Guest Host: Melissa Harris-Perry
Guests: Ezra Klein, E.J. Dionne, Richard Engel, Bernie Sanders, Lou Dubose
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, "THE LAST WORD": And once again, if you`d
like to donate money to the Free Clinics, go to www.freeclinics.us.
You can have "THE LAST WORD" online at our TheLastWord.MSNBC.com.
You can, follow my tweets @Lawrence.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is up next. And tonight, in Rachel`s chair is
the ever versatile Melissa Harris-Perry.
Good evening, Melissa.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, GUEST HOST: Hi, Lawrence. It`s so good to see
O`DONNELL: Hey, thanks for sitting in for me last week. That was
Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Rachel
does have the night off and I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
So what did you do this weekend? If you live in the eastern U.S.,
chances are your weekend revolved around a storm named Irene, that may not
have delivered its worse case possibility, but did cause enormous damage
from North Carolina, all the way up to Canada. At least 37 people were
killed by the massive storm, and the high winds knocked down as many trees
that around 5 million Americans are now without power.
But it`s what the storm did after it left the Atlantic coast and went
inland that took many by surprise. The land lock state of Vermont, you
know, home to all those green mountains, got walloped by Irene, which was a
tropical storm by the time it got there. So, high winds weren`t the
problem, rain was the problem.
Today, Vermont is dealing with its worst flooding since 1927,
flooding that has killed at least two people. And because of all that
rain, the Vermont state capitol was almost flooded twice this weekend,
first when Irene slammed through the town and again when officials were
weighing whether to release water from a nearby dam to relieve the
The state of Connecticut is also reeling tonight, not a single town
in the Nutmeg State was spared by the storm by flooding or from damage
along the shoreline. There are power outages in every city and town in the
state, nearly half of all residents are in the dark tonight.
It`s too early to know exactly how much it will cost to clean all of
this up, to fix everything that was damaged from North Carolina to New
England. But in New Jersey, Governor Christie said that his state alone
may have suffered tens of billions of dollars in damage.
The state of Maryland said the federal government will reimburse the
state for 75 percent of what it spends on emergency preparedness in
response to Irene.
And in New York, Governor Cuomo said the cost of the storm to the
state would be high, but it would offset by federal disaster relief --
because after all, that`s what happens in the wake of a disaster, right?
That`s why Barack Obama has been going to FEMA and meeting with the
secretary of homeland security and signing all of those emergency
declarations for state after state after state.
Part of what the government exists to do is to respond to disasters
like Hurricane Irene, to help citizens get back on their feet after a
devastating storm. But out on the campaign trail, candidates for president
have been suggesting something else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t know
how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We`ve had
an earthquake. We`ve had a hurricane. He said, are you going to start
listening to me here? Listen to the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Congresswoman Bachmann said later that she was just
joking, nothing funnier than a deadly hurricane. She meant it all
humorously. She added that the national debt poses a threat to relief
Now, another presidential candidate believes he can leverage big
savings really, really easily. Congressman Ron Paul believes that since we
used to do without FEMA, we can just do without it again. He cited as an
example the hurricane that struck his district in the year 1900 in
Now, quoting him, "We should be like 1900. We should be like 1940,
1950, 1960. I live on the Gulf Coast and we deal with hurricanes all the
With all due respect, I live in the Gulf Coast, too, and what I know
is that somewhere between 6,000 and 12,000 people died in the Galveston
hurricane. So many bodies that people couldn`t bury them all. Barrels of
free whisky were handed out to dull the horror of the funeral fires that
burn across the city for weeks on end.
That seemed to be the extent the government could respond, to dull
your pain with some free liquor. Sorry, we can`t do more.
Now, the majority leader of Congress right now isn`t quite suggesting
that we get rid of FEMA. Instead, Congressman Eric Cantor has been
requiring that spending cuts be made somewhere else to pay for a disaster.
And he`s been very consistent about this.
After the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, this spring, the disaster
funding to deal with that was taken from the Energy Department`s budget.
Sorry, developers of vehicles, that money`s got to come from somewhere,
which means that when FEMA need money now, right now, to respond to
hurricane Irene, it had to take money intended for the Joplin recovery and
spend it on Irene.
Sorry, tornado-leveled town, rebuilding will have to wait. You are
In just over four months, Americans will begin voting for whom they
think America`s next president should be. Will that be someone who runs a
government so small as to be inconsequential? A government that exists as
a reflection of God`s wrath? Or will it be a governing body with the
desire and the means to help pick up the pieces and rebuild when disaster
Joining us now from Burlington, Vermont, is independent Senator
Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Thank you so much for your time tonight.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: My pleasure.
HARRIS-PERRY: Some of the worst pictures, some that just really had
my jaw dropping were taken just down the road from where you are right now
in Burlington, in Waterbury, Vermont.
Now, can you give us an assessment of what`s happening on the ground
there, in situations like the one you are currently in?
SANDERS: Actually, I was just in Waterbury a few hours ago.
What we are looking for, Melissa, three people are known to be dead
and we fear that a fourth person is lost. Hundreds of roads have been
closed. Our major rail line that carries Amtrak has been shut down. Tens
of thousands of people are without electricity.
We are seeing severe damage to many businesses and homes throughout
the state, mostly in the southern part of the state. So, what we`re seeing
today is the state of Vermont experiencing the worst natural disaster that
we have experienced since 1927.
At end of the day, we`re going to be spending to rebuild the damage
and go forward from here, it`s hard to estimate -- but certainly tens and
tens and tens of millions of dollars if not hundreds of millions of
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, Senator Sanders, when we hear something like
that, you know, none of us want to politicize this, this is a disaster at
its core. It doesn`t require a political analysis, per se.
But I do want to ask here about the role of the government in
alleviating that kind of suffering. We may not be able to solve it, but
the fact is as we`re having conversations about the appropriate role of
government, certainly, it makes sense for a first line responder to be
local. But is there a role here for the federal government to play?
SANDERS: Of course. Of course, there is. In any democratic,
civilized -- even non-democratic nations, if you are a nation, it means to
say that in our case, if there`s a hurricane in Louisiana, the people of
Vermont are there for them. If there`s a tornado in the Midwest, we are
there for them. If there`s flooding in the East Coast, the people in
California are there for us.
That is the concept of a nation. You can`t do everything alone. We
And when disaster strikes, as one people, we come together to help
our neighbors out.
HARRIS-PERRY: There is something about disaster that creates a sense
of shared vulnerability. I mean, I`m here in New Orleans, and we
certainly, you know, yesterday were spending a lot of time thinking about
what was happening to our fellow citizens on the East Coast.
So, to the extent we are all one people, once Congress reconvenes, do
you anticipate problems getting our body, the federal government, to pass
the kind of funding bill necessary to assist with Irene?
SANDERS: Well, I surely hope not. You know, in the past as a
nation, we have come together. We`ve got to do it now, and we have got to
do it in the future. But as you`ve indicated in your opening statement,
there are some people out there who have a very strange idea of what a
nation is about. And they do not believe, I gather, that the federal
government should play a role in helping communities rebuild after some
terrible disaster has occurred, after people have lost their lives, after
businesses have gone under.
These are the same people who believe, in some cases, the federal
government should not play any role in providing health care to our people
or protecting the environment.
I think, Melissa, this is very much of a fringe concept. I think the
overwhelming majority of the American people know that we have got to stand
together, that we`re going to grow together, that we`re going to survive
together, and that if we start splintering, we`re not going to succeed in a
highly competitive international economy.
So, yes, there are some voices out there who think, I guess, that the
federal government should not respond to a disaster, there are voices in
Congress. But I think they represent a very small minority of the American
HARRIS-PERRY: Senator Sanders, our hearts and our thoughts are with
the people of Vermont tonight. Thank you so much for joining us.
SANDERS: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, what was President Obama up to on vacation last
week in Martha`s Vineyard -- you know, golfing, some light reading,
managing two different disaster response efforts, overseeing the end of
Libya`s 40-year dictatorship and attempting to execute a world power from
the worst economic recession since the 1930s, the usual stuff.
The president`s latest move on the jobs crisis is next.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, oh, oh, oh, did you hear what former Vice
President Dick Cheney said about former Secretary of State Colin Powell?
Colin Powell did. Stay tuned to see who maintained dignity and who didn`t
HARRIS-PERRY: In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the word of the
day is "recovery." Recovery from the hundred-plus miles per hour wind that
knocked down trees, ripped off roofs, and tore down power lines. More than
5 million are still without power in 14 East Coast states.
Recovery from the flooding, storm surge, swollen rivers and lakes,
backup drainage systems all along the hurricane path, there are still towns
and cities underwater from the rain up to a foot of rain in some places,
recovery from the almost complete grinding standstill. Transportation
infrastructure and systems need to get back up and running so things and
people can get moving again.
Recovery from Hurricane Irene will cost billions of dollars, but it
will get done, it can be done. We know how to get the power lines back up
and the roads cleared. Less certain is the other recovery, the big picture
recovery, capital "R," capital "E," capital -- covery. Recovery.
I am, of course, speaking of economic recovery -- and what the heck
the government can do about it. The people in charge of getting the
economy going again are these guys, the members of Congress in the House
and the Senate. Oh, yes, and this man, President Obama -- or to be more
specific, President Obama and his advisors.
One of the most important and impressive economic advisor positions
in the White House is the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors,
that title has a lot of words in it -- so you know it`s important. And
until recently, the guy who had that job was the gloriously named Austan
In his last appearance on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart, Goolsbee
was barely contained his delight. He was practically ribbing in pleasure
at the thought of living his job?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: He`s the outgoing chairman of the Council of
Economic Advisors, please welcome back to the program, Austan Goolsbee.
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, OUTCOMING CHAIRMAN OF THE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC
ADVISORS: Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors for two more days.
STEWART: Look at you, can we get a shot of his face?
You are giddy. You are giddy.
GOOLSBEE: I will admit to some small enjoyment I`m getting out of
Once you get to Washington, there`s only so long you can go. I mean,
there are a number of people there whose tray tables are not in the full
and upright and locked position. I feel bad the president has got to stay
there for years to come.
STEWART: Look at you. You are, I swear to got -- you are giddy as a
GOOLSBEE: We`re the salmon, you know, I`m jumping out of the lake,
I`m like, I`m headed home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Austan Goolsbee has been on "The Daily Show" four
times before this. He`s never looked so down right slap happy. It`s as
though he had the world`s most thankless job -- except, perhaps, for being
president. It`s a job so bad that he`s leaving the halls of power in
Washington where he can make a real difference for an unassuming teaching
job in Chicago -- and he could not be happier about it.
Look at him. He`s thrilled, delighted. This whole chairman of the
Council of Economic Advisors thing must be a real slog. And today at the
White House, President Obama announced his latest victim -- I mean, his
latest pick to head up the economic advisory council, Alan Krueger, a labor
economist, also former assistant treasury secretary and professor at
Princeton, where in the interest of full disclosure I used to work. Come
to think of it, I used to work at the University of Chicago too. Not
Joining us now is Ezra Klein, MSNBC policy analyst and columnist for
"The Washington Post" and "Bloomberg News."
Nice to see you tonight, Ezra.
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC POLICY ANALYST: Nice to see you, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: You say that Alan Krueger is the obvious pick for the
president. What makes him so obvious?
KLEIN: It is the entire history of how the president picks these
economic positions. So, the thing about Alan Krueger, the upside of the
pick is Alan Krueger. Alan Krueger is a labor economist. He`s a guy who
studies the job market and he`s good at it.
He`s one of the best labor economists in the country. He`s known for
his rigor with the data. He`s known for the creative ways. He tests new
proposition. He`s actually breathed a lot of new life in the field when it
fell a few years ago.
But Alan Krueger is also a long time Clinton and Obama administration
appointee. He has served with Geithner. He has served with Summers. He
served with all these guys for some time.
He`s actually a good tennis buddy of Geitner and Summer. So, if you
look at the way the Obama administration has been picking for these
positions, Goolsbee following Roemer, Daly following Emanuel, Sperling
following Summers, people they know, they pick from inside the
When you look for an economist who`s a good economist but also knew
these guys and served there before, that was Alan Krueger. And so, the
downside of that is you got another economist in there who is part of the
administration team who thinks like they do.
So, if you wanted this to be a pick to broaden the administration`s
horizons, you didn`t get that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Sure. So, it`s not someone who`s going to broaden
horizons, but more than that. The other similarity I see between Krueger
and President Obama is exactly, as you described, this kind of creative,
empirical, hypothesis testing. Is this guy too much of a thinker, of a
professorial type on the economy rather than kind of a hard-hitting person?
Is that another area here?
KLEIN: Well, if you`ve got a political guy in the council of
economic advisors position, you made a terrible mistake. That position,
and this is the reason it is thankless for guys like Goolsbee, that
position is there to give good, rigorous, empirical advice to the
Now, you can ask yourself -- do you want a big thinker there?
Somebody who has sort of sweeping interpretations of the macro economy that
we live in? That is not Krueger. Do you want a smaller thinker or there,
or someone who is very good at thinking about how do you design this
particular program, to its maximum efficacy, that might be Krueger.
But to get a guy there who`s going to tell how to pass things through
Congress, there are enough political people in Washington already.
HARRIS-PERRY: Now, speaking of trying to get things passed through
Congress, it turns out the Republicans in Congress have, of course, been
holding up the president`s nominees, and this is, after all, just a
What is going to happen politically on this question -- will Krueger
have any bipartisan support or is this going to be a fight in the Senate?
KLEIN: Points will be scored. I think it`s the way to put it.
Now, eventually, I think Kruger will get past the Senate. He`s been
confirmed from multiple positions before and traditionally the Council of
Economic Advisors chair does not get held up because at the end of the day,
he doesn`t have a lot of power. He tends to simple advise the president
and the Senate tends to give the president more leeway on a pick like that
than Federal Reserve chairman and treasury secretary, someone with
independent authority of their own.
But, obviously, the nominations process is incredibly broken and the
situation is incredibly polarized right now. So, if I were Alan Krueger, I
probably would not be looking forward to my hearings.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Sure, and normally things like the debt ceiling
are also routine. I`m not sure that we can say it`s the normal as the
number anymore. Now, speaking of this question of whether or not the
administration is going in a new direction, President Obama is going to be
making his big jobs bill pitch next week. Is there anything about the
Krueger nomination here that makes you think something specific particular
is going to be happening in terms of the scope or the direction of this
KLEIN: No. For one thing, we have no idea that Krueger has even
been involved in that and my hunch is he`s not been heavily involved in
that, until probably recently. He wasn`t even the main one rumored for the
So, I don`t think Krueger is telling us that much about that. Right
now, the theory in Washington and elsewhere is mainly that we`re going to
be hearing versions of ideas we`ve heard before. This administration has
not been one for picking big symbolic battles on policies that they don`t
think they win on, they`ve also been pretty careful to try to not offer up
policies that can passed and then we`ll get polarized by them bringing them
up. So I expect mostly things we`ve heard before or similar policies to
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Ezra, you and I talked about at one point about
having a politics and economics 101 class, maybe this is our professor for
MSNBC policy analyst and columnist for "The Washington Post" and
"Bloomberg News" -- thanks for joining me tonight, Ezra.
KLEIN: Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Perry has
doubled down against one of the most popular and successful social programs
in the history of the world. Social Security and the extreme right wing
just don`t get along. That story is next.
HARRIS: Let`s say, just for argument`s sake, that you don`t know
everything there is to know about the political philosophy of Texas
Governor Rick Perry.
Let`s just say you haven`t read his new book, "Fed Up!" from start to
finish. Let`s just say you`re a regular, reasonable person and you hear
Rick Perry, Texas governor and for the moment, frontrunner in the
Republican presidential primary, say this about Social Security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to have a
conversation with America -- just like we`re having here today and admit
that it is a Ponzi scheme for these young people. It is -- I mean, the
idea that they are working and paying into Social Security today and they
are under the current program that it`s going to be there for them is a
lie. It is a monstrous lie on this generation, and we can`t do that to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: If you`re not paying really close attention, if you`re
a casual listener on the campaign trail, sounds like Governor Perry is
saying that Social Security, yes, is a Ponzi scheme. It`s a monstrous lie
to this generation, and therefore, he seems to be implying we need to fix
it, make it solvent so it will be around for these young people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: It is a monstrous lie on this generation, and we can`t do
that to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: We can`t do that to them. If you`re listening to Rick
Perry talk about Social Security on the campaign trail, you might hear his
criticism of the program as indicative of his interest in actually
strengthening it. It sounds like he wants to fix Social Security.
In fact, in his book, Governor Perry argues that certain New Deal
programs, quote, "massively altered the relationship between Americans and
their government, violently tossing aside any respect for our founding
principles of federalism and limited government. By far, the best example
of this is Social Security."
Rick Perry does not want to save Social Security for the younger
generation. The monstrous lie is not Social Security. It is more likely
the monstrously misleading idea is that Rick Perry would like to protect
America`s most important social safety net for the next generation.
The truth is that Rick Perry is perfectly happy to have the next
generation go into retirement and old age without a social safety net of
any kind. In fact, he told "Newsweek" last fall in an interview revisited
by the "Daily Beast" this month, quote, "I don`t think our Founding
Fathers, when they were putting the term `general welfare` and the
Constitution were thinking about a federally operated program of pensions,
nor a federally program of health care."
So, the goal in Rick Perry`s America would be what, to save from the
wages so many Americans don`t have because they don`t have jobs, invest
those non-existent wages in private accounts on the stock market that
crashes every other week? Leave it up to the stakes to have entitlements
or not, to have a social safety net or not?
You know, it`s hard to say, because Rick Perry hasn`t seemed terribly
anxious to discuss his plans for Social Security out on the campaign trail.
Why? Maybe he thinks if he just says it`s in big trouble, it`s a lie, it`s
a Ponzi scheme, that all those anxious voters will assume, as he`s just
implied, that he wants to fix it.
So, when Rick Perry says Social Security is in trouble, he doesn`t
mean he wants to fix it, he means he wants to get rid of it.
In that case, what does Rick Perry mean when he says he`s balanced
the budget in Texas or that he`s produced the strongest economy in the
nation, or created all those new jobs?
I`m actually interested in this.
So, joining us now is someone who can help to answer all those
questions, someone who can crack the Rick Perry code, if you will.
Lou Dubose, editor of "The Washington Spectator."
Lou, thanks so much for joining us.
LOU DUBOSE, THE WASHINGTON SPECTATOR: Thank you for having me,
Melissa. So crack the code.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, the first Rick Perryism I want to ask -- yes,
exactly. The first Rick Perryism I want you to decode is the Texas budget.
Rick Perry likes to talk about how he, as governor, simply made tough
choices, he balanced the budget.
Now, you have a piece out on this this week dealing with the $27
billion budget shortfall in Texas. So, help me decode this Texas budget.
What`s really going on here?
DUBOSE: Well, for one, you know, he`s required by the Constitution
to balance the budget. They can`t deficit spend in Texas as in most
states, because the Constitution prohibits it.
The budget was balanced but it was balanced -- we faced at the
beginning of this legislative session a brutal budget that just ended, a
$27 billion shortfall. The interesting thing about that shortfall is that
it was created by the governor in 2006 when he passed a business margins
tax. He appointed a committee. He pushed it through the legislature, and
the cynical thing was that $27 billion he knew, or at least was well-
informed, that it would not -- there would be a $27 billion hole because
his tax was going to underperform.
By 2011, it did underperform by $27 billion. It didn`t in 2009 for
that biennium because Rick Perry took $17 billion in stimulus, a program to
which he objected. He took it and used it to fill the budget hole. So,
essentially, the governor has created a structural budget deficit, you
know, it`s going to be $10 billion to $20 billion per biennium depending on
how the budget performs.
And he knew he did it. He knew because he told two legislatures, at
least two that I know, Scott Hochberg being one, he told the lieutenant
governor the tax would not deliver. The comptroller told him, the state
comptroller told him, the tax would be $23 billion short. She missed by $4
billion because she didn`t account for the recession.
So, he went into the session knowing we were short.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, indeed. And speaking of citizens, not only did
he take stimulus money to fill the budget hole while railing against the
stimulus. He also, even though he`s talking about sort of America`s future
and the future of young people, what were exactly the sorts of government
spending things that he did cut in the Texas budget as he keeps making this
claim to have balanced this budget without raising new revenue?
DUBOSE: Listen, that`s always an easy choice in Texas. You go after
public education and Medicaid, $4.3 billion in public education, out of
funding formulas, $1.4 billion out of a categorical spending. That`s,
what, $5.7 billion.
And, you know, you`re next door in low-tax, low services state of
Louisiana. I mean, you see firsthand that these are exponential cuts in
states such as ours. And, you know, we`re out -- now we have 12,000
teachers laid off in this session, but it`s going to come back in the next
session. Medicaid`s cut and the last four months of Medicaid weren`t
funded. So, we`re $4.8 billion short in Medicaid going into the next
session two years from now. It`s grim.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, Medicaid, education.
Lou Dubose, editor of "The Washington Spectator," thanks for helping
us crack what that Perry code actually is.
DUBOSE: Thank you for having me.
HARRIS-PERRY: For all those who served in George W. Bush`s
admission, here`s a phrase sure to strike terror in the stoutest of hearts.
Dick Cheney has written a memoir. "Washington Post" columnist E.J. Dionne
joins us for that next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE GANGEL, NBC NEWS: In your view, we should still be using
DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.
GANGEL: Should we still be waterboarding terror suspects?
CHENEY: I would strongly support using it again if we had a high
value detainee, and that was the only way we could get him to talk.
GANGEL: People call it torture; you think it should still be a tool?
GANGEL: Secret prisons?
CHENEY: Well, with the right approval.
GANGEL: You say it is one of the things you are proudest of and
you`d do it again in a heart beat.
CHENEY: It was controversial at the time, it was the right thing to
GANGEL: No apologies?
CHENEY: No apologies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Ladies and gentlemen, the unapologetic 46th vice
president of the United States, Richard Bruce Cheney, who`s currently on a
massive press junket in promoting his memoir and promising there will be,
quote, "heads exploding all over Washington."
Why? Because his unapologetic memoir throws a bunch of his fellow
Bush veterans under the bus.
On George Tenet, the former director the CIA, the one who promised
that the intelligence of WMDs in Iraq was a slam dunk, Cheney criticizes
him for leaving when the going got tough.
Then my favorite, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice`s
apology after President Bush wrongly stated that Iraq has tried to buy
uranium in his 2003 State of the Union address. Quote, "Rice realized
sometime later that she had made a major mistake by issuing a public
apology. She came into my office, sat down in the chair next to my desk
and tearfully admitted I had been right."
And then on Secretary of State Colin Powell, Cheney says he pushed
for his resignation in 2004 and that, quote, "It was as though he thought
the proper way to express his views was by criticizing administration
policy to people outside the government."
Secretary Powell`s response to his former colleague.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Mr. Cheney has had a long
and distinguished career and I hope in his book that`s what he will focus
on, not these cheap shots he`s taking at me and other members of the
administration who served to the best of our ability for President Bush.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you just label them flatly as cheap shots.
POWELL: Well, yes, they are cheap shots. Several ones he tosses at
me, you know, he credits credit for my resignation in 2004. Well,
President Bush and I had always agreed that I would leave at the end of
He says that I went out of my way not to present my positions to the
president but to take them outside of the administration. That`s nonsense.
The president knows what I told him about every issue of the day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In some ways he`s no kinder to your successor,
POWELL: Well, he`s taking the same shots at Condi with an almost
condescending tone, she tearfully did this and that. And he`s taking the
same shots at George Tenet. And he is also in some ways indicated he
didn`t always approve of what President Bush was deciding.
And there`s nothing wrong with saying you disagree, but it`s not
necessary to take these barbs and then try to pump a book up by saying
heads will be exploding. That`s even on the headline section of the Nixon
Foundation to sell the book. I think it`s a bit too far. I think Dick
overshot the runway with that kind of comment and if that`s how he plans
to sell his book.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-POWELL: That it would be Colin Powell, a veteran of foreign
wars, a hero of the First Gulf War, an undeniable patriot who served under
both Democrats and Republicans, a man who precisely because of his
bipartisan appeal and because of his commitment to duty, was chosen as the
sales person of the Iraq War into the world on behalf of the Bush
administration, that it would be Colin Powell to be thrown under the bus by
Vice President Dick Cheney? That it would be Colin Powell to be thrown
under the bus by one of those people whose war he helped to sell -- not
just nasty and ugly but tacky and also really bad manners.
Here to talk more about this is E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post"
columnist, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and MSNBC
Thanks for seeing you again tonight.
E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Good to see you tonight.
HARRIS-PERRY: I wonder where there`s still so much ranker here from
former vice president. Why come out attacking members of his own
DIONNE: Well, I think you do get a picture of quite a bit of
dysfunction inside the Bush administration, and I think that Cheney felt
that in the second term, the policy was getting away from him. I think
that you really saw a shift in President Bush`s foreign policy from
something like the Cheney policy to something like Condoleezza Rice`s
policy -- and that`s where there are certain continuities between the
second half of Bush and President Obama. And I don`t think Cheney likes
There were, however, some interesting revelations in this book, I
thought, even if Colin Powell is right in saying that heads aren`t
exploding in Washington. I thought that was the toughest shot because the
way you sell a book is to get people to believe that heads are exploding.
But the account of the last meeting before Iraq is really striking,
because President Bush, in his account of the meeting said it ended with
his deciding and he says, let`s go. Cheney says that Bush threw everybody
out of the room and said, Dick, what do you think we ought to do.
I always thought there was something odd about some of these heroic
accounts of President Bush`s decision making. This is one of the toughest
critiques ever, even though he told Jamie Gangel he didn`t mean it that
HARRIS-PERRY: Look, I do think there`s a way in which clearly Vice
President Cheney is trying to position himself here as, you know, the
center of this story. But I wonder why do it at the expense of the party.
I mean, you know, we`ve been sort of wringing our hands about how we
can`t get bipartisanship in the U.S., but right now it feels like is there
something this Cheney memoir should be telling us about the Republican
Party itself coming apart at the seams?
DIONNE: Well, I think it tells you about why all of these Republican
presidential candidates are not embracing the Bush record. Rick Perry has
gone out of his way to say he`s a different kind of Texan, he`s Texas A&M,
not Yale. And Mitt Romney who might in some ways be the most natural
successor to Bush is not embracing him either.
And as I was hearing Dick Cheney talk, I thought his theme song is
really Edith Piaf`s "No, I Regret Nothing," except he`d never sing it in
French, I think.
HARRIS-PERRY: I don`t want to hear him sing it. That seems --
HARRIS-PERRY: E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" columnist, MSNBC
contributor and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution -- thanks for
joining me tonight.
DIONNE: Good to be with you.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m not the only one broadcasting from New Orleans
tonight. Ed Schultz is also here. And he`ll have the latest on his
tremendous efforts to support free health clinics. And I`m happy to say
one of Ed`s guests later on tonight will be me. That`s right, after the
And here, up next, a look at what Rachel`s been working on so hard
for the last few months.
We`ll be right back.
HARRIS-PERRY: A special preview of the upcoming MSNBC documentary
"Day of Destruction: Decade of War" with Rachel Maddow and Richard Engel is
next. Stay with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Since the death of Osama bin Laden back in May, the
CIA has been busy -- busy combing through bin Laden`s files that Navy SEALs
scooped up on the way out -- looking for names, numbers, locations, any
clues to lead them to bin Laden`s heir apparent in al Qaeda leadership.
This weekend, we learned those efforts paid off in a big way.
With the death of bin Laden, this man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has become
the terror group`s new leader. Replacing him as second on the
organizational chart is this man, Atiyah al Rahman, described as al Qaeda`s
top operational planner and one of the only remaining figures in al Qaeda`s
leadership who could serve as both an ideological guide and the operational
leader. That was until U.S. officials say he was killed last week by a CIA
drone strike in Pakistani tribal region of Waziristan, dealing al Qaeda
another major blow.
Nearly 10 years since 9/11, U.S. officials are now sounding
cautiously optimistic that a strategic defeat of al Qaeda could be near.
For most of the past year, Rachel has been working with NBC news
chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel on a two-part documentary about
not 9/11 itself, but the decade after -- how 9/11 has changed the country,
what we`ve done and what we`ve done different now because of it.
Here now is a short clip from the piece, take a look.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):
The combination of CIA units, U.S. Special Forces, Afghan militias, and
American air strikes is devastating. The Taliban start to run and abandon
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, all the Taliban they leave us and they
said e are sorry.
ENGEL: In November, 2001, Kabul falls, just two months after 9/11.
Girls are free to go to school. The repressive regime that hosted bin
Laden is defeated. A month later, even Kandahar, the Taliban`s hometown,
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kandahar fell. That was the last urban
stronghold of the Taliban and al Qaeda, less than 90 days after 9/11, there
were only 410 Americans on the ground in Afghanistan -- about 110 CIA and
approximately 300 Special Forces.
ENGEL (on camera): Forty Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
ENGEL: On the ground, and they toppled the government of the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, 400 Americans that were in partnership with
our Afghan allies. And that was really the key.
ENGEL (voice-over): The cost to America to drive out the Taliban?
Less than $1 billion, and one U.S. CIA officer killed.
(on camera): Relatively speaking, it was a very cheap and low-risk
victory. What happened after that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I believe that we as a nation and as a
global community failed to secure that victory.
ENGEL (voice-over): The quick victory in Afghanistan wasn`t secured
in large part because of Pakistan, and its porous border. Al Qaeda and the
Taliban crossed over and established a new sanctuary next to Afghanistan.
And then, in what has been called an even greater strategic mistake,
the United States found a new mission, a new war in Iraq. Al Qaeda felt it
was given a second chance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We never thought that the American will invade.
We never thought that that American will do that, you know, and get
involved in that war.
ENGEL (on camera): Was Iraq a gift to al Qaeda?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course. Yes, is gift.
ENGEL (voice-over): A gift, because Iraq would inspire a new
generation of al Qaeda fighters.
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s part of a two-part series that airs starting
this Thursday night, September 1st at 9:00 p.m., "Day of Destruction:
Decade of War." We hope you`ll watch.
We`ll be right back.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m hosting tonight`s show from New Orleans. But be
here tonight wasn`t really the plan. I`m here because Hurricane Irene made
it impossible to fly to New York, like I was supposed to.
But my unfortunate predicament is strangely apropos, because while
Hurricane Irene has shut down the East Coast, tonight is also the sixth
anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, devastating this city, that I love and
where I live.
Sixth anniversaries are not usually all that notable. While we are
preparing as a nation to mark 10 years since the attacks of September 11th,
the sixth anniversary of the levee breach is less likely to make news.
But my vantage point here in New Orleans on this anniversary, while
also looking ahead to September 11th, allows me to ponder the lessons we
Americans have learned, and the ones we have not, from our two biggest
calamities in recent history.
Hurricane Katrina, like September 11th, 2001, was a rare moment, when
we as Americans suffered along with our fellow citizens, even as tragedy
struck. We watched in horror as the towers came down.
Four years later, we sat in shock as water poured into the Lower
Ninth Ward. The terror of 9/11 was followed by a deep sense of connection,
with each other -- a sense of solidarity as Americans and a recognition of
our shared vulnerability. In fact, it made us afraid.
And that fear did make us band together, but it also is true that our
unified desire to respond to 9/11 helped us to make some disastrous
choices. Out of fear, we stood and allowed the erosion of America`s civil
liberties. Out of our fear, we followed a misguided president into a war
with Iraq. Fear of terrorism made us afraid to criticize the troubling
choices of the Bush administration.
Until, four years later, another crisis reminded us that the politics
of fear are not an effective or adequate response to our shared
On August 29th, 2007, Hurricane Katrina toppled the levees that
protect New Orleans, killed more than 1,500 people, destroyed nearly
100,000 homes, displaced more than 1 million Gulf Coast residents, and
crippled the Mississippi Gulf Coast and southeastern Louisiana.
We watched as Americans were abandoned on the rooftops of their
homes, and we realized that our system could not even get water to the
people of a major American city for days. And this too reminded us that we
are all vulnerable -- not only to the danger of foreign enemies, but to the
neglect of our own public institutions.
The lessons of Katrina were critical lessons. Katrina exposed the
consequences of our aging and inadequate infrastructure. The floodwaters
also revealed the long-standing racial and economic differences that made
an entire population vulnerable to disaster.
And how long did those lessons last? Did our priorities as a nation
change in any profound way? Whatever momentum our renewed sense of
responsibility brought has been halted by this recession. Right now, even
as the wealth gap between white Americans and Americans of color widens,
the argument in Washington is over how much of the social safety net we
must cut, while not raising taxes on the rich right now, even as the
president reminds us time and again that we need to spend on fixing our
crumbling infrastructure, he`s being met with opposition from Republicans
who say we can`t afford it.
Right now, as we try to prevent more disasters that are made worse by
environmental degradation like the erosion of our coastal wetlands,
Republicans want to gut the EPA.
It`s clear that in response to Hurricane Irene, we have learned a
better way to prepare for short-term disasters. We can see it in the
seriousness and the effectiveness of the federal, state and local
government responses. But learning short-term lessons from Katrina is not
Six years later, the longer-term lessons about public policy, mutual
investment are what we as a people are still refusing to learn.
And that does it for us tonight. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry in for
Rachel Maddow. And we`ll see you tomorrow tonight.
And I`ll see you next hour on "THE ED SHOW" which starts right now.
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