Guests: Richard Wolffe, Chuck Todd
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The John Edwards endorsement: It is finally here. The shocker: blowing Senator Clinton and her West Virginia blue-collar wind out of the proverbial tub.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS, (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There‘s one man that knows in his heart that it is time to create one America, not two. And that man is Barack Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe on the why and why now. Chuck Todd on impact on the delegate math.
Senator Clinton‘s latest crisis: A lot of so-whats, a lot of “what do you do for your next trick” and now, a lot of John Edwards in reaction to her win in West Virginia and an attitude generously described as “never say uncle.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don‘t believe in quitting. I don‘t believe in being pushed out. Maybe I just have more patience than the average person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Republicans out of patience and maybe out of ideas after they stunningly lose a special congressional race in which those Republicans ran not against representative-elect, Travis Childers but against Obama and Jeremiah Wright.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean, they were trying to do every trick in the book to try to scare folks in Mississippi. And it didn‘t work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Tonight‘s ice cream: Your insider‘s tour. Welcome to the new home of the New York Mets - CitiField.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A perfect afternoon for a ball game over (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Worsts: Terry McAuliffe says 90 percent of the media is pro-Obama but as to his Clinton campaign, quote, “We‘re not complaining.” No, actually, that right there—that is complaining.
And the president loses it as the American bodies piled up in Iraq. How did he try to atone, how did he try to empathize, how did he try to sacrifice? He gave up playing golf.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: I don‘t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Tonight: A special comment. Mr. Bush, the war in Iraq is not about you and your damned golf game.
All of that and more: Now on COUNTDOWN.
(on camera): Good evening. This is Wednesday, May 14th, 174 days until the 2008 presidential election. Senator Clinton last night, she won the what and where now?
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: The polls have now closed in the state of John Edwards. Senator Obama tonight, winning the Edwards endorsement by a margin of 100 percent. And 24 hours and 30 minutes after voting ended in West Virginia, it and perhaps Senator Clinton herself is old news.
The candidate, who last night received 7 percent of that vote in the Mountaineer State even though he wasn‘t even running anymore, this evening, is throwing his support behind Senator Obama. The North Carolina Democrat making what was supposed to have been a surprise appearance in Grand Rapids, Michigan tonight, at least the audience was, to some degree, surprise.
Senator Edwards feigning surprise, asking at the top of his remarks, “What am I doing here,” before answering his own questions saying, “We are here tonight because the Democratic voters have made their choice and so have I.” Senator Edwards praising Senator Clinton as a leader and for the campaign she has run, but ultimately endorsing Obama because of what he described as his ability to unite the two Americas Edwards often speaks of into one America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARDS: What all of us believe is in this America that we love so much, no matter who you are, no matter who your family is and no matter what the color of your skin—none of those things will control your destiny. And that that one America that I‘ve talked about is not only possible but it will be achieved under President Barack Obama starting in January of 2009.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Since the polls closed last week in Senator Edwards home state of North Carolina, Senator Obama increasingly treating his on campaign as if it were already the general election. In his remarks tonight, unifying what were the top three Democratic candidates—Obama, Clinton, and Edwards—in an effort to take on McCain and the Bush policies of the last eight years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: For the last eight years, they‘ve been told, you‘ve been told, that there‘s nothing that this country can do to help you. That the best we can do is keep giving more and more of those with the most and tell everyone else to fend for themselves. That‘s what George Bush has done for the last eight years and that‘s what John McCain is offering for the next four.
OBAMA: Well, John Edwards and I believe in a different America. Hillary Clinton believes in a different America, the Democratic Party believes in a different America—one America where we rise and fall together as one people and that‘s why we‘re going to take Washington by storm this November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: More good news for Senator Obama today, winning not just the Edwards‘ endorsement but also that of the pro-choice NARAL, in addition to the usually steady of trickling of superdelegates, Senator Obama picking up 2.5 -- yes, another half delegate from Democrats abroad weighing in.
Senator Clinton is gaining support of one superdelegate today. Making today‘s totals or as of today: Obama 287.5 and Clinton 276.5.
Time now to turn to our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine. Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Practicality first, was this exactly what it seemed to be—the timing, the news, the down to the hour to erase Senator Clinton‘s headlines from last night?
WOLFFE: Well, the timing is impeccable from Barack Obama‘s point of view. And it takes a lot to step on the really impressive victory that Senator Clinton scored last night in West Virginia. But even beyond the sort of timing of it, the sort of short term view of it, you have to look at what the impact is. And the race from here on out is about superdelegates.
John Edwards speaks to the superdelegates saying—look, this guy has a reason to go forward as the nominee—not just about the voters that Edwards represented—labor voters, but also because of this symbolic moment of unity, seeing two former rivals come together. It‘s going to lodge in the minds of superdelegates, this idea of how much they want to see Clinton and Obama come together.
OLBERMANN: Did Edwards wait for a moment like this, or was this a decision made the other day, I mean the sort of thing where he could be a human eraser, where he could have a late impact even this late in the stage of this game?
WOLFFE: Well, we‘re not clear on the timing yet. Although they obviously
both Edwards wanted to keep the powder drive through North Carolina.
Obviously, the North Carolina result—it didn‘t matter either way. Obama‘s result was big there and it‘s not clear what impact John Edwards would have had at that moment.
But, you know, this is, in many ways, the last window of opportunity for John Edwards—a moment when he can make a difference, where the result wasn‘t entirely clear, although it is mostly clear. And therefore, he expect, I guess, some reward for having going out on a limb and giving Barack Obama this push when he needed it.
OLBERMANN: Will it matter in the field, will John Edwards help perhaps in Kentucky?
WOLFFE: You know, there‘s been a lot of immediate speculation about that. I actually don‘t think he‘s going to have much of an impact at all. In the end, people vote for the candidate and not for the endorser. A lot of the labor folks are already behind Obama, and Kentucky is going to be enough for struggle for Obama in any case.
Oregon, on the other hand, look, Obama is doing very well. He‘s 20 points ahead in the polls. So, I don‘t think this is really about a state. This is about the mind of the party, the desire to move forward, and Edwards saying, again to a certain voting bloc and especially to superdelegates, “This is the guy.”
OLBERMANN: This is just John Edwards, correct? This is not Elizabeth Edwards as well. She‘s holding back still or not endorsing or has not - not sure about it?
WOLFFE: That‘s correct.
OLBERMANN: Where does she stand, in fact?
WOLFFE: Well, it‘s not clear. I mean, it‘s not traditional for the spouse of a former candidate and former vice presidential candidate to endorse. Of course, Elizabeth Edwards has her own agenda. She‘s working at a think tank now and there has been speculation that she would have her own endorsement particularly because it‘s been a fairly open rumor that she has been much favorable to Hillary Clinton because of her healthcare plan than her husband has been.
And her husband, obviously, was pretty heavily behind Obama at certain points in the debates where there were three candidates on the stage. I would expect actually no endorsement from Elizabeth Edwards but she‘s made pretty clear where her sympathies lie based on her agenda which is healthcare.
OLBERMANN: Indeed. And does this make it more likely, obviously when one looks as this and assumes a quid pro quo or at least an eligibility standard being crossed here. Does this increase the chances Senator Edwards would be up for a cabinet position or a candidacy? Could he be a vice president, could he an attorney general?
WOLFFE: Well, attorney general, I think, is probably more likely. Remember that inside the Kerry campaign, there was a fair amount of unhappiness with John Edwards as a vice presidential candidate because he doesn‘t fit the sort of “attack dog mode” that both Kerry needed and I think Barack Obama will need—someone who can land a punch, who‘s comfortable doing so.
John Edwards, he‘s more feisty this time around but really wasn‘t that good in the debate against Dick Cheney in 2004. So, I think the cabinet job is something that‘s much more likely at this stage.
OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of “Newsweek” magazine. As always, great thanks for your time tonight.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The endorsement of John Edwards tonight might have been issued with the intent of influencing voters in the fewer than half a dozen contests remaining - contests which mathematically cannot alter the outcome of the campaign, or Edwards, might actually have had in mind, another audience, delegates—super or otherwise.
Last night, Senator Clinton picked up 20 delegates to Obama‘s eight in West Virginia, giving her a net total from that state of 12 delegates. John Edwards has 18 pledged delegates and a superdelegate to boot. Right now, Obama at 1,599 pledged, Clinton 1,447. Whoever gets 1,627 will have clinched the majority of all the party‘s elected—that is pledged delegates.
If all 18 of Edwards‘ delegates indeed go to Obama, they will take him just 10 shy of nailing the majority.
Let‘s bring in our number one number cruncher, MSNBC and NBC News political director, Chuck Todd. Good evening, Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. So, parse this out for us. Does Obama get those 18 Edwards delegates or is he just likely to?
TODD: Well, he‘s likely to. But look, John Edwards can contact those 18 delegates and say - hey, you know, I‘m backing Senator Barack Obama, I hope you do, too.
But, you know, these pledged delegates to Edwards are basically kind of like superdelegates - I mean, well, look—we‘ve learned all of these delegates could change their mind at any moment. You know, they‘re not legally bound to anybody. But the assumption is of course that if you have a pledged delegate that they are rabidly for you.
So, Edwards, you would assume, has influence at least, I would assume, on 12 of the 18. Therefore negating probably the entire gain that‘s she got yesterday in West Virginia. But more likely, I mean, you would assume most of them if pressured would gravitate over to Obama.
OLBERMANN: So, with fewer than 200 pledged delegates still up for grabs in our remaining Tuesday night “fun house” sessions, more than 200 supers still out there, are the supers the real audience at this point for an endorsement?
TODD: No, they absolutely are. I mean, you know, when word of this circulated early in the morning, it‘s like, OK he is announcing somebody major, you know, make sure you can go live with the word on the street from the Obama campaign, you‘ll want to cover this event. And they wouldn‘t say, you know, literally, about three names ran through everybody‘s head, and they were all either the former candidate John Edwards or two of them being superdelegates, Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi. Ruling those other two out, then that‘s when speculation circulated on Edwards.
And so, yes, I think all of this is to - is to superdelegates but also could be to donors and major fundraisers to Hillary Clinton.
OLBERMANN: So, is there - you know, taking out your proverbial maps, the headline on this network at 3:00 o‘clock Eastern Time today literally was Obama‘s blue-collar problem. Practically speaking, is there anywhere either in the remaining primaries or perhaps more importantly in the general election for John Edwards to do something for Obama‘s blue-collar problem?
TODD: Well, he could. I mean, look, the fact is she couldn‘t bask in the glow of this frankly phenomenal victory that she had yesterday, that 40-point victory, for even 24 hours and Obama completely was able it with this Edwards thing, you know, putting it so that all of the nightly national newscasts were going live from the event tonight. So, it really put an exclamation point, stepped on these interviews that Senator Clinton did with all of the evening news anchors and so, really did just turn the page on this thing.
Does Edwards help on that front? I don‘t know. But it certainly may calm some superdelegates down who were feeling queasy, said (ph) and going - look, we kind of knew Obama would lose West Virginia but you‘re not supposed to lose by 40 points and, boy, please don‘t lose by 40 points in Kentucky or I‘m going really to have a hard time voting for you.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of queasy, what about the rank-and-file? I mean, could this endorsement at this point represent in any way not just an endorsement of Obama but also some sort of signal of the ranks closing, that the party leaders are really beginning to view the Clinton campaign, never mind whatever weaknesses it might have exposed in Obama in places that have unusual demographics or Democrats who actually are Republicans and Democrats in name only.
But I mean, is there some sense that you know what—this is now becoming a possible threat this Clinton campaign, we have better close ranks?
TODD: Well, it‘s interesting. I think sometimes we forget here inside the beltway how just regular Democrats view these things and John Edwards has a very favorable rating with a lot of these Democrats—seeing him do this and seeing that picture of the two of them together, it creates that aura of inevitability.
It wouldn‘t surprise me if Obama gets a bump in some of these national tracking polls a little bit over the next couple of days where you get that sense where Democrats are just going to start rallying around him a little bit. The real test will be, you know, how much does he end up closing the gap just with some rank-and-file Democrats in Kentucky? Does he end up losing by less than he should because Democrats feel they should rally around him?
OLBERMANN: And an important indicator, as most of the things that Chuck Todd brings to the table. Our political director of MSNBC and NBC News—as always, Chuck, great thanks for your time.
TODD: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. So much for Senator Clinton‘s momentum out of West Virginia, her interview with Brian Williams, so much for the Republicans using Jeremiah Wright as an advertising slogan, say goodbye to the Mississippi first congressional district.
Worst Persons: Terry McAuliffe and Bill-O onboard tonight. And the segment will be a little earlier this evening because of my special comment on the president‘s touching personal sacrifice in the war in Iraq. They give up their lives, he claims and the claims may turned out to be lies that he gave up playing golf.
OLBERMANN: Timing is everything. At the moment, the John Edwards endorsement of Barack Obama was revealed today. Senator Clinton was meeting with supporters and contributors in her home.
What could you possibly do next and what could George Bush possibly do after making the ultimate sacrifice to honor our fallen heroes in Iraq after he reveals he‘s already given up playing golf.
A special comment on a president - -tone deaf and self-obsessed, and very possibly, on the subject of golf—lying, as COUNTDOWN continues.
OLBERMANN: It was not supposed to happen this way. On this, the day after, Senator Clinton was supposed to ride the momentum of her resounding victory in the West Virginia primary, in the parade of interviews on all the networks, making her last best case that she and not Senator Obama would be the more electable candidate against John McCain.
In our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: Continuing our breaking news coverage, that all changed at 5:12 p.m. Eastern, when the first bulletin crossed the wires confirming that Senator John Edwards would be backing, endorsing Senator Obama.
Something tells us that the disappointment of a loss will not however keep Senator Clinton from continuing to make her case that she should be the Democratic nominee and she did to our colleague, Brian Williams this afternoon before word of the Edwards‘ endorsement broke.
Senator Clinton having claimed last night at Charleston, West Virginia, that she is more determined than ever to continue her campaign, raising the question, as Brian did, of how this race ever ends.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: How does this end and when?
CLINTON: Well, I think Brian, it ends after everyone‘s had a chance to vote. After we have decided how we‘re going to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates, which I hope happens on May 31st. We have less than three weeks to go until everyone had a chance to be heard and then, it‘s going to be up to the Democratic Party, all of the delegates, most particularly those who are still uncommitted to make their determination as to who they think would be the best president and the better candidate.
But at some point, we‘ll know who has 2,210 delegates. That‘s the important number because it does include Michigan and Florida. We can‘t send a nominee to the convention representing just 48 states. It has to include Michigan and Florida. And I‘m confident that the DNC will make that decision and that will happen.
So, I would predict to you that by June 4th and within a week after that, we‘ll have a pretty good idea where we stand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: To many Democrats, a pretty good idea even after all the voting has concluded would not be good enough. Senator Clinton about as definitive in tackling the question on whether she believes this fight could go all the way to the convention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I think we‘ll have a nominee. I really believe that. But again, we‘ll know a lot more on June 4th.
And maybe I just have more patience than the average person these days, but for me, it‘s a privilege and a joy to travel around our country, to make my case to people from one coast to the other, and to continue to, you know, work as hard as I can to win this nomination and that‘s what I intend to do.
And you know, we‘ll get to June the 4th after the last votes are cast in June the 3rd and I think we‘ll have a better idea about where we stand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As we reported earlier, word of the Edwards endorsement breaking just as Senator Clinton was meeting with supporters at her home in Washington. Bridge mix, bridge mix anyone?
This afternoon before tonight‘s development in the Obama campaign, Senator Clinton suggesting it might still be possible for committed superdelegates and pledged delegates to change their allegiances at the convention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: For you to be the nominee, it would take a wholesale shift of superdelegates in effect overturning the pledged delegates and those individual state elections. Would you be comfortable with that?
CLINTON: Well, I think that the superdelegates are there for a purpose—that is to determine who they think would be the stronger candidate and the best president. Superdelegates are not bound to vote any way. They can change their minds. They can go to the convention and change their minds.
There is no guarantee. And in fact, it‘s equally true for pledged
delegates for most states.
Obviously, people are going to look at the results. But I think that it‘s also important to look at where the delegates came from, how many people actually elected those delegates, what the kind of outcomes were, who has a bigger base to build an electoral majority on. But at the end of the day, Brian, you know, I know maybe it‘s because we live in such a media bubble and it‘s 24/7 and there‘s such an intense interest in this campaign, everybody should just take a deep breath.
We‘re going to know a lot more in about three weeks than we do right now and that is more than enough time for us to unify our party, for us to be, you know, absolutely committed to winning in November and I believe that‘s what‘s going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The question that would seem harder to answer in the wake of Senator Edwards having gone with the other guy. Why is Senator Clinton still staying in the race, again? What is she really hoping might happen?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: I guess a lot of people are wondering, some of them out of complete frustration, why stay in? Is it an act of God or an emergency of some sort that you‘re counting on?
CLINTON: No. It‘s because I really believe I would be the stronger candidate. And we‘re near the end of what‘s been a long process. I don‘t believe in quitting. I don‘t believe in being pushed out. I feel I have a bond with the nearly 17 million people who have voted for me and the millions more who have expressed support for me or contributed to me or come out to see me.
And I think that having a nominee is something we will get to. We‘re not, you know, we‘re not going to miss that opportunity. We will have a nominee. But only after everyone has had a chance to vote. This campaign has been an honor and a joy and I‘m going to see it through and I still believe I will be the Democratic nominee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The newly minted Obama supporter, Mr. Edwards, having held the number two position on the Kerry ticket in 2004, earlier in the campaign when Senator Clinton had talked about a joint ticket—it had been Senator Obama in the second slot in her mind, our colleague Brian Williams asking Senator Clinton to try vice president on for size.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: I was asked to ask you if you‘ve been trying on the idea, mentally, of a number two position on the ticket, if that‘s something you would at all be wired for?
CLINTON: I‘m not entertaining that, Brian, because it‘s really premature. I‘m going to finish these elections. I‘m going to see where we are on June the 4th. And there is no nominee yet. When there is a nominee, then people will start talking about that but it‘s not anything that I‘m entertaining right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And that was her right now as of about 3:30 Eastern this afternoon, no word yet about her right now right now.
Reverend Wright looks like a nonstarter for the GOP ad department, so President Bush trots out a oldie but a baddie. “A Democratic president,” he says, “means another terrorist attack.”
A special comment ahead.
And 90 percent of the media he says is against his candidate, but, quote, “We‘re not complaining.” You‘re not complaining? Breaking news from the Clinton camp, they are not complaining. Next in Worst Persons.
OLBERMANN: Republicans test campaign trying to keep Mississippi seat they‘ve held for 13 years campaigning on an anti-Obama, anti-Jeremiah Wright platform and they lose big.
What a president have left to lose he has lost. Resuming the campaign that a Democratic president means terrorism and insulting every American soldier dead in Iraq by saying his sacrifice in the war was giving up golf. Historical record suggests he may even be and he‘s not telling the truth.
First: Time for COUNTDOWN‘s Worst Persons of the World. (INAUDIBLE), the
congressional Republican leadership unveiling its new campaign ad slogan
design to retake the House from the Democrats in the fall, quote, “The
change you deserve.” One small problem, the change you deserve is already
an advertising slogan for Effexor. Effexor is the brand name for
Venlafaxin (ph), a prescription drug approved for the treatment of, in
adults, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder
and panic disorder. One assumes the shared ‘change you deserve‘ slogan was
an unintentional coincidence for the Republicans. Except for this, side
effects include, nausea, apathy, constipation, fatigue, vertigo, sexual
dysfunction, sweating, memory loss and electric shock like sensations also
called brain zaps; the same side effects as with the GOP‘s ‘change you
The runner up, Terry McAuliffe, Senator Clinton‘s campaign chair;
“clearly, it has been a biased media, no question about it.” He says, “90 percent of the media favors Obama.” Quote, “every independent study has said that this is the most biased coverage they have ever seen in a presidential campaign. It is what it is, he adds. We are not complaining.”
Terry, this is something you saw in a sketch on “Saturday Night Live.” It didn‘t actually happen. Also, the part about your campaign not complaining, I would like to mark this on my calendar; you are not complaining starting when?
But our winner, Bill-O, the latest target of the smear merchant Syracuse University and one its professors, Dr. Boyce Watkins (ph). “Watkins hides behind academic freedom in his villainous pursuits, but Syracuse University should have academic standards and it apparently does not. Again, Watkins is using the university as cover.”
What were those villainous pursuits? We all found out when Bill-O sent one of his stalker producers out to ambush the chancellor of the university. That stalker producer the chancellor that Dr. Watkins, quote, “is saying Bill O‘Reilly wants to lynch Michelle Obama and using the good name of Syracuse University to spread these kinds of lies.”
It turns out Watkins also sent out emails and petitions to O‘Reilly‘s sponsors. If that‘s what Watkins said, where are the lies? February 19th on the radio, after the I‘m truly proud flap, Bill-O said, quote, “I don‘t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there is evidence, hard facts that say this is how the woman really feels.”
Meaning, in English, if there is evidence, and Bill usually does make up his own, he wants to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama. Thanks for reminding everybody, Bill. Bill O‘Reilly, today‘s worst person in the world!
OLBERMANN: You think the Democratic Congressional Committee chairman overstated it melodramatically by saying that there is no district that is safe for Republican candidates. What of a Republican‘s congressman‘s reaction? Tom Davis of Virginia stamping his feet on the floor of the Capital basement today and saying, quote, this is the floor. We‘re below the floor.
In our third story in the COUNTDOWN, last night‘s special election victory by a Democrat in a Mississippi district so heavily Republican that President Bush carried it by 25 points in 2004, with the GOP‘s attempt to win by running against Senator Obama and Jeremiah Wright in a race-baiting manner failing. This is the third straight special election Congressional loss for the GOP in districts it should have easily held, portending who knows what.
Travis Childers, a conservative Democrat, and until now a chancery clerk in Prentis County, won Mississippi‘s first Congressional district. It was not even close. Childers beating by eight points Mayor Greg Davis of South Haven, Mississippi, this after Vice President Dick Cheney was dispatched to the northern Mississippi district on election eve to energize the conservatives there, and this after the Republican National Congressional Committee matched the Democrats advertising dollar for dollar, relying heavily on an ad linking Childers to Senator Obama and reminding voters of Obama‘s former pastor Jeremiah Wright.
Senator Obama himself taking note of that failed tactic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: They did everything they can—could to—you know, they ran ads with my face on it. And they said, oh, look at this former liberal and his former pastor said offensive things. They were trying to do every trick in the book to try to scare folks in Mississippi. And it didn‘t work. The reason it didn‘t work is because the American people know we need a new direction in Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Childers victory ushering in a barrage of reaction from all quarters about its significance. Even the Republicans didn‘t even try to spin it. From the NRCC, “the political environment is such that voters remain pessimistic about the direction of the country and the Republican party in general.” With political experts noting that the environment to which this special election speaks says more about the Republican party‘s severely damaged brand than Obama‘s so-called, so far mythical drag on down ticket Democrats.
Perhaps even unfounded fears about Obama are easily overcome by grounded fears about what the GOP has already done. The punch line, the Republican solution moving forward position themselves as change candidates. House Minority Leader John Boehner unveiling that new campaign theme today, ‘the change you deserve.‘ As we mentioned in Worsts, the same theme as that of a prescription medication for depression and panic disorder, Mr. Boehner.
Another all too familiar Republican campaign theme is out tonight. President Bush says the election of a Democrat who would pull out of Iraq, quote, would eventually lead to another attack on the United States. Tonight, a special comment on Mr. Bush‘s most tired and mom pathetic calumny.
And the interlude of fun, inside yet another ballpark in congress.
Your sneak peek at City Field in New York ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Our break from the vital, our number two story, Keeping Tabs on sports. When I was eight years old and went to a baseball game for the first time, my parents explained that the place in which we sat, Yankee Stadium, had been built 44 years earlier, in 1923. Later that summer, I went to the home of the New York Mets, Shea Stadium. I saw it‘s creaky, style-free architecture and I concluded it must have been built in the 1890s. It was actually just three years old.
Big Shea has been a big problem since it opened. Now, like Yankee Stadium, it is closing, to be replaced next year by a park across the street called City Field. The Mets and CEO Jeff Wilpon gave a bunch of us a tour, reminding us that especially at the high left field fence and an over-hanging home run porch, the new park invokes the Polo Grounds, where the New York Giants played their home games, and where the Mets played for their first two seasons.
And, of course, of Ebbets Field, legendary magical home of the once Brooklyn Dodgers, the Mets‘ adopted ancestors. The exterior, with its cathedral windows, is almost a replica of the old Brooklyn Stadium and through the main entrance is almost an exact duplication of what the Dodgers called the Rotunda. The Mets have already named their rotunda for the most legendary of all the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson. And that is Shea in the background.
Inside City Field puts the fans as close as Shea has kept them away and check out right field.
OLBERMANN: Perfect afternoon for a ball game. All we are missing is the field and some of the seats.
Right to home plate, City Field. Plenty of good seats still available. The outfield wall. That area there to be the bullpen. The Mets are so proud of it. The geometry entirely different from what you see at Shea Stadium, an intimate and angled facility.
Not many are built like this anymore. They‘ve done a nice job on this one.
OLBERMANN: We showed you the new Yankee Stadium last week and now City Field proving if you are building it, I will come.
Now back to work. The first salvo of the Latest Republican campaign to suggest electing a Democrat means you are going to die. President Bush‘s unforgivable interview and his touching sacrifice; thousands die, he honors them by giving up golf, except he didn‘t even do that. Special Comment next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on two topics a lot of us had foolishly thought, and had naively hoped, we would not again have to address, and a third topic nobody thought a President would ever seriously mention in public, unless perhaps he‘d just been hit in the head with something and was not in full possession of his faculties, how he expressed his empathy to the families of the dead in Iraq by giving up golf.
The President has resorted anew to the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation of an administration of a public life dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations. And he has now applied these poisons to the 2008 presidential election, on behalf of the party at whose center he and Mr. McCain lurk.
Mr. Bush has predicted that the election of a Democratic president could, quote, “eventually lead to another attack on the United States.”
This ludicrous, infuriating, holier-than-thou and most importantly bone-headedly wrong statement came yesterday during an interview with Politico.com and online users of Yahoo. The question was phrased as follows: “If we were to pull out of Iraq next year, what‘s the worst that could happen, what‘s the doomsday scenario?”
The President replied: “Doomsday scenario of course is that extremists throughout the Middle East would be emboldened, which would eventually lead to another attack on the United States.
“The biggest issue we face is, it‘s bigger than Iraq, it‘s this ideological struggle against cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives.”
Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created, includes ‘cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives‘? They are those in, or formerly in, your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes. Through your haze of self-congratulation and self-pity, do you still have no earthly clue that this nation has laid waste to Iraq to achieve your political objectives?
‘This ideological struggle‘ you speak of, Mr. Bush, is taking place within this country. It is a struggle between Americans who cherish freedom, ours and everybody else‘s, and Americans like you, sir, to whom freedom is just a brand name, just like “Patriot Act” is a brand name or “Protect America” is a brand name.
But wait, there‘s more.
You also said “Iraq is the place where al Qaeda and other extremists have made their stand and they will be defeated.”
They made no “stand” in Iraq, sir. You allowed them to assemble
there! As certainly as if that were the plan, the borders were left wide
open by your government‘s farcical post-invasion strategy of ‘they‘ll greet
us as liberators.‘
And as certainly as if that were the plan, the inspiration for another generation of terrorists in another country was provided by your government‘s farcical post-invasion strategy of letting the societal infrastructure of Iraq dissolve, to be replaced by an American Vice-Royalty enforced by merciless mercenaries who shoot unarmed Iraqis and then evade prosecution in any country by hiding behind your skirts, sir.
Terrorism inside Iraq is your creation, Mr. Bush!
It was a Yahoo user who brought up the second topic, upon whose introduction Mr. Bush should have passed, or punted, or gotten up and left the room, claiming he heard Dick Cheney calling him.
“Do you feel,” asked an ordinary American, “that you were misled on Iraq?”
“I feel like—I felt like there were weapons of mass destruction. You know, “mislead” is a strong word, it almost connotes some kind of intentional—I don‘t think so, I think there was a—not only our intelligence community, but intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment. And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was.”
You, Mr. Bush, and your tragically know-it-all minions, threw out every piece of intelligence that suggested there were no such weapons. You, Mr. Bush, threw out every person who suggested that the sober, contradictory, reality-based intelligence needed to be listened to, and damn fast. You, Mr. Bush, are responsible for how “intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment.”
You and the sycophants you dredged up and put behind the most important steering wheel in the world propagated palpable nonsense and shoved it down the throat of every intelligence community across the world, and punished everybody who didn‘t agree it was really chicken salad.
And you, Mr. Bush, threw under the bus all of the subsequent critics who bravely stepped forward later to point out just how much of a self-fulfilling prophecy you had embraced, and adopted as this country‘s policy, in lieu of, say, common sense.
The fiasco of pre-war intelligence, sir, is your fiasco.
You should build a great statue of yourself turning a deaf ear to the warnings of the realists, while you are shown embracing the three-card monte dealers, like Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. That would be a far more fitting tribute to your legacy, Mr. Bush, than this Presidential library you are constructing as a giant fable about your presidency, an edifice you might as claim was built from Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction, because there will be just as many of those inside your Presidential library as there were inside Saddam Hussein‘s Iraq.
Of course, if there is one over-riding theme to this president‘s administration it is the utter, always-failing, inability to know when to quit when it is behind. And so Mr. Bush answered yet another question about this layered, nuanced, wheels-within-wheels garbage heap that constituted his excuse for war.
“And so you feel that you didn‘t have all the information you should have or the right spin on that information?”
“No, no,” replied the President. “I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction.”
The insane informant “Curveball?”
The Iraqi snake-oil salesman Ahmed Chalabi?
The American snake-oil salesman Dick Cheney?
“I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction, as were members of Congress, who voted for the resolution to get rid of Saddam Hussein.
“And of course, the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes.”
Mr. Bush, you destroyed the evidence that contradicted the resolution you jammed down the Congress‘s throat, the way you jammed it down the nation‘s throat. When required by law to verify that your evidence was accurate, you simply re-submitted it, with phrases amounting to “See, I done proved it,” virtually written in the margins in crayon. You defied patriotic Americans to say “The Emperor Has No Clothes” only this time with the stakes—as you and the mental dwarves in your employ put it—being a “mushroom cloud over an American city.”
And as a final crash of self-indulgent nonsense, when the incontrovertible truth of your panoramic and murderous deceit has even begun to cost your political party seemingly perpetual Congressional seats in places like North Carolina and, last night, Mississippi, you can actually say with a straight face, sir, that the members of Congress, “the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes,” while you greet the political heat and try to run and hide from your presidency, and your legacy.
Four thousand of the Americans you were supposed to protect are dead in Iraq, with your only feeble, pathetic answer being, “I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction.”
Then came Mr. Bush‘s final blow to our nation‘s solar plexus, his last
re-opening of our common wounds, his last remark that makes the rest of us
question not merely his leadership or his judgment but his very suitably to remain in office.
“Mr. President,” he was asked, “you haven‘t been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?
“Yes,” began perhaps the most startling reply of this nightmarish blight on our lives as Americans, on our history.
“It really is. I don‘t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as—to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”
Golf sends the wrong signal to the grieving families of our men and women butchered in Iraq?
Do you think these families, Mr. Bush, their lives blighted forever, care about you playing golf?
Do you think, sir, they care about you?
You, Mr. Bush, you who let their sons and daughters be killed. Sir, to show your solidarity with them you gave up golf? Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn‘t give up your pursuit of this insurance-scam, profiteering, morally and financially bankrupting war. Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn‘t even give up talking about Iraq, a subject about which you have incessantly proved without pause or backwards glance, that you may literally be the least informed person in the world?
Sir, to show your solidarity with them, you didn‘t give up your presidency? In your own words “solidarity as best as I can” is to stop a game? That is the “best” you can?
Four thousands Americans give up their lives and your sacrifice was to give up golf!
And still it gets worse.
Because it proves that the President‘s unendurable sacrifice, his unbearable pain, the suspension of getting to hit a stick with a ball, was not even his own damned idea.
“Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?”
“I remember when de Mello was killed, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man‘s life. And I was playing golf—I think I was in central Texas—and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it‘s just not worth it any more to do.”
Your one, tone-deaf, arrogant, pathetic, embarrassing gesture, and you didn‘t even think of it yourself? The great Bushian sacrifice, an Army private loses a leg, a Marine loses half his skull, four thousand of their brothers and sisters lose their lives, you lose golf and they have to pull you off the golf course to get you to just do that?
If it‘s even true.
Apart from your medical files, which dutifully record your torn calf muscle and the knee pain which forced you to give up running at the same time, coincidence no doubt, the bombing in Baghdad which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello of the UN and interrupted your round of golf, was on August 19th, 2003.
Yet there‘s an Associate Press account of you and photographs playing golf as late as Columbus Day of that year, October 13th, nearly two months later. Mr. Bush, I hate to break it to you six-and-a-half years after you yoked this nation and your place in history to the wrong war, in the wrong place, against the wrong people, but the war in Iraq is not about you!
It is not, Mr. Bush, about your grief when American after American comes home in a box. It is not, Mr. Bush, about what your addled brain has produced in the way of paranoid delusions of risks that do not exist, ready to be activated if some Democrat, and not your twin, Mr. McCain, succeeds you.
The war in Iraq, your war, Mr. Bush, is about how you accomplished the derangement of two nations, and how you helped funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to lascivious and perennially thirsty corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater, and how you sent 4,000 Americans to their deaths for nothing.
It is not, Mr. Bush, about your golf game!
And, sir, if you have any hopes that next January 20th will not be celebrated as a day of soul-wrenching, heart-felt Thanksgiving, because your faithless stewardship of this presidency will have finally come to a merciful end, this last piece of advice: when somebody asks you, sir, about Democrats who must now pull this country back from the abyss you have placed us at—when somebody asks you, sir, about the cooked books and faked threats you foisted on a sincere and frightened nation—when somebody asks you, sir, about your gallant, noble, self-abnegating sacrifice of your golf game so as to soothe the families of the war dead; this advice, Mr. Bush: shut the hell up!
Good night, and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.