Guests: Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, Hilary Rosen, Rozanne Roberts, Amy Argetsinger, Jonah Goldberg, Chris Kofinis
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR: What in the end will dictate the outcome of the 2008 election? Well, for all the tearful moments and lofty speeches and attack ads and debate gaps and early endorsements, it just might be the economy once again, stupid. The stock market lost another 2 percent today on the heels of a mortgage crisis so bad politicians and Wall Street firms have allowed themselves to invoke the R word right or wrong, recession.
Ever the nimble candidate Hillary Clinton today unveiled her $70 billion plan to revive the U.S. economy. In a moment, Mrs. Clinton‘s senior economic advisor joins us to argue the merits of that plan.
On the Republican side last night‘s debate was, for the most part, short on fireworks. John McCain avoided trouble. Mike Huckabee parried charges that he‘s a secret liberal. But the man who may have done the most to help himself was the man who‘s been all but written off by the press, Fred Thompson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED THOMPSON ®, ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: I take one more step, you know, and they would have been introduced to those virgins that they‘re looking forward to seeing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: The year when John McCain can reconstitute himself from oblivion and soft touch southerner Mike Huckabee can run in front, could Fred Thompson sneak up on absolutely everyone and in the end matter?
In the political battle between Democrats for votes in South Carolina takes another twist as the ranking politician in that state, Congressman Jim Clyburn expresses profound dismay with the Clinton campaign‘s take on Barack Obama as well as Dr. Martin Luther King. Clyburn has said he doesn‘t plant to endorse in this race. Now he says he may go for Obama. Will it matter? We‘ll tell you.
We begin with the economy tonight, which appears to be in trouble. And Senator Hillary Clinton who has unveiled her plan to further manage it. Moments ago I spoke with senior economic advisor to Hillary Clinton, former undersecretary of the treasury, Gary Gensler, about Hillary‘s freshly unveiled economic plan.
Mr. Gensler, thanks for joining us.
As I understand, Hillary Clinton is proposing spending about $30 billion in this emergency fund that would, among other things, bail people out who haven‘t paid their mortgage or who can‘t, or who say they can‘t.
Why should people who scrimp and save to pay their mortgages also be responsible for paying the mortgage of people who didn‘t or took out loans they couldn‘t afford? Why is that fair?
GARY GENSLER, SR. ECONOMIC ADVISOR TO HILLARY CLINTON: Tucker, I‘m glad you raised Hillary Clinton today really understands that this economy needs a jump-start and what she‘s proposed is a broader program, about $70 billion. It‘s fast, it‘s temporary to jump-start the economy with three components, housing, which you referred to, $30 billion. For the states to allocate as they think is appropriate, whether it‘s on counseling, whether it‘s to help the states out themselves or individuals through that. Secondly, about $25 billion for energy assistance for people that are trying to make their way through this home heating oil situation and the higher prices. And thirdly, around jobs. And it‘s really important to get this economy going again.
CARLSON: OK. But the press release I‘m reading says, Mrs. Clinton‘s plan includes, quote, “a 90 day moratorium on subprime foreclosures,” among other things, so those bailing out people who voluntarily took out loans they could no longer pay, taking that money from people who are paying loans that they voluntarily—so why—it just seems unfair to me. Why should people who pay have to pay for people who, on their own, took out loans they couldn‘t afford?
GENSLER: Well, Tucker, what you‘re referring to is actually something that Hillary Clinton did about a month ago on Wall Street and what she‘s saying.
And this is a workout, not a bailout. What she‘s saying is that many of
these homeowners can‘t pay the mortgages. And just as businesses do with
other businesses, they work this situation out. She thinks it‘s
appropriate for the economy at large to have a 90-day moratorium and allow
and hopefully Wall Street will work with, to work through this situation. It‘s bolder than what the administration‘s doing but it‘s similar in many ways.
CARLSON: OK. I understand. I‘m just suggesting two things. One, I‘m not sure why it‘s fair. It‘s mandatory, it‘s not people getting together and working some thing out, it‘s the federal government telling them what to do. And if you‘re bailing people out of their bad home loans, why not bail them out of their bad car loans, their bad student debts, or their credit card debts or their bar tabs? I mean why stop with houses?
GENSLER: What we have here in the housing area is something that‘s affecting the whole economy at large -- 1.3 million foreclosures. It‘s affecting many different communities. And what Senator Clinton has said in this regard is, one, we need to jump-start this economy with this economic stimulus package. And two, within the housing component of it, that there should be workouts where Wall Street works with individual borrowers. It‘s not mandatory, it‘s voluntary, but she does believe it should happen.
CARLSON: Well, I mean, you‘re obviously very experienced, you‘re a former partner at Goldman Sachs. You understand that there are all sorts of unintended affects of bailouts like this including keeping housing prices artificially high, which would without question be one of the affects of this, which keeps people out of the housing market. You know, I‘m 25, I have a moderately paying job, I can‘t buy a house thanks to this plan. That‘s not a good thing, is it?
GENSLER: Well, Tucker, I‘m glad to see you‘re 25 years old. You look pretty good. It‘s a work out here. And.
CARLSON: I‘m just saying this helps some people but screws others.
GENSLER: Well, I don‘t think so. I think what you have and this is just like when a business sometimes works out of unfortunate situations like bankruptcy, you try to get employees still working, you try to get customers and vendors still having a situation that they can work through. So if a situation where a homeowner can‘t literally pay their mortgage, it‘s either a foreclosure or a workout. And what Hillary Clinton has said, she thinks there ought to be a moratorium on these mortgages that are going to reset at higher interest rates. It‘s voluntary. It‘s not mandatory.
CARLSON: But would it in fact be.
GENSLER: And then in addition she thinks there should be economic stimulus for the overall economy because she really feels.
GENSLER: .that this is important. She‘s listening to what middle income Americans are raising as their serious concerns about housing, energy and jobs.
CARLSON: All right. Gary Gensler of the Clinton campaign, I appreciate you coming on. Thanks very much.
GENSLER: Tucker, it‘s terrific to be with you.
CARLSON: High energy he‘s not but don‘t count Fred Thompson out just yet. Will Fred Thompson help himself all the way to the White House or wind out helping one of the other Republicans seeking the nomination?
And what does it mean for John Kerry‘s 2004 running mate that he‘s made his campaign muscle for Barack Obama? Will John Edwards feel the affects? Does it matter? We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Why hasn‘t Fred Thompson‘s campaign caught fire to this point? He‘s still low in the polls. But don‘t count him out yet. Why you should keep your eye on the former Tennessee senator. That‘s ahead.
This is MSNBC.
CARLSON: The field of the Republican candidates has narrowed. But GOP voters are still searching for the right one. Did any of them emerge the frontrunner after last night‘s debate in South Carolina?
And joining me now Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst, Hilary Rosen, and “The National Review‘s” Jonah Goldberg, author of the new best-seller, “Liberal Fascism,” outstanding, about which we will talk more later.
But first, Fred not dead, the kind of the message from last night‘s debate.
HILARY ROSEN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Fred‘s not dead.
CARLSON: Fred Thompson, whom I will say I‘ve always liked, but written off as a joke, came back in a very spirited way yesterday.
CARLSON: I mean after Tuesday‘s results in New Hampshire, can we—do you really have the courage to say Fred‘s out? Or do we have to throw up our hands and say he could win?
ROSEN: Well, I don‘t think you have to count him out because he‘ll have exactly the same pace of campaigning whether he‘s in or whether he‘s out. So who would notice if he left? And you know, it just doesn‘t matter. I do think, though, that there is, you know, as mentioned earlier, he has some ability to help Huckabee or Giuliani take on McCain. And you know, if we assume that Romney‘s having no success taking on McCain, then that seems to be the only shot. But I don‘t think Thompson has the following or the energy or—you know, I think if he keeps coming in third, I don‘t really see where he goes.
CARLSON: Well, I like his lack of energy a lot. We need an innervated candidate.
ROSEN: Someone known for—if you would think of electing him president, maybe he would take the job.
CARLSON: Well, that—I would elect him. He just spanked Huckabee last night.
JONAH GOLDBERG, “NATIONAL REVIEW” CONTRIBUTING EDITOR”: No, I think he did a great job and I agree with you. I like the sort of ethos of don‘t just do something, sit there.
GOLDBERG: And—but I think he did turn it on last night. He—all season long he‘s basically been campaigning to be the third guy on the bottle of the James commercials. And then all of a sudden he just turns it on and it was great. And I got to tell you, among conservatives, I have heard so many people say, if everybody who says they like Fred Thompson was actually for Fred Thompson, he‘d be the frontrunner. And if he can actually—if he had done this a lot—a little earlier, I think he could have seen this mad rush because they want a Reaganite. They want that guy.
GOLDBERG: And he has that position, he just doesn‘t want to claim it. And that‘s the frustrating thing about him.
CARLSON: Well, there‘s something about the reverse inevitability effect, the same reason people support the frontrunner because he is the frontrunner, people make fun of Fred Thompson because we know he can‘t win.
Mitt Romney, why—now I know you‘re a Democrat, Hilary, but looking over to the other side, give me your best objective analysis of why Romney hasn‘t caught fire. He‘s run a smart campaign, he‘s had a lot of money, he‘s an appealing guy. People don‘t like him. Why?
ROSEN: Well, I can‘t get—if you want to reduce this campaign overall this year to the year of authenticity and passion, he doesn‘t have any. What he doesn‘t.
CARLSON: He‘s cried a number of times.
ROSEN: But there‘s something about the perch from up high upon which he has cried for the little people that doesn‘t quite feel connected enough. And I just think that people don‘t really see this guy as somebody who understands their life.
CARLSON: Yes. Even though it‘s like Hillary Clinton on ecstasy, who‘s just weeping at every turn, I mean—what‘s your theory here? I mean I—it baffles me.
GOLDBERG: I think—first of all, I should declare, “National Review” did endorse the guy.
GOLDBERG: I didn‘t. That was an editorial thing. I‘m undeclared. But I think part of his problem is if you hit mute during these debates and you just look at him, he looks like he‘s saying, what do I have to do to put you in this BMW today?
GOLDBERG: I mean he looks like a luxury car salesman and—or a yacht salesman even. And..
CARLSON: That‘s mean.
GOLDBERG: I think part of the problem with him is that he‘s got charm, but -- he‘s polished but without charm. And he comes across as this guy who says everything right but doesn‘t really connect with people. But also I think part of his campaign, he really has blown it. If he had from the very beginning stayed on his economic message, and said, “Look, I‘m the miracle worker, I come in, competent, Bush not competent, me competent. I know how to fix things, I know to get things going,” if he‘d stayed on that throughout, I think he‘d be in great shape now. But the problem is he‘s never had a core message.
GOLDBERG: And so he—every week, he‘s just rolling elbows, “This week I‘m against McCain, this week I‘m against Giuliani, this week I‘m against Huckabee.” And he looks like a reactive guy rather than a guy who‘s got his own core message about why he wants to be president.
CARLSON: Well, I think sometimes appearances are not deceiving.
So Ron Paul was bristling last night at some of the questions he was getting. He was being treated like a fringe candidate. He doesn‘t see himself that way. Here‘s part—I thought an interesting exchange, Ron Paul talking to Carl Cameron from FOX. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Congressman Paul, yet another question about electability. Do you have any, sir?
REP. RON PAUL ®, ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: If you measured everything I‘ve ever said, every vote I‘ve ever taken against the constitution, you know, I‘m a strict constitutionalist. So are you suggesting the Republicans should write me off because I‘m a strict constitutionalist? I‘m the most conservative member here? I have voted, you know, against more spending and waste in government than anybody else. So you‘re suggesting that I‘m not electable and the Republicans don‘t want me because I‘m a strict fiscal conservative, because I believe in civil liberties? Why should we not be defending civil liberties? And why should we not be talking about foreign policy that used to be part of the Republican Party?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Look, Republicans have a real problem with his foreign policy most of them. I get that. That‘s legitimate. But why aren‘t they embracing his fiscal message? I mean I don‘t get that. What, he‘s crazy because he‘s for small government? What is that?
ROSEN: Well, he‘s for no government. And a.
CARLSON: OK. Well, no government.
ROSEN: Not exactly practical right now.
CARLSON: That‘s very limited government.
ROSEN: And I think it‘s a problem. He—you know, Bill Clinton should be talking about him because he‘s in the fairytale world of their...
CARLSON: Yes, but the Republicans are supposed to believe a lot of this stuff.
ROSEN: Well, but there is an investment that even Republicans have in government working somewhat well whether it‘s for a defense department or whether for it‘s a tax structure or whether it‘s even for health and human services. And he just doesn‘t convey any of that.
CARLSON: But wait, I mean.
ROSEN: It makes people think he‘s not credible.
CARLSON: Well, give us your ten-second answer, Jonah, why doesn‘t some Republicans saying, you know, I‘m not with you on the foreign policy stuff but I really actually admire what you‘ve done in—for your—the fiscal restraint you‘ve showed.
GOLDBERG: I think there‘s room to do that. I think someone could co-op some of that message and say, hey look, you know, everyone‘s talking about layoffs, I‘m for laying off a lot of government workers. And a good Republican crowd would love that. But I think you‘re missing one of the things about Paul is that he comes across to a lot of Republicans and conservatives as having an anti-American tinge to him. And to say that it‘s just about his foreign policy will not do because these things matter in a—in a more of holistic sense. And he does come across to a lot of people as having this, “We‘re the bad guys, blame America first thing.” And that‘s hard to (INAUDIBLE).
CARLSON: He‘s mad at the.
ROSEN: Well, what he‘s called—he‘s sort of a patriot (INAUDIBLE).
CARLSON: He is a (INAUDIBLE). But you know.
CARLSON: I don‘t think he hates America, I think he‘s mad at the government and so am I. So I‘m with him on that.
John Edwards‘s shot at winning the Democratic nomination is slowly trickling away with the focus of the race honed on Hillary and Barack Obama. What does he have to do next to survive? We‘ll get the answer when we talk to his communications director coming up.
Plus the women of Wellesley College, Hillary Clinton‘s alma mater, aren‘t quite convinced she‘s their best choice for president, not all of them anyway. What is the problem? We‘ll tell you when we come back.
CARLSON: He‘s gone from hopelessly happy to relentlessly angry, and still John Edwards struggles to break the hammerlock Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama appear to have on the race for the Democratic nomination. What is next for John Edwards?
Joining me now communications director for the Edwards campaign, Chris Kofinis, who‘s taken time out from fighting for the middle class to come and join us on our set.
Chris, good to see you.
CHRIS KOFINIS, EDWARDS CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Good to see you, Tucker.
CARLSON: I want to show you something you‘ve seen many times.
CARLSON: This is the brand-new John Edwards ad for South Carolina. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: I‘m John Edwards, and I approved this message. I‘m not running for president because I read something in a book. I‘m not running for president because some political consultant told me what I‘m supposed to say. I‘m running for president because of 54 years of my life I have believed to my soul that the men and women who worked in that mill with my father were worth every bit as much as the man that owned that mill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: It‘s a good ad. I mean it‘s a good ad.
KOFINIS: It‘s a very good ad. Yes.
CARLSON: Those people who work in the mill, not voting for John Edwards.
KOFINIS: No, that‘s not true. I mean.
CARLSON: Well, it kind of is true, though, actually.
KOFINIS: No. It‘s, I mean.
CARLSON: He lost low-income voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. He lost uneducated voters. He lost union members.
KOFINIS: In Iowa we brought tens and tens of thousands of new caucus-goers that we had never contacted, who came out and supported John Edwards. The reality of this race is we have two Goliaths, two $100 million candidates that have sucked up a lot of media attention. I think there is a tendency, I think, for the media to focus on two. The reality is this is still a three-person race. What you saw in that ad really bespeaks to who John Edwards is. He‘s someone who passionately believes in the issues of fighting for the middle class.
KOFINIS: .universal health care and he‘s going to fight to the very end.
CARLSON: But why is it that that message seems to have greater resonance among academics and liberal intellectuals in college towns than among lunch-bucket types?
KOFINIS: I mean listen, I think—here‘s the part with that argument. I mean we‘ve had two contests. This is not a sprint. It‘s a marathon.
KOFINIS: We have 48 contests to go. And the reality is, I think, is we kind of move forward into Nevada, South Carolina and beyond. That message, I think, has great resonance. What you see, I think, around the country is an increasing concern about the economic conditions, the socioeconomic conditions, whether it‘s the housing crisis, whether it‘s the loss of American jobs, whether it‘s the increasing number of individuals or families without health care. And so the reality is this race is far from over no matter what, I think, some individuals want to paint it at.
The reality of this race has just begun. And that message of fighting for the middle class is an incredibly powerful one. And it‘s one that John Edwards, I think, is very—you know, passionate about and he‘s going to fight to the end about.
CARLSON: It used to be—I don‘t know when the shift—this is like animal farm where the slogan gets repainted on the barn and no one else want to happen. But didn‘t John Edwards used to be fighting for the working class? When did it become the middle class?
KOFINIS: It‘s not an either-or, it‘s both. I mean in terms of what‘s happened both to working class Americans and the middle class, I mean, you clearly see the economic divide in this country growing seemingly by the day. It‘s grown worse over the last seven, eight years of the Bush administration. So when John Edwards says, listen, we need to stand up and fight for those individuals who‘ve been forgotten by Washington because of corporate special interest and others who are defending and protecting the status quo.
I mean, listen, both in Iowa and in New Hampshire, when you look at the overall majority of voters, the overall majority of voters voted for change both in Iowa and New Hampshire. It is the theme of this election.
CARLSON: Do you think Hillary Clinton cares about the working class? I mean on some deep level? Like when she cried the other day, it wasn‘t about the plight of the workers, it was about her own fortunes as a politician. Do you think, when she goes to bed at night, she feels real angst about the plight of ordinary men and women of this country?
KOFINIS: Yes, I mean, I think she cared but I think there‘s a fundamental difference about how you go about addressing the issues.
CARLSON: Why is Edwards kind of ganging up with Obama on Hillary? You‘ve got that feeling in the last debate Edwards coming to Obama‘s aid. It was really kind of the two of them against her. Have you talked about this?
KOFINIS: No, I didn‘t see it that way at all. I mean when you look at what happened both in debates and what‘s happened in this race, listen, Senator Clinton has chosen, it is her choice, but she‘s chosen to take more political contributions from defense industry, from the pharmaceutical industry, from oil and gas industry, all these corporate interests, she takes money from PACs and from lobbyists. You cannot be an agent for change and take political contributions from the very political—from the very corporate forces that are going to stop that change.
That has been, if you will, one of the foundations of our message and our candidacy in terms of John Edwards saying, “Listen, you‘ve got to stop. You‘ve got to get that money and that influence out of American politics if you‘re going to fight for the middle class, if you‘re going to achieve the type of change this country needs, which is clearly bold fundamental change. That‘s what Senator Edwards is saying today in South Carolina, will be—for the next few days and also be doing that in Nevada. And he‘ll be doing that all the way to February 5th and all the way to the convention.
CARLSON: How in the world could John Kerry have decided to endorse not his former running mate John Edwards but a guy he barely knows, Barack Obama?
KOFINIS: I mean I think John Edwards—he was very clear he respects John Kerry‘s decision.
CARLSON: Why would he respect that decision?
KOFINIS: I mean he—if John—Senator Kerry made the decision, that‘s fine. I mean at the end of the day, I don‘t think endorsements really change the dynamics of an election.
CARLSON: No. I don‘t think—I agree with you there. How rude is it, though, that Kerry who had chosen Edwards as his running mate four years ago, didn‘t bother to call Edwards and tell him? What kind of person would do that?
KOFINIS: I mean, listen, this isn‘t about the past, it is about the future.
CARLSON: Well, this happened two days ago. It‘s something happened yesterday.
KOFINIS: No, I know, but.
CARLSON: It‘s not the past.
KOFINIS: No, no. No, I‘m not talking about in that context. I‘m talking about in the past in terms of talking about 2004. This is a different election. And where we take the country is I think the key issue that...
CARLSON: Aren‘t you glad Kerry didn‘t win in light of that? I mean that‘s just such appallingly boorish behavior. Part of you is kind of rejoicing that he didn‘t win.
KOFINIS: No, Tucker, that‘s not correct.
CARLSON: Not at all? All right.
Chris Kofinis, one of the smartest men in politics, communications director for John Edwards. Thanks a lot, Chris. Appreciate it.
KOFINIS: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: Bill Clinton has said the rhetoric of hope coming from the Obama campaign is poetry, a fairytale. Talk like that could cost the former first lady a key political endorsement. We‘ll tell you which one in a minute.
Plus he says he‘s not interested in running for the White House. But still the rumblings around Michael Bloomberg continue. Will he run? Will it matter if he does?
We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Both Bill and Hillary Clinton have long benefited from the loyalty of many of America‘s black voters. But there is now tension in that relationship. Bill Clinton‘s characterization of Barack Obama‘s fairy tale image in the media, and Hillary‘s dicey references to Dr. Martin Luther King have troubled some African American leaders. Among them, Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. He told the “New York Times” about it today.
How serious are the Clinton campaign‘s missteps on the question of race? Back to tell us, Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Hillary Rosen, and the author of the new best seller, “Liberal Facism, The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.” It could only be Jonah Golberg of the “National Review.” Welcome back to you both.
Jonah, this is—I‘m going to put up here a quote from Congressman Clyburn of South Carolina, a very well known guy, widely considered the power broker in that state on the Democratic side, says this today to the “New York Times,” quote, “to call that dream a fairy tale, which Bill Clinton seemed to be doing, could very well be insulting to some of us.”
If that‘s not a veiled threat, I don‘t know what is. The Clinton campaign took this so seriously that Bill Clinton this afternoon went on Al Sharpton‘s radio show to explain, that wasn‘t an insult, I was just critiquing his Iraq policy. They need to grovel on Al Sharpton‘s show? You think it‘s that big a problem?
GOLDBERG: I do think it‘s that big a problem. Hillary probably knows this stuff better than I do, but the Democratic party so desperately needs not just black America‘s support, but huge amounts of it. Part of this is looking towards the general election. If they beat Obama and they do it in a way that is perceived as nasty, you could see the African-American vote staying home and no Democrat can win if the African-American vote stays home.
So, I mean, Hillary, it‘s a very delicate situation that they have got. For the record, it‘s my understanding, Bill Clinton—I heard a clip of it earlier today when he was on Al Sharpton—he just simply lied. He simply said, I never said it.
CARLSON: What he said was—the quote I‘ve read is he said, yes, I said it—because it‘s on tape. Not that that stopped him from denying things in the past. But he said, yes I said it, but I was talking only about his position on Iraq and whether or not it was accurate. I‘m not defending the Hillary people. However, I read Hillary‘s comments about Martin Luther King and I didn‘t think they were an attack on Martin Luther King. Am I missing something?
ROSEN: I don‘t think they were an attack on Martin Luther King. Let‘s for the record be clear on what Bill Clinton said. He said, this notion that he was always against the war in Iraq is a fairy tale. So he really didn‘t talk about Obama‘s candidacy as a fairy tale. I think there‘s probably some benefit for people in the Obama team to fuel this a little bit. But Obama himself really isn‘t talking about racial issues. And I don‘t think that this campaign is going to go down that road. But the Clintons do have to be careful.
CARLSON: Bill Clinton‘s verbatim quote is this whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I‘ve ever seen. You fill in the blank. This is interesting though, the Obama campaign has stayed away from race this whole campaign, and I think wisely so, very wisely so. Yet it issued this statement about Clinton and their attacks on the Obama, quote, “a cross-section of voters are alarmed at the tenor of some of these statements. There‘s a ground swell of reaction to these comments, and not just these latest comments, but really a pattern or a series of comments we‘ve heard for several months. Folks are beginning to wonder is this really an isolated situation or is there something bigger behind all this.”
The something bigger is racism. That‘s what they are saying. They can claim that—that‘s exactly what they are saying.
GOLDBERG: Although, I think everyone agrees it‘s insane to say the Clintons are racists?
CARLSON: Why is that insane? Everyone else is presumed guilty until proven innocent.
GOLBERG: But 90 percent of the time when anyone yells racism it‘s idiotic. So, in this case, I think it‘s particularly idiotic to say that Bill Clinton is a racist. I take a back seat to nobody as somebody who doesn‘t like Bill Clinton. I went past Clinton fatigue to Clinton Epstein-Barr years ago. The guy‘s not a racist.
What they are trying to do is gin up this insensitivity thing, and make it seem as if they are not sufficiently cow-towing to the sensibilities of the black Democratic establishment. That‘s almost just as deadly.
CARLSON: It‘s like identity politics gone crazy. You can‘t criticizes me; I‘m a woman. You can‘t criticizes me; I‘m black.
ROSEN: I think we‘re at risk over the next several of months of setting up this dynamic, where every time she gets attacks, it‘s perceived as sexist, and every time he‘s attacked, it‘s perceived as racist.
CARLSON: They‘ve spent 40 years creating America—an America in which it‘s impossible to say what you really think and now --
ROSEN: No, I don‘t, because I think two people who have really transcended that in every way have been Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
CARLSON: She transcended it? Constantly, she‘s like, vote for me;
I‘m a woman. I‘m breaking the glass ceiling.
ROSEN: It‘s not so constant. Really, she established her credibility. She got bona fides as commander in chief. She‘s been perceived as somebody who really can bring people together that way. Barack Obama, you can‘t escape race, but you can escape talking about racial issues. I just don‘t see any reason why this goes down that path except for people to foment it. I don‘t see the two of them doing it. I see other people doing it.
CARLSON: You‘re in contact with them, because you‘re a big Democrat in Washington. How much does it sting the Clinton people to have the Obama campaign imply they are bigots. That‘s what they‘re saying. Does it drive them bonkers and are they going to go crazy.
ROSEN: I think that you probably couldn‘t say anything more personally hurtful to Bill Clinton than to accuse him of being racially insensitive. That‘s why I think you‘re going to see them be more careful. But I really don‘t think that his notion of calling Barack Obama inexperienced—he shouldn‘t have called him a kid. I thought that was more insulting on some level, because that was reality of how Bill Clinton probably felt.
But I don‘t think you‘re going to find that sort of sloppiness about criticisms much in the future.
GOLBERG: I think you may be right, in that the brilliance is not, in fact, to tar him as racist, but to force an error, by making Bill Clinton go into one of these purple rages, where he says another stupid thing and over-compensates.
But I agree with you entirely that the Democrats have bought this. Bill Clinton always played this game about how if you didn‘t agree with him or nod to the pieties as he set them forth, therefore you were insensitive or you were racist. So, it‘s delightful to watch it happen.
ROSEN: That‘s not true.
GOLBERG: On the entire debate on affirmative action, when he turned to Abigail Thurnstrom (ph), and said, you know, do you think Colin Powell isn‘t a great man? Do you think he doesn‘t deserve to be where he was, simply because he had a little help out. He totally mow-mowed her, totally tried to humiliate her in public. They did that kind of thing all the time playing these racial politics.
Where I do agree with you is I think Hillary is totally playing the gender card. But I think Barack Obama has been masterful in not mentioning race. He doesn‘t mention race. In that debate in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton said just having a woman would bring enormous change. I was waiting for Barack Obama to say, you know, having a black guy as president would bring change too.
ROSEN: He can‘t say that.
GOLBERG: He‘s been brilliant at it. It‘s been great.
CARLSON: I talked to a very well-known black political leader today at some length about this, who is in the Obama orbit, who said, point blank, we‘re not going to take this anymore. I think their plan is just to get right in the Clintons faces over this, fair or not.
ROSEN: Well, it‘s not fair. I think that‘s going to end up—I don‘t think that‘s how Barack Obama is going to conduct his campaign. I don‘t think he believes that there‘s racist intentions on the Clintons part. But I don‘t think you‘re going to see the Clintons back down from pushing back on his experience and those issues. If that ends up seeming belittling to some leaders, that‘s what they are going to have to face.
Actually, as a practical matter, this campaign has been pretty much one of the nicest ones to date. And I don‘t think it‘s going—it‘s going to get worse, no question.
CARLSON: If we come out of this campaign a little more free to say what we really think and be honest, despite the fact it might hurt somebody‘s feelings, I think it will be a better country. I hope we get there.
Hillary Clinton‘s new plan after her defeat in Iowa or victory in New Hampshire is to be more available. She‘s going door to door. She‘s doing a full hour of “Meet The Press.” She hadn‘t done that. The conventional view is this is a good thing. Is this a good thing? She was afraid to do an hour of “Meet The Press” before because she thought it might make her look bad. Is it really wise to do it now?
GOLBERG: It depends if she can continue pulling off this, quote, unquote, new Hillary thing, you know. If she continued to do this I‘m a real person, I‘m not a robot, I have feelings kind of thing, maybe it will work. Maybe they have figured out how to do that. I agree with you, if it‘s just an hour of intense fine print wonkery, you know, the footnotes to Swedish land reform kind of talk, I don‘t think it‘s good at all.
ROSEN: Or the opposite of that, if it‘s an hour of our friend Tim Russert grilling her on past Clintonian administration issues, we‘re not going to get much out of that either. So I think that she is legitimately saying, you know what, I have this experience but what I have learned from the voters over the last several weeks is they really want me to talk more about how I feel about them, and a little less of how I feel about me. I think that‘s a good thing because she has a lot to say. She‘s been listening for a long time.
CARLSON: That was the one thing I have always kind of liked about Hillary Clinton, was her wooden, robotic nature, not emoting—I‘m totally serious. It‘s like, I‘m not interested in how any candidate feels.
ROSEN: But she is a warm person who has connections to people when she campaigns. She experiences them. And to the extent that she puts that on TV more, that‘s a good thing.
CARLSON: Is she a fascist? You‘ve got a book that seems to suggest the roots of fascism and liberalism are intertwined, to say the least. Does Hillary Clinton fall under that heading?
GOLBERG: She falls under a certain Nanny Statism I call liberal fascism, which is a phrase I actually get from H.G. Wells. It‘s not my term. He wanted to re-brand liberalism as liberal fascism. H.G. Wells was one of the leading liberal intellectuals of the first half of the 20th century.
I don‘t do what the left does. I don‘t say liberals are Nazis and they want to put people in camps. I don‘t do that. I don‘t play any of those games. What I say is that it‘s not that contemporary liberalism, which should really be called progressivism, it‘s that it is the son of fascism or daughter of naziism, or anything like that. It‘s like the great grandniece, or the cousin twice removed. There‘s some common DNA, some family resemblances that come forth.
But we‘re not looking—I‘m not trying to demonize them. It‘s the left that has made the word fascist a synonym for evil. I‘m not trying to turn that around. I‘m trying to say that we need to understand where progressivism comes from. The original progressives, the early progressive, the guys who founded “The New Republic,” for example, were objectively pro-Mussolini. They liked Italian fascism. They thought it was the wave of the future.
They did not see—they didn‘t buy into the propaganda that comes later that fascism and communism are opposites. They understood what Lincoln Stefans (ph), the famous muck-raking journalist—he comes back from the Soviet Union and says, I‘ve seen the future and it works. He first went to Mussolini‘s Italy and said, God has formed Italy out of Mussolini‘s rib and this is this great place, and it‘s the future.
He kept referring to the Russian/Italian method. He saw the Soviet Union and fascist Italy as two sides of the same coin, of this new age of state planning and collectivism.
CARLSON: You‘re a liberal, where are you on the Mussolini question?
ROSEN: I just think this analysis is completely revisionist history.
GOLBERG: It is revisionist history. It‘s correct.
ROSEN: Where we go through with the right wing and their claims on liberal‘s fascism or progressive politics is that, god forbid, we think that the rich people in this country should contribute a little bit more to help the poor people.
GOLBERG: That‘s not what I‘m talking about.
ROSEN: That Nanny State, that whole thing. If you want to talk about the government being in our lives in a punitive way, you look at what the right wing has done on choice with women, you look at what the right wing has done for gays and lesbians. Like, you want to play clean, then clean it up on your side. There‘s just no reason to accuse the left of this country as sort of being the ones who believe that government has an offensive role. I think it‘s actually the right wing that‘s been saying the government should have an offensive role in people‘s lives.
GOLBERG: And there‘s a lot of stuff that goes on in the right that I disagree with. At the end of the book I have some very harsh things to say about George Bush and compassionate conservatism. Needless to say, I disagree with you. If you read, for example—he asked if Hillary Clinton was a fascist.
And “It Takes a Village”—which I think I‘m one of the three conservatives in captivity who‘s actually read that book. She talks about how the second the baby is born they are in crisis and therefore the state must intervene immediately. Hillary Clinton gave a speech in 1996, where she said we have to move beyond the idea that there‘s any such thing as somebody else‘s child.
Now, I‘m sorry. I don‘t want to move beyond that idea. My child is my child. We have this vision of fascism --
ROSEN: But it‘s not to get involved in your child, if your child doesn‘t need help. It‘s because there‘s children that need help.
GOLBERG: That‘s not what she says in her book.
CARLSON: We‘re out of time. Interesting as hell though. Thank you both for coming on.
Quick programming reminder, Hillary Clinton will be on “Meet The Press” this Sunday with Tim Russert on NBC. She‘s doing it for the whole hour. Check your local listings for air times.
Yes, you are looking at political rivals. Did you know that Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are also related. Apparently this year‘s run for the White House is not a family affair only for the Clintons.
Plus, if you‘ve seen one hockey fight, you‘ve seen them all. Right? Wrong. Stick around to see the biggest, the best, the longest lasting bench clearer on the ice in history. We‘ve got it. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. You probably think the New Hampshire primaries are all about politics. It can also be quite a compelling medical drama. Joining us now to explain, Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger, the ladies of the “Washington Post‘s” universally read gossip column, “The Reliable Source.” Welcome.
ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Happy new year.
CARLSON: Happy New Year, because I‘ve been up in New Hampshire, where apparently life or death matters are taking place. What happened?
AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Exactly. A lot of drama. This is just a week ago in New Hampshire. There‘s a big dinner for a bunch of local politicians and journalists. I guess the place was mobbed with journalists last week.
ROBERTS: Something happened in New Hampshire last week?
ARGETSINGER: At a Manchester, New Hampshire steak house, Al Hunt, former Washington executive director of the “Wall Street Journal,” now with “Bloomberg News,” started choking on a piece of chicken. This is very startling for everyone else in the room. But before anyone could think to do something, Senator John Sununu jumped in, walked over. He was two seats away from Al Hunt. Grabbed him from behind, gave a big squeeze and the errant morsel popped out, just like that.
ROBERTS: It took about seven seconds.
ARGETSINGER: Exactly. It was—
CARLSON: That‘s frightening. So—
ARGETSINGER: This happened in front of about 40 journalists. People were kind of freaked out by this. We heard that Al Hunt was fine within a ten seconds. He actually got up a couple minutes later to give a toast. There was another woman in the room who was so disturbed by the thing that she passed out. Way to go John Sununu. That‘s who I want to be sitting next to at dinner.
ROBERTS: He‘s a man of action.
CARLSON: He‘s a good guy. We‘ll see if this helps him in his re-election campaign against Gene Shaheen (ph). That will be interesting. You‘ve been digging deep into the genealogy of the candidates. Mitt Romney, you look at him and you say, who does he remind me of, who is he related to? What‘s the answer?
ARGETSINGER: Well, you know, Mike Huckabee really came out of nowhere, of course. Fortunately, our favorite genealogist, Bill Rightswise (ph), who works at the Library of Congress, got right on top of the Huckabee family tree for us and found out --
ROBERTS: The big headline is that he‘s related to Romney.
ARGETSINGER: Tenth cousins.
ROBERTS: Basically—let‘s just put on the record, we‘re all related. Tucker, you and I are related somehow. Amy and I are related. We don‘t know for sure how. But somewhere back there‘s some ancestry. Huckabee is also related to both Presidents Bush, 41 and 43, to Nancy Reagan, to Princess Di and to Norman Rockwell.
ARGETSINGER: Yes, very blue blood, actually. Surprisingly, despite the fact they come from Hope, Arkansas, no relation between Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee that we could find.
ROBERTS: Not on the record books.
CARLSON: I find it so suspicious, whenever they do these, people are always related to King that or Senator that. Nobody is ever related to Richard Speck. You know what I mean? No one is related to serial killers.
ROBERTS: That‘s true. That‘s true. But the more prominent the person is, the more likely their blood lines are to be recorded.
CARLSON: I guess that‘s a good point.
ROBERTS: Think about that.
ARGETSINGER: Yes, like they have got the books on Princess Diana ready to go in software form. So, if you‘re a genealogist, you can just punch a button. Is this person related to Princess Di or not. There you go.
CARLSON: Someone is related to Jeffrey Dommer, but no one is admitting it. Thank you both so much. Amy, Roxanne, I appreciate it.
ROBERTS: Bye, bye.
CARLSON: O.J. Simpson is heading back to jail. Surprising? Not really. We‘ll get the details from our chief O.J. watcher Bill Wolff when we come back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Fourteen years after the low speed chase, O.J. is still in the news. Here to explain the latest, Bill Wolff from headquarters.
BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT: Tucker, it never ends. Just when Britney Spears didn‘t do anything deranged enough to draw attention to herself; there were no celebrity adoptions or pregnancies or divorces to report; old reliable, O.J. Simpson, himself, came through for us today. The Juice is in custody at this hour because he violated the terms of his bail on last year‘s memorabilia retrieval gone very wrong, allegedly, with weapons beef in Las Vegas.
It seems Simpson contacted one of his co-defendants in that Vegas rap. Authorities say O.J. instructed his bail bondsman to call co-defendant Clarence Stewart in November to express frustration with Stewart‘s testimony at a preliminary hearing. That was just two days after a judge told O.J. not to do that exact thing. Uh-oh.
So they picked O.J. up in Florida today. They put him on a plane and the Juice will be in the Clarke County big house until a hearing next week, Tucker. My favorite part of the story is that the wire copy about it said that O.J. wanted his bail bondsman to, quote, express frustration, end quote, with his co-defendants testimony. How do you think that went, express frustration?
I‘m a little frustrated with your testimony. Sure.
CARLSON: Is the bail bondsman really the right guy to pass on that message.
WOLFF: Right. It‘s not the messengers fault. I just think, of all the people in the world whose frustration you don‘t want expressed on you, O.J. Simpson near the top. There‘s another one, too, and she‘s in this story as well. That‘s Oprah Winfrey. You don‘t want her frustration expressed on you. The thing about the Internet, Tucker, is that anyone with electricity, a computer made before about 1993 and a phone line, can get on it.
Former sitcom titan Roseanne Barr qualifies. On her website, yesterday, Miss Barr took on the most powerful human alive—yes, that‘s Oprah Winfrey—for her politics. She wrote, did Miss Barr, quote, Oprah has given us Schwarzenegger, misspelled, and Dr. Phil. If that was not offensive enough to decent thinking people, now she brings us Obama, end quote.
Risking a fate worse than death, she then addressed Oprah directly, quote, you‘re a closeted Republican and chose Barack, misspelled, Obama because you do not like other women who actually stand for something to working American women besides glamour, angels, Hollywood, and dieting, end quote.
Perhaps realizing that she had imperiled herself, today Roseanne wrote, quote, I‘m sorry, Oprah. I really do admire you and love you, end quote. I swear, that‘s absolutely true. She wrote that today. So she had second thoughts.
CARLSON: We‘re pretty certain that no one has hacked onto this blog to act out this bipolar fantasy and this is all real.
WOLFF: We‘re as sure as we can be. It is Roseanne Barr. It seems possible, given her track record of self-editing and the failure thereof. What‘s alarming, if the old tree falls in the forest, does anybody here it?
Roseanne Barr has a blog? Somebody read it and reported on it? Fishy.
Tucker, two things are true about almost every wedding, the bride looks more beautiful than she ever has and the cake is a big deal. Dateline, somewhere in north Texas, and the confluence of these two matrimonial principles. That‘s the bride. Very soon you will see the cake, designed in exact scale to that glowing bride. There she is, Cheetie Agbooda (ph), all five foot two of her, in cake.
She commissioned cake-maker Nicky Johnson to recreate her. Miss Johnson did a remarkable job over two weeks of 20-hour days. The cake spent the morning getting a facial, then the mani-pedi. Worried that the flower arrangements weren‘t right, spent the night before the wedding apart form the groom. All the guests agreed, Tucker, she never looked tastier.
CARLSON: Yes, I‘m—
WOLFF: I‘m getting a laugh over there. Thank you.
CARLSON: I‘m going to pull back and not indulge.
WOLFF: Which part of the cake do you put in the freezer for a year.
That‘s what I want to know.
CARLSON: Which part do you eat? That‘s the real question.
WOLFF: Oh, dear.
CARLSON: Bill Wolff from headquarters. Thank you.
WOLFF: Have a great weekend, buddy.
CARLSON: That does it for us. Thank you for watching, as always.
Have a great weekend. Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris. See you Monday.
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