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'After Hours' for Feb. 2

Guest: Chaka Fattah, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Janeane Garofalo, David Dreier, Robert Reich




JOE SCARBOROUGH, CO-HOST:  A remarkable, emotional moment between the mother of a fallen Marine and a newly freed Iraqi whose father was killed by Saddam Hussein. 

RON REAGAN, CO-HOST:  It was a moment we will talk much more about as we dissect the president‘s second State of the Union address. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome to the end of the lounge bar.  I am Joe Scarborough, AFTER HOURS. 

We have our crew back, Ron. 

REAGAN:  That‘s right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s like the good old days. 

REAGAN:  It‘s true, the cheesy music.  Triumph the dog will be showing up any moment. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I am sure.  We‘re at the Carlisle tonight.

REAGAN:  Just for Mike Barnicle. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Actually, we‘re—that was nice. 

We are back on the State of the Union.  I‘m Joe Scarborough.  And with me is Ron Reagan.  We appreciate you being with us tonight. 

Now, the Constitution says the president shall report on the state of the union from time to time.  For the next two hours, we are going to be covering every angle of the president‘s big speech. 

REAGAN:  Well, why don‘t we start with that incredible moment?  And you and I kind of got into it, that very emotional moment.


REAGAN:  Where the parents of the Marine who was killed.


REAGAN:  And I was asked a direct question about that and expressed personal reservations. 


REAGAN:  That it just makes me personally a little uncomfortable to see people who are so—in such pain being sort of publicly displayed that way. 

But let‘s take a look at that, because it was terribly emotional. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, it was. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  One name we honor is Marine Corps Sergeant Byron Norwood of Pflugerville, Texas, who was killed during the assault on Fallujah.  His mom, Janet, sent me a letter and told me how much Byron loved being a Marine and how proud he was to be on the front line against terror. 

She wrote, “When Byron was home the last time, I said that I wanted to protect him like I had since he was born.  He just hugged me and said, ‘You‘ve done your job, Mom.  Now it is my turn to protect you. ‘”

Ladies and gentlemen, with grateful hearts, we honor freedom‘s defenders and our military families, represented here this evening by Sergeant Norwood‘s mom and dad, Janet and Bill Norwood.



REAGAN:  You can see the emotion on these parents‘ faces, the deep, deep pain they feel.  And, as I said before, I am personally a little uncomfortable with this sort of thing.  But, if it makes them feel better, that‘s the most important thing, because, at this moment, those are the two most important people in the building. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  You have got to be very careful with political moments like this.  And, obviously, there was some staffer, I‘m sure, that put all these people together.  But if it‘s not heartfelt by the president and by the participants, Americans can read through it.  And that‘s when it really backfires.

REAGAN:  That‘s true.  Well, clearly the parents were heartfelt.


REAGAN:  Joe and I aren‘t alone here.  Let‘s bring in our MSNBC panel, political analyst Pat Buchanan and Mike Barnicle of “The Boston Herald.” 

Thanks for staying up after hours, guys, Pat and Mike.

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Delighted to be here.  Delighted to be here. 

You know, I take your point, Ron, as I was talking earlier, on this sense, that so many times, you see somebody, a jerk, a journalist with a camera putting it in the face of someone who just lost a son or a daughter.  But this, I disagree.  I just found that these folks had written to the president.  They wanted to express what their son had felt.  And then—and he invited them there.  They could have said no.

And they wanted to be there.  And it was a time where they honored the son.  And the woman was deeply emotional, frankly, and so were all of us I think when you saw that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you can‘t help but...


BUCHANAN:  I didn‘t feel it was intrusive. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I didn‘t think it was ham-fisted.

You know, Mike...

REAGAN:  If it was voluntary on their part.


REAGAN:  And I gather it was.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

REAGAN:  Well, they wanted to be there, then. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike, you know, this president has been an awkward speaker from time to time, a bit clumsy with his words.  But, tonight, he seemed to be on and seemed to be up to the task. 

He brought two huge issues, reforming Social Security, as he sees it, and talking about the spread of democracy, even to the point about talking about a free Israeli, Palestinian state. 


SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s—it‘s quite a remarkable jump for a president who a year ago was talking about steroids and baseball. 


I am struck at a personal level at the seeming jump in the level of the president‘s self-confidence since this election.  He seems to be a different individual.  He seems to be much more confident in his pronouncements, in the way he gives speeches, in what he says, in articulating a vision.  I mean, clearly tonight, he was telling my late parents, who thought Franklin D. Roosevelt was the greatest president in the history of this country, and recall 1932 to 1940 as years in which a president of the United States saved the country, formed around things like Social Security, this president this evening, I think, was telling the memory of my parents, as well as Democrats, that we are going to try and do, within the Republican Party, what Franklin Roosevelt did with the Democratic Party in the 1930s. 

BUCHANAN:  You know, I have to say, my father had a different view of Franklin Roosevelt.


BUCHANAN:  The only time I heard him use bad language was Roosevelt and Truman. 



BARNICLE:  Did you have a house?

BUCHANAN:  Barely.

But I will say this.  I take that, Mike‘s point about President Bush, and we saw that emotional moment.  But to watch him, there was poise there.  There was a maturity there.  There was a reserve there.  There was a stature there that I did not see certainly in—early in the president‘s first term.  We use this cliche he has grown.  But this president does appear to have grown very much into his position and into his office.  And, if I would use one word for him tonight, it was presidential. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And especially since the election. 



REAGAN:  I won‘t...


REAGAN:  ... any other words.

SCARBOROUGH:  Especially since the election, as Mike said.  It‘s almost like he understood the weight of 2000 and the recount and all the Democrats saying that you are not a legitimate president, how that hung over him.  It just seems like the election this year....

BUCHANAN:  The smirk is gone, Joe.  The smirk is gone. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, the smirk is gone.  He seems comfortable in his skin.


REAGAN:  Now we‘ll work on the swagger and then we‘ll be in business. 

BUCHANAN:  There was not a swagger there.  It was a strong, confident man. 

BARNICLE:  You know, the other interesting moment—and we‘re such a visual nation.  We watch pictures of presidencies.  We don‘t meet the president personally.  Very few people do. 

And so we are monitored, our emotions are monitored by the visual stuff that presents itself on TV.  And that visual sequence of the introduction of the Norwoods, Mr. Norwood leaning over to shake hands with a young Marine sergeant alongside, Mrs. Norwood leaning forward to hug an Iraqi woman, a victim of the war that claimed Mrs. Norwood‘s son, her son‘s dog tags linked to the Iraqi woman‘s sleeve, the president of the United States standing there clearly moved, waiting for the moment to end, not interrupting the moment, that is powerful, powerful stuff. 


SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I have been at quite a few of these things, and I went on—I limped onto the floor tonight and was watching.  And I was right underneath this scene. 

And of the seven or eight State of the Unions—I slept through some of Bill Clinton‘s, I will admit now—but of the seven or eight State of the Unions that I sat through, that moment in itself was the most moving.

And I will tell you what, Pat Buchanan.  Now, you have talked about the Middle East a good bit and Israel and Palestine.  I was also just struck by the president talking about a free Palestine living side by side with a free Israel.  That is fairly radical for a president to say that. 

REAGAN:  And it‘s not going to please...


REAGAN:  ... even in his own party. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, it will anger a lot of the Israelis. 



BUCHANAN:  I think—no, I think the Israelis have—look, but I think—look, in terms of realism, that‘s a nice moment.  That‘s the idealism in there.  Ariel Sharon is not going to let—give up any of Jerusalem.  He is not going to give up the five major settlements in the West Bank. 

There‘s going to be no right of return.  The wall is not coming down. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But he‘s talking about, what, $250 million to the...


SCARBOROUGH:  ... the Palestinians.

BUCHANAN:  That‘s a good thing, but the best we are going to get out of this, Joe, I believe is, you‘re going to get—I hope that goes into Gaza, when the Israelis pull out to try to rebuild something there.  I don‘t see it.  And I don‘t believe the president is going to invest all that much into that particular thing. 

REAGAN:  Hold—hold this thought. 

After the break, we will talk about the president‘s biggest domestic priority, a major overhaul of Social Security.

But, first, we want to hear from you.  And we have got plenty of ways for you to have your voice heard. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Go to and vote in our live unscientific online poll.  We want to know if you‘re feeling optimistic about the war on terror, the economy and our next four years in general and whether the Pats or the Eagles will win.  Go vote now.  And give us a call. 


SCARBOROUGH:  The number is 888-MSNBC-USA.  We want to hear from you.  Plus, send us your e-mail.  Again, the address,

REAGAN:  Or  We will be sharing your comments later in the show. 

AFTER HOURS will be on the next two hours, so stick with us. 




SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re watching MSNBC‘s continuing coverage of the president‘s State of the Union address, AFTER HOURS, live from Washington, D.C.  It ain‘t Boston, but it‘s close.  We‘ll return in just a minute. 

Isn‘t that right, Barnicle?




SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER:  You know, today is Groundhog Day.  And what we saw and heard tonight was a little like the movie “Groundhog Day,” the same old ideology that we‘ve heard before, over and over and over again.  We can do better.


SCARBOROUGH:  Stop the madness. 

REAGAN:  That was Senate Democratic leader—settle down. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Stop the madness. 

REAGAN:  Harry Reid from the Democratic response to the State of the Union, traditionally, one of America‘s least watched speeches. 

I‘m Ron Reagan, here with Joe Scarborough. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Harry Reid, he runs the Senate for the Democrats. 

BARNICLE:  Are you sure that wasn‘t Alfred E. Neuman‘s father?


BARNICLE:  Take a peek at the guy.

SCARBOROUGH:  That was Harry Reid. 

REAGAN:  We‘re back with our killer B‘s, Pat Buchanan and Mike Barnicle. 


REAGAN:  Why do they even bother? 

BUCHANAN:  They ought to can that thing. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

BUCHANAN:  What do—you got two partisans.

Look, it‘s the president of the United States.  It‘s a great occasion, once a year Congress, the Supreme Court.  The president speaks for one branch of government.  The Congress is there.  Why do you have two partisan Democrats from Congress, what are they doing speaking there? 

REAGAN:  Let‘s be partisans from either... 


SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  I was going to say, let‘s be fair, because I remember, Bill Clinton would get up.  He would deliver this incredible speech.  And then we would get some nimrod getting up talking into the camera.  And it was never based on talent. 


BUCHANAN:  Right. 

REAGAN:  Clearly.

SCARBOROUGH:  It was never a meritocracy.  It was who was owed this plum spot.  So here Bill Clinton would be...

BARNICLE:  Plum spot? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, whatever.  They get to talk to the country.  You are a congressman after all.  Not a lot of people hear you talk. 

And so Bill Clinton is up there.  I love you all.  Everybody is going crazy.  And then you‘ve got, you know, somebody staring into the camera. 


SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s horrible. 


SCARBOROUGH:  The party that is in the minority, there‘s no way that you can compete with that scene, where the president looks up. 



REAGAN:  The majesty of the well of the House and everything. 


REAGAN:  And then you‘ve got Madame Tussaud‘s, you know?


BARNICLE:  Let me ask you, what do you think hurts the Democrat Party more, an insipid speech like that by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi or the fact that, from Sunday, when, regardless of what party affiliation you have, Democrat or Republican, you would have to think at some level that the vote in Iraq was a good thing?  And yet go find a Democrat of any national repute who got on TV and said, hey, congratulations, Mr. President.  This was a good thing. 


BARNICLE:  You can‘t find any of that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  John Kerry—John Kerry elevated himself into the lead a year and two months ago when he actually came out and said, after Howard Dean had said we are no safer with Saddam Hussein captured, he said, well, wait a second.  Yes, we are, just sort of generally, saying, hey, this is a good deal.  We got a madman off the street. 

Listen, and, again, let‘s be fair.  Republicans during Bosnia and Kosovo, I opposed both of those interventions.  I thought they were dangerous.  But, you know, I talked to the troops when they came home, and they felt so good about what they did over there.  And so I would say when I gave speeches, you know what?  I thought it was dangerous.  I thought it was wrong.  But I talked to the troops and they tell me this is great stuff, that they really feel good about themselves.  I guess I was the one that was wrong. 

If the Democrats would have just come out tonight, praised the troops, talked about Social Security, laid off of the whole Iraq policy, I think they would have helped themselves a lot more. 

REAGAN:  Or just stayed home. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Or just stayed at home.

REAGAN:  Can the whole—you‘re right.

SCARBOROUGH:  Actually, you know what?


BUCHANAN:  They should can them for both parties. 

REAGAN:  Yes, for both parties.  It‘s not partisan.

BUCHANAN:  You‘ve got a minority leader of the House and the Senate up against the president of the United States. 

SCARBOROUGH:   Can‘t compete. 

BUCHANAN:  Why—yes, why do they do it?  Why do they do it? 

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s one of the great ironies of this great information age that we live in. 

The thing that scared me the most when I was in Congress is, despite all of the Internet and the talk radio, it seemed that the president just kept getting more and more powerful, Bill Clinton, more and more powerful with his State of the Union address.  Now George W. Bush, you just—I don‘t know—I don‘t know what it is.  You just, these days—maybe it‘s because there‘s so much clutter.  You can‘t compete with a president. 

That‘s why the presidency continues to grow.  It grew in power under Bill Clinton.  It‘s growing in power even more under George W. Bush.  You can‘t compete with that bully pulpit. 


BUCHANAN:  It‘s all the cameras of the world and all the microphones of the world are focused right on that one individual. 

You have got a cacophony of 435 people up here, divided government—I mean divided parties, various leaders saying different things. 


BUCHANAN:  And a mob—or a group ain‘t going to compete with a single man. 

REAGAN:  No, no, and a fake fireplace. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  Yes. 

We are joined now by two men who know a few things about economic issues.  And that‘s what we are talking about now.  Representative David Dreier, and former labor secretary, Robert reich. 

Gentlemen, let‘s take a look at some of the speech and talk about the issues the president brought up. 

Here‘s the first clip we are going to show you. 


BUSH:  I recognize that 2018 and 2042 may seem a long way off.  But those dates aren‘t so distant, as any parent will tell you.  If you have a 5-year-old, you‘re already concerned about how you‘ll pay for college tuition 13 years down the road. 

If you‘ve got children in their 20s, as some of us do, the idea of Social Security collapsing before they retire does not seem like a small matter.  And it should not be a small matter to the United States Congress. 


During the 1990s, my predecessor, President Clinton, spoke of increasing the retirement age. 

Former Senator John Breaux suggested discouraging early collection of Social Security benefits. 

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan recommended changing the way benefits are calculated. 

All these ideas are on the table. 

I know that none of these reforms would be easy.  But we have to move ahead with courage and honesty, because our children‘s retirement security is more important than partisan politics. 



SCARBOROUGH:  Robert Reich, we understand.  And Bob Kerrey, Senator Bob Kerrey told us in ‘93 that Social Security was going bankrupt.  Don‘t the Democrats need to do more than just boo and hiss when the president talks about this program going belly up? 

ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY:  Joe, I don‘t think you are going to hear Democrats do any more than booing and hissing, because, after all, the model is what the Republicans did in ‘94 when Bill Clinton came up with his big national health care plan. 

The Republicans just said, forget it.  There‘s no crisis.  There‘s no problem.  We are going to sit on our hands.  We‘re going to say no.  Just say no.  And that‘s the word among Republicans right now—from Democrats right now—with regard to the president‘s Social Security so-called crisis.  Just say no.  There‘s going to be a lot...

SCARBOROUGH:  So you don‘t think there‘s a crisis? 

REICH:  Well, I personally—Joe, you know, I was a former trustee of the Social Security trust fund.  I have seen those numbers.  I can recite them to you until you are blue in the face.  So, I can bore everybody who is watching this program until they can‘t even see straight. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So just tell us. 


REICH:  I could tell just you, there is not a crisis.  There is no problem.

But here‘s something else, Joe.  And I thought it was very interesting tonight.  There was a great deal of power and meaning and kind of vividness with regard to Iraq and the Iraq vote and all of the—the hug between the Iraqi woman and also the mother of the slain soldier.  That was extraordinarily powerful, moving. 

Now, compare that to the numbers you heard on Social Security, 2018, 2042.  Is it going to run out?  When is it going to run out of money?  What George Bush is saying, I am going to think 4 percent of the Social Security.  I don‘t think most of Americans really understood that, heard it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, you‘re right. 

REICH:  And I think that this debate is just going to go nowhere. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s just—you know, it‘s just like Medicare, when we would always talk about Medicare going bankrupt in the mid-‘90s.  You talk about it and people would just—they would go black in their faces.

REAGAN:  It‘ true.  And there‘s still a fiscal crisis there. 


REAGAN:  Congressman Dreier, let me ask you something.

The president said something fascinating tonight, in that all ideas are on the table, he said, which is a pretty expansive way to put it.  Are all ideas on the table, even maybe sunsetting some of those tax cuts? 

REP. DAVID DREIER ®, CALIFORNIA: Well, Ron, let me first say that it‘s wonderful to hear Joe fondly reminisce about my Republican response to Bill Clinton‘s State of the Union message in... 




DREIER:  I never did it. 


DREIER:  I never did it.  I just...



REAGAN:  In fairness, Congressman, I was the one who said Madame Tussaud. 

DREIER:  Yes.  Exactly.  And nimrod is a term I heard from Joe. 

REAGAN:  That was Joe. 

DREIER:  That was a good one.


DREIER:  I actually will tell you that I am actually outraged at the way you‘re treating my distinguished congressional colleagues now with your assessment of them.

But I will tell you, Ron, you are absolutely right in saying and the president was right in saying that all ideas are on the table.  Now, you mean like repealing the tax cuts?  Well, the president has said, obviously, making permanent the tax cuts is a priority.  And Bob Reich knows very well that we have seen the economic growth that we are enjoying today because of the tax cuts that we have put into place.  We all know that.

And I describe this speech as being Reaganesque.  And it‘s Reaganesque because it in many ways is implementation of the policies that doubled the flow of revenues to the federal Treasury during the decade of the 1980s.  And we have also seen tremendous unanticipated revenues coming into to the federal Treasury today.

And on the Social Security issue, I will tell you that you are right.  If you juxtapose listening to figures 2018, 2042, juxtaposed to two women embracing over what we have witnessed in Iraq, clearly, the emotion carries the day.  But realizing that we have got to focus on future generations, taking on and boldly embracing a challenge, it may not be a crisis. 

Bob may be right that it‘s not a crisis.


DREIER:  But it is a challenge that we do face in years to come.  And the president did state the facts. 

REAGAN:  All right. 

Robert Reich, is there a simple solution to the Social Security problem?  If all ideas are on the table, could you come up with a pretty simple idea that would take care of the problem, the long-term fiscal problem? 

REICH:  Well, if you think that there‘s a crisis or if you think—even if there‘s a long-term fiscal problem, you just raise the cap.  Instead of $90,000, your first $90,000 of income per year being subjected to Social Security taxes, raise it to $100,000 or $120,000 a year.  And that‘s simple.  Everybody can understand that, no big deal.  It‘s equitable, because, after all, the Social Security system on the revenues collecting side is pretty regressive. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Robert Reich and Congressman David Dreier, my favorite congressman, thanks you so much for being with us. 

Actually, I love all of my former brothers and sisters in arms, or whatever.  I don‘t know what you would call them. 


SCARBOROUGH:  But, anyway, coming up, the president said tonight—help me here, Barnicle.  Help me.


SCARBOROUGH:  The president said tonight that the United States is going to confront regimes around the world that promote terrorism.  Should we invade Syria and Iran next?  Hell, yes.  We will be back with more of that. 


REAGAN:  There‘s a whole 190 countries out there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  We got a lot. 


REAGAN:  He‘s only invaded 1 ½ of them so far. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re going to have a lot more AFTER HOURS.  This is just the beginning, just the beginning. 


REAGAN:  Don‘t forget, we are taking your phone calls in a bit.  Give us a ring.  The number is 888-MSNBC-USA. 

But, first, here‘s the latest news you need to know. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Definitely. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Even if it is—and the prompter obviously is enjoying AFTER HOURS, too, because...

REAGAN:  Stepped out for a little nip. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Stepped out for a little nip. 


SCARBOROUGH:  But we are back, all State of the Union all night, or at least until 2:00 a.m. on the East Coast. 

REAGAN:  We continue to look at President Bush‘s speech from every angle, along with Pat and Mike Buchanan—Pat...


REAGAN:  Pat Buchanan and Mike Barnicle.  Sorry.  It‘s late here in this chair, too. 


REAGAN:  True.  All right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat, talk about Social Security for a second. 


REAGAN:  ... is on it.

SCARBOROUGH:  He is on it.


BUCHANAN:  It‘s a good program. 

SCARBOROUGH:  If the Mexicans don‘t take it away from him. 

BUCHANAN:  I didn‘t like that cutting benefits for the wealthy there. 


BUCHANAN:  But I think that people are underestimating President Reagan.  I think Robert Reich...

SCARBOROUGH:  Bush.  President Bush. 

BUCHANAN:  Excuse me—President Bush.  Exactly. 

I think he is going to go out and work for this.  And I think the Democrats will make a bad mistake if they come off as total obstructionists, if they say, no, no, no, because I do think young people in this country and people all over this country in the last 20 years have heard and read about problems coming, and it may not be there when you get out there.

And the president of the United States tonight looked like someone who says, look, I am going to try to address this problem.  It is a problem.  Here are five ideas that Democrats themselves have put out.  They are all on the table.  Let‘s work together to do it.  And you got guys over in the corner, left-wing Democrats, hooting and jeering.  That‘s what they have been doing ever since they were in college, which is one of the reasons the liberals I think have lost the country.

And I think the president, he is going to go out there and work on it.  I think he could help himself, even if they do kill his proposal. 


REAGAN:  Mike, the president sort of is making two arguments here.

One is that there‘s this long-term fiscal—well, we can call it a crisis or just a problem.  And then he makes the case for privatization, which won‘t actually address that long-term fiscal problem.  Robert Reich had a suggestion.  You just raise up to $110,000, say, instead of $90,000, Social Security taxes, and that would pretty much cover that long-term fiscal problem.  Why can‘t the Democrats come up with a simple plan like that and say, here it is? 


BARNICLE:  Well, first of all, Ron, I understand nothing about Social Security. 

REAGAN:  I was just faking it there. 

BARNICLE:  What I did understand tonight was that, when he said anyone over 55, you don‘t have to worry.  And Pat and I breathed a huge sigh of relief as soon as we heard those words. 


BARNICLE:  What was interesting to me, in addition to what Patrick said about the Democrats playing the “Animal House” role, sitting there, not applauding, hooting and hollering, jeering or cheering, whatever the situation called for, what was interesting to me was, clearly, the personal savings accounts that the president is talking about in terms of reforming Social Security strikes me as a generational thrust into the politics of this country. 

It‘s splitting off the generations.  People 45 years in age and younger, many of them when it comes to Social Security, their motto might well be, where is mine?  And the idea of investing a portion of their income into a stock market type of account I think has great appeal.  The president is willing to fight for it.  I don‘t know whether it passes or whether it‘s dead on arrival, but it‘s interesting. 

REAGAN:  Right. 

BARNICLE:  But it‘s interesting.  The politics of it is very interesting. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s bring in Air American‘s Janeane Garofalo to the panel. 

Janeane, I know you have a thing or two to say about the president‘s address tonight.  But let‘s start right now with Social Security.  You have heard the conversation.  Do you believe, as Mike Barnicle does, that talking about the privatization for these accounts for younger people may cause a generational divide between seniors and, let‘s say, people—Gen-Xers? 


I just know from what I have read and have tried to learn about Social Security, it seems obvious to me that there is no crisis in Social Security.  I don‘t know why Pat Buchanan is insisting that there is, and also Pat Buchanan pretending that somehow the Democrats responding vocally to the dishonesty that is being put forth in the State of the Union is somehow losing the country and all that nonsense. 

There is no crisis in Social Security.  According to the Social Security trustees and the General Accounting Office, that is just dishonest, what George W. Bush is saying about Social Security.  And he has been saying it was going to go broke since ‘78.  And it hasn‘t. 

BUCHANAN:  Janeane, do you think what Mike Barnicle described as “Animal House” behavior in the Congress helps the Democratic Party, when you got a State of the Union, solemn occasion, Supreme Court there, both houses, first lady, and they are hooting and jeering, the way they would at some rock concert when they were in college? 

GAROFALO:  No.  It was not like...

BUCHANAN:  Do you think that‘s helpful? 

GAROFALO:  No, what I don‘t think is helpful is a Republican Party that has been nothing but partisan and dishonest in service of this president, who lied about weapons of mass destruction, has lied about Social Security. 

BUCHANAN:  I am not sure that‘s addressed to my question. 

GAROFALO:  Yes, I am answering your question. 

It wasn‘t “Animal House” behavior.  And it was a very short vocal response.  And the inked fingers was disgusting.  And the standing ovations for such mediocrity, you guys are so easily impressed, it‘s shocking.  But the inked fingers...

SCARBOROUGH:  Glad we could shock you. 


BUCHANAN:  You got the whole gang.  You got the whole gang you are going after now. 

GAROFALO:  Yes, except for Ron Reagan, who actually is the only one who is being reasonable there, Ron Reagan Jr.

SCARBOROUGH:  God bless you, Ron.  That‘s why we have you, Ron. 


GAROFALO:  The inked fingers in the position of them, which is going to be a “Daily Show‘ photo already of them signaling in this manner, as if they have solidarity with the Iraqis, who braved physical threats against their lives to vote, as if somehow these inked-fingered Republicans have something to do with that.

And also the bit of theater about the very distraught parents of the soldier who had died, the point is not if this was a real moment, if it was staged, if it was P.R.  The point is, is those parents and their son were misled about why that young man went into Iraq.  And when he wrote a letter to his mother saying, it‘s my job to protect you now.  Protect her from what, the imminent threat of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction? 

So, don‘t bring up is, it helpful if the Democrats make some noise when they are being lied to?  That‘s not helpful to pundits like you, maybe.  But it is not helpful to the country when a Republican president and his partisan Republican Party continue to perpetuate myth and dishonesty on the country. 

REAGAN:  Janeane, this is the reasonable guy here talking now. 


REAGAN:  I get a little frustrated.  And, you know, we agree on a lot of stuff, but I get frustrated that the Democrats don‘t offer a clear alternative to the president‘s plan on Social Security.  We heard Robert Reich talking about a pretty simple fix for the fiscal problem here, but you don‘t hear it from Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi.  Why not?  What‘s the matter with these people?

GAROFALO:  Yes.  Yes, you do. 

What is not clear about the alternative of saying, it‘s not a crisis and that the cost of actually transitioning over to privatize will cost more?


REAGAN:  All that is true, but they are not saying so—but there is a long-term problem.  We know that in the long run...

GAROFALO:  What, 2052? 

REAGAN:  Yes, exactly.  So we need to tinker a little bit now to fix that. 

And why don‘t they simply say, hey, look, we can take Social Security taxes out of not stopping at $90,000, but go to $110,000, for instance, and take care of the problem?

GAROFALO:  They do say that. 

The alternative—the alternative is not to lie about Social Security.  The alternative is not to raid the lockbox or things that people made fun of Al Gore for, not to raid the Treasury.  That‘s the alternative.  Why is it—you know, people always say—feel it‘s incumbent...


BUCHANAN:  Janeane, look, Ron Reagan has an idea.  And the president ruled out an increase in the payroll tax. 

But there‘s no doubt that would be one of the things Democrats would put in.  They put it in, in ‘83.  But what you are suggesting, Ron Reagan here is acting like a responsible Democrat who says, yes, there‘s a problem, Mr. President.  It‘s not a crisis.  And we maybe can deal with it this way.  That‘s our idea. 

But when the Democrats get up there and just hoot and jeer, and we hear Robert Reich say, everybody is going to say no, just say no, then I think...


GAROFALO:  Pat, stop exaggerating about the hooting and the jeering.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, actually, I sat through eight of these things.  And I sat through six of them with Bill Clinton with a Republican Congress that felt great animosity towards Bill Clinton.  They never jeered Bill Clinton while he was giving a State of the Union address. 

This is not to say Democrats are bad and Republicans are good.  We are just talking about political stagecraft, when the whole world is tuning in, I think Pat‘s point is.  And he opposed this war, too.  I think the point is, you don‘t jeer.  You don‘t yell no, no, no, as they yelled in unison while America watches, not because it hurts George Bush.  I will guarantee you—I saw Karl Rove standing to the side.  And he was smiling while they were yelling.  And it was because he knows it helps him out. 

But let me tell you what concerns me.  Let‘s forget about the political stagecraft for a second.  What concerns me is, when I was running for Congress, 1993, Bob Kerrey has an independent commission.  It was he and Alan Simpson, 1993.  And they said Social Security was going bankrupt.  “The New York Times” editorialized that Social Security was going bankrupt.  The Concord Coalition came out and basically said that Social Security and Medicare going bankrupt.  We have this demographic time bomb ticking. 

And what shocks me is, here we are, 11, 12 years later, closer to baby boomers retiring, and, all of a sudden, there‘s not a crisis.  I don‘t understand where the crisis went, because, for the past 12 years...


BUCHANAN:  Yes, that‘s right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  For the past 12 years, politicians have been bashed on both sides of the aisle for not confronting Social Security.  Now we hear there‘s no crisis. 

REAGAN:  Well, there is no crisis.

BUCHANAN:  You know, Peterson wrote that book.

SCARBOROUGH:  Pete Peterson.

BUCHANAN:  Pete Peterson.  It‘s one of the top best-sellers in the country.  It is an extraordinarily powerful book.  It‘s being widely read. 

Even you—everybody knows there‘s a problem now. 

REAGAN:  Problem, but not crisis. 


BUCHANAN:  All right. 

REAGAN:  We have got to take a break here. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 


SCARBOROUGH:  I would say there‘s a crisis, not a problem, but we‘ll take it to the next break, won‘t we, Ron?

REAGAN:  OK.  Janeane, thank you for joining us.  I‘m sorry you are leaving, because now I‘m alone. 

We‘ll be back in a minute.


SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re all with you in solidarity, Ron.

REAGAN:  We‘ll be back in a minute with two members of Congress.  Plus, we‘re taking your calls and e-mails.

So, don‘t go anywhere. 

I appreciate that, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you.




BUSH:  While our military strategy is adapting to circumstances, our commitment remains firm and unchanging.  We are standing for the freedom of our Iraqi friends, and freedom in Iraq will make America safer for generations to come. 



REAGAN:  Let‘s bring in two more guests now, Democratic Representative Chaka Fattah from Philadelphia and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican congresswoman from Joe‘s home state of Florida. 

Congressman Fattah, you have got a plan calling on the United Nations to help us get out of Iraq.  Anything in the president‘s speech tonight sound good to you? 

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Well, I think what we saw was that it‘s kind of like when we play the Super Bowl on Sunday in Florida.  We are going to judge who won or lost by the numbers. 

And the numbers in this administration in terms of increase in poverty, lack of health care, and in Iraq, both the cost in terms of the body count, the wounded, the cost in terms of taxpayers‘ investment, this president offered nothing by way of how we are going to exit with a winning strategy in Iraq.  What he says is, we are going to keep doing more of the same.

And, you know, it‘s telling, because we lost an American soldier today.  And, you know, there will be another Mrs. Norwood, unfortunately, and tomorrow and the next day and the next day.  And he offered no window of hope about when we might be able to bring these 130,000 young people home. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, respond to that, if you will.  I mean, obviously, the president is asking for 80 billion more dollars.  There are troops dying every day.  I certainly support this war.  I think it‘s important, but what do you tell Americans?  When does this end? 

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN ®, FLORIDA:  Well, it ends when we can help the Iraqi people defend themselves, when they are able to secure their borders, when they are able to rise up against tyranny and protect what we have helped them establish, which is democracy.

And, yes, as the president has said—and I know a lot of people laughed—he said, this is hard work.  And it is hard work.  I went to Iraq and I visited with the troops.  And, yes, they would love to be back home.  And as a stepmom of a Marine officer who is going to be deployed in Iraq in just a few months, I know it‘s hard for the families.  But freedom comes at a price.  And those families that have sacrificed so much, everyone‘s death is a blow to the family, to the community, to the nation. 

But look at what happened on Sunday, the freedom that these brave Iraqi people showed when they were under threats that were real threats.  They said, we are going to kill you.  We are going to kill your family members.  And they stood in line for hours.  What a powerful message for freedom and democracy, and that is part of the Bush doctrine.  You can‘t put a price tag on that. 

Yes, it‘s a terrible thing to be in a war, but to say that we should have an exit strategy and say to the terrorists, we are getting out in six months, that‘s an invitation for them to lay low and then stir everything up in just six months.  We have got to stay the course until the Iraqi people are able to defend themselves. 

REAGAN:  Five years, 10 years? 

ROS-LEHTINEN:  How long were we in Germany? 


REAGAN:  We were in Germany for 60 years.

REAGAN:  My point exactly.  Yes, so... 

FATTAH:  We saw Baghdad fall.  We saw Saddam arrested.

ROS-LEHTINEN:  And freedom is important. 

FATTAH:  The question is when we can develop some type of strategy.

And, look, I think we should get other Arab nations to send their troops in.  We got rid of Saddam.  Why do we keep—there are no weapons of mass destruction.  Why do we keep having to sacrifice the lives of young Americans?  I don‘t see any of these conservative Republican spokespeople out there recruiting more people for the Marines or for the Army.  We have vacancies.  We‘re not meeting our recruiting goals. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  

ROS-LEHTINEN:  All I know is...



Let me ask Pat a question.

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Because, Pat, you opposed this war all along.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But you are also obviously from the strong Reagan tradition.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You saw what happened in—at the Berlin Wall.  A lot of people are drawing comparisons.  How do you—how do you bring together your anti-war position with what you saw on Sunday? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, what we saw on Sunday was profoundly moving. 

Look, the Iraqi people, not only the seven million or eight million who voted, but millions who were intimidated don‘t want to be ruled by a bunch of criminals and thugs and certainly not Zarqawi.  But the point is, they are willing to vote for freedom.  Are they willing to fight for it? 

Now, what I saw the president tonight is different.  The president was saying, the Iraqi people are going to be responsible for their democracy, and all of our folks are coming home one day.  That is sending a message to the Iraqis, we are not there indefinitely.  They have got to be told that the thing is going to be transferred to them.  And I saw a president who is doing that, quite frankly.

But he should not give a timetable.  I think the congresswoman is exactly right.  But I saw—I mean, I didn‘t see someone who said we‘ve got a 10-year war; no matter what happens, we are we are going to be there at all.  I think this was real realism here.  As I said on “CHRIS MATTHEWS,” you know, this was more Reagan, a little less Robespierre.

SCARBOROUGH:  So realism, finally. 

You just confused a lot of people in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, but we don‘t have time for you to explain it.



SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Barnicle, we will get your response to that question when we come back. 

We‘ll be right back on AFTER HOURS.


REAGAN:  We are here in Washington, D.C., breaking down the president‘s State of the Union address.  We will be here until 2:00 a.m. with our all-star panel, so don‘t miss a minute of it. 

AFTER HOURS will be right back.


SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, we‘re back.

Hey, Mike Barnicle.


SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re talking, again, about the war.  There are a lot of people that are anti-war that saw what happened on Sunday, some columnists.  Even “The New York Times” editorial page seems to have turned a little bit.

BARNICLE:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And said, you know what?  This may have a happy ending after all. 

BARNICLE:  Well, I don‘t know if it will have a happy ending. 

I think what happens, Joe, in our culture, especially because of this medium, television, we live for the moment.  And the moments are quick and brief and they come and go.  And, yet, if you stop to think about a moment like Sunday and about Iraq and about tonight‘s speech, in which the president mentions Iran, Syria and a whole new world that we are entering here in the 21st century, this might be a much bigger historical moment of time than any of us can comprehend right now.

And we are not going to know that for years to come, but it might be that we are sitting on the turn of events that will reshape, indeed, part of the world. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Like ‘89.  You remember in ‘89 -- I remember—I was in law school.  It seemed like every day, a new Eastern Bloc country went free, broke away from the Soviet Union.  And pretty soon, after a few weeks of that, you sort of said, ho hum.  Now we look back to ‘89 as one of those monumental years.  I think this...


REAGAN:  Well, when Saudi Arabia converts to full democracy, we‘ll...


SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know what?  The—you know what? 

Sunday was important, but I will tell you what was equally important, the Bush administration scolding Egypt Monday morning on a human rights dissenter.  That is the first step forward on saying we are not going to have a double standard in the Middle East. 

BUCHANAN:  You know, when all the communist countries collapsed, their governments collapsed, they all moved toward democracy. 

Every king or tyrant who has been deposed in the Middle East has given up a worse one, whether it‘s Nasser or Saddam.  Listen, you take down Mubarak, you think it‘s going to be better?  You take down the monarchy of Saudi Arabia, it‘s going to be—bin Laden is the most popular guy in the country. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

Pat, you‘re going to have another hour to talk about it. 


SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ll be right back. 

Thanks to all our guests.  And we will be back next hour with AFTER HOURS. 

REAGAN:  That‘s right, right back.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s right. 




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