Guests: Pam Bondi, Karen Hughes, Saxby Chambliss, Wesley Clark
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight, Iraq explodes in violence, as U.S. casualties mount.
You‘re about SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, no cutting and running allowed.
Ted Kennedy‘s says Iraq is George Bush‘s Vietnam, as the president‘s allies say, no way. But will the news of more troop deaths in battles across Iraq soften American support for the war and lead more to agree with the Senate‘s leading liberal? We‘re going to be asking retired General and former presidential candidate Wesley Clark.
And then, she was called the most powerful woman in Washington, but she left it all behind to return home and raise her family. Presidential adviser Karen Hughes enters SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to talk about President Bush, motherhood, the war in Iraq and the election in 2004.
And Rush Limbaugh‘s medical records case finally hits the courts. Will Rush‘s privacy prevail or will prosecutors on a fishing expedition get to peek at his most personal files? We‘re going to get the very latest from a Florida prosecutor.
But first, almost a year after Saddam Hussein‘s statue fell, anarchy descends on Iraq. It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Fierce battles were waged across Iraq today as a young Muslim cleric‘s efforts to set off a bloody terror campaign against American troops set off a firestorm. In Nasiriyah, Italian troops battled rebels along the Euphrates. In Fallujah, U.S. forces were battling massive resistance in an effort to bring order to the chaotic Sunni stronghold where U.S. contractors last week were savagely murdered, beaten and lynched.
And battles raged throughout Baghdad as al-Sadr supporters followed up on their weekend activities aimed at driving Americans out of Iraq. Scores of Iraqis have been killed and 12 young Americans lost their lives in fighting today. And in light of today‘s events, three questions have to be answered. One, does America cut its losses and run? The answer to that is flatly no. Retreating from Iraq is not even remotely possible. And only the most radical U.S. policymakers on both political extremes would suggest otherwise.
Two, do we need more troops in Iraq? Hell, yes, we do. We‘re at war and it‘s time we provide the manpower and firepower required to crush all existence from Iraqi radicals and Stalinist thugs. And, three, should June 30 handover date to the Iraqis be extended? You can bet your life on it, it does. Or more to the point, the lives of American troops have to be bet on the fact that that deadline has got to be extended, because creating this false deadline in time for a presidential election is no way to win a war.
And, as I said here last night, we are a nation at war. And the sooner we treat these uprisings as such, the sooner this bloody nightmare will come to an end. America‘s leaders have to adapt to the changing battlefield that‘s before them and recognize that our generals needs more troops and Iraq needs more time before taking control of that chaotic country. And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, as casualties mount in Fallujah and Baghdad, the anti-war chorus is rising here at home and around the world.
We‘ve got General Wesley Clark with us. He of course is a former Democratic presidential candidate, and, more importantly, of course, one of America‘s leading generals throughout the 1990s.
General, thanks for being with us tonight.
I want to begin by asking you, it has been a bloody day in Iraq, one of the worst days since the end of fighting on April 9 of last year. What does America need to do to turn the tide around over there?
WESLEY CLARK (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, I think we need to trust our military leaders to do what they need to take care of the troops and restore order.
I do think we need more forces there, and I hope that Secretary Rumsfeld will send them. Whatever General Abizaid said he needs, that‘s what we should get there forthwith. But I think more importantly than that, we need a political strategy on the ground in Iraq that works. This administration hasn‘t produced one that is effective. It went in without a plan. It created June 30 as—at the time, I was saying the June 30 date had no significance. It didn‘t match any of the things that were happening on the ground. It was just a date that was pulled out of the air.
And there‘s still no strategy. Joe, the way it should work in a country like Iraq is, people should stop the fighting and start the dialogue. That‘s the essence of the political process, is to stop throwing spears and to start throwing words back and forth.
SCARBOROUGH: General, how do we do that?
CLARK: We‘ve gone the wrong way.
SCARBOROUGH: How do we do that?
CLARK: Well, you‘ve got to let people like Muqtada have their say. And I think there should have been another way other than closing that newspaper down. I don‘t want to second guess people because I wasn‘t there, but you‘ve got to get these issues out into the open and a political dialogue and set up a political process in which they can be taken to the Iraqi people and resolved.
The thing about where we are right now is, the military—if we don‘t do the right thing militarily, we could lose. And we‘re not going to lose militarily. But you can‘t win this militarily, no matter how good the military is, because it‘s political.
SCARBOROUGH: General, let me ask you, do you agree with me, and I think most people, that leaving Iraq right now is simply not an option? It‘s not an option on June 30 of this year. It‘s not an option on June 30 of next year. Whether you agree with George Bush and the way—and I‘m not talking about you—I‘m talking about all of our viewers out there—whether they agree on how George Bush got us there or not, America is there, just like we‘re in Bosnia, just like we‘re in Kosovo. And once we‘re there, we can‘t retreat.
CLARK: That‘s right. We‘re not going to retreat and we‘re going to be strong there.
But, Joe, we‘re not going to be successful there unless we get beyond the military. I mean, if there‘s any single sin of this administration, it‘s that it‘s put too much of the burden of America‘s security on the great young men and women in our armed forces. And it hasn‘t followed through enough with the diplomats and the political strategy that‘s required to see that their bloodshed and sacrifice pays off.
And that‘s our problem in Iraq. We‘ve got great soldiers over there, but we‘ve never had a good strategy. And I hope the president will create one now.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, yesterday, one of John Kerry‘s most vocal supporters, Teddy Kennedy, had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This president has now created the largest credibility gap since Richard Nixon. He‘s the problem, not the solution. Iraq is George Bush‘s Vietnam. Saying whatever it takes to prevail has become a standard operating procedure in the Bush White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: As one who served proudly in Vietnam for this country, do you agree that Iraq is going to be George W. Bush‘s Vietnam, or is that a bit of a political overstatement by Senator Kennedy?
Well, I think there‘s a difference in the amount of—in the cost to the American armed forces of fighting in Iraq and Vietnam. We‘ve lost over 600. We were losing over 300 a week at the height of the Vietnam War. And yet, there is this important similarity. In Vietnam, our military was asked to use its tactics on the battlefield to try to accomplish something that the strategists and the politicians and the diplomats couldn‘t quite envision.
CLARK: And that‘s the same thing that‘s happening in Iraq. For all the president says about wanting to create a democracy in Iraq, it‘s pretty clear the conditions for democracy aren‘t there.
He‘s got a lot of rhetoric out there. But where‘s the concrete political plan for how you surface these differences in the Shia community, reconcile them politically with the Sunni community and the Kurds and bring this country together? It‘s not happening. In the meantime, our armed forces, our young men and women are shedding their blood to try to maintain order. Well, they‘ll do that. But we won‘t ultimately be successful unless we can have a political strategy. The military can‘t do it alone.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, General, last week, you were on our show and I think we disagreed over one point, where you had said that you thought it may have been a fable for a lot of Americans to believe that democracy could plant itself in Iraq and spread across the Middle Eastern region. I think that is possible.
But I want to expand on that a little bit, because you just brought it up again tonight. Do you think the Iraqi people are capable of establishing a Jeffersonian-type democracy that we have here in America and fostering and allowing it to grow, or do you think that is just not consistent with the Iraqis‘ culture?
CLARK: I think it‘s possible, but I don‘t think it‘s likely. And I don‘t think it‘s a near-term possibility.
SCARBOROUGH: Why is that?
CLARK: Because there are so many frictions and tensions, the legacy of conflict, the anger, the resentment at a colonial heritage, the resentment of the West, the impact of Islam.
When we started our democracy in America, we were protected by oceans, and the Iraqis have no protection from their neighbors. There‘s nothing that keeps out the influence. We know the Iranians are sending agents in. We know the Syrians, the Saudis and others are putting weapons in. We know there‘s a conflict between the Sunnis and the Shias that‘s building. There‘s a temporary collusion right now to go after the Americans. I don‘t know how long that will last.
But there are so many challenges there that, you know, of course, we should do our best. We want to make it a success. But we want to hold this country together and not have it blow up on us or become a complete seething training ground for al Qaeda. That‘s a sort of minimum goals of the United States. And I think we‘ll look back a year or two years from now and ask ourselves, why didn‘t the Bush administration tell us how difficult, how expensive, how improbable this was going to be to put democracy into Iraq?
SCARBOROUGH: I want to play you something that Secretary of State Colin Powell said today regarding Ted Kennedy.
Actually, I‘ll just quote it for you. He said: “Senator Kennedy should be a little more careful and a little more restrained in his comments because we‘re a nation at war.”
And, of course, he was referencing the Vietnam quote, where he compared Iraq to Vietnam. I wanted to ask you, because there are a lot of Americans out there that are going to saying, gee, this is exactly what happened during Vietnam. You had American troops on the ground. You had politicians back at home saying things that seemed to play into our enemies‘ hands. I know Senator Ted Kennedy. I know his family. I‘m not saying here—saying that he‘s un-American. I‘m not saying that he doesn‘t want America to succeed.
But can‘t you agree with me as somebody that had to hear politicians in America shoot their mouth off while you were fighting the war over there that that was irresponsible for him to say yesterday, and he may have been playing into some of these people‘s hands?
CLARK: No. No, I don‘t think so, Joe.
I think the men and women in the armed forces, I hope they understand they‘re fighting for our freedom and our rights. And the Iraq war and the president‘s conduct of foreign policy is a legitimate political issue. He‘s running for reelection. He wants the American people to endorse him and his judgment. Well, he took us to a war we didn‘t really have to fight without our allies, without enough troops on the ground, without any plan for what we‘re going to do after we got to Baghdad.
Look at what‘s happening now. Of course, it‘s a legitimate political issue. That‘s no disrespect to the men and women in uniform. They‘ve done a brilliant job. I‘ve know most of the generals over there. I love them. I‘ve served with them. I know a lot of the soldiers. I hear from them periodically. They believe in the mission. And we want them to.
But that‘s the military side. This country and every citizen has a responsibility to participate at least by voting in the political process. And the judgment of the president of the United States is one of the issues in this election, and Ted Kennedy is fully within his rights. He‘s not giving aid and comfort to the enemy. He‘s calling it like he sees it, and he‘s a patriot.
SCARBOROUGH: General, we‘re out of time. But I‘ve just got to ask you two quick questions. It‘s yes or no answer time. These are very easy to answer. Do we need more troops on the ground in Iraq?
CLARK: I think we do.
SCARBOROUGH: And, secondly, is the June 30 deadline going to be removed and are we going to see that moved forward?
CLARK: Well, we don‘t know exactly what June 30 means. My guess is, the administration will keep something on June 30, but it won‘t be much of a disengagement by the political process of the United States. And we won‘t have any troops—any fewer troops there. We‘ll probably have more.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll take that as a yes.
So, all right, General Wesley Clark, thank you so much for being with us again tonight.
CLARK: Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And, hey, we want to find you what you in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY think. Do you think it‘s time for America to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq? Log on to Joe.MSNBC.com and cast your vote in our online poll.
And, of course, last night in the poll, 50 percent of you believed that Iraq was going to be America‘s next Vietnam, and 50 percent of you believed that wasn‘t the case. So we were kind of split down the middle last night. And we‘re going to tell you the results of tonight‘s poll at the end of the show.
But coming up next, we‘ve got much more on the fierce battle in Fallujah and whether it could turn Iraq into Vietnam. That‘s our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown and it‘s straight ahead.
And then, one of the president‘s closest advisers, Karen Hughes, is here. And we‘re going to ask her how the fighting in Iraq is going to impact the battle for the White House.
And cops in Spain show they‘re serious about stopping crime right in its tracks. We‘re going to show you the rest of this incredible video in just a little bit.
SCARBOROUGH: A devastating attack in Fallujah today leaves 12 Marines dead. Is it time for America to pull out or stand firm? We‘ll debate that next.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, despite the uprisings and the terrorist attacks in Iraq, the president‘s poll numbers remain strong on that issue; 57 percent think we made the right decision using military force against Iraq, while 35 percent thought it was wrong. And 57 percent of Americans are saying they think the military efforts is going very well or fairly well, with 39 percent thinking it‘s not going so well.
And with us now to talk about the events oft day are Senator Saxby Chambliss. He is a Republican from Georgia and a member of the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees. And we also have our friend Lawrence O‘Donnell, an MSNBC senior political analyst.
Senator, let me go to you. It was another bloody day in Iraq. How do we turn the tide?
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS ®, GEORGIA: Well, Joe, war is a very terrible thing. And it causes all sorts of problems that no American wants to see on TV or read about in the newspaper.
But the fact of the matter is that our men and women are doing one heck of a job over there. No military person of the generation of Wes Clark, for example, was trained to fight the kind of war that America is having to fight today. Our men and women are doing a great job, but it‘s going to continue to be a tough, tough battle to win this war on terrorism. It‘s going to be a long and enduring war, just like the president said early on. And we‘ve got to stick with it and we‘ve got to be very forceful about it, and we‘ve got to continue to fight it on the ground, in the back allegation or wherever it may be to make sure we win it.
SCARBOROUGH: Senator, Hans Blix, of course a former U.N. weapons inspector and a vocal critic of the war in Iraq, had this to say earlier.
He said: “Bush declared war as a part of the U.S. war on terror. But instead of limiting the effects on terror, the war has laid the foundation for even more terror.”
How do you respond to the former U.N. weapons chief?
CHAMBLISS: Well, he‘s just dead wrong. We know Saddam himself was a murderer, he was a rapist, he was a terrorist. We know that because of the actions of George Bush, that the Iraqi people today are free to do exactly what they‘re doing.
Now, I don‘t agree with what the minority of the folks over there are doing relative to the rioting and attacking our troops. But under Saddam, they couldn‘t do that. And, at the end of the day, they‘re going to be a free people and America is going to be a much, much safer place due to the fact that Saddam Hussein has been removed from power.
SCARBOROUGH: Lawrence O‘Donnell, Democratic hopeful John Kerry is making the attacks in Fallujah a part of his speech. This is what he said earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that the president needs to explain to the American people who he‘s going to turn this over to by June 30 and how we‘re going to reduce the level of violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: What exactly does he mean by that? John Kerry is a sitting U.S. senator. Please tell us, how do we stop the violence?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, historically and currently, it‘s fair to ask the executive branch how they‘re prosecuting a war that was designed, in effect, by the executive branch.
And so Senator Kerry is in no position at this point to dictate or legislate the answers to those things. And, look, he doesn‘t have answers to those things.
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. That‘s the point.
O‘DONNELL: But his point, though—the point he‘s trying to make is that he doesn‘t believe anyone has answers to those questions. It doesn‘t look today—and even you don‘t seem to feel today that June 30 is going to be the day that it was planned to be.
SCARBOROUGH: Lawrence, exactly. I‘ve come out tonight. I said we need more troops. That‘s against what the Bush administration said. I said this June 30 deadline is ridiculous. It‘s politically motivated. I‘ve come out and said that. I‘m a Republican. I support the president.
And this is what I‘m asking. Why is it so hard for John Kerry to show leadership, to come out and be forceful and say, damn it, this is what I believe in and this is the alternative that I‘m giving to George W. Bush? I don‘t see it out there. Do you?
O‘DONNELL: Well, it‘s not really incumbent on him at this stage politically because he was not the one who led us into that war.
Now, you‘re right, Joe. He‘s only going to get a honeymoon on this no-solution position for a few more weeks. At some point, he‘s going to have to constructively say, this is what we should now do, given what we are now facing. If he doesn‘t say that, then the elections is nothing other than a referendum on the president. It‘s not in any way an election about choosing an affirmative course projected by Senator Kerry.
Joe, if you look at, for example, Senator Kennedy‘s speech, where he compares this to Vietnam—and by the way, his comparison was not militarily to Vietnam. He was simply saying there‘s a credibility gap in the administration as a result of this action, just as there was a credibility gap in both the Johnson and Nixon administrations over Vietnam.
O‘DONNELL: But Senator Kennedy, nowhere in that speech, says, here‘s what we should now do. He does not say, as he did during the Vietnam War, we should bring our troops home, for example.
O‘DONNELL: He doesn‘t offer a suggestion. So the Democrats have to come up with one, or Senator Kerry has to come up with one certainly by the time we get to June 30.
SCARBOROUGH: And if he doesn‘t do that, you‘re exactly right. This election is nothing more than a referendum on George Bush.
O‘DONNELL: Which doesn‘t look good for the president, Joe, at this point.
SCARBOROUGH: I disagree with you. The poll numbers don‘t show that.
Saxby Chambliss, again, I‘ll just say it right up front. I know I‘m going to get a thousand e-mails tonight. People are going to say, gee, why are you being tough on the president? I‘m not being tough on the president. I supported this president, as you know, over the past year, and I‘ve saying they‘ve been handling the war well.
But, Saxby, please do me a favor, buddy. Tell your friends in Washington, D.C. the June 30 deadline is a charade and we need to send more troops. Can you do that for an old friend you served with in Congress?
CHAMBLISS: Well, you are still my good friend, Joe, and you‘re doing a terrific job with what you‘re doing. But, you know...
SCARBOROUGH: But shut up, right?
CHAMBLISS: Two things—no, we want you back.
Two things. First of all, when we say we‘re going to turn over the keys on June 30, now, that doesn‘t literally mean the keys to the whole story. We‘ve still got to maintain some sort of control, and we‘re going to do that. But we do have to start the process, Joe, of making sure that Iraq, free Iraq, is turned over to Iraqis. That‘s the only way any form of democracy is going to work over there.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Saxby Chambliss, unfortunately, we‘re going to have to leave it there. But thank you so much for being with us. It‘s good to see you again, old friend.
And, Lawrence O‘Donnell, thank you for being with us also.
And, please, don‘t forget to vote in tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY poll. Do you think it‘s time for the United States to pull troops out of Iraq? Log in and weigh in at Joe.MSNBC.com. And stay tuned. We‘re going to show you the results of that poll at the end of the show.
But straight ahead, I‘m going to ask senior Bush adviser Karen Hughes if the violence in Iraq is going to make the upcoming election a tight race for her boss. And we‘ll find out why she gave up being called the most powerful woman in Washington just to be called mom.
Plus, Rush Limbaugh heads to the court of appeals. Should he be able to keep his medical records sealed? We‘ll talk to an attorney who doesn‘t think so.
But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
SCARBOROUGH: U.S. Marines are fighting for their lives tonight against militants in Iraq, and at least 12 Marines are dead and the battle continues. Today, President Bush pledged that America would finish the job, no matter what.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We‘re not going to be intimidated by thugs or assassins. We‘re not going to cut and run from the people who long for freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Is his message getting through to Americans? I spoke to the president‘s friend, counselor and former communications director Karen Hughes. Her new book, “10 Minutes From Normal,” is an incredible insiders‘ look at the White House.
And I asked her about the tragic deaths of our Marines today.
KAREN HUGHES, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, unfortunately, it was a very difficult and very tragic day in Iraq today. And as a daughter of a career Army officer, you know, my heart grieves, as all Americans‘ hearts grieve when we lose such a significant loss of our young men in uniform and such a loss of life.
On the other hand, though, Joe, I think what Americans have to recognize and what President Bush has said is that we cannot lose our resolve. We have to fight this war against terror in Iraq before we end up fighting it on our streets and in our cities here at home. The worst thing we could do now would be to somehow start to back off or look as if our will had been broken, because that will only embolden the terrorists and make matters worse. We‘ve got to deal with this uprising.
There‘s apparently a small number of people in Iraq who would prefer mob rule to freedom and democracy, and our military has to deal with it, and I‘m confident they will deal with it.
SCARBOROUGH: So what does it do for the president, what does it do for America when Ted Kennedy, the senior senator, one of the senior senators in the United States Senate, goes on TV, it‘s broadcast across the world, while our men and women are in a fire zone over in Baghdad, and compares this war to Vietnam?
HUGHES: Well, Joe, I think it‘s really, really irresponsible, and frankly, tragic. Our foreign policy used to be, they used to say that it was supposed to end at the water‘s edge. And I suppose that Senator Kennedy is speaking for his Massachusetts twin, Senator Kerry, who has not distanced himself from these remarks.
And it‘s an example of how very partisan and how negative and vicious I think this campaign is going to be from the side of the Democrats, which is unfortunate. As I mentioned, my dad was an Army officer. He was in Vietnam. And the big problem with Vietnam which I remember as a young woman was that the politicians were running the war, not the military. The military felt that their hands were tied behind their back and they weren‘t able to engage in the kind of military operations that allowed them to wage and win the war.
Nothing could be further from this situation in Iraq. President Bush is basing decisions based on what the military wants, based on what the military recommends, and has said repeatedly that our troops will have all the tools, all the resources, all the equipment they need. All the military commanders have to do is ask for it. And, in this case, the military is running the war, not the political leaders. And that‘s just a huge difference.
SCARBOROUGH: Which, of course, wasn‘t the case, as you said, in Vietnam, where you had Lyndon Johnson who was actually picking bombing targets.
Another thing about Vietnam, when we‘re talking about the Vietnam comparison with Iraq—in fact, I was talking to one of my liberal friends today in Washington, who was asking the difference between the approval rating for the Iraq war and Vietnam. He said, how bad was it in Vietnam? I said, well, you know, a lot of people don‘t realize that most Americans supported the war in Vietnam, even after Tet, even into the early ‘70s.
And they don‘t realize that because the media, the way the media covered the war was so negative. Do you think the media is covering the Iraq war in a way that skews the perspective? Because when I talk to troops—because I represented a military district in Congress. When I talk to men and women over in Iraq, they tell me they‘re doing remarkable things over there, but those don‘t get reported night in and night out.
HUGHES: Well, Joe, that‘s often the case. Unfortunately, it‘s somewhat the nature of news, that an explosion or bombings or killings are going to dominate the news more than the opening of a school or the opening of a hospital or a success in a small town. That‘s somewhat the nature of news.
But I think the events over the last couple of days have been difficult, because there‘s a small minority of Iraqis led by this al-Sadr, this militant cleric, who are determined, apparently, to cause an uprising and to engage in mob rule. And they‘ve even violated the very principles of Islam in doing so. And I think it‘s important that our military reacts swiftly, as they seem to be doing, and deal with the insurgency. It‘s very important that they take steps.
And I think everything I‘ve heard from our military commanders over there indicates to me that they have every intention of doing so, and I think it‘s important that they do.
SCARBOROUGH: I know, again, you‘re a very close friend of the president. But how has the president been doing in communicating what America‘s goals are in Iraq and where this is going to the American people? Because, obviously, a lot of people say—and, you know, and I‘ve said this on this program, the president is a lot of things, but he‘s not a Ronald Reagan. He‘s not a great communicator.
Is that a challenge for the White House staff to help him communicate his feelings to the American people?
HUGHES: Well, Joe, I think that‘s one case where some of the media at work may come in. What we end up seeing sometimes is little snatches of what the president has actually said. We‘ll see seven seconds on the evening news.
I actually think the president is a very effective communicator. He‘s very clear. He‘s very consistent. And I think clarity and consistency are one of the most important parts of delivering a message. Sometimes, however, I think it is hard to get that through the media filter. People ask me all the time as I‘m out traveling. They say, how do we really know what to believe in all the news that we hear?
And the best advice I know to give them is to listen to what your leaders really say. Well, that‘s hard to do. I have realized living at home in Austin, Texas, it‘s hard. Sometimes you‘ll have to read down the fifth or sixth paragraph to find out what the president actually said. And the first five paragraphs are what the media—the reporter who wrote the story is saying about what he said.
And so I think that‘s difficult. But I think the president has been very clear and consistent from the very beginning, Joe. He has talked about the fact that this going to be hard, but that it‘s absolutely right, that he reminds the American people that developing a stable democracy was difficult in our own country, and, of course, it‘s going to be hard. But it‘s absolutely worth it. And we see that it is actually leading to a more peaceful world, when leaders like Moammar Gadhafi of Libya come forward and voluntarily agree to dismantle their nuclear weapons program.
That‘s exactly what the president intended and that‘s exactly the result that he hoped for when we had to make the decision to go in and challenge Saddam Hussein.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, in your book, you wrote about being a working mom at the White House, and you said this: “A mighty tug of war had taken place inside me for weeks. By day, consumed by crises at the White House, I knew I couldn‘t leave. By night, at home with my family, I knew we had to move home to Texas. I had never felt so torn.”
And I don‘t want to get too personal here, but I left Congress early, because I felt, during the day, I said, there is no way I can leave what I‘m doing in Washington. This is so important. And then at night I‘d be on the phone with my son and he‘d say, you know, basically, we need you. You‘ve got to come home. And just reading it is incredible.
And you know what I heard when I left is, for a year, why did you really leave Congress? And it‘s so funny.
HUGHES: There must be some secret reason, right?
SCARBOROUGH: I know. And when you left, I heard the same thing. My friends were saying, why did she really leave? Why did she really leave? And did you get a lot of that? Did people want to add more intrigue to it? They couldn‘t believe that a public servant would leave an incredibly powerful position like yours to be with their family.
HUGHES: Well, exactly.
I remember one of the columnists for “The New York Times” said usually in Washington leaving a job for family reasons is one step short of being indicted. And I also saw an editorial cartoon where they had a couple of lobbyists talking, and they said, she left a powerful job for her family, and the other lobbyist looked at him and said, yes, talk about screwed-up priorities.
But, as you know, and as the book describes, I really did leave for my family. And it was an agonizing decision. I had worked for the president a long time. I think so highly of him and wanted to do everything I could to help him be an effective president. On the other hand, and as you said, the things we were working on were so important. Peace in the world and peace in the Middle East and the economy and jobs and all those issues are very important.
But at the same time, my son said to me one day, he said: Mom, you know, I don‘t like it here. Dad doesn‘t like it here. Even the dog doesn‘t like it here. And it‘s all your fault.
And it wasn‘t so much that my family even. It was me. I wasn‘t having time, I knew, to be the kind of mother I wanted to be, to meet my responsibilities to my husband and to my son and to spend time with them that‘s required, I think, to be a good parent. We hear all this about quality time. I‘ve become convinced there‘s really no such thing. There‘s only time.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re exactly right.
HUGHES: And if you spend enough, some of it is going to be quality, but you have to spend enough of it.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, no, I think you‘re exactly right.
And I always told people when they said, how could you leave, I said, you know what, it was the hardest decision I ever made, but it was also the easiest decision I ever made. And they would sort of stare at me. It was very tough to leave it.
HUGHES: But I‘ll bet you‘ve never regretted it, have you?
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, my gosh, not at all. Without a doubt, it was the most misunderstood decision I ever made, but it was the decision at the end of my life that I‘ll probably be the most proud of.
HUGHES: That you‘ll be the most proud of. And then same with me. People ask me all the time how it‘s going. And I tell them, they say, don‘t you have any regrets, and I say no.
And one of the things that I love to talk about is the thing I was able to do for the last year that I would never have been able to do while working at the White House was teach my son to drive, you know?
SCARBOROUGH: How old is your son?
HUGHES: He‘s 16. He‘ll be 17 next week. He‘s got his driver‘s license. He‘s been marvelous. He‘s been very responsible.
But he‘d come home from school and get in the car and we‘d go out practice driving. And I realized it was really a metaphor for what‘s happening in his life, that he‘s increasingly in the driver‘s seat and his dad and I are there to try and keep him the middle of the road and not from running over too many curbs and driving on the wrong side.
SCARBOROUGH: I wish I could stop my son from driving on the wrong side. Anyway, Joey, we‘ll try it again this weekend.
Well, stick around. We‘ve got a lot more with Bush senior adviser Karen Hughes.
And then straight ahead, Rush Limbaugh is finally going to get his day in court. Will he come out ahead in his fight to keep his private medical records sealed?
And later, find out why a good criminal always has a getaway car and not a getaway motorcycle. Stick around and we‘ll show you that in a minute.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, who was the youngest person to hold the office of president of the United States? Was it, A, Theodore Roosevelt, B, John F. Kennedy, or, C, Bill Clinton? The answer coming up.
ANNOUNCER: In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked, who was the youngest person to hold the office of president of the United States? The answer is, A, Theodore Roosevelt.
Now back to Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And for those of you confused, John Kennedy was the youngest elected president. Theodore Roosevelt, of course, became president when William McKinley was assassinated in 1900 at the World‘s Fair. That‘s right, isn‘t it, Mike?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should really talk about that.
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. We should.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, when Karen Hughes walked away from the White House, she wasn‘t just the president‘s communications director. She was also the president‘s trusted friend. And according to former speechwriter David Frum, Hughes was the only one in the White House who could criticize Bush. She exercised more power in the White House than any woman since Edith Wilson, not excluding Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton. The Bushes are famous for not trusting outsiders.
So I asked Karen Hughes what made the president so confident in her judgment.
HUGHES: Well, Joe, I think a couple of things.
First of all, there are a number of people on the White House staff who I think do feel very comfortable disagreeing with the president. And that‘s good. Members of the Cabinet do. Condi Rice does. Andy Card does. Karl Rove does. Colin Powell and Don Rumsfeld certainly do. I‘ve seen them do it. And so I think that kind of healthy debate is good for a president.
But my relationship with the president, it really goes back to—I first traveled with him in 1994, when he ran for governor of Texas, back when he was George. And, boy, does it seem like a long time ago that any of us would even call him George. But we traveled together for six months in a small plane, just three of us, the then George Bush, his travel aide, Israel Hernandez, and me. So we heard all kinds of stress, all kinds of chaotic moments and wonderful moments and terrible moments.
And we heard all each other‘s bad jokes. At the end of something like that, you end up liking each other a lot or not looking each other at all. And we ended up liking each other a lot. I think, also, Joe, that the president knows I wouldn‘t be doing this for anyone else. I‘m not the kind of person—as I describe in my book, I never really dreamed that I would grow up and go to work at the White House. I never planned my career that, oh, if I work for that politician, then maybe I could end up—that would be a stepping stone and I could end up going to Washington.
That was never even my goal. In fact, I don‘t think I would be doing this, I would have moved to Washington for anyone else. I did it because I went to work for a man who I believed in, who I found was a very principled and I think courageous leader. And I wanted to help him in any way I could. And so that that‘s one of the reasons.
The president knows I‘m not in this for anything for myself. I am in it because I really do believe in him. And I think he deserves from all of us our unvarnished opinions, and that‘s what I give him.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, well, let me ask you your prediction for the campaign this fall. Do you think it‘s going to be as tight as everybody says it is, or do you think George Bush‘s straight-talking manner is going to give him a comfortable victory over John Kerry?
HUGHES: Well, I think it‘s going to be very tough, and I think I‘m not going to enjoy it, because we‘ve already seen—we saw for two months in the Democratic primary essentially the Democrats seem to be competing to outdo each other to say why they really, really, really didn‘t like the president.
And that anger is hardly a very optimistic vision for the future of our country. But that was the message that emerged from the Democratic primary. I like to joke it took Howard Dean to make John Kerry look electable. But the Democrats are—you know, the Democrats are united. They‘re clearly angry. They‘re already engaging in a lot of invective and hate talk, as we heard from Senator Kennedy yesterday. They‘re throwing around words like crooked and liar with impunity.
HUGHES: President Bush won‘t respond in kind. I‘ve worked for him for a long time. And he will be tough on the issues, but he‘ll keep the campaign on the issues and he won‘t engage in the kind of personal name-calling or personal attacks on his opponent.
But I think it will be close down to the wire. I guess I really trust in the fundamental wisdom and judgment of the American people. And I think the election is going to come down to national security, and I think in the end that people will reelect President Bush, because it‘s so important that we have a president who is relentless in waging and winning the war against terror. And, as you know, Senator Kerry has said he‘s even uncomfortable calling it a war.
HUGHES: And, unfortunately, I don‘t think the terrorists share those concerns. They‘ve declared war on us. And I think it‘s really important that our next president understand that.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Karen Hughes, thanks a lot for being with us tonight. Your book, “10 Minutes From Normal,” is a great read and has been getting rave reviews from such important critics as my wife. I appreciate you being here.
HUGHES: Tell her I‘m honored that she would read it. Thanks so much, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And you can read excerpts of Karen Hughes‘ book on our Web site. It‘s Joe.MSNBC.com.
Moving on now, it‘s a big day in court tomorrow for Rush Limbaugh tomorrow and the Palm Beach prosecutors who suspect him of doctor-shopping. Rush‘s attorneys are going to plead their case to shut down what Limbaugh describes as a fishing expedition by the state. The issue, whether or not prosecutors can look at his Rush‘s private medical records that were seized from his doctor‘s files.
With us to talk about tomorrow‘s procedure is Pam Bondi. She‘s a Florida prosecutor who has been monitoring the Rush Limbaugh case.
Pam, thanks for being with us tonight.
PAM BONDI, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Sure.
SCARBOROUGH: And what‘s Rush‘s chances of winning his medical privacy back tomorrow in this case?
BONDI: Well, you know, Joe, we‘ve got a trial judge who‘s already ruled in the favor of the prosecutors in this case.
I mean, what we have, we have a fairly new statute—it‘s only about 18 months old—called doctor-shopping, where you can‘t go to different doctors to obtain a controlled substance, saying that you‘re not seeing another doctor. And that‘s what prosecutors believe happened in this case. Then you have the federal statute that gives us all great, great privacy rights regarding our medical records.
So what you have to do is make those two work together, and that‘s what prosecutors are trying to do. What happened in this case was prosecutors went in with law enforcement and they went into the doctor‘s offices and they sealed the medical records. They didn‘t look at them. They sealed them. And then they followed the proper procedures under this federal statute to be able to look at them.
They went to two judges to be able to do that, and the trial court has now upheld what they‘ve done. You know, Mr. Limbaugh is appealing that, and he has every right to do that. And it‘s going to be argued in front of our appellate courts tomorrow. But, in the state of Florida, these are both really new laws and there is virtually no case law interpreting this.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, isn‘t there a good chance, though, that the state court is going to look at the federal statute that you‘re talking about and grant it possibly more weight than the state statute and say, if there‘s a federal law that protects Americans‘ right to privacy in their medical records, we‘d better defer to that?
BONDI: You‘re right, because the federal statute always trumps a state statute. However, prosecutors have the right to look at medical records in a criminal investigation. And the federal law even agrees with that.
What you have are pretty much two competing interests, and you have to make them work together. And that‘s what‘s happening here. And, again, the trial courts have agreed with what the prosecutors have done. And we‘ll see. We‘re creating new law. And of course, our right to privacy is one of our most precious rights in this country. But you have to protect the integrity of a criminal investigation as well and the integrity of those medical records.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, of course, Roy Black and Rush Limbaugh would say that actually the people that have undermined that credibility have been the Palm Beach prosecutors themselves. They, of course, accuse them of leaking bad information, detrimental information on Rush Limbaugh to the press, not playing by the rules, trying this in the press, without even charging Rush Limbaugh.
And I know for most Americans watching tonight, they still have to be shocked that we‘re still talking about Rush Limbaugh and all these months later, the Palm Beach prosecutors still haven‘t filed a single charge against him. That doesn‘t look good for the prosecutors, does it?
BONDI: Well, doesn‘t it look like—I think they‘re giving great deference to Mr. Limbaugh in going through every fact of the case, going through everything.
They‘re not—they could have seized these records and charged him. But they didn‘t. And, again, we‘re creating new law here. Of course, the defense is going to be saying that. You know, I‘ve heard a lot more from the defense than the prosecutors in this case. And...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, that‘s because the prosecutors are leaking it to people in the press, and they‘re having “The Palm Beach Post” write these stories while Limbaugh‘s attorney just has to come out.
BONDI: So says the defense.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, come on, now. You know that‘s happening, don‘t you?
BONDI: No. So says the defense.
BONDI: We want to try our cases in a court of law. And that‘s what‘s happening. And, Joe, it‘s a big issue and we‘re creating new law in our state.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Pam, well, we will be creating new law and we‘ll get back with you after the hearing. And we‘ll see what happens.
My prediction, though, is that this court is going to give great deference to the federal statute, and I think they‘re probably to going to rule in Limbaugh‘s favor. But we‘ll see.
BONDI: We‘ll see.
SCARBOROUGH: But, Pam, as always, thanks for being with us.
BONDI: Thanks, Joe. Have a good night.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. You, too.
And coming up, hey, kids, take it from this very sore bank robber. Crime really doesn‘t pay. We‘re going to show you the rest of this incredible video right after the break.
So stick around.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, a new book alleges that the president‘s father didn‘t support the current war in Iraq. We‘re going to be talking to the author of the book and get to the bottom of that claim. That‘s tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
But we‘ve got more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight straight ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: So, did you hear the one about Senator Chris Dodd praising fellow Democratic senator and former Ku Klux Klan member Robert Byrd? Of course you didn‘t. That‘s because the elite media ignored it.
This is what Senator Dodd told Senator Byrd—quote—“You would have been a great senator at any moment. You would have been right at the founding of this country, right during the Civil War.”
Gee, do you remember when Senator Trent Lott made similar comments about former Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond? He was pummeled every day in network newscasts and in newspapers. And he was forced to give up his Senate leadership post. But don‘t hold your breath waiting for the same kind of coverage over the Democratic senator‘s comment saying that, even as a Ku Klux Klan member, Robert Byrd would have been great.
And I‘ve got to show you this video of how they enforce the law in Spain. After a 12-hour standoff, a bank robber tried to get away on his motorcycle, but he didn‘t get far. A police car cut him off and the guy did a triple Lindy over the hood. Believe it or not, he wasn‘t seriously hurt, although I can‘t imagine it‘s going to be a picnic in a Spanish jail.
Hey, let‘s take a look at the results of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY‘s vote. The question: Is it time to pull troops out of Iraq? Thirty-six percent said yes; 64 percent said no.
We‘ll see you tomorrow night.
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