Guests: Chris Hayes, Arianna Huffington, David Weigel.
HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Job one: scrapping the Baucus-Grassley jobs bill. Harry Reid pulls
the plug on the supposedly bipartisan legislation, the one with tax cuts
for the rich, the one that might have been just a Republican trap in which
Democrats who voted for it would be hit over their heads with their votes
by the Republicans?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We certainly support working in a bipartisan way to get these things done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Harry Reid‘s huge but aggressive gamble.
And the second case of Democrats on the offense. The president stares down the Senate minority leader and gets confirmation for more than 1/3 of his appointees that the Republicans were holding hostage.
Asleep at the switch: The Bush speechwriter‘s remarkable admission, Marc Thiessen, quote, “the period after 9/11. We didn‘t even know who hit us.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You just admitted—
MARC THIESSEN, FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER: All right. Please.
O‘DONNELL: -- that when you were hit on 9/11, you just said, we didn‘t know who hit us.
THIESSEN: Here‘s the record, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: You said we didn‘t know who hit us.
O‘DONNELL: You were told who was going to hit you before we were hit on 9/11.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Joining me: Lawrence O‘Donnell.
The update from the reservations, the quarter million you donated has, according to the tribal chairman, gotten there before the federal relief funds have.
More conservative on conservative metaphorical violence and other wolf in sheep‘s clothing. The founder of TeaParty.org uses that exact phrase to describe Sarah Palin?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Sarah Palin, TBINO, Tea Bagger in Name Only. Wolf in sheep‘s clothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Am I Sarah Palin‘s last friend?
And she‘s not the only one on the tea party S-list. They‘re going to get that bastard Captain America, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t see why they would apologize because this is—this is art (ph). This is story telling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You betcha.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
The fear having let Senator Baucus and the finance committee have a whack at marking up the jobs bill and the Senate could be headed down the path of health care reform all over again. The end result: a draft of hiring incentives to restore employment act, which in an effort to win Republican support, included massive tax cuts for the rich.
The apparent good news tonight, this time, the majority leader, Mr. Reid, resting control of the bill away from Senator Baucus and Republican enabler, Senator Grassley, only hours before the pair was to unveil its $80 billion, quote, “compromise,” unquote. Senator Reid is scrapping a blow to jobs bill that would become a tax bill in favor of a much smaller $15 billion piece of legislation.
A spokesman for Senator Grassley complaining that Senator Reid pulled the rug out from work to build broad-base support for tax relief and other efforts to help the private sector recover from the economic crisis. No mention of grandma.
Earlier this week, Senator Kyl of Arizona having claimed that the same jobs bill, quote, “does not create one job.” Of course, that was before Republican lawmakers exacted conditions for their support, which likely never would have translated into a single vote, including a huge cut on the estate tax that would have given billions in tax breaks to the heirs of the wealthy families.
At the White House, Press Secretary Gibbs saying that the president will be happy to sign the smaller piece of jobs legislation plus others to follow, claiming: “that was what we had in mind all along.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIBBS: I don‘t think there will be only one piece of legislation that will encompass all of the ideas that members in the Senate or even the president have for strengthening our economy and creating a better environment for hiring. I think that will—that will probably take many forms. We‘ve never thought that it was going to go through in one package. I think there are a host of things that can and will garner bipartisan support both in the vehicle that Senator Reid is moving when the Senate gets back and we‘ll move throughout this process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In the wake of the minority leader‘s action, his counterpart in the House, Speaker Pelosi, giving only a tepid response that the House looks forward to reviewing the Senate proposal on working together on legislation. Politico.com reporting that the speaker has become frustrated with the Senate and the White House, she does her job whipping votes and passing legislation in the House only to see similar legislation stall in the Senate.
Time now to call in Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine.
Chris, good evening.
CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Should recent events on this jobs bill be taken as a sign that the Democratic leadership in the Senate is suddenly trying to do things differently and perhaps—dare I use this word—aggressively?
HAYES: Well, at a certain point, yes, right? I mean, this is kind of a “We‘re not going to try to kick the football, Lucy, we won‘t get fooled again” move by Harry Reid.
But, it should be noted that one of the things that was really interesting, Harry Reid basically said, “If we voted for this, they would hammer us on it.” And what you see right now, I think the Senate is paying way too much attention to these polls about American‘s feelings about process questions.
One of the things that really nailed them in health care was, you know, the payoff to Ben Nelson, the Cornhusker kickoff. And that has been internalize that what they want to avoid are these perceptions of backroom deals. At the same time, there‘s an imperative to have a bipartisan bill. But, of course, those two things are mutually exclusive, like, the only way you get bipartisan deals is by e cutting these, sort of, backroom deals. And so, if you try to do both of these things at the same time, what you end up with is total paralysis.
And I think Reid‘s, kind of, declaration, we‘re going to do this $15 billion bill is basically saying, yes, the Senate doesn‘t work.
OLBERMANN: If you‘re going to say the Senate doesn‘t work, or at least the traditional view of it, which has become: Oh, you need 60 votes for anything to happen—
OLBERMANN: -- why not just go through reconciliation on the jobs bill?
HAYES: This is the central question we come back to week in and week out on this program and in my magazine. I mean, we need to restore majority rule in the United States Senate. This is just a fundamental issue and it‘s really making the country ungovernable that we don‘t have it. And fact of the matter is, Bush used it six times.
And here‘s a really interesting thing about what happened when Bush used reconciliation. When you use reconciliation, when you say, “We‘re going to have a majority pass this bill,” they got 12 Democrats to vote for one of those tax cuts. Now, the reason is that once a bill looks like it‘s going to pass—
HAYES: -- you create a very different dynamic. When everybody is the last vote, you create this horrible bribery dynamic where everybody can take their turn to get, you know, extracting their concession. When you have majority rule, you get a situation which there‘s momentum behind the legislation and then once it looks like it‘s going to pass, then people start to actually play ball.
OLBERMANN: To say nothing of the band wagon effect that also increases that total.
HAYES: Right. Exactly. Right.
OLBERMANN: If this does—if something—whether it‘s reconciliation or simply, you know, standing up on their hind legs works on the subject of the jobs bill, break it into smaller pieces of legislation and pass it bit by bit, either way, is there a chance to do it for—dare I say this—health care?
HAYES: I mean, I think the short answer is no for a few reasons. One is that all the moving parts of health care have to go together, right? I mean, if we‘re going to go down the mandate, plus subsidy road, which is the road that we sort of march down, it‘s very, very difficult to separate the two.
Now, a part of me would love to see them separated and basically say, “Yes, let‘s create community rating” which means insurance companies have to take everyone and they can‘t charge based on people‘s preexisting conditions and it would bankrupt the insurance industry. So, let‘s take that as a vote. But that‘s not going to happen, because everybody understand what that mean.
You know, it should also be noted -- $15 billion for a jobs bill is so absurdly small compared to the problem we are facing. This is like—if you owed $800 on your mortgage and you sent a $15 check to the bank, I mean, we have 10 million people out of work. We need a jobs bill on the order of magnitude of the first Recovery Act, somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 billion. That‘s totally out of the question right now.
OLBERMANN: Reid appears to have been—although he has not said—afraid of the political blowback of passing $800 billion bill.
OLBERMANN: Is he not—does this mean he is not afraid of the political blowback from the Republicans of having scuttled this supposed bipartisan bill?
HAYES: Well, that‘s exactly the point, is that you‘re going to be—they‘re going to attack you either way. You cannot sort of guide your behavior based on anticipating what the Republicans are going to say. I mean, perfectly normal consensus items in the health care bill were turned into the second coming of Stalin, right?
HAYES: So, you cannot—you cannot legislate based on trying to anticipate Republican attacks because they were going to attack you for whatever they attack you for. What you have to do is deliver good policy outcomes. That is the thing that should be overriding here. Whatever procedural mechanism it takes to get that done.
OLBERMANN: Plus, if they‘re going to attack you anyway, you have just be given license to do what you think is right, because they‘re going to attack anyway.
HAYES: That‘s right.
OLBERMANN: The Washington editor of “The Nation” magazine, Chris Hayes—thanks, Chris. Have a good weekend.
HAYES: You, too, Keith.
OLBERMANN: President Obama and the White House winning a partial victory in his stalemate with the opposition over nominees. The Senate confirming 27 of them, dozens of additional appointments still remaining in congressional no man‘s land as the weekend starts.
In a statement, the president calling the confirmations as a good
first step, indicating he does not plan to make any recess appointments
while Congress is on break next week for the Presidents Day holiday, but
reserving the right to do so in the future—as the future gets shorter
Among the appointments still on hold: Law Professor Dawn Johnsen‘s nomination to head the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel. Republicans are eager to keep that office empty because in that post, Ms. Johnsen could be responsible for investigating the Bush administration‘s legal justification of water boarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques. During the last administration, Ms. Johnsen having said, the next president, quote, “must avoid any temptation simply to move on.”
Let‘s turn now to MSNBC political analyst, Lawrence O‘Donnell, also a contributor to the “Huffington Post.”
Good to see you.
O‘DONNELL: Good to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The Senate having confirmed 27 nominees. Is—how is this progress? Is it a substantive—substantial kind of step, or is it just a sign that the White House and the Democrats in the Senate could and should be accomplishing more?
O‘DONNELL: It is half business as usual and half a result of President Obama‘s intervention with Mitch McConnell. As you approach recesses, they tend to clear, as they say, more nominees. They‘ll do a bunch. Whether—I don‘t think they would have this now. I think—I think Obama probably doubled the number that they did.
Some of the nominees hanging out there now, still left, haven‘t been hanging out there that long. Some of them just cleared committee in December. And so, you‘ve gotten rid of most of the agreed cases of delay by doing this.
But this is—you know, and it‘s true, when the president sits there with Mitch McConnell and puts it on him directly, the truth of the matter is, it‘s very hard for a leader of either party in the Senate to keep a straight face about why they‘re holding these things up. And the reasonable man part of that character has to come out when they‘re closed in in that kind of conversation.
OLBERMANN: Is that the explanation of this? Because as we—as we heard from the “Politico” story, he was forceful with McConnell, but the majority leader pushed back and said, that Senator Shelby had released his holds even before the Obama-McConnell meeting. And that leaves us with the question of what is the Republicans‘ official excuse for letting go of the 27 obstructions. Just goodwill?
O‘DONNELL: Shelby let go of those holds because when they became public, they were absurdly embarrassing to the Republican Party. When holds like that become public, your own leader comes to you and says, “Hey, Dick, this is crazy. You‘re hurting us. You‘ve got to stop this.”
And so, that‘s all done for their own political expediency. It was preposterous what Shelby was doing.
OLBERMANN: Why not recess appointments? The president said he wasn‘t going to do it. He‘s reserving the right to do in the future.
O‘DONNELL: Well, that‘s part of the conversation with McConnell last week. He‘s saying, “Listen, I‘m going to do recess appointments if you don‘t do this.” And then Obama sees what McConnell does and says, “OK, that‘s a reasonable response to what I said to you and the appointments that are left hanging are the ones that haven‘t been on the shelf that long.” And so, the president decides, “I‘m not going to antagonize McConnell and those people further. I‘m going to try to see what more cooperation can get me before the next recess.”
OLBERMANN: This did not seem to be, though, the approach of the previous occupant of the White House. He didn‘t really seem to be interested in that negotiation process. And the results were: a recess appointment to oh, by the way, the ambassador to the United Nations and a flake like John Bolton, somebody who is on the extreme of the extreme.
Is there enough time in a Democratic—relative time, in a Democratic administration, even if it‘s eight years, to Republican administration in eight years if in the Republican administration, they don‘t care, and then the Democratic administration, this nagging sense that we have to play by some sort of rules and leave the door open for possibly doing something in the future with this people. Why—the line is from “Field of Dreams”—there are rules here? There are no rules here.
How is anything going to ever get done if there are rules or not rules depending on which party is in charge?
O‘DONNELL: Well, if President Obama wanted an appointee who he knew could not be confirmed and he still wanted him and he still thought that that appointee was politically viable, he would do a recess appointment. That‘s the bulk. The bulk of story is, this guy cannot be confirmed by the United States Senate, never going to happen. It‘s not a matter of waiting around for it. It is not going to happen.
And at that point, the president has the decision: does this guy matter to me enough or am I go with the recess, am I going to do the recess appoint or am I going to let him go. And so, we‘ve seen Democrat and Republican presidents go with recess appointments in that situation.
I think President Obama would if he had to. He has a much bigger margin in his party in the Senate than President Bush ever did with his party in the Senate. And so, it‘s even more preposterous that he‘s being held up this way.
OLBERMANN: Yes, funny it doesn‘t seem like that. Like suddenly 59 is not as great as 51. In any event, stand by. We have another subject to discuss in a moment.
There is that which should always be nonpartisan: helping Americans in need. Another remarkable update on what you have seen at the reservations in South Dakota. And speaking of remarkable, dumbfounding, a Bush speechwriter so hell-bent to attack this president that he admits or claims for something that on 9/11, quote, “We didn‘t even know who hit us.”
My guest will be the man who called him out for that live on television.
OLBERMANN: And now, tonight‘s first “Quick Comment” and an update on your help during the crisis on the reservations in South Dakota.
Cheyenne River Tribal chairman, Joe Brings Plenty, advises us that about 95 percent of the power is back on.
The top issue now remains: the troubled water infrastructure. FEMA says just today, the gathering of information has been completed, which will let the administration and state issue its preliminary damage assessment—the assessment without which FEMA can‘t begin to provide funds. We‘re sending a producer to South Dakota to get some sense of what‘s going on on the ground.
As to the charities, and these are all still linked to our site, COUNTDOWN.MSNBC.com, their generosity is overwhelming us and them. Your contributions to Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Storm Relief Emergency Assistance are now at about a quarter of a million dollars.
Chairman Brings Plenty told the “Sioux Falls Argus Leader” newspaper that the donations will pay for permanent generators in the shelters, for mobile trailers to be used as emergency command centers, for blankets and pillows and home repair. “It‘s amazing,” he said. “It‘s actually started coming before any federal relief came in.”
The newspaper also puts this in more visceral terms. Bob Sutton, who set up that Web site, rigged his BlackBerry to buzz each time there was a donation online. He was at dinner Tuesday night when we first mentioned his fund. “It was unbelievable,” he said, “I had to go into the lobby and check it. I thought something was wrong, because it just kept buzzing.”
OLBERMANN: It is unclear why at a time when even a former White House aide feels free to say that the current U.S. president is inviting a terror attack. It is still considered taboo to say the following: 3,000 people died on September 11th, 2001 because George Bush did not prioritize. Perhaps no one says it because it is such a painful, awful truth to confront, 3,000 people dead—because Bush and Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld and others simply had other agendas than fighting terrorism.
So much so that when a CIA agent specifically told Mr. Bush on August 6th that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was working to attack the U.S. inside our borders, possibly using airlines, Mr. Bush replied, “All right, you‘ve covered your ass now,” and did nothing about it the 37 days following until it was too late.”
On MSNBC today, a former Bush and Rumsfeld‘s speechwriter did a rewrite, saying L.A. would have had its own 9/11 if not for torture, and that on 9/11, the Bush White House did not know who had done it because it had not been torturing terrorists beforehand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THIESSEN: You‘ve got to think back to the period after 9/11. We didn‘t even know who hit us. This program is why we did not have another 9/11 after the attack and it‘s just vital.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: Lawrence O‘Donnell—
O‘DONNELL: Well, you‘re lying about the west coast thing. That‘s been covered very clearly. But you actually—you as a former speechwriter in the White House, you took an oath of office when you took that job, that you might or might not remember. You actually publish a book that says that the president of the United States, on its title, the president is inviting the next attack.
Isn‘t it true that the president you worked for—
THIESSEN: Lawrence, Lawrence, it‘s the morning.
O‘DONNELL: -- invited the first attack—
THIESSEN: Lawrence, that‘s ridiculous.
O‘DONNELL: -- by having no idea what was going on with al-Qaeda? You just admitted --
THIESSEN: All right. Please.
O‘DONNELL: -- that when you were hit on 9/11, you just said, we didn‘t know who hit us.
THIESSEN: Here‘s the record, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: You said we didn‘t know who hit us.
O‘DONNELL: You were told who was going to hit you before we were hit on 9/11. And your administration invited the first attack for which you should live in shame.
THIESSEN: Lawrence, Lawrence, Lawrence—
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As remarkable as it is that Mr. Thiessen considers it a defense that Mr. Bush did not know who hit us in the period after 9/11, he is lying. Thanks to traditional intelligence gathering, which Mr. Bush ignored—Mr. Bush knew who hit us very early after 9/11, in fact, he knew on 9/11.
At 3:00 in the afternoon, CIA Director George Tenet told Mr. Bush it was virtually certain that Osama bin Laden were responsible. Bin Laden‘s location at that time believed to have been near Kandahar, and could also have been determined by Mr. Bush on 9/11 if he had read the “Boston Globe” that day.
Any lingering doubts about how partisanship skews Mr. Thiessen‘s view of national security, here‘s an article he wrote this week for “Foreign Policy,” “Barack Obama is killing too many terrorists by his use of drone missions.” Imagine the reaction of a Democratic White House veteran had asked whether Mr. Bush was quote, “killing too many bad guys”?
In the hopes that he can finish the thought this time without being cut-off, we‘ll be joined by Lawrence O‘Donnell, whom among other things former chief of staff to the Senate Finance Committee and was here earlier in the program, if I remember correctly.
The last part first, since it has nothing to do with your earlier appearance. George Bush‘s speechwriter wants the president to stop killing terrorists or so many terrorists?
O‘DONNELL: It takes your breath away, that his theory is, if we could somehow capture them, we haven‘t invented the drone yet that captures them, we invented the drone that kills them very effectively.
O‘DONNELL: If some will capture them and torture them and talk to them, we‘d be much better off than just actually killing them. And, by the way, the ones that we are not killing, we are putting on the run with those drones, they are—that puts them out of the zone where they can be doing planning. They have to spend a great deal of their day thinking about how they‘re going to survive.
And this guy thinks, no, we should take the pressure off them and somehow have them walking to our arms so we can interrogate them.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Thiessen also claimed that torture, which, of course, he will not recognize by that word, saved Los Angeles from its own 9/11. Is this that Liberty Tower, Library Tower, Liberia Tower crap again? Is that what he‘s talking about? Is this something else they‘ve made up?
O‘DONNELL: It‘s a very wearisome story that they refused to put away. It has been debunked time and time again. Timothy Noah on Slate, every time it comes up, he very patiently lays it out again as he did today, that the arrest of the ring leader of this so-called plot occurred the year before the waterboarding occurred of Sheikh Mohammed, and which they now claimed we got the information to stop the plot that had already been stopped.
And the FBI has said this is ludicrous, that it did not happen. The FBI doesn‘t believe the so-called plot even could have been carried out. Remember, the plot was, they were going to hijack planes and fly them into buildings after 9/11. Which by the time al-Qaeda got to its fourth plane in this country, the passengers were not going to allow them to do on 9/11.
The FBI has always thought that this was not a serious threat and whatever it was, was stopped a year before the torture that produced the evidence according to this guy.
OLBERMANN: Big picture here. We did not know who hit us and he says they would have known that if they used torture, but didn‘t care enough about al-Qaeda to prioritize it. There wasn‘t going to be anybody in custody. There wasn‘t. There was no interrogations, no torture, even if we made that legal.
And my assumption is—is that if they had Osama bin Laden, sometime early in 2001, all they would have asked him about was Iraq.
O‘DONNELL: And the most important thing about that point, we knew exactly who hit us. He‘s a speechwriter. A spoke to a member of the National Security Council staff today who was in the Situation Room on 9/11 while the planes were still in the air, while some of those planes were still in the air, they knew. The National Security Council staff knew this is al Qaeda. He was very dismissive of speechwriters as most serious people with jobs in government are, and said, this guy was never allowed in the Situation Room, wouldn‘t have been allowed in the Situation Room that day.
So, of course, he didn‘t know, but they knew and, as you pointed, the president was indeed warned specifically of this kind of plot before it happened.
OLBERMANN: Last thing, the first point that I started this segment with. Why is it OK in polite company to say Mr. Obama is inviting attack, but you still can‘t say that Mr. Bush not only invited attack but he sent the night watchman home?
O‘DONNELL: Keith, it‘s unconscionable to me. You know, I mentioned his oath of office to him because I took an oath of office to work in the Senate. It changes your relationship to the institution and to the government. And there are things after that, the places you don‘t go. You don‘t go to the spot that says this sitting president of the United States is trying to get this country attacked. You don‘t go where Dick Cheney went—
O‘DONNELL: -- in the 2004 campaign, saying John Kerry would allow an attack. You don‘t go to those places. And it is just unconscionable to see someone do it after taking an oath of office to serve this country.
OLBERMANN: Lawrence O‘Donnell, thank you for pointing that out to the gentleman. We appreciate your doing so.
O‘DONNELL: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And here we go again. Like your 4-year-old, conservatives have found a new phrase and will not stop saying it, “Wolf in sheep‘s clothing.” The founder of TeaParty.org has used it today to describe Sarah Palin. Founder of TeaParty.org, you have unsuspected death.
OLBERMANN: Again, conservatives turn to the Carly Fiorina imagery of wolves in sheep‘s clothing, this time to describe a former governor of Alaska.
First, on this date in 1809 was born Abraham Lincoln. Today, we find out that a new book on the Lincoln assassination will be written by Bill O‘Reilly. To help Mr. O‘Reilly upgrade his own knowledge, we now provide several quotes from Lincoln, as seen in his cameo in the film “Bill and Ted‘s Excellent Adventure.”
“Be excellent to one other and party on, dudes.”
And “this is my hat.”
We understand in the book, Mr. O‘Reilly will point out that the assassin, John Wilkes Booth was a member of the Hollywood liberal elite. Let‘s play Oddball.
What? Too soon? We begin in McKinley County, New Mexico, where a deputy responded to a report of a truck driving without headlights. It turned out he didn‘t need headlights because he wanted to go backwards. And apparently that was no accident, judging by what happens next. And boom goes the dynamite. Sheriffs say the drives was apprehended and he can now do his backing up in stateville prison.
New York City, hello. Wait a minute, I‘m here already. Who says this is a jobless recovery? Barbie fans—what—Barbie fans have just voted her two new jobs to add to her resume. One of them, computer engineer. The other, news anchor. Yeah, right, like a TV news anchor is going to look like—wait a minute, maybe this isn‘t so farfetched. In theory, if a guy like Roger Ailes sees this, he might be inspired to throw a lot of women on the air only because they were tall, slender and blond and would say the same thing over and over again when their strings were pulled from behind the scenes. No.
She‘s a, quote, growing insider‘s attack to the Tea Party. She‘s a quote, sheep in wolf‘s clothing, or wolf in sheep‘s clothing. She‘s an excuse for me to rewrite the Carly Fiorina Sheep in wolf‘s clothing commercial. Yes, she is.
OLBERMANN: Sometimes, a revivified metaphor has real stamina. Lately it is the wolf in sheep‘s clothing meme. This time it‘s being used to again brand Sarah Palin as a traitor to the Tea Party. Palin‘s keynote address at the Tea Party convention evidently not winning over all the true believers.
The founder of Toe Potty—Freudian slip, confession—TeaParty.org Dale Robertson, blasting Palin with this on his website: quoting, “Sarah Palin‘s well delivered speech and her attractive demeanor is little more than a veneer for her less attractive political philosophy. She seems more like a duck out of water among true conservative constitutionalists. Palin demonstrates her neo-con flippant viewpoint and her naivete as she seems envious of the swelled number of patriots pledging their allegiance to all things American, and not to a Kool-Air ridden political dinosaur.”
He sure told her. What about the wolves? So far, just a duck and a dinosaur. Not to worry. Mr. Robertson‘s critique was lengthy. Another excerpt, quote, “Sarah Palin is not dense or erroneous in her view of the Tea Party. Just the opposite. She represents a growing insiders attack to the heart of the Tea Party, very much like a wolf in sheep‘s clothing, entering in at the gate as an ally, but for all intents and purposes there to seize and capture not only one or two stray sheep but the whole flock.”
Palin will be speaking at two more events next month in central Florida for actual Republicans. The rules, set by Palin‘s agent sponsor, say bar media photographs, as well as audio or video recordings, according to the “Orlando Sentinel.” Sarah Palin, she wasn‘t here. What do you mean? There is no Sarah Palin. Reporters may, of course, pay to attend, just like everybody else. As for the wolf metaphor, here a high-profile web ad by one Republican against another, if it were to be reworked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Purity, piety, no hopey changey. Leaders like Sarah Palin would never lead Tea Baggers astray.
Leaving but one way to fall.
PALIN: The Republican party would be really smart to start trying to absorb as much of the Tea Party movement as possible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah Palin, TBINO, Tea Bagger In Name Only, the wolf in sheep‘s clothing.
An enemy who sweet talked her way through the gate with her kids strapped to her back. I‘m afraid we all missed the signs. But your allegiance is to the Republicans, not America. Might there be a better choice? Someone who writes what they feel on the big sign, not scribbled on their own hoof.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Only one person can follow that, the co-founder and editor in chief of the “Huffington Post,” Arianna Huffington. Arianna, good evening.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Some things resonate no matter who says them. Are these Tea Partiers starting to really understand Sarah Palin?
HUFFINGTON: Well, something maybe happened this week, which probably had a lot to do with the fact that she had such a clear double standard when it came to Rush Limbaugh and Rahm Emanuel over the word retard, and over something that she had said was part of her core values.
Plus, Keith, she never told us who exactly was going to get the 100,000 dollars she got. Remember, she said it would go back to the movement, and that‘s all she said. So these two things really dealt a blow to her being authentic and independent.
But beyond that, this week was a bit of through the looking glass. When we had Tea Baggers attacking Sarah Palin and David Broder, the dean of the Washington press corps, in the “Washington Post,” extolling her as somebody at the top of her game, and somebody we should all take very seriously, while, of course, her poll numbers were plummeting.
OLBERMANN: Yes, he and Joe Klein co-won the timing of the week award. Mr. Robertson, meanwhile, from TeaParty.org, also assailed the former half governor for endorsing Senator McCain in his reelection bid. That‘s not a surprise. But also for endorsing Governor Rick Perry in Texas. Is this an indication of how Palin has failed the purity test? Or is it more of a statement about purity testing? When you start purity testing, it‘s tough to stop. It‘s like the buckets in “Fantasia.”
HUFFINGTON: When you fail an purity test because you endorse Rick Perry, who wants to secede from the union, I don‘t really know what other purity tests they can establish for her. The Tea Party movement is clearly not at all cohesive. There‘s not any clear philosophy behind it. But there is some very real anger and frustration. That‘s what we need to take seriously.
OLBERMANN: You‘re not seceding fast enough. The upcoming events that Ms. Palin is to headline, Lincoln Day Dinner in Orange County. It‘s a fund-raiser. Organizers acknowledge that it‘s unusual for that group to not seek media coverage. Once again, the speaking fee is an issue. It‘s not being disclosed. Is this about Sarah Palin trying to protect her revenue stream? Does the leader of a true movement, hearkening back to what she said before about returning the money back to the movement, which could be Sarah PAC as anything else—does the true leader of a movement concern themselves with that?
HUFFINGTON: Well, absolutely. I mean, if it‘s really ridiculous to be making 100,000 dollars when you‘re leading a movement. She recognizes that, which is why she talked about returning the money.
What was also interesting this week is that we had both Sarah Palin in the news and Newt Gingrich, who is also someone else who is a potential leader of the movement. They were both reunited in that they have a complete disregard for facts, truth and evidence. I mean, Newt Gingrich on Jon Stewart making stuff up about the British shoe bomber, and Sarah Palin making stuff up about Rush Limbaugh using satire rather than meaning the word retard.
OLBERMANN: Arianna Huffington of the “Huffington Post,” and another eventful week in Palin-land. Have a great weekend.
HUFFINGTON: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: You will recall we asked you to vote for the first inductee to COUNTDOWN‘s hypocrisy hall of shame stimulus wing. The first three all deserving in their own rights. But the winner chosen by you, the viewer, exceeded mere every day hypocrisy. He hosted not one but two job fairs in his home state which included dozens of jobs from employers funded by the stimulus bill. The same stimulus bill this congressman said was an utter failure. The same that he voted against and used as the demon to line up 178 Republican no-votes. Since he is the House minority whip. And with 67 percent of the vote, he is our first inductee in the hypocrisy hall of shame, Congressman Eric Cantor.
Tune in next week for the next three nominees. Yes, we can repeat the nominees if we feel like it.
First, they‘re going to get even with this Palin. Then they‘re going to knock off these comic book guys what made fun of them in Captain America.
Dog Whistle Limbaugh returns to work. Yesterday, he called the president uppity. We‘ll check out today‘s euphemism for you know.
And when she joins you at the top of the hour, Rachel Maddow threatens a puppy. Maybe this tease has gotten garbled in translation. Can we call over to the office there and find out? Maybe it has. Maybe it hasn‘t.
OLBERMANN: Captain America versus Baron Von Tea Party. We‘ll finally get to the great comic book rebellion of 2010 next.
But first, a Friday night special, an all wing nut edition of worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Orly Taitz Limbaugh. Yesterday, he called the president of the United States quote, “uppity, but not as a black.” Today it was, “this guy has an arrogance and a superiority complex like I have never seen.”
Well, I‘m sure it‘s tough to get a full view of your own ego in our own mirror.
The runner up, Lonesome Roads Beck. He has revealed one of his principles, “I don‘t ever endorse anybody. Nor do I want to. I‘ll tell you what I think about individuals but I don‘t endorse them. I don‘t lend my credibility to anybody.”
Glenn Beck, October 27th, 2008, quote, “I‘m endorsing Sarah Palin.” In case you missed it, he then added, “I‘m endorsing. My hope is in Sarah Palin.”
And there finally is the essence of Glenn Beck‘s madness. He truly has no idea, no earthly clue what he has said previously. He has the long-term memory of a Roomba.
But our winner, Michelle Malkin. She cuts and pastes a fair account of the placement of the stents in Bill Clinton‘s coronary artery in her blog. But then she takes her traditional it‘s OK to politicize everything right off the freaking cliff. “Now a timely reminder. Stents don‘t grow on trees. They were not created, developed, marketed or sold by government bureaucrats or law makers. One of the nation‘s top stent manufacturers, Boston Scientific, has weighed in on the Democrats‘ proposed massive taxes on medical device makers.”
That‘s when she cuts and pastes this company‘s threat that if health care is reformed, it will cut between 1,000 and 2,000 research jobs. It‘s been a big week for Malkin. First, there was her obituary of the Pennsylvania congressman who had died less than 24 hours earlier in which she wrote, “John Jack Murtha was an unrepentant smear merchant and corrupt-ocrat to the bitter end. If only the culture of corruption he serviced could be buried six feet under with him.”
Oh. Here‘s the spectacle of somebody conservatives view as one of their top political thinkers kicking a dead man while he is still freshly dead. Fortunately, she does not have to fear retribution about that, because by the time it is her turn, hopefully after a long and healthy life, no one will still have the faintest idea who she was. Michelle Malkin—Mel—Michelle, today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: Last night, we tried to tell the tale of two Americas, the latest in the Captain America comic book series where our hero takes on the Tea Partiers. The breaking news about former President Clinton‘s surgery interrupted our interview with David Weigel, reporter and comic book aficionado.
Today, Mr. Clinton was released from the hospital, in excellent health, so we will bring you full interview with Mr. Weigel shortly.
But first, a quick recap. The new Captain America, Bucky Barnes, and his African American side kick the Falcon, are infiltrating Tea Party protests in Boise Idaho, looking for a fake Captain America who has joined an anti-government movement. The signage from the Tea Partiers reads, “stop the socialists,” “ no to new taxes,” and “tea bag the libs before they tea bag you.”
Curiously similar to the signage carried by actual Tea Partiers last year. When the real Captain America suggests blending in with the comic book Tea Partiers, the Falcon objects, “I don‘t exactly see a black man from Harlem fitting in with a bunch of angry white folks.”
Causing the real Tea Partiers to protest their comic book avatars. “Nice going, Marvel Comic. Thanks for making patriotic Americans in your newest super-villains.” Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada apologized via the website “Comic Book Resources.” “The editor asked the letterer on the book just fudge in some signs. We spoke to the letterer and he was mortified at his mistake, and was truly sorry, as he had no political agenda.”
to straighten this out, we recorded this interview with an expert on both topics last night. Here‘s me with more.
OLBERMANN: Thanks, Keith, great report. Since I‘m into politics and baseball cards, let me turn to David Weigel, who is into politics and comic books, also a reporter for the “Washington Independent.” Just to further indicate this is the man to ask about this, he was at a Tea Party protest last year, reporting, and he snapped this picture, the one, in fact, the comic appears to have copied from.
Mr. Weigel, thanks for your time.
DAVID WEIGEL, “THE WASHINGTON INDEPENDENT”: Thank you. That photo will outlive me by many, many years.
OLBERMANN: I don‘t get it. The publisher is apologizing for showing the phrase that, as your photo confirms, was first used by somebody at a Tea Party a year ago?
WEIGEL: In their own words, they‘re apologizing for making it clear that this story line happened to include a Tea Party rally, that it was a Tea Party event rather than a vague white supremacist event. It‘s up to them. I don‘t see why they would apologize because this is art. This is story telling. There are lots of movies about the 1960s where somebody goes to an anti-war protest and then they get sucked into the Weather Underground or something.
OLBERMANN: This brings me to a comic book question more than a politics question. Have comic books become so refined a niche kind of thing that they have to be worried about losing every kind of customer? What happened to that attitude from the ‘60s and, indeed, the ‘50s that you just referred to?
WEIGEL: Comics were being censored long before any kind of media. Just talk to William Gaines (ph) about that. But Captain America has always been like this. And Ed Rubacher (ph), who is writing this comic—
I‘d have him characterize himself. He likes to include real word scenarios, corporations, white supremacist groups, things that are tearing America apart for Captain America to fight. So this is not new. It‘s just a conservative blog has decided to go after it.
OLBERMANN: They line in there about the Falcon being from Harlem and such. What‘s the complaint there? After what Tom Tancredo said last week about literacy tests—you‘ve been to these events. Have the tea partiers not noticed that there are no or almost no black people at their rallies?
WEIGEL: This comic book scene happened in Idaho, too. You‘ve got a sample set of a sample set that‘s not going to have a lot of diversity. This is a sensitive topic because Tea Partiers believe their philosophy is totally color blind, anti affirmative action, anti special treatment, whatever, and it‘s just kind of an accident so far that there‘s not a rainbow coalition showing up. so implying that racist might be involved is offensive. I see that, but for a story-telling purpose like this, it‘s just so hyper sensitive.
OLBERMANN: Is perhaps the real complaint by the tea gang that they think Captain America should be holding one of those signs as opposed to protesting?
WEIGEL: I think so, but that‘s a really boring story. There‘s a great—great in a sense that “Mystery Science 3000” we call great, comic called “Liberali For All,” where Sean Hannity and G. Gordon Liddy team up to fight liberal evil in the future. I‘m glad I just revealed that I know about that. That would be adult comic.
I think some of the complaint too is that they really hate this tea bag insult. Again, I took this picture at an actual rally. I‘ve seen buttons that adopt this slur. They‘re not comfortable with being part of the conversation. They want to be adored. And that‘s something—the left got over that a long time ago. They are used to everyone hating anti-war protests. They still think they deserve to be treated as the real mainstream of America. You can have a debate about that. Fifty three percent of the country says no, you‘re wrong, Barack Obama‘s president. A little tug of war seems fair to me.
OLBERMANN: Last question is about that photograph again. You‘re the witness. You‘re at moment zero of this equation. Do you think that was an actual Tea Party guy who just didn‘t know what he was saying or do you think that was a plant, because it‘s almost too good to be true?
WEIGEL: One of my great regrets is not going up and actually talking to the person. It was the end of the rally, and I was snapping photos quickly. If you look at the sign, it says FreeRepublic.com at the bottom. “Free Republic” had organized the rally. Kristin Taylor of “Free Republic” was on scene.
This was February 27th last year. Way too early for people to be Borating these events and messing with them. That was a real slogan. Maybe they didn‘t realize the joke. Since then, they‘ve gotten angry about it. The picture is the picture.
OLBERMANN: Or maybe they did. David Weigel, thanks for your time.
WEIGEL: Thank you very much, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,479th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann, wearing the suit that changes colors before your eyes, good night and good luck.
And now, in a very special edition of “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW,” Rachel threatens that if you don‘t watch, a cute little puppy named Filibuster gets it. Ladies and gentlemen, now threatening dogs, here is Rachel Maddow.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.