Guests: Keith Olbermann, Pete Williams, Richard Wolffe, Craig Crawford, Jack Levin, Chris Cillizza
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Right-wing terrorism in Washington: Holocaust denier, author of a book blaming Jews, Marxists and Negroes for “the millions of Aryan crosses covering the world‘s battlefields.” An Obama birth certificate conspiracy theorist walks into the Holocaust Museum in Washington and opens fire. One guard is dead.
This had been the warning from Homeland Security in April, “The historical election of an African-American president and the prospect of policy changes are proving to be a driving force for right wing extremist recruitment and radicalization.” A warning for which Republicans made Secretary Janet Napolitano apologized. Why—with two acts of right-wing terror in this country in 11 days—did she apologize?
Who runs the GOP? An actual Gallup poll: Republicans have a clear choice, no one, 17 percent, then Mr. Bouncy Bouncy and Newt, 10 each;
Michael Steele, 2 percent, tied with Mitt Romney—Mitt Romney.
Not appearing in new leadership poll, Sarah Palin less than 1 percent. Actually, she got four—four votes, not 4 percent out of 1,015. But she leads them among people who hate David Letterman‘s top 10 highlights of Sarah Palin‘s trip to New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, TV TALK SHOW HOST: Bought make up at Bloomingdale‘s to update her slutty flight attendant look.
GOV. SARAH PALIN ®, ALASKA: Pretty pathetic, good old David Letterman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Is the governor right this time? Is the word slutty over the line or fair game for political humor?
And Worsts .
OLBERMANN: Please, when you tell Congresswoman Bachmann which apocalyptic vision to preach today, spell out the words clearly and in large letters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: One thing that has kept us a super power has been freedom, free market economists. We are in the process of watching the deconstruction of free market economists before our very eyes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Oh, no. They are carving up Adam Smith and Milton Friedman as we speak. Economics, you meant economics.
All that and more—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BACHMANN: It sounds good and it makes a great sound bite.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
For the second time in 11 days, the kind of right-wing, religious-based domestic terrorism about which the Department of Homeland Security warned—and for which that department was vilified and accused of playing politics—has resulted in the death of an American.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: This time, it occurred one mile from the White House. Before 1 o‘clock this afternoon Eastern Daylight Time, police saying that a man carrying a .22 caliber rifle entered the crowded U.S. Holocaust Memorial in Washington, one of the most popular museums in the country. And to quote the D.C. police chief, the second he stepped into the building he began firing.
The suspect was not merely a white supremacist and Holocaust denier, he was a man who was part of this country‘s effort—he claimed anyway—to stop Hitler, a World War II vet, he claimed. Remarkably, police are saying that only the gunman and one security guard were injured—that security guard, Steven Tyrone Johns, dying a few hours later. It was because of Mr. Johns and his colleagues, police say, that the suspect never made it past the security check point and that so few people were hurt.
This kind of attack is precisely what the Department of Homeland Security had been warning about two months ago and the assessment that predicted the rise in right-wing extremism, including hate crime recruitment peg to the presidential election.
Quoting it, “The historical election of an African-American president and the prospect of policy changes are proving to be a driving force for rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization. Most statements by rightwing extremists have been rhetorical, expressing concerns about the election of the first African-American president but stopping short of calling for violent action.”
Because of Republican outrage to that report, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano apologized for it, even while continuing to defend its contents. Thus, tonight, even though if the crime had been the same and the suspect had a Middle Eastern name, Washington might be on lockdown right now—instead, one of the network newscasts was able to dismiss the event with the headline “Museum Mayhem.”
Investigators identifying the gunman as 88-year-old James Von Brunn, from eastern Maryland. On the Internet, von Brunn apparently identified himself as a Holocaust denier, as a white supremacist, as a conspiracy theorist who does not believe President Barack Obama to be a natural-born citizen of the United States.
On a right-wing conspiracy site, Von Brunn, in late November, apparently telling like-minded extremists that Holocaust memorials are enemy territory, quote, “Do or die. Moving to Montana is a cop-out. The enemy is at the Fed, the networks, Wall Street, Congress; at, quote, ‘Holocaust‘ memorials, at synagogues, not in some sylvan mountain retreat.”
The next month, on another site, Von Brunn having warned again of violence, quote, “America is a third-world racial garbage dump, stupid, ignorant, dead-broke, and terminal. Prepare to die, White America, you deserve it.” He ended with a quote, “Heil Hitler!”
Let‘s turn now to our Washington bureau justice correspondent Pete Williams, who‘s been covering the shooting and has been good enough to stay late with us.
Pete, good evening.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Keith.
OLBERMANN: Do we know—
WILLIAMS: Well, just—
OLBERMANN: You know, do we know if he was acting alone?
WILLIAMS: Go ahead.
OLBERMANN: Was he acting alone?
WILLIAMS: Well, we don‘t for sure. But that seems to be the thought tonight. The police and the FBI both say that they believe he acted alone.
They‘ve searched his positions. They‘re going through his—all the things you could expect. His car was apparently left right out in front of the Holocaust Museum and in it there was a list of other targets he may have been interested in, dozen or so locations, including the National Cathedral here in Washington. But the police have checked all those out; nothing to it.
I think they pretty well satisfied themselves that he was acting alone. Yes.
OLBERMANN: But this is not the first time he has acted in a terroristic way against this country, correct?
WILLIAMS: No, not at all. In 1981 he came here to Washington. He was living then in New Hampshire, according to police at the time.
He had some weapons, a sawed-off shotgun, a knife and a handgun, and he went to the officers of the Federal Reserve board here in Washington and barged his way in, saying he wanted to take pictures while the security guard was saying, “Let me see if I can get you cleared in.” He went in and got as far as the room in which the board members were meeting.
And at one point, when he put the handgun in his pocket, they moved in and arrested him. He said he wanted to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve board and make them change their policies. And he made a number of anti-Semitics statements at that time.
And, Keith, when he got out of prison, he put on his Web site that he was the victim of Negroes, quote, “Negroes on the jury and a Jewish judge” at sentencing.
OLBERMANN: Back to today, Pete, this museum was packed, as it almost always is. Yet, nobody other than the shooter and the security guard were hit. Had they‘ve been prepared at the Holocaust Memorial for something like this? And to what degree have they been prepared?
WILLIAMS: The Holocaust Museum is one of the most threaten buildings in Washington. And since the day it opened which there were protests, they have preparing for something like this everyday. And it really is quite astonishing. Everyone—from the museum-goers who were at that time, to the president, is praising the security guards and obviously for good reason.
He, according to the police chief—as you summarized at the beginning, he had this rifle with him. He picked up the weapon and started firing the moment he stepped through door and he only got a few steps inside the museum before the guards shot him down. And we believe that he‘s in critical condition tonight, quite surprising that he‘s, frankly, still surviving.
I think some of the detectives who looked at him didn‘t think he‘d make it that long. An 88-year-old with a head wound. But apparently, he‘s still in critical condition.
OLBERMANN: And one other extraordinary sidebar, I guess, to this. The former defense secretary, William Cohen was in there at the time of the shooting?
WILLIAMS: Yes, Bill Cohen, defense secretary under President Clinton, his wife, Janet had written a play called “Anne and Emmett,” about an imaginary conversation between Anne Frank and Emmett Till—Emmet Till who was killed by racists in the south. And this play has been performed in other places around the country and it was to be performed at the Holocaust Museum tonight, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Our justice correspondent Pete Williams—again, we thank you for staying late with us in the Washington bureau, Pete.
WILLIAMS: You bet. Sure.
OLBERMANN: All right. For more on this climate that has brought two acts of right-wing extremist violence in just 11 days, let‘s turn to Jack Levin—the professor of criminology and sociology at Northeastern University, director of its Center on Violence and Conflict. And also, the author of “Why We Hate” and “Domestic “Terrorism.”
Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
JACK LEVIN, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: Certainly.
OLBERMANN: Five months—less than five months actually, into this presidency of this Democratic president, white-half, African-American, and a shooter opens fire in the National Holocaust Museum. Eleven days after an OB-GYN in Kansas is assassinated and his women‘s health clinic closes its doors apparently for good. Is this a coincidence of timing that these attacks are happening now?
LEVIN: Oh, not at all. It seems to me that we are looking at a confluence of forces that come together to make a lot of people feel threatened—a bad economy, high unemployment rate, an unprecedented number of immigrants in the country. We‘re seeing an African-American president who has Jewish advisors and who just recently visited a concentration camp and was very critical of Holocaust deniers.
You know, if you put all of these factors together, you see that there are lots of racists in the country who simply feel that they have to defend themselves—defend their racial identity against what they see as an attack that‘s coming from all of these forces that are working together.
OLBERMANN: Homeland Security, the secretary and the report that was in preparation long before she became the secretary warned of this kind of right-wing extremism, under these circumstances two months. And yet, Secretary Napolitano had to apologize for that report because of the outrage, the backlash among Republicans. In retrospect, not to suggest that she has been vindicated in some way, but why in the world did she apologize? This seems to have been the most prescient work done by this department since its founding.
LEVIN: Well, you know, I can‘t speak for her, and certainly, this could have political motivation. But let me point out something—first of all, it‘s not the ideology that comes from the right that causes these kinds of crimes. It‘s the name calling. You know, these kinds of racists view blacks and Asians and Latinos as subhuman, as animals.
And they see Jews as the children of Satan. They don‘t like Catholics, they don‘t like gays. They don‘t specialize. There are a whole bunch of people they regard as less than human, and its influences have come from outside of our society.
But let me also point out that it‘s not just the right, the extreme right, where we find this kind of anti-Semitism. There‘s also a new anti-Semitism that comes from the left, from progressives who blame Jews all over the world, even those who have never been to Israel, never been to the Middle East, support a Palestinian state, but they still get blamed for all of Israeli policies that they don‘t like.
So, now, we got anti-Semitism coming from both sides of the political spectrum.
OLBERMANN: Our reaction to this—I mean, I‘m always happy when terrorism anywhere in the world does not cause all the terror it could theoretically cause. But take this sad reality and transform it into that hypothetical I‘ve suggested earlier.
LEVIN: You did.
OLBERMANN: All the facts are the same, except that gunman‘s name was not Von Brunn but Mohammed or somebody—what might be happening in this country right now?
LEVIN: We might see an increase now, maybe even an epidemic of hate crimes. You know, there are lots of Arab Americans in this country who are prosperous and well-educated. And they have a stake in this country. And the last thing they want to do is blow it up. But if they are mistreated and we decide that they are all a bunch of terrorists and we treat them like that, we might actually create the monster that we‘re trying to ignore.
OLBERMANN: Are we under-reacting to this thing today because it doesn‘t fit that profile of what terrorism has been defined by the government for the last eight years?
LEVIN: Well, certainly, we have been very concerned, as you know, to fight the war on terror. And we always see it as international coming from the Middle East or Pakistan. What a lot of people don‘t realize is the vast of terrorism since 9/11 has actually come from American citizens. It‘s domestic, it‘s not international—the vast majority.
So, first let‘s get out—let‘s make sure that we understand terrorism before we decide what to do about it.
OLBERMANN: Well said. Jack Levin, the author of “Domestic Terrorism”
great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
LEVIN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: There is no segue possible from our fifth story tonight to our fourth. So, simply, there is a Gallup poll about who leads the Republican Party and the clear choice of Republicans was no one—that will be next.
OLBERMANN: Whatever you think about the state of the leadership of the Republican Party, it is not merely as bad as what Republicans apparently think about the state of the leadership of the Republican Party. The latest M.C. Escher attack on Judge Sotomayor, “She has so much experience as a judge Republicans will need even more time to vet her.”
And two surprises tonight for Carrie Prejean, she‘s been fired as Miss California for alleged breach of contract and she found out through the guy from “Access Hollywood.” And David Letterman now says he is guilty of bad taste in some jokes made last night about the Palin family.
All ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: The true voice of the Republican Party is—no one. No, really. In our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: According to a new poll, most people don‘t know and even though as Howard Fineman might say, the RNC -- Rush, Newt and Cheney—did rank, Governor Sarah Palin did not, got four out of 1,000; four votes, not 4 percent.
When asked the open-ended question, “Who do you think is the main person who speaks for Republican Party today,” Boss Limbaugh was named by 13 percent of respondents in the “USA Today”/Gallup poll, but 52 percent of those answering the question did not offer one single name. Coming in third behind no one and Boss Limbaugh is former Vice President Dick Cheney at 10 percent; in fourth place, a tie between Gingrich and McCain, 6 percent each.
Even among Republican respondent, nearly half can‘t offer a single name as the main choice of their own party. Limbaugh, Gingrich and Cheney about tied at 9 percent to 10 percent. RNC chairman and Mitt Romney—the RNC chairman, Mr. Steele and Mitt Romney are tied at 2 percent.
In this curiosity, the Gallup Poll assigned 9 percent to other, among all respondents, 14 percent from the Republicans who were polled, which means that Governor Sarah Palin was named among the other.
Indeed, the Washington bureau chief of “USA Today,” Susan Page, reports that actually, three people out of 1,014 respondents named Sarah Palin—a fourth person added, “That lady from Alaska.” That gives Palin, obviously, less than ½ of 1 percent.
Let‘s turn to MSNBC political analyst and author of “Renegade: The Making of a President” Richard Wolffe.
Good evening, Richard.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Republicans asked about the GOP, saying nobody is in charge. The intuitive reaction is to mock this, but did the rank-and-file just speak a truth that the leadership was probably not going to speak?
WOLFFE: Well, lest we mock too much, and I think I‘m actually seeing dancing Rush Limbaugh.
OLBERMANN: You are. Yes.
WOLFFE: I could be—I could be mistaken. Lest we mock to much, let‘s remember what Democrats looked like in—well, this time of year in 2005, when they didn‘t have the House, they didn‘t have the Senate, and Barack Obama was more than a year away from thinking about running for president.
So, things can change. That‘s true. But the focus on personalities is self-instructive, because it wasn‘t personality that decided things in this election. It was—the last election we had—it was policy. And until the Republicans could stand for policy, they can‘t decide who stands for them. It‘s a shadow game or a hologram game depending on what‘s bouncing up and down in your screen.
OLBERMANN: Yes. And you‘re seeing that because, excluding non-Republican views on this, the Republican ranking on it was—Limbaugh, 10 percent; Gingrich, 10 percent; Cheney, 9 percent; McCain, 6 percent. Yes, if you‘re sitting here seeing this, you‘d be up and down in the same rhythm. Romney, 2 percent; Steele, 2 percent; nobody else more than a half a percent—which means a quarter of Republican are adhering to three guys who can‘t possibly not run for president and it‘s 35 percent if you count Gingrich in that group.
WOLFFE: Right. And that is the deeply troubling piece. If you are one of those presidential aspirants there, 10 percent for Gingrich and 2 percent for Romney—all that money and Romney is still at 2 percent, and the economy the way it is, you know, in this environment, I think beyond, again, the personality question, and beyond the policy issue, this is the kind of fertile environment for another party to pop up, for a Perot-style figure to try and clamp in onto that sort of discontent, the disaffection with the Republican Party.
And clearly, these people are not going go to the Democrats any time soon. So, you know, strange can happen in this kind of environment.
OLBERMANN: Where is and I think your point about 2005 and the Democrats is superb. But where is the next—where is the next generation that has already begun to appear within the GOP? Where is Pawlenty in this poll or Jindal or Crist or Sanford or Palin? I mean, if you don‘t have a new generation and they aren‘t beginning to step up, don‘t you stop having a party?
WOLFFE: Well, yes, it‘s bad news for those people, who, think, probably came out of the gateway too early. But I suspect we don‘t know the name of the next Republican president. And that‘s not to say they are not active in politics right now. But there needs to be a shift away from the mindset that created the Republican Party of the latter Bush era, if you want to call it that.
And they—the current crop is just too fixed in a mindset that voters have overwhelming rejected.
OLBERMANN: The same poll had another fascinating number. One-third, 33 percent of Republicans had an unfavorable view of their own party. Is this the proverbial buried lead?
WOLFFE: That is a much bigger story because that is why independent voters are the largest group in American politics right now. That‘s not because people have suddenly found their independence. It‘s because people don‘t want to be associated with the Republican Party.
That‘s why a third party, I think, is likely. Maybe it‘s not probable, but it‘s certainly very possible. And that‘s the group that the Barack Obama White House is really trying to hold on to, even more than I want to put that rush in my pocket right now.
OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC, and also, the author of “Renegade”—as our thanks, we will—yes, we made it go away. You can take it home and, you know, have it clean out the garden for you or something.
WOLFFE: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Great thanks.
WOLFFE: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, neither the first President Bush nor the first Barbara Bush got votes in there, and polling was taken even before these bizarre photos were revealed. I don‘t wish to know that.
And if you say stupid things as frequently as Limbaugh does, this was inevitable. Minutes before the shooting at the Holocaust Museum, he made a joke about one of the terrorists most fervent beliefs. Worst Persons is ahead.
OLBERMANN: Bests in a moment. And if you would like to be Miss California, Carrie Prejean has been fired.
First, on this date in 1971, we lost the great actor, Michael Rennie. If you know him, it‘s probably from his role as the disturbingly calm space visitor, Klaatu in the “Day the Earth Stood Still.” But if you really want to be scared by him, find him co-starring with Barbara Bel Geddes in a 1958 episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” called, “The Foghorn.”
The first time I saw “The Foghorn,” I had to stay up until sunrise.
Let‘s play Oddball.
That‘s my impression of it.
We begin with the spring of the bear, Oddball‘s continuing coverage of American bears being plucked out of trees like ripe apples.
Let‘s head to Greenville, South Carolina, with this juvenile black bear found his way up a tree. It took a tight dart (INAUDIBLE) down goes Yogi. Luckily, that blue tarp was there for a comfortable landing. He puts the spring in spring of the bear.
Meanwhile in Rio Rancho in New Mexico, the bear locked out after his needle full of sleepy time, this 200-pound black bear held on as long as he could before he could—oh, air mattress.
Both bears were fine and were released back into the wild. Where am I, dude? While they each showed good form in sticking their landing, they still can‘t have a candle to our old friend from Missoula, Montana.
To the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, for Monday‘s 84th birthday party for Barbara Bush played out like a scene from “Caddyshack.” It all started with President Bush 41 invited the traveling cast of a chorus line over for the fiesta. In this TMZ video, we see the show star, Lorenzo Lamas serenading the first lady. According to cast members who spoke to a New York tabloid, the party was hopping with music and free flowing booze—which may explain this.
That is the soon to be 85-year-old ex-president pool side with a bikini-clad actress on his lap. And here is the birth day girl and an actor who could pass for someone from chip and dales. And apparently, some ghostly TMZ logo in the middle of it.
And if you‘d like your corneas violated further here‘s the birthday girl, and an actor who could pass for somebody from “Chip ‘N Dale (ph).” Read my lips, no new semi-nude photos.
Finally, to the Oddball mug shot hall of fame, our latest inductee, the legendary homicidal music producer, Phil Spector. You may recall, some of the crazier hairdos he supported in court while standing trail for murder. We knew they were all bad toupees.
But we did not know what was they were covering up and now we know—this is Spector‘s most recent booking photo, with for which, guess what, they asked him to remove the wig. Prove positive that crime doesn‘t toupee.
The Sotomayor madness. Now, Michael Steele implies that she‘s a racist—racist against white guys. And too much? David Letterman says he was guilty of poor taste in a joke about Sarah Palin‘s daughter. These stories ahead.
But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s Top Three Best Persons in the World.
Number three: Best in accurate forecast, AccuWeather.com. Its analysis of the record-breaking of pace of homeruns of the new Yankee Stadium in New York, it has nothing to do with the weather, only with the fact that in several places, the right field fence is an average of five feet closer than it was last year in the old Yankee Stadium.
Nowhere in its analysis that the company note that the structure of the new stadium has an open-air ring in the upper deck that did not exist in the old one, a ring through which wind rattles and is amplified by the stadium‘s interior design. Which also explains perhaps why AccuWeather‘s local radio forecast yesterday told me at 1:00 p.m., nobody would need an umbrella before night fall, just as a torrential downpour soaked the city. They do their New York forecasting and New York stadium analysis from their headquarters in the State College, Pennsylvania.
Number two: Best criminalization of going green, an unnamed bank robber in Austin, Texas. Police scanning the surveillance tape noticed she stuffed the money in a recyclable green grocery bag.
And number one: Best kamuffin. Carrie Prejean, who is tonight, the ex-Miss California, lost during the whole dustup over her opinions in same-sex marriage for accusations by the local pageant board that she just was not doing the job, wasn‘t showing up for appearances, had breached her contract. Today, the Miss California and Miss Universe organizations fired Carrie Prejean for breach of contract, for not showing up for appearances. She said they didn‘t tell her. She found out during an interview with Billy Bush.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CARRIE PREJEAN, FMR. MISS CALIFORNIA: That‘s the first that I‘ve heard of it, Billy. It‘s just because of my answer, I think. Nonetheless, it wouldn‘t be happening right now if I did say, “Yes, gays should get married. You‘re right, Perez Hilton.” The only one that likes me is Donald Trump.
BILL BUSH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: And he gave his blessing to terminate you. Are you going to call him?
PREJEAN: I think that, you know, he definitely is a businessman and I know he‘s looking out for my best interests. And right now, being that—maybe he thinks that‘s my best interest for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Yes. He did it for your best interests. Tell me again, there was a big deal made about her opinion about anything why?
OLBERMANN: Well, there it is, the final reality stretcher in the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor. She has so much judicial experience that the Republicans want to delay her hearings. Our third story, they need more time to vet her than they had for Chief Justice Roberts.
The scheduled date of July 13th is too soon to start. August 6th, too soon to vote. Also, oh, yes, did they mention, she‘s racist.
Republicans today suggested she has decided so many cases, 3,625 of them, that they will have to prepare, essentially, until the year 2011 if they were to take the same amount of time they had for Judge Roberts, whose 327 cases on the bench, allowed for the leisurely pace of reviewing six cases per day.
When Judge Alito was nominated, with considerably more cases than that under his belt, Senator Jeff Sessions, now top Republican on the Judiciary Committee said, quote, “we don‘t need to read everything he‘s written.”
The upshot, Republicans want more time to investigate a more experienced nominee so they can then reach the sweeping prejudgments they are already propagating about her.
Case in point, Republican Chair Michael Steele, who says he needs time to understand her record, but already thinks he understands her record well enough to justify saying, “god help you if you‘re a white male coming before her bench.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIR: If you have a situation where you‘re going before a trier of fact, and the trier of fact is on record of saying that, you know, this individual‘s background experience is better positioned to make a decision than someone else, that gives one pause. So my view of it was, in looking at it, you‘ve now segregated out white men by your comments. So God help you if you‘re a white male. If you‘re seeking justice, this may not be the bench you want to go before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: A, Republican Senator Mel Martinez today said he understands Sotomayor‘s now infamous, innocuous and misquoted comment about wise Latina judges and he has no problem with it. And, B, the Senate already confirmed Sotomayor for the appeals court in 1988, so Republicans should have already vetted everything but the last ten years.
There, take the weekend off. We will see you July 13th.
Let‘s bring in Chris Cillizza, White House reporter for the “Washington Post,” author of the paper‘s blog political “The Fix.” Chris, good evening.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: After Talking Points Memo calculated that Republicans would need into 2011 if they wanted that same ratio of days to cases that they had for Roberts, they asked Republicans exactly how long they did want in the Sotomayor case, but nobody would say. Why won‘t they say?
CILLIZZA: Because, Keith, they‘re trying to buy time, by and large. What they‘re trying to do is essentially say, let‘s wait and see; let‘s take our time with this. Again, those arguments are not unreasonable to the average person not paying that close attention. Well, maybe we should pay more attention. Maybe we should take more time with it.
The truth of the matter, though, from a political perspective, they are sort of waiting and hoping that something comes up that gives them a real entree, a real wedge to make an issue out of Sotomayor‘s confirmation. The truth, nothing has yet.
The other thing to think about, Keith, every time a nominee for the Supreme Court comes up—this is true on both sides—activists, outside groups, they wait for these things. They raise massive amounts of money of them. It‘s their bread winner in many ways. So the shorter the confirmation, the worse for all of these outside groups that are simply waiting years for something like this to happen.
OLBERMANN: Talking about the timing, it‘s relative rapidity, Senator Kyl told “Politico,” quote, “we will simply have to wait and see how that reviews goes. I checked. It‘s not going really fast. It‘s hard to do.” Obviously, first response from an embittered America population would be, boo-hoo. But the second, which is harder, forming a balanced assessment of a longtime judge or finding something to justify your predetermined opposition?
CILLIZZA: Keith, you hit on the problem. You can‘t on the one side say, well, we need more time to review and then, on the other side say, but it appears as though she‘s not qualified. You have to either do one or the other. And the truth of the matter is that no amount of time that the Obama White House would have set for the review of this, even if it was 2011, probably would have satisfied Republicans. I would say the same when Roberts and Alito were put forward; Democrats wanted more time. Republicans gave them less.
That‘s the consequences of elections, in truth. Somebody wins and somebody loses, and the majority gets to dictate. So I remember a White House adviser told me very soon after Sotomayor was picked, and the announcement was made that they would really like to have her confirmed by the August recess—I said, well, what about this timing, is it too fast? He said no matter what date we set, there would have been complaints. I think that‘s probably right.
OLBERMANN: What happens—not just question of timing, but the question of the prejudgment of the judge, with what Senator Martinez said about Sotomayor simply meaning—hey, guess what? Ethnicity contributes to who you are. And so what? Everybody‘s ethnicity contributes to everybody‘s who they are. It doesn‘t make much difference.
CILLIZZA: It‘s a complicating factor by a big stretch, Keith. Don‘t forget, Mel Martinez, not only a very prominent Hispanic Republican elected official, also retiring. So he doesn‘t necessarily have to worry about pleasing the Republican party elders, as much as some of the other people.
But, again, this gets back to why Sotomayor and opposing her is so difficult for the Republican party. The Hispanic are the largest minority group in the country, growing rapidly in places like, Arizona, New Mexico, even places like Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado. All of these are swing states.
People like John Cornyn, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee—he‘s from Texas. He knows about the growth of the Hispanic vote. They know that they can‘t simply oppose her because she‘s Latina or because she used the phrase, hey, wise Latina.
Can they find something else to oppose her? That‘s what this delaying is about. It‘s about trying to find something else that is seen as legitimate grounds by which to make this fight, and doesn‘t alienate the Hispanic community.
OLBERMANN: And, of course, the longer they leave her out there without that appearing, the longer and more comfortable and more familiar she becomes to the public; and everybody‘s sitting at home going, wasn‘t she confirmed already?
CILLIZZA: I was going to say, Keith, most people probably assume this is over with. There was an initial burst of press, and then it went away.
OLBERMANN: Chris Cillizza of the “Washington Post,” great point.
Many thanks. Take care.
CILLIZZA: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Political humor and good taste; David Letterman now says he crossed the line in jokes about Sarah Palin‘s daughter.
Worsts, Michele Bachmann criticizes a Democratic senator not only for doing something Bachmann is doing herself, but, in fact, for doing something Bachmann is doing with that Democratic senator.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, Operational Rescue talking about buying the building that housed the clinic of Dr. George Tiller, the last person assassinated by a right wing terrorist.
OLBERMANN: David Letterman admits to poor taste in a joke about Sarah Palin‘s daughter. What about the joke about the governor‘s supposed slutty flight attendant look? Is she right, was that adjective really necessary? And don‘t flight attendants have a complaint?
That‘s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s number two story, tonight‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Joseph Farrah, the wire who runs the WorldNetDaily website for extremists, complaining today that I was wrong when we reported that after the assassination of George Tiller, blogger and sometimes WMD columnist Jill Stanek (ph) posted personal data about the two doctor who still perform late term abortions. He also said we had a lot of nerve, quote, indicting people for instigating Tiller‘s murder, considering, I am, quote, “putting targets on the back of those he labels the worst persons in the world.” And he wrote “there are at least a dozen or so people who watch this cretin.”
All right. In correct order; here is Jill Stanek‘s blog from June 3rd, in which she posted photos of Dr. Leroy Carhart and his facility. Here‘s Jill Stanek‘s blog from March 9th, in which she posted a group photo of Carhart, his wife and Governor Sebelius of Kansas, each circled in red, like targets. As to the worst persons segments and it‘s targets, having been a target of domestic terrorism for my work, I have always publicly and repeatedly insisted that none of these matters should be resolved by violence, nor even by intruding on somebody‘s privacy. I have taken the side of people with whom I disagree, whose homes were photographed, addresses posted, or had cream pies thrown at them.
As to the dozen who watch, AC Nielsen company estimated last night‘s audience at 1,722,000. As to Mr. Farrah, the is the man who still insists that its website never claimed it had authenticated Barack Obama‘s birth certificate, when, in fact, on August 23rd, 2008, in an article by Druzan (ph), it did exactly that. Mr. Farrah is a flaming fraud.
The silver to Mr. Bouncy Bouncy. This was from this afternoon just before an Obama birth certificate denier shot up the Holocaust Museum in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You know, a lot of people talk about Obama, his Messianic complex. He does have one thing in common with God. Barack Obama has one thing in common with god. You know what it is? God does not have a birth certificate either. God does not have a birth certificate. Neither does Obama, not that we‘ve seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Even I doubt that had anything to do with what happened in that tragedy at the Holocaust museum today. But it does underscore the fact if you say stupid, incendiary, racist, crack pot things frequently enough, eventually, Rush, you will make a joke about some stupid thing and then a few minutes later, somebody who thinks the stupid thing is gospel will go and kill somebody over it.
But our winner, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Whoever sends her these talking points, please pay attention to the detail, because she doesn‘t. “One story that came out today, there‘s a dealership that I know of that applied to their Democrat senator to appeal for help so they could stay open. That senator was able to arrange a meeting between the dealer and the officials at GM. We all know now GM is Government Motors, because it‘s owned by the American people. It‘s been nationalized.”
She‘s talking about Minnesota‘s Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar. What Bachmann left out is she did the same thing. She did it along with Senator Klobuchar. From Bachmann‘s own website, May 30th, “hundreds of people from Lake Elmo and the St. Croix Valley gathered at Fury Chrysler Dodge to send a strong message to Washington they will not let a successful dealership close without a fight. Owners Jim and Tom Leonard learned their 46 year old family-run business was marked for closure as part of Chrysler‘s restructuring. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was on hand to lead the rally to save the dealership. She said she will take their fight to Washington on Wednesday, when Chrysler dealers will be questioned by members of the Senate about the future of the local car dealers. Senator Amy Klobuchar will also take the fight and a petition signed by attendees of the rally to Washington.”
Again, this is a plea on behalf of Congressman Bachmann to whoever sends her talking points, do not make her accuse a Democrat of something she has already herself done. Most importantly, do mike her slam the Democrat with whom she‘s working to keep a car dealership open for keeping a car dealership open.
Also, a bigger type face on the notes, please, because she also said, “one thing that has kept us a superpower has been freedom, free market economists. We are in the process of watching the deconstruction of free market economists before our very eyes.”
Please, please, we have been a superpower because of economists? Economics. Again, to Congresswoman Bachmann‘s puppeteers, please, large typeface, phonetic spellings. Free market economists. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, today‘s worms—sorry, worst petrol—person in the wilderness—world!
OLBERMANN: In political humor, does anything go? Is the outside of the envelope the nightly, endlessly sexual jokes made about then-President Clinton? Are John McCain age jokes OK, but Barack the Magic Negro songs not? In our number one story tonight, David Letterman has now admitted to being guilty of poor taste in jokes about Sarah Palin‘s daughter. But he insists the jokes were not about her 14-year-old daughter, but rather the 18-year-old.
Governor Palin in New York over the weekend, stopping by Yankee Stadium, alongside former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Near my seats I my add, in protest. The visit provided the inspiration for Letterman‘s top ten list last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, “THE LATE SHOW”: Top ten highlights tonight of Sarah Palin‘s to New York.
Number two, brought makeup at Bloomingdale‘s to update her slutty flight attendant look.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Correction, that was Monday night. Ms. Palin quick with a response. The governor she did not even visit Bloomingdale‘s and that Letterman failed to mention that the point of her trip was to attend an autism event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN ®, ALASKA: For him to pick up on such a thing—a distortion that, again, is based on a slow news day, evidently, not having else anything to talk about, that‘s pretty pathetic, good, old David Letterman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Yes, that is pretty much a tin ear response from the governor. But, frankly, was the word slutty really needed, let alone appropriate? The governor‘s outrage going one further and supported today by David Letterman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LETTERMAN: One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game.
During the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.
The toughest part of her visit was keeping Eliot Spitzer away from her daughter. That was the hard part.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Today posted on Governor Palin‘s Facebook page, statements from both the governor and her husband concerning Mr. Letterman. Quote, “laughter incited by sexually perverted comments made by a 62 male celebrity, aimed at a 14-year-old girl is not only disgusting but it reminds us some Hollywood NY entertainers have a long way to go in understanding what the rest of America understands, that acceptance of inappropriate sexual comments about an underage girl who could be anyone‘s daughter contributes to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others.”
Again, something of the tin ear there. Presumably, Letterman referred to Palin‘s older daughter, who became pregnant at 17. A point he addressed during the taping of tonight‘s show, late this afternoon, in which he said, “we were, as we often do, making jokes about people in the news. And we made some jokes about Sarah Palin and her daughter, the 18-year-old, who is -- her name is Bristol. That‘s right. And so then—now, they are upset with me. These are not jokes made about her 14-year-old. I would never, ever make jokes about raping or having sex of any description with a 14-year-old girl. I mean, look at my record. It has never happened. I don‘t think it is funny. I would never think it was funny. I wouldn‘t put it in a joke.
“Governor Palin, if you‘re watching, I would like you to consider coming to New York City, you and Todd as my guests, or leave Todd at home. I would love to have you on the show. It would be exciting. All right. So there, I hope I have cleared up part of this. Am I guilty of poor taste? Yes. Did I suggest it was OK for her 14-year-old daughter to be having promiscuous sex? No.”
Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst, columnist for CQPolitics.com, Craig Crawford. Good evening, Craig.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, CQPOLITICS.COM: Free trip to New York. She wins.
OLBERMANN: Or loses, as the case might be, however it turns out. I love David Letterman. I respect him. Sitting next to him last year the day John McCain canceled out on him was like getting to sit next to Wellington as he defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.
I agree with him, though. The joke about the daughter, because it that left that what are you talking about, the 14-year-old or the 18-year-old—or either one, doesn‘t make a difference. It was poor taste. But when he makes a knocked-up joke, isn‘t it safe to assume he meant the daughter who actually was, in reality, knocked up? Did the Palins just overplay what would have been a good political hand before they sort of hit it over the head with a hammer?
CRAWFORD: Sure, knocked up by Alex Rodriguez; if that had really happened, it would be in Selena Roberts‘ book. But it wasn‘t. She has definitely sought political advantage here, Keith. There‘s no getting around that. I don‘t know that she was even personally that offended as much. I think she was probably secretly thrilled to be in the top ten of Letterman.
But this is something that works for her. And you saw in her statement where they mentioned people around the country, those Hollywood, New York entertainers not understanding the rest of us. There is the core of the political purpose in this. It‘s turning those people against the coastal elites, and to her side.
OLBERMANN: The joke about the governor, which he did not address apparently—we only had these excerpts from his taping tonight. Is it in fact appropriate to use that one word, slutty, in any joke about a woman politician, or should that be out of bounds?
CRAWFORD: I think it‘s probably out of bounds. The global language monitor today, we learned the English language now has one million words. So there were maybe some others to choose, or maybe leave it out all together. Of course, it‘s also an insult to flight attendants.
CRAWFORD: I think this is an age when I think gender specific, racial slurs, those kinds of things, even for comedians, are just dangerous territory, particularly for a big commercial show like Letterman‘s. I‘m not saying the First Amendment shouldn‘t protect anything anybody wants to say, but commercial speech, in his case, this might have went too far.
OLBERMANN: I had this debate with, of all people, Harry Smith from CBS the night of the correspondents dinner, when Wanda Sykes said of Limbaugh, you hope Obama fails. I hope your kidneys fail. And I said to Harry, I don‘t think so. I think that was outside the pale. Harry says, no, no, this is comedy. Comedians necessarily get more latitude.
Is that true? Could Letterman—Letterman could make a joke like that about Sarah Palin, but Sarah Palin could not make that joke about David Letterman?
CRAWFORD: She could call him slutty. He would probably agree. I think there is more latitude for comedians. But that doesn‘t mean there are no limits. And I think we have reached a point in society where certain things like—you know, some of the old jokes of the ‘60s about ethnic groups and so on would never fly today. And that‘s because society changes.
I think societal norms change and those are the limits on comedians, particularly big commercial comedians who have to depend on big audiences to survive. But I think we need them in our society because the point of having comedians in our society is they say the things that we can‘t say.
CRAWFORD: But there are limits. And it‘s like a pressure valve. But it is a valve. It‘s not a gusher. There‘s no limit on it.
OLBERMANN: Laughter as a sanction against inflexible behavior. In 15 seconds, he invited her to come on the show. Is there any chance she will have the political wisdom to say, I‘m going to shoot the works here and try it?
CRAWFORD: This is the old formula of talk show hosts, maybe inadvertently insult politician; politician gets outraged; talk show host apologizes; politician goes on and they all make up. So I think that‘s what will happen.
OLBERMANN: Yes. I don‘t think it will happen in a million years. Craig Crawford, CQ Politics and MSNBC. It would be great to see, but it won‘t happen. Thank you, Craig.
That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,232nd driveway since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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