The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/17/10
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening.
I keep hearing from conservatives who watch our shows and say
they don‘t agree with either you or me, but they watch anyway.
KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST: Yes?
MADDOW: I think tonight would be a good night if there are any
actual Republican operatives out there to say, not tonight.
OLBERMANN: Right. Because otherwise you‘re giving—you‘re
giving it a way. They might be lip-readers so we can‘t even show our
mouths doing this, like the ballplayers, OK?
MADDOW: We‘ll do it in pig Latin.
OLBERMANN: Ix nay on the (INAUDIBLE). Whatever. I don‘t know.
MADDOW: Thank you, itkay (ph). Appreciate it.
OLBERMANN: Oh, you speak fluently. Of course, you do. You can
study that in England. I lose again.
MADDOW: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Bye, Rach.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the
All right. “Drill, baby, drill” meet “Profile, baby, profile.”
Sarah Palin and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer have joined forces and
thrown the Republican cause nationally behind Arizona‘s papers please
law. It is a cause for passing euphoria on the right, but it‘s a cause
for lasting electoral satisfaction on the left.
Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania will be joining us tonight.
Also, the evidence mounts as to who is responsible for the
blowout that caused the explosion that let loose the undersea oil gusher
and sank the rig and killed 11 men. Evidence and the barest hints of
progress in the B.P. Gulf oil disaster all that report this hour.
It‘s all coming up.
But first, fish—fish breathing, to be specific. It‘s biology
101, right? Human beings survive by breathing, so do other animals,
including fish. We don‘t usually think of fish as breathing since they
live in water, but they do. That‘s sort of what the whole gill thing is
Like humans, fish need oxygen to survive. The gill system works
by extracting dissolved oxygen that‘s in the water that they swim in.
Because oxygen is vital to the very existence of fish, when fish
find themselves in a low oxygen area, they tend to swim away from it.
They try to get out of it. If an oxygen deprived area of water is so
big they can‘t swim out of it, they die.
Same goes for all the other parts of the marine food chain that
depend on there being oxygen in the water in order to survive. Really
oxygen-deprived areas in the ocean have a name—they‘re called “dead
There are few hundred known dead zones across the world—one of
them right off the coast of Oregon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Oregon scientists this summer dropped a camera to the
ocean floor and were sickened by what they saw—a deep, disturbing
seascape, everything from the largest crab to the smallest organism,
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not a single fish in this area, lots of dead
crabs littering the sea floor, worms laying on the bottom, obviously
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Dead, everything. Dead fish, dead crabs, dead worms.
These dead zones—these areas of really low oxygen levels can‘t
support much life. Many dead zones are seasonal or they appear on even
longer cycles, every few years, changing shape, appearing and
disappearing as pollution and fresh water/seawater mixes ebb and flow.
More than a decade ago, the “New Orleans Times-Picayune”
newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on a huge dead zone
that has started appearing every summer off the coast of Louisiana. It
would cost fishermen in the area to have to go hundreds of miles
offshore in order to find anything to fish, because all the fish in the
dead zone were dead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: This summer, it covered more than 7,700 square miles
of the Gulf, about the size of New Jersey. Shrimp, fish, clams and
crabs fleeing. The people who fish here call it the dead zone because
nothing survives 10 feet below the surface.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I put my line down, it‘s just dead. Nothing nothing‘s happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nothing survives ten feet below the surface because
there isn‘t enough oxygen down there.
That huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is believed to be
caused by pollution, by fertilizer runoff from the Mississippi River.
There were fears that if there weren‘t curbs on that kind of pollution,
that particular Gulf of Mexico dead zone might become permanent.
But if you think pollution has made that part of the world very
fragile already, you ain‘t seen nothing yet. Over the weekend, a team
of scientists on a research vessel called The Pelican discovered a,
quote, “shocking amount of oil floating underwater.” Massive plumes of
what they think are oil and chemical dispersants that are, in at least
one plume‘s case, 10 miles long, three miles wide and 300 feet thick.
Officials are still trying to determine the exact consistency of
the underwater oil plumes, how much oil is mixed with water, what else
might be in those plumes. But scientists on board The Pelican say they
are already measuring 30 percent lower oxygen levels in the areas
surrounding these plumes.
“The New York Times” reporting on these findings, explains,
quote, “While the oxygen depletion so far is not enough to kill off sea
life, the possibility looms that oxygen levels could fall so low as to
create large dead zones, especially at the sea floor. ‘That‘s the big
worry,‘ says the head of the National Institute for Undersea Science and
Technology which sponsored The Pelican‘s research mission.‘”
Before B.P. can even begin to wrap their heads around the
potential decades long ecological disaster they may have wrought in the
Gulf, they have to come to terms with the fact that they are still
wreaking it. They still have to plug the well that is still gushing.
That effort continues today as B.P. has managed to send down a mile long
tube that they stuck into the oil stream. They say that tube is now
siphoning off about 20 percent of the oil that is coming out of the
broken riser pipe.
They also have plans to fill up the gushing broken riser pipe
with drilling mud or possibly debris like rubber tires, what everybody‘s
been calling the “junk shot.” In the meantime, B.P. just started
drilling a second relief well near the site of the disaster, but it will
be months before those relief wells could be operational. All of this
in an effort to stop the actual leak.
And even when that happy day comes, we will still be facing the
question of what to do with the oil that‘s already floating out there,
floating around somewhere—possibly, we now realize suspended under
water. How in the name of thousands of square miles of potentially dead
marine life do you possibly clean that up?
Joining us now via Skype is science journalist Mark Schrope. He
was aboard The Pelican research vessel for eight days on behalf of
“Nature” magazine. He just got back to land yesterday.
Mr. Schrope, thanks very much for joining us tonight. Appreciate
MARK SCHROPE, SCIENCE JOURNALIST: Hey, there. Good to be here.
MADDOW: So, first of all, I know you were out in the Gulf with
these scientists for days, observing this—the oil that‘s out there.
What—set the scene for us a little bit. Is it clear when you‘re
there that you are amidst the oil? Or is it all under the surface?
SCHROPE: No, it‘s clear but it varies. Early on, the seas were
a lot calmer so there was—so there was more oil bunched together. By
the time I got there, the seas were a little larger, so things were
But you definitely come through—depending on where you are,
through different bands of oil and you can see brown, large brown bands
off and on, ore so especially because of the way the winds were working.
I believe it was to the west side of the accident site. And it—and
you smell a lot more there as well.
MADDOW: So, the smells out there, does it smell like a gas
station? Does it smell like a refinery? What does it smell like?
SCHROPE: It smells more like oil than gas. So, it smells like,
you know, adding oil to the engine. But it‘s pretty pervasive in some
MADDOW: How did the scientists that you were with discover what
they‘re describing as these underwater plumes? What sort of scientific
techniques are they using to be able to find these things? They are,
after all, not visible to the naked eye from the surface.
SCHROPE: Well, they were using a number of different techniques.
But the one that became key for looking at that plume was something
called a CTD rosette. It‘s a group of water sample bottles and
different pieces of measuring equipment that are all added to the same
frame, and that frame is dropped down all the way to the sea floor, and
then pulled back up. And it sends readings up through the cable in
real-time while that‘s happening so they can—they can see what‘s
MADDOW: And when you were on board The Pelican, when they‘re
doing these tests, when they‘re getting these readings and then using
that type of equipment, is it clear to the scientists right away the
sort of thing that they‘re dealing with? Were they able to describe on
board, on ship, what they thought they had discovered? Or is it the
sort of thing that takes after the fact analysis on land?
SCHROPE: Well, they were certainly able to speculate, but
there‘s a lot they don‘t know. In fact, you could almost say there‘s
little they can say about the plume until they run samples this week to
figure it out. So—but there was certainly enough information so that
they could speculate and try and come up with ideas that would explain
what they were seeing.
MADDOW: I understand that NOAA, the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, which is in part funding these scientists—
NOAA is warning that they can‘t verify that anything that‘s being found
underwater in terms of stuff being suspended in the water column, they
can‘t verify that these are plumes of oil or oil mixed with dispersants.
What—as a journalist, what‘s your—dispersants, excuse me—
as a journalist, what‘s your understanding of what happens next in terms
of verifying what‘s out there? What do they do next with the data that
they have collected?
SCHROPE: Well, there‘s a group—the people that were out
actually are not geochemists, so they were collecting samples for a lot
of different colleagues that were interested in looking at things. They
have a woman named Samantha Joye that they work with that will receive I
believe most of the water samples and she‘ll do a number of analyses. I
don‘t know—I think there was some talk of possibly sending portions
of those samples to different labs with other agencies or something
along those lines but I don‘t really know the details of that.
But there will be a lot of analysis, I assume, fairly quickly
MADDOW: Science journalist Mark Schrope who is onboard the
Pelican research vessel until yesterday and joined us tonight via Skype
– Mark, thanks very much for your time. I appreciate it.
SCHROPE: No problem.
MADDOW: Coming up: did you hear about the big argument that
happened onboard the doomed oil rig, the Deepwater Horizon, just a few
hours before it blew up? It was an argument in the end about safety.
And the wrong side won that argument. Incredible new detail about what
was going on the day of the disaster—that‘s ahead.
Plus, a big break for the Democrats for the midterm elections
courtesy of the great state of Arizona and the former half-term governor
of the great state of Alaska, Sarah Palin. That‘s ahead.
Please stay tuned.
MADDOW: When B.P. announced this weekend that it had succeeded
in getting a thin siphon tube into the gushing oil pipe on the sea bed
of the Gulf, the heads of the Department of Homeland Security and the
Interior Department made sure immediately that everybody knew there was
no real cause for celebration.
They put out a statement that said it was, quote, “not a solution
to the problem.” They also said, quote, “We will not rest until B.P.
permanently seals up the wellhead, the spill is cleaned up, and the
communities and natural resources of the Gulf coast are restored and
Got that, bucko? That was this weekend.
And then today, Janet Napolitano, is back on the spotlight on
Capitol Hill answering questions from senators about the government‘s
response to the B.P. disaster. So, that‘s how the current homeland
security secretary spent her day.
Meanwhile, a would-be homeland security secretary spent his day
reporting to federal prison. President Bush‘s pick to lead homeland
security for the whole country was Bernie Kerik, you might remember,
back in 2004. Bernie Kerik reported to a federal prison in Maryland
this afternoon after pleading guilty to eight felony charges, including
tax fraud and lying to White House officials when he got that big
cabinet official nomination. Mr. Kerik‘s sentencing judge gave him 15
more months than prosecutors had asked for, lambasting Mr. Kerik at the
sentencing for using his 9/11 experiences for personal gain.
So, in the end, Bernie Kerik won‘t get to run a federal agency of
230,000 employees, which George W. Bush tried to appoint him to do. He
will instead spend four years as federal prisoner number 84888-054.
Also, the jail that Rudy Giuliani tried to name after Bernie
Kerik in Lower Manhattan has had to be renamed as well, very awkward.
We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Tonight, we have new developments in the investigation
into what caused the deadly offshore oil drilling disaster off the coast
of Louisiana. We‘ve learned something new about what led up to the
explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil right that killed 11 people.
These new developments are not just about what was happening in terms of
engineering onboard the oil platform, they‘re about a specific decision
that may have led to the explosion, to those 11 people‘s deaths and to
the still-escalating disaster we‘re facing right now in the Gulf.
The Deepwater Horizon, as you know, is a drilling rig. It was
actually wrapping up its operation at this site when it blew up. After
drilling very, very, very, very, very deeply to the oil there, the
Deepwater Horizon was on its way out. Its job was essentially done.
Transocean, which owns the Deepwater Horizon rig, and B.P., which was
leasing it to get to the oil, they were in the process of temporarily
capping the well that they had successfully drilled there. They were
closing it up.
Remember, these offshore oil rigs are mobile. They move around,
which is why they‘re flagged like ships. Deepwater horizon had finished
its job of drilling the well at this site. All it still had to do was
safely close off the well so that well site would be ready for another
production rig to come in and re-tap what the Deepwater Horizon had
already drilled. And that second rig would actually extract the oil.
That‘s what was going on the day of the explosion.
Deepwater Horizon was due to sail away to drill somewhere else,
after safely closing up the well they drilled so somebody else could
reopen it. But that is when the explosion happened, when they were in
the process of temporarily closing it up after they had drilled it.
Last night, interviews with one of the last people to escape the
rig, and an engineer investigating the accident for the government, the
news show “60 Minutes” uncovered and explained a key decision about how
to close up that well—a decision made by B.P. that may tell us why it
blew up. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE, “60 MINUTES‘/CBS)
SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS (voice-over): William says that in a
drilling accident four weeks before the explosion, the critical rubber
gasket called an “annular” was damaged and pieces of it started coming
out of the well.
Here‘s why that‘s so important. The annular is used to seal the
well for pressure tests and those tests determine whether dangerous gas
is seeping in.
(on camera): So if the annular is damaged, if I understand you
correctly, you can‘t do the pressure tests in a reliable way.
PROF. BOB BEA, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY: That‘s
correct. You may get pressure tests on recordings, but because you‘re
leaking pressure, they‘re not reliable.
PELLEY: The morning of the disaster, according to Williams,
there was an argument in front of all of the men on the ship between the
Transocean manager and the B.P. manager. Do you know what that argument
PELLEY: What was it?
BEA: Who‘s boss.
PELLEY (voice-over): In finishing the well, the plan was to have
a subcontractor, Halliburton, place three concrete plugs like corks in
the column. The Transocean manager wanted to do this with the column
full of heavy drilling fluid, what drillers call mud, to keep the
pressure down below contained. But the B.P. manager wanted to begin to
remove the mud before the last plug was set—that would reduce the
pressure controlling the well before the plugs were finished.
(on camera): Why would B.P. want to do that?
BEA: It expedites the subsequent steps.
PELLEY: It‘s a matter of going faster?
BEA: Faster. Sure.
PELLEY: Who won the argument?
PELLEY: If the mud had been left in the column, would there have
been a blowout?
BEA: It doesn‘t look like it.
PELLEY (voice-over): To do it B.P.‘s way, they had to be sure
the first two plugs were keeping the pressure down. That life or death
test was done using the blowout preventer which had the damaged gasket.
MADDOW: So, in other words, B.P. pressured Transocean to plug
the well less safely. Because it would make getting the oil out of the
well go faster.
Transocean, which is responsible for sealing up this well safely,
said, we‘d rather keep the drilling mud in there, but B.P., which is
paying the bills, won that argument with Transocean. B.P. got its way
and hours later, the plugging of the well failed, and the rig blew up,
and 11 men died and mass environmental disaster began.
When asked to comment on the “60 Minutes” report this morning,
B.P.‘s chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, told the CBS “Early Show”
his focus is stopping the spill and that we should, quote, “let the
investigations finish up.”
If there was a market for blame in this disaster, nobody would be
selling short in that market. There‘s plenty of blame to go around.
The man in charge of overseeing offshore drilling programs at the
already-scandal-prone Minerals Management Service in the government has
just announced his sudden retirement. He was in charge of the office
from 1995 to 2007 before getting promoted. His, quote, “retirement”
comes conveniently enough just days after President Obama promised to
end the cozy relationship between the Minerals Management Service and
the oil industry it supposedly regulates.
Meanwhile, the Minerals Management Service declined to testify in
front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee today—declined to
The reason this is important is not because this is hindsight.
This is not looking back. This is not trying to find the right lessons
learned from a disaster that‘s in the past. Obviously, the oil is still
gushing right this second. So the past isn‘t even past yet.
But there‘s also the problem of what we‘ve actually got still in
the Gulf right now. What we‘ve—what we‘ve got right now is, for
example, this—this is not a archival photo of the Deepwater Horizon
right before it exploded and sunk. This is now.
This is Atlantis. This is 100 miles further offshore than
Deepwater Horizon was. It is drilling in water that is more than 2,000
feet deeper than water the Deepwater Horizon was drilling in.
A former B.P. subcontractor-turned-whistleblower says B.P. never
reviewed the final design documents for systems and equipment on the
Atlantis rig, the photos of which we were just showing you. That means
they never confirmed that the rig‘s equipment was actually built, how it
was supposed to be built. The whistleblower says Atlantis cannot
operate safely without completed blueprints, something that we‘ve seen
in action on the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
A disaster on Atlantis would presumably be even more gigantic
than the Deepwater Horizon‘s disaster because it‘s drilling more oil
further out and deeper. Today, the whistleblower from this rig, along
with a consumer advocacy group, Food & Water Watch, filed a lawsuit to
get the Atlantis rig shut down until B.P. can prove it‘s safe. We‘ll
keep you posted.
MADDOW: This too shall pass. Wall Street reform, the biggest
reform to the financial sector since the 1930s, is going to happen and
it‘s going to happen soon. For one thing, it‘s easy politics.
Here are some scenes today from D.C., hundreds of protesters
bussed in from 20 states, marched in support of financial reform.
Protesters packed a Bank of America branch in D.C., causing it to
temporarily shut down. Protesters then left that B of A branch and
marched to a nearby Citibank office. Protesters also marched outside a
top financial lobbying group and they gathered at the intersection of
14th Street and K Street.
This all happening a day after the same group protested on the
lawn of the home of Bank of America‘s general counsel in Chevy Chase,
Not to take anything away from the organizing prowess of the
protesters, but getting people to want to yell at banks right now is not
an uphill battle. I don‘t put too much stock in polls as news.
But just for perspective here, in the last NBC News poll, after
all Toyota has been through, for example, that company‘s approval rating
was a stinky 31 percent.
B.P., in the midst of the huge, terrifying, awful, still out-of-
control Gulf oil disaster, their approval rating is even worse, B.P.‘s
approval rating? Eleven percent.
Goldman Sachs? Way worse than that. Goldman Sachs, their
approval rating is 4 percent. B.P., in other words, has nearly tripled
the approval rating of Goldman Sachs.
Getting people to yell at banks, to yell at Wall Street right now
is not an uphill climb. And that should not be underestimated as a
reason why Wall Street reform is going to pass.
But there‘s also another political point to consider here. It
turns out that the year-long largely misplayed fight for health reform
got Democrats something more than just health reform. Democrats in
Congress appear to have learned from the health reform experience what
not to do if you want to get something big passed.
During health reform, you may recall Senate Democrats pandering
and pleading and playing as much ball as possible with Republicans,
weakening reform at every step in order to supposedly woo these
Republican senators who frankly were never going to vote for health
reform anyway. The process put the entire focus of the fight for reform
on the points of disagreement between Democrats and Republicans. The
news worthiness of health reform each day depended on what parts of
health reform Republicans were objecting to that day.
It brought Democrats nothing in terms of votes, it elevated the
otherwise politically impotent tiny Republican minority, it watered down
the policy, it took forever, and it almost killed health reform all
This time, apparently, lesson learned. After initial efforts to
work with senators like Richard Shelby and Bob Corker to draft the
bipartisan Wall Street reform plan, Democrats said they would not let
that process drag on forever, that they would move ahead. They have
been voting on amendments to the legislation for the past week or so.
And because they‘re not devoting the process to trying to
persuade Republicans who really only want to kill the bill anyway and
because Wall Street reform is a good political issue, the amendment
process is actually making the bill tougher. It‘s making the bill
Think about that for a second. Because Democrats have realized that the
country actually wants Wall Street reform, and because Democrats have
not fallen into the same trap as they did before about making the reform
process all about the wishes of people who don‘t want reform, as this
legislative process goes on longer, the bill is getting better. In the
sense that it‘s getting tougher on the Goldman Sachs of the world.
Everybody panic! In response to this nasty turn of events, the
Republicans‘ lead senator on Wall Street reform, Bob Corker of
Tennessee, told political, quote, “I say this facetiously, but for those
of us who want a good bill, we should file cloture because every day it
Another leading Republican on the issue, Judd Gregg, told the same
publication, quote, “We should probably finish this bill at some point
because it‘s getting worse every day. So, not only is Wall Street
reform going to pass, it‘s also killed the whole Republican tried and
true strategy of delaying something in order to kill it. Republicans
might stop filibustering this thing in order to get it over and done
with, so Democrats stop adding things to it that they want to run on.
We might not only get Wall Street reform really soon, we might kill the
Tarantino in the process.
Joining us now for the interview tonight is Democratic Senator Ted
Kaufman of Delaware. Senator Kaufman, thank you very much for your time
SENATOR TED KAUFMAN (D) DELAWARE: Hey, Rachel. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, big picture first, do you think that Wall Street
reform passes the senate and passes the senate soon?
KAUFMAN: Oh, yes. I think it will pass, but you never know,
because again, we‘ve still got to go through cloture, it all depends on
whether Republicans throw in the towel, what Senator Corker and Senator
Gregg reflex the Republican caucus and that‘s what they decided to do.
It‘s kind of in their hands where we go from here. But now, I think,
eventually, it‘s going to pass.
MADDOW: I know the amendment process hasn‘t been all one way or
all the other.
MADDOW: Some tough amendments are failing, some are passing.
MADDOW: But in general, do you think the bill has gone tougher on Wall
Street since it‘s been open to amendments?
KAUFMAN: I think in some areas it has. Of course the area that I‘m
primarily concerned with, that is just the incredible size of our banks
and how risky that is for us to have banks that are so large and also
having banks that are involved in such incredibly risky businesses like
derivatives and as we see with this high frequency trading, I‘m still
concerned. I‘m still waiting to see what happens with the Levin/Merkley
amendment and then what happens with the Ken Will/McCain (ph) amendment
in terms of deciding where we are on this.
MADDOW: On that issue, on the issue of banks being too big. It
was you and Sherrod Brown if I‘m correct.
MADDOW: Who sponsored an amendment to very quick simply limit the size
of banks, to break them up if they were so big their behavior could put
the country at risk. That amendment did not pass. But when you look at
other amendments, other efforts to try to approach that basic issue, do
you feel like, a, they have a prayer, and if they don‘t pass, whatever
passes are, we still fundamentally in danger if we don‘t have that?
KAUFMAN: Well, I‘m concerned about that. Let‘s wait and see what
happens. But clearly, when you have these massive banks, $2 trillion
banks, 63 of the largest banks, 63 percent of the gross domestic
product. When we have the top five banks in America being involved in
85 percent of the over counting derivatives and you look at what happen
with the derivatives in the past, then you look at this new charge which
I think was responsible partly May 6 which I‘ve been talking about in
quite a while now. This is computer, high frequency computer trades,
and they‘re we don‘t know what‘s happening, we have no idea in many
cases—we don‘t know the customer, the time of the trade, I‘ve been
calling for tag in the security exchange is looking at it.
But, you know, these are very risky things. And you know, we had—for
60 years, we had Glass-Steagall in place, which basically said, if you
want to be a commercial bank, that‘s great. But commercial banks should
be kind of lowest corporation, and then investment banks would be
involved in the risky things. And then as you know, we repealed Glass-
Steagall in 1999. I think that‘s a real cause of concern. I mean, for
all during the 19th century we had bank panics, we did up to 1929. We
put in Glass-Steagall, we said banks couldn‘t do that. The commercial
banks were going to be—places where you could take the money and know
it‘s going to be safe.
You didn‘t have to worry about runs on the bank because you had fdic
insurance to insure the banks. We pretty much settled that. Now, you
know, I am concerned that if you have these major, these very, very
large banks and they‘ve gotten larger and larger and larger, if you look
at their growth it‘s incredible, involved in these very risky things
like derivatives and high frequency trading, whatever new thing they
come up with, it‘s even more risky, I just am really concerned about
MADDOW: When you look back on the history of financial regulation,
talking about fdic, the runs on the banks and that no longer being an
American concern, when you look back at the history of that, this is one
of the things, the president has talked about. The banks cried bloody
murder when fdic went into effect. They said that was going to ruin the
industry, and of course, they‘re crying bloody murder right now, while
recognizing the public opinion is against them. How intense is the
lobbying effort against reform right now?
KAUFMAN: Well, it‘s not—I don‘t get much of it, I think I‘m, as you
know, Rachel, it‘s pretty clear where I‘m coming from. So, I really
haven‘t been lobbied that hard. I sat down with folks from the
administration on these issues. I sat down with Secretary Geithner and
Larry Summers and went through and spent some time talking through what
their proposals are. But it‘s been a very—in terms of me, it‘s been
a very kind of intellectual kind of discussion about what‘s going on. I
tried to keep it that way when I speak on the floor and while I speak
and write op-eds, and things like that. Just lay what the facts are on
this, what I think is going on, try to stay away from the emotional edge
Because really Rachel, the thing I‘m most concerned about is that our
financial markets still be the envy of the world. And that really is
one of the things that‘s made this country great is our financial
markets. And I‘m just afraid after what happened this last time and
then what happened on May 6th that people around the world are going to
say, you know, we really can‘t depend on American markets. That would
be an incredible blow for us coming out of this recession, if in fact,
our markets somehow deteriorating in terms of credibility.
MADDOW: Senator Ted Kaufman, Democrat of Delaware who‘s emerged as
a very, very clear voice and a big thinker on these issues. Sir, thank
you for your time tonight. I really appreciate it.
KAUFMAN: Great. Rachel, thanks for having me.
MADDOW: How should Democrats running this fall? Respond to Sarah
Palin‘s endorsement of Arizona‘s papers please law. Maybe just a simple
round of applause. Group fist bump? Giant drinks luge in the house
office buildings, maybe? Tomorrow‘s primaries and the increasingly
bright horizon for Democrats come November with Pennsylvania governor Ed
Rendell, just ahead. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: We‘re not even doing it sarcastically anymore. That‘s the real
deal. It‘s happening! Excuse me. Tomorrow, as you may have heard is
primary day in four states. Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Arkansas, and
Oregon. Although nobody‘s really talking about the primary in Oregon.
Outside of Oregon, no offense. According to the conventional wisdom of
the Beltway media, at least three of tomorrow‘s races will be measures
of voter discontent or voter on unrest, or may even affect the future of
the Obama White House. Really? Maybe. But what primaries are really
proven to be good at is faking being national bellwethers. Primaries
are not usually a good way to figure out who everyone in the nation is
going to vote for in November. But they can be fun to watch on their
Tomorrow, Pennsylvania‘s Democratic Senator primary will pit Congressman
Joe Sestak against Republican-turned-Democratic incumbent Senator Arlen
Specter. Very close, will be fun to watch. Arkansas‘ Democratic senate
primary is between incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln and challenger
Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter. Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter has
been a guest on this program. Senator Lincoln has not chosen to join
us, which we still regret. In Kentucky, the Republican senate primary
is Ron Paul‘s son, Rand Paul, who announced his candidacy here on this
program. He‘s facing off against Trey Grayson who might have been the
shoe in, in any other year.
He‘s the preferred candidate of the Republican establishment, including
Kentucky‘s other senator, Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. All
of those races are going to be very fun to watch on their own terms. A
lot of very interesting politicians there. But if you‘re looking for a
national bellwether, the one thing primaries are good at is measuring
how much enthusiasm there is in a particular voting population. Because
when one party‘s voters are more motivated to head to the polls on
primary day, it does stand to reason that they‘re also likely to turn
out in greater numbers in the general election. Motivation is the most
interesting thing to watch for tomorrow.
One primary candidate beating another doesn‘t tell you that much about
likely general election results in that jurisdiction. But primary
turnout figures can tell you about voter excitement. And voter
excitement can tell you about general election turnout. And that can
tell you who might actually win in November. I‘m so excited. We saw
this phenomenon in 2008, this predictive phenomenon, if one party turned
out in significantly higher numbers than the other party for the
primaries, there was a tendency for that party‘s candidate to win in the
general come November.
So all this to say, your wonky assignment tomorrow? Number crunching.
Close your ears when the pundits talk about the trends, and the
extrapolation and voter feelings. Pay attention to voter turnouts.
Keep your pencils sharp, keep that calculator humming and then come
November, everybody will have to show their work. To get started
tomorrow night, watch msnbc throughout the evening for live coverage of
the day‘s very exciting primary races including Oregon. For our part,
we will have results on the show at our regular time, 9:00 Eastern and
we will be on again live and super hyper at 11:00. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: Hey, Democrats. Sarah Palin just gave you a present.
It‘s from Arizona. And it‘s not turquoise. Pennsylvania Governor Ed
Rendell joins us next. Please stick around.
MADDOW: Former half term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is not an official
Republican Party spokesperson. That said, who is? The Republicans
really hanging on, say, Michael Steele‘s word more than they‘re hanging
on Sarah Palin‘s word when it comes to party leadership and politics?
These weekends, Republican giant celebrity Sarah Palin traveled to
Arizona to do some of her patented freelance Republican politicking and
she delivered a huge election year gift in Arizona to Democrats. Sarah
Palin lent her formidable attention getting skills to Arizona Governor
Jan Brewer at an event that was part campaign rally, part press
conference and all theatrics. Brewer and Palin unveiled Governor
Brewer‘s exciting new campaign website, securetheborder.org or you can
sign a petition in support of Arizona‘s draconian anti-immigration law.
To whom the petition will be delivered is anyone‘s guess. Then there
was this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, former Alaska governor: It‘s time for Americans across
this great country to stand up and say, we‘re all Arizonians now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sarah Palin‘s ecstatic endorsement of Arizona‘s papers please
law and the governor who signed it is a very exciting moment for
Democrats. Aligning it self-with anti-immigrant politics is the pothole
that Republican keeps breaking their axle on over and over and over
again. And the 2006 midterm election, you may recall congressional
Republicans had to somehow counter the ballooning un-popularity of
President Bush and the war in Iraq. Too much funfair, Republicans turn
to immigration, more specifically, anti-immigration politics. Democrats
in ‘06 ran against the Iraq war. Republicans in ‘06, many of them at
least, ran against immigrants. The result of the election?
Democrats took back control of the House and the senate for the first
time in a dozen years. Then of course, Republican fortune is reversed
in 2008 with the historic election of anti immigrant crusader, President
Tom Tancredo. President Tom Tancredo‘s vulnerable success as a single
issue politician—oh, I‘m sorry, that‘s not right. Terribly sorry for
the confusion there. Actually, Former Congressman Tom Tancredo who has
called immigrants a scourge, he actually did not become president. I
forgot I woke up from that dream. In fact, Tom Tancredo withdrew from
the race before the first caucus or primary even took place on the
Republican side. He ended his one issue campaign and he threw his
support behind Mitt Romney saying that he didn‘t want to split the
formidable anti-immigrant vote.
He thought Mitt Romney had sufficiently anti-immigrant policy positions
to win the presidency and Tom Tancredo wanted to get out of the way.
Mitt Romney of course, went on to also not win the Republican
nomination. “The New York Times” has done some good reporting on the
historical failure of anti-immigrant politics on the national level.
Republicans have been breaking their axle on this political pothole for
a very long time. In the 1850s, quote, “Anti-immigrant forces seemed as
if they might dominate the new Republican Party, but in the end, the
calmer voices of Abraham Lincoln and William Steward won the day.”
Sixty years later, a second wave of anti immigrant politics roared to
life, only to peter out with the election of Franklin Roosevelt running
on an anti-immigrant platform in 2006 did not prevent the Republicans
from losing control of the House and the Senate, it did not get Tom
Tancredo nor Mitt Romney, the Republican nomination in 2008, but gosh
darn it just because it keeps failing over and over and over again for
150 years doesn‘t mean some people won‘t keep insisting that it is a
clear path of the win column.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, “The O‘Reilly Factor” host: If 70 percent of the country
supports the Arizona law, according to the latest poll, 70 percent. If
the Obama administration sues Arizona, that‘s it for them, they are
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: They are going to have to learn that the
American people want action.
O‘REILLY: You think the critical mass has been reached?
DOBBS: I do and I believe, November is a pivotal election in this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You do, Lou? Really? What else do you think is pivotal?
Really? You think the whole country is just going to go with the anti-
immigrant thing, just like to happen? Really?
Joining us now is Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. Governor Rendell,
thank you very much for joining us this evening. Good to have you here.
GOVERNOR ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Nice to be here.
MADDOW: You hold statewide office now obviously in Pennsylvania,
you also once served as chairman of the Democratic Party. Knowing
national politics as you do, is my hypothesis right here that anti-
immigrant politics don‘t really work at the national level?
RENDELL: Of course not. The only people who vote on anti-immigration
politics are the people that are going to vote for the Republican Party
anyway, no matter what they do, people in the middle who may generally
agree with the law like the Arizona law, it is not the issue that is
going to motivate them. But for immigrants, particularly for Latinos,
since this bills was so pointedly targeting Latinos, they will vote on
that issue and they won‘t just vote on it in Arizona, they will vote on
it in Pennsylvania, they will vote on it in Florida, they will vote on
it in Colorado, places all over the country. That can be a disaster for
Republican senate candidates in the 2010 election.
I think the Republicans are making a mistake, Rachel, because they think
the economy is bad. Unemployment is high and people are really—in
those circumstances, they are whipped up to sort of making immigrants a
scape goat. That might work in a few isolated congressional districts,
but statewide, I would hate to be burdened with this, and I‘m a
statewide candidate in any state that has any sort of substantial Latino
population. Pennsylvania has got about 8, 8 ½ percent of our
electorate is Latino, I wouldn‘t want to be Pat Toomey running in this
election, because those Latino voters are coming out, and they‘re coming
out and they‘re casting their votes on one issue, the Republican party‘s
clear anti-immigration stance.
MADDOW: Politically, I know that Republicans stepping in it and making
big unforced errors is music to your ears, but Democrats still in a
governing sense have to decide how to respond to these things. I know
the Pennsylvania is one of the states were sort of copycat legislation
has been pursued in the state legislature if that reaches your desk, are
you going to vetoed it?
RENDELL: As I‘ve already said, I was asked very early when that
legislation was put on the floor of the house vote, I do when I say, I
vetoed it, and of course, as a result it is going no were. I wanted to
sort of take it out of the partisan politics that envelopes Harrisburg,
we have enough serious issues with our budget deficit and transportation
issues, I wanted to sort of clear the decks. But again, Pat Toomey and
even the gubernatorial candidate, it is a tough issue because the people
who are motivated to vote by that stance, by the Sarah Palin view, they
are voting for Republicans, come heck or high water, no ifs, ands and
buts about it. But Latinos as we know, from majority—president could
be persuaded or could have been persuaded to support Republican
candidates. I don‘t think in 2010.
MADDOW: When I look ahead to the races tomorrow obviously, Pennsylvania
senate primary one of the most closely watched races tomorrow. As you
deluded Pat Toomey likely to be the Republican candidate. The race
between Sestak and Specter tomorrow, decide who will be the Democratic
candidate, I know you‘re supporter of our Senator Specter‘s, but when
you look at the large picture tomorrow in terms of those primaries, in
Pennsylvania and another states, is there a bellwether to watch for?
I‘m going to be watching for turnout to see about voter enthusiasm.
What are you going to be watching with for?
RENDELL: Yes, I think that‘s right. But the turnout has to be
balanced. For example, there are a much of a race in the Republican
side for senate in Pennsylvania for senator or governor, the two
candidate, endorsed candidates are overwhelming favorites. So, you
can‘t gauge what would be a turnout on the Republican side against the
Specter/Sestak race, which has been just, you know, has become the eye
of the national attention. So, that—but in states where they are
equally vigorous primaries, I think your analysis is exactly correct,
look at who—which voters turn out to the greatest degree, that a
little bit of a bellwether. But also the bellwether on the generic
congressional vote, I think is an important bellwether, in the last two,
two and a half weeks or so three weeks, it has turned around
dramatically for Democrats and I think that is tracking the good
economic news of the last two months.
And I think if that economic news continues, I think people are going to
be awfully surprised about how well Democrats are going to do,
particularly if we stand up and talk about the fact that the stimulus
has worked. There‘s no question it worked. In Pennsylvania, I got my
report from my Department of Labor on March 30th, there were 25,558
people working in jobs, solely funded by stimulus dollars, solely funded
by stimulus dollars, and in my budget, $2.5 billion of the $28 billion
Rachel is stimulus money. Without it, we had to lay off between another
20 to 25,000 jobs. So, stimulus has saved or created 45,000 jobs in
Pennsylvania, for sure. And that is not even talking about the jobs
back in the factories.
MADDOW: Governor, the Democratic candidates right now are all fixed—
trying to figure out how they are going to run, not only for primaries
before November. If they have a choice between running on a definition
of the Democratic record, as you just described or defining the
Republican position, making things not a referendum but a choice between
two different distinct choices, which should they pick?
RENDELL: They should pick the latter. Unfortunately, I think our
record is terrific but it has been spun so effectively by the
Republicans and by a lot of the media that I don‘t think people
appreciate yet, although appreciation for the stimulus is growing.
Appreciation for health care grows literally a little bit each week when
more and more news about health care reform comes out. But I think the
Republicans have put themselves in such a corner with some of their
extreme positions that I would, first and foremost, emphasize the
choice, emphasize what people are getting if they vote Republican.
If you noticed, the Republican brand has never been strong throughout
this whole year. It has only been sort of anti-Democrat. Now, as the
economy improves, we have had two pretty good job-producing months. As
the economy improves, I think the Democratic brand would get a little
better. But I would, first and foremost, make the choice pretty obvious
and clear to voters.
MADDOW: Governor Ed Rendell, Democrat of Pennsylvania, thanks for
joining us this evening sir. We appreciate it.
RENDELL: Thanks Rachel.
MADDOW: We will be right back.
MADDOW: Primary night, tomorrow night. We will see you then.
“Countdown” starts right now.
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MAY BE UPDATED.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any
trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>