Guest: Dan McGroarty, Jonathan Alter, John Fund
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, George Walker Bush, do solemnly swear...
JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ask not what your country can do for you.
RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me God.
BUSH: So help me God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MONICA CROWLEY, CO-HOST: Look at that spectacular shot of the U.S. Capitol. Welcome to MSNBC‘s special coverage of the inauguration of President George W. Bush. Hi, I‘m Monica Crowley.
RON REAGAN, CO-HOST: And I‘m Ron Reagan, here at our MSNBC inaugural headquarters. That sounds very official, doesn‘t it? It‘s been an historical and eventful day, and the big event of the day, President Bush‘s inauguration speech, of course.
CROWLEY: And it offered President Bush an opportunity to set his course for the next four years.
REAGAN: It was a speech in the midst of military conflict, and this president has made it clear the next four years are all about freedom and liberty.
CROWLEY: All the big themes. Joining us right now is former presidential speechwriter Dan McGroarty. He wrote the speech President Bush s father gave at the start of the 1991 Gulf War. Dan, welcome.
DAN MCGROARTY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL SPEECHWRITER: Thanks...
CROWLEY: Nice to have you here. Well, you‘ve written a number of very big speeches for President Bush‘s father, Bush 41, your thoughts on President Bush 43 speech today.
MCGROARTY: Well I thought the speech today was a very ambitious speech. Clearly the theme was freedom. It was really I though kind of forward defense of freedom. Because it‘s very clear the president has tied our freedom at home to the spread of freedom throughout the world, a linkage that really argues for a new way of thinking about foreign policy issues. And that—I was really struck today by how much of the speech was delivered directly to citizens of the world, not just citizens of the United States. I thought that was an unusual angle in an inaugural speech.
REAGAN: Echoes of other presidents, presidents past?
MCGROARTY: Absolutely, and some interesting ones, I think—echoes of Jimmy Carter in terms of human rights. Echoes of John Kennedy, I thought, in terms of his speech at a time when many nations were breaking free from the colonial past, in the attention that President Bush paid today to people in being oppressed in many nations of the world and also a very strong Wilsonian line in terms of the foreign policy idealism.
Interesting as all those presidents are on the Democratic side, and this Republican president chose to cite them and bring them into his speech. I don‘t think that‘s a rhetorical accident when that happens.
CROWLEY: And you know what was so interesting, too, about all those presidents that you mentioned is that the theme of freedom ran throughout their presidencies and their major speeches as well. President Bush today mentioned the word freedom 27 times. I wonder can we take a look at one of those passages he made about freedom?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Freedom by its nature must be chosen and defended by citizens and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REAGAN: You can talk about the theme itself, but you are a speechwriter, and it occurs to me that it must be a challenge to think in the voice of the person that you‘re writing for, and particularly—and you had the case also, and I don‘t mean to be insulting about this, a somewhat oratorically challenged individual—talk about that...
MCGROARTY: ... President Bush. It‘s a difficult thing. You have to really get inside that voice and try to keep it. When you find it and it is—I don‘t mean to say it‘s kind of a mystical thing, but when you find it, it‘s easy to kind of get in there. You don‘t want to take somebody outside of their range into some place where they are not comfortable. You want to find the natural strengths that they have.
President George W. Bush has a good sense of being both conversational when he needs to be and commanding when he needs to be. And I thought they did a very good job today. I say they, the speechwriters who were working with President Bush to make this happen and get these messages out. I thought it was a very thoughtful speech today with a lot of ideas that we‘re probably going to take a while to process and agree with or disagree with and just figure out what they mean in this world of ours.
CROWLEY: You know, watching President Bush today and Ron you‘re right that this president is oratorically challenged.
CROWLEY: He‘s not the most articulate guy, but he speaks from the heart and today these really were his words. This was his voice. How active are presidents in crafting speeches like this?
MCGROARTY: Big speeches like this, very active. I mean they would be plotting this speech out as soon as the smoke clears, you know, in terms of this election having passed and then getting going on it, sitting down with the president and working through it. So, there is a lot of input. And I think it very clearly was in a voice that he was comfortable delivering.
So I don‘t think there‘s any doubt about that. Also this president, George W. Bush, is just night and day different in terms of his bully pulpit style after September 11. Maybe not the day after September 11, but certainly by the time he went in for the joint session speech, September 20, 2001, until now. He does not ever have trouble getting up for the big speeches.
CROWLEY: Now you heard President Bush‘s first inaugural four years ago...
CROWLEY: ... and you heard today‘s obviously, differences, similarities?
MCGROARTY: To my mind huge differences. I know some people have looked at it and seen similarities. I am so struck by that that I think of this as a second first inaugural. The world has changed so much that this was just a fresh cut at what it means. And we need, I said we, the American people I think we need to hear a conversation about what‘s our place in the world, where do we go. That‘s what makes a good inaugural speech. Not just a four-year time horizon, but really over the horizon, where we want to go next.
REAGAN: I think we have another clip of Mr. Bush talking about security in the world today, which, of course, is a theme that we‘re all interested in. I‘ll see if we can call that up here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Dan, what really strikes you about that passage? That is President Bush vindicating or attempting to vindicate his policies in Iraq and Afghanistan...
CROWLEY: ... and the broader war on terror, talking about liberation.
MCGROARTY: I think so. You know if you look at the way these things start from a blank page, clearly, that one reference applies most directly to Afghanistan, but the president didn‘t name Afghanistan by name I think...
MCGROARTY: ... because he didn‘t want to name Iraq by name. So he referred in a general way to tens of millions of people having joined the ranks of freedom. That way it‘s of a piece with his larger theme, which I think is his forward defense of freedom. Not just waiting to see if freedom pops up and grows and takes root, but actually going out there and doing a little spadework to bring it to the people who are calling for it. So I thought it was of a piece with the speech and I thought it—inaugural speeches operate at a certain altitude. The State of the Union operates at a different altitude and we‘re going to see that in about 10 days‘ time.
REAGAN: Much more detailed...
MCGROARTY: Much more detailed...
REAGAN: ... State of the Union...
MCGROARTY: Philosophy and principle on the one end, program and policy on the other end.
REAGAN: Partly I assume that‘s a matter of time. You just don‘t want to spend as much time...
MCGROARTY: You don‘t want to spend as much...
REAGAN: ... in the inaugural address.
REAGAN: People are staying...
MCGROARTY: ... William Henry Harrison who killed—yes he killed himself by going an hour 40 minutes. But you know, you don‘t need that. I mean Abraham Lincoln did everything he needed to do in 701 words.
CROWLEY: You know since September 11 and those attacks President Bush has fought a very aggressive war on terror by taking the fight to the terrorists and here he‘s talking about the expansion of liberty. And I want to play that clip because it was the central theme to this speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We are led by events and common sense to one conclusion. The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.
BUSH: The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: That‘s the driving philosophy for this administration...
MCGROARTY: That‘s it...
CROWLEY: ... is it not, that democracies tend not to fight one another, therefore the expansion of democracy in the world is in America‘s interests.
MCGROARTY: Exactly and that‘s the speech in a nutshell in a kind of word equation, the survival and linking what happens here at home to what happens in the world. The survival of liberty here at home depends on the success of liberty abroad. That‘s the kind of axiom that the president has set up, and that‘s what we‘re going to debate the next four years.
REAGAN: Dan McGroarty, speechwriter for Bush 41. Thank you for taking the time to come by.
MCGROARTY: Thank you.
CROWLEY: Thank you.
MCGROARTY: My pleasure.
REAGAN: We really appreciate it.
REAGAN: Well, the parade here in the nation‘s capital wrapped up not too long ago, but the festivities are not over yet. Let‘s check in now with a woman I associate with festivity, Chris Jansing. She has been watching events unfold from her location in Lafayette Park...
CROWLEY: Very impressive out there in the cold Chris.
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Monica. Hi Ron. It‘s a little bit cold, but I‘ll tell you a lot better than it has been the last two days, and the members of the Presidential Inaugural Committee certainly were breathing a sigh of relief earlier today when the skies cleared and the sun came out and it may not have been toasty but it was certainly bearable for the thousands of people who descended on the nation‘s capital for this rare occasion, and an emotional one for George W. Bush, entering that club that is so limited in its membership, that of presidents who have won a second term.
And there you see taking the oath of office when the president laid his hand on the Bible, it was a family Bible that he had used in his first inauguration and his father had used before him and then these many memorable moments from this inauguration. One was William Rehnquist, the chief justice of the Supreme Court who was given the oath of office. He, of course, has been suffering from thyroid cancer but was able to come and administer the oath of office, something that he said he was determined to do.
That was followed for the president after his speech was focused, as you have been talking about, on the theme of liberty by a congressional luncheon. Went a little long, unusual for this administration, but then the president made his way here. Right across the street from me was the presidential reviewing stand. He was surrounded by all the people who are closest to him. His wife, his two daughters, Jenna and Barbara, his father and his mother, his three brothers, his sister, and about 300 of his closest friends and political allies, members of his administration, ranging from the defense secretary and the incoming secretary of state, we presume, Condi Rice, about two hours long.
We had about 10,000 participants, 350 horses, 14 giant floats. Among them representing the states of Texas and Wyoming, very tight security here throughout this day. Everybody who got anywhere near the parade route had to go through a magnetometer. And many of the people left the viewing stands early. And we can only presume it had a little bit to do with the cold, but probably more to do with the fact that, again, the parade was running a little late and there are nine inaugural balls. And you know, for some people it just takes more than a couple of minutes to make yourself look beautiful. So presumably thousands of people are back in their hotel rooms right now getting ready for those inaugural balls—Ron, Monica.
REAGAN: But not you, Chris.
CROWLEY: Stay warm out there, Chris.
JANSING: No, I won‘t be going.
CROWLEY: Stay warm.
CROWLEY: Chris, thank you so much.
CROWLEY: Chris Jansing reporting live from Lafayette Park. And our special coverage continues from here in Washington. When we come back, more on the legacy of President Bush as he officially begins his second and final term.
REAGAN: You‘re watching MSNBC‘s continuing coverage of the presidential inauguration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: President Bush earlier today posing some questions that may well help define his legacy.
REAGAN: And sitting here with us now is Jonathan Alter of “Newsweek” Magazine. He‘s also an NBC News analyst. Also here is “Wall Street Journal” columnist John Fund. Well gentlemen, the theme obviously freedom, liberty, democracy around the world and America‘s mission to promote that. But we were talking earlier and freedom and democracy and that sort of thing, it‘s a tricky and a difficult thing to pull off, especially in a part of the world that doesn‘t necessarily share your cultural values. You know, how do you turn these words into actions that don‘t well necessarily lead to war, for instance, Jonathan?
JONATHAN ALTER, “NEWSWEEK”: Well it‘s a great question. I mean I saw this speech. I thought it was a terrific speech. I love it when presidents talk about freedom. Democrats could learn something from that because they sometimes think it‘s hokey to talk about freedom, but the American public wants to hear it and the world wants to hear it. The problem is the speech has a big asterisk next to it that essentially says this applies to Iraq and the Palestinian Authority, but not so far to any countries in the Mideast that supply us oil or help us in the war on terrorism.
You don‘t hear President Bush talking about freedom in Saudi Arabia, for instance, where there are a lot of political prisoners. So once you get into the selective application of freedom, you then open yourself up to charges of hypocrisy that can actually undermine your standing abroad. So it was a great speech but it opened a whole can of worms.
REAGAN: What about that...
CROWLEY: John Fund, let me go to you on this because there were echoes of previous presidents in this speech. We had echoes of FDR, freedom from want and fear, echoes of JFK, bearing any burden, pay any price, oppose any foe and yet, there was also an echo of Richard Nixon and I think Ronald Reagan in a speech where he went over the heads of the media and even over the heads of some of the leaders of the regimes that you were just talking about, Jonathan, to those people on the ground, in Saudi Arabia, in Iran. That yes, freedom can be yours and if you start this journey, we‘ll be on your side.
JOHN FUND, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: No one suggests that geopolitical considerations have to be completely ignored. Jimmy Carter who made human rights the centerpiece of his foreign policy obviously had exceptions when there were military tactics and military considerations. We didn‘t criticize Saudi Arabia under Jimmy Carter either.
Colin Powell under the secretary of state has occasionally attacked Saudi Arabia for its lack of religious freedom and other problems, but patience here in Iran; patience with the Palestinian Authority is one thing that Americans sometimes don‘t have enough of...
CROWLEY: Patience in Iraq John...
FUND: Well, we had to have patience in El Salvador, which 20 years ago almost this month had an election under conditions in which there were guerrillas occupying almost a third of the country. There was violence. People were killed in the polling lines. But millions of people turned out in El Salvador, just as today in America people are driving nine and 10 hours to cast their ballots in America and Iraq, and they will do the same thing in Iraq in a few days.
REAGAN: You know, it sounds good to talk about democracy in the Middle East and we assume that everybody wants democracy, and perhaps they do. But would we really want democratic elections throughout the Middle East tomorrow? Tomorrow you could go and say well one person, one vote, right now...
FUND: I‘ll push the button.
REAGAN: ... wouldn‘t you end up with an Islamist government in both Saudi Arabia...
FUND: ... and Pakistan with oil and nukes?
FUND: In some countries, but first of all, that‘s not going to happen.
REAGAN: Well, but they‘re very important countries. No, it isn‘t going to happen...
REAGAN: ... but do we even want it to happen? That‘s my question.
FUND: Algeria was a good test case. In 1992, they were going to have elections. An Islamic party won the first round. They were heading for the second round. The military government shut those elections down. They haven‘t had one since. That clearly was a mistake. Even though the Islamic party would have come in. Sometimes when you hand people power, sometimes they take it and act responsibly because they have to mature.
ALTER: I think that freedom does reside in every human heart as the president very eloquently puts it, but it also has to be nurtured and that requires education. It requires us doing what the Saudis do with these madrassas that preach hate, these religious schools. We have to get involved heavily in international education and public diplomacy and a whole series of things beyond a military option for extending freedom. And that‘s where I think the administration has spent too little time...
CROWLEY: And the president made that point though today, too, in his speech...
CROWLEY: ... that this doesn‘t have to necessarily go on military means. That‘s what he was talking about, the power of the idea, Jonathan...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that‘s refreshing.
ALTER: One thing I didn‘t understand—maybe you can clarify this for me - the line that everybody is picking up, the survival of freedom in the United States depends on extending—what exactly is the president saying? Is he saying that our survival, the freedom‘s very survival is at stake...
ALTER: ... that somehow...
FUND: ... we have to extend our good example.
ALTER: No, but he used the word survival...
REAGAN: ... yes...
ALTER: In other words, you know, this is not like Osama bin Laden is going to take over the capital of the United States and enslave all of us. Is he saying that if we don‘t extend freedom that we‘ll have restrictions on our civil liberties here at home?
FUND: It‘s a very American thing to say. We constantly have to progress. Like the civil rights era, other things we have to make our freedom more extensive. We can‘t be the status quo...
CROWLEY: Yes and I think the president...
CROWLEY: ... was getting across two points here.
CROWLEY: One was that we are confronting an enemy that wants to die for its cause. We‘ve never faced an enemy like this before. And the second point, Jonathan, to your point, is that democracies tend not to fight one another. So when he says we‘re looking for the expansion of democracy and freedom in the world that is in protection and in service of Americans‘ ideals and national interests...
REAGAN: But we don‘t want democracy in every country right now. We don‘t want it in Pakistan.
CROWLEY: But I also think...
REAGAN: We don‘t want it in Saudi Arabia.
CROWLEY: I think that the president...
CROWLEY: ... clarified that point by saying we‘re not talking about imposing an American style democracy in these places.
REAGAN: So it‘s OK...
CROWLEY: That it will be...
REAGAN: ... democracy as a result...
CROWLEY: ... it will be endemic to their culture and to their own natural interests.
CROWLEY: I think he made that distinction.
FUND: Ron, I‘m just disappointed you‘re such a pessimist. El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama—I was in Costa Rica a couple of weeks ago...
REAGAN: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan...
FUND: ... all of those countries...
FUND: ... revolution. They were considered hopeless. People couldn‘t govern themselves. It took a long time. They are a lot better off than they were.
REAGAN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but I still don‘t understand how you do this at the barrel of a gun.
REAGAN: I don‘t know how you impose democracy on a culture that doesn‘t necessarily want it...
FUND: Look at what we did in Central America...
FUND: It‘s not perfect, but we did a lot better...
ALTER: If you‘re looking at the outlook for all of this beyond the nice words and the January air, you know, you do have to look at something like the Wilson administration where a lot of these hopes foundered. They sound great, but when the rubber meets the road, it doesn‘t work out so well. On the other hand...
ALTER: ... your father‘s administration...
CROWLEY: Please stand by...
ALTER: ... some of his talk really did work out well.
CROWLEY: ... more conversation in the next half-hour.
FUND: We‘ve got progress with prudence.
CROWLEY: Thank you so much, guys.
REAGAN: Thank you gentlemen.
CROWLEY: More ahead...
REAGAN: We‘ve got much more ahead live from MSNBC‘s inaugural headquarters.
CROWLEY: And you know, it‘s pretty cold out there right now in the nation‘s capital. It‘s just above freezing, 34 degrees right now. But believe me, it feels much worse. Wind chill out there.
REAGAN: The weather is always important on inauguration day. That story just ahead—stay with us.
REAGAN: Well, as it turned out, there was no snow for the parade today, but it‘s been a pretty cold day here in Washington with the temperature right around freezing.
CROWLEY: Yes, it‘s pretty brisk out there. MSNBC‘s meteorologist Sean McLaughlin joins us from along the parade route on Pennsylvania Avenue. Hi, Sean.
SEAN MCLAUGHLIN, MSNBC METEOROLOGIST: Yes, physically standing on Pennsylvania Avenue, Monica and Ron. In fact, we‘re in front of the viewing stand. It‘s been quite a hot picture-taking spot as another person goes running over to get their picture taken. Of course, it‘s a piece of history here along Pennsylvania Avenue with that inauguration parade, but the noon swearing in ceremony, 35 degrees officially from the National Weather Service, overcast skies, but everybody is going to remember the blustery winds out of the northwest gusting over 18 miles per hour, so the feels like temperature was all the way down to 26 above.
Now, how does that match up with the average temperatures for this time of year? Take a look at this weather graphic that I put together. This is based on a 30-year temperature average for this time of year. It should be about 37 under partly cloudy skies with about a 10-mile an hour wind speed. If you‘re wondering, 2001, George W. Bush‘s first inauguration, it was foggy, 36 degrees. Let‘s talk some records.
Most rain, FDR‘s second inaugural back in 1937. Of course the 20th Amendment put it for the first time on January 20, 1.77 inches of rain. Most snow 1909, William Taft. But of course, a lot of modern folks remember JFK‘s inauguration in ‘61 with eight inches of snow on the ground. And of course, warmest and coldest held by one president, one president only, 55 degrees the warmest inaugural ever on record, ever on record, even the March inaugurations held back in 1981. And the coldest 7 degrees four years later for the second inauguration back in 1985 of Ronald Reagan.
So the story here weather-wise, I think people will remember the snow yesterday. One to three inches here in the District. In fact, some of the schools around the District even though it was inauguration remain closed because of the slippery roadways, but I think people will remember the blustery wind chill factor down to about 26, the feels like temperature.
That‘s about it from here along Pennsylvania Avenue. We‘ll toss it back to you, Ron and Monica.
REAGAN: I remember that seven degrees. Hey, Sean, is there any reason the airports would be closed tomorrow?
MCLAUGHLIN: No, although there is a major storm coming Ron, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night that could...
REAGAN: I‘ll be gone by then, Sean.
REAGAN: It‘s all about me, Sean.
MCLAUGHLIN: There we go.
MCLAUGHLIN: But if you‘re traveling Sunday, that could be a problem all the way from Washington up in through Boston, anywhere from three to six inches of snow possible.
REAGAN: It will be somebody else‘s problem.
REAGAN: That‘s MSNBC‘s meteorologist Sean McLaughlin. Thanks a lot.
CROWLEY: I have already had enough of the snow on the Eastern Seaboard. OK. Well, don‘t go anywhere because we have plenty more ahead. We‘re chinning (ph) four more years today, so what do we have in store coming up, from President Bush‘s second term as we continue our special coverage of the second inauguration of George W. Bush.
REAGAN: Stay with us. You‘re...
CROWLEY: You‘re not.
REAGAN: I know.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I, George Walker Bush.
BUSH: I, George Walker Bush.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do solemnly swear.
BUSH: Do solemnly swear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That I will faithfully execute.
BUSH: That I will faithfully execute.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The office of president of the United States.
BUSH: The office of president of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And will to the best of my ability.
BUSH: And will to the best of my ability.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Preserve, protect, and defend.
BUSH: Preserve, protect, and defend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Constitution of the United States.
BUSH: The Constitution of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me God.
BUSH: So help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: There it was. The moment of the day. The oath has been said. The parade wrapped up not long ago. That can only mean one thing here in Washington, D.C. tonight. It‘s time to party.
REAGAN: That‘s right party as a verb. The president and first lady are scheduled to attend nine inaugural balls before the night is through.
MSNBC‘s David Shuster is standing by at the Commander-in-Chief Ball, a new addition to the lineup this time around. David, what‘s up down there at the commander-in-chief ball?
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well Ron and Monica good to be with you. This is the one ball that those of us in Washington know as the free ball. It‘s the one where you don‘t have to pay any money if you are a member the Armed Services. There‘s going to be some 2,000 members tonight who were invited, who have either served in Iraq and Afghanistan or about to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, and so they get in free, and we‘re expecting perhaps Secretary Rumsfeld, some members of the Joint Chiefs to be with the president when he stops by here later tonight.
REAGAN: Are you going to get in there, hoist a few lone stars David?
CROWLEY: David is working. What are you talking about Ron? You‘re working out there in the cold.
REAGAN: Well, you know...
SHUSTER: Ron, you know, Ron and Monica it‘s just like the conventions, we‘re going to talk about them from the outside. But we did hear that as far as the food is concerned that there is some barbecue tonight and some waiters walking around with Texas 10-gallon hats serving Texas-style hors d‘oeuvres, whatever that means.
CROWLEY: Well you know what David? Go put on a Stetson and go inside and get some chow for yourself, would you?
SHUSTER: Yes. Monica, I‘m not sure that‘s really my style, but we‘ll see what we can do.
REAGAN: Go for it David.
CROWLEY: Thank you...
REAGAN: And of course, today‘s inauguration marks the formal start to President Bush‘s second term. What can we expect from the Bush administration in the next four years?
CROWLEY: Back again with us is “Newsweek‘s” Jonathan Alter, an NBC News analyst and John Fund from “The Wall Street Journal.” Guys, thanks for staying with us. Let‘s get back to this theme of freedom. The president used the word “freedom” 27 times in the speech today.
How does that compare with the first inaugural address that he gave? Now, the first inaugural address, obviously we were coming off of the Florida debacle in the year 2000. We had a handful of protestors out there. This time around we had about 1,500 protestors. Do you think that the theme of freedom, what the president had to say today, resonated with a handful of folks who were out there in the cold today, but also the 48 percent of Americans who did not vote for this president? John?
FUND: Well, the president in any inaugural address will try to broaden his message, try to bring people today. I think obviously this president is a polarizing presence. However, the theme of freedom, the theme of extending American values abroad has a much broader appeal. And I think he is trying to say give me a chance. This is a second term. This is a new beginning for both you and for me.
ALTER: Actually, the more interesting line out of the speech that will be remembered longer because a lot of presidents as we have indicated, talk about freedom, is the ownership society. I think that you might a few years from now look back and see that as the hallmark of his presidency if he‘s able to get some things through in the second term the way we look back at the great society of Lyndon Johnson. And this is the framework that he‘s going to use for changing Social Security, really upending Social Security as we know it...
CROWLEY: Tax reform...
ALTER: ... tax reform, and other ideas on his agenda.
REAGAN: Now, one of the things he might be faced with pretty soon, we saw a shot at the inauguration of Chief Justice Rehnquist entering. He is obviously not a well man. He is not a young man, and he will probably not be on the Supreme Court four years from now if I had to guess. You have been up on the Hill, Jonathan, haven‘t you, and one of the things they are talking about is the so-called nuclear option for stalling any chance of a filibuster for a Supreme Court nomination...
ALTER: That‘s right. I was up on the Hill today and the Democrats up there expect that the Republicans are going to put through this parliamentary maneuver that would basically say that instead of having had 60 votes to shut off debate, you will only need 51, which is pretty easy for the Republicans. And what that means is they‘ll be able to push through a lot of their nominations for the court, not just a high court, but other judicial positions. When they start to do that, the Democrats are going to go into total obstruction mode, and we may have a situation is reminiscent of 1995 when we have a standoff.
That very well could happen this spring, particularly if there‘s a vacancy on the Supreme Court. I know it will be over these rules and a lot of the Republicans will be in a position of wanting to get rid of rules that just as recently as the Clinton administration they were using all the time to try to stop what Bill Clinton wanted...
CROWLEY: What about the potential for a Supreme Court battle? Is this administration ready and able—do they have the stomach to go down fighting for somebody that they‘re going to nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court?
FUND: With the exception of a fortes (ph), which I think has been misread and it didn‘t happen that way—this has never, never happened that a filibuster has blocked a Supreme Court nominee or even a nominee for a high federal court. It just hasn‘t happened. This is an unusual case of obstructionism.
Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton had confrontations with Congress about fundamental issues, and guess what, Congress lost both of those confrontations because the president has the bigger megaphone. The Republicans learned when they went up against Bill Clinton in 1995, you do that against the president at your peril. The Democrats want to engage in what Jonathan calls total obstructionism. I think the president might well...
REAGAN: But why change the rules? If this hasn‘t happened before, why change the rules?
FUND: Because the Democrats have decided that you can nominate someone for a court and we have a vacancy crisis in this country. A lot of vacancies for the court everywhere. You can nominate someone and never bring them to a vote. That has never been done before.
ALTER: The Republicans blocked more of Clinton‘s nominees than the Democrats have blocked of Bush. That‘s not an opinion. It‘s a fact and I hope we can move in this debate about these nominations into the realm of fact when there is an historical record to make reference to...
FUND: When was it done for the Supreme Court?
ALTER: ... a few minutes ago was not true.
FUND: When was it done for the Supreme Court? Tell me.
ALTER: You were talking about all of the...
FUND: No, no...
FUND: ... I specifically said about the filibuster to the Supreme Court.
ALTER: We haven‘t gotten to a filibuster of the Supreme Court.
FUND: The Democrats are saying they‘re going to do it.
FUND: When was it ever done to the Supreme Court?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... it‘s never happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... it‘s never happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the Democrats are saying they‘re about to.
REAGAN: You can preemptively...
FUND: You can only change the rules the first month...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine that.
FUND: You can only change the rules...
CROWLEY: Let me ask you both about the politics of the Supreme Court nomination fight. I think back to the Reagan administration. They nominated a man named Robert Bork and that nomination went down in flames. It became totally political, polarized the country. Is the Bush administration ready for that kind of fight?
I think back to when the president nominated Michael Chertoff to head the Homeland Security Department. One of the first things he said was hey, this guy has been vetted by the Senate...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn‘t matter...
CROWLEY: ... and approved three time. Are they ready for a fight for the Supreme Court?
FUND: Any person that President Bush appointed to the Supreme Court would have this kind of fight. It wouldn‘t matter unless he picked someone...
FUND: ... that‘s basically David Souter...
FUND: ... and that‘s not going to happen because the president won an election based on I‘m going to appoint people who reflect my judicial philosophy...
ALTER: I don‘t think there necessarily will be a huge fight. Rehnquist is a conservative justice and if he‘s the vacancy, I think the Democrats will say...
ALTER: ... well it‘s a conservative seat and I don‘t think there would be a huge fight...
FUND: Barbara Boxer is going to lead a fight for—against anyone.
ALTER: No, that‘s not true. The fight is going to come if the Republicans try to change the rules. That‘s what we‘re talking about here. The rules that they used to block a lot of Clinton appointees.
FUND: Not those rules. Those are different rules...
ALTER: No, it‘s the same rules on a lesser judicial nomination.
REAGAN: ... interesting point that there‘s no net loss or gain if it‘s Rehnquist who leaves and then another conservative comes in and the game stays the same. The numbers are the same there. If it was somebody else...
FUND: What you have on both the right and the left of this country are enormous numbers of direct mail and fundraising and activist groups that demand certain things. Moveon.org managed to get Barbara Boxer and a bunch of House Democrats to actually question the legitimacy of George Bush‘s election by forcing a special session of Congress. That was done because the activists demanded it. They are going to demand that of a Supreme Court nominee no matter who it is.
ALTER: You know, just on that, just to clarify that, they actually specifically said, Barbara Boxer explicitly said we are not challenging the legitimacy of the president‘s election. We want to have a discussion of the irregularities that took place.
FUND: ... a whole bunch of the House Democrats who challenged that...
ALTER: ... mention Barbara Boxer and move on, they both explicitly said they weren‘t challenging the legitimacy of his election.
REAGAN: We could go on all night about this I realize and maybe later on sometime we will. Jonathan Alter of “Newsweek”, John Fund from “The Wall Street Journal”...
REAGAN: Thank you both for coming by.
FUND: Thank you.
REAGAN: Appreciate it very much.
CROWLEY: Well, as you might imagine, after their big role in the election, bloggers have been busy all day today documenting the inauguration. A look at the Internet chatter when our special coverage of the presidential inauguration continues live from MSNBC inaugural headquarters right here on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
ANNOUNCER: This is an MSNBC “Inaugural Minute” with Brian Williams.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: John F. Kennedy‘s presidency began with high hopes against a backdrop of what he called a long twilight struggle, the Cold War.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT: We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
WILLIAMS: With Kennedy that day, five American presidents, past and future, Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon and in the crowd Congressman Gerald Ford, all witnessed something rare, a truly memorable inaugural address.
KENNDY: And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me God.
BUSH: So help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REAGAN: That‘s just a brief sampling of some of the chatter on the Web today. As you can imagine, some of the Internet mavens are putting a positive spin on today‘s events and some are not.
CROWLEY: And as you can tell, Ron and I have moved outside where it‘s quite brisk here on the National Mall. Ron, are you dressed for it? You‘re dressed.
REAGAN: Oh sort of. You‘re dressed in your winter white...
CROWLEY: ... the Internet bloggers have an advantage because they are at home in their pajamas typing out comments about today‘s inaugural. And joining us now is well-known blogger and MSNBC analyst Joe Trippi. Welcome, Joe.
JOE TRIPPI, MSNBC ANALYST: Proves they‘re a lot smarter...
CROWLEY: Are you...
TRIPPI: ... a lot smarter than us.
CROWLEY: Well nice to have you here...
TRIPPI: Thank you.
CROWLEY: ... and you know, the Internet has been all abuzz today with the developments here in Washington, D.C. and the inauguration of President Bush. I just want to read two opposing points of view that have come up on the Internet today.
First from Raina (ph) in Baltimore. She said I‘m watching the inauguration from work. She said I believe it was beautiful, moving, and historic. Sheila, on the other hand, from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) New York says I wore black to work today as I‘m in mourning for our nation, for our troops, for our world‘s safety. Is this representative of what‘s going on out there in the Internet community?
TRIPPI: Yes it is. I mean on the conservative blogs or Republican blogs, you really see it‘s a euphoric day for them. I mean these are people that spent the day watching this inauguration and they‘re just glowing with where they think the country is going. I think on the Democrat, progressive side, you sort of see two kind of things. One is it‘s his day. He‘s the president...
CROWLEY: Let him have the day.
TRIPPI: Let him have the day. We‘ll go after him tomorrow and then there‘s like the one you read, where there‘s you know, dressed in black and at work warm, but watching it—at cjmsnbc.com, our citizen journalist site, it‘s been pretty remarkable to read that because over 2,000 citizen journalists reported what they saw today and what they (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and there‘s bipartisan agreement on one thing. That there was too much money. It‘s all about the money and too much of it was spent on the inauguration and it really is bipartisan.
People say I supported President Bush, but even I think this is too extravagant. I mean and we had a 10-year-old from California blog that there‘s enough money for the war and for the inaugural, why don‘t we have enough money for education. I mean same kind of split, though...
CROWLEY: I was going to say...
CROWLEY: ... a split like 52/48 of the kind we saw in the general election?
TRIPPI: Yes, but agreement on too much money. I mean there really wasn‘t anybody Republican or Democrat—I mean that were, but I‘m saying the vast majority of them were agreement that, hey, with all the things going on in the world today...
TRIPPI: ... even if it was privately funded, is this the way to start out...
CROWLEY: What did they have to say about the ritual of the inauguration, sort of the peaceful transfer, in this case continuity of power.
REAGAN: It cost too much money...
TRIPPI: It cost too much money, but I think...
REAGAN: Where did they spend $40 million? Was it the Black Tie and Boots Ball? It was Velveeta cheese, for God‘s sake.
CROWLEY: Most of the money...
REAGAN: ... $40 million of Velveeta cheese...
TRIPPI: ... the bloggers for the most part are not at these parties.
REAGAN: No, no...
TRIPPI: So I haven‘t seen too many reports about the Velveeta cheese, but I think—I mean yes, look, it was an amazing day today because we did have a peaceful...
REAGAN: ... always is...
TRIPPI: ... the President of the United States took power again and there are other countries and the president talked about that...
TRIPPI: ... and so I think there‘s—there was a lot look, this is his day, we‘ll start out again tomorrow and the fight going to go on. And the Democratic Party has got to right itself and those kind of talks. But I think for the most part, people were caught up in some of the pageantry...
CROWLEY: Well it‘s good to know that there was a sense out there that we‘re all Americans today...
CROWLEY: ... even if we disagree with the president as you do.
CROWLEY: I don‘t. I don‘t...
REAGAN: Some of us took a few shots...
REAGAN: ... you know.
REAGAN: Joe, it‘s always good to see you.
CROWLEY: Nice to see you Joe.
TRIPPI: Good to see you guys.
CROWLEY: Thanks for coming out in the cold with us today.
CROWLEY: MSNBC‘s Joe Trippi. Ron Reagan and I, cold, will join you again right after this. Please stand by.
CROWLEY: And welcome back to MSNBC‘s special inaugural coverage of the inauguration of President George W. Bush. I‘m Monica Crowley.
REAGAN: And I‘m Ron Reagan. Big day today, of course. Big events and now it‘s party time...
CROWLEY: It is party time Ron...
REAGAN: ... and that means fashion time, too.
CROWLEY: The big inaugural balls are coming up. I‘ve got my ball gown ready. You got your tux ready?
REAGAN: No. I only rent them. I always defer to you in issues of fashion.
CROWLEY: Well thank you and I just want to point out that the first lady today looked resplendent in her Oscar de la Renta winter white and I must say, what am I wearing tonight?
REAGAN: Winter white.
CROWLEY: I‘ve got the winter white coat on...
REAGAN: Now your winter white I‘ve noticed is a little more eggshell, little more ecru than hers. Hers looked a little more...
CROWLEY: I concur to you on that. But tonight, you know, it‘s really important. Everybody gets out there. They go to the inaugural balls and they just have a fantastic time. And they can go from ball to ball because they‘re all in the new Washington Convention Center.
REAGAN: All of the balls are in this one place...
CROWLEY: Most of the balls...
REAGAN: Now that‘s smart...
CROWLEY: ... are concentrated in the new Convention Center...
REAGAN: ... traffic, as you know, has just been a nightmare here.
CROWLEY: Well especially with the snow too. It‘s been a little bit warmer today in Washington, D.C. than it was yesterday. Yesterday was...
REAGAN: Oh, is it warmer?
CROWLEY: ... difficult to get—Ron can‘t tell. He‘s not in a topcoat...
REAGAN: That‘s right.
CROWLEY: In four years...
REAGAN: Winter white or otherwise.
CROWLEY: ... you have to come more prepared Ron.
REAGAN: I‘ll be in my winter white next time...
CROWLEY: Well I will see you at the balls then tonight...
REAGAN: ... winter white cashmere topcoat of some sort.
CROWLEY: Good to work with you Ron as always.
REAGAN: Nice to work with you.
CROWLEY: I‘m Monica Crowley.
REAGAN: And I‘m Ron Reagan and that‘s it. Next up, Chris Matthews with our continuing inaugural coverage.
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