Guests: Joe Sestak, A.B. Stoddard, Rosa Brooks
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: (AUDIO GAP) odds that he might be asked about drivers‘ licenses for illegal immigrants. The other Democrats had to wait in line at the rhetorical buffet. So who left Vegas with what?
We‘ll tell you.
With the Iowa caucuses less than seven weeks away, the conventional wisdom appears to be that Hillary Clinton regained her footing by repelling verbal attacks from Obama and Edwards with counterattacks of her own. Was Hillary Clinton the evening‘s big winner or were public expectations lower than usual because of her rockier than usual two weeks prior to the event?
In a moment, we‘ll analyze the presumed front-runner and analyze the post-debate analysis for good measure. It‘s almost postmodern. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama missed the chance after chance to blast Hillary Clinton, especially on health care. And after two weeks of hammering her for waffling on the issues of drivers‘ licenses for illegal aliens, Mr. Obama seemed woefully unprepared when asked about it himself. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I support the notion that we have to deal with public safety and that drivers‘ licenses at the state level can make that happen. But what I also know—but what I also know, Wolf, is that if we keep on getting distracted by this problem, then we are not solving it.
WOLF BLITZER, MODERATOR: All right. Because this is the kind of question that is sort of available for a yes or no answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: What was that all about? We‘ll tell you.
We‘ll also bring you up to date on the rest of the field. Senator Joe Biden got off all the good laugh lines as usual. Also, as usual, Dennis Kucinich was laughed off the stage by his rivals, most of whom spent much of the night rationalizing why their voting records weren‘t exactly like his voting records.
Why do the little guys always get so little respect in the Democratic race?
We‘ll tell you.
But we begin with the headline of the top tier of the Democratic candidates most likely to be elected president, and that list still begins with Hillary Clinton.
Joining me now, Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania and co-chair of the Clinton campaign‘s Veterans Steering Committee, Joe Sestak.
Congressman, thanks a lot for coming on.
REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Tucker, thanks for having me.
CARLSON: One of the most interesting moments of the night, Hillary Clinton asked about the so-called gender card. I want to show you her response. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I‘m not playing as some people say the gender card here in Las Vegas. I‘m just trying to play the winning card.
And I understand very well that people are not attacking me because I‘m a woman. They‘re attacking me because I‘m ahead.
CLINTON: And I understand that, you know, as Harry Truman famously said, if you can‘t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. And I feel very comfortable in the kitchen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Oh, give me a break. With all—with all respect, Congressman, she went on two sentences later to describe her race for president as attempt to break a glass ceiling. In other words, she‘s fighting bias on her way to becoming president. So she is playing the gender card.
SESTAK: No. Come on, Tucker. Step back a moment here.
She did exactly what President Kennedy did when they asked President Kennedy, “Are you going to be a person who listens to the pope?” And he said, I‘m not going to be a Catholic president, I‘m going to be a president who happens to be Catholic. And that‘s what she‘s said.
She said, I‘m not going to be a woman president, I‘m going to be president who happens to be a woman. She showed strength, determination in that debate. And frankly, Tucker, that‘s why I endorsed her.
CARLSON: Oh Congressman...
SESTAK: I can remember when I was in the White House working for President Kennedy—President Clinton. She actually (INAUDIBLE) Agent Orange, she took the quiet time to listen to that man and go out and help out.
CARLSON: OK. Congressman—OK.
SESTAK: Then I saw her—just one more comment if you don‘t mind.
CARLSON: Yes, of course.
SESTAK: Then I happened to testify before her when I was an admiral in the Navy. I came across—and all the senators were trying to beat up on me because they wanted a helicopter that had to be bought in their district. But what she said after her questions was, “Hey, Admiral, what do you think about an emerging China that might be a challenge to us as a maritime nation?”
Here‘s a woman who is ready to be commander in chief. Full and strong.
CARLSON: OK. And I‘m not arguing—I‘m not arguing that she‘s not. I would never argue she‘s not smart. She is. She‘s prepared. Of course she is.
I‘m merely saying she‘s playing the gender card up one side and down the other. President Kennedy didn‘t say, don‘t judge me because I‘m Catholic and then on the other hand say, vote for me because I‘m Catholic. She is saying explicitly—she said it last night—people are voting for me because I‘m a woman. They want to see a woman in office.
Maybe that‘s OK, maybe it‘s not. But don‘t tell me she‘s not doing it.
That‘s insulting my intelligence.
SESTAK: You know, when I ran—got out of the Navy last January and ran for Congress, I didn‘t hide from the fact that I served this nation 31 years as a military person. Nor should this person...
SESTAK: ... this next to be president hide from being a woman. She should speak about it.
So when I have my 6-year-old daughter—which I‘ve done and watched her on debate—say, “That will be the first woman to be president,” she shouldn‘t hide from that. And she should be proud of it. And that‘s exactly what she said.
SESTAK: This is a person who has showed determination...
CARLSON: OK. So she is playing the gender card. OK. That‘s all I wanted.
SESTAK: This is a person that is showing—I‘m sorry, Tucker. I didn‘t mean to override you. Just one more comment.
This is a person who has shown determination. Look, in the military we didn‘t like people that got—golden boys we called them at times, who got hit on the head and just couldn‘t keep on going. We liked people who were strong and would get hit and pick up and keep on going.
CARLSON: All right. OK.
SESTAK: And that‘s what she showed at a woman, as well as an individual.
CARLSON: She‘s tough. OK. But I‘m just—look, Congressman, bottom line -- I don‘t want to prolong this—the difference between the example you just gave from your own life and Hillary Clinton is very simple.
You spent 31 years in the military. That‘s something you did. She had nothing to do with being a woman. That‘s how she was born. That‘s why it‘s OK to run on your achievements, it‘s not OK to run on something over which you had no control.
I hope that distinction is obvious. That‘s why we don‘t run on race either, because that‘s something God gave us, not something we did.
What did you make of her response to the question about drivers‘ licenses to illegal aliens? She said, no, I‘m against that. Why is she against all of a sudden giving drivers‘ licenses to illegals?
SESTAK: You know, this what I like about Senator Clinton—a thoughtful person. There‘s two sides to this question.
I have met a constituent who knew somebody where an illegal immigrant who didn‘t have a driver‘s license was in major accident that caused somebody they knew to be significantly hurt. And so there has been an argument in the past about let‘s at least train them.
But you know, as she thought about it she then said, no, no, there‘s a greater good here. We never give to illegal immigrants some status of that you‘re an accepted part of our society without having gone through the legal way to be here. So she thought about it and came out and very strongly said, no. But you know, it wasn‘t just a knee-jerk reaction.
CARLSON: All right. Good for her. OK. That‘s totally—you know what? I think that‘s a completely fair answer. She thought about it, she changed her mind. I do it all the time, and if that‘s the answer, I absolutely respect that.
Finally, she said...
SESTAK: We wish President Bush would do that once in a while.
CARLSON: You know, it‘s a good thing to change your mind when you‘re wrong. And she was. And good for her.
She has—she said last night a great deal about health care. She said previously when she rolled out her plan that not only will she reorganize health care in this country to make it cheaper, more effectively accessible to every person here, but she will do so without introducing any new government bureaucracy. Not a single new bureaucrat hired in order to reorganize this huge portion of the U.S. economy.
You‘re a member of Congress. You know that‘s not true. Will you say out loud that that‘s not true? Because it‘s not.
SESTAK: That you do not have to—step back and think about it.
CARLSON: That you don‘t have to—that you don‘t have to increase bureaucracy at all to reorganize all of health care? Come on.
SESTAK: I want to make sure I understood your question, Tucker. That we would not need a new bureaucracy to do that? Yes, that‘s true. Here‘s why.
What she said is—and this is the key difference between her and every other candidate. She said we are going to mandate that you must be into a health care plan, not this...
CARLSON: Oh yes. Going to force you.
SESTAK: Let me finish, Tucker. No, no, no.
Very similar to what the Republican governor, Romney, and a Democratic legislator in Massachusetts did. They mandated that you need to be insured. Here‘s why.
The little known fact is—and I have—I‘m a little off on these figures, but approximately about 15 percent of the uninsured in America are in the top, oh, 25 percent of those that have income earnings. You know why? They‘re the young youth that don‘t think they need health care.
And they get in motorcycle accident. And you know what happens? We pay for it.
So by mandating that the healthy have to be in the health care plan she talked about, the same one, private plans that Congress has, when the healthy are in those pools, that premiums go down.
CARLSON: And we won‘t have any...
SESTAK: But Tucker—I didn‘t hear that question. But Tucker, just to make sure, that‘s why her plan is wonderful.
CARLSON: OK. All right.
SESTAK: It mandates the healthy and the unhealthy have to be covered.
CARLSON: All right.
Congressman, I really appreciate your coming on. Thank you very much.
SESTAK: Unless you wanted that last question. I missed it. Sorry.
CARLSON: No, that‘s all right. We‘re out of time.
SESTAK: Glad to be here, Tucker.
CARLSON: I appreciate it though. Thank you.
Well, don‘t touch that remote. The odds were about 100 percent last night that Barack Obama was going to get asked about giving drivers‘ licenses to illegal aliens. The question is, why wasn‘t he ready for it?
Plus, President Bush, did he pick the wrong strongman when he decided to let Pakistan‘s President Musharraf ride shotgun in the war on terror? Some say yes.
We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Most of the flights out of McCarran Airport in Las Vegas are full of winners and losers. Their standings are easily measured by the weight of their wallets, the severity of their headaches, the guilt in their hearts. More difficult to measure, how the candidates felt as their planes rose above Clark County last night.
Barack Obama came to town as the perceived comer, the one with the best chance to catch Hillary Clinton. But after he bungled the driver‘s license question he had to know was coming, how did he feel as the lights of Vegas receded outside his airplane window?
There‘s a florid script for you.
Did he feel like he‘d won, lost or pushed?
Joining us now with their assessments, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B.
Stoddard, and “L.A. Times” columnist Rosa Brooks.
Both of you, since your avid cable news viewers, have seen this clip probably eight or nine times. We‘re going to show it anyway, because I just can‘t resist.
This is Barack Obama in response to the question, where are you on this issue you‘ve been beating Hillary over the head with? Here‘s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you support or oppose drivers‘ licenses for illegal immigrants?
OBAMA: I am not proposing that that‘s what we do. What I‘m saying is that we can‘t be—no, no, no, no. Look, I have already said I support the notion that we have to deal with public safety and that drivers‘ licenses at the state level can make that happen. But what I also know—but what I also know, Wolf, is if we keep on getting distracted by this problem, the we are not solving it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
So, Rosa, we know where he stands. He‘s for giving drivers‘ licenses to illegals. He said that also later in the debate. But his whole argument against Hillary Clinton has been, we don‘t know what your position is. So isn‘t he sort of under the obligation just to say, I‘m for it?
ROSA BROOKS, “LOS ANGELES TIMES” COLUMNIST: It was not a great moment for Barack Obama. What can I say? It was not a good moment.
BROOKS: You win some, you lose some. I mean, that‘s the Las Vegas thing.
And he should have been more prepared. He didn‘t handle it well.
You know, can he recover? Yes, sure. I mean, Hillary recovered very nicely from her drivers‘ licenses flub of a couple of weeks ago. I think he‘ll come back from this. He should have just—he was having a bad moment and he should have just said, yes, I think we should, here‘s why. It‘s not a hard question.
CARLSON: I think it‘s a bad moment that he conceded he was for it. I mean, Hillary Clinton is now against hit because presumably she‘s looked at the polls...
A. B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”: Well, but he said he was for it—he couldn‘t flip-flop on it. It‘s worse than bad, though, for the following reasons.
He had the two weeks to come up with his own answer if he wanted to be nuanced about it. He had already said yes initially in the debate from two weeks ago. But he absolutely knew that question was coming, as you said.
The other thing is, people rarely laugh at you in debates when you stumble.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
STODDARD: I mean, he was laughed at.
And then the third thing is that Wolf Blitzer did not push Hillary Clinton when she said her simple no.
CARLSON: You‘re right. You‘re right.
STODDARD: And so, it just made it so much worse for Obama. It wasn‘t simply that he stumbled.
People were laughing. And then Wolf gave her somewhat of a pass. I mean, he didn‘t say, Senator Clinton, you‘ve gone back and forth, what do you mean no? And so, it was—I don‘t think it could have been worse for Obama.
CARLSON: It was bad. But I‘m actually willing to give Obama a pass on this, because at least in the end he came up with a position.
On the subject of what to do with nuclear waste—he‘s for nuclear power. The question is, should it be stored at Yucca Mountain, which is a facility in Nevada. People in that state are very against it.
He gave an answer that was not just slippery, it was a torrent, it was a Vesuvius of B.S. I was slack-jawed watching it.
This was his answer to what should we do with nuclear waste, should we store it in Nevada? Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Don‘t keep on assuming that we can‘t do something. I mean, this is about the third time where you‘ve said, assuming we can‘t do it—what‘s our option?
BLITZER: Well, until we do it.
OBAMA: But I‘m running for president because I think we can do it.
OBAMA: I reject—I reject the notion that we can‘t meet our energy challenges.
BLITZER: All right.
OBAMA: We can if we‘ve got bold leadership in the White House that is saying we‘re going to do something about climate change, we‘re going to develop renewable energy sources. That‘s what I intend to do as president. And we shouldn‘t be pessimistic about the future of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Shouldn‘t be pessimistic. In other words, why do you hate America? It‘s a very simple question.
CARLSON: Where should we put the nuclear waste? And he‘s saying even to ask that question is a sign of pessimism. That somehow by his election he‘s going to magically solve the problem of nuclear waste.
BROOKS: Right. There‘s not a whole lot that can be said to make that answer sound better than it was.
CARLSON: Oh my God.
BROOKS: Except that, you know, Barack Obama is better than those answers were. I think we‘re going to be seeing him, I hope we‘re going to be seeing him come out swinging, being a little bit more clear, being a little sharper.
You know, even the driver‘s license issue, you know, there‘s absolutely no reason—it would precisely, as A.B. said, it would have helped him come out and take a very—contrast himself very sharply with Hillary, saying, OK, now she‘s saying no, I‘m saying yes, here‘s why. It‘s a good idea, it‘s in our national security interests to give illegal immigrants drivers‘ licenses. Let‘s not let our anti-immigrant fears stand in the way of keeping ourselves safe from terrorists. This is really stupid.
BROOKS: But I think that this is actually what people want to hear. You know, both of these candidates—Hillary in the last debate, Obama in this debate—are suffering because they don‘t want to say anything that anybody might disagree with. And actually, they‘re suffering more because they‘re wishy-washy than if they just took positions.
CARLSON: Obama, he has got nothing to lose and a lot to gain. But isn‘t this—I like Obama and I think he‘s better—I agree with that. But this is pattern.
I mean, the guy dodged all these votes when he was in the legislature in Illinois. He dodged the Iran vote.
I mean, is this who he is?
STODDARD: I think he‘s not willing to totally let go. And to beat the Clinton machine and to revolutionize politics and exceed the—you know, break an entrenched system, he has to let it go. And he‘s not going to.
I don‘t think he‘s going to make it. I don‘t think he can save himself on driver‘s license. But I disagree with you on his answer to Wolf Blitzer about being pessimistic. He got applause, and there actually are people in the Democratic primary camp who want to hear stuff like that.
CARLSON: But you really don‘t—really don‘t?
STODDARD: No, they applauded for him.
CARLSON: I know. It‘s discouraging.
STODDARD: People who support Obama want to hear “can do” and not “can‘t do.”
And you can laugh at them, but they believe that he has the power to get things done. And that‘s what he said about why he‘s running for president.
BROOKS: Tucker wanted to know exactly what...
STODDARD: No one‘s ever had a good answer on nuclear waste.
CARLSON: Put it in a mountain. I don‘t know, that‘s a pretty good answer. I don‘t know, put it deep into the ground. What else are you going to do with it?
STODDARD: Everyone filibusters and starts talking about special laboratories they know of.
CARLSON: I know. But if he supports nuclear power, as he should, he should at least have thought it through to the extent like, what do you do with the waste?
When we come back, somebody‘s making anonymous phone calls in New Hampshire that are attacking Mitt Romney‘s Mormon faith, as well as his military deferments. They‘re trying to make it look like John McCain is doing it. Is he? He says he‘s not.
Then, Lou Dobbs for president? He wouldn‘t be the first cable news host from CNN to give it a try. The ever-reliable Internet is full of rumors that he might do it.
We‘ll tell you if he will, or guess anyway.
We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Dirty tricks in New Hampshire politics. Ladies and Gentlemen, we can now report that they are in fact taking place.
Voters there are reportedly getting phone calls attacking Mitt Romney‘s Mormon faith and his military service deferments. The calls, known in political circles as push polling, go on to rave about Senator John McCain‘s service in the military. Well, that has led McCain to call the New Hampshire Attorney General‘s Office to investigate the calls.
Is someone trying to make it look as if McCain is trying to make Romney look bad? And who might that be?
Well here to guess, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and “L.A. Times” columnist Rosa Brooks.
A.B. Stoddard, well, I‘m so torn on this story it seems the first question you ought to ask is, are the calls true? I think it‘s repugnant that someone is attacking Romney‘s religion. On the other hand, if everyone is so outraged about it—I mean, I don‘t...
STODDARD: Is it true that they have taken place?
CARLSON: Well, I don‘t know. I‘d like to know exactly what the calls say.
As far as I know, we do not have a transcript of these calls at this point. And so we don‘t know exactly what they say, but they appear to be attacking his faith.
Who stands to gain from this more, Mitt Romney or his opponents?
STODDARD: I would imagine his opponents. I mean, on balance. I can‘t imagine that Mitt Romney supporters would do something like this to gather sympathy for him. It‘s a little too farfetched.
CARLSON: Well then—OK. I‘m not accusing Romney at all. I don‘t think Romney—I‘m not saying Romney did that. I‘m merely saying most Americans hate this so much that would it actually help a rival campaign to do this or to make Mitt Romney appear more sympathetic?
STODDARD: I think every time campaigns do this they think that they‘re not going to get caught. They think they‘re going to reach a couple of grandmothers, get just a good amount of—boost the numbers, get a few more votes, and then it‘s not going to be revealed.
I really—and I just—I would—you know, I don‘t—I can‘t imagine anyone near John McCain universe after what happened to him in South Carolina seven years ago would ever be connected to this. I mean, I just can‘t imagine that.
CARLSON: But then you‘ve got to—like, why should—why would the attorney general‘s office have anything to do with this? I hire someone to make phone calls that you think are mean. That‘s illegal now?
BROOKS: It depends who does it.
CARLSON: But why—on a philosophical level, since you are an—you‘re a professor, why would that be illegal? Why would it be against the law to make—hurting my feelings is now illegal?
BROOKS: Hurting your—Tucker, hurting your feelings ought to be illegal.
CARLSON: OK. Thank you, Rosa.
BROOKS: There ought to be a law against it. But, you know, it depends what funds are being used, obviously, and whether there‘s something shady about funds and whether somebody is hiding something.
But yes—no, certainly it‘s not illegal for me to call up 67 of my friends in New Hampshire and say mean things about Mitt Romney if I want to. But that is a separate question from whether a campaign using—you know, it‘s complicated. I don‘t know enough about how the campaign finance laws work, but depending on the situation, yes, potentially if a campaign was behind it, it might be illegal. I don‘t know.
CARLSON: Do you think it helps Romney more or his opponents?
BROOKS: Well, I‘m very intrigued by your suggestion. You have a very devious mind. So you think Mitt Romney is making these calls?
CARLSON: No, I don‘t think Mitt—and I‘m not suggesting Romney is making the calls. I‘m not suggesting that. I just want to be totally clear about it.
CARLSON: I just think this is so stupid...
BROOKS: Yes. No, I think...
CARLSON: ... for any other campaign to do it. Whoever did it is likely to get caught. It‘s so crazy that, who would do that?
STODDARD: But it‘s still done. And, you know, there is some strange connection to the Terrance (ph) Group, which is working for Giuliani this season, and Giuliani would very much benefit if Mike Huckabee were to knock Romney off in Iowa. That‘s the thinking, that Mike Huckabee can‘t go all the way.
I mean, listen, it‘s a sinister game. We can‘t say that no one connected to any campaigns is doing this. Just one whacko in his basement. I mean, you know, Karl Rove has, you know, been the master of some dirty tricks in his lifetime, too. People do this, because on the margins it gains them numbers.
CARLSON: We‘re going to continue this speculation in the commercial break.
We‘ll be right back.
Up next, President Bush is said to value loyalty above all other virtues. Did he pick the wrong friend when he decided to buddy up with Pakistan‘s Pervez Musharraf?
And then, what happened to Ronald Reagan‘s (INAUDIBLE) about Republicans not criticizing one another? Apparently Giuliani and Romney missed that memo.
We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: It has certainly been the Democrats day in the news cycle, but the Republicans live by the same ticking clock; seven weeks to the Iowa caucuses. Today‘s “Des Moines Register” reports the finding of a new American Research Poll in the state. It shows Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee virtually tied at the top. Romney has 26 percent. Huckabee has 24, with Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and John McCain behind them. Does Huckabee have a serious chance at the Republican nomination? That‘s the question. Or is he running for vice president?
Here to tell us, associate editor of “The Hill, A.B. Stoddard and “L.A. Times” columnist Rosa Brooks. Welcome back. Before we get to that, which I think is an interesting question. I want to talk very quickly about Dennis Kucinich. Now, people laugh at Dennis Kucinich, and they kind of gently mocked him last night. People—he‘s short. He‘s a vegan. He talks to UFOs. He‘s got a tall wife.
On the other hand, almost everything he believes in is Democratic dogma. He‘s against the war in Iraq. He‘s against Yucca Mountain. He‘s for universal health care. He‘s against the Patriot Act. He‘s kind of a trail blazer. Why isn‘t he the Democratic nominee, apart from the fact—seriously?
BROOKS: Apart from the fact that he‘s short?
BROOKS: Good question. He doesn‘t have the machine behind him. He doesn‘t have Bill behind him. He doesn‘t have the money behind him. But I think clearly he‘s got a grass roots following.
CARLSON: He‘s more a Democrat than Hillary Clinton.
BROOKS: Part of it is people like us, not to be self loathing, Tucker. But we sit around here. We talk about polls. They become self-fulfilling. I don‘t want to put ourselves out of business, but I sometimes think we should just shut up about the polls, let these folks go out there, just talk and talk and talk as much as they want. Then let the voters vote. I think we would actually get somewhat different results. We keep driving the process. We‘re creating the inevitability.
CARLSON: I can see that. Except then you have Howard Dean or Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee, who is not the media darling, at least at first, and then comes out of nowhere. But Kucinich is—I think part of what you‘re saying is right. But Kucinich is mocked by his own party. Why is that?
STODDARD: I just think the country has moved to the center and the
Democrats want to win. Dennis Kucinich is the Democrat party, just like
you said, pro union, anti-war. Everything he went through last night—
it‘s not palatable any more for them in a general election. He has to be -
he‘s at the end. He‘s belittled. He‘s not the centrist enough Democrat who can win and go all the way.
CARLSON: You‘re right. But what bothers me is they claim to believe the things that Dennis Kucinich clearly really does believe.
STODDARD: They nuance those positions.
CARLSON: Right. But they claim—they ape his positions, and yet they mock him. Shouldn‘t they give him their due? Shouldn‘t they bow down before Dennis Kucinich and say, Dennis, you were there before we were.
STODDARD: I think he had a great night. I thought he was articulate about—I actually think the moderators were giving him a lot of credit. Do you feel vindicated now on these issues. Yes, I do. And he also had that great line about reading the Patriot Act.
But I am impressed by Dennis Kucinich. I‘ve said it before. I think that—I think if he had enough of a following, he would be ahead in the polls.
CARLSON: If he had enough of a following, it would be a different country.
BROOKS: As with Ron Paul in the Republican race, he‘s playing a really important role of trying to keep the other guys honest. He‘s forcing them to not be so full of BS and articulate their positions a little bit more clearly. It doesn‘t always work, but --
CARLSON: They treat him like a little elf. They kind of pat him on the head. Nobody does that—people are kind of afraid of Ron Paul, because, you know—they don‘t fool with Ron Paul. But it‘s like, oh, Dennis! Your so silly! Crazy Dennis, smoking pot again. I mean, they mock him.
Mike Huckabee was never the subject of that kind of treatment, ever. But he hasn‘t, as far as I can tell, been taken very seriously as an actual contender for the presidency. Neck and neck in Iowa, you got to take him seriously all of a sudden. Will he be taken seriously? Should he be taken seriously?
STODDARD: I think his surge is real. I think that he could take Iowa. I don‘t think he can win on February 5th after taking Iowa. I think he‘d make a great vice president. I think—the problem for Mike Huckabee is that he doesn‘t have the money. He doesn‘t have the operation. He hasn‘t laid the ground work to win other places, should he be a surprise win in Iowa. And for some strange reason, though he‘s pure on their issues, the social conservatives have not embraced Mike Huckabee, have not endorsed him, have not helped him. And he, in some respects, is stronger on the life issue than Fred Thompson, who was just endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee.
He has immense general election appeal. I think it would be very hard to run against him, if I were Hillary Clinton or anyone else. But he is not getting the proper support from the players in the primary process. I think Iowa would be all he could get.
CARLSON: You know who loves him, Rosa? You may be the exemption to this rule. Liberals love Mike Huckabee.
BROOKS: We‘re watching—this is actually kind of interesting. I wouldn‘t say I love Mike Huckabee, you‘re right. I‘m an exception to that rule. But I have to say, I kind of like him a little bit better than Rudy in some ways, for the—because I think he—I don‘t agree with his positions, but I think his positions are honest and genuine ones, whereas Rudy‘s I think are garbage.
CARLSON: You think he‘s a better person.
BROOKS: Yes, I think he‘s a better person. But I think that what we‘re seeing here is the fracturing of the GOP base. What we‘re seeing is the GOP base trying to decide if it cares about those good old fashioned supposed GOP values, like human dignity, the culture of life, abortion issues, gay marriage. Or whether it‘s all about terrorism and defending ourselves at all costs, torturing people, whatever it takes, which is a totally different ball of wax.
I think at this point we‘re seeing a huge split there—
CARLSON: I would argue that one needs the other. Before you said about constructing a police state in order to protect the citizens of this state, you ought to have a kind of humanizing—no, I‘m serious. That whole culture of life stuff, you can mock it if you want. But if you are really concerned about protecting the unborn, you‘re likely to be, in my view, a more compassionate decent person.
STODDARD: That‘s what Mike Huckabee always brings up whenever the abortion issue comes up. He talks about protecting life. He talks about trapped miners. He always has another example to talk about us taking care.
BROOKS: I‘m with you. That‘s the thing. I‘m with you on, if you care about protecting life, then let‘s make that consistent across the board.
CARLSON: What about if you‘re Hillary Clinton, and you‘re for ending life and you‘re like this mega hawk. Where does that put you? And you‘re pro-death penalty.
BROOKS: I‘m not going to answer that.
CARLSON: I don‘t want to torment you, because I know every McCain conversation we have—we usually have about 15 times a year—makes you upset. But another poll from Fox says—it‘s consistent with every poll we‘ve seen—that actually John McCain does best among all Republicans in a head to head match up against Hillary Clinton.
STODDARD: And he did a year ago when he was the front runner. And I think he believed all along that he will. I think—
CARLSON: Nobody cares, right?
STODDARD: I mean, again, some things have to happen for John McCain to have his—to come back from—completely come back from the dead and actually win, as you said, a state. Every time we talk about McCain, you say, but what state can he win. That‘s when the conversation ends. John McCain, because of events on the ground in Iraq, and because of the increasing tension with Iran and the likelihood of some kind of confrontation, is in a much better position than he was when we were all laughing him off in July.
Actually his pro-war positions could end up helping him. John McCain feels vindicated by the results of the surge. John McCain probably is the best match up against Hillary Clinton. I believe John McCain—there‘s a way for him to become the nominee, but terrible things would have to happen to Rudy Giuliani—
CARLSON: It requires magic spells.
STODDARD: Fred Thompson would have to throw his weight—lot of things would have to happen. But it does not surprise me that he polls as the best Republican.
CARLSON: You would have to have something out of Harry Potter for him to actually get—
STODDARD: But it‘s a strange year, so you never know.
CARLSON: It is a strange year. It‘s a year, it seems to me, that is ripe for a third party populist.
BROOKS: Like you, Tucker Carlson?
CARLSON: I am very much not a populist. I have tried, because I know that‘s the key to success in cable news. I‘m on your side; it doesn‘t befit me. So I stopped. You know who it does work for, because I think he really means it—
BROOKS: That‘s could be your platform though. I‘m Tucker Carlson, I am not on your side.
CARLSON: I do not speak for you. Every person ought to speak for himself, that‘s what I believe. That‘s why I‘m kind of a libertarian. But most people don‘t believe that. Anyway, Lou Dobbs believes that he speaks for average people. I think he really does believe it. His numbers have gone high on CNN as a result. He has an appeal. There‘s talk that Lou Dobbs might run as a third party candidate. What do you think of that?
I‘m not just saying, should a talk show host run for president. I‘m saying, is there room for a non—
BROOKS: It‘s a big country. Lou, feel free, whatever.
STODDARD: It‘s the American dream.
CARLSON: Neither party is addressing immigration.
BROOKS: I‘m running too. A.B., I think you should run also.
CARLSON: -- populist issues like immigration and trade that are being addressed by nobody.
STODDARD: He‘s a one issue guy. I imagine that he would make Mitt Romney and Giuliani and others uncomfortable. It could be a problem for Hillary Clinton, et cetera. But wake me when he‘s a serious contender.
CARLSON: I don‘t know. Pat Buchanan did. All right, there was a column in the “L.A. Times,” which is a paper out on the West Coast—
STODDARD: By a mad woman.
CARLSON: That made the point that Bush‘s key mistake in Pakistan, a country we don‘t talk about enough that has nuclear weapons and is chock full of lunatics—Bush‘s mistake was in backing a military strong man, Pervez Musharraf, who is a very, very bad guy. It‘s sort along the lines of what you saw Governor Richardson say last night, which is human rights ought to take precedence over security and we made a big mistake in backing Musharraf. That‘s kind of—you don‘t agree with that?
BROOKS: I don‘t entirely agree with that actually. Tucker, this is very discrete of you. I believe you might be referring to a column that I wrote. That‘s actually not quite what I said. I don‘t think it was necessarily a mistake having an alliance with Pakistan, or with Musharraf. I certainly believe it was a big mistake to have the kind of—shower him with money, without paying very close attention to what he did with it.
I mean, I think the way the Bush administration went at it was just disastrously stupid. We increased in—comparing the three years before September 11th and three years after 9/11, we increased U.S. funding to Pakistan, mostly military funding, by 50,000 percent without monitoring very carefully what did he with that, without making any real effort to make sure that he was doing good things as opposed to bad things.
Musharraf has essentially been allied with religious parties that are themselves, in some case, directly allied with the very jihadist that we are trying to combat. We have had, essentially, a self undermining strategy in Pakistan.
CARLSON: I buy everything you said. Here‘s the part I don‘t get, what was the option?
BROOKS: I think that the option was to be much smarter and more strategic in how we allied ourself with Pakistan. I think that yes, no question about it, after 9/11 we needed to go to Pakistan. We needed to go to Musharraf. We needed to say, hey, we need your help. We want you to help. We are prepared to talk to you much—We are prepared to lift some of the sanctions. We are prepared to work with you. But we need to be getting much more back from you, including on Democratic governance, because that‘s actually one of the drivers that reduces extremism. Part of what we have seen—
CARLSON: That‘s the neo-con theory right there.
BROOKS: Not through regime change. There are other ways to do that.
CARLSON: Spreading democracy makes the world more stable.
BROOKS: It‘s not about spreading democracy. It‘s about using the power of the purse. It‘s about using the enormous carrots that we had. We have tossed 10 billion dollars at Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan in the six years since 9/11 -- more than 10 billion dollars in military aid, et cetera. It‘s about using those carrots that we have to encourage greater Democratic openness, which, frankly, we could have used—and I think we frankly still could to push for Democratic elections, which would actually be far more likely to get us the kind of government we want and need in Pakistan.
CARLSON: Do you believe—I disagree with that on so many levels.
Let me just ask A.B. quickly—
BROOKS: Your speechless.
CARLSON: Why did somebody decide it was a good idea to interject Benazir Bhutto into all of this, the former leader of—
BROOKS: Was that your idea?
STODDARD: I have no idea. First of all, I always love getting in the middle of Rosa and Tucker. Just sitting here is really—I think that—
I tend to think that—I don‘t disagree, but I don‘t agree. I think that you have to dance with the one you‘re stuck with, and we‘re stuck with Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. And we‘re stuck in a lot of places. If you listened, particularly last night, to what the Democrats said, there‘s no good answer.
Hillary Clinton says there‘s no good answer and she falls back on her, but it‘s all because of the failures of the Bush administration. But now we‘re in a bind. And Biden is emphatic about conditions he would like to set on the aid. Then you listen to Chris Dodd, who said, great, we follow through with that threat, we‘re stuck with it. The problem is, like you said, we can‘t really choose the allies, post 9/11, that we want to.
CARLSON: I agree. I think a strong man who is kind of a creep who is on our side is better than a—
BROOKS: But he‘s not on our side. That‘s the problem.
CARLSON: Throwing it open to the population, which is—
CARLSON: I‘m seconds from winning you over. But I‘m being told we‘ve got to go.
Coming up, the return of one of this show‘s alums. Bill Wolff is keeping tabs on one of our own, who has moved on to an earlier time zone. Where is Willie Geist? All the answers to all the questions ahead.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Hollywood is widely considered a very liberal town, and by and large it is. But there are some conservatives or at least Republicans. There are very few, maybe under ten, and they don‘t want anyone to know their names. Joining us now, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and “LA Times” columnist Rosa Brooks. Welcome back to you both.
“Washington Times,” interesting piece today. A reporter at the “Washington Times” decided to track down the three or four conservatives who apparently are giving money to Republicans, among them Bo Derek. Not all of them are front page celebrities right now. But in any case, so the reporter tried to track them down and got responses like, no comment. A lawyer called back and said, my client has a first amendment right not to have his name in the paper, et cetera.
STODDARD: I‘m pro employment. So I think anything that jeopardizes your job is something should you avoid. Giving money was probably a mistake because we have access to FEC records. I know Republicans right now who are trying to hide out and not be Republicans. It makes sense that the four Republicans in Hollywood wouldn‘t really want to talk about it.
CARLSON: That‘s probably right. I think that‘s—that doesn‘t bother me. Everyone is free to choose his own affiliation. Here is what does bother me; it‘s a quote form Andrew Brightbar (ph), a observer in Hollywood. He says this, “they learn very quickly, if they know what‘s good for them, to donate to the Democratic party. If they were to donate to the Republican party, they would be exposed to career ending ridicule.” Come on, there‘s nothing liberal about that.
BROOKS: It‘s very embarrassing to be a Republican, I guess. Tucker, what can I say?
CARLSON: Don‘t you believe in diversity of ideas.
BROOKS: We need an affirmative action program for Republicans in Hollywood.
CARLSON: Why is that so crazy.
BROOKS: No offense; he‘s not suggesting that they‘re actually going to be discriminated against. He‘s just suggesting they‘re going to be laughed at, which is—my heart bleeds.
CARLSON: I don‘t know, career ending ridicule? In other words, it‘s bad for you to have a different point of view?
STODDARD: When was the last time Bo Derek had a good job.
BROOKS: When was the last time Bo Derek had a point of view.
CARLSON: That‘s so mean. Even though you‘re probably right—
STODDARD: That was Rose. I didn‘t say that.
BROOKS: I respect her right to support George Bush. Almost nobody else in the country does. Somebody‘s got to do it. And good for her for sticking out for the underdog.
CARLSON: What bothers me is I just think there ought to be all kinds of points of view.
BROOKS: There are. This is like Pakistan, there are nuts all over the place.
STODDARD: Terry hatcher is a big star on “Desperate Housewives” and she‘s really good friends with Bush One. It‘s very cute. They have lunch together.
CARLSON: Thank you both very much, A.B. Stoddard, Rosa Brooks.
Pretty boy Fabio takes on George Clooney, the hunk. Does he really think that‘s going to get him some fans? Our Fabio following gum shoe reporter Bill Wolff has all the mildly embarrassing details next.
CARLSON: It‘s time for today‘s Britney Spears update. To bring that to us, as always, we‘re honored to be joined by the vice president of MSNBC, Bill Wolff.
BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT: Tucker, thanks. Listen, in the break, Bo Derek called. She has a point of view. She disagrees with Rosa Brooks about Pakistan. Who knew? You never know in this business, Tucker.
CARLSON: You never do know. By the way, I like the turtleneck, Bill.
Let me be the first to say that.
WOLFF: You are the first to say that, ever. At this point, Tucker, Britney Spears should take the California bar exam, because there ain‘t a lawyer in that state who has spent more time in court than America‘s favorite single working mother. She was back before the bench today at an emergency hearing demanded by her ex-hubby and famed yachtsman Kevin Federline.
At that hearing, the judge ruled that Britney can no longer drive her car when her kids are in it. The court order stems from Miss Spears‘ habitual texting, failing to strap the kids down properly, and running over bystanders while driving. A real tragedy. You know it is going bad, Tucker, -- and it is for Britney Spears—when Hannah Montana says she‘s going to reach out to you to try to give you counsel. The problem is, Britney Spears is 25 and she‘s the mother of two. Hannah Montana is like 12. When—
CARLSON: Isn‘t she like Hulk Hogan‘s daughter.
WOLFF: Billy Ray Cyrus, Tucker. Come on, Hulk Hogan.
CARLSON: I knew it was—
WOLFF: You got to pay closer attention to the pre-teen set, my friend.
CARLSON: I have a few of those, but I don‘t pay attention to Hannah Montana. But I will.
WOLFF: You‘re the only dad—only guy to compliment the turtleneck and the only dad whose pre-teens don‘t know Hannah Montana. Now an update, Tucker, on the year‘s most unlikely celebrity mismatch. Butter substitute pitch man and romance novel cover boy Fabio has new even choicer words for hunkalicious (ph) president of the cool kids union, George Clooney.
You‘ll recall that two weeks ago at a West Hollywood nachory (ph), Clooney asked one of the ladies in Fabio‘s entourage to stop taking pictures of him. Fabio then told Clooney to quit being a diva and then they feigned aggression to the point that out of work actors had to fake separating them.
Now, Fabio tells “OK! Magazine” that Clooney is a, quote, low life scum bag, end quote, to have been rude to his female companion. Clooney, of course, could not be reached for comment because he was busy living the dream of every man in human history, Tucker.
CARLSON: Yes, for Fabio to say that—I don‘t normally take sides in these kinds of spats. I just show up at the Ivy and try to make peace between both sides.
WOLFF: You and me both.
CARLSON: In this case, I‘ll have to come down pretty squarely on Clooney‘s side.
WOLFF: No question, on xenophobic grounds alone. Then also, George Clooney is the president of the cool kids union. I want him.
CARLSON: Fabio, is he American?
WOLFF: No chance. No chance. Another update from a story reported in this space some time ago; you‘ll recall, Tucker, the traumatic experience endured by Kyla Ebert (ph) of San Diego last summer. On July 3rd, she was pulled off a Southwest airlines flight because her mini skirt, pictured there, and tank top, also pictured, were too skimpy. Miss Ebert is 23-year-old college student, and she has recovered, and currently is appearing daily and nightly almost in her birthday suit on “Playboy Magazine‘s” website.
She says she was paid less than six figures for the appearance and also reveals that she wants to be a lawyer. And in a genuine surprise, Tucker, she says her photo layout was tastefully done. Who knew.
CARLSON: Among her turn-offs, I bet, mean people.
CARLSON: No question. Turn ons, puppy dogs, snowy mornings, that
kind of thing. It‘s always tastefully done. I don‘t think how it‘s done -
that‘s not what‘s tasteless, usually, about those photo lay outs.
Finally, Tucker, an update on the whereabouts of an old friend. Yes, Willie Geist, who headed up the investigative unit and anti-Guinness World Record campaign on this very program for 26 years before relocating to early mornings, has been spotted on a press tour. That is “Wykoff (ph) Magazine,” a glossy assemblage of news and views available to a wide swath of posh northern New Jersey.
Now according to the magazine, Willie is on top of the world, though that allegation has not been confirmed. He was spotted in a candid shot with a woman and child, believed to be his wife and daughter, respectively. There you see them. The magazine report that he was once younger and is of red-headed ancestry. The Geist family did not return calls for comment, Tucker. How about that?
CARLSON: All right. Willie, Christina and Lucy Geist; that‘s a handsome family.
WOLFF: You bet.
CARLSON: Bill Wolff at headquarters, thanks. That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend. We‘re back here Monday. Up next, Chris with “HARDBALL.” See you then.
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