‘s complicit in the war.  Why don‘t you say that, too?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Because those senators, Tucker, have not been responsible for crippling checks and balances or accountability.

CARLSON:  Yes, they are.  They are the check and balance.  And they‘ve refused to step up because they‘re afraid.  You know that‘s true.  They could end this war tomorrow by defunding it.  They won‘t. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  The constitution holds the executive responsible and at the moment, the Congress is behaving as it should.  When the president, for example, Tucker, says the Congress doesn‘t have a role to play in this war, and limiting and ending this war, he must read the constitution.  He took an oath to defend and uphold it.  At the moment, he is subverting it.

CARLSON:  All right.  We disagree.  I hope tonight, when you‘re tucking yourself in with that glass of Chardonnay, you‘ll think to yourself, you know what, am I holding the Democrats to the same standard?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Tucker, I‘m going to tuck in my 16-year-old daughter and hope that she lives to see the fate of the republic survive, OK?

CARLSON:  My god, Katrina!  I think you need two glasses of Chardonnay. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I feel strongly, and you know what, the snarkiness of people like you, Tucker, are undermining—this country needs.

CARLSON:  The hysterity of people like you gets us, Katrina, but I appreciate you coming on anyway.  And my snarkiness is heartfelt, and I want you to know.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I hope it is, Tucker, because it is not effective. 

CARLSON:  Thanks a lot, Katrina Vanden Heuvel of “The Nation.”  It‘s with love.  Dick Cheney is the most powerful voice, vice president in history.  Even he admits to making one mistake.  At least one mistake involves the Iraq war.  We‘ll tell you what it is.

Plus, illegal aliens will soon have a new safe haven in New Haven, Connecticut.  That starts tomorrow.  They‘ll be able to get a city I.D. card.  Does that mean they‘re still illegal?  We‘ll tell you, we‘ll be right back.


CARLSON:  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the record again calling George W. Bush quote, “the worst president we have ever had.”  Senator Russ Feingold agrees.  He would like to censure the president officially.  The left claims most Americans think this would be a good idea.  Do most Americans think that? And if they do, why aren‘t Democrats beginning the proceedings tomorrow?

Joining us now, Lynn Sweet of the “Chicago Sun Times” and of the “Washington Post,” Eugene Robinson.  Welcome to you both.

Eugene, it‘s a good question.  It seems like everyone is for it.  So why don‘t we just go ahead and impeach the guy?

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST:  Well, I censure him just about every day.  So that‘s great.  I think there is a sense, certainly a sense in Washington that it would be a distraction.  We‘ve got 18 months left.  Are we really going to spend that time trying to impeach George W. Bush when there is a war to end?  A war to get out of.  There‘s lots of really important things to focus on. 

Now, I must say when I‘m not in Washington, people do ask me about it.  And I get lots of e-mails about impeachment.  And they basically say, what are high crimes and misdemeanors if none of the above? And why aren‘t you people at least talking about that in Washington?

CARLSON:  That‘s a tough one.  It is a little bit like East Germany after the wall fell.  You want to find out who did the bad things.  Then it turns out, almost everybody was implicated in the system.  If you want to get to, why did we go to Iraq?  Yes, it‘s Bush‘s fault, no question about it. 

But the congressional leadership, the Democratic leadership collaborated with Bush in this.  I mean, they did.  There‘s kind of no way around that.  So do we really want to go down, do we want to relegate the war? Do the Democrats really want that?

LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:  Look, the most important thing here is an impeachment would tie Congress in knots.  The political fallout.

CARLSON:  I‘m for that. 

SWEET:  The political fallout could be that the Democrats would be threaten the majority they have as a practical matter because they would be seen as sidetracking themselves from the most important discussion that they think they should be having right now, which is finding a way to end the war. 

That‘s why this other proposal that Senator Russ Feingold is floating is getting some traction out there among the groups that want impeachment, that they might see this as a middle ground that can get done or at least be presented to the Senate.

As you know, because we all live through Clinton‘s impeachment, it takes a long time to do.  So even as a practical matter, Tucker, you couldn‘t get it done in the time that you want to get it done fast enough so it would have an impact on the war.  You could, if this war, if you thought there was a way to get war done faster by impeachment, I would get bet the Democrats would be more behind it.  It‘s not going to happen.

CARLSON:  They could tend war tomorrow by defunding it and they won‘t.  Did you see Feingold on Tim Russert‘s show this weekend?  He was asked by - Tim asked him, what exactly will happen when we pull out? John Burns of the “New York Times” says everybody agrees there will be cataclysmic violence, genocide.  Feingold had no answer.  Basically he had no answer.  Oh, it‘s bad now.  That‘s not an answer.  Where‘s the brain trust here? Who is thinking deeply about this?

ROBINSON:  Well, a lot of people are thinking about it.  Nobody really has answers.  Look, when U.S. forces pull out, it‘s going to be bad.  My view, my guess is that it‘s going to be bad if that happens a month from now or five years from now.  It‘s going to be bad.  And I don‘t see U.S.  forces doing anything to ameliorate substantially that bad things will happen five years from now. 

CARLSON:  So that‘s the Democratic position.  It does seem a sea change in the Democratic outlook on the rest of the world.  We know this atrocity is going to take place or get worse.  And we‘re not going to do anything to stop it.


CARLSON:  That‘s Feingold‘s position, or it appears to be.

SWEET:  Tucker, there‘s a lot of things in the world that the U.S.  Does not intervene in, most particularly the genocide in Darfur where the U.S. is not going in.

CARLSON:  My question was very simple.  Is that the Democratic position now?  Because the Democratic position now appears to me, we ought to be intervening when we can to help people, except in Iraq. 

SWEET:  No, that isn‘t—look.  That‘s what not the position is. 

I‘m not here to argue the Democratic position. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know what the position is.  I‘m confused.

SWEET:  It is a practical matter.  There are many places in the world, sad to say, where the U.S. doesn‘t think it is appropriate to use the massive force that we have to go in and stop terrible things. 

This might just be one other chapter where not only is it an atrocity perhaps happening, but you have U.S. troops that are dying, too.  And that change the equation.  And as Gene just said, if there is no good solution, then partly.


CARLSON:  Well don‘t you think we ought to have a solution?  I mean, Feingold says the other countries are going to get involved and make it right.  What does that mean?

ROBINSON:  No, no, no.  The other element is, is the U.S.  presence there making things better?  Is it protecting people?  Is it what we have?  There were how many car bombs in Baghdad today?

I mean, it is not as if we don‘t have ethnic cleansing that seems on the road to genocide.  Suicide bombs, all sorts of horrible, horrible things happening now under the noses of 160,000 U.S. troops. 

So are we making things better?  In some cases, is the presence of U.S. troops making things worse?  I‘m not sure.  But that‘s a question you should ask before you say, we‘ll just stay there so things don‘t fall apart.  Things have fallen apart.

CARLSON:  I just believe strongly they could be worse.  As someone who hates what‘s happening there, I think they could always be worse. 

ROBINSON:  And you think that the presence of U.S. troops is keeping them from getting worse?

CARLSON:  I think one of the reasons everything is such a disaster in Iraq is because we didn‘t think through the consequences of our actions.  And I‘d hate to see us do that again.  It seems like just pull out, and something will happen.  The neighbors, the contiguous states, will jump in and they all have interests there. 

OK, but let‘s think through like nine steps beyond that.  What happens?  Does Saudi Arabia become involved with Iran?  That‘s actually a possibility.  Shouldn‘t we at least talk about it before we do it? That‘s what I want to see is that conversation and I haven‘t heard that.

SWEET:  And those conversations happen when the outside agitators do what they‘re best at, which is to keep pressure on Congress.  Which is why you‘re seeing the impeachment movement among the Democratic activist take some stand.

CARLSON:  I don‘t see anybody taking it to that level.  And I just would like to.  I don‘t want to see the same mistakes Bush made, made again. 

Well, it‘s no secret that Vice President Dick Cheney is a man who likes to keep secrets, but a new book is exposing Cheney like few have seem him before.  How does the vice president feel about the war in Iraq and where the U.S. may have gone wrong there? Plus, Newt Gingrich slams his fellow Republicans running for president, implying they‘re not nearly as impressive or brilliant or accomplished or maybe as handsome as a certain former Georgia congressman who used to be speaker of the House.  Is Gingrich right?  Is he running?  We‘ll tell you.


CARLSON:  Dick Cheney is American history‘s most powerful vice president and most controversial by far.  He has been called a modern day prophet of doom.  That‘s what his friends think.

Thanks to a new biography by Stephen Hayes, we‘re just now learning about the mistake he says we made in Iraq, that we ought to have let the Iraqis govern themselves from day one.  And no, he was not happy when his best friend Donald Rumsfeld was booted out of his job as defense secretary.  Should we feel better or worse about Dick Cheney with the information in this new book?

Back with me, Lynn Sweet of the “Chicago Sun-Times” and the “Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson.  Welcome to you both.

I should say, this book was written by Steve Hayes, who‘s going to be on the show on Wednesday.  Let me throw up on the screen, just one quote from Dick Cheney I thought was pretty interesting.  This is him on the coalition provisional authority that ran Iraq. 

He said, “I think we probably should have gone with the provisional government of Iraqis from the very outset, maybe even before we launched.  I think the coalition provisional authority was a mistake, wasted valuable time.”

Is this just too obvious to comment upon? 

SWEET:  No, it‘s not too obvious.  You can‘t be—how can you say it stronger?  If the vice president is admitting this was a mistake, the man who doesn‘t like to admit any mistakes makes it, then you have a great part in the historic record here.

CARLSON:  Yes, and it was a big mistake.  I mean the CPA - I remember being in Iraq and the CPA ran everything. 

SWEET:  And the CPA is what dismantled the Iraqi army.  Made sure, couldn‘t get electricity on.  Set the stage for the almost the infrastructure problems that happened, despite what the U.S. asserts. 

You have still a lot of problems there today.  And I don‘t mean for all the people working on it, I don‘t mean to say we‘re not trying but their standard of living isn‘t what it should be.

But so much of this goes back to the CPA, the Paul Bremer regime.  And for Vice President Cheney to say this I think is a fairly big find in the book.  And that alone makes it a very valuable piece of historic documents.

ROBINSON:  I wonder, does he mean it should have been Ahmed Chalabi basically running Iraq from day one after the invasion?

CARLSON:  Well, of course. 

ROBINSON:  In which case, we wouldn‘t, we would still be waiting for the oil revenues.   I think, they would have been diverted.

CARLSON:  But wouldn‘t that have been better? I mean, Chalabi took a lot of heat.  He was indicted for bank fraud and he was supposed to be this criminal and all that. 

But wouldn‘t Chalabi, wouldn‘t a Musharraf-like figure, a pro-American strong man who clamped down to some extent—but wasn‘t Pol Pot be vastly preferable to chaos?

ROBINSON:  Well, it couldn‘t have been worse than what we had.  And also, presumably wouldn‘t have made all the mistakes in terms of trying, bringing in kind of fresh faced eager free marketers who wanted to design markets. 

SWEET:  Your favorite part of the story, wasn‘t your favorite that the political appointees had trumped people with expertise in getting appointments in the provisional authorities.

CARLSON:  There‘s no doubts, there are lots of 29-year-old people from Texas who had no idea what they were doing.

ROBINSON:  Right.  And the presence was much worse than having nobody at all. 

CARLSON:  Isn‘t the problem though, the theory behind it all?  I mean, I don‘t know why we haven‘t gone and reexamined the ideas that got us there and disavowed there.  The idea that everybody yearned for democracy.

SWEET:  You had a good point there.  You had State Department experts who were not paid attention to.  You even had, Paul Bremer was referred to as a viceroy.  That is not part of the nomenclature that we use in talking about our Democratic society that we were trying to.

CARLSON:  Well, he was a disaster.  If anybody should be censured or go on trial, I heard a story the other day from someone who would know about Paul Bremer blowing off the sheikhs, the people who actually run Iraq and getting this high handed lecture to essentially the tribal leaders saying you know what?  I‘m the top sheikh now, so buzz off.  If you can even imagine doing something like that.  Why is Paul Bremer allowed to go off to Vermont and run a bed and breakfast or whatever the hell he is doing and why isn‘t he being held accountable?

ROBINSON:  Just put him in irons and step him back?

CARLSON:  I don‘t know, why isn‘t he called upon at Capitol Hill to account for this?

ROBINSON:  He had supervision.  It turned out not to be adult supervision, but he was doing presumably what the White House and Pentagon wanted him to do. 

His instructions were not, did not encompass turning the country over to Ahmed Chalabi, who certainly would have made deals.  He would have established some sort of Shiite strongman regime.  He would have paid off the sheikhs and he kind of knew what was going on.  And you might have a shot at a functioning Iraq.

CARLSON:  Yes, Italy, but drier. 

ROBINSON:  Well, I‘m thinking more like Saudi Arabia. 

CARLSON:  Whatever! But inefficient, not wholly Democratic, but much more peaceful country.  And all it took was a little cynicism and imagination. 

But instead, we attempted to take the high road, cleave to these ludicrous theories about people yearning for democracy and representation and we got the makings of genocide.  There is a deep lesson.  I wish Hillary would get up and say, I‘m not for democracy for the uncivilized peoples of the world. 

ROBINSON:  I don‘t think she‘s going to say that. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think she is, but she really should.

When we come back, not sure what Democratic candidate to support, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?  Here‘s one way to figure it out.  What do you want more?  Do you want American troops out of Iraq, or do you want a new vision for the future of this country?

Plus, Newt Gingrich doesn‘t want either one of those two to become president.  But he doesn‘t think any of the quote, “pathetic Republicans” can win.  Will he join the race.  You‘re watching MSNBC, the place for politics.



CARLSON:  New Haven Connecticut will tomorrow become the most aptly name municipality in the country when it begins a new program to provide government issued I.D. cards to illegal aliens.  People with the card can give to it cops if they‘re pulled over, use the card for access to the city‘s libraries, its beach and parks, and as I.D. at banks.  They can also use it as a debit card at parking meters. 

The program, which critics say gives too many rights to people who are by definition breaking the law, was approved by a 25-1 vote by the board of alderman.  Joining me now from outside city hall in New Haven, Connecticut is NBC News‘ Michelle Franzen. 

Michelle, thanks for joining us.  What is the response?  Are there protests?  Or is this just passing unnoticed? 

MICHELLE FRANZEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, earlier today we did have some protests right here in front of city hall.  Tomorrow, people are promising also to come out in opposition.  That‘s when, of course, the city of New Haven will be handing out these resident cards, these municipality cards, identification cards that they say will help integrate the undocumented workers into the community. 

City leaders say that this program is needed because the reality of the situation is that the federal government, they say, has not done enough and that they need to deal with reality, that these undocumented workers, as many as 10,000, are here in New Haven, Connecticut.  And both the mayor and residents opposed to this program weighed in earlier today. 


DUSTIN HOLD, NEW HAVEN RESIDENT:  I want the federal government to enforce the law that exists.  Essentially, what is happening here in New Haven is this is a plan B amnesty. 

JOHN DESTEFANO (D), NEW HAVEN MAYOR:  We‘re here because of the failure of the federal government, the president and the Congress to come up with a resolution on both border security and appropriate and reasonable immigration limits.  What that leaves us with in New Haven over 10,000 undocumented residents who are a big part of our work force and no prospect in sight of the federal government coming to a resolution. 


FRANZEN:  And, of course, elsewhere around the country other communities are cracking down and the federal government, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, is going to certain communities and conducting raids and that has also happened in New Haven.  And tomorrow, when this controversial program kicks in, we‘ll to have see how it plays out, Tucker.  As to whether it will work or not, integrating the undocumented workers in this community. 

CARLSON:  Michelle Franzen, thanks a lot.  I appreciate it from New Haven.  Well, joining us once again, Lynn Sweet of the “Chicago Sun Times,” and from “the Washington Post,” Eugene Robinson.  Welcome back.  This is basically—this is the city overriding the federal government, basically.  This is the city essentially making foreign policy, which seems a little weird. 

SWEET:  It is.  And it is a form of amnesty.  I don‘t think you have to parse this.  It is could go dramatically what the Congress wouldn‘t do.  This even probably trumps the federal ideas that never got anywhere in Congress.  This gives you an I.D. that lets you stay where you are with less legal jeopardy because it is a safe haven. 

It is interesting.  It will be interesting to see if people who don‘t have documents now go to New Haven because they‘ll find it a safe haven and a sanctuary. 

CARLSON:  It is interesting to see all the - you saw some of the protesters.  I imagine a lot of them are upper middle class Yale students, kids who are there on their parents‘ dime.  The truth is that illegal immigration benefits the upper middle class more than anything.  That‘s kind of what this is about.  It is about cheap labor for the upwardly mobile American citizens.  Isn‘t it?

ROBINSON:  Yes.  That‘s certainly a benefit of illegal immigration.  What is happening in New Haven is—you know, the direct responsibility for this falls on the shoulders of Congress—of Washington, basically.  Congress and the president—the president was trying to get an immigration bill through.  It was a flawed piece of legislation.  It didn‘t get through.  Nothing got done. 

And really, because nothing got done, you see here in New Haven one approach to illegal immigration, which is, essentially, to grant an ad hoc amnesty and welcome people.  Here in suburban counties of Washington, D.C.  you have counties rushing to pass ordinances denying illegal immigrants access to swimming pools and libraries and anything that might make them comfortable here, trying to push them into the next county. 

This is going to build.  It‘s going to build and it‘s going to get more and more chaotic. 


CARLSON:  Your law doesn‘t matter here in New Haven or Berkeley or Madison or where ever.  Can you say that? 


ROBINSON:  No, it is completely unsettled.  We left the boarder opened.  We invited 12 million people to come here. 

CARLSON:  I didn‘t.  We actually legally didn‘t.  It is still illegal. 

Shouldn‘t we—

SWEET:  There is not an invitation.  People came because the borders were porous and enforcement was weak.  What this will do though could possibly change the political dynamic where it is tough now for Congress.  When you have municipalities and perhaps states now putting their own immigration policies in place, not only are they accepting some potential great financial burden, which makes it less of an argument to bring in the federal government, I think it makes it even harder to ever craft a compromise.

ROBINSON:  It is the responsibility of the federal government to decide what we thought about -- 

CARLSON:  Shouldn‘t towns—

ROBINSON:  -- and the government didn‘t do it. 

CARLSON:  But the rest of us are going to pay for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, all the federal entitlements to which—for which they will be eligible in the end.  Why shouldn‘t New Haven pay?

ROBINSON:  They contribute to the tax base as well. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think New Haven contributes that much.  I don‘t know. 

SWEET:  If they could do that—if, in a sense, they bring people who are off the book employees into the system that would be a part of the social experiment that‘s interesting, because as both of you know, this is part of a huge underground economy, cash economy.  If this experiment in New Have includes putting people on the books, includes receipts, includes tax payments, then there will be another point to make of it.  But I think that will be a very hard hurdle to make.

CARLSON:  Speaking of conflicted feelings, here‘s a poll that blows my mind.  It gets to the question of when does public know, if anything?  This is a “Washington Post/” ABC Poll.  And it asks voters what they care about.  And to asked voters who care most about withdrawing troops from Iraq, people who really want to withdraw troops from Iraq more than anything else, show they support for president, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. 

Hillary Clinton 51; Barack Obama 29.  The irony is Hillary Clinton is not for withdrawing troops from Iraq.  She is for keeping thousands upon thousands in Iraq.  Her position is much more nuanced or conservative or whatever you want to call it than Barack Obama‘s.  People apparently don‘t know that, do they? 

ROBINSON:  Apparently they don‘t.  It is fascinating. 

CARLSON:  What a weird response. 

ROBINSON:  Either people haven‘t focused on what the candidates are saying.  Imagine that. 

CARLSON:  But she voted for the war, hasn‘t apologized for the vote, has a neo conservative position on world affairs.  How did she wind up being the anti-war candidate? 

ROBINSON:  I have no idea.  She maintains—she continues to maintain a lead over Obama in the national polls.  And you know, theoretically, maybe people are projecting their views on her because they have a preference for her based on name recognition or the Clinton mantle or whatever.  That‘s a possibility.  I don‘t know.  What do you think?

SWEET:  I‘m practicing political psychology again here.  I don‘t think this is a point where people who would replied to this would have read the different plans that Obama and Clinton are backing because Obama is not for 100 percent withdrawal.  He will have some troops redeployed. 

CARLSON:  But he anti-war bona fides are much more solid than hers.  I just think it is a remarkable—

SWEET:  But look at this question, Tucker, as a commander in chief question, not anti-war question.  Maybe that‘s what‘s going on here. 

CARLSON:  Maybe that is.  I just think she‘s been allowed to skate on this.  Speaking of Hillary Clinton, here‘s what Mitt Romney says about Hillary Clinton and here‘s a response.  He gave a speech the other day in which he said, quote, “Hillary Clinton just gave a speech the other day about her view of the economy.  She said we have an on your own society.  She said it‘s time to get rid of that an replace that with the shared responsibility and a we‘re in it all together society.

“That‘s out with Adam Smith and in With Karl Marx.”  Ha ha. 

To which Hillary‘s campaign responded this way: she said “given how often Romney flip flops, tomorrow, he will be touting his membership in the communist party.”

All right, pretty good comeback.  I do think no one has sort of stopped Hillary Clinton and said, what do you mean by this, we‘re all in it together society?

SWEET:  Did you read, “It Takes a Village?” 

CARLSON:  I did.  And she is espousing collectivism actually.  I‘m sorry to sound like a right wing crazy, but that‘s what she‘s saying.   

ROBINSON:  You sound like a right wing crazy.  Why have a country if you don‘t have some collective responsibility and some sense of, dare I say, collectivism?  What is a country? 

CARLSON:  I feel like half my income tax—I feel like I don‘t want to be in it all together more than I am now.  No? 

SWEET:  You know, we‘re talking about perhaps things other than just government-run society.  There is a whole communitarian movement, people that work together.  This doesn‘t necessarily have to mean bigger government. 

CARLSON:  If Hillary Clinton is talking about it, it‘s compulsory. 

There is nothing voluntary about anything she‘s ever proposed. 

ROBINSON:  I know this country has moved to the right over the years -

CARLSON:  No, it‘s moved to the left over the years. 

ROBINSON:  But it should still be acceptable to say, come on people, let‘s all work together and make this a better place. 

CARLSON:  What if you want to opt out? 

ROBINSON:  That‘s a communist doctrine? 

CARLSON:  I‘m not even against that.  I‘m against it when it‘s mandatory.  What if you‘re one of those freaky people who kind of wants to be left alone and do your own thing doesn‘t want to join in. 

ROBINSON:  That leads you to oppose the income tax, for example, and think that‘s unconstitutional. 

CARLSON:  What if you‘re not a joiner?  What if you want to live off in Idaho or Maine?   

ROBINSON:  -- IRS, but they don‘t believe me. 

SWEET:  This is the second time in a week that Mitt Romney has taken a shot at one of the front runners.  Last week he did it with Barack Obama over sex education. 

CARLSON:  He is smart to do it. 

SWEET:  His strategy now is a little different because he is looking at Democrats moving into a general election mode, taking pot shots. 

CARLSON:  I think—I don‘t know why the rest aren‘t doing it.  Newt Gingrich says Republicans running for president aren‘t fit to battle the likes of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.  Is he right?  Would he make the ultimate contender for the Republican party in 2008?  Or is he an appalling, obnoxious blow hard who ought to be quiet?

And robots are supposed to make life easier, but do we really need one doing the hi tech hula?  Willie Geist, MSNBC‘s resident expert on all things worthless, explains in a minutes. 


CARLSON:  Can you name all the Republicans running for president in 2008?  Unless you work for “HARDBALL,” no, you can‘t.  It‘s a crowded field or maybe they‘re not just worth remembering.  In fact, Newt Gingrich this morning called the field, quote, pathetic, a bunch of pygmies.  He said if none of them is strong enough to run against a Clinton/Obama ticket by October, he just might join the race.  Why not jump in now? 

Back with me once again Lynn Sweet of the “Chicago Sun Times,” and the “Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson.  Well, Newt Gingrich is very smart.  He is incredibly smart.  And he wants you to know that he is very, very, very smart.  And here‘s a quote that just kind of jumped out at me—

Someone asked, are you going to join the race? 

And I‘m going to put this up on the screen because it really almost defies description, but I‘m going to read it out loud: “This is like going to De Gaulle when he was at Colombey les Deux Eglises during the fourth Republic and saying, do you want to rush in and join the Pygmies.”

That‘s exactly the analogy that sprang to mind.  Fourth Republic analogies, you know what I mean?

SWEET:  He has been insulting Republican leadership for years now.  He becomes more pointed. 

CARLSON:  What a pompous—can you imagine? 

SWEET:  A pompous—what were you saying? 

CARLSON:  Gingrich is very smart.  I think he is very smart and very interesting.  He is not the smartest person I‘ve ever met, however.  And I believe that he gives the impression that he believes he is the most intelligent person in human history. 

SWEET:  That‘s true.  That is why if he ran for president, I think he would find that the charm offensive is another great military mission he should try and deal with.  But look, what he said about the field being weak against the Democrats, there is a point there, that there is no overwhelming commanding front runners in the way of Obama and Clinton. 

However, gentlemen, if he thinks he is the remedy, I don‘t think—he has correctly described the problem.  But I don‘t think in his diagnosis, he is the cure. 

CARLSON:  The problem, Gene, he said, is that it is beneath him.  He said, you know, in order to run for president, you have to go up.  He attacks Chris Matthews.  You have to go and take all this crap from Chris Matthews.  And who wants—who is he? 

SWEET:  He would have to answer for his affair—affairs. 

CARLSON:  You would have to demean yourself with these debates and he is above that. 

ROBINSON:  As Churchill said to Roosevelt at Yalta—or was it Tehran, I forget. 

CARLSON:  Thank you, Gene. 

ROBINSON:  He said, that boy is crazy!  Newt is not crazy.  Newt is a very smart man.  He has been great to journalists. 


ROBINSON:  -- for years now.  He not only comes up with a quote on demand, but it is a really entertaining quote on demand.  As a presidential candidate who is going to blow away this field of Republicans, I‘m having trouble seeing it.  I‘m having trouble seeing him as the prince charming who comes in and saves the day. 

SWEET:  Also, he likes to lecture.  Can you imagine one of these town halls in these early primary states where you go and say, what do you think?  And he gives people these lectures? 

CARLSON:  And yet, consider the people he will be talking to. 

SWEET:  The base. 

CARLSON:  He has obviously thought these through.  These are Republican primary voters.  If there is a scenario in which Romney collapses. 

SWEET:  You‘re talking about the September scenario. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.  If Fred Thompson turns out to be disappointing and Romney is a disaster and Giuliani collapses under the weight of whatever, his baggage, and McCain is still out of it; they might be receptive.  Who else is going—someone has to get the nomination? 

SWEET:  There is a point of no return.  Right now Fred Thompson is pushing it by going in so late.  He is going to have to start.  One of his people told me that now they know that when he starts a campaign, it will be fully formed. 

CARLSON:  Why?  He hasn‘t gotten in and he is running neck in neck with Rudy Giuliani. 

SWEET:  That‘s why.  Newt Gingrich—you have to do more in an organization than wait for everyone else to fall apart.  That‘s a bit—if I may say, a bit of political arrogance on the part of Newt Gingrich, thinking that just because of the others‘ failure, you can reap the benefits so easily.  It doesn‘t happen that way. 

CARLSON:  In one sentence, do you pray for his entry into the race? 

ROBINSON:  I do every day.  That would make it much more interesting. 

CARLSON:  On that spiritual note, thank you very much.  Lynn Sweet, thank you.  Either Jessica Simpson is a war hero or Vice President Cheney has his Jessica‘s confused.  How did the vice president mix up a soldier and a bimbo?  Willie Geist has the answer when we come back.  You‘re watching MSNBC. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  It‘s Willie Geist time, kind of like Miller Time, but without the hangover and the beer breath.  Willie Geist joining us now.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  You get a hangover, trust me.  Tucker, you just interrupted.  Joe and I were trying to determine which if de Gaulle‘s retreats to Colombey les Deux Eglises was more significant.  Was it the one before the Fourth Republic or before the Algerian crisis?

Joe says Algeria.  I say Fourth.  We‘re going back and forth on it. 

It‘s a mess back here.  

CARLSON:  It has been a subject of hot contention at my dinner table for over a decade. 

GEIST:  You can‘t say something like that.

CARLSON:  We‘re going to have to agree to disagree. 

GEIST:  I guess.  Tucker, after months and months of hype, waiting and speculation, the book everyone has been talking about was finally released over the week.  Yes, the 2007 pro football prospectus finally hit the shelves.  Will Peyton Manning and the Colts repeat?  How will the volatile Randy Moss fit in with Belichick‘s boys in New England?  And will Kenny Whisenhunt right the ship in Arizona?  All your questions answered in one handy volume.  The kids are going crazy for it at Barnes and Noble. 

In other publishing news, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” sold 8.3 million copies in the first United States in its first 24 hours on sale.  It sounds like a lot.  The six other books have sold a combined 325 million copies.  That‘s really a lot. 

The good times aren‘t rolling only for the book though.  Harry Potter himself doing OK.  Actor Daniel Radcliffe, the guy who plays Harry in the movies, turned 18 today.  Report say that is the age when Radcliffe magically gets access to a fortune estimated at $40 million!  His publicist says that number is way over blown.  Either way, I resent him to no end, Tucker, and you should too. 

Did you get the book?  There has to be one in your house. 

CARLSON:  Not only is there not one in my house—I did not get the book.  I‘m resisting this and all other cultural advances in this country.  Let me say, you resent that kid now, that is just a step on the way to feeling sorry for him when he joins the Lindsay Lohan Hall of Fame 10 years from now.  

GEIST:  This is the—what is it called?  Untold story on VH-1, whatever it is.  Coming up next, rock bottom for Daniel Radcliffe.  Tucker, we brought a story on Friday about a couple who was planning on getting married.  Here they are.  They did go ahead and get married and yes, they did race straight from the wedding reception to Barnes and Noble to get to the front of the line for a copy of Harry Potter.  The bride said afterwards, quote, it is the best wedding present. 

If that‘s true, she should have shot a little higher when she was making the registry, I‘m guessing. 

CARLSON:  Are you telling me they spent their wedding night reading Harry Potter? 

GEIST:  Well, yes.  The story went that he has never read any of the books and he did this as a concession on the marriage night to show that he was willing to compromise.  I think he gave a little too much on night one. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I think if that‘s the deal you‘re striking on the very first night, I think it is all downhill.  He has no idea what 10 years out is going to look like. 

GEIST:  It is a long road.  You start with Harry Potter and it gets worse from there.  Tucker, as you know, Bill Gates is not content merely stomping competition in the computer business.  The man is out for blood at the card table as well.  Gates, who has more money than almost anyone in the history of the world, is competing at the North American Bridge Championships in Nashville right now. 

There he is.  Bridge is Gate‘s second favorite hobby next to printing money in his basement.  The Microsoft founder is playing in the intermediate division of the competition that attracts the best bridge players in the world.  I did not know that about Bill Gates. 

I‘m guessing if you‘re playing for cash, you‘re playing a card game, Gates walks up and sits down at the table, that‘s got to be a bad moment.  You know? 

CARLSON:  The sad thing is he just looks the part.  There is something about Bill Gates—he is an American success story, I want to like the guy.  He‘s an amazing guy in many ways.  But there is something about him that gives me the creeps, the Willies, if you will. 

GEIST:  He does.  Actually, one of stories I read about him said he had no problem blending right in.  Nobody even recognized him.  Meanwhile, he is the richest guy in the history of human civilization. 

CARLSON:  Are you sure that‘s not a bingo game at an Indian reservation? 

GEIST:  No, no, Nashville, Tennessee, World Bridge Championships, my friend.  Well, as you know, Tucker, no one has been harder on the robot community than I‘ve been, and that is not going to end today.  How many more worthless robots do we have to watch roll off the assembly line before we say enough? 

The newest useless machinery a robot that can hula dance and do somersaults.  We‘ve got that going for us.  Just the latest in a long line of disappointments from an industry that promised us flying cars and robots that would do our taxes not so long ago.  Thanks for nothing robot community again. 

Tucker, I can‘t even talk about that one.  It makes me too angry.  I‘m going to say something I shouldn‘t say on national television. 

CARLSON:  I love your passion.  That‘s so great.

GEIST:  I‘m just going to move on.  You did mention earlier the Dick Cheney biography.  One of the revelations in the book comes from an incident when the vice president threw out a ceremonial first pitch in Cincinnati three years ago.  The book claims that when Cheney was told Jessica Simpson would be singing the national anthem, he asked, quote, is that the soldier who was captured in Iraq? 

No, Mr. Vice President, Jessica Simpson was not captured in Iraq.  He may have been thinking Jessica Lynch.  Here‘s the difference, Private First Class Jessica Lynch on the left.  Civilian Jessica Simpson on the right.  That‘s the difference.  And it is a big one. 

CARLSON:  I guess I just don‘t see it.  I guess I‘m just a Cheney man at heart.  Thanks a lot, Willie.  For more Willie—and you can‘t get enough if you‘re like me, check out Zeit Geist at  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.



Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.