THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
September 11, 2013
Guest: P.J. Crowley
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
This week, we are celebrating our birthday on this show. We turned 5
this week, which is a nice little milestone.
One of the nice things that somebody did for us that we were not
expecting, is that the promos people here, the people who do like little
on-air advertisements for MSNBC shows, they`re a totally separate group of
people from the rest of us who actually make the shows.
But the nice people over at promos kind of gave us a present. They
did a 30-second ad essentially congratulating to show on us turning 5. It
was very, very nice. It was totally unexpected. We didn`t know they were
And it has a particularly good ending, that I ended up being fixated
on today because of today`s top story. This is what they did. Watch a bit
at the very, very end. It`s great.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I have a Snuggie, what about it? Don`t be a hater.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re taking it out of context, Rachel.
MADDOW: No, I`m reading it from your book, dude.
It is pure happiness.
Do you agree that homosexuality is a choice?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that`s up to the individual.
MADDOW: It is not a hypothetical, Dr. Paul.
The governor turning the folksy factor up to stun --
Thank you, we couldn`t do without you.
NARRATOR: Here is to five years of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, weeknights
at 9:00, on MSNBC.
MADDOW: Is this weird?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, of course, this is weird.
That`s the whole point.
The reason I was wearing a space suit in that bit at the end there, I
was trying to explain Newt Gingrich`s proposal for an American colony on
the moon. And, of course, there is not a colony on the moon that you can
take pictures of and put on TV.
So, in order to create some sort of visual interest to show you that
story and not just tell you that thing that I was talking about, we busted
out the space suit.
One of the material challenges of our weirdness on this show is that
we frequently report on and talk about things that have never been on
television before. And that maybe should never be on television, because
there is no way to show them. There`s no visual element whatsoever.
Like, for example, something really important in American state
politics that happened in 1913. How do you show that? I don`t know.
But it turns out that we are in the centennial. We are at the 100-
year anniversary of the first-ever recall of a state legislator in the
United States of America. It was a California state senator named Marshall
Black, and he was recalled from office. That was the first time a state
lawmaker was ever recalled anywhere in our country. He was recalled after
he was convicted of embezzlement.
We think this is a picture of Marshall Black, the first guy ever to be
recalled. But honestly, how do you fact-check that? Really? Who knows?
We might just as well do a Google image search for guy, circa 1913, in
which case you may get a picture of this guy, this guy, or this one with
this nice little boy and his dog.
And tonight, because this kind of story was not designed to be told on
television, these guys get to stand in for Marshall Black, California state
senator, who really was the first state lawmaker to ever get recalled in
We went a long time as a country before anybody was recalled.
The National Conference of State Legislators track these things, and
you can see their time line. It all starts only in 1913, way back with
Marshall Black. He was the first one.
And over the centuries since then, there have been a smattering of
these recall efforts against the state politicians. But it doesn`t happen
very often. Recalls used to be mostly for the rare occasion of, like
Marshall Black, a politician getting convicted of something while in office
and refusing to step down. Might seem like it happens a lot, but it
doesn`t happen all that often. So, a recall was once in a blue moon thing.
But something has happened in our very recent politics that suddenly
has made recall drives very, very popular. In the whole history of our
country, state politicians have only been put up 38 times. That`s all
states combined over all the years we have existed, and that it never
happened before 100 years ago, 38 times total.
But almost half of those times have been in the last two years. Over
the entire history of our country, 45 percent of all the recall elections
for state politicians ever have happened since 2011. And it is both
Republicans and Democrats who have been putting people up for recall in
these last couple of years.
But if this becomes the new normal in our politics, it will be because
Republicans have crunched the numbers and started to figure out that this
is really good for them in particular, that when there are recalls, broadly
speaking, Republicans win and Democrats lose. There are definitely
exceptions, but broadly speaking, Republican odds for recalls are great
odds. And that is because of a basic fact of voting life. More people
voting, better for Democrats. Fewer people voting, better for Republicans.
And yes, on either side, when either side sees somebody as a
particularly villainous politician that they want to recall, either parties
activist base may get excited about a recall campaign, but excitement is
almost never enough.
And you can`t just count on the base. You can`t just count on people
who live and breathe politics. That makes for a fun rally for Democrats,
but usually a lost election for Democrats. For Democrats to win, they need
people who to turn out to vote who aren`t just committed activists. They
need people who don`t live and breathe and politics. They need people who
live and breathe regular life.
Democrats win elections when average, run of the mill people turn out
to be in large numbers, which frankly they only regularly do anymore in
presidential election years. You cannot count on huge numbers of people
turning out in say, October, 2003, which is when they recalled the
Democratic governor of California. You cannot count on it in the early
summer of 2012, which is when most of the recall efforts against the
Republican state senators, and the big recall of against Wisconsin Governor
Scott Walker went the Republican`s way, despite all the activist energy in
Wisconsin that year.
And now, in September 2013, same deal. In an off-year election, in a
kind of an off off-year, odd-numbered year election, in early September,
the (AUDIO GAP) recall elections in Colorado. They replaced two center-
left to progressive Democratic senators from Democratic leaning districts.
They replaced them with conservative Republicans. Republicans who most
importantly for this race are fundamentalists against gun regulations, but
who also support things like personhood for fertilized eggs, that twice
failed radical Colorado anti-abortion proposal that would ban not just
abortion, but even some kinds of birth control.
The low turnout, off-year election advantage that Republicans have in
any off-year election, in this case in Colorado, was bolstered particularly
when the recall side got a vote banning by mail. Voting by mail is really
convenient. It is the way that Colorado is used to voting. They`ve had it
for a long time in that state, it`s really popular, it`s part of why
Colorado elections usually have pretty good participation rates, but there
was no voting by mail in this recall election, (AUDIO GAP), participation
even more than it otherwise would be in an off-year.
(AUDIO GAP) side and the sort of gun fundamentalists side in Colorado,
they originally tried to put four Colorado Democrats up for recall, because
of their votes on gun legislation. They didn`t get enough signatures for
two of those recalls to go ahead, but the two of them that did take the
ballot, those were the two lost their seats yesterday.
And while those legislators who lost their seats, and the Democratic
Party in Colorado, and liberal activists groups in Colorado, like this one,
Progress Now Colorado, all of those are super bummed about those results in
Colorado, the practical impact of the Democrats losing those two seats last
night is actually minimal. I mean, the Colorado governor is still a
Democratic, Colorado House is still under Democratic control. And the
Colorado Senate, even with losing those two seats is still under Democratic
So, the only thing that changes now, the Democrats will have to pick a
leader in the Senate to replace the one who was just recalled. And it is
not like they`re going to replace him with a Republican. They`re going to
replace him with another Democrat. And it looks like the most likely
Democrat to replace him is going to be a Democratic senator who is more to
the left than he was, and is a strong supporter of gun reforms, not least,
because her state Senate includes the Aurora movie theater, where a crazed
gunman killed 12 people and wounded dozens more, in part by this huge drum
ammunition magazine that holds 100 bullets -- the kind of magazine that was
banned and remains banned under the Colorado gun reforms that so upset the
right and that set off the recalls in the first place.
Those Colorado gun laws, universal background checks for gun sales and
the ban on high capacity magazines, those policies may have inspired this
political backlash. But the successful recall effort won`t affect the law
at all. The law is still in effect. And it wouldn`t affect the
legislature at all, except maybe to make them for liberal in the state.
But those practical matters were not, of course, what this was all
about. The national coverage of these recall elections keeps talking about
the symbolic effect of taking out these two legislators. But when you look
at the way it is being talked about by the people who waged these fight who
brought about these recalls in Colorado, it seemed from the beginning that
they were going less for something like symbolism and was more about making
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON CALDARA, COLORADO INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE: If president of the
Senate of Colorado, who did nothing except pass the laws that Bloomberg
wrote gets knocked out, there will be a shudder, a wave of fear that runs
across every state legislator across the country that says, I ain`t doing
that ever. That is not happening to me. I will not become a national
embarrassment. I will not take on those guys. That`s how big this is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So what they`re going for in Colorado was a wave of fear, a
shudder, a wave of fear.
And in case that seems like a one-off sentiment from just one of the
recall groups in Colorado, consider also this celebration today from the
Rocky Mountain gun owners in Colorado. They sent this around, putting the
two recalled senators on tombstones, to show that this is what happens to
anti-gun politicians in Americans now. You get killed and you end up dead.
And groups with military-style assault rifles in their logos celebrate
your death, circulate photos of your tombstones and bragged that they
So, the beltway argument that these recalls are about symbolism, is
starting to feel slightly euphemistic. It is meant to not just be a
symbol, it is meant to be a threat, and in some cases, a fairly explicit
one. And maybe that is not the way the national gun lobby wants to be
thought of all the time, but that is how this is played at the state level
That kind of radicalism and gun politics is not only happening as part
of backlash politics, backlash against Colorado passing gun reform. It`s
also just the way gun politics work now. What used to seem like really out
there radical, gun fundamentalist politics is now how run-of-the-mill
Republican legislatures are treating this issue.
At least today, that`s what happened in Missouri. In Missouri, there
is a Democratic governor but a Republican-controlled legislature. And the
Republican legislature earlier this year passed a bill that would defy all
gun laws passed by the federal government. Missouri`s bill would not only
declare invalid any federal law about guns, it would make it a state crime
punishable by up to a year in jail for any federal law enforcement official
to try to enforce a federal gun law in Missouri.
It`s not like there are that many federal gun laws. They include
things like making it really hard to own a machine gun and having to pass
the background check when you buy a gun at a gun store. And not being
allowed to have a fully plastic gun that you could sneak past a metal
There are not that many federal gun laws. The ones we have, have not
been that controversial for a long time. But under this bill passed by
Republicans in Missouri, trying to enforce those federal restrictions could
send federal law enforcement officers to jail.
The Republican-controlled legislature passed that bill in Missouri
back in May. The Democratic governor in the state vetoed it a few months
later, saying it was blatantly unconstitutional. But today in Missouri,
the Republicans in the legislature went about overriding that veto. The
Missouri House voted to enact that gun law nullification bill, despite the
governor`s veto. So, it`s now moved on to the state Senate.
Missouri Republicans are actively working on making it a crime to
enforce the country`s existing federal gun laws in that state, to throw law
enforcement officers in jail for doing that.
Republicans and even a lot of Democrats have always thought that pro-
gun politics were good politics. When does that stop being true? When
does radicalism on this issue start to hurt you politically, or is there
really no limit?
Joining us now is Steve Schmidt. He`s a Republican political
strategist, former senior strategist to the `08 McCain/Palin campaign.
Steve is a pro-gun rights Republican, a Second Amendment supporter. He is
also a thoroughly reasonable person.
Steve, thank you for being here.
STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Good to be here.
MADDOW: Is there a point at which gun politics -- pro-gun politics
start to look bad?
SCHMIDT: Well, this is extreme stuff you`re talking about in
Missouri, when you`re talking about nullification of federal gun laws, some
of them involving the statutes involving weapons on the books for decades.
If you go back to the recent history of the NRA and go back to Wayne
LaPierre calling government agents jackbooted government thugs,
precipitating the resignation from the NRA by President George Bush 41,
there is a lot of extreme stuff out there.
And at the end of the day, it may we will come back around and hurt
Republicans in a state like Missouri who are doing that stuff, because I
assure you, whether it is Missouri schools, its economy, there are other
pressing issues in the state of Missouri beyond the nonsense that they`re
engaged in on that.
But I do think on this issue in Colorado and other places, in just the
same way that you`ve seen the referendum and the initiative process abused
by special interests, you`re going to see these recall processes
increasingly abused. And we will have not for purposes of a criminal
conviction but for disagreement on a vote, we`re going to have a constant
stream of recalls in these states that have them. And I think you will
ultimately have to see reform of that.
MADDOW: Do you think that Republicans see themselves as having a
structural advantage in recall elections. Because a recall starts whenever
you make it start. You can always make it happen in an off-year election.
You can always make it happen when there is nothing else on the ballot,
thus ensuring the low turnout of a special election. Don`t Republicans
always see that --
SCHMIDT: It is not only the turnouts. The Schwarzenegger special
election in California, the turnout for that special election was about 10
percent higher than the 2002 election that Gray Davis --
MADDOW: The recall --
SCHMIDT: Yes, they went the same time. It was a higher turnout
It was a younger, less politically active, first-time voter that comes
out in that recall election. I think the issue with the recall election is
who has intensity on their side? And the side that has the intensity in an
election that will usually, but not always skew lower turnout is usually
the side that will win.
And in this case, I think one of the powers that the gun lobby has is
the ability to turn out its vote. If you watch this debate take place in
the federal -- in the Congress, you and I have talked about it. How is it
possible that 95 percent of the country supports common sense changes?
We`re not going to have 100 round magazines.
We ought to have background checks before somebody goes and purchases
a firearm. Ninety-five percent of the country agrees with that. There is
an awful lot of Republican voters out there that are part of that 95
But it died in Washington. It died because of a lack of both
Republican and Democratic votes, because in Washington, they understand the
power of the gun lobby. And it is incumbent on pro-gun control
organizations, when there are these types of elections, to be able to go in
there and win them.
Mayor Bloomberg`s group intervened in a congressional election of a
California Democratic congressman named Dennis Cardoza, pro-Second
Amendment, and basically was responsible for Dennis Cardoza losing his
seat, and Gary (INAUDIBLE) district out in Colorado. The side that is able
to project political power and to end political careers in precisely the
way that your video suggested with the man talking there, that is the side
that will control the outcome of this.
MADDOW: Were you surprise that had Bloomberg was not able to have his
effective desired in Colorado? That they aren`t able to do this?
SCHMIDT: I think that when you look at -- you know, when you look at
the Colorado Springs district, you have somebody -- you have a member who
just became ideologically out of step with the district. Not just the
issue of guns, there were other issues that are involved in there. You
know, this is an opportunistic process, people took their shot and got it.
But, look, if you want to make progress in this country on the issue
of gun control, you can`t afford to lose these elections and you can`t
afford those "New York Times" headlines, because they have an instinct for
self-preservation and survival. And there are very, very few of them in
either party that are willing to give up their seats on an issue of
conviction and conscience.
MADDOW: Steve Schmidt, Republican political strategist, former senior
strategist for McCain and Palin, and as I mentioned, thoroughly reasonable,
despite the fact you`re wrong about so many things.
Steve, thanks for being here.
SCHMIDT: Good to see you.
MADDOW: Good to see you.
All right, we`ll be right back.
MADDOW: So there is breaking news tonight on "The New York Times" Web
site, not an event, but a very, very provocative opinion piece just
published by "The New York Times" by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
They`ve just posted it. It`s called "A Plea for Caution from Russia."
It`s a lengthy op-ed. It makes the case that the U.S. should not act
unilaterally against the Syrian government. Putin says instead that the
United Nation`s legitimate body to take action to uphold international law.
Mr. Putin writes that his relationship with President Obama is, quote,
"marked by growing trust." He encourages the U.S. to continue to work with
Russia to try to solve the crisis in Syria.
But this is a very direct and very powerful peace and it is not a love
letter to the United States. Check this out. He says, quote, "It is
alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign
countries has become common place for the United States. Is it in
America`s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world
increasingly see America not as a model of democracy, but is relying solely
on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogans `you are
either with us or against us`."
Again, this is from Vladimir Putin, just posted at "The New York
Times" Web site.
This is the way he ends the piece. It says, quote, "I carefully
studied President Obama`s address to the nation on Tuesday and I would
disagree with the case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the
United States` policy is, quote, `what makes us different, it is what makes
Putin says, "It is extremely dangerous for people to see themselves as
exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small
countries, rich and poor, those with long Democratic traditions and those
still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are
all different, but when we ask for the Lord`s blessings, we must not forget
that God created us equal."
Vladimir Putin, lecturing about God and equality and democracy in "The
New York Times".
The piece is up now on "The New York Times" Web site as of now. It is
sure to stir reaction from the White House and from across the country,
starting about 30 seconds ago.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Have you ever found yourself wondering about say, a really
sensitive issue in the Middle East? Questions about intelligence, weapons,
America`s credibility in the world? Have you ever found yourself wondering
about those things, and suddenly, you are struck with a desire to know what
Karl Rove thinks about them?
No, no. Well, at the FOX News Channel, that is just who they have
been waiting to hear from.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BUSH: The toughest
president for the question is going to be this one, Bill, does he ask for
Congress authorization for his action?
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: I think he has that.
ROVE: I think he has, too. The president cannot do what he did in
Libya, which was not go to the Congress. He has to go to Congress.
O`REILLY: And he will get it, because what politician wants to be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He has to go to Congress, because Karl Rove says to repeat
what happened in Libya when President Obama authorized strikes there
without the congressional approval, that would be a disaster, he has to get
And so, Karl Rove must have been psyched when he saw President Obama
doing that thing Karl Rove said he has to do.
Shortly after Karl Rove that he should do it, President Obama
announced that he would seek congressional approval, just like Karl said he
should do. Karl Rove must be psyched. Karl Rove was not psyched.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROVE: I thought he needed to take it to Congress, but in retrospect,
that was a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is a terrible thing you do that you just did. But I
said you should definitely do.
I must have been wrong, because you did what I said, and once you did
it, suddenly I hated my own idea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROVE: I thought that he needed to take it to Congress, but in
retrospect, that was a mistake. The president probably should have been
better to take an action. This is an unmitigated disaster. It`s amateur
hour at the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So the thing Karl Rove said was a great idea became an
unmitigated disaster, as soon as President Obama actually did it. Amateur
hour at the White House.
Karl Rove is not helping this debate. He is serving a purpose, but
helping the debate along, making the debate get smarter, that is not his
But that kind of thing right now is not just coming from the peanut
gallery at the FOX News Channel. It is also coming from Congress, from
some of the people who are supposed to be playing a key role in setting our
nation`s policy on Syria. Take for example, Texas Senator John Cornyn, the
number two Republican in the Senate. He explained to reporters last week
his principled stance on voting against military action in Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: If the vote were held today, I would be
against it. I don`t think anybody should be under any illusions when the
United States intervenes military, that`s war. And the American people I
think are understandably war-weary and very dubious about limited military
engagement in a place like the Middle East where people have been fighting
each for thousands of years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: War-weary. Senator John Cornyn cannot support a military
strike in Syria because there`s been too much war, except he also cannot
support a military strike in Syria because President Obama isn`t proposing
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORNYN: I could support a resolution if it involved the use of
decisive and overwhelming force without self-imposed limitations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, it`s not enough -- it`s too -- also, the international
community, John Cornyn says, needs to contribute here?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORNYN: The international community needs to contribute to the effort
to hold Assad accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Except, not the international that is contributing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORNYN: I would caution all of us, the American people, and all of
our colleagues, to be skeptical for good reason at this lifeline that
Vladimir Putin has now thrown the administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No other countries are involved here. We can get involved,
but no other countries? You know what? We ought to be really suspicious,
there are other countries involved here.
Senator Cornyn went on to say that the administration`s plans in Syria
are, quote, "guaranteed to fail."
You know, you can hold a position that goes against the wishes of the
Obama administration, of course. You just cannot hold every position that
goes against the wishes of the Obama administration all at once, all at the
same time. You cannot say it is crucial for the president to go to
Congress, and then call it a disaster that the president chose to go to
You cannot say that military strikes in Syria would be too much war,
and in the next breath say military strikes in Syria would not be enough
war. You cannot say the world has to get involved and then reject out of
hand the parts of the world that are getting involved, because you are
suspicious on them getting involved.
Unless confusing the debate and sabotaging the policy is all the
ultimate goal, you cannot do all of those things all at once.
Back in May, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe wrote about what President
Obama should do in Syria, he cannot just wish away the Syria crisis. And
sure, it is scary to consider something like enforcing a new fly zone or
putting American boots on the ground in Syria, but we might just have to do
Quote, "Our next steps must be calculated and informed with the best
intelligence and the best military advice our defense community can
And even though the secretary of defense and chairman of the joint
chiefs made their case for President Obama`s Syria policy, Senator Inhofe
said, listening to you guys, I can`t possibly support this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: I would oppose going in and having
military intervention against Syria. It may sound real easy when people
like the Secretary Kerry say that it is going to be quick and we`re going
to go in and we`re going to send a few cruise missiles, wash our hands and
go home. It doesn`t work that way. This could be a war in the Middle
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Right, this could be a war in the Middle East that you said
we should start. You were the one that said no fly zone, boots on the
ground. We ought to do that. The stuff is archived on the Internet
senator, we know you wrote that op-ed. It`s around, it`s easy. It`s
The policy of the Republican Party right now is to nonsense any debate
about this into irrelevance, which may not be a surprise given how the
Republican Party has reacted to pretty much every item on President Obama`s
domestic agenda. But it is still a surprise when you hear a sitting member
of Congress say that the president`s military policy overseas is guaranteed
to fail, right?
Of course, in the last 48 hours or so, the real work on the way
forward in Syria has been taken out of the hands of the U.S. Congress.
Now, it`s Russia and France and England and the U.S., working through the
United Nations, trying to find some sort of possible resolution on Syria`s
chemical weapons arsenal. They are working on getting Syria to give up
Secretary of State John Kerry heading to Geneva tomorrow to meet with
Russia`s foreign minister. They will talk about how the world can get
Syria to give up their chemical weapons as a way of averting military
The common wisdom is that getting a workable solution through this
diplomatic channels is going to be hard, maybe impossibly hard. But will
Syria actually get rid of their chemical weapons? Is that within the realm
of possibility? And is the international debate any less nonsensical than
what we`re being treated to by the loyal opposition party here at home?
Joining us now is P.J. Crowley, former assistant secretary and
spokesman at the State Department and a fellow at George Washington
Mr. Crowley, it`s good to have you here tonight. Thanks very much for
P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Hello, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, I have to ask you first. We learned tonight of this op-
ed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in "The New York Times," saying he
wants to speak directly to the American people about Syria, about why we
shouldn`t act alone there.
What`s your reaction to this op-ed from him?
CROWLEY: Well, I`m not sure that Vladimir Putin is going to be seen
as a credible commentator in the eyes of the American people. That said,
it demonstrates, you know, the very sophisticated environment in which we
live, not only the Vladimir Putin op-ed that appear tomorrow, but Bashar
al-Assad`s interview with Charlie Rose early this week. You know, they`re
full participants on the ongoing debate about what to do about Syria.
MADDOW: In terms of American politicians and the American citizens, I
think distrust of Vladimir Putin which may be as dyed in the wool, because
of our long relationship between our countries and maybe a somewhat
specific Putin, do you think that he actually might move American public
opinion or American political opinion in the opposite direction than he
intends to, simply by publishing this?
CROWLEY: It will be interesting to watch the reaction. But I do
think that in that piece, Vladimir Putin, don`t have to like him, don`t
have to trust him. He is a very rational actor.
And I think he did outline how Russia sees the situation in Syria, the
concern that they have that with the growth of extremism in Syria, that
certainly can affect his provinces, and the Caucasus. Russia has a well-
developed idea that what happens inside any country is nobody else`s
business but that country. You know, China has that same point of view.
I don`t think he is going to necessarily sway any opinion one way or
the other. But you do see that potentially, emphasize potentially subject
to negotiation of the details that Russia does have an interest in seeing
this chemical weapons agreement or proposal advance. A lot of caveats on
what they will be able to put on the binding resolution, that`s a
conversation I think we have to have as skeptical as might be that`s going
to ultimately be successful.
MADDOW: P.J., do you expect that if there is progress and obviously,
the devil is really in the details in terms of chemical weapons in Syria`s
arsenal. But do you expect if there is progress that it will be more
likely to come in these one-on-one talks between Russia and the U.S., with
John Kerry tomorrow meeting with foreign minister from Russia? Or do you
think it will more likely to emerge from the U.N.?
CROWLEY: Well, I think what`s more important in this conversation is
it actually, if successful, it places the U.N. back in the game -- back in
the game of Syria and the crisis. That`s been something that Russia has
opposed for the last two years.
So, there is a lot of commentary that Putin is eating Obama`s lunch.
I think this puts Putin on the hook. He will be the one that has to
deliver Syria. He`ll be the one, the kind of a guarantor that makes sure
if Syria signs up to a meaningful agreement, it will potentially live or
abide by its obligations.
Obviously, we have plenty of opportunities to test this proposition
early on. You know, can you get a resolution that Russia will support?
Can you get a credible accounting of what Syria has and where those weapons
are located? Can you secure a U.N. inspection team in a middle of a war
All high degrees of difficulty, every reason to believe that at any
particular time, you know, this conversation as meaningful and
consequential as it will be, could get sidetracked.
MADDOW: P.J. Crowley, former assistant secretary and spokesman at the
State Department, now at the George Washington University, P.J., thank you
very much of your time tonight. It`s very helpful. Thanks.
CROWLEY: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: So the state of Florida kills a ton of people, kills a ton of
its own citizens. I mean, nobody can compete with the state of Texas which
kills more than the next five states combined. But Florida is right up
Since it became legal for states to kill their prisoners back in 1976,
Florida has killed more of its prisoners than all but three other states.
Even states in general are really slowing down on the pace at which they
kill people, Florida is still doing what it can.
Since Republican Governor Rick Scott was sworn in in 2011, he has
killed eight people, eight of Florida`s prisoners. But the governor does
not bear that responsibility alone, of course. He was also elected
alongside and sworn alongside a new Republican attorney general in the
state of Florida, too. Her name is Pam Bondi.
And before she was elected Florida`s new Republican attorney general,
she was a TV lawyer. She was somebody who would talk on cable news about
things like "The Runaway Bride," or the Rush Limbaugh prescription drug
scandal, right? And then Florida elected her to be attorney general.
So, when the state of Florida kills its prisoners now, the governor
gives the ultimate thumbs up or thumbs down to the execution chamber. But
Pam Bondi, as attorney general, gives her signoff, as well. And even
though Pam Bondi and Rick Scott have already overseen the deaths of eight
people since they have been in office, they also both championed the idea
that Florida ought to kill its prisoner faster.
They have championed and Pam Bondi has defended the constitutionality
of Florida measure called the Timely Justice Act, which is designed to stop
Florida prisoners who were slated to be killed by the state from filing so
many appeals. The ideas that these guys are unnecessarily delaying their
deaths, that Florida really wants to kill them faster and they should stop
being able to appeal to the court so much. So Florida can get on with it.
The Timely Justice Act.
So, Rick Scott and Pam Bondi have already OK`d eight deaths since they
have been in office. Last night was supposed to be the ninth. But the
lawyer for the prisoner that Florida was scheduled to kill last night, that
lawyer got a call from the state telling him that the killing was going to
The man`s attorney told "The Tampa Bay Times" that he had asked the
governor`s office for more information about why the execution was
postponed. But the governor`s staff would say only that it was at the
request of the attorney general, which is kind of weird, right? I mean,
Rick Scott and Pam Bondi have already OK`d killing eight prisoners. They
have been advocating that they should be able to kill more prisoners
faster, timely justice, it`s all being done too slow. We want to do more
So finally, they were set to kill number nine last night. But Pam
Bondi steps in and intervenes to delay it, to slow that one down. Why is
she delaying it?
We will let the headline do the work here. Pam Bondi had a
fundraiser. So change the execution date for that.
Attorney General Pam Bondi persuaded Governor Rick Scott to postpone
an execution because it conflicted with her reelection kick off reception.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you think it was proper to delay an execution for her to
hold a fundraiser?
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Well, we set the date. The attorney
general`s office asked for a postponement. So, we went along with that.
We try to comply with -- when another cabinet member asks for stuff,
we try to work with them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Thank you, can we stop -- we don`t want to take questions
about this. Thank you.
Rick Scott, Republican governor of Florida, does not want to talk
about this for obvious reasons. He is not apologizing or anything. He is
just putting it on the attorney general, saying it`s Pam Bondi`s fault.
The Republican attorney general, Pam Bondi, she did put a statement
initially saying that the whole reason she changed the date on which they
were going to kill this man is because she takes the process so seriously.
Look, in light of the seriousness of any execution, yes, she takes the
process so seriously that she rescheduled the execution for a fundraiser.
She then put out a second statement, saying again, that she really
takes all of this very seriously, noting she has already been responsible
for the killing of eight prisoners since she has been in office, and
saying, well, she shouldn`t have rescheduled the date of the execution for
her fundraiser. But they did still move the day of the execution for her
So, Florida Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi did not
get to kill their ninth prisoner last night. And Pam Bondi did get to go
ahead with hosting her fundraiser at her home in Tampa, where presumably
she slept great.
MADDOW: Sometimes we get nights like this, we have yet more breaking
news to report tonight, legit breaking news. I`m not kidding.
I mentioned at the top of the show that lawmakers in Missouri tonight
were debating a fairly amazing gun measure that they had passed before.
But it was vetoed by Missouri`s Democratic governor. The bill they passed
is an amazing piece of work. And remember, this was passed by the full
legislature earlier this year in Missouri.
Their bill would have declared invalid any laws about guns passed by
the federal government. It would make it a state crime for any federal law
enforcement official to come into Missouri to try to enforce a federal gun
law. So, the federal law on machine guns or something like that. If a
federal law enforcement official wanted to enforce the law in Missouri,
Missouri Republicans said that, that that law enforcement official should
be arrested and put in jail for a year.
The state`s Democratic governor vetoed the bill after Missouri
Republicans passed it. And tonight, Republicans in Missouri went about
frying to override the governor`s veto. As we reported earlier in the show
this hour, the Missouri House did go ahead and vet to override the
governor`s veto. That meant if the state Senate voted the same way, the
bill would be become law despite the governor`s objections.
Well, within the last few minutes the effort to override the veto
failed in the Missouri state Senate. Missouri Republicans fell one vote
short in the Senate of overriding that veto. It was expected to be a close
vote tonight, but Republicans in Missouri came up one vote short.
So, again, the news at this hour: Missouri`s Democratic governor has
held off at least for now a Republican led effort in his state to declare
invalid all federal gun laws and threaten to jail federal law enforcement
officers. So, second civil war averted.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: This is the view of Brooklyn -- looking, looking from
Manhattan toward Brooklyn. When you think of views of New York, you tend
to think of looking at it the other way around, right? Looking from
Brooklyn at Manhattan -- looking at Manhattan`s famous skyline.
But Brooklyn, of course, is its own place. It is one of the biggest
cities in the country. Brooklyn alone, not New York in general, but just
Brooklyn, is bigger than Philly. Brooklyn is bigger than Dallas. Brooklyn
is bigger than Houston even. Brooklyn alone is bigger than every other
city in the country, aside from Chicago, and L.A., and the rest New York.
Brooklyn is huge. It has been huge for a very, very long time.
Starting way back in the 1830s, the great American poet Walt Whitman
lived in Brooklyn. He was born all most 200 years ago now. But he was a
surprisingly modern guy. Walt Whitman used word like "stuff" in his poems.
He said things like he/she way back in the time of the Civil War.
He wrote racy, sensual, scandalous stuff that even your best high
school English teacher did not read to you in school. In school when you
were lucky enough to get Whitman, instead it is, greeting card stuff. Like
opening lines of when lilacs last in the dooryard bloom`d.
But today of all days, consider that same guy, that same unnaturally
modern guy writing about Brooklyn, writing abut taking the ferry home to
Brooklyn in years before they took the Brooklyn bridge, who`s writing about
the ferry and writing about being able to see from here to there not just
in space but in time.
Whitman`s genius was the way he saw from where he was in the 1850s and
1860s ahead in time to where we are now. In a way that we recognize it
when we read his words about us, despite how long ago they were written.
On the ferry boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross returning
home are more curious to me than you suppose. And you that shall cross
from shore to shore, years hence, are more to me and more in my meditations
than you might suppose.
Walt Whitman meditating on us, right? Pressing his face up against
the glass of time. And seeing, or claiming to see, or imagining to see us.
Us, 150 years later. Way over here. Hi, Walt.
Today in New York City, and around the country, in Shanksville,
Pennsylvania, at the Pentagon building in Virginia, but at the center of it
all in New York City, we think about this very dark day for human beings.
The crystal clear views of what happens in Lower Manhattan that day, the
ones that could be seen, just by regular people from just turning your head
Those crystal clear views were from Brooklyn, to which so many people
made the crossing that day in fear and shock. You could see the towers on
9/11 better from Brooklyn than from anywhere in Manhattan.
Here in New York City, beyond the official history of the attack, the
official history and national response and what all the leaders did, there
is the human history among us of people walking home, walking away,
crossing the East River, crossing the Hudson River, walking up and down the
spine of Manhattan. But wherever you were, that day could seem dark in a
way that few other days could, and it still does even this many years
Walt Whitman wrote about that idea too in the same poem. He said, "It
is not upon you alone the dark patches fall. The dark threw its patches
down upon me also."
He goes on to talk about how he sort of feels about his own sins. He
talks about feeling ruined. And his point is that we have all been there.
And sometimes we are all there together, everyone together.
It is 12 years on which means that we now have a whole generation of
kids around for whom that day has only ever been history. The way old Walt
Whitman is history. Or, the civil war is history. Or the civil rights
movement. You know? Rosa Parks.
Twelve years on now and our memories of the day are getting older ever
day since. And for those of us who are old enough to know it is our
responsibility not to just remember for ourselves, but to figure out how to
explain it, to those who did not see it -- who did not live when it
happened, but who now live in a world changed because it did happen.
Something happened to us on that day 12 years ago. But what kind of
history it makes is up to us now, moving forward, with the way we tell that
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it is time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Thanks very much for being with us tonight.
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