Guest: Ralph Nader, Hilary Rosen, Eugene Robinson, David Paul Kuhn
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: The race for the Democratic nomination is clearly unlike any that has gone before, but increasingly, the Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton contest looks and sounds more and more familiar, somehow.
Welcome to the show.
For one thing, the relatively gracious tone between the senators, which peaked at the very close of Thursday night’s debate, is a distant memory now. Both the Obama and Clinton camps turned harsh over the weekend as Obama released a negative mailer assailing Clinton on her health care plan mandate and her position on NAFTA.
And Clinton responded directly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: Shame on you, Barack Obama. It is time you ran a campaign consistent with your messages in public. That’s what I expect from you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: And as the once floppy rhetoric between Clinton and Obama descends into political knife fight on both policy and tactics, another familiar Democratic campaign element arose, Ralph Nader. Mr. Nader announced on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning that he is, in fact, entering the race for president and he took direct aim at both the leading Democratic candidates. How will Ralph Nader affect the race, if at all, this year?
We’ll analyze the substance and the strategies within the increasingly bitter battle between Hillary and Obama throughout this hour.
But we begin with Ralph Nader’s entrance into another presidential candidacy. To discuss Mr. Nader’s role in this race, his complaint with the existing field and his goals in ‘08, Ralph Nader himself joins us now.
Welcome, Ralph. Thanks for coming on.
RALPH NADER, ‘08 THIRD-PARTY CANDIDATE: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: I’m not a Democratic, angry about 2000 so I’m going to skip over all the processed questions about how you’re a spoiler. I’ll leave that to every other person who interviews you.
NADER: This is the two parties haven’t spoiled, I’m sure.
CARLSON: I want to ask you, instead, about what you believe. And I want to ask you about something that really stuck out, I thought, on your interview with Tim Russert on Sunday.
Take a look at this. This is you describing Barack Obama’s previous positions. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MEET THE PRESS”)
NADER: He was pro-Palestinian when he was in Illinois. Before he ran for the state Senate, during the state Senate, now he’s supporting the Israeli destruction of the tiny section called Gaza, the million and a half people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Barack Obama was pro-Palestinian. Now, I think I saw him recently speaking to APAC, not necessarily described as a pro-Palestinian group. How do you know he was pro-Palestinian? What does that mean?
NADER: He traveled in justice circles, you know, justice for third world people, and he made it quite clear. He felt that Palestinians were being occupied illegally and being oppressed and were suffering and he was for a two-state solution, which, by the way, a majority of Israelis and Palestinians are.
And it’s a taboo subject. It used to be raised once in a while in the past. But now you look at the debates, nobody raises it, nobody asks a thing about it. Everybody knows who knows anything about geo-political strategy and peace in the world that that resolution has to be subject to a vigorous peace process by the U.S. government and it isn’t.
And if you don’t talk about something, it’s not likely that when they get elected, they’re going to address it. And it’s getting worse and worse and worse.
CARLSON: Well, one of the reasons it’s not, in my view, addressed by American politicians is there’s an absolute hard and fast consensus among American voters that we’re on Israeli’s side. America is pro-Israel. Everybody in public like I am. I mean, I would say 80 percent of American voters describe themselves as steadfast friends of Israel. So I mean, why shouldn’t politicians reflect the views of the people they represent?
NADER: That position is not inconsistent with being a vigorous proponent of resolving the Palestinian-Israeli crisis. I think you can—in fact, one can say you can’t be pro-Palestinian without being pro-Israeli, and you can’t be pro-Israeli without being pro-Palestinian. But you cannot simply support the Israeli military policy against the Palestinians.
Top government officials in our country say there’s no military solution here, they’ve got to live together, and the best resolution is to go back to the 1967 borders, have an independent, viable Palestinian state, and then they’ll start playing soccer with one another.
The important thing here, Tucker, is that the second ethnic group in the United States that’s most for an independent Palestinian state are Jewish Americans. Arab Americans have even a higher percentage. But Jewish Americans, over 50 percent. It’s quite remarkable when you look at the polls, there is a growing disposition not to follow the Israeli lobby line in this country.
And I must say that the taboo process here is simply making it worse for everybody concerned. And of course, worse for the Palestinians. The ratio of civilian fatalities in Gaza to Israeli in the last 10 months has been about 400 to 1. They are being embargoed, blockaded, medicine, food, all kinds of essentials are not being allowed in. And that’s only going to exacerbate the situation.
Desperate people are the most dangerous people in these kinds of conflict.
CARLSON: I must say I haven’t noticed any residents of Gaza attacking America.
NADER: No. I mean they—look, all they want is their own independent state.
NADER: They want U.N. resolutions complied with by Israelis. There are several of them. And also it’s the Bush policy now to recognize the right of Palestinians to have their own state.
CARLSON: So on “Meet the Press” and other interviews, you’ve given
your Web site, VoteNader.org, and said on that Web site, are my positions,
they’re not being addressed by either parties. They fought through their -
in some details. I spent a long time this afternoon on your Web site.
Most of the stuff seems, frankly, like a stop to the hard left.
Impeach Bush/Cheney. Come on.
NADER: Why is that—wait a minute. Why is that hard left? That’s the most.
CARLSON: Bush/Cheney is going to be over in about 20 minutes for one thing. I mean come on.
NADER: Yes, but if you keep delaying—no, no. If you keep delaying, holding the most multiply impeachable presidency in history until June, July, you were—telling other presidents that there’s no such thing as being under the rule of law. That’s basically what it is. I mean it’s not just me talking, it’s a lot of leading jurists, it’s people who are deemed to be conservative.
I mean, is this what we want? I mean, everybody has to be subjected to the rule of law. And look at the others. Why are these.
CARLSON: I’ll tell you. I just—OK.
NADER: Yes, go ahead.
CARLSON: No to nuclear power, solar energy first.
CARLSON: Look, I’m all for independent candidacies. I’m all for third-party people of principle running for president against entrenched power.
CARLSON: I’m on your side that way.
NADER: OK. Right.
CARLSON: But no thoughtful person looking at the potential of global warming can say, no to nuclear power out of hand.
NADER: Of course.
CARLSON: That’s ridiculous.
NADER: No, you know why? Because it doesn’t produce greenhouse gases. It just produces radioactive waste, it’s vulnerable to sabotage, and a national security problem and so costly Wall Street will not fund a nuclear plant construction without a U.S. government guarantee.
CARLSON: Because it’s inherently costly or because it’s costly because people like you sue the people.
CARLSON: .who build the power plants.
NADER: Not at all.
CARLSON: Come on, get real? I mean no.
NADER: The safety standards are so stringent.
NADER: .because of the potential catastrophic (INAUDIBLE). As a conservative, Tucker, do you support a—an industry that demands a 100 percent Uncle Sam won’t guarantee?
CARLSON: I absolutely, I absolutely do not.
CARLSON: I do not. But I believe.
NADER: Then there’ll be no, no nuclear power built.
CARLSON: I’m not getting paid by the nuclear power people or anybody else.
NADER: Yes. No, no, I’m not saying that.
CARLSON: .other than MSNBC. But I will say.
CARLSON: .that if you’re concerned about greenhouse gases, if you’re concerned about people dying because of the energy that you’re producing, nuclear power strikes me as in the moment the safest form of energy there is.
CARLSON: There’s not one person killed by it.
NADER: OK. You’ve got $2 billion to invest in energy. The best bang for the buck is energy efficiency. And it’s renovating, you know, light bulbs, heating, air-conditioning, renovating buildings. That’s the best way. And that’s less fuel, less greenhouse gases.
The second is solar energy. Solar energy is the most universal solvent. And that’s the way to deal with it.
CARLSON: Come on, Ralph. You just said you were against government subsidies.
NADER: Yes, it doesn’t need.
CARLSON: How far do you think—we eliminated all subsidies for solar power. How many people are putting up panels over their homes? Maybe you and nine survivalists in Idaho. That’s it.
NADER: If you—no. If you eliminated all tax credits, all tax exceptions.
NADER: .oil, gas, coal, and solar, solar is coming on so fast it’s going to be an incredible industry in California.
CARLSON: I hope you’re right. But that’s all with the help of the government favoring solar power because it’s been pushed by the left to do that. I mean we need a market-based energy solution, right?
NADER: Basically, the fossil fuel nuclear energies are the most heavily subsidized by tax payer industries in America. That’s a fact. You can talk to (INAUDIBLE).
CARLSON: I agree. And I’m against it.
NADER: Yes. OK. So actually, we’re in agreement.
CARLSON: Ralph Nader, I’m glad you’re running for president. I know people are upset about it and you’re going to spoil it for this side or the other person.
NADER: But why are all these issues left issues? Bloated, wasteful, military advisor.
CARLSON: Come on. Impeach Bush/Cheney. We’re, unfortunately, out of time. But I mean come on.
NADER: Yes, OK.
CARLSON: That’s like, you know, all sorts of important things going on in the world, you don’t like Bush, you don’t like Cheney, but you know, what a waste of time at this point.
NADER: Massive corporate fraud that’s documented by “The Wall Street Journal,” corporate crime fraud and abuse from Enron to Wall Street.
NADER: That’s a left issue? That’s a conservative issue.
CARLSON: No, I think it’s both.
CARLSON: And you’re going to see, you’re going to hear it talked about a lot, I think, by nominee Obama.
NADER: That’s why 25 of my votes in 2000 went to—would have gone to the George Bush.
CARLSON: I totally believe that.
Ralph Nader, thanks for coming on and good luck.
NADER: Thank you. More competition.
We saw a whole new side of Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail over the weekend. A bit of sarcasm, a touch of outrage. We will bury you, she said, in effect. Is this a recipe for success?
Plus, Bill Richardson is getting more attention now, now that he’s no longer in the race. He’s getting calls from Barack Obama every couple of days. He even got to watch television with Bill Clinton. Ooh, that’s a treat. Who’s going to get his endorsement?
You’re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: Hillary Clinton comes out swinging against Barack Obama. She accuses him of plagiarism and dodging the debates, then she ridicules him for dreaming big. But it doesn’t seem any of her strategies are working. What’s her next plan?
We’ll tell you when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Now, I could stand up here and say, let’s just get everybody together. Let’s get unified. The sky will open. The light will come down. Celestial choirs will be singing. And everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: (INAUDIBLE). So good. To steal a title from an Academy Award winner last night, “There Will Be Blood,” or at least there may be blood tomorrow night on MSNBC when Senator Clinton brings a freshly aggressive attitude to that primetime debate. Or will she?
With the two candidates once again sitting elbow to elbow, will we get fireworks or another case of very good manners? In other words, which Hillary Clinton will show up tomorrow night?
Joining us, Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Hilary Rosen and “The Washington Post’s” Eugene Robinson.
Welcome to you both.
I kind of like that, I have to say. Hilary, I mean, that was—that’s pretty good.
HILARY ROSEN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Got energy. It’s human.
CARLSON: It was. It was pretty funny, too. But that—I like that a lot better than this. That was the nice Hillary, OK? I’m going to show you—we’re going to show you two clips here butted together here. One is of the nice, but maybe less enthusiastic Hillary and the other is the Nikita Khrushchev Hillary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: You know, no matter what happens in this contest—and I am honored, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored.
Shame on you, Barack Obama. It is time you ran a campaign consistent with your messages in public. That’s what I expect from you. Meet me in Ohio. Let’s have a debate about your tactics and your behavior in this campaign.
Enough with the speeches, and the big rallies, and then using tactics that are right out of Karl Rove’s playbook. This is wrong. And every Democrat should be outraged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: We have don’t have the tape, but she took her shoe off and started pounding it on the podium shortly after that. You don’t think she did that?
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Look, you know, I was going to write about—write about that for tomorrow’s column, and I just, you know, I did the first paragraph and I looked and I said, what, what can you say, really, I mean about that switch, about that contrast. And so.
CARLSON: What is it about? Is it—do you think it’s—I mean I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.
ROSEN: Whoa, whoa, come on.
ROSEN: He actually did misrepresent her on NAFTA. And they did do it with a flier, not with a public discussion.
ROSEN: So it was a bit underhanded. Now, you know, I’ve been thinking about this today. And it seems that this actually is a legitimate thing to get really unhappy about, particularly in Ohio where NAFTA and the issues that affect workers really matter. I think if it didn’t come on the heels of the plagiarism charge, which some people felt might have been a little less tangible.
ROSEN: Right. Or less tangible might have been the way to say that. Then it might not have wrung so false. But I think what you saw there was Hillary Clinton saying, you know what, I am doing my best to get my stuff out, to be nice here, and I am being misrepresented and I’m not going to take that.
CARLSON: So you think it was real?
ROSEN: Well, I think she was a—she was spontaneously angry, we know that. Her campaign has said that. She was handed the flier as she walked into an event. That wasn’t a planned attack, you know, after being nice, you know, a couple of nights before. She was spontaneously unhappy. And by the way, you know, she has a right to be.
ROBINSON: But—I have just a couple of questions about that. The flier had been out for a while. I guess, maybe she just saw it.
ROSEN: Haven’t seen it.
ROBINSON: But no one had had, you know, such a rank misrepresentation of her views in such a crucial state as Ohio and no one had bothered to say, hey, there’s this flier in Ohio that’s really going to set her off, that’s really unfair. It just seems odd that she was so completely unaware of that before going.
CARLSON: Yes, but moreover, I mean.
ROBINSON: And also, if you get that mad, if you get that angry over a flier, it does raise a question of how genuine the nice was a couple of nights before.
CARLSON: Well, yes, because we just saw last week John McCain was accused of adultery on the front page of “The New York Times.” Fairly or unfairly, he thinks it’s unfair. He comes out, he’s measured. I mean that is an attack, you know—and some NAFTA flier is no comparison to that. And he says, you know, “I’m disappointed,” and holds it in.
Hillary Clinton is a person of immense emotional control, obviously.
I mean I think it’s a fair question. Is that a tactic getting that mad?
ROSEN: First of all, I don’t think she flew off the handle. I think she got upset and.
CARLSON: Scared the hell out of me.
ROSEN: Oh, come on. That, you know, you’ve had people get upset with you before, way madder than that, I know.
CARLSON: She seems like she means it.
ROSEN: I think that, you know, the mocking thing doesn’t work. I actually—the mocking thing bothered me more than her being legitimately upset about the flier. That seems to be—we don’t need to be sarcastic, we can be direct about.
CARLSON: Well, I liked that (INAUDIBLE) the sarcasm. But here’s—something that Frank Rich wrote, Frank Rich has turned out to be this amazingly talented anti-Hillary diplomatist every Sunday. A lot of us wait for Frank Rich to show up.
Here’s what he said this week, which I think is very smart, he said, quote, “As for countering what she sees as the empty Obama brand of hope,” which is what she was doing in that first clip, “she offers only a chilly void: abandon hope all ye who enter here. This must be the first presidential candidate in history to devote so much energy to preaching against optimism, against inspiring language, and talk about bizarre, against democracy itself. No sooner does Mrs. Clinton lose a state than her campaign belittles its voters as unrepresentative of the country.”
I mean she’s on the wrong side of the hope question.
ROBINSON: Well, yes. I mean I think demonizing hope is not a good way to go. But here’s my question. The impression that I get from those three sound bites, basically, is—and this is consistent with what I’ve gotten from the campaign—is they can’t quite decide on the tone, can’t quite decide on the approach, is, you know, should she be tough, should—or nice? You know? Show more of herself personally, withhold that, be commander in chief. It’s as—I think she’s really effective when the real Hillary Clinton comes through. And I think that comes through when she talks about health care, for example, about which she feels passionately.
ROBINSON: .and about which she’s so knowledgeable.
ROSEN: I think she is raising a smart point. You know, her most effective part in the debate the other night everybody keeps saying was the final moment.
ROSEN: I actually really thought the health care discussion serves her well. I still don’t think he answers that particularly well.
ROSEN: But—and they are struggling with this, you know, this sort of Teflon candidate that they keep dealing with and it’s a challenge, I think.
CARLSON: We’ll be right back. Much more on this subject and more.
Louis Farrakhan is singing Barack Obama praises. Senator John Kerry is hitting the campaign trail for Obama. Whose endorsements hurt more?
Plus, it’s not often you hear Hillary Clinton apologize, but she did sort of this weekend for the racially charged comments her husband made in South Carolina. Did anyone care? Was the apology real?
This is MSNBC, the place for politics.
CARLSON: Do endorsements matter? That’s the question we ask every election season. Barack Obama got—has everyone from Oprah to Senator John Kerry in his corner so far. But Louis Farrakhan? Well, it turns out the leader of the nation of Islam calls the Obama campaign, quote, “a phenomenon.” Phenomenal rise of a man in color in a country that has persecuted us because of our color.
Well, what does the Obama campaign do with that?
Back with us—poor campaign—Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Hillary Rosen and “The Washington Post” Eugene Robinson.
Gene, he not only got the Obama—the Farrakhan endorsement, but he also got the endorsement of John Kerry, who’s going around the country for him. On—you know, the bottom line, who hurts Obama more, do you think?
ROBINSON: Well, let’s take them one by one.
ROBINSON: You know, and since Obama is winning 80 percent of the African-American vote and since that, I think, is about the only place where Louis Farrakhan could help him.
ROBINSON: And he’s kind of saturated that area.
CARLSON: Kind of (INAUDIBLE) 20 percent.
ROBINSON: And he could lose in votes elsewhere. So I think that that does not help him.
ROBINSON: John Kerry, I’m not sure that it helps him a lot. I don’t think the potential for downside is as great as with the Farrakhan endorsement. But it’s—you know, I wouldn’t use him as, like, my main surrogate.
CARLSON: But you’re a dealing with spiritual forces here. You’re dealing with—you’re now in the realm of metaphysics, in the realm of mojo.
ROSEN: On both sides.
CARLSON: No, on both sides.
ROSEN: Right. Yes.
CARLSON: But particular with John Kerry. And I think there’s a lot of evidence that your mojo can be seriously affected if not destroyed by John Kerry and your team.
ROSEN: Well, he’s not campaigning with him, he’s campaigning for him.
ROSEN: So he’s not getting too physically close. I think that—you know, Kerry, I think, is looking for a little stardust to rub off on him through this campaign. You know? And—but I think.
CARLSON: Why are Democrats so mean to their losers?
ROSEN: I think it’s hard—you know, John Kerry’s a great guy and a great senator. He was a terrible presidential candidate. And I think it doesn’t help Barack Obama for John Kerry to act like, you know, we Democrats, this is what people do to us. I mean Obama is such a far better campaigner than Kerry was and has so much more of a touchstone for the feel of this campaign than Kerry did.
And so I don’t think either one of them help or hurt him. But I guess Gene’s right that Farrakhan does one outrageous thing and it becomes news for a couple of days.
ROBINSON: Well, right, so it’s.
ROSEN: If it comes news for a couple of days, then Obama has to worry about, you know, disentangling.
CARLSON: See, if I was Obama, I wouldn’t want—I mean it’s unfair Obama—the Obama campaign came out today and said, “We didn’t seek this endorsement such as it was.” It wasn’t even fully an endorsement.
ROBINSON: Right. It’s not exactly an endorsement.
CARLSON: It was a two-hour speech saying Obama is great.
CARLSON: But they’ve said, we’ve got nothing to do with this, we don’t want it, we disagree with Farrakhan, et cetera, et cetera. But still, this would upset me if I’m running the Obama campaign.
ROBINSON: But what would you do? Beside just take it. I mean you can’t.
CARLSON: I don’t know what you would do. You just sit back and endure it. I don’t know what you can do.
ROSEN: There’s nothing you can do.
CARLSON: That’s right.
ROSEN: Because it just brings more attention to it.
ROBINSON: Right. But if people are coming out and say.
ROSEN: And apparently, he didn’t say anything so terrible in his speech today so let it go.
CARLSON: So John Kerry—what can you do about that?
ROSEN: Now, say something really nice about how Bob Dole ran his campaign and I’ll be quiet about John Kerry.
CARLSON: No, I just—look, here’s my point. No, here’s my only point. The—I mean, Bob Dole is—and you saw John McCain attest to this the other day. Earlier this month on Super Tuesday when Mitt Romney was hitting Bob Dole as a liberal, McCain got out there and said, “No, that Bob Dole is a war hero. He lost his.”
CARLSON: You know, the movement of his army in Italy, et cetera. The Democrats.
ROSEN: John Kerry is a war hero, he said.
CARLSON: When they lose, Mike Dukakis, John Kerry, soon to be, Hillary Clinton, I mean, they are reviled by their own former supporters. Why is that?
ROSEN: Well, I just think John Kerry wasn’t entirely pleasant to too many people after he left.
CARLSON: Is that going to happen to Hillary?
ROSEN: .lost and blamed a lot of other people. And that might have been - there might be more graceful ways to lose. And I would not go there with Hillary Clinton because she hasn’t lost yet.
CARLSON: That’s a good point. She’s absolutely still in the race.
With that in mind, we’ll be right back.
Hillary Clinton tells her donors I told you so and she urges them to watch “Saturday Night Live” to see how biased the media are against her. Does she have a point?
Plus John Edwards still has not endorsed a Democratic candidate for president. But he’s teaming up with a few Obama supporters. Should we expect an endorsement soon?
You’re watching MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We’re going to have a question from an ordinary citizen chosen completely at random from our audience. Tonight’ questioner is Obama Girl.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Obama—
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me. I’m sorry. I really have to say something here. First of all, that wasn’t even a question. Second, she was lip synching. Third, I really find it difficult to believe this particular questioner was chosen at random.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Clinton, if you ever interrupt Obama Girl again, I will personally escort you from this building. Do I make myself clear?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: After two and a half month hiatus owing to the writer’s strike, “Saturday Night Live” returned this weekend by mocking last Thursday night’s debate. Speaking to donors today, Hillary Clinton encouraged voters to watch that show to appreciate how the press has approached the Democratic campaign. Here again, Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Hillary Rosen and the “Washington Post’s” Eugene Robinson.
It was a brilliant sketch, I thought, and it did get to some deep truth here.
ROSEN: It was really funny, except, I think, our friends at the Clinton campaign went to bed too early because they missed the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler sketch, going, yo, Hillary. It was all about girl power.
CARLSON: It was girl power. I think what they exactly said—I’m just quoting from their NBC program. Tina Fey said, she’s a bitch and so I am, therefore, I’m on her side. Is that really an endorsement?
ROSEN: Tina Fey is the most popular woman on TV right now. You could not have had a better endorsement. What she said was we get things done. It’s OK if we’re a little tough. If we hit your knuckles every now and then, we get things done.
CARLSON: I don’t know people are buying that. Should they be complaining about it, the Hillary people? I know they are mad about it. I think, to some extent, they have a right to be mad about it. The press is for Obama, let’s be totally honest. But is it a good idea to whine about it?
ROBINSON: I’m an opinion columnist, I can be for anybody I want. Is
it a good idea to whine about it? I think it’s perfectly legitimate to
complain if you think you’re not getting a fair shake from the press. I
think—I don’t think it’s been all that one-sided. For example, I think
ROSEN: Yes, they like McCain too.
ROBINSON: Well, no. OK, if Barack Obama had lost 11 primaries in a row, we would have declared this over.
CARLSON: That is a totally fair point. Rudy Giuliani lost six and we laughed him off the stage.
ROBINSON: It would be, go away, kid, don’t bother us any more. We have good reason for not doing that with Hillary Clinton.
ROSEN: Maybe not if there was only this 100 delegate spread.
ROBINSON: I think we would have. I think 11 in a row, he’d be toast.
CARLSON: Frank Rich makes the point, if we are that biased against Hillary Clinton, we’d be asking to see her tax returns and we’d be asking about who donates to her husband’s foundation. I personally believe we’d be asking a lot more questions about a “Newsday” piece today about her behavior as a young lawyer representing someone accused of rape. The man was accused by a 12-year-old girl and Hillary Clinton gave, from my reading, this child an awfully hard time in the courtroom, suggesting she was making it up. She had a history of doing things like that.
Their defense is, well, that’s what lawyers are supposed to do. In other words, it’s legal, therefore it’s allowed. My response is it’s still repulsive and immoral. I yet, I bet you not one person will ask Hillary Clinton about that.
ROSEN: Probably not.
CARLSON: Probably not.
ROSEN: And no one should.
ROSEN: Because I have no idea what you’re talking about.
CARLSON: OK, but that doesn’t make it any less real. Hillary Clinton attacked the credibility of a child who was raped.
ROSEN: You’re not saying that there is no bias in the media, you are saying that there is bias. But I think it doesn’t do much good to whine about bias in the media. I think when you feel that something is being directly—when you someone is directly challenging facts you’ve put out, you should complain about it. But it’s very hard to complain about people’s attitudes, because then you end up sounding just like a whiner.
I think too many people in the media these days feel like there’s a lot of excitement around one campaign and there’s a lot of steadiness and not a lot of excitement around another campaign. It’s actually pretty true. And I think it’s the very point that Senator Clinton is making these days, which is, don’t be swept up by too much excitement, because there are all these other things to look at.
It’s hard to complain to the media for doing the same thing.
CARLSON: But they’re awful to the media. Let’s be totally blunt. They’re awful to the press. They treat the press like enemies. Howard Wolfson is always calling around threatening people, threatening people, news organizations. They do that. People hate you if you do that. They’ve earned the enmity of the press in my view. They have. It’s been hard, but they’ve done it.
ROBINSON: They’re not the warmest and cuddliest campaign. You know, the Obama campaign—
ROSEN: Grow up, Tucker.
CARLSON: Well, I don’t know. They’re the ones that ought to grow up. You report on them and then they call you and threaten you and flip out and lie to you. All campaigns do that, Republican and Democrat. Everybody does it. But they do it to a greater extent. They all do it, McCain, everybody does it, but she does it more. Their campaign does it more. I’m not just saying that for political reasons. I think you ask any garden variety liberal Democratic reporter—and they’re all liberal Democrats—and they’ll say the same thing. I really believe that.
ROSEN: I think it’s hard if people feel like they’re constantly on the defense to act right.
CARLSON: I want to put up the most unhappy looking picture I’ve ever seen. Bill Richardson dropped out of the race, and he has not endorsed a candidate. Both sides want him. Obama has called. But the Clinton people have done more than that. They sent Bill Clinton over to watch the Super Bowl—I think this is the Super Bowl. It’s something on television. Let’s put up the picture of Bill Richardson sitting with Bill Clinton.
There you go.
Richardson looks happy. Bill Clinton looks like he’s having some very unpleasant private exam.
ROBINSON: He must have been a Patriot’s fan.
CARLSON: Have you ever seen anything like that? Look at Clinton. He looks like he’s dying there and Richardson is enjoying it.
ROSEN: I attribute it to something.
CARLSON: Do you think, Gene, at this point the Clinton campaign has a hope of winning over non-committed Super Delegates or people like Richardson?
ROBINSON: Do they have a hope, yes, they have a hope. I think that’s why they’re still campaigning hard. Hillary Clinton could still win Ohio and Texas. Texas does not look great for here right now, but she could win it. And she still has a substantial lead in Ohio. She would not then catch up in pledged delegates, but would be in a position then to argue to the Super Delegates that we’ve won the big states and we’ve really won the heart and soul of the party and we should be the nominee.
I don’t know that that would work. I tend to doubt that that would work. Who knows; the size of a margin, if unexpectedly, she won big in both states, might change the atmosphere.
CARLSON: And you’re right. We should not predict. Now, today on the Drudge Report, which is obviously the news director for the American media, there was a photograph of Barack Obama taken a couple of years ago wearing some kind of traditional Somali clothing. He was on a trip to Africa, and like a lot of politicians when they go abroad, he made the mistake of dressing up while doing so.
ROSEN: I think it looks kind of studly.
CARLSON: Yes, he looked bad to me. There’s the picture. So the Drudge Report claim that the Clinton campaign put this out. The Clinton campaign is pretty much denying it. Howard Wolfson, the spokesman, Maggie Williams, campaign manager say they had nothing to do with the leaked photo. They first saw it on Drudge, but they can’t necessarily answer for all the employees of the campaign.
Then they put up this statement, which I think is kind of interesting
Obama’s people said this is divisive, it’s wrong, it’s outrageous.
Maggie Williams said this, quote, “enough, if Barack Obama’s campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she’s visited. Those photos were published widely. This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the more serious issues,” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
That’s kind of a fair point.
ROSEN: I think that was kind of clever.
ROBINSON: It’s very clever.
ROSEN: It reminded me of what Obama did in the campaign the other night, which I thought was incredibly clever, when Senator Clinton was talking about how this has been the campaign of dreams. He basically said, well you’re not attacking me, you’re attacking all of these dreamers who voted for me and it was turning it around. You’re saying my supporters are delusional. Then the attacks fall flat. I think this—
CARLSON: I don’t know. You put on the head dress.
ROSEN: I think the complaining falls flat.
CARLSON: If I was wearing a head dress and the picture came out, what could you say about it. You wore the head dress?
ROBINSON: First rule in politics—don’t put on—
ROBINSON: Don’t put on the funny hat. Second, obviously, the Obama -
the reason the Obama campaign reacted like that is because of the false e-mails around about claiming that he’s a Muslim and he went to a madrassa and this and that and all but suggesting that he’s a Manchurian candidate.
CARLSON: As Bob Kerrey, former senator from of Nebraska, famously said, people are saying he’s an Islamic Manchurian candidate who went to a secular madrassa, whatever the hell that is.
ROSEN: They have a reason to be afraid of slander and slurs, because you can’t be in this world and not experience it. On the other hand, if they react this franticly, I’m sure—it hurts them, I think. They need to just let it go.
CARLSON: Plus, it’s not slander if it’s true. In this case, you put on the funny hat, you suffer the consequences. Thank you very much.
ROSEN: Rules to live by.
CARLSON: Amen. Quick programming note. Be sure to tune into MSNBC tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. NBC’s Brian Williams and Tim Russert will host the last Democratic debate before Ohio, Texas, and Vermont, maybe the last ever. That’s right here on MSNBC, don’t miss it.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are ready to run against Hillary Clinton. Now, they’ve got to come up with an attack plan for Barack Obama. Turns out they have some worries about running a negative campaign. We’ll explain why.
Plus, the biggest night in Hollywood, the Oscars. It was a good night for old men and pregnant women, but not necessarily all together. Details coming up.
CARLSON: Republican showed no mercy going after Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, not that it helped sometimes, but they tried. Barack Obama, potentially the first ever black nominee, presents unprecedented political challenges for the Republicans. Already, the GOP has convened strategy sessions about how to handle them. Joining us now is the senior political reporter for “The Politico,” David Paul Kuhn, who reported on this story today. He’s the first person to write what is, we were just saying, a pretty obvious story. How do the Republicans hit Barack Obama without being perceived as racist.
DAVID PAUL KUHN, “POLITICO”: The trick is to criticize the candidate without appearing to criticize what the candidate embodies. That’s really the burden of the Republicans. Whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, they’re going to have to go after the candidate. And we know how they’re going to go after them. They’re going to go after them either as liberal. They’ll go after Hillary on a character issue. They’re going to go after Obama on experience.
But they’re going to have to do with that without touching on what has been very precarious territory for even the Democrats this year.
CARLSON: It’s unbelievable. I think the Clintons did inject race and they ought to be ashamed. But they also said—Hillary Clinton said something I believe is totally fair and historically defensible, that Martin Luther King brought the civil rights movement to where it was, but it took a president, it took Lyndon Johnson to pass the Civil Rights Act. They got hit for that like they were bigots. If they got hit for saying that, what can the Republicans say about Barack Obama?
KUHN: That’s right, because we live in such a one-minute segment society, if that, if not ten seconds. When you look at what happened with that Lyndon Johnson remark, what Johnson said was, as you say, was totally historically accurate. He essentially finished Kennedy’s dream. But the problem was that we saw only a sentence of that. We didn’t sort of see that in context. And the media didn’t really portray it in a proper context.
So even when Hillary Clinton touched on race in the context of history that was entirely correct, she was on the losing end. So the lesson to Republicans are, don’t touch on it. Don’t veer on to that territory. They really can gain nothing from it. I think that’s what they’re learning.
CARLSON: Especially since the press assumes racism works not far beneath almost every Republican message anyway. They’re at this huge disadvantage. What are their concrete plans? You reported today, they’re thinking this through. They’re doing poll testing on it, research. What are they concluding?
KUHN: What they’re concluding are things that seem very intuitive to most of us; be sensitive to tone; be sensitive to the historic firsts that are involved. So what you’re going to see in the general election is you’re going to see a Republican party, especially surrogates, really try to actually stay away, ironically, from gender and race.
So sort of the wrap on Republicans, and somewhat accurately from the ‘60s, is that the coded language is used continuously to inject race especially into presidential politics. I think what you’re going to see this year is you’re actually going the see Republicans almost entirely try to stay away from race and gender. Because what do they have to gain from it. There’s already been whatever movement in Mississippi or Arkansas would have occurred due to race has long happened in America.
They really have nothing to gain when going after white independents, men or women, in talking about this, and they have everything to lose. If they come off looking like the more bigoted party, not because of the comment, as much as how the comment is reported on.
CARLSON: What about—Affirmative action traditionally has been an issue in presidential campaigns at every level of politics and a lot of people believe affirmative action itself is racist. Is that subject too uncomfortable to bring up in a campaign with Barack Obama?
KUHN: Obama actually said some interesting comments earlier this last year. We couldn’t bring him out, but he seemed to hint that he was for an affirmative action that focused on class instead of race.
CARLSON: Right, on income.
KUHN: If we actually saw that on income—if we actually saw that in the general election, that would be really play into his post-racial campaign and that would I think enhance his candidacy.
CARLSON: If he came out and said, I’m against the mindless preference based on people of skin color. That’s as wrong as anything that’s every happened.
KUHN: That would still disproportionately benefit minorities, as it should, because certainly minorities are more representative in the working class. It would still serve African-Americans and Hispanics, but it would not be a racial sort of means. It would be based on what they make, what their parents make. And I do think it would certainly uplift Obama’s post-racial campaign. The question is, will Obama do that, is that too dangerous?
And how will the Republicans—how will the Republicans deal with that? It will essentially narrow the gap on affirmative action. It would further narrow the racial gap and it really wouldn’t help them in what has been a strong means for them to reach the middle and working class white guy.
CARLSON: If Obama said that, first of all, he’d be more courageous than I suspect he is, but I’d be impressed and I think he’d win.
KUHN: And he’d be more courageous than John Kerry. Kerry actually had remarks in the early ‘90s on that.
CARLSON: Kerry was a craven political coward. That’s why he lost.
Thank you. It was a great piece, as are all your pieces. Thanks.
The rumors are true indeed; Brangelina having another baby. We saw the baby bump with our own eyes. I didn’t, but our Hollywood reporter Bill Wolff did. He’s going to bring us details coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUCKABEE: Let me assure the American people that Mike Huckabee does not overstay his welcome. When it’s time for me to go, I’ll know. And I’ll exit out with class and grace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Mike Huckabee, everyone! Governor Huckabee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we’re done now, sir.
HUCKABEE: Oh, right. You know, normally I pick up on those things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Mike Huckabee, the most self-aware man in politics. Now the most self-aware man in journalism, Bill Wolff join us from headquarters.
BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT: I went from Hollywood reporter to most self-aware guy. That’s a promotion, believe me, Tucker. Sunday night was Oscar night, Tucker. As predictably as the sun rising in the east, or rodents populating restaurant kitchens without the patrons knowing, that show was long and boring and full of self-congratulations. Your big winner was the uber-violent adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men.” Javier Bardem was in that movie and he won for his supporting role. And the Coen Brothers, Joel and Ethan, won for adapted screen play and for directed and “No Country” also won best picture.
Marion Cotillard won for the best actress for her work in “La Vie en Rose.” There she is. Tilda Swinton, who comes from England and played an American, was best supporting actress for “Michael Clayton.” And Daniel Day-Lewis was a sure thing bet and in fact he won—there he is—for best actor for “There Will be Blood.” For future reference now, I did a little experiment, Oscar night is a good time to catch up on some long-ignored material on the old DVR. If you watch old episodes of Batman, while you record the Oscars, you can fast forward through all the boring parts, which I did. Tucker, I don’t know if you watched it, but it was boring. Awful, I would say.
CARLSON: This was my 20th—literally, I think it was my 20th Oscar night in a row where I didn’t watch any of it.
WOLFF: It was really bad. I don’t know if it’s stagflation or bad weather or whatever, but I was just not in the mood, friend. I blame stagflation.
CARLSON: Watching rich people congratulate themselves, no.
WOLFF: It is fairly disgusting, thank you. There was movie star news unrelated to the Oscars, but, of course, related to awards; supernaturally good-looking couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt attended the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday night because they’re cooler than most people and there Miss Jolie’s ensemble revealed that she’s with child. In the parlance of your favorite gossip rag or celebrity media outlet, there is her baby bump.
According to MSNBC.com’s “The Scoop,” Miss Jolie was, quote, surly at the awards, and she and her guy skipped a pre-Oscar party where everyone thought the couple would encounter Brad Pitt’s ex-wife, Jennifer Aniston. That would have been ugly, but rest easy, Brangelina skipped the party and avoided the high drama for now. Stay tuned, Tucker.
CARLSON: I’m glad. I was getting a little nervous there.
WOLFF: Yes. I know that’s the kind of thing you’ve been paying a lot of attention to this election season.
CARLSON: Sweaty palms all season.
WOLFF: It is—Hollywood was once described, I believe by Jim Belushi, as high school with tons and tons and tons of money and never was a more apt assessment made of anything in my view. You know what I’m saying?
CARLSON: I’ll buy it completely. You live there, not me.
WOLFF: It’s a little bit disgusting. Anyway, finally, if you’re an obsessive fan—a fan of obsessive assessment of wine and the fun-killing conversation that comes along with it, then head for the hills, Tucker. An international panel of judges assembled over the weekend in West Virginia for the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting—yes, water tasting. More than 100 different waters from across the planet got the once over from well-informed tasters to settle for now the raging public debate over whose water is best.
The winner of the best tasting municipal water was a tie between Clearbrook from British Columbia and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The best purified water was Federalsberg, Maryland, and Martinsburg, West Virginia, won for the best bottled water. Now come the horrible terms like stemmy and nutty, a little essence of blackberry for your water.
It’s a little tappy. It’s a little pitchery. It’s a little bottly.
Come on! Leave water alone. It’s wet, delicious, drink it.
CARLSON: I agree. That is fun-killing. Best description of the week. Thanks a lot, Bill.
WOLFF: You got it.
CARLSON: That does it for us. Thank you for watching. We’ll see you right back here tomorrow night. Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris. Have a great evening.
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