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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

September 12, 2013

Guests: Nicholas Kristof, David Sirota

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Before President Obama threatened military
action against Syria, there were seven countries in the world that had not
joined the United Nations Convention on Chemical Weapons. Tonight, there
are six.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Expectations are high. There ought
to be consequences.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary of State John Kerry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry arrived in Geneva.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s meeting with his Russian counterpart in

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: For two days of talk on a Russian proposal.

KERRY: We do believe there is a way to get this done.

TODD: To put Syria`s chemical weapons under international control.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: But hours before the meeting, a new twist.

TODD: Russia`s president delivers a daunting diatribe.

WAGNER: Rebuking President Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Putin writing an op-ed.

WAGNER: In the pages of the "The New York Times."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did it make you feel?



SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I didn`t agree with it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s absolutely laughable.

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: I hear he is looking to anchor a
show on MSNBC.

TODD: Everybody is taking offense to it.


CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: What about the political implications of

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We expect President Putin to put forward

KERRY: Expectations are high.

TODD: Hostage diplomacy gives the president an excuse to hit the push


TODD: And return to regularly scheduled political divisive

BOEHNER: We have a spending problem. It must be addressed.

WAGNER: Boehner is once again facing insurrection.

BOEHNER: There are a lot of members with a lot of ideas.

PELOSI: Republican leaders were forced to pull their continuing

JANSING: Does Speaker Boehner have control of the Republican Party?

BOEHNER: When we have something to report, we`ll let you know.

WAGNER: Speaker Boehner seems out of ideas.

BOEHNER: There are a million options.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We will not accept anything
that delays or defunds Obamacare.

JANSING: With potential for a government shut down and looming debt
ceiling fight.

BOEHNER: I`m well aware of the deadline.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The truth is stranger than fiction.


O`DONNELL: And then there were six. The Obama administration`s
pressure on the Assad regime in Syria has resulted in the Syrian government
joining the United Nations Chemical Weapons Convention today, leaving only
six countries in the world that have not signed on to the Chemical Weapons

This afternoon, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations made this


of the so-called chemical weapons should be ended. And legally speaking,
Syria has become, starting today, a full member of the convention.


O`DONNELL: The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he received a
letter from the government of Syria informing him that President al Assad
has signed the legislative decree. The secretary general welcomes this

The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the development, production,
acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer, or use of chemical weapons
by state parties. As a member, Syria will create a plan for destroying its
chemical weapons.

Today in Geneva, Secretary of State John Kerry began discussions with
Russia`s foreign minister in order to prevent the Assad government from
using chemical weapons again.


discussions that Secretary Kerry had with the Foreign Minister Lavrov, as
well as some other players in this, can yield a concrete result. And I
know that he is going to be working very hard over the next several days to
see what the possibilities are there.


O`DONNELL: At a joint press conference this afternoon, with the
foreign minister, Secretary Kerry reiterated what was at stake.


KERRY: Expectations are high. They are high for the United Nations,
perhaps even more so for Russia to deliver on the promise of this moment.

This is not a game. And I said that to my friend Sergey, when we
talked about it initially. It has to be real. It has to be comprehensive.
It has to be verifiable. And it has to be credible. It has to be timely
and implemented in a timely fashion.

And finally, there ought to be consequences if it doesn`t take place.


O`DONNELL: The consequences contemplated by Secretary Kerry and
President Obama still include military action.


KERRY: We are serious, Mr. Foreign Minister, we are serious, as you
are, about engaging in substantive negotiations, even as our military
maintains its current posture to keep up the pressure on the Assad regime.
Only the credible threat of force and the intervention of President Putin
and Russia based on that has brought the Assad regime to acknowledge for
the first time that it even has chemical weapons and an arsenal, and that
it is now prepared to relinquish it.

President Obama has made clear that should diplomacy fail, force might
be necessary to deter and degrade Assad`s capacity to deliver these
weapons. It won`t get rid of them, but it could change his willingness to
use them.


O`DONNELL: In an interview with a Russian news agency today, Assad
said this: "When we see that the United States desires stability in our
region and ceases its threats and endeavors to attack us, as well as ceases
its deliveries of weapons to terrorists, then we will believe that we can
carry the necessary processes through to completion, and they will enter
into force and be acceptable for Syria."

U.S. officials confirm to NBC News that the CIA is continuing to
provide small arms to the Syrian opposition.

Here is how White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded to
Assad`s comments.


CARNEY: I`m not going to negotiate this, but our position is that we
are providing assistance to the opposition, both the military and the
political opposition. And again, you know, conditions and demands placed
by someone who, a few weeks ago, blithely used chemical weapons against
innocent children, so that we could all watch them die in videos are a
little hard to take.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Alex Wagner and Chris Hayes.

Alex Wagner, another day, another signatory to the United Nations
Convention on Chemical Weapons. This is a good day for the Obama

WAGNER: It is a good day. It is a good thing there is one less
country in the word, one fewer country that is not going to use chemical
weapons on its own people with impunity or theoretically. I do think it is
worth an asterisk as we sort of praise the administration and get excited
about this development that the Syrians are still saying, referring to them
as the so-called chemical weapons.

I think there is much to be determined as far as how serious they are
in terms of ceding control of their stockpile, acknowledging it exist (a),
truly exists, acknowledging where all of it is. And ceding control of that
to the international community and then destroying it. That is a massive
operation that could take months if not years.

O`DONNELL: Chris, if that`s any one from the U.N. --


WAGNER: That`s Sergey Lavrov --

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That`s Sergey Lavrov, exactly. He wants to
reply to John Kerry.

WAGNER: Not me, unfortunately.

O`DONNELL: We would have seen no movement in this territory if
President Obama hadn`t taken the actions he has taken.

HAYES: I think that`s right. I mean, it`s very unclear to me exactly
what prompted this aside from Putin seizing an opportunity to both
forestall a strike which I think he did not want. And Russian experts I
talked to have said, yes, the Russians really didn`t want the Americans to
lob a bunch of missiles into the region for a whole variety of reasons.

And I think there is a case to be made, the credible use of force is
what created this opening. I think the flip side of that that I think
people tend to miss and when they emphasize how important force has been,
is that what has been equally important is the courage frankly to stand up
to the political incriminations that will come to actually take them up on
the offer to negotiate, right? I mean, what you are seeing is Bob Corker
running around, calling the administration weak. And everyone beating up
on this feckless, and zig-zagging policy.

Well, no. Actually, that`s what you want. I mean, every day that
goes by in which we are not engaged in war, (a), and (b), Assad really
can`t use chemical weapons right now. I mean, one thing for sure, as this
process plays out, however troubled the process might be. It is very hard
to imagine the dye deployment of the weapons.

Every day that goes by in the conflict. The U.S. is not involved in
the war. And Assad is not using chemical weapons is achieving the aims the
president may have.

O`DONNELL: Exactly. And what I`m hearing the criticism of the
president this week is this craving for that good old George W. Bush
absolute certainty every minute, unchangeable certainty in the face of
changing evidence.

HAYES: That`s right.

WAGNER: Well, and I think there was is a really good analysis of how
each side interpreted President Obama`s decision thus far in "The New York
Times" by Peter Baker. One size says we want a decisive president, to your
point, Lawrence.

But as Chris outlines, I mean, this is how -- first of all, you can`t
outline a foreign policy doctrine in the 21st century. I mean, it`s almost
impossible given the changing nature of the globe. That is not comforting
to a lot of -- a lot of people, a lot of foreign policy hawks in

But seeing this diplomacy done in such a transparent -- executed in
such a transparent fashion is a sea change from where we have been as a
country. I`m not saying it is necessarily wrong. But this is different
than how America has conducted itself.

O`DONNELL: I think you are seeing agility. I think you`re simply
seeing it done in an agile fashion that is not locked in cement first day.

HAYES: That`s right. And you`re also seeing -- I mean, it`s sort of
amazing to watch Kerry up there and Lavrov. I mean, he opened this door
with a comment that was clearly meant to be dismissive. Anyway, yes, turn
it over in a week, and of course, they can`t do that. It`s undoable.

And then later, the State Department clarified and said, well, he was
not offering that. Then he`s up there next to Lavrov, and like it is to
Kerry`s credit and to the White House`s credit they`re just pretending they
wanted to do this. Because actually, the stuff out of which international
peace is made are a million little diplomatic lies, a million little
disingenuous statements --

WAGNER: In the White House defense, the option was discussed at Los
Cabos G-20 summit over a year ago, and they`ve tried to make the case this
is always something they wanted. To your point, they accommodated for the
twists and turns in a pretty masterful.

O`DONNELL: And what after all is diplomacy, but talking. I mean,
John Kerry was talking. He was talking in a press conference. He said
something that that meaning to the other side.

HAYES: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: He didn`t expect to have meaning to the other side, but it
did. And then they`ve went to work.

WAGNER: I don`t want to be a frowny face all over of this, because I
think it is really --

O`DONNELL: Just keep smiling. All you have to do.

WAGNER: Incredibly important.

HAYES: Sergey will call.

WAGNER: Exactly.

But, you know, President Obama didn`t consult with John Kerry the
night he made the decision to go to Congress or congressional
authorization. John Kerry was out there. Sergey Lavrov came with his
deal. And all of a sudden, the White House is embracing it, leaving John
Kerry out there to sort of pick up the pieces and negotiate in Geneva.

Let us not underestimate the skills of Vladimir Putin who I`m not
saying is a good dude by any stretch of the imagination. But as a former
KGB operative, taking out op-eds in "The New York Times" in a very
calculated series of moves to get international sort of -- to win the
international debate over who is in charge here.

O`DONNELL: But in that op-ed piece in "The New York Times", Putin is
ceding factual ground that he wasn`t even willing to leave as possible in
the past.

And, Chris, when you see an offer like that -- what people are looking
for. Why doesn`t Putin in his op-ed piece say exactly what we think he
should say, how dare he say he doesn`t think America is exceptional? Well,
you know, there is a lot of countries in the world that don`t think America
is exceptional. And don`t expect them to say it in "The New York Times."

HAYES: I think Americans are not used to being lectured to by other
world leaders. I think people`s offense at Putin lecturing is totally
understandable and with merit, in the sense that Putin is not a good dude.
And the way he is running Russia, is the way, I lefty that I am, approve
of. At the same time --

WAGNER: Or conducted themselves on the international stage.

HAYES: Right. He started two wars. He`s been absolutely brutal in
Chechnya. There are Russian troops in Georgia as we speak. There was no
U.N. Security Council resolution that allowed them.

All of that aside, the fact of the matter is, this, this way of
hearing a foreign leader talk about what you should do is something a lot
of the world has experience of with our leaders, who go out and tell the
rest of the world what to do all the time. Not to say there is a moral
equivalent. U.S., Russia, et cetera, et cetera.

But it is really fascinating to watch how offended the American
political system was by this one op-ed today when that`s really par for the
course around the world all the time.

O`DONNELL: Right, right.

Let`s listen to what Jay Carney said about this question of can the
president trust Vladimir Putin?


CARNEY: I think the point that is that actions speak louder than
words. And that we will -- look, I think that the -- the fact is, if we
can resolve this without resorting to military force, we can relieve a
dictator of his stockpiles of chemical weapons so that he can never use
them against innocent civilians again, then credit will be due off to the
Russians and to everyone else who participates in the process to make it
happen. We`ll see if it happens.


O`DONNELL: If the United States has set out to prevent Assad from
using chemical weapons again, and Assad does not use chemical weapons
again, how is that not a win for the United States?

WAGNER: I think you are right. I mean, the question, Lawrence, will
be there is a larger humanitarian situation here, where people were killed
with the weapon of choice in Syria, which is not chemical weapons, but AK-
47s. And then there is the question of the gruesomeness of children dying
at night by guns. Is that worse than them dying at night by gas?

Now, I don`t think that that, the White House has been very smart in
terms of framing this very narrowly and to your point, I think they can
call it a victory. But the "if" question is still very much out there, in
terms of whether the Russians are actually serious about this.

Let us not forget, that they shipped a billion dollars worth of arms
to the Syrians in 2011. They have been giving the guys cover for a long
time and have a lot of vested interest in keeping Assad in power.

O`DONNELL: You can watch Alex Wagner as I do every day, noon Eastern.
And Chris Hayes, at 8:00 p.m., right here on MSNBC.

Thank you both for joining me tonight.

WAGNER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up the man whose op-ed appeared beside Vladimir
Putin`s in "The New York Times." Nicholas Kristof will join me. He will
answer this question that his column asked today -- when has violence,
killing and aggression helped anything?

And in the rewrite tonight, we try to figure out Rand Paul`s position
on Syria with a little help from Stephen Colbert.


O`DONNELL: Texas Governor Rick Perry is trying to bring jobs from
places to Texas, but not from other countries. Perry is hunting for jobs
in other states. Rick Perry`s job hunt has gone through Missouri,
Illinois, California and now, he is running ads, TV ads, in Maryland,
attacking that state.

A spokesperson for Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley released a
statement saying Maryland has had the number one public schools in the
nation for five years in a row since 2007. We have done more than any
other state to hold on the cost of college tuition. We`re number one in
median income. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has named us number one
state in the nation for innovation and entrepreneurship for two years in a

Instead of engaging in PR stunts, Governor Perry should come to
Maryland to see firsthand the better choices that have led to these better

No word yet on when Governor Perry might be visiting Maryland.

Up next, what President Obama`s threat of military action in Syria has
actually accomplished.


O`DONNELL: Beside Vladimir Putin`s op-ed piece in "The New York
Times" today, right beside it is one entitled that threat worked by "Times"
columnist Nicholas Kristof.

It begins, "For all of you innumerable skeptics of President Obama`s
calls for military strike on Syria, consider this, for decades, Syria has
refused to confirm that it has chemical weapons. Now, facing a limited
strike, its position abruptly changed to, oh, we do have them after all and
we want to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention. We want to show them to
the United Nations inspectors. In short, the mere flexing of military
power worked."

Joining me now, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning "New York Times"
columnist, Nicholas Kristof.

Nick, you talk in here about your opposition to past military
interventions by U.S. presidents, which is well known to all of us. So,
there was some surprise when you came out in favor of the president`s
position on these strikes before they were called off.


O`DONNELL: Tell us how you got there in this case.

KRISTOF: Sure. I must say every time I open my mouth and talk about
this I lose another few friends.

But, you know, at the end of the day, war is a terrible thing. Bu
there are some things worse. And one is mass atrocities that we can
prevent and don`t. Clearly, in retrospect, we would have been better off
in 1994 going into Rwanda and saving 800,000 lives that were lost there.

In retrospect, we were wise to go into Bosnia, military strikes that
achieved the Dayton Peace Accord. Intervention in Kosovo, Sierra Leone,

So, I think that everybody is very much, by the overhang of Iraq
invasion. And, of course, if you`re looking at things through that prism,
you never want to touch military power again.

But at the end of the day, there are times when military power really
can make a life saving difference. I don`t think we should make blanket
ideological assumptions about its use.

O`DONNELL: And your conclusion, right beside Vladimir Putin`s
headline, your conclusion that that threat has worked. Look what it has
harvested so far.

KRISTOF: Absolutely. I mean, it`s tentative. It`s uncertain.

This whole deal may fall apart at any moment. But, right now, we have
a measure of progress. And I think it is -- impossible to imagine that
having happened if that threat had not been on the table. I think it is
equally important now to keep that threat alive or else this will become a
way of dragging the U.S. along playing us like a yo-yo.

O`DONNELL: Unfortunately, our recent history hurt this particular
strategic approach. When George W. Bush said to Congress, I`m just asking
for the authorization. He kind of suggested he might not use it under
certain circumstances. But we all right felt he was really going to use

But that notion, asking for an authorization, militarily that I might
not use is a perfectly legitimate strategic option that now seems to have
been taken off the table by Congress.

KRISTOF: Yes. Well, people clearly distrust any intelligence that
comes out, distrust any notion of a humanitarian motive off to try to
intervene. But, I mean, I`ve got to say in 2003. I was aghast I had so
many liberal friends that were embracing in the invasion of Iraq. I
thought that was a terrible mistake.

Today, I`m troubled that I have so many liberal friends who are
unwilling to contemplate the use of force at a time when 100,000 Syrians
have died. And when that, the scale of the tragedy is going to rise into
the hundreds of thousand if nothing more is done.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what President Obama said to his liberal


OBAMA: To my friend on the left, I ask you to reconcile your belief
in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children
writhing in pain, and going still on a cold hospital floor. For some
times, resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.


O`DONNELL: You say in your piece, we have to address the fundamental
questions, can we really promote peace with military force? Is it possible
to help of a country by bombing it?

KRISTOF: And is it possible? The answer is unequivocally yes. We
helped in Sierra Leone. We ended a brutal civil war there, where you had
rebel force that was chopping off the arms of kids. So, with a small
effort by British forces in Mali earlier this year even.

But there are also clearly occasions where it failed. I don`t think
there is any clear lesson of history about the use of force. I think you
have to make a painstaking judgment based on the facts on the ground, on
the scale of casualties, and whether or not you think you can make a

Now, on balance, in the case of Syria, it seems to me that we can.
Other people disagree. You know that`s a reasonable disagreement.

But if people are making the judgment that no matter what the level of
atrocities, no matter if it`s genocide or what, that we will in no case use
military force to stop mass atrocities, then I think that would be tragic
for the world.

O`DONNELL: The mission of the Obama administration`s approach to this
has been to stop the use of chemical weapons. They haven`t expressed a
larger ambition in there like regime change and things like that.

When are we going to notice it has stopped? And when we think about
the possible thing that can go wrong in the negotiations in Geneva and so
forth down the road, is it possible to conceive of Assad actually going
back and using chemical weapons again, given where we are today at this

KRISTOF: I mean, you never want to say it will never happen again,
because then an hour later it will. But, I do think that -- look at the
end of the day, the benefits militarily of using chemical weapons are very
modest. It`s basically a weapon to terrorize people. So, the benefits are

If he thinks there is a substantial price, it`s clearly there now is,
then I think he`s not going to use them. So, I think we may well already
have deterred him from further use of chemical and biological weapons as
well. I mean, that is important, although it doesn`t, of course, address
the larger issue of 5,000 people dying a month.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Nicholas Kristof, thank you very much for joining
tonight. I really appreciate it.

KRISTOF: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, why Ted Cruz may be almost as annoying to
congressional Republicans as he is to Democrats.



OBAMA: It`s still important to recognize that we got a lot of more
stuff to do here in this government. You know, the American people are
still interested in making sure that our kids are getting the kind of
education they deserve, that we`re putting people back to work, that we are
dealing properly with a federal budget, that bills are getting paid on
time, that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved.


O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, another battle over the budget
means another battle inside the Republican Party.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I want to be brutally honest about this
fight to defund Obamacare. If the traditional rules of Washington apply,
we can`t win. I can`t win this fight. Mike Lee can`t win this fight.
Rand Paul can`t win this fight. No elected politician in Washington can
win this fight. Only you can win this fight.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: "Politico" reports, some Republican
House staff members are trying to force the Senate to make the first move
on the budget so that Senator Ted Cruz will be forced to take a stand
before action in the House. Republican leadership wants to see him and
others stand up and filibuster. The CR in short, the House is sick of
getting blamed for being weak on Obamacare. Democrats welcome the
opportunity to exploit the conflict in the Republican Party.


Boehner. I like him, but I do feel sorry for him. I mean, he has to break
away from those people who are ruing the Republican party and hurting our


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst and McCain 2008
senior adviser Steve Schmidt, and MSNBC policy analyst, Ezra Klein.

Steve, obviously for Ted Cruz, the Senate going first is not exactly
the way he wants to see this happen.

CAMPAIGN: Well look, I think for Ted Cruz this is about 2016.

O`DONNELL: Everything is.

SCHMIDT: Right. It`s brilliant politics for him in the sense that if
people follow his pickets charge and lead the congressional Republicans
into a political debacle, raise the president from his tough position right
now in a head-to-head against Republicans, potentially, cost Republicans
because of a government shutdown, seats in the house, a couple lost Senate
seats, at the end of the day, Ted Cruz will go out there, he went be blamed
for the stupidity of the tactics. He is going to go out and say that there
just weren`t enough true believers. There were too many rhinos. I was
sabotaged. If I am the nominee of the party, then I can deliver. That he
said, I can stand up against Obamacare.

So, they were like at the end of the day. Ted Cruz, despite stupidity
of tactics and the harm that it can cause Republicans, he is going to be
held harmless at the end of the day in the eyes of the activist and the
blame will fall on those weak-kneed Republicans who had been undermining
the true conservative cause.

O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, what are the legislative vehicle that will be
coming their way that Republicans will have to decide how to cast their

they don`t know yet. So, of course, to Ted Cruz idea is that they will
produce a continuing resolution. And does not have Obamacare in it. And
when it gets rejected, the government will shut down, then we will see what

If it goes to the Senate, first of course, is going to be a full
continuing resolution that does funds Obamacare, maybe Ted Cruz will try
and filibuster it. Maybe they will try to get votes against it. Either
way, he will eventually and probably fairly quickly fail. I think that,
everything Steve says is right. And in the Senate, there are a lot of
folks not so happy with the bind Ted Cruz is putting them and other House
Republicans in.

But I do think one interesting thing here as you know, they had how to
pull the continuing resolution vote from the floor on Wednesday. They
thought they could get that done in the house. They have failed at that.
They are delaying until time indeterminate now.

If we actually due at the end of the month, the government will shut
down, and I`m coming to think, maybe that is actually a better outcome
because if they don`t figure this out, if they would get through the
government shutdown by promising a war on the debt ceiling, we end of in
October in a much more dangerous place.

I would much prefer to see the battle take place over shutting down
the federal government for a couple days than sparking an international
finance crisis over a debt ceiling breach mid October.

O`DONNELL: Steve, there its Ted Cruz saying, you know, I can`t stop
this. But he does indeed have the filibuster power in the Senate. And he
named, you know, Rand Paul and Mike Lee along with him who could help him
in a filibuster. The House Republicans know that he uniquely has
filibuster powers, something house Republicans don`t have. And so, they
are getting, obviously pretty weary of the way he is talking about house

SCHMIDT: There is no doubt that when you see House Republican saying
the Senate if (INAUDIBLE). You know, that is the sentiment that is going
to grow. It is a great idea. It`s that you have to call it out you. You
have to expose it because Ezra is exactly right.

When you look at everything that is going on in the world. You look
at the tactics and what it could produce. And the context of global
financial instability. You can cause a lot of instability in the markets.
You can wipe out a lot of gains, a lot of wealth in the market. You know,
over the course of this year, because of political dysfunction, and you
look at the collapse of trust in the government in general, you look at the
low standing of Republicans in the Congress and, in particular. You know,
there is nothing but bad results that come with is. You know, the one good
result, being of course, the self-interested one, right, which is his
position in his starting lane, you know, among base Republicans for 2016

O`DONNELL: As you see the Cruz phenomenon now, what that worth in
terms of percent of Republican vote in a presidential primary? He
represents a minority of that Republican vote, does he?

SCHMIDT: I do look -- I believe that, you know, Republican nominees
are always determined on the, you know, in the context of their
electability. You know, we nominate the most conservative person you can
win, until we don`t.

And so, the Republican party has changed over the last couple of
years. I mean, I do think one of the effects of the last couple months, I
mean, I think Marco Rubio has fallen on absolutely out of contention. You
know, as someone who has a shot to be, to be the Republican nominee. And I
think Ted Cruz has replaced him.

O`DONNELL: And that, just over immigration.

SCHMIDT: I think it is over immigration. I think it`s just over a
general mishandling of a number of issues, even on Syria as he is trying to
get right with the base of the party. And every time you start to
tactically maneuver inch to the right back to the left. And you know, the
base recognizes that, you are called out, exposed, that you lose favor of
the tea party base that put you in office against Charlie Crist. I just
think he is, you know, I just think he has fallen of the cliff. I think he
has a bright political feature, but I don`t think top tier presidential

I do think that Ted Cruz has emerged into the space along with Rand
Paul and along with Chris Christie at the starting line. And you know, Ted
Cruz is going to run in the space of, you know, the true believer, the real
conservative, you know. The guy that will go out. Take the fight to the
Democrats. Not a squishy moderate, you know, whose pragmatism of whatever
kept 4.5 million true believing conservatives at home. Ted Cruz is going
to turn them out.

And So, as deranged or delusional as the rationale will be, it will
have resonance in a certain base of the Republican, certain base of the
Republican party.

O`DONNELL: Ezra, as we were approaching the strong possibility of
military force in Syria, it seemed to me that there would not possibly be a
government shutdown any kind of government funding crisis as long as we
were engaged in any way militarily in Syria. Now, with that seemingly on
hold and increasingly unlikely, does that make it increasingly likely that
we could have a government shutdown?

KLEIN: I think it absolutely does. Now, that we are not going to war
in the very near future it seems, Congress can get back to being
incredibly, incredibly irresponsible.

The thing that scares me, the thing that I think people need to watch
in the house, you heard Kevin McCarthy, the House whip saying that they are
already telling people. They are already telling house Republicans. Don`t
shut the government down over Obamacare.

The debt ceiling is where you want to have the fight and they do this
over and over and over again. Where in order to live through tomorrow, in
order to get through the crisis, they create a bigger one down the road.
And I can`t say stress enough how much more dangerous the debt ceiling is
that a simple government shut down to the fact that you have Boehner,
McCarthy and Cantor trying to play up a bonafides and get through this
current moment by creating a dangerous crisis in, three, four, weeks. That
is a very worrying development.

O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein and Steve Schmidt, thank you both very much for
joining me tonight.

SCHMIDT: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up. Rand Paul rewrites Rand Paul and proves why
America need Steven Colbert.

And when it comes to talking about guns in political campaigns,
progressives can probably learn something from people who love guns.



O`DONNELL: Last night Jon Stewart celebrated the de Blasio`s who are
well on their way to becoming New York City`s first family.


JON STEWART, HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: Check out the victory move they

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen and the smack down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then the entire de Blasio family, including son,
Dante and daughter, Kyara, in a weird gymnastic move that that brought huge
cheers from the crowd.

STEWART: Adopt me.


O`DONNELL: Up next, Rand Paul as interpreted by Steven Colbert.


O`DONNELL: Rand Paul flooded his own on Tuesday and making the round
of friendly cable news shows and then delivering his very own teleprompter
assisted speech on line in response to President Obama`s ad televised
address to the nation.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Good evening. Twelve years after we
were attacked by Al- Qaeda, 12 years after 3,000 Americans were killed by
Al-Qaeda, President Obama now asks us to be allies with Al-Qaeda.


O`DONNELL: Yes, it began with a grotesque lie. But Rand Paul tells
so many lies filed with so much absurdity and does it so often that the
news media has given up trying to police the preposterous statements of
Rand Paul. But luckily for truth seekers Stephen Colbert has not given up.
Here is how Colbert characterized Rand Paul`s speech responding to the


of the Rand speech.


O`DONNELL: Stephen Colbert found himself deeply confused by the state
of the Rand speech when juxtaposed with other Rand Paul statements made
that very same day because Colbert is one of the old-fashioned political
analysts who craves consistency.

Stephen Colbert struggled mightily to figure out how Rand Paul could
be emphatically in favor of doing nothing while insisting quote "Assad
should be held accountable." And Colbert did his best to understand how
Rand Paul could say that Assad quote "deserves death," end quote, but does
not deserve to be forcibly removed from office.

Here is Stephen Colbert trying to make sense of Rand Paul.


COLBERT: Now, Paul has been opposed to military action from the
beginning, so he was thrilled by Russia`s diplomatic proposal.

PAUL: I don`t know whether to trust the proposal or not. The
question is, are they serious? Can we trust the participants in the plan?

COLBERT: Right. You can`t always trust. For instance that thing on
your head, you, you assure us that it is hair. But I have yet to be
convinced not a slumbering wombat ready to strike at any time. So you know
what, I agree with Rand Paul. We cannot trust Russia or Syria. Killing
civilians is bad but not that bad. We shouldn`t do anything.

PAUL: It is a violation of every norm for someone to kill civilians.
And I think Assad should be accountable.

COLBERT: Absolutely. Got to hold him accountable, otherwise, what
are we as a nation? Not accountable stand? So, I agree with Rand Paul.
No, Jimmy, second Rand Paul. Thank you. OK. We must hold them
accountable with the president`s plan of limited strikes, send a message.

PAUL: They have said the world will be unbelievably small and
limited. To me that sound like they`re pre-announcing that the military
strikes will not punish Assad personally or affect regime change. I think
if Assad`s responsible, he deserves death for this.

COLBERT: Death it is. Regime change. Shock and awe. Bombs away.

PAUL: I think if we bomb Assad, I think it will be more likely the
country becomes more unstable.

Just about any bad outcome you can imagine is made more likely by U.S.
involvement in the Syrian civil war.

COLBERT: OK. I was wrong. This is the Rand Paul I agree with.
Because think about it, if we take out the guy who gasses children,
somebody bad might take over.

So, just to recap, Rand Paul says, no diplomacy, can`t do nothing, but
no to the president plan and no to regime change. I mean, taken all
together that`s really -- ha. You know, what I am not sure how I would
describe Rand Paul`s response to the president.

You know what? Rand Paul, how would you describe Rand Paul?

PAUL: I think he has been a little bit here, little bit there, a
little bit everywhere. I don`t think he makes sense.

COLBERT: You know what, you could not have said it better yourself.
We will be right back.


O`DONNELL: OK. Not everything Rand Paul`s staff put in his
teleprompter is crazy. Not all of it is untrue. Rand Paul frequently says
things that appeal to reasonable libertarians especially for reasonable
foreign policy libertarians, but he also makes sure that he serves the
racists among this devoted followers.

And no, I`m not saying all Rand Paul supporters are racist. I`m
saying some of them are, I don`t know how many. And I`m saying some of
them are haters of President Obama. And some of them do not believe that
President Obama was born an American citizen. And Rand Paul made sure he
serviced them in the very first sentence of his state of the Rand speech.
Quote, "President Obama now asks us to be allies with Al Qaeda." Does that
lie appeal to racists? Check. Does that lie appeal to haters of President
Obama? Check. Does that lie appeal to people who believe President Obama
is a member of Al-Qaeda? Check.

And Rand Paul knows he can get away with spreading poison like that
because he knows the Washington media will take him seriously as his first
name is senator which is why, America will always need Stephen Colbert.


O`DONNELL: What progressives can learn from the NRA when they are
talking about guns. Coming up next.


O`DONNELL: As reported here last night, two Democratic state senators
in Colorado suffered losses in recall elections, the first recall elections
in Colorado history on Tuesday that remove them from office because they
voted for background checks for all gun purchases and banning ammunition
over 15 round.

In the aftermath of that election, Colorado-based syndicated columnist
David Sirota writes. "Inevitably, the gun lobby will now claim the
Colorado elections prove that politicians should back off even minimal gun
regulations. But the elections say the opposite. They say if the gun
lobby is going to continue turning a policy debate into a cultural one,
then, an equally powerful cultural argument need to be made in response.

Joining me now David Sirota.

David, when I read your column, it opened my eyes to approaches of
this that I have not considered. I think you have a huge advantage both
with your wisdom and intelligence, but your locations right in the thick of
it there in Colorado, what are progressives` missing about how to handle
these types of debates.

DAVID SIROTA, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think what happened were in
Colorado, Lawrence, is that the Democrats passed a sensible set of gun
control measures. And then, thought they could go away from it, ignore it,
not worry about it, not continue t sell it. And what ended up happening
was that the very motivated gun extremists in this state, mounted a set of
campaigns, recall campaigns, to highlight the issue, take out Democrats,
give the NRA a gift of saying here is a way to scare other legislators all
across the country by passing sensible regulations.

And I think that what the lesson should be is not that those sensible
regulations shouldn`t be pushed, they should be pushed. They are still
popular statewide in the state. But, if and when you pass them, you have
to make as emotional an appeal on those issues as the right will make
against those issues.

So, if and when the right claims these bills supposedly confiscate
people`s guns, not only do Democrats have to say that is not true, but also
say that what the NRA and gun lobby`s agenda is doing is essentially
confiscating the lives of children. Those kinds of emotional arguments
need to be made to motivate gun control voters to the level of intensity of
anti-gun control voters.

O`DONNELL: But David, I am wondering in addition to stimulating your
support among the people who are in favor of reasonable gun control. You
are also talking in the piece about what people who are advocating gun
controls sound like to the people who oppose them. And you talk about that
it feels to them like these are not just modest proposals to regulate guns,
but it is viewed as an assault on their way of life. And how do you deal
with that rhetorically.

SIROTA: It is difficult. But the gun has become a symbol of an
entire way of life. For gun advocates in many cases, it has become a proxy
for things like geography, attitude, even party, preferences. It has
become not about the gun.

When we are talking gun control or gun policy, a lot of liberals hear
it as debate over policy. But I think a lot of gun advocates here as a
debate over an entire way of life. And so, I think the only way to combat
that is to make a similar cultural argument that there is another way of
life that sees the gun as something that isn`t -- shouldn`t be worshipped.
That says there should be a freedom from guns especially the kind, that,
that are used in a lot of mass killings. That we need to make, be making
the argument there is another way of life, another cultural argument, that
is as important, and I would argue more important.

O`DONNELL: David, you make the point that it took very few voters, to
win on this turn out. And that seems to be what the NRA knew ahead of
time. That on a recall election like this, all they have to do is provoke
their turnout. It is going to be low. They get their people out they win

SIROTA: Absolutely. Look, there is a very low turnout election.
They were marred by controversy over the voting process. And so, the NRA
knew for relatively cheap, that could try to send a message.

But again, it banked on the idea that anti-gun control voters are more
intensely motivated than pro-gun control voters especially in low turnout
elections. And the only way to win on gun control when you pass
legislation, is to make that kind of cultural argument. It may take a few
years for the Democrats to make that argument successfully. But that is
their only choice. Unless they make the arguments, the anti-gun control
argument is going to continue to be made on cultural terms and that we
continue to be made no matter what the Democrats, no matter what
progressives do.

O`DONNELL: David Sirota gets tonight`s last word. Thank you, David.

SIROTA: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.


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