Guest: Charles Stile, E.J. Dionne, Steve Kornacki
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: I‘m Lawrence O‘Donnell, in for Keith Olbermann. My new show “THE LAST WORD,” debuts Monday, September 27th, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC.
And now, I just love saying this, here is my lead-in, Rachel Maddow.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thank you very much for that.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Tonight, the untidy truth about the Republican Party‘s united charge towards glory in this year‘s elections.
Arizona Governor Jim Brewer is very angry about the way the U.S. has to explain her “paper, please” law when other countries ask about it.
Muammar Gaddafi exerts his charming superpowers over hundreds of Italian models.
And the staffers of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW devoted many of their own shoes today to making a story out of the Pacific Northwest make more sense. I‘m not sure that it‘s totally going to make sense, but you will definitely see a whole lot of our personal sneakers while we try to make it make sense.
That is all coming up this hour.
But we begin tonight with what it looks like when “Obama derangement syndrome” goes awry. During the George W. Bush administration, conservatives coined the phrase “Bush derangement syndrome” to describe liberals being so blinded by their hatred of George Bush that they would blame everything on him, no matter how unrelated he was to any particular problem.
This is one of those rare times in American politics where the mirror effect actually turns out to be true. Because even though the phrase is coined to apply to George W. Bush, “Obama derangement syndrome” is very much alive and well. You might remember when John McCain ran those TV ads blaming Barack Obama for gas prices even though Obama was still the junior senator from Illinois at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Who can you thank for rising prices at the pump?
CROWD: Obama! Obama!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: July of 2008, a month before Barack Obama was even elected president. But I‘m sure his campaign controlled the gas prices somehow. That was an early sign of Obama derangement syndrome to come. Since Mr. Obama has actually been president, you can reliably count on the Obama derangement syndrome to kick in for conservatives to blame Mr. Obama for just about anything—you know, for example, like the war he started in Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: This is a war of Obama‘s choosing. This is not—this is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, if only Obama hadn‘t invaded Afghanistan back in 2001 when he was in the Illinois State Senate. Yes. Nobody knows. Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican Party, speaking there.
Obama derangement syndrome also provides a more convenient villain than BP for the BP oil disaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL RANDALL (R-NC), HOUSE CANDIDATE: But, personally, I feel there‘s a possibility that there was some sort of collusion, I don‘t know how or why. But in that situation, if you have someone from a company proposing to violate the safety process and then a government signing off on it, excuse me, maybe they wanted it to leak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Maybe they wanted it to—leak.
But at the top of today‘s political news is a story of Obama derangement syndrome gone awry—a story about Obama derangement syndrome backfiring.
Last week, nine states and the District of Columbia were awarded a total of $3 billion in federal education funding. States had to compete for that money. And despite all of the evils of federal money and all of the calls to get the federal government out of education, states, coast to coast, even those with Republican governors, applied for this federal money. They clamored for it. And the top 10 applicants got it.
Number 11 was the state of New Jersey. And the reason the state of New Jersey didn‘t get it is because New Jersey Governor Chris Christie‘s administration screwed up.
As we described last week, Governor Christie‘s administration had a failure of reading comprehension. They committed a typo in their application. Instead of providing information related to the ‘08-‘09 fiscal year, as was asked for, they provided information for the 2011 fiscal year.
In the final calculations, that mistake cost the state of New Jersey about five points on their scored application. And because of that, they came in 11th instead of 10th. They otherwise would have come in in the top 10 and won that federal funding.
Governor Christie‘s administration‘s screw-up cost the residents of New Jersey about $400 million. Governor Christie has responded to this realization with some Hall of Fame level excuses.
Excuse number one: he says the application was very, very long. It was a lot of pages.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE ®, NEW JERSEY: This is our Race to Top application. In a over 1,000-page application, 300 pages application, 700 pages of appendixes, there was one piece of paper placed in error in that application.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: How can you be expected to get something wrong when it‘s long? When there‘s a lot of questions—how can you be expected to answer all the questions? It‘s long.
Aside from complaining that the application was long and, therefore, the state of New Jersey under Governor Christie‘s leadership couldn‘t possibly be expected to read it thoroughly or to answer all the questions, Chris Christie, in the grips of Obama derangement syndrome, also decided to try out another excuse. He decided to try to blame President Obama for his own mistake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: When the president comes back to New Jersey, he‘s going to have to explain to the people of the state of New Jersey why he‘s depriving them of $400 million that this application earned them. Because one of his bureaucrats in Washington couldn‘t pick up the phone and ask a question, couldn‘t go on the Internet and find information, or wouldn‘t accept the verbal representation for Commissioner Schundler when they were down there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Wouldn‘t accept the verbal representation from Commissioner Schundler, that‘s the New Jersey education commissioner, when they were down there—wouldn‘t accept the verbal representation.
This is the great conservative hope of the Republican Party in this era. This is the man who FOX News host Glenn Beck says he wants to vote for for president in 2012. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey says if those Obamacrats, those Obama bureaucrats, would have just asked the Christie administration about this mistake, a little mistake, they could have cleared up the whole thing.
Want to see President Obama‘s bureaucrats asking the Christie administration to clear up this whole thing? It‘s on tape. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We‘re unable to find in the application the funding levels of—school education funding levels specifically for the years 2008 and 2009 as requested in the application. Can you explain how or where this information was presented in your application?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I cannot. I don‘t—
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you can—we can come back to that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We‘ll take a look. That would be fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That would be helpful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just wanted to clarify whether it was there and we did not find it. So, OK, you can take your time with that if somebody wants to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, yes. Let‘s all agree, yes. Let‘s come back to that then. Well, it‘s not, OK, we‘ll give you a second chance.
And, in fact, a little later on in the interview, President Obama‘s bureaucrats, the Obamacrats, they did come back to it. After having given them fair warning, we need this information, why isn‘t it in your application? Can we—you don‘t know now? Can we ask you later?
They actually come back to them. Do you want to see what happened?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you have any luck with the budget financial data?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No. Tada!
But in Chris Christie‘s blame Obama at any cost “Obama derangement syndrome” world, here‘s how he thinks that whole thing actually went down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: We went into the personal interview two weeks before the decision was made and they raised the decision with us. Commissioner Schundler verbally gave them the ‘08 and ‘09 numbers two weeks before the decision was made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Actually, no. No, he didn‘t. He had a couple of chances to do that and we just saw him on tape not giving those numbers. What you just said right there, Governor, not true.
Now that the tape has been release, that proves Governor Christie wrong. Governor Christie has responded exactly as you‘d expect. He fired the guy that he told the lie about.
But the fired education commissioner, Bret Schundler, is not going quietly. He‘s now talking to anyone who will listen from the record of Bergen County, Schundler, quote, “Schundler says he explicitly warned Christie not to make certain claims in public. But he went ahead and said them anyway.”
Also, Schundler described Christie as having, quote, “hit one of his famous grooves—a full-scale rant where anger and bombast bubble to a boil. It‘s in those not-so-uncommon moment when Governor Christie is capable of saying just about anything.”
Mr. Schundler said, quote, “I don‘t think the governor ignored what I said. I think the governor gets rolling and a lot of stuff gets said.”
When he gets on a roll, Chris Christie apparently just reflexively blames President Obama and then hopes the story fits the cathartic blaming in the end.
The sad kicker to the story is that after Chris Christie fired this guy, Chris Christie lied about what this guy did and then fired him. This guy, who is this long conservative pedigree—he was a Republican mayor in a New Jersey City, he was praised by people like Newt Gingrich, he was on William Buckley‘s presidential short list at one point. This hardcore conservative guy, this up-and-comer, asked Chris Christie to please fire him rather than accept his resignation so Bret Schundler could collect unemployment benefits.
Joining us now is Charles Stile. He‘s a columnist for “The Record of Bergen County.” He was among a group of reporters who met with the fired New Jersey education commissioner last week.
Mr. Stile, thanks very much for joining us.
CHARLES STILE, BERGEN RECORD (NJ): My pleasure.
MADDOW: Let me ask you first if I pretty much explained how this went down? Did I get any of those—any of that narrative wrong?
STILE: That was in exhaustive detail. Yes, you got it right.
MADDOW: That‘s what I specialize in, exhaustive.
On a national level, people view Chris Christie as a real rising star in the Republican Party. Is this story becoming a big enough deal in New Jersey to affect that national view of Governor Christie?
STILE: I think it has yet to be seen. It‘s certainly becoming a story, a big story, in New Jersey. You know, we‘re talking about a great mystery involving, you know, the bureaucracy.
It doesn‘t have all the great elements of a traditional New Jersey narrative, political narrative, where there‘s corruption, there‘s sexual intrigue and there‘s sexual intrigue with corruption. We don‘t have that in this case. We‘re talking about a whodunit, who left—who ate the homework kind of story here.
And it‘s still—I—what has happened here, I think the Democratic Party has long, for the past, since Christie came to power, they‘ve been basically reeling under the Christie tornado. He‘s been a force of nature for the past eight months and they‘ve been waiting for some moment to crack his Teflon and they think maybe this is it. But in terms of a national story, I don‘t—I don‘t think it‘s—and whether or not it might tarnish his elevation to the national stage, I don‘t think this story rises to that yet.
MADDOW: At this point, Democrats going after Christie would be not that surprising. What is—ends up being surprising about this is to have Mr. Schundler sort of helping people out. In your column about this you wrote, “Schundler painted an unflattering portrait of Christie as truculent and predisposed to heap scorn on Obamacrats regardless of the true facts in the case.”
What did Bret Schundler say that painted that sort of a portrait?
STILE: Well, he recounted—again, this is his side of the story—but he recounted, a paraphrase, a conversation that he had with the governor prior to that infamous—now infamous press conference which you dissected there. And he said that—to paraphrase again—he said that he told the governor that he did not furnish the numbers and the facts to the Department of Ed bureaucrats and when the governor started to, you know, started to rehearse some of the lines that he was going to say in the press conference, Schundler said, “Stop, don‘t say it. I did not say that. That‘s inaccurate,” but he went ahead anyway.
And so, that is really—again, that his side of the story, but if you step back and listen to it and listen to some of the other things he said about that conversation, you get the sense that the governor‘s mind was pretty much made up. He was going to say what he was going to say and he was looking for any kind of kernel of fact or that Bret Schundler could provide him to rationalize the attack.
MADDOW: And, briefly, Mr. Stile—am I right that Mr. Schundler is also releasing e-mails that bolster his side of the story?
STILE: Yes, he released copies of e-mails and all those e-mails did show is that he made the same representations to Christie‘s staff on Tuesday and—or a couple of days—a couple of times prior to that press conference. So, that—his whole point was it wasn‘t just this one isolated time. There was a whole body of work here, attempts by me to clarify the record and to show I did not mislead anybody. I did not mislead the governor and I did not arm him with inaccuracies—to go out into the press conference and just blast away at the Obama administration.
MADDOW: It‘s not every time that the guy thrown under the bus is still yelling from underneath the bus.
MADDOW: But that is happening in this case.
Charles Stile, columnist for “The Record of Bergen County”—thanks very much for your time tonight, sir.
STILE: My pleasure.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
One of the things that‘s actually going on in American politics right now, but you don‘t hear too much about, is that a lot of top tier Republican politicians are refusing to be in the same room with one another -- literally, as in if he‘s in that room, I‘m not going in that room. If she‘s in that room, I‘m not going in that room.
Now, that does not fit the Beltway narrative about Republicans on the march for this year‘s elections and so, it is just not really being reported that much. But it is happening. It‘s happening all over the place and it‘s fascinating. And if you learn the facts of the story, you will blow everyone‘s mind at the next party you go to because you will have magical true knowledge that other people who only skim the headlines will not have.
Please stay tuned.
MADDOW: According to media narrative—trademark copyright do not infringe—Republicans are unified to defeat Democrats in this year‘s elections. What is awkward for that prevailing media narrative is that the word “unity” usually means that candidates from the same party don‘t mind appearing in the same room together. Facts versus what you are hearing maintained as facts—coming up next.
MADDOW: After primary elections, it‘s traditional in American politics to hold a unity event. The party brings together the previously warring primary candidates so they unite in their common enmity toward the real bad guy, the guy from the other party for the general election. That‘s how we do things here generally speaking. That is dog bites man in American political news.
If after the primary, the losing candidate refuses to do the unity event thing, if candidates from the same party keep taking shots at each other even after one of them wins the primary—that is not normal. That‘s man bites dog and that is happening all over the country right now in Republican politics.
In Arizona, John McCain, of course, beat back a primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth. At Republican Party‘s post-primary unity event in Arizona, no J.D. Hayworth. Not only was J.D. Hayworth not there—according to “The Arizona Republic”—Mr. Hayworth was, quote, “singled out and mocked from the podium by the emcee at one of these so-called unity events.
Hey, Hayworth voters, make sure you come out to vote for John McCain.
So, unity in this case means the losing candidate not only doesn‘t shake hand with or publicly support the party‘s nominee, he doesn‘t even show up. He‘s absent and he‘s openly insulted from the podium.
In Florida, a post-primary unity rally in Tampa was planned for the day after the election, so the whole Republican Party could rally around the guy they all apparently assumed was about to be the new Republican nominee for governor, State Attorney General Bill McCollum. But then primary day happened, and Bill McCollum lost. He lost to the anti-health reform activist and disgraced a former hospital executive whose company was hit with 14 felony charges dating to his time in charge. He lost to a man named Rick Scott.
Once it started looking like Republicans might have to say they were uniting around that guy, around Rick Scott, the unity rally was called off because of, you know, logistics or something. The guy who Rick Scott beat, Bill McCollum, then told reporters the day after that rally was cancelled, he told them, quote, “I still have serious questions about issues of Rick Scott‘s character, his integrity, his honesty.”
Unity. U-N-I-TY! U-N-I-TY!
Then there‘s Nevada, where the Republican nomination was Sue Lowden‘s to lose, you will recall. She did lose it. Chickens for checkups, anyone?
When it came time for the post primary unity dinner at the Nevada Republican convention, it was Sue Lowden running away for once, not the Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle. Ms. Lowden did not show up for Sharron Angle‘s supposed Republican post-primary group hug. And that‘s a move that really sends a message in a state where you can actually go to the polls and vote for “none of the above.”
None of these stories fits the big narrative that‘s being spun about this year‘s elections, about Republicans on the march. In a lot of states, it‘s more like Republicans at each other‘s throats. But don‘t let those facts hit your good story in the butt on its way out the door.
Joining us now is E.J. Dionne, “Washington Post” columnist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
E.J., it‘s really good to see you. Thanks for being here.
E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you.
MADDOW: You ran a column last week about how the people who were trying to come up with this year‘s big trend stories, big political trend narratives, are trying to come up with one narrative that fits both parties. It‘s part of the reason that we‘re not hearing stuff like this reported too much because this is a pretty one-sided story, it‘s mostly happening on one side of the aisle?
DIONNE: Right. Well, I think that one size fits all is—rarely works in any product. And I think you‘ve had a narrative that says this is an anti-incumbent year, it‘s anti-establishment year, but you have two completely different things happening in the two parties. The Republicans are going through an insurrection and the Democrats aren‘t.
The Republicans—Ronald Reagan famously joked that the problem in his administration is that the right hand didn‘t know what the far-right hand was doing. And what you got here is a right Republican Party and a far-right Republican Party.
There was a lot of trauma in that party after George Bush. Many of us thought, well, maybe now they‘ll seek more moderation.
But most of the moderates left the Republican Party over the last 10, 15 years, they‘re almost all conservatives. And so, you have the people in the party saying this place isn‘t conservative enough and they‘re having these primaries knocking out candidates who probably would have had a better chance in the general election.
MADDOW: It feels to me like not that surprising, especially post-Bush and post-McCain that the Republican Party would be having a sort of internal civil war about how right wing they‘re going to be.
The thing that‘s hard for me to understand is why this few months out from the election—I mean, it‘s late August right now, the election is in November, they‘re not able to attend unity rallies with each other. They‘re not able to say the most important thing is beating Democrats. They‘re still fighting even when it‘s losing them elections. We saw that in the New York 23 special election. We‘re still seeing that now heading into the fall.
That‘s what seems surprising to me.
DIONNE: Well, you know, adversaries are in the other party. Enemies are in your own party. And that‘s how Democrats used to organize things. Will Rogers famously said, I don‘t belong to an organized political party, I‘m a Democrat.
Well, this kind of sort of radical sectarianism which used to be much more on the left is now a real habit of the right. There are all of these purity tasks.
And then the other thing is, some of these primaries were just vicious. Rick Scott really attacked Bill McCollum in a way that McCollum - - and I can‘t particularly blame him—just doesn‘t want to forget.
Lisa Murkowski, up in Alaska, feels the same way about Joe Miller.
So, primaries can leave these kinds of scars. And in this case, it‘s scarring on a personal level, overlaid with this ideological fight between right and far-right.
MADDOW: When we are seeing this as the result of these primary campaigns on the Republican side, there‘s always a little makeover, a little moderation makeover that has to happen. Really, it was one of those cases of candidates on both sides in terms of having what you need to be able to tell your base to win the primary versus having what you need to be able to tell a general election voting audience for the general election.
Are we going to see very dramatic makeover efforts for conservative candidates who beat more moderate challengers in the Republican primary? Or are these folks so dedicated to being seen as very, very conservative candidates that they‘re really going to resist the moderation makeovers?
DIONNE: Well, for about five minutes on Sunday, I thought Glenn Beck was deciding to move to the center, but he couldn‘t stay there. I mean, what you‘re seeing in a lot of cases are some of these candidates going almost silent.
Rand Paul after the interview with you didn‘t make a whole lot—that was some months ago—has been a lot more cautious. But they‘re stuck with—in this age of ours, it‘s very easy to find old videotape. It‘s very—it‘s much harder I think than it used to be to abandon old positions and I think some of these candidates on, you know, right of the spectrum really believe this stuff so they have some aversion to giving up on it.
MADDOW: “Washington Post” columnist E.J. Dionne—E.J., it‘s always great to have you on the show. Thanks for joining us.
DIONNE: Thank you.
MADDOW: Still ahead: Jan Brewer and the “papers, please” immigration law. Governor Brewer is picking a very strange fight over that law with Hillary Clinton. That‘s next.
MADDOW: In her ongoing effort to paint the state of Arizona as somehow victimized because of the state‘s papers please law. Governor Jan Brewer has conjured up a new enemy, when she‘s going too have a hard time getting to show her its papers. It‘s the U.S. State Department, foggy bottom is on Jan Brewer enemy‘s list because as part of its first ever United Nations human rights counsel and universal periodic review, the State Department quietly noted that, quote, “A recent Arizona law, S.B. 1070, has generated significant attention and debate at home and around the world. The issues being addressed in a court action that argues that the federal government has the authority to set and enforce immigration law, that action is ongoing, parts of the law are currently enjoined.”
All true. That basic statement of fact enraged the governor of Arizona, prompted her to write to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to demand that the reference be taken out. Quote, “Simply put, it is downright offensive that the U.S. State Department included the State of Arizona and S.B. 1070 in a report to the U.N. Council on Human Rights whose members include such renowned human rights champions,” end quotes, “as Cuba and Libya,” as well as 45 other members like, you know, the United States, Switzerland, the United Kingdom. Who is counting?
Also defending your own human rights issues by bringing up Cuba and Libya because they‘re so much worse, I don‘t know. Governor Brewer then goes on to write, quote, “Apparently the federal government is trying to make an international human rights case out of S.B. 1070 on the heels of already filing a federal court case against the State of Arizona. The idea of our own American government submitting the duly enacted laws of the State of the United States to review by the United Nations is internationalism run amok and unconstitutional.” Internationalism run amok. Never mind, that isn‘t true.
There is no United Nations human rights case against Arizona but Governor Brewer wants you to know that she will defend her state against this mythical black helicopter attack to the bitter end. Quote, “Be assured that the State of Arizona will fight any attempt by the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations to interfere with the duly enacted laws of the State of Arizona in accordance with the U.S. Constitution.”
Governor Brewer, the United Nations is not fighting you. The U.S. is fighting you. The United States is fighting you. Not the United Nations. The United States. On behalf of the United States constitution. You can pass your papers please law all you want, but when people against that law point out they are fighting it in order to defend human rights in no specific way that human rights are defined in the American constitution, those people are correct. It is a human rights issue and you are on the wrong side of it. Feels gross, doesn‘t it?
MADDOW: For all that we have heard about the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, all the noise, all the chatter, all the manufactured scare white people outrage, more notable tonight is what we have not heard. A rather deafening silence over the pattern of other disturbing anti-Muslim incidents nationwide. People who are supposedly against the Islamic center in Lower Manhattan solely because of its proximity to the site of a national tragedy shouldn‘t on principle have anything against another Islamic center, say, in Tennessee, right? Well, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee over the weekend, a suspicious fire at the site of a proposed Islamic center damaged four pieces of heavy construction equipment.
The spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms telling Talking Points Memo that although the ATF is not ready to attach the word arson to the incident, they did find accelerant at the scene. There were also unconfirmed reports of gunshots fired near the site after the fire. The Murfreesboro incident or possibly incidents, plural, come on course on top of the zoning challenge the proposed facility is facing. Kind of like the challenges and protests being waged against planned mosques and Islamic centers in California, in Georgia and Kentucky and Wisconsin and Illinois as well as elsewhere in New York City.
In addition to the protests and the legal battles, there‘s the even more disturbing but hard to qualify attack on New York City cabby Ahmed Sharif by an alleged suspect named Michael Enright. Mr. Enright is accused of slashing and stabbing Mr. Sharif after apparently asking him if he was a Muslim. Also within the past week, also in New York City, a man was arrested for barging into a mosque during nightly prayers and shouting anti-Muslim slurs, urinating on prayer rugs, and giving the finger to congregates.
Near Fresno, California, signs proclaiming, “No temple for the God of terrorism at Ground Zero” were found not in lower Manhattan but outside the Madera Islamic center near Fresno, California. South of Los Angeles, in Temecula, California, people protested outside of Friday prayers at a mosque that is hoping to build a new worship center nearby.
A church in Gainesville, Florida, nearly 900 miles from New York City, says it is still planning an international “Burn a Koran Day” for yes, September 11th, 2010. I guess all the other days were taken. As Adam Serwer of the American prospect noted in “The Washington Post” today, the common thread may not be between all of these incidents themselves. Certainly it looks like a pattern but until you know as much as you can about each of them, you can‘t necessarily tie them together as specific disturbing incidents but maybe the tie between them is the opponents who claim to be against the Park 51 center near the World Trade Center site.
Solely, it‘s a matter of real estate. Location, location, location. Maybe the thing that ties together all of these things is them. If their opposition has nothing to do with Islam, nothing to do with stifling religious freedom as they claim, if it‘s only about the specific location of that one Islamic center, then how come we‘re not hearing anything from them at all about all the other mosques being shot up and protested? Are Temecula and Fresno also just too darned close to Ground Zero?
Joining us now is Steve Kornacki who‘s news editor for Salon.com.
Thanks for coming in, Steve.
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM NEWS EDITOR: Sure.
MADDOW: My big picture question about this is, why we‘re seeing this sort of furious and quite widespread pattern of denunciations of mosques and people of the Islamic faith now? We did not see in a way that people expected to see it after 9/11. Certainly, there were incidents but there was not a big, you know, sort of party wide attacks, systems of attacks like we‘re seeing right now. Why now? Why not then?
KORNACKI: Well, I think we were seeing it in different ways between 9/11 and now but I think we‘re seeing it now obviously because of the so-called Ground Zero mosque. The Park 51 probably has really kind of thrust this thing into the spotlight.
MADDOW: But that‘s not true though, because “The New York Times” reported on the Islamic center project five months before it ever made any sort of clamor whatsoever even on FOX News. There were FOX News personalities who talked about the mosque after “The New York Times” broke the story five months ago. Instead it seems like a nice idea and then all of a sudden now, as we‘re heading into the campaign season, boom, it‘s a huge controversy.
KORNACKI: Sure, but if you look in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, a lot of people tend to focus on what, you know, former President George W. Bush said at the time which was pretty admirable. Which he came out and he said, he made a clear distinction between, you know, we‘re going to go wage a war in Afghanistan and ultimately in Iraq but we‘re not fighting Islam as a religion. That was his rhetoric, that was the rhetoric of a lot of other republican leaders at the time. That was not however uniformly the rhetoric of the right wing in this country. I‘m not talking about the right wing fringe, I‘m talking about the mainstream of the right wing movement.
If you listen to Rush Limbaugh‘s shows from not far after 9/11 and for the last seven or eight years, if you listen to a guy like Sean Hannity, if you listen to a very prominent voices on the right, if you listen to many right wing politicians, to conservative politicians in this country between now and then, the message that was delivered to listeners, the message that was delivered to the audience was very clear and there was not any distinction drawn between that. So, I think, you had sort of these adult voices if you will, at the top of the Republican Party, the top of the conservative movement in George W. Bush, for instance, who are urging this sort of, you know, to split your feelings about these things but that was not at all uniform and now, I think it‘s bubbling to the surface.
And I think the reality is, you know, George W. Bush for all of his rhetoric, let‘s not forget the policies that he embraced as president. The policies he embraced enabled the clash of civilization types. The people who have always believed that‘s the next great fight after communism was a clash between western values, western civilization and Islamic values and Islamic civilization. They wanted the politics pursued immediately in response to 9/11. He surrounded himself with clash of civilization types. He bought into the vision and he implemented it, and he won over every voter in this country, I believe or just about every voter in 2004 and I think there are quite a few of them who are moved by the Islamic rhetoric. So, the Republican Party and the conservative movement cemented itself, I believe, in response to 9/11 as the Islamophobic party and as an Islamophobic movement. Take Bush out of the equation, there‘s nothing left except that rhetoric which I think we‘re now hearing and seeing a lot more.
MADOW: So, do you feel like that rhetoric was sort of seated but in the conservative movement and now with the Republican Party not having leaders who are willing to say, we need to make sure this is not a war on Muslims, then it‘s just sort of runs amuck?
KORNACKI: Here I think is the most telling thing. If you think back to 2007 when Rudy Giuliani was running for president, and I think about this, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, you know, there are pictures of cross-dressing—in New York City, he runs for president and who endorses him? Pat Robertson. I can‘t think of a greater contrast on social and cultural issues, domestic social and cultural issued that exists between Rudy Giuliani and Pat Robertson. Why? The glue that bounds them together and the glue that still binds them is Islamophobia. It is Rudy Giuliani‘s embrace of the exact same foreign policy vision that George W. Bush in his first term embraced and Pat Robertson who is a classic clash of civilizations type had long embraced and long argued for. They brought them together and it‘s so powerful that it was enough to override abortion for Pat Robertson.
MADDOW: Amazing. Still can‘t leg press 2,000 pounds though which is the most important thing.
MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, news editor for Salon. Thanks very much for coming in.
MADDOW: It‘s good to have you here.
MADDOW: Coming up after our show, a “COUNTDOWN” exclusive. Who Glenn Beck was really listening to at his rally this weekend? It will make everything very much clearer.
All right. Coming up on this show, a room full of Italian models and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. Same story, totally in Congress, I‘ll explain next.
MADDOW: This week Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya traveled to Rome for quality time with the Italian prime minister. Also for an amazing horse show. He brought 30 of his own horses with him to Italy. Colonel Gaddafi also, of course, brought along his entourage of 40 women bodyguards. Forty of them, all women. And if we could linger on this thing with the bodyguards for just a moment, they‘re not just for show. The women bodyguards really do jump in there from Mr. Gaddafi. Press reports talk about them, shoving folks around after Gaddafi got into it with the Saudi Arabians at a summit in 2003. And when Mr. Gaddafi, a couple of years ago told Roman women that it should be up to their male relatives to decide if they‘ll be able to drive, the lady bodyguards reportedly saved Gaddafi from the wrath of his not very submissive Roman female audience.
Yesterday and today, Mr. Gaddafi tried again with the women of Rome, again with very specific women, models and aspiring actresses hired by what press reports have referred to as a hostessing agency, the women were paid to be an audience for Gaddafi. One women reporter who infiltrated the event says, the Gaddafi greeted the women by telling them that Islam should become the religion of all Europe. There are more estimates on how many of these models and actresses attended the colonel‘s lecture than there are on how many people showed up for the Glenn Beck rally this weekend. Some say dozens of women turned out to hear the convert to Islam speech.
Some say, it was 500 or 700 or 800. It doesn‘t seem to be the case that he got more than he got the last time he tried this same thing in November. Back in November, Gaddafi invited 200 Italian models to a similar bizarre fake party they were paid to be at. Which means if he stays on this trajectory, Colonel Gaddafi will be back for another sermon in Italy early next summer with maybe 1,000 of the most beautiful women in Italy boarding the bus for a day‘s pay and a chase to date with the ruler of Libya. It‘s a weird job but it‘s good to be colonel. Really, it‘s seems pretty good.
MADDOW: Here‘s a story about which I offer absolutely no editorial content whatsoever. I will tell you what we know, and I will not venture any speculation whatsoever as to what explains what we know. As to what explains what I‘m about to tell you, OK? About three years ago, August 20th, 2007, a man and his daughter were walking on the beach of Jedediah Island which is just northwest of Vancouver. On the beach, the girl found a running shoe, she looked inside the running shoe and found, I‘m sorry to say, the remains of a human foot. It was a size 12 men‘s shoe, it was a right foot. Here is a picture of the shoe in question. But I‘m just going to put this shoe here on the desk to represent what happened there. You will understand why in just a second.
Less than a week after this shoe, well, this representational shoe, was found on Jedediah Island, same thing happened again. Now, feet tend to come in pairs, so you‘re thinking, hey, Maddow, it‘s not that weird that the second foot was found a few days after the first one was found. But here‘s the problem. The second foot was also a right foot. It was found on Gabriola Island, not far from foot one, six days after the first foot was found. It was also a right foot, also wearing a sneaker, also a size 12, but this time it was wearing a Reebok. This is not a Rebook, but this is the representation. So what we‘ve got now in the space of a week is two right feet, foot one and foot two.
Five and a half months later, in February of 2008, foot three is found, just south of foot two, on Valdez Island. This one is wearing a size 11 man‘s Nike sneaker. And, yes, this one is also a right foot. So now we‘re talking three feet, all found in a six-month period, all very near each other, and they‘re all right feet. Three and a half months after foot three was found, hello, foot four, this one was found on Kirkland Island at the mouth of the Frazier River South of Vancouver in late 2008. This one, foot four, yes, also a right foot. But this one, for the first time, was wearing a woman‘s shoe, a woman‘s size seven New Balance. Now, less than a month later, we got our first left foot, it‘s wearing a male size 11 Nike, it‘s also found at the mouth of a Frazier River but on a different island called Westham Island.
So, at this point, we‘ve got four right feet, one, two, three, four, and one left foot. Feet one through four are right foot, foot five is left. Now, here‘s where it gets weird. Weirder. Just two days after foot five was found, there is another finding, also in that part of British Columbia, they think that it is foot number six. OK? Right foot, male size 10, Adidas sneaker fits the profile. Only, it turns out it is a hoax. Someone put an animal paw and a bunch of seaweed into a shoe and laced it up, it is not a human foot. So, that was just fake foot number six. Real foot number six turns up a month and a half later, in early August 2008. It is the first one found on the Washington State side of the border, just west of Port Angeles. It is another right foot wearing a Levi‘s tube sock and a size 11 Everest brand hiking shoe.
We‘re now up to sixth feet and rising. Now, the month after foot six in the hiking shoe, someone put a fake plastic foot into a shoe. A fake plastic foot into a shoe, and left it on a beach in East Vancouver but it was a fake plastic foot. So that one does not count as foot number seven. Real foot number seven turned up back on the Canadian side of the boarder in Richmond, British Columbia, around election time 2008, November 2008, another left foot in a women‘s running shoe. Foot eight, that‘s foot eight, right? Foot eight turned up last October in the same area, Richmond, B.C., this one was another right foot wearing a size 8 ½ Nike. So minus the hoaxes, we‘re now up to eight feet, all wearing shoes, six right feet, and two left feet.
This weekend, we learned about foot number nine. This one found on Whidbey Island in Washington State. So, allow us to compete our understanding here of the found feet, nine of them. See detail about foot number nine? No shoe. It‘s a right foot. No shoe, though. So, there‘s this—there are two other things I need to tell you about this, so you can do your own figuring because, as I said I refuse to speculate about what any of this means. First thing, I need to tell you about is this, foot one was matched to a man who is dead. A man who went missing in 2007. It has been matched to a known but dead man. Foot three and foot five, they match, see, they match. They belong to one man, a man who wore size 11 Nikes but who otherwise remains a mystery, but they‘ve been accounted for. Foot four and foot seven, also match. They belong to one woman who is dead, and whose identity is known.
So if you take those out of the mix, there remain foot two, foot six, the one in the hiking shoe, foot eight, and the new one, foot nine, the shoeless one, which I feel gross about, but there you have it. These are the ones that are unaccounted for and that match no other found feet. That‘s one thing I needed to explain. About the matching. So there‘s sort of out of contention. Here‘s the other thing you need to know. For all of these nine feet, found without bodies, there is also one body that has been found that has no feet. This Toronto Star article gets—there we go, there‘s the map of where they all are, Toronto Star article on this subject, it‘s right to the point on the footless body. The headline from the Toronto Star on this is, now there‘s a body with no feet.
A body found right in the same area of all of these—of all of these feet being found, it‘s found on Orcas Island in Washington State, and it was found there five months before the first foot turned up. At this point, nobody seems to be able to tell me if the man with no feet is thought to match any of the feet with no man. I can tell you that heads, hands and feet are the things that are most expected to fall off when a body is in a water for a long time. I can tell you that many running shoes float. I can tell you that some of the feet are said to have been naturally disarticulated from the body and some are not described that way, but I cannot tell you anything about the story because, yes, wow, I can‘t believe we‘re talking nine feet. Nine! Discuss amongst yourself. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow night.
“COUNTDOWN” starts right now. Good night.
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