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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

January 24, 2013

Guests: General Janis Karpinski, Joy Reid

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: John Kerry began his confirmation
hearing today with absolutely no intention of embarrassing the Republicans
members of the senate Foreign Relations Committee. So, they had to
embarrass themselves.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The American people deserve to know

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were not given a clear picture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one has been held accountable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were misled that there was supposedly protest -

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: What difference at this point
does it make?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What a difference as they makes.

MCCAIN: Our friendship is going to affect from time to time by the
competitive nature of politics, John Kerry.

confirmation for secretary of state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m happy for you.

MCCAIN: This exemplary statesmanship --

CLINTON: They determined an effective representative.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My senior senator and my friend, Senator John

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Suddenly I`m feeling a lot of
sympathy for the folks who sit down here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He clearly knows his agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some things don`t change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to work with me?

KERRY: If you are trying to get some daylight between me and
Secretary Clinton that is not going to happen here today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry is trying to move on from that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you willing to work with me so we can find
what actually happened?

KERRY: We do know what happened. Were you at the briefing with the

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know why we were misled.

KERRY: If you are trying to get some daylight that is not going to
happen here today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republican reset. Could there be a war on the
Republican Party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here it is again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think the party must do better?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reince Priebus, where do we go in the future?

MADDOW: The coordinated effort by Republicans.

wants to survive --

MADDOW: To change the rules for electing a president.

CAPEHART: They have no choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think the party must do better?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Appeal to female voters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They need to reach out to Latinos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re listening, we`re listening, we`re listening.


O`DONNELL: Another day, another senate foreign relations committee
hearing in which a senator gets to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he
is in comically incompetent.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: Will you work with me so that we can
find out what actually happened and then we can move beyond that. I mean,
can you just make that commitment to me?

KERRY: Well I think, senator, in all fairness, I think we do know
what happened. I think it was very clear -- were you at the briefing with
the tapes?


KERRY: Well, there was a briefing with tapes which we all saw those
of us who went to it which made it crystal clear. We sat for several hours
with our Intel folks who described to us what we were seeing. We saw the
events unfold. We had a complete detail description.


O`DONNELL: That was John Kerry humiliating Senator Ron Johnson at
Kerry`s confirmation hearing today for secretary of state. John Kerry
received the most impressive bipartisan introduction that perhaps the
Senate at ever seen in a confirmation hearing.


CLINTON: I`m very pleased that John will be given the chance, subject
to confirmation, to continue the work of a lifetime on behalf of our

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Let me thank you on behalf of
the committee for all that you have done through your long and illustrious
career here in the senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no one in the Senate that has spent more
time than you have on issues of imports to our country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One day, historians will judge his Senate years
in terms of his impact on foreign policy, much the same way some recognize
Senator Ted Kennedy`s impact on domestic policy.

MCCAIN: Witnessing almost daily is exemplary statesmanship is one of
the highest privileges I have had here.


O`DONNELL: But that didn`t stop the Republicans from trying to turn
the confirmation hearing into episode two of the mystery series of why did
President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Susan Rice, conspire to hide the
truth from the American people?


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: The world is a dangerous police when
America is not leading. We had a hearing yesterday about Libya but we
didn`t get the chance to talk about as you as policy towards Libya in the
Gadhafi conflict created many of the conditions that led to the attack on
the consulate.

JOHNSON: So, I hate to go back to yesterday`s news, but, I mean, this
is important and trying to get to the truth in the matter of Benghazi, are
you willing to work with me are you basically kind -- Hillary Clinton, that
that is yesterday`s news and let`s move on.

KERRY: Well, senator, if you are trying to get some day light between
me and Secretary Clinton that is not going to happen here today on that


O`DONNELL: Even after his generous introduction of the nominee, John
McCain could not resist going back to yesterday`s news.


MCCAIN: I didn`t want to bring it up, but since it was just brought
up I`ll have to respond again. We do care why the American people were
misled. There are some of us will not give up on this despite what some in
the media think we should do until we get all of the answers.

KERRY: I don`t want to go on about it, but I didn`t suggest and I
don`t want to suggest nor do I believe that secretary Clinton was saying
that people don`t care about knowing what happened.


O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner, see, there is no exam for being a United
States senator.

WAGNER: Fortunately.

O`DONNELL: It is a matter of tricking enough voters.

WAGNER: The bar is literally in the ground.

O`DONNELL: What an amazing day two on the failure to unearth the
conspiracy of how to lie to the American people.

WAGNER: Ron Johnson is like a human whack-a-mole. I mean, literally,
you hit him, it should be over, and he keeps popping up. The reality is
that Ron Johnson has - is basically intellectual kryptonite. You get too
close to him and your brain cells die.

And this is like the legacy of Ron Johnson, right? This is the guy
who is a climate change denier, who attributes the warming of the earth to
sun spots or geological eons of time which is actually a direct quote which
syntactically makes no sense. He is convinced, like a dog with the bone,
that there is some kind of conspiracy, as you outline, Lawrence, and there
is no there, there. Nor is it with Hillary Clinton saying it doesn`t

It is basically, effectively, this is a murder mystery and he is
obsessed with, you know, he is obsessed with suspects who are no longer
being examined. We know who did it and that`s what we need to focus on.
But he is following vapor trails to nowhere.

thought Marco Rubio acquitted himself decently based, you know, degrading
on occur, particularly compared to Ron Johnson. Almost to the part where I
wondered if Ron Johnson was part of some sort of pre-fabricated one-two
punch in which we was going to really try to be --

WAGNER: Mental midget jury --

HAYES: Yes, exactly.

But, I mean, you know, it was striking to me watching the committee
tonight. The sense of, and this is actually bipartisan, the sense of kind
paranoia, the sense of anxiety that just permeates every discussion of
America`s role in the world and foreign policy, right? You would think we
were some small powerless nation besiege on all sides by constant threats
and occupiers, instead of the most powerful nation in the world with the
largest arm forces, instead what you see in every question was, I`m nervous
about this, I`m anxious about this. What are we going to do about this?

And it really - I think it was a striking moment. I hope Americans
got a change to watch it. Because it gives you a sense of what the cost of
trying to maintain this kind of global presence and project that America

WAGNER: And the difficulty of sort of articulating a grand foreign
policy strategy which is no longer relevance to American diplomacy.

O`DONNELL: Speaking of costs and speaking of Senator Ron Johnson, I
don`t mean to pick on him or anything but --


O`DONNELL: He did ask a very interesting question that I believe has
never come up in a confirmation hearing for secretary of state. And that
is what are you going to do about the debt and deficit?

Let`s listen to that.


JOHNSON: You utilize your position as secretary of state to encourage
the president to work with in good faith to solve the debt and deficit

KERRY: Well, Senator, I spent six months, I guess, it was or five
months as a member of the super committee. I`m not here to go through the
details why we didn`t. But, there was a very, hard line non-negotiating
position that prevented us from being able to come to an agreement which
incidentally we just came to. But we came to it with far less on the table
and far less accomplished than we would have had if we had come to that
agreement six month or about a year ago.


O`DONNELL: And that is the most diplomatic answer he could possibly
give - given that the state department budget, that John Kerry now has
something to say about and nothing else, is way less than one percent of
the budget of the United States of America.

WAGNER: Well, it is also telling that this is sort of the default
position for Republicans on anything, right? I mean, he --

O`DONNELL: OK. You got me on Benghazi, now debt and deficit.

WAGNER: Well, he is a tea partier. And that - this is increasing
with the position of the Republicans on any kind of bug picture item, bring
it back to the deficit. We are outraged about president Obama`s speech
because he didn`t talk about the deficit.

What would a Republican president has said on inauguration day? Would
there have been any king of vision for the country other than cutting
taxes? There is nothing else they have to wave. There is no banner under
which they march other than deficit.

HAYES: And part of it, I think, that is -- that is (INAUDIBLE) on
their part which is not a wrong calculation which is that that is one issue
where they have some kind of political traction. They are somewhat in the
majority on Americans, even though I think that polling on deficit is all
over the place and way thinner than it looks. But they have made the
calculation. It is not a crazy calculation. There are a whole bunch of
issues where they are not on the right side of the public eye.

WAGNER: Most issue.

HAYES: Most issues. So, they are trying not to talk about those
things. And so, they kind of run for safety with this issue, thinking
look, we can get to 55 percent if we talk about this.

WAGNER: We can alienate minorities and women and, you know, young
voters just as long as they keep talking about the debt.

O`DONNELL: I want to show Hillary Clinton`s testimony yesterday where
she got a bit emotional because I want to contrast a little moment that
John Kerry had today.

Let`s watch Hillary Clinton first.


CLINTON: For me, this is not just a matter of policy, it is personal.
I stood next to President Obama as the marines carried those flag-draped
caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and
fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters, and the wives
left alone to raise their children.


O`DONNELL: Now, of course, people who believe that John Boehner is
the greatest speaker of the house in history criticized that as saying
there she is trying to bring emotional currency in to this testimony. I
don`t know how you describe that scene, I couldn`t describe scene if I
lived through it without some emotional expression.

WAGNER: Well, and I just I think the outcry from the Laura Ingrahams
and Sean Hannity and the Rush Limbaugh, imagine if the tables were turned
and there was a Republican secretary talking about the arrival of flag-
draped coffin and did so with the emotional tenor that Hillary Clinton did
and there was an outcry that it was fakery and that we have been hood
winked, that was one of the most patriotic moment, I thought, of the entire

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at John Kerry`s emotional moment in his
hearing today.


KERRY: If you confirm me, I would take office as secretary proud that
the Senate is in my blood. But equally proud that so too is the Foreign
Service. My father`s work under presidents both Democrat and Republican
took me and my siblings around the world for a personal journey that
brought home that sacrifices and the commitment the men and women of the
Foreign Service make every day on behalf of America.


O`DONNELL: No criticism for John Kerry for that nor should there be.

HAYES: No. And I think, I mean, the criticism about secretary
Clinton that I thought was so bizarre about it was the whole time that the
cry for the right is that they have to take responsibility, take
responsibility. And here she was, clearly taking responsibility. In fact,
I think the reason that she teared up is that she feels responsible for
this horrible thing that happened in which four people died. That is - she
is the boss and she feels it.

And then as the moment that she takes responsibility, they go after
her for it.

O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner and Chris Hayes, thank you both for joining me

HAYES: Thank you.

WAGNER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, with John Kerry`s move to secretary of state,
how soon we will be hearing the words, Senator Barney Frank?

After President Obama`s Electoral College a landslide, Republicans are
now trying to rig the Electoral College, of course.

And in the rewrite tonight, the most important testimony ever given at
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was given by John Kerry, 42 years


O`DONNELL: History made by the Pentagon today, combat position will
soon be open to women in the military. General Janis Karpinski will join

And later, Joy Reid joins me on the assault weapons bill that Diane
Feinstein introduces today. That is coming up.



considered one of the battleground states although that is going to be
changing soon.


O`DONNELL: That was President Obama at a campaign event in San
Antonio, Texas, part of a two days swing he made this summer in Texas,
knowing that he couldn`t win it. All of Texas` 34 electoral votes went to
Mitt Romney, but the president was playing the long game in Texas this
summer. And the Democrats now believe those electoral votes in Texas will
be worth fighting for in the future. Team Obama`s former national field
director Jeremy Bird, one of the masterminds behind the president`s
reelection victory has decided his next job will be turning Texas blue with
a new grassroots organization, battleground Texas.

He told politico, over the next several years, battleground Texas will
focus on expanding the electorate by registering more voters and as
importantly by mobilizing Texans who are already registered voters but who
have not been engaged in the Democratic process.

But, as Democrats are looking to expand the map, Republicans have
decided if you can`t beat them cheat them. In Virginia, the Republican
control legislature is moving forward with a plan to change the electoral
vote system from winner take all, to congressional district districts one
with the two extra electoral votes going to the candidate who wins the most
congressional districts.

In November in Virginia, President Obama won 51 percent of the popular
vote and received all 13 of Virginia`s electoral votes in the winner-take-
all system. Now, here is what would have happened under the proposed
Republican plan.

President Obama would have won 51 percent of the popular vote but just
four of Virginia`s 13 electoral votes because the majority of people who
voted for him lived in the same four congressional districts. Mitt Romney
would have received the other nine votes. In other words, under the
proposal Republican, the Republican plan in Virginia, that they are
proposing Mitt Romney would have won 47 percent of the actual vote but
would have been avoided 69 percent of the state`s electoral votes.

Steve Kornacki, if you can`t win honestly go this way. It is
fascinating to me what President Obama was doing in Texas this summer
knowing that he wasn`t going to win it. They actually used campaign time
for that. And what they believe they can do there now with new
registration and with the changing demographics of the state.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: I think Texas is a longer term
project maybe than the Democrats realized because there are some
encouraging things happening in Texas which first of all, democrats are
blowing out Republicans among Latino voters and obviously the Latino
population is rising.

And there is this room for growth because if you look at the Latino
population in the state right now, it is not matched by the Latino
population of the registered voter pool. So, if you can get that register
voter pool out there, that is going to help you a lot. And obviously,
Democrats have done very well with the African-Americans and continue to do
well there.

The problem is if you look at east Texas and you look at west Texas,
we have like majority, you know, heavily white populations, they are voting
increasingly like a Deep South state where race is basically the sole
predictor of party loyalty. If you look at Mississippi and Alabama right
now, these are states where Barack Obama got about ten percent of the white
vote. He is down - there were no exit polls in Texas this year, but the
best estimate is he was probably in a high teams, maybe around 20 percent
of the white vote.

So the problem is, if the white vote in Texas continues to trend
toward the Deep South, it is not going to be until, sometime in the next
decade that the Latino population picks up in that steam the Democrats can.
Eventually, it will happen, but it might not be for another decade.

O`DONNELL: But, this is the kind of long-term strategizing that only
Republicans used to do at the state level. It is fascinating to see
Democrats getting out. In Virginia, it seems to me, if they go through at
this plan, they are inviting a constitutional challenge to the way they are
saying their electoral votes. That will be taken up by the Supreme Court
if they ever produce an outcome where 47 percent of the vote wins you the

KORNACKI: The weird twist there is, you have the Maine and Nebraska
models in effect right now where this congressional district based. And
then, the winner of the state-wide popular vote gets the two at-large
votes. We did the Main and Nebraska in once here. And there has been that
split in 2008 where Obama won the district Tehran Omaha.

The twist in Virginia is it is the winner of the most congressional
districts. They have win the two out run but not sure exactly where they
came with that. By 2000, in the first district, it is strange move.
Because it wasn`t until 2008, the Democrats broke through or even able to
win Virginia. Before that, LBJ was the last Democrats win it. So, there
is sort of an admission here by Republicans that wow, things have really
change in Virginia, so much that we have start playing this way.

But the other things is, there is a threat here that if this gathers
steam, and you look at all these big states where Republicans control big
blue states, or Republicans control legislatures and governorship, if you
had that basic Maine-Nebraska model all across the country this November,
the electoral vote would have been 276 Romney, 262 Obama.


KORNACKI: The Democratic vote is that condensed in metro areas. It
is like you show them Virginia there. if that condensed in, in a few
numbers of districts and every state in the Republican vote much more
spread out, the Democrats have the numbers but Republican have land mass
and that is where it really kind of shows.

O`DONNELL: That crazy electoral cause.

The next big election Massachusetts Senate, John Kerry, clearly, is
day as way from confirmation in the senate that starts the clock ticking on
when they have to have a special election. And they immediately have to
have an interim senator appointed the official position of this show is go
with experience and go with Barney Frank. The governor seems to not been
turning over any cards about that. What do you see happening in that

KORNACKI: It was big of you to take yourself out of the mix, first of

O`DONNELL: I decided to go with more experience. No, If Barney who
couldn`t do it, then, I would be available too to bring my experience.

KORNACKI: You know, it has been fascinated. My sense of the
situation is that Deval Patrick, the governor, was looking to appoint sort
of the outside of the box, pick somebody whose name, you know, political
depot whom might not know. And Barney Frank, I think, kind of picked up on
that. And this is a very unusual way to be going about trying to get a
senator appointment. He is being honest about it, giving him credit for

But, he has created a situation here that is uncomfortable for Deval
Patrick where right now, if Patrick does not give it to Barney Frank, the
question is going to be ask is why didn`t you give it to Barney Frank.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And Barney Frank has tremendous national liberal
based support.

KORNACKI: Right, which is all --

O`DONNELL: And I`m not sure how much experience the governor has with
dealing with that national kind of demand for somebody.

KORNACKI: Right. Yes. No, it is going to be interesting to see and
I`m not sure exactly how this is all playing with Deval Patrick. And then,
he just said, in this situation, because ultimately it is the psychology of
one guy and who can get in his head.

HAYES: It is the ultimate power position for governor.

Steve Kornacki, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

Coming up, the historic announcement from the Pentagon today, the
military will open up combat positions to women. Retired General Janis
Karpinski is in the spot light on that one tonight,

And in the rewrite tonight, why the testimony John Kerry gave to the
senate foreign relations committee today and every time he appears before
the committee as secretary of state will never be as important as the very
first time he testified to that committee 42 years ago as a war protester.


O`DONNELL: In his short but important run as defense secretary, Leon
Panetta has done more to liberalize the arm services than most of his
predecessors. He led the military transition out of don`t ask don`t tell
and today lifted the ban on women in combat.

Retire General (INAUDIBLE) will join me and Joy Reid is here on the
latest in gun control legislation introduced today by senator Diane

And in the rewrite tonight why John Kerry`s place in history was
locked in 42 years ago the first time he testified at a Senate hearing
before he even ran for Senate himself. You need to see this video. That
is coming up.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think it`s super -- the right thing
to do. I support it. I just want us all to make sure that the standards,
particularly the physical standards, are met so that the combat efficiency
of the units are not degraded. But it is time to do that. The women have
proven their enormous contributions they have made in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And I support it.


O`DONNELL: That was Senator John McCain`s response to the news that
the ban on women in combat is over. In the Spotlight tonight, women and
war. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted the Pentagon`s ban, effectively
opening 237,000 positions to women soldiers and Marines. The lifting of
the ban was done upon the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs.

It won`t happen right away. The first implementation of plans aren`t
due until May of this year and special exceptions can be requested by each
branch for jobs until 2016. But for women who have served in Iraq and
Afghanistan, it has already happened; 152 women have died in support of the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; 84 of them died in combat; nearly 1,000 have
been wounded in action.

One of those wounded is now a Democratic congresswoman from the state
of Illinois. Tammy Duckworth can tell you that combat is already a


REP. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: Well, I didn`t lose my legs in a
bar fight. I`m pretty sure I was in combat.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, retired Army General Janis Karpinski.
General, thanks for joining us tonight. What is your reaction to this
latest development at the Pentagon?

initiative. It`s long overdue. And I`m kind of curious about -- I`m more
than kind of. I`m very curious about the timing of it and the
implementation. They need to make it -- since they lifted the ban
effective today, they need to make it retroactive back to at least 2002,
when women were already serving. There was no question about physical
capabilities then, as they were attaching women to these fighting units.

The battlefield is different today. We all know that. But waiting
for three years to completely implement this, what happens in thee years
that has not happened in the last seven or eight? They need to recognize
them officially, that they served in combat, and move ahead from here.
There are certainly men who won`t pass the qualification tests, as there
will be women who don`t pass the qualification tests.

There will be women who excel in these situations and there will be
men who excel in these situations. Maybe there has already e been
situations about placing women and men in combat assessment training first.

O`DONNELL: General, there`s -- I want to play you something that
Senator John McCain said today you about the qualifications. Let`s listen
to that.


MCCAIN: It`s one thing to be some place where a rocket hits and be
wounded. It is another thing to be out there on a night raid against al
Qaeda. But the fact is that this is a -- I support this decision. And I
think that woman are fully qualified to carry out that mission. But I want
to see the same physical standards and requirements.


O`DONNELL: What about that, general, the same physical standards,

KARPINSKI: As I said, there are men who cannot qualify. That has
never been a discussion or a point. Mostly because it is related to how
the American military used the draft. It was always for combat power,
excluding women. Every man that was drafted was drafted for a combat
position. And then there were other positions that became available,
clerks, drivers, whatever it may have been.

But there was never a discussion about are all men physically
qualified for combat. Now suddenly there is a discussion about whether
women will be qualified for combat positions. And that might be a sticking
point. But as I said, in 2003 there was no discussion about deploying
women to Iraq for this situation, this combat situation, about whether they
would be physically capable, because they were not assigned, simply
attached. And that made it OK.

So I don`t think it is fair to now, all of a sudden -- I do think
there has to be an evaluation, including physical capabilities. But it
must include every entry at every rank in the military system.

O`DONNELL: General Janis Karpinski, thank you very much for joining
us tonight.

KARPINSKI: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, you have all seen that moment 42 years ago when
John Kerry asked the question, how do you ask a man to be the last man to
die in Vietnam? He had much more to say that day that was so powerful, I
believe it actually saved thousands of American lives by getting the United
States out of Vietnam sooner. That`s how important that testimony was.
I`ll show you more of what John Kerry had to say that day, and what
President Nixon said about John Kerry`s testimony.

You have got to see this. It`s in tonight`s Rewrite.



tonight, there is not a liberal America and conservative America. There is
the United States of America.


OBAMA: There is not a black America and a white America and Latino
America and Asian America. There is the United States of America.



O`DONNELL: We can thank John Kerry for that. And we can thank John
Kerry for a lot more. John Kerry made that happen, that remarkable speech
by Barack Obama. John Kerry chose Barack Obama, a then unknown 42-year-old
Senate candidate, to give the keynote address, the most important address
at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Barack Obama, who couldn`t
get credentials to get into the last Democratic convention in Los Angeles,
was suddenly the keynote speaker at John Kerry`s Democratic convention four
years later.

And that was the speech that made many of us say that night that we
had finally seen the person who could be the first African-American
president. Without that speech, it is very hard, almost impossible to
imagine Barack Obama launching a campaign just three years later. Today,
Barack Obama made this happen.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: So Mr. Chairman, I know there is
a lot of ground to cover. And as a veteran of the committee, I know we do
better when we`re having a good dialogue. So I look forward to that
dialogue. Thank you.


O`DONNELL: John Kerry`s place in history is already assured. His
most valuable and, indeed, incomparable contribution to this country and
the world occurred at that same seat in front of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee 42 years ago.

Long before John Kerry actually ran for Senate, he testified to the
Foreign Relations Committee as a leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the
War. John Kerry served in Vietnam during the deadliest years of combat for
American soldiers. He was decorated for his bravery in saving the lives of
men who came forward to tell their stories when John Kerry ran for
president, but he saved many more lives than that.

He saved thousands and thousands of lives. When John Kerry testified
to the Foreign Relations Committee on April 22nd, 1971, 56,000 American
soldiers had already been killed in Vietnam. In each of the years John
Kerry was in Vietnam, more American soldiers were killed there than in the
entirety of both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly death toll that is
unimaginable to any one who didn`t live through those years. Richard Nixon
had won the presidency in 1968 on the lie that he had a secret plan to end
the war. But by the time John Kerry testified, President Nixon had given
us 20,000 more dead Americans fighting for what everyone, including Nixon,
knew was a lost cause.

The anti-war movement was personified for the most part then by
Hippies, free thinking, free loving, college aged kids who were
experimenting with new ways of living and dressing and the new attitude
that they had absolutely no duty to serve in an illegitimate American war.

The anti-war movement, to be successful, needed John Kerry. It was as
if he was a character delivered to us by a novelist or a dramatist, a Yale
man who did not just share John Fitzgerald Kennedy`s initials. The young
John Forbes Kerry shared some of President Kennedy`s Boston accent and was,
like President Kennedy, a decorated Navy war hero.

John Kerry was clean-cut for a hippie. He didn`t have a scraggly
beard. But no other man appearing before a Senate committee in those days
had hair -- long hair covering his ears. John Kerry had a choice to make
that day in April when he went to Capital Hill to tell his government to
stop that useless war. He could have gotten a haircut and dressed like a
senator, thereby helping voters in Massachusetts to imagine him as a future

But he chose to go as a war protester, to look like a war protester, a
Vietnam Veteran Against the War. The senators had never heard testimony
like that before. They sat in rapt attention, as did the White House. The
day after John Kerry`s Senate testimony, President Nixon had this
conversation with Bob Halderman, his chief of staff who would later go to


fellow that they put in the Senate is (inaudible)


NIXON: Extremely effective.


O`DONNELL: "Extremely effective," the ultimate compliment from
Richard Nixon. How effective was John Kerry`s testimony? The next year,
Richard Nixon ended the draft. Now was Nixon going to do that without John
Kerry`s extremely effective testimony and John Kerry`s continued opposition
to the Vietnam War? I doubt it.

Nixon certainly wasn`t going to do it as fast as he did it.

More than 2,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam after John Kerry`s
testimony. That number was definitely going to be higher, much higher,
5,000, 10,000 -- we`ll never know, but it was going to be higher, if John
Kerry hadn`t become the most extremely effective war protester in American
history, the only war protester who the war President Richard Nixon thought
was what he called "extremely effective."

There are men who are alive today in this country thanks to John
Kerry, and they don`t know it. I have brothers who I believe are alive
today thanks to John Kerry. Some of you have brothers, fathers, uncles who
are alive today because of John Kerry. John Kerry didn`t play it safe when
he testified against the war. He personally attacked by name President
Johnson`s defense secretary, along with the other Democrats s in the
Johnson administration who were the architects of that war, the so called
best and the brightest, who failed the country and the world so miserably.

On April 22nd, 1971, at the age of 27, John Kerry assured his position
in history. And that position is war hero, the most valuable kind of war
hero, the hero who saves lives, thousands of lives, by helping to end the


KERRY: Each day to facilitate the process by which the United States
washes her hands of Vietnam someone has to give up his life so that the
United States doesn`t have to admit something that the entire world already
knows, so that we can`t say that we have made a mistake. Someone has to
die so that President Nixon won`t be -- and these are his words -- the
first president to lose a war.

And we are asking Americans to think about that. Because how do you
ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do ask a man to be the
last man to die for a mistake? We are here to ask and we are here to ask
vehemently, where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership?

We are here to ask where are McNamara, Bostow (ph), Bundy, Gilpatrick
and so many others? Where are they now that we, the men whom they sent off
to war, have returned? These are commanders who have deserted their

And there is no more serious crime in the law of war. The Army says
they never leave their wounded. The Marines say they never leave even
their dead. These men have left all the casualties and retreated behind a
pious shield of public rectitude. They left the real stuff of their
reputations bleaching behind them in the sun in this country.

And finally, this administration has done us the ultimate dishonor.
They have attempted to disown us and the sacrifices we made for this
country. In their blindness and fear, they have tried to deny that we are
veterans or that we served in Nam. We do not need their testimony. Our
own stars and stumps of limbs are witness enough for others. And for
ourselves, we wish that a merciful God could wipe away our own memories of
that service, as easily as this administration has wiped their memories of

But all that they have done and all that they can do by this denial is
to make more clear than ever our own determination to undertake one last
mission, to search out and destroy the last vestige of this barbaric war,
to pacify our own hearts, to conquer the hate and fear that have driven
this country these last 10 years and more. And more.

And so when, 30 years from now, our brothers go down the street
without a leg, without an arm or a face, and small boys ask why, we will be
able to say Vietnam, and not mean a desert, not a filthy, obscene memory,
but mean instead the place where America finally turned and where soldiers
like us helped it in the turning.

Thank you.




SEN. DIANE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Weapons designed originally for
the military to kill large numbers of people in close combat are replicated
for civilian use. Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, Oak Creek, the
common thread in these shootings is each gunman used a semiautomatic
assault weapon or large capacity ammunition magazine.


O`DONNELL: That was California Democrat Diane Feinstein today
introducing her bill that would 158 military style firearms and ban
magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The Assault Weapons Ban
of 2013 would also prohibit modifications to legal guns that would make
them act like semiautomatic weapons, fixing a loophole that was in the
original Assault Weapons Ban of 1994.

Senator Feinstein`s bill would also protect more than 2,200 sporting
and hunting guns. And continuing his role as the most effective vice
president in history, Joe Biden rebranded the gun control debate today
during a Google Plus webchat.


view it as gun control. I view it as gun safety. It ranges everything
from making sure you keep your weapon out of the reach of kids to making
sure that we -- that we are able to make sure that bad guys don`t -- they
get in the registry so they can`t buy a gun.


O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, I have taken to using the term massacre control,
because what we are interested in these weapons is how many rounds can they
fire? That 100 round drum that was used in Colorado, the 30 round
magazines. And Diane Feinstein`s going straight at that.

JOY REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, absolutely. And it was
interesting the way that they staged this discussion or this announcement.
Diane Feinstein was surrounded police officers, members of law enforcement,
families. But it made the point that, to your point, when police officers
go into a home, let`s say, and they have to respond to a 911 call, if at
the other end of the door is a bad guy who is intent on harming them who
has a gun that can fire one time, well, the police obviously can deal with

But what you have, police officer, people I know are dealing with is
traffic stops, going into homes where the person doesn`t just have a gun
that can shoot once. It`s one that can take down a SWAT team. That is a
need for massacre control. It`s the difference between someone being able
to, God forbid, shoot one person, and being able to essentially lay down
cover fire like they are in the jungles of Vietnam, and take down an entire
classroom full of children or an entire movie theater full of people in

O`DONNELL: Now police are very effective lobbyists for their own
interests in their municipalities, pay and benefits and that sort of thing.

REID: Right.

O`DONNELL: It is fascinating to me that they aren`t more powerful as
lobbyists on this issue than the NRA.

REID: Yes. And it is amazing that they lost so many of these
arguments. I mean, there was a debate over whether or not cop killer
bullets should be outlawed. And the NRA actually fought to keep cop killer
bullets legal. They fought to force municipalities to not be able to ban
any type of ammunition, which is they only purpose for an armor piercing
bullet, is to shoot someone wearing armor. Deer that you`re hunting aren`t
wearing body armor. Police are.

O`DONNELL: Senator Moynihan got them banned back in the late `80s.
But then they keep changing the technology to get around whatever
description you have made of what is banned. that`s the trick of the

REID: Right. And we know is the NRA -- what they are going to do
with the assault weapons ban that Diane Feinstein has put forward -- their
lobbyists are going to go in and they`re going to try to get different guns
exempted. That`s why you`re starting to see the NRA fight about the
definition of not want to call these assault weapons or military style
assault weapons. They would rather go with a semiautomatic weapon, because
then their lobbyists can go onto the Hill and say, well, this type of gun
isn`t an assault weapons, and that type of gun isn`t an assault weapon.
And they are trying to now carve out exemptions. That`s how they`re really
going to try to find this ban.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Joe Biden said today about the


BIDEN: I`m less concerned, quite frankly, about what you call an
assault weapon than I am about magazines and the number of rounds that can
be held in a magazine.


O`DONNELL: I completely agree with him on that. It`s how many
bullets can you fire.

And we saw in the Gabby Giffords shooting that when he had to reload,
that`s when he was stopped.

REID: Exactly. And you also saw in both the Aurora and in the Sandy
Hook shooting that it is the ability to empty a clip full of 30 or even 100
rounds that makes these shootings so lethal. If the person has to, to your
point, reload after seven or after 10 rounds, then that proverbial good guy
can actually stop them.

O`DONNELL: And politically we see Joe Manchin, who has had an A
rating from the NRA, saying things like he thinks it`s just common sense
that we try to do something on background checks, for example. That seems
to be the spot where there is probably the most likely opportunity.

REID: Yes. And lawmakers that you talk to will say look, if the
Senate can get through a bill that dealt with high capacity magazines, that
dealt with background checks, that is something that probably can work.
But what we also have to understand is the NRA is in a marketplace, so that
part of the reason they take such an extreme position is there are other
groups competing with them for the same fund raising, for the same money,
so that if they were to look soft, if they were to back down, then Gun
Owners of America or another group that`s even more extreme will come and
fill in the marketplace. And that means money for them, and not for the

So that`s sort of the NRA`s bargaining reasoning.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thanks, Joy.

REID: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.


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