Guest: Rob Sherman, William Donahue, Shmuley Boteach, Terry Jeffrey, Katrina Vanden Heuvel
PAT BUCHANAN, GUEST HOST: For the second time, “TIME” magazine names George W. Bush person of the year. But you‘ll be astonished who else was on their short list.
And terrorists in Baghdad murder an Iraqi election official in the street. The mainstream media calls the killers insurgents.
Then the attack on Christmas continues. Should all religious expression be scrubbed from the public square? You‘ll be surprised at who is happy to see Christians celebrating their holy day.
Those stories and more tonight on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
BUCHANAN: Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. I‘m Pat Buchanan, in for Joe today.
“TIME” magazine came out with their person of the year today and for a second time, they have chosen George W. Bush. Earlier, I spoke with “TIME” correspondent Viveca Novak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIVECA NOVAK, “TIME”: The reason I think that Bush was named is because he was able to overcome some pretty heavy negatives, a war that was pretty unpopular, an economy that was kind of in the dumps, a job approval rating that wasn‘t great for a sitting president, and yet he managed to win, and he managed to win doing it his way. He did not apologize for anything. He defined the race, and he defined himself as a strong leader and convinced people to stick with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: I did it my way.
Joining me now, Lawrence Kudlow of CNN‘s “Kudlow & Cramer,” Katrina Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of “The Nation” magazine, Terry Jeffrey, editor of “Human Events.” And here with us by phone, our own Joe Scarborough.
Katrina, let me start with you, I gather you are not amused by “TIME” magazine‘s choice of the man—person of the year. Excuse me.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, “THE NATION”: I think half the country‘s not amused, Pat.
But, anyway, I mean, the question is, what is “TIME” magazine‘s person of the year? It should personify the most consequential event of the year. What did Bush do? He got reelected. Except for November 2, which was a good day for him, what did Bush do? We have the worst deficits in modern history, the worst job creation since World War II. The world‘s more divided than it‘s ever been. We‘re in a bungled, bloody and unnecessary war, and the world hates us. Excuse me.
He, as “TIME” magazine said, reframed reality. I call that delusion. I call that an alternative universe, which many Americans don‘t seem to live in. So, it seems to me—and this is going to drive Joe crazy—if you really—and this is not to romanticize. I say this with great sadness, but if you really want to take the collective personification of the most consequential event of the year and you come up with last year‘s “TIME” person of the year, the U.S. soldier, it‘s the Iraqi insurgency.
They have thwarted Bush‘s presidency. They have made this a bloody, bungled—cost lives, lives which should not have been lost. It‘s a horrible, bloody scene every day in Iraq. But the Iraqi insurgency is doing what guerrilla wars have done to great powers, thwarting.
BUCHANAN: We‘re going to talk about what the Iraqi insurgency did yesterday.
But, before we do, Joe Scarborough, what‘s your take on what Katrina had to say, that, except for the election and the fact that he has made the Republican Party the majority party I guess for the first time since the 1920s all across the board, that he‘s got a lot of problems and he‘s had a lot of failures and a lot setbacks.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Well, 51 percent of Americans don‘t think that, Pat. The bottom line is, at the end of the day, George W. Bush got more votes than any other president—any other candidate running for president in American history.
And I think a lot of people listen to what Katrina said. It doesn‘t drive me crazy; nor does it drive a lot of Republicans crazy that these terrorists continue to be called insurgents by media types that just don‘t get it. We live in an age of terror. George W. Bush has provided for Americans, at least 51 percent of them, moral clarity.
When you have Iraqis who—all these Iraqis want are the opportunity
to control their lives, want to have the opportunity to vote, and you have
election workers who were drug out of their cars and shot like dogs, and
you‘ve got the mainstream media calling these terrorists thugs insurgents -
· George W. Bush appears to be a Churchillian figure, along with Tony Blair, standing up and saying, you are either on our side or you are against out side.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second.
Forget the deficits. Forget everything else, issues that I care greatly about. Bottom line, we live in an age of terror. And, in an age of terror, George W. Bush provided moral clarity on the issue that mattered most. That‘s why he‘s “TIME”‘s man of the year.
All right, Terry Jeffrey, many of the “TIME” folks I think were not that terribly enthusiastic about George W. Bush. But the person they pick is not good or bad. He‘s the most consequential figure. I think Hitler or Stalin made it twice. Hitler made the list. The ayatollah made the list. I think bin Laden, I hate to say it, horrible as the thing he did, I think he probably should have made the list back there in 2001.
But George Bush, it seemed to me, is the most consequential figure in the 21st century, like it or not.
TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, “HUMAN EVENTS”: Right.
If that‘s the test, as “TIME” magazine says it is, there‘s no question that George W. Bush was the most consequential figure of 2004, Pat. Now, I‘ll be a little contrarian to what both Joe and Katrina said. I don‘t think the key issue in this election, Pat, was the Iraq war. I believe, if it hadn‘t been the Iraq war, George Bush might well have lost.
Remember, his opponent, John Kerry, voted to authorize the war. Essentially, the policy going forward from now that he argued for in the campaign was not significantly different than George Bush. I think there were huge cultural questions at play in this election. I think the electorate knew it. They went with the conservative on the social and cultural front. That was George Bush.
BUCHANAN: Right. We‘re going to come back to that.
I want to bring in right now Lawrence Kudlow.
Larry, those who said the war on terror in that famous exit poll was the No. 1 issue, they voted for Bush 5-1. But those who separated Iraq from the war on terror and said they voted on Iraq by 3-1 went for Kerry. Now, two questions to you. Do you think Bush deserves man of the year, and do you agree with Terry that cultural and social issues were the salvation of George W. Bush?
LAWRENCE KUDLOW, CO-HOST, “KUDLOW & CRAMER”: I like that word, salvation, Pat.
KUDLOW: I think Bush—I think it was a great award to give it to Bush. I think he is the most influential and dominant politician on the globe today, both at home and abroad. Whether folks agree with him or disagree with him, he is the dominating politician with a dominant vision, which, again, is controversial.
As he himself said in that “TIME” interview article, he is not a people pleaser. He has a vision, and he aims to keep moving toward that vision. He is a freedom fighter, and at home he‘s trying to develop economic freedom. He also has a moral vision. He has great clarity, as Terry Jeffrey was talking about. I think that was a big part of it.
But I think, at the end of the day, the victory of George W. Bush was about his own character, his own beliefs, his own faith, and his own determination to protect the United States against a hostile enemy of radical Islamism, and I think people really like that a lot.
BUCHANAN: All right, well, I will say this. If the 70,000 votes in Ohio had gone the other way, we‘d be talking about John Kerry, the comeback kid.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes.
BUCHANAN: But let me—Katrina...
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes.
BUCHANAN: I want to you wait a second. Here‘s a little more of my conversation with “TIME” magazine‘s Viveca Novak. And I want to ask you about what she said. I talked to her about other nominees, including Mel Gibson and Michael Moore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK: We have a story that talks about Mel Gibson and Michael Moore together as being sort of flip sides of a similar coin, although Mel Gibson didn‘t set out to make an overtly political film, as Michael Moore did.
But Newt Gingrich has said that Mel Gibson and Michael Moore sort of represent the pull in America between the two sides, the divided country that we seem to have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: All right, Katrina, what I want to ask you is, I talked to her and I got the impression—she didn‘t say it—that Mel Gibson was virtually No. 2 for the man of the year award. And, of course, that goes to the whole “Passion of the Christ,” the $370 million for a foreign-language film, ninth top grossing of all time, the enormous firestorm and controversy over that.
What is your take of her talking about the cultural divide between Michael Moore and Mel Gibson?
VANDEN HEUVEL: I‘d separate them out.
I think it‘s more—it‘s more likely that I‘m going to be playing center for the Knicks tomorrow night than “TIME” magazine would have given the “TIME” magazine person of the year to Michael Moore. It‘s just not possible. This is a commercial—in the same way you talked about Osama bin Laden.
But I think, with Mel Gibson, it‘s interesting, because I was—as someone raised a Catholic, I wonder whether “TIME” magazine was interested in Mel Gibson because of the enormous amount of money this film made or because it was an emblematic of a certain kind of religiosity that has come to America.
I would argue that “The Passion of the Christ” would have been unfair to the religious diversity and pluralism that I think is really part of America, as opposed to a kind of fundamentalist intolerance, which this film represents.
BUCHANAN: Let me just say—I‘ll go right to you in a second. Well, I‘ll go right to you, Joe.
But, Joe, listen, to me, when you‘re talking “TIME” magazine, here again, it‘s not whether I agree with them. I didn‘t agree with the ayatollah and these other people. It is whether or not this has an impact, has made an impact, for good or ill, polarized or didn‘t polarize, or united. And I think, culturally, it is I would say Mel Gibson first and second Michael Moore.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, the thing is, Mel Gibson—the significance of Mel Gibson was, it was a harbinger of what would happen in the fall election, which was really the big story of the year, that you would have evangelicals that filled the movie theaters.
And I would argue that this religiosity that‘s come to America actually didn‘t just come this year for Mel Gibson or for George W. Bush. It‘s been here for 225 years. It‘s just Mel Gibson made a movie out of the mainstream of Hollywood, and evangelical Christians flooded the movie theaters to go see it.
But the importance of that film is that it really was—it predicted what was going to happen this fall during the election, during the Bush election, where evangelicals came out and they made a decided difference, and they made a difference, again, going back to the issue of moral clarity. George Bush has it in a way that no other president has really had since Ronald Reagan.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me bring in Terry.
You and I are Catholics. I gather Katrina was raised a Catholic. I think Lawrence Kudlow is a Catholic convert. This was an extraordinary...
SCARBOROUGH: Am I the only Baptist here, Pat?
BUCHANAN: You have got to stay out of it for a while, Joe.
BUCHANAN: This had an appeal to evangelicals, but this is a profoundly Catholic film. Catherine Emmerich, who was beatified, controversial woman in her own right, he took some of the scene, the scourging scene, from that, and it‘s very true to the Bible. But this is extraordinarily Catholic, the way you and I were raised.
JEFFREY: Pat, exactly right.
And the movie “The Passion” ends with the most consequential moment in the history of the human race, when Christ is resurrected. And Mel Gibson makes that very clear in this film. I read the essay in “TIME” magazine today, where I think they had to throw in Michael Moore because they were afraid just to put Mel Gibson out there by himself. And there‘s this great moral equivalence, as if this petty political propaganda film that Michael Moore made that became an artifact of a bygone political campaign on November 3 was any way equal to this artistic presentation of the most important figure in the history of the human race.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat, if I could jump in.
BUCHANAN: Go ahead. Go ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: I am no defender of Michael Moore, but this petty little documentary made over $100 million. It energized Democrats.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Fifty million people saw it.
SCARBOROUGH: I would also suggest that Michael Moore probably did more to help George W. Bush in the end than anything.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Can I say something about the media?
BUCHANAN: We have got to bring in our Catholic friend Kudlow.
Kudlow, come on.
KUDLOW: You know, I don‘t want to get bogged down in Michael Moore, but I think he is a very good filmmaker. I don‘t agree with any of his opinions, but there‘s a competing vision there.
But I think on the Mel Gibson movie, on “The Passion,” there‘s a tremendous thirst for religious and moral values. I think there‘s a tremendous thirst for the thoughts and the actions leading to redemption, to salvation, to second chances.
You know, I wrote a column two weeks ago about none other than Martha Stewart. And I basically argued she deserves a second chance. She deserves her redemption and salvation. And I have never gotten so many letters and e-mails supporting that point of view, even from people who acknowledge that they don‘t particularly like her or her politics.
KUDLOW: The notion of salvation is so important in American life today. We are in a religious revival, period.
BUCHANAN: Let me just say to Lawrence—let me say to Lawrence, Katrina, and you can make a point.
Larry, I think you are dead on. I think there is a hunger and a thirst for ultimate truth and the beliefs—and about Christ. People are hungry and they were intensely interested in that. We‘re going to give Katrina a chance to respond to that, but we‘re going to have to wait until we come back, because we got what we call a hard break. Everybody stick around.
When we return, that chilling photo that was all over the press today of an Iraqi election official being murdered by terrorists. We‘ll tell you how “The New York Times” and other media outlets didn‘t quite get it right.
Don‘t go away.
BUCHANAN: Up next, are the elite media glamorizing terrorist killers in Iraq? We‘ll have that debate. Stick around.
BUCHANAN: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
I‘m here with my panel, Lawrence Kudlow, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Terry Jeffrey and Joe Scarborough. Joe is with us by phone.
Gruesome attacks left over 60 people dead in Iraq yesterday. This photo of an Iraqi election official moments before he is executed ran on the front page of most mainstream papers, but many of them missed the point, calling these murderers simply insurgents. Only “The New York Times” and “The New York Sun” rightly named them terrorists.
On “The Sun”‘s editorial page, they wrote this: “This is what ordinary Iraqi people face as they sign up for the dream of democracy. And yet they do sign up. What is being attacked is not American oil interests or Israel or American imperialism or infidels, but the idea that the Iraqi majority should be able to elect its own leaders, rather than be subjected to the tyranny of a Baathist dictator.” This idea is personified by Iraqi election workers.”
And three of those workers were dragged out of a car and murdered in the street by people without masks, incidentally, Terry, 30 of them.
Joe Scarborough, your take on how this was played in the press.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I saw the horrifying picture on the front page of “The New York Times.”
And we‘ve all gotten used—we‘ve gotten numb to the fact that “The Times” and all other major media outlets are calling these terrorists insurgents. And the question is, insurgents against what? These insurgents weren‘t gunning down U.S. troops or foreigners. They weren‘t murdering police officers who were trying to put down, you know, an oppressed people. They weren‘t throwing off the chains of a colonial empire.
They had one goal in mind when they drug those three Iraqi citizens out of their car and gunned them down in broad daylight. They wanted to kill the dream of democracy.
BUCHANAN: Well, clearly, they‘re terrorizing. They want to terrorize the workers and the voters both.
Joe, let me ask you something, though. A lot of folks, as you know—and it‘s a little off subject, but it‘s on subject for this show—a lot of folks asking, how you doing? How‘s Joe‘s back? When is Joe coming back?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, if I continue seeing things in the paper that make me this angry, I‘ll crawl back on my hands and knees.
I‘m actually doing a lot better. I appreciate you asking. I heard you on “Imus” the other day and Imus suggesting that I may have gotten a drug habit.
SCARBOROUGH: The only drug I‘m addicted to...
BUCHANAN: I couldn‘t figure it out. I said—do you know Rush? And I said, I guess he knows him. I don‘t know what—what are you talking about?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. You didn‘t quite figure that one out.
Simply because I told you that I was going to try heroin before getting another operation. I don‘t know where he got that from. But, no, the only drug I‘m addicted to right now is Bextra, which they say is going to give me a heart attack. But I‘m doing much better and coming along very well. I appreciate you asking.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me—Katrina, I said I‘d give you a chance to answer on the Mel Gibson thing, but talk also to this, because I do think that the vocabulary is important. Whatever you call guys in Fallujah who are resisting American Marines and dying for it, these people are cold-blooded, murderous terrorists. They‘re murdering unarmed election workers right in the middle of the street in broad daylight.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Pat, you know, whatever you call them, when you look at the carnage created, whether by terrorists or insurgents, what we‘re seeing is reality.
And I think the fight over the naming of these people is ignoring the reality on the ground of an occupation that is breeding more violence. I would just say about all the talk about moral clarity I heard before from you and from your guests, I think it‘s important for Americans to understand that we have an administration which has sanctioned torture for the first time perhaps in American history, publicly sanctioning...
BUCHANAN: It happened, but they did not sanction it publicly.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, it is undermining decades-long Geneva Convention treaties that the military itself believes should be upheld.
SCARBOROUGH: So, they took them out to the street and gunned them down, Katrina?
VANDEN HEUVEL: And no, but I‘m not saying—no, I‘m saying, we‘re going to back to the point about what was said earlier.
And I would just say one thing about Mel Gibson and Michael Moore. Michael Moore played a very important role as the great exposer, because I don‘t think anyone on this panel is going to deny that this administration has adeptly intimidated a media by saying, you ask tough, skeptical questions, we‘re going to say you‘re disloyal. And that is a great disfavor. That hurts democracy.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. The great exposer of what? He lied. He lied about the pipeline in Afghanistan. He lied about the election. What did he expose?
VANDEN HEUVEL: He showed things that many journalists, because of their false judiciousness or embedment, I would say, with this administration were fearful of asking, felt cowed, felt intimidated.
SCARBOROUGH: He lied.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me bring—let‘s bring Terry Jeffrey in here. Let‘s bring Terry Jeffrey in here.
Terry, what are your thoughts on the way the insurgents and/or terrorists are depicted in the press?
JEFFREY: Well, look, if you listen to what Katrina just said, she turned the United States into the moral malefactor in Iraq. And she posed this as a question of realism.
Pat, I would say, as a realist, that once the United States went into Iraq and took out Saddam, we had both a moral obligation and duty to fulfill our own natural interests in leaving in place in Baghdad a stable regime that did not threaten us or our neighbors.
Now, those murderers that we saw on the front page of “The Washington Post” and “The New York Times” this morning are our enemies. They‘re the enemies of the Iraqi people, and they‘re the enemy of the interests of the American people, who need to get to the point where there‘s a government in Baghdad that can be secure against those people. They‘re our enemy and the enemy of the Iraqi people both.
BUCHANAN: Lawrence Kudlow.
KUDLOW: Well, I think that it‘s not the occupation, so-called. It‘s a liberation.
The Americans are there to keep the peace with the British and some others and to create a framework for elections. And I think the murderers, the so-called terrorists who are murderers, their worst nightmare is that any election, any free election, any example of democracy will occur, because democracy is infectious.
It spreads good things and good spirits and good government. And that is the terrorist‘s worst nightmare, because they come from a tradition of totalitarianism. That‘s all. So they are fighting against Iraqis. The Iraqis are getting furious. That‘s why there are going to be elections. Sistani in the south has said there must be elections by the end of January. Bush in Washington has said there must be elections. And that‘s the best way to cure us of this evil.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Pat, could I say one thing?
BUCHANAN: Go ahead, quickly.
VANDEN HEUVEL: There was a Defense Department report that came out a few weeks ago which showed that the American invasion of Iraq has made it more difficult for the modernizers, the reformers in the Middle East to build democracy. It has made Americans....
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, that is ridiculous.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Read it.
SCARBOROUGH: That is a laughable assertion.
BUCHANAN: Well, I have read it. Go ahead.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Defense Science Advisory Board. Please, go read it, Joe. I‘m sorry. It said that many people in the Middle East don‘t hate America for its freedoms, but for its policies.
KUDLOW: I think Katrina‘s worst nightmare is that, in two or three weeks, there are going to be free elections in Palestine, and then three weeks after that, there are going to be free elections in Iraq.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Why would that be my worst nightmare?
KUDLOW: Because you don‘t understand either the...
VANDEN HEUVEL: But how do you have free elections in an occupation, Lawrence?
KUDLOW: Listen, there has to be—there has to be some beginning point, some security force, some exercise of positive influence. And that‘s what we are doing in the name of good and in the name of freedom.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Read the Defense Department report.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me ask Terry Jeffrey and Joe a question.
The Iraqis fought in the hundreds of thousands and died, fought in the millions, died in the hundreds of thousands to defend their country against Iran. They are not fighting alongside us in any way like that. Why?
JEFFREY: Well, I think, Pat, first of all, you have several factions in Iraq, as we all know.
There are the Shias. They are definitely pushing for an election. They are led basically politically and religiously by the Grand Ayatollah Sistani.
JEFFREY: He wants to see an Islamic regime there, but they want to get there through elections. That provides some subtle and complex problems for the United States.
You have the Kurds. They seem like they‘re very stable, fairly peaceful. They‘re not going to have a problem with the elections in Kurdistan. You have the Sunnis, from which the Baathists sprung. Of course, Saddam came out of there.
BUCHANAN: They‘re going to lose everything.
JEFFREY: They do not want to see the Shias running Iraq.
BUCHANAN: So, the problem for the United States is to be able to get through this process where we‘re setting out a democratic process, but the regime at the end has to be able to defend itself from people who don‘t want to see a Shia democracy. That‘s what the real world is.
BUCHANAN: Go ahead, Joe, quickly.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. I have got to tell you, one of the reasons they‘re not doing is because they hear American and British and European press constantly bad-mouthing what we‘re doing over there, and they‘re afraid America is going to cut and run. We did it in 1991. The Shiites rose up. Saddam gunned them down. They‘re afraid it‘s going to happen again.
But let me tell you something. There were predictions that, when we flattened Fallujah, that the Arab street would explode, that the Iraqis would explode in anger. It never happened. And it didn‘t happen because Zarqawi has lost the battle for the hearts and the minds of the Iraqi people. They may not be rising up and fighting us right now, but they certainly know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. And the United States is no longer seen as the enemy of freedom and liberty.
BUCHANAN: I think that‘s—I think you‘re talking about where the wedge has to be driven, between Zarqawi on one side and those people murdering election officials in the streets and, secondly, on the Iraqis, quite frankly, many of whom are nationalists and say, we want everybody out of our country.
More on this discussion with the panel in just a minute.
And, later, there‘s something unique about President Bush‘s Christmas cards this year. Stick around and find out what it is and who might not like it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m Lieutenant Colonel David Aecks (ph) here at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
I‘d like to wish a happy holidays and merry Christmas to my wife, Ellen (ph), our son Douglas (ph), two dogs, Quickening (ph) and Lightfoot (ph), and the rest of the family on the mainland.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: The fight to remove religion from the Christmas season continues. Isolated incidents or a concerted effort to eliminate Christ from the public square? We‘ll talk about that a little later.
But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
BUCHANAN: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
I‘m back with my panel, Lawrence Kudlow, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Terry Jeffrey and, of course, Joe Scarborough.
Katrina, you just heard the president of the United States was quoted there by Milissa. He said this Secretary Rumsfeld is doing a fine job and he‘s a good human being and he‘s doing a fine job. You pretty much agree with that?
VANDEN HEUVEL: We called for Donald Rumsfeld‘s resignation in April of 2003.
BUCHANAN: You‘re holding it up. You were ready for this.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I‘m glad the mainstream media is catching up.
But this is a man, you had a war of choice here, and what did he do? He sent men and women—this is immoral—sent men and women with incompetent planning and inadequate commitment into a bloody war. This was not a cakewalk. He misrepresented the threat posed by Iraq, and he miscalculated brutally the cost, human and financial.
I think it is time for him to go. We thought it was time for him to go in April 2003.
BUCHANAN: All right, now, Joe, it is clear that nobody in the—I think Rumsfeld followed orders. He sent Tommy Franks in there. They successfully took down Baghdad. Nobody really anticipated what we are in now.
However, the absence of that armor on the Humvees and almost utterly absent on those trucks, something like 12 to 18 months into a guerrilla war, that‘s the responsibility of the Pentagon, and they seem to have fallen short on that.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, well, they certainly do.
You know, I hear people talking about Donald Rumsfeld‘s incompetent plan in Iraq. And that‘s, of course, what “The New York Times” is writing at the beginning of the war. And a week or two later, we were in Baghdad. At the same time, obviously, what‘s happened since then, the postwar planning was absolutely dismal. I don‘t know that you throw that all on the secretary of defense, as much as you do on the entire administration and the State Department.
But I have got to tell you this. Donald Rumsfeld came in, in 2000, 2001, with the Bush administration. He was going to restructure the military. We had hearings on Capitol Hill when I was on the Armed Services Committee. They believed they could have a leaner, meaner fighting machine. And, unfortunately, when we got into this war, I think there were a lot of mind-sets around Donald Rumsfeld that just didn‘t adjust with the new realities of the war that we were fighting.
SCARBOROUGH: They didn‘t give him the troops, the generals, the troops that they needed to put this insurgency away early.
BUCHANAN: All right.
OK, Terry, that‘s the point now. Bill Kristol, who called for Rumsfeld‘s resignation, the neoconservative, he was part of the cakewalk crowd. We‘re going to be welcomed with flowers and all the rest of it. And he‘s called for Rumsfeld‘s firing.
However, he does make a point. He says that his argument with Rumsfeld is that we don‘t have the troops in the Army to carry out the Bush doctrine in the Middle East, to rebuild it, remake it. We don‘t have the troops in Iraq. And that‘s my main problem with Rumsfeld. Does he have a point? A, can we win the war, the guerrilla war, with the troops we have? And, B, what do you think Rumsfeld‘s chances are, surviving?
JEFFREY: First of all, the Bill Kristol question, I don‘t think that we can create the Wilsonian utopia in Iraq that Kristol wants, no matter how many troops we put in there.
On rMD+BO_rMDNM_the other Rumsfeld question, Pat, he is getting a raw deal from Bill Kristol and most of the mainstream press. People ought to go to HumanEventsOnline.com, read an article, “Ugly Reporting Wrongs Rumsfeld” by a good friend of both of ours, Allan Ryskind, that points out what everybody ought to see.
People think that when that specialist asked Donald Rumsfeld about their lack of armor on their Humvees going north into Iraq, that Rumsfeld immediately answered him with this quip about, you go with the Army you have, not the one you want or wish you have. In fact, there were 94 words of answer that Rumsfeld gave to that specialist before that line.
And in those 94 words, Pat, he said he‘d been talking to the generals. They are doing armored 400 Humvees a month, getting them to Kuwait into Iraq. He said it wasn‘t a matter of money or will on the Army‘s part. It was simply a matter of physical logistics, doing it as fast as they possibly can. That hasn‘t been reported by anybody, except Allan Ryskind. Everybody in America needs to know it, because this is a lie that‘s being perpetrated on Donald Rumsfeld.
KUDLOW: Right. Terry Jeffrey has...
BUCHANAN: Larry Kudlow.
KUDLOW: Terry‘s got this one nailed.
Look, they inherited from the Clinton administration a tremendous deficit of production of this type of armor. And it‘s been cranking up ever since at double and triple overtime. And, in fact, and, in fact, the Humvee armor now is pretty much spread through all the vehicles. And that young man who put that question to Rumsfeld was prompted by a press guy from some place in Tennessee. So, don‘t blame Rumsfeld.
There are other issues here. whether the troop support is correct, the troop volume is correct, I can‘t answer that. I‘m not a military tactician.
JEFFREY: MSNBC ought to get a videotape. They cut out the substance of Rumsfeld‘s answer. They gave a false impression of his answer.
BUCHANAN: All right, one quick thing, Katrina.
VANDEN HEUVEL: One quick thing.
In the end, this is not about logistics or tactics. This is about a failed foreign policy.
JEFFREY: Well, then you have a problem with the president, not his secretary of defense, Katrina.
BUCHANAN: OK, Larry...
VANDEN HEUVEL: He was the architect of this war, along with the president. Yes, it‘s a failed foreign policy of the Bush administration.
KUDLOW: There‘s going to be free elections in Iraq and Palestine, on top of Afghanistan.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks for having me, Pat. It‘s a visionary—it‘s a foreign policy of visionaries.
BUCHANAN: OK, thanks for joining us, all four of you.
Upcoming, 94 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas, so why are nativity scenes being from coast to coast still being banned, or worse, vandalized? One week before Christmas, why are Christian symbols and songs still under attack?
We‘ll debate that in a moment.
BUCHANAN: Welcome back. I‘m Pat Buchanan, sitting in for Joe.
Are the mainstream media and liberal elites succeeding in their relentless assault on Christianity, or is it backfiring and further severing middle America from nonbelievers and the Democratic Party?
Here to discuss our cultural and religious wars are Bill Donahue of the Catholic League, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, radio talk show host and author of “Face Your fear,” and Ron Sherman, an atheist and Democratic candidate for the Illinois Statehouse.
Gentlemen, I want to read you all something that a Jewish columnist up at “The Boston Globe,” I believe it is, Jeff Jacoby wrote.
And he said—quote—“I like living in a society that makes a big deal out of religious holidays. Far from feeling threatened when the sights and sounds of Christmas surround me each December, I find them reassuring. They reaffirm the importance of the Judeo-Christian culture that has made America so exceptional and such a safe and tolerant haven for a religious minority like mine.”
Let‘s start with you, Rob Sherman. You share the view of Mr. Jacoby?
ROB SHERMAN (D), CANDIDATE FOR ILLINOIS STATEHOUSE: Oh, certainly I do. I‘m more concerned about things like when the president says that atheists are the enemy in the war on terror. If the president would...
BUCHANAN: When did he say that?
SHERMAN: Well, here I have a copy of his news release from November 15 of last year, 2003. This was right after the horrific...
BUCHANAN: What does it say?
SHERMAN: Oh, this was right after the horrific terrorist attacks on the synagogues in Turkey.
And President Bush said—in that three-line press release, it says that, “These attacks remind us that the enemy in the war against terror is people without faith.” Well, I‘m more concerned about this type of anti-atheist bigotry. If people are concerned about theft of Jesus from public squares, that‘s usually just teenage pranksters with too much time on their hands.
BUCHANAN: All right. But you‘re concerned about those three lines in the president‘s statement.
Let me go to Bill Donahue.
Tell us about some of this—the vandalism. I understand there have been 40 incidents this Christmas season of vandalism of one kind or another. Why, Bill Donahue, is that not getting the kind of attention that somebody burning a church, an abandoned church, or somebody like that, or somebody daubing a swastika on a synagogue would get tremendous attention? Why are these not getting attention? We all read about taking Christmas out of Macy‘s, but I haven‘t read about this in the mainstream press.
WILLIAM DONAHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: Well, there does seem to be a lot of tolerance for intolerance toward Christians. And that‘s why, 10 days ago, we detailed 16 instances of vandalism across the country of creches. Today, we put out a statement adding another 24 of them. These are just 50 that have come to our attention. I don‘t know how many more there might be out there.
As far as Ron Sherman is concerned, he thinks these are a bunch of drunks? I don‘t know what he‘s been drinking. The fact of the matter is that, in Norwalk, Connecticut, they had situations where they wrote profanity on the figures and satanic verses. That‘s not the act of just a bunch of drunken kids. That‘s the act of evil.
You should call it by its right name, sir.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me get Rabbi Boteach—let me get Rabbi Boteach in here.
Rabbi, let me read you what “The New York Times”‘ Frank Rich said on Sunday in Sunday‘s “The New York Times,” if we could roll it. He claims it is actually Christians who are doing the attacking—quote—“The idea,” he says, “is to intimidate and marginalize anyone who objects to their effort to impose the most conservative of Christian dogma on public policy. If you‘re against their views”—he means these militant Christians—
“you don‘t have a differing opinion. You‘re anti-Christian, even if you are a Christian.”
What do you think of what Frank Rich had to say?
RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH, AUTHOR, “FACE YOUR FEAR”: Well, let‘s face it, Pat. Religion does itself the most harm when it sounds bigoted and intolerant.
We can promote heterosexual marriage without sounding like we‘re homophobes and hate gays. I‘m opposed to gay marriage, but anyone who hates gays is against God. And the same thing is true of people like Bill Donahue looking for vandalism that doesn‘t exist; 16 creches out of how many? Hundreds of thousands, millions, perhaps?
Do we need another religion running around saying it‘s a persecuted minority?
BOTEACH: I fight Jews who see an anti-Semite behind every door. The fact is that both Rob Sherman and Bill Donahue need to get a life.
Rob Sherman brags on his Web site that every time he goes to relieve himself in a truck stop, if it says happy Easter, he is calling the government officials and complaining. You know, close your eyes while you sit on the throne, OK?
And the same thing is true. You know, Bill Donahue, Catholics do themselves the most harm by sounding intolerant, like you did when we last debated. That Frank Rich column in “The New York Times” was provoked by your outrageous statement that secular Jews are responsible for the toxicity in the culture.
BOTEACH: You‘re doing Catholicism harm.
DONAHUE: What are debating here tonight? The next time somebody defaces a synagogue—by the way, I‘ve gone out there to join against the anti-Semites many, many times, right here in New York City when people have defaced synagogues.
But if somebody said to you, why don‘t you lighten up because they‘re just defacing a synagogue, you would be rightfully be angry. But you have one hell of a nerve to tell me that I ought to just accept these people who are vandalizing creches. You ought to take it back right now.
BOTEACH: When people vandalize synagogues, they put swastikas on them.
DONAHUE: They put satanic verses in Norwalk, Connecticut.
BOTEACH: Reminiscent of the murder of six million Jews. What kind of vandalism? Sixteen creches out of how many? Come on.
BUCHANAN: All right, let me get Rob Sherman back in here.
Rob, you notice the West, of course—there has been a lot of persecution in history by Christians, back in the 15, 16, 17s, the Christian wars and the rest of it. But whenever a Christian country, it seems to me, I was thinking today, becomes non-Christian or militantly anti-Christian, the French Revolution, Hitler‘s Germany, which was pagan, Stalin‘s Russia, what turns out is the most horrible and intolerant regime you can imagine, terror, the guillotine, concentration camps, murders.
Is it not a fact that because America is predominantly a Christian country is why it is so tolerant?
SHERMAN: Peace and love, Pat. I would encourage everybody to show some respect for people who have a theological opinion that‘s different from their own.
BUCHANAN: Well, aren‘t we showing you respect here by bringing you on and letting you speak? I‘ve been bringing you on radio and TV for 20 years.
SHERMAN: Pat, I‘ve been shown respect here.
However, I mentioned what the W. said about atheists. W.‘s daddy, when I met with him back in 1987, said that atheists should not be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God. So, maybe if we get rid of some of this cramming God and Christianity down the throats of the American people through the use of government as a weapon to do that, maybe then we‘d have a little bit more respect for each other.
BOTEACH: Rob, Rob, Rob, what are you talking about? You‘re an atheist jihadi. You‘re an aggressive, militant atheist.
SHERMAN: No, atheists don‘t do jihads.
BOTEACH: What are you talking about? You brag on your Web site how you spend your entire life calling government agencies to get happy Easter off bathroom walls. Get a life. Read to your kids. Go see a movie.
SHERMAN: That was just one incident on the Web site, which is RobSherman.com, for the rest of the people in the audience who want to see it.
But all I do is, I ask the government to remain neutral about matters of faith, so that every citizen can pursue their opinions about religion without the government saying one opinion is right or another opinion is wrong.
BUCHANAN: OK, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY will return in just a minute.
BUCHANAN: There‘s been a relentless assault on Christmas this year. And the mayor of Bogota, New Jersey, has finally had enough. Tomorrow night on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, we will show you how far he is willing to go to have his voice heard.
BUCHANAN: The first presidential Christmas card was sent by Calvin Coolidge in 1927. Since then, every president has followed the tradition.
But President Bush‘s card was the first to contain a biblical verse, from the book of Psalms. The card reads in part—quote—“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. Is the president simply celebrating Christmas or is he isolating or insulting non-Christians?
Let me start with you, Rabbi Boteach. I guess the Psalms, that‘s in the Torah, is it not?
BOTEACH: President Bush‘s Christianity is, in my opinion, his greatest character strength. I love the fact that we have an evangelical Christian president. And he is a great man. And his evangelical Christianity leads him to fight evil, and that‘s why he won‘t overlook a genocide of an Iraqi dictator who gassed 100,000 Kurds.
Having said that, the problem that I have with people like Bill Donahue, Pat, is that they take trivial issues, like a creche. One creche may have been manhandled by some teenager, when the—and the pope also even said yesterday that the problem with Christmas is, we need more trees. We need more trees?
The pope is a tiny island of faith in a completely secular continent. You can land airplanes in churches today, they are so empty. We have the main depiction of women in America as prostitutes. We have kids taking drugs, teenage sexuality. And we are talking about that Macy‘s doesn‘t merry Christmas in its department stores?
Come on, Bill Donahue. Catholicism doesn‘t have priests these days.
Talk about something substantive for God‘s sake.
DONAHUE: No, I will not allow you, the demagogue, to define the debate.
I will define the debate the way I want to. And if I want to talk about creches that have been vandalized, I will treat it seriously, just as I would synagogues that have been vandalized. For you to make light of nativity scenes that have been vandalized, a rash of 40 across the country, is not the voice of sanity. It‘s the voice of insanity. I would expect more from you, because you can be a bright guy. But listening to you tonight, wow. I don‘t know where you are coming from.
BOTEACH: Bill, there are real religious issues in America. Wake up to the fact that the Catholic Church...
DONAHUE: You will not define them for me.
BOTEACH: ... needs to get more people to go to church and pray.
DONAHUE: Well, they‘ll pray for you. I will tell you that. You need it.
BUCHANAN: Rob Sherman, did you get one of the president‘s cards?
SHERMAN: A little civility.
You know what? If the president sent me that card, that would be fine, because the Christmas card from the president is a reflection of his personal perspective. We all know who George W. Bush is. We all know that that reflects his personality. And that is fine.
I am more concerned about his policies for this country, rather than what he says on his Christmas card. He can say whatever he wants on his Christmas card. That‘s OK with me.
BUCHANAN: OK, Bill Donahue, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Rob Sherman, thank you all for being here.
And thanks to everyone for watching SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight.
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