The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/28/10
KEITH OLBERMANN, “COUNTDOWN” HOST: And now, joined by the filmmaker Michael Moore, ladies and gentlemen, live from—here?
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Here!
OLBERMANN: Ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.
Good evening, Rachel.
MADDOW: Good evening, Keith. That is incredible news about the Florida Senate race. I mean, that interview with Charlie Crist having Mr. Meek on hand to talk to, plus all of that reporting on those negotiations, this is very—very, very interesting.
OLBERMANN: Yes. And it just it flew pretty quickly and continues and we‘ll see how it goes and plays tomorrow, and we‘ll have Mr. Meek on tomorrow night.
MADDOW: Indeed. Thanks, Keith. Appreciate it.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
Five days, five days, five says until this years extra high stakes elections and thanks to jet propulsion and the Bernoulli effect, we are back in New York City, our home studio, tonight.
We will be joined tonight by Michael Moore.
Also, we‘ve got a special, exclusive report tonight from NBC‘s Richard Engel on something that is going on with the military‘s “don‘t ask, don‘t tell policy.” It‘s something that nobody else has reported. But we will, with Richard tonight.
Plus, there will be some costumes on tonight‘s RACHEL MADDOW SHOW and not the Halloween variety because Halloween, frankly, it‘s too easy.
It‘s all coming up.
But, first, we are now five days out from this year‘s elections. So, Democrats and Republicans are making their closing arguments to the country about what the country should do next. Because in the 2006 elections, Democrats picked up 31 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate. In the 2008 elections, Democrats again picked 21 seats in the House and eight seats in the Senate.
So, what happens next, electorally speaking, seems pretty clear. The pendulum is expected to swing back at least some of the way. Republicans widely expected to reclaim many of the seats that they lost in the last two elections, which were both Democratic landslides.
So, now, for these elections, the two parties are making their case for how the country should run from here on out, with a Democratic president still in office but with likely more Republicans in Congress than are there now.
And there is nothing that divides Democrats and Republicans more sharply right now than their view of what happens next in American politics. There is nothing also that shows the Democrats‘ denial about what Republicans are planning for the next chapter of American politics than each party‘s view of what happens next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I think we have to work as a country. I don‘t think we can work as political parties. I think we have to work together. Legislation is the art of compromise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: This is not a time for compromise. And I can tell you, Sean, that we will not compromise on our principles and we will not compromise on the will of the American people.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Tada! Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, first there, explaining on this show last night that compromise is the name of the game going forward. That compromise should define American politics after this year‘s elections. That‘s the view from the Democrats. Compromise is how you get stuff done.
And as you heard from Republican House minority leader, John Boehner -
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BOEHNER: This is not the time for compromise.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is not a time for compromise. This is what‘s happening between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. We are five days out from the elections. And Republicans are saying exactly what they‘re going to do if America votes for them, exactly what they‘re going to do if and when they take control of Congress. Republicans are saying exactly what they‘re going to do and Democrats do not believe it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope that my friends on the other side of the aisle are going to change their minds going forward, because putting the American people back to work, boosting our small businesses, rebuilding the economic security of the middle class—these are big national challenges and we‘ve all got a stake in solving them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: All got a stake in solving those problems. I expect Republicans to join us in solving those problems—right, Republicans?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE PENCE ®, INDIANA: There will be no compromise on ending this era of runaway spending, deficits and debt, no compromise on repealing Obamacare, lock, stock and barrel. There will be no compromise on defending the broad mainstream values of the American people and the way that we spend the people‘s money at home and abroad. On spending and taxes and values, there will be no compromise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There will be no compromise. That‘s what Republicans are saying over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. It is not, however, what Democrats are hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REPORTER: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calls next week‘s election the first step in retaking the government. Over the next two years, he says, quote, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
REID: I think there will be an effort to work together. I‘ve spoken to Mitch McConnell before we left. And I think there will be an effort to work more closely together.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: No, no, no, no, no. Really, that is not what Mitch McConnell is saying at all, I promise.
Here‘s what Vice President Joe Biden told “Bloomberg‘s” Al Hunt last week. Mr. Biden said, quote, “I think we‘re open to speaking to the Republicans. Compromise is always possible.”
You hear that? Compromise is always possible.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PENCE: Look, there will be no compromise on stopping runaway spending, deficits and debt. There will be no compromise on repealing Obamacare. There will be no compromise on stopping Democrats from growing government and raising taxes. If I hadn‘t been clear enough yet, let me say again: No compromise.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: It is one thing for Democrats and Republicans to disagree on whether or not there ought to be compromise in politics, whether or not there ought to be bipartisanship, whether or not the parties ought to work together toward common national goals. That would be one thing.
But what is going on here is that Democrats believe that Republicans are going to do something that Republicans say emphatically they are not going to do. This is not that Democrats think Republicans ought to compromise. It‘s that Democrats for some reason think that Republicans will.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PENCE: If I hadn‘t been clear enough yet, let me say again: No compromise.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Right. Why do Democrats think that Republicans do not mean this when they say it?
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OBAMA: My expectation is that Republicans, should they win additional seats, should they be in a position to hopefully take more responsibility working with us, are going to say to themselves that it‘s important for us to show some accomplishments over the next couple of years.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: The administration and Democrats this year keep insisting after these elections are over, Republicans will come to Washington with an eye toward taking responsibility for governing, doing what‘s best for the country.
Republicans themselves are insisting that is not the case. They say they are coming to Washington with one mission and one mission only: To destroy the presidency of Barack Obama, to make sure that it—to make sure that it fails so that Barack Obama only serves one term in office. That is their goal.
When Democrats look at Republicans who are poised to pick up more seats in Washington, they see potential partners in governing. What Republicans themselves say they are doing is coming to Washington to destroy the Democratic presidency, period, full stop. What Republicans themselves say they are doing is coming it to Washington to prevent any compromises with Democrats, period, full stop.
Democrats think we‘re all on this nice morning commute to work together. Republicans are here for a demolition derby.
What is it about Republican plans for Washington this year that Democrats do not understand? And perhaps more importantly, if Democrats did understand it, if they did believe Republicans when Republicans say what they‘re coming to Washington to do, if Democrats did get it, how would they be running against the Republicans differently now five days out from elections?
Joining us now is David Weigel. He‘s an MSNBC contributor and a Slate political reporter.
David, it‘s good to see you again. Thanks for being here.
DAVID WEIGEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good to see you. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Why do Democrats believe that Republicans will work with them and compromise on legislation even as Republicans say they definitely will not do that?
WEIGEL: You know, I‘d like to think they‘re not that naive. There is a moment in politics when a party says something it doesn‘t really mean. I like to call that moment all the time.
But I sometimes feel that Democrats speak in sound bites that sound good in NPR or something. And Republicans speak in sound bites that will sound good at a Tea Party or at a town hall, because what Republicans are doing is reacting. They‘re being led by their base.
I was driving around Wisconsin early this week covering those campaigns, and Rush Limbaugh was saying, “These guys on TV who are saying Republicans some compromise, it‘s a trick to get you to stop voting.” What he was doing is egging on people to demand that Republicans—any time they‘re asked about this—are completely—you know, once more into the breach, completely unforgiving on anything. And this is where you hear Mike Pence talking.
I mean, remember, my favorite analogy to the election is that it was the Tea Party movement that came up with the Republican contract before Republicans did. You know, they‘re just leading the Tea Party lead them. Democrats are being led by—I‘m not quite sure. Maybe you can answer that.
MADDOW: Do you foresee Democrats trying to use these “no compromise” pledges against conservatives who are elected this year? Do you foresee Democrats being able to back conservative candidates into uncomfortable votes that splits them from this base and from the talk radio world that is demanding they be pure as the ideological driven snow?
WEIGEL: Oh, that‘s their hope. And their hope is that this worked in the past, and that the current class of Republicans have a sort of alternate version of history in mind. They think that in 1995, they basically either won the government shutdown or they could have won it if they‘d been more resilient. And that this time, if they shut down the government, over anything, over Medicare, over Obamacare, whatever the case, they‘re going to win it and the country will be on their side.
You know, it‘s actually—I like paying attention to the guys who are already going—who are definitely going to win, like Mike Lee, who‘s running for Senate in Utah. I apologize to the Democrat there, but this Republican is likely to win. He was promising that he wants to see a vote on a balanced budget this year, which would mean a 40 percent budget cut and thinks Republicans could win a fight on that.
Democrats are convinced they could win a fight like that. But I mean, I think they‘re already thinking too strategically when their problem this election and next election is that the party is pretty lousy. And if the party is—if the party in opposition is so uncompromising, doesn‘t want to spend any stimulative money and wants to cut taxes in a way that your economists don‘t think will work, I don‘t—I can see how you can beat them politically. I don‘t see how that‘s going to be good for the country or the economy.
MADDOW: Well, the way I see it, Dave—the way I see, particularly going to Alaska and going to Nevada, trying to look at these races up close like we‘ve done recently, is that the conservative movement is always trying to purify the Republican Party. It‘s their constant project, to push the party ideologically further to the right.
And when the Republican Party is strong, it can sort of more or less ignore the conservative movement. But when the Republican Party is weak, the movement takes over. So, we‘ve got a movement takeover now of the GOP. And because it is the movement calling the shots, not the Republican Party, there‘s really no practical plan for how to govern. There are sound bites for opposition type candidates and for campaigning and for rallying, but there isn‘t really a practical plan for how to govern.
Does that—I mean, you‘re much closer to the conservative movement in your reporting than I am. Does that seem like what‘s going on to you?
WEIGEL: A little bit. And that‘s a worry that some people have if the Republicans win, as the movement really expects to win. You played a bit of John Boehner‘s interview on “Sean Hannity.” What Boehner said at another point in the interview is that he wants to have an up-or-down vote on restoring Medicare funding, on increasing Medicare funding, because the Republican strategists, like Boehner, I think, like the guys who are responsible for the strategy that, you know, because the economy is bad, let them win the House, realize there is some big government programs that are really popular and they‘re not going to win by attacking them.
They‘re not quite sure yet. They‘re very excited about this new crop of conservatives. They‘re not quite sure about how you to adapt. And I think the hope—let‘s be honest, the blunt hope is that in the Senate, as Mitch McConnell said, it doesn‘t matter if you have five new Jim DeMints or five new Olympia Snowes, every person you add to Mitch McConnell‘s caucus means they feel like to vote for a filibuster.
They‘re going to—we‘re going to have high-minded debates about this, but they‘re going to stop whatever they want. And if all they care about is stopping things, they can do that. I mean, the way our system has evolved, a party can stop whatever it wants without an explanation, without an alternative plan.
You know, look at the last couple of years. The House basically passed an ideal Democratic agenda, but it‘s been gummed up in the Senate. And liberals are going to be punished for it.
You know, the same thing here. I mean, Republicans don‘t really need to do a lot. If they‘re serious about waiting out this election, they‘re serious about, I think, you know, the national focus turning to what their presidential candidates are promising, then they can really gum up the works and get away with it.
I mean, the only thing that matters is whether the economy recovers or whether they basically aid the country in remaining in a rut or going into a double dip. If that‘s the case, they win. And it‘s cynical, but that‘s politics right now.
MADDOW: The incentives are to trash the country for political gain and the capacity is there to trash the country for political gain.
Dave Weigel, MSNBC contributor, “Slate” political reporter—it‘s nice to see you again, Dave. Thanks for being here.
WEIGEL: Thank you.
MADDOW: So “The Interview” tonight, just a few minutes, is Michael Moore, very much looking forward to that.
And we also, tonight, will be focusing on the total wussy return of “God, guns and gays” politics 21st-century style. That is all still to come.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Still ahead on “The Interview” tonight, Michael Moore will be right here in the studio—very much looking forward to that.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: Around here, we count down the hours until Election Day like it‘s Christmas. And we‘re all 9-year-olds. And we‘re all gentiles.
So, we are five days out now from Christmas—I mean, the elections.
Where do we stand?
Well, on our trip to Las Vegas yesterday, we were able to talk to Senator Harry Reid, which is something that I‘m guessing the majority leader doesn‘t like to do very much.
It is also likely something we would never otherwise have been allowed to do this close to an election. Why is that? Well, not only is that race close, but recent polls suggest that the Republican in the race, Sharron Angle, is doing well. She is up four points on Senator Reid in this week‘s CNN/”TIME” poll. That means, if you can imagine it, she might actually be Senator Angle.
In Colorado, the race seems to be tightening and it‘s considered now a virtual toss-up. The Republican Ken Buck up by only one in the latest CNN/”TIME” poll. Earlier this month, Mr. Buck had been leading by as many as eight points.
In Kentucky, Republican Rand Paul appears to be building his lead, now up by seven in today‘s CNN/”TIME” poll. That same poll last month had the race tied.
Republican Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania is again leading over Joe Sestak. For a time this month, Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak had been making the race a toss-up. Mr. Toomey now up by four, according to CNN/”TIME.” By seven if you look at Franklin & Marshall.
The Democratic governor of West Virginia, Joe Manchin, appears to be building his lead in the Senate race there. In this week‘s PPP poll, he is now up by six over part-time resident and Republican John Raese. Earlier this month, that race was tied.
In California, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer seems to be maintaining her lead over former HP executive, Carly Fiorina. Boxer up five points in the CNN/”TIME” poll.
In Connecticut, where voting itself promises to be a lot more colorful on Tuesday—more on that in a moment—in the Senate race there, Democrat Richard Blumenthal appears to be holding a solid lead over Linda McMahon, now at eight points in the Capital Report poll. Quinnipiac has Mr. Blumenthal up by 12.
There is one very notable exception to how close many of these races are in these last few days before the elections. In Delaware, the perpetual Senate candidate Christine O‘Donnell had been trailing Democrat Chris Coons by 18 or 19 points, depending on where you look. Now, Chris Coons is leading by 21 points in the new Farleigh Dickson poll. Twenty-one?
Honestly though, I kid you not, I keep having dreams that Christine O‘Donnell wins that race. It‘s spooky, not kidding, multiple times.
The only numbers that really matter—dreams or not—will be parsed here at our Decision 2010 desk on Tuesday night. We are already fully ramped up for our coverage. And it‘s very exciting. It promises to be a long election night, a terrifically exciting one.
One very specific programming note for you: Sunday night, this Sunday, October 31st, Halloween, MSNBC‘s blanket coverage of this year‘s elections begins. This Sunday night, we here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW will be live, yes, on Sunday night, live at our regular time, 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
We hope you‘ll be with us for more full-on election coverage on Sunday night and on Monday night and all the way through the week because Tuesday is the end of something important. But it is the beginning of something else really important.
Frankly, we can‘t wait. Five days to go. Only five days to go.
MADDOW: For the first time in this election campaign and maybe for the first time in any election campaign, a political ad is being run, but deliberately it is being run only after 10:00 p.m., because the people who made the ad are concerned that it will scare children if kids see it. The ad was made purely from the video of a nauseating incident which I‘m sure you have heard by now happened before Monday‘s Senate debate in Kentucky.
Lauren Valle, a MoveOn.org activist suffered a concussion when she was pulled to the ground and stomped on by supporters of Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul. Now, the Rand Paul campaign condemned the incident, immediately cut ties with Tim Profitt, who‘s the Rand Paul county coordinator for the campaign. He admitted to stomping on Ms. Valle.
The Rand Paul campaign also said that they would return about $2,000 of campaign donations from Mr. Profitt. Yesterday, the Paul campaign, though, changed its mind and said they decided to keep his donations. That apparently was the last straw for the Kentucky Democratic Party.
Even if you have seen the original footage that we just showed you, I personally understand the Democratic Party‘s 10:00 p.m. decision thing. It is one thing to see the original footage that is based on. It is quite another to see it repeated again and again and again. But they do it to make a very blunt point.
As you saw, the ad refers to the, quote, “Rand Paul stomp” as a metaphor for the candidate‘s position, saying that Rand Paul will end student loans. He will end mine safety laws. He will end breast cancer research. He will end protections for the disabled.
He will dump the Civil Rights Act. He will institute a $2,000 Medicare deductible. He will pay—he will want people to pay a 23 percent sales tax on everything.
The ad concludes by saying that Rand Paul is, quote, “stomping on you, stomping on Kentucky.”
If you want to see the full minute-long ad for yourself, we have post it on our blog, maddowblog@MSNBC.com. I actually do not recommend it for young audiences.
Joining us is now for “The Interview” is the man who is no stranger to political messages and the power of the visual image, filmmaker Michael Moore.
Michael, it‘s really good to see you. Thank you for coming in.
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: It‘s good to see you.
MADDOW: Do you agree with the Kentucky Democrats turning this brutal incident outside that campaign event into a broader metaphor for what‘s going on in politics?
MOORE: Well, yes. I mean, I think it is—it‘s definitely—it‘s not one of those figurative metaphors. It‘s a literal one.
MOORE: I mean, that wasn‘t just some schmoe out there, that was county chair, as you said, of one of his—part of his campaign, doing this. I think—I think it‘s good for people to see. I agree, the repeating of it, especially putting it in an advertisement, I—it was a little—it‘s like you were wishing Don Draper could just maybe step in and tinker with this a little bit.
MADDOW: It‘s upsetting. I have a low tolerance for violence anyway, but it‘s upsetting.
MOORE: They never would have made an ad of somebody kicking a dog over and over. If it‘s a woman, you know—I mean, you know, that‘s the sad part of it, right? And that‘s the level of the image. But set that aside. I mean, this is a video operation in Kentucky making ads. And the larger point—it‘s so good to see Democrats just coming out and saying, just exactly what‘s going on here—
MOORE: – which is if you want to get a little taste of what is ahead after Tuesday, if they win, here you go.
MADDOW: The implicit message being, yes, this is hard to see and this is going to be hard to take.
MOORE: Right. And it‘s going to be far worse than what happened to her.
MOORE: And it was interesting. She was there performing a work of satire. I mean, she was there as part of a pretend group called the Republic Corp party, the merging of the Republicans and corporate America, supporter. She was holding a pro-Paul Rand sign.
MOORE: But, clearly, they didn‘t get the joke.
MADDOW: No, they did not.
Well, you know, the man who admits to doing this, has said now that he wants an apology from the woman he admits to assaulting. Some conservatives have been attacking the victim in this case, saying she essentially deserved it because of that activism, because she was there to try to get a picture of Rand Paul with this sign that she had.
Is—because of the partisan—because of the partisan climate right now, as people take the side of the guy who stomped on this woman, is that mainstreaming violence?
MOORE: Yes. That‘s exactly what‘s going on.
But we‘ve been mainstreaming violence for the last nine years.
MOORE: We‘re involved in these two wars where we keep losing kids every day of the week over there. We‘re a violent county.
Last month, there were big stories about the stoning of the woman in Iran. I think the statistic is there‘s a woman killed in this country once every 75 minutes, mostly, usually by a boyfriend, husband, ex-husband, ex-boyfriend, somebody she knows.
We‘re violent people. I don‘t know—
MOORE: – this is something that‘s been bothersome to me. I made, you know, “Bowling for Columbine.” I mean, I‘m just trying to figure out why is it, because countries like Canada have more gun o their home actually per capita than we do. And yet, they only kill 100 or 200 of each other every year and we killed thousands.
MADDOW: And we end up having this debate about what goes too far and what‘s an inappropriate metaphor and what‘s appropriate hyperbole in our political language. Whether or not - I guess by mainstream violence, specifically, what we‘re considering is whether or not it‘s OK to leave politics behind and instead settle our political differences by violence.
That‘s why I think the Sharron Angle Second Amendment remedies thing isn‘t just one of the kooky things among many that she said.
MOORE: But they talk this way all the time. I mean, I‘m sure you‘ve been a victim of this on the Internet where they talk about you. It wasn‘t lost upon a lot of people, if I may say this, that - you know, there were a number of people there protesting at that Kentucky event. They went after a certain person and threw her to the ground. Why her? It was just - it just - you know, when I was growing up you, it was like grab the hippie.
MOORE: If you were down south, it was grab the black guy. This young girl - what that represents, I think, they‘re afraid of this younger generation, because young kids - they‘re not the bigots their parents and grandparents were. They don‘t have this homophobic thing that just seems to, you know, occupy the brains of older people in some weird way.
So I think that - I mean, I have some hope. I mean, I think I‘m hoping that young people, you know, will be able to sort of rise up and fix this. I know it‘s - listen, I‘ve been - I mean, Glenn Beck on the air called - I don‘t even want to repeat it.
MADDOW: Fantasized about killing you. Fantasized about doing violence to you. It‘s unbelievable.
MOORE: That is correct. And as Bill O‘Reilly one night said - he said he didn‘t believe in the death penalty except for Michael Moore. Bill O‘Reilly said that the night after the Janet Jackson incident at the Super Bowl, CBS was fined, you know, I don‘t - $500,000, $1 million - I can‘t remember what the amount was.
The next day, Bill O‘Reilly essentially calls for violence to be done to me. And nothing - the FCC, nothing. You can say that now on TV and you can become successful, preaching violence and preaching hate.
We‘re going to enter a very scary time and I would say this to anybody listening. I know - listen, I‘ve said this on your show. You‘ve said it. We all have our concerns about the Democrats. They haven‘t done the job they were sent there to do.
But boy, I‘ll tell you, if we don‘t get on the phones and call people, everybody should get out their address book and just send a reminder to everybody to be sure to vote on Tuesday.
I‘m still hanging onto this belief, when people go in that booth, they‘re going to be mad at Obama. They‘re going to be mad at the Democrats. You know, things haven‘t changed. People still aren‘t working. They‘ve been out of work for two years. Their houses are getting foreclosed.
But when they enter that booth and the curtain closes, they look at that Republican name - I think a lot of people are just going to go - I remember what those eight years were like.
MOORE: So, OK, I‘m if going to grit and I‘m going to vote - I‘ll give the Democrats two more years.
MOORE: And I think - and that‘s what I would really ask your relatives who are on the fence or whatever, friends of yours. Just say, look, two years isn‘t enough time for the huge mess that was created. Let‘s give them two more years. Then we can deal with it if they haven‘t, you know, done the job they were sent there to do.
MADDOW: Michael Moore, it is always such a pleasure to have you here.
I really enjoy talking with you and I really enjoy you being here.
MOORE: No, no. Thank you. Thank you for everything you do.
MADDOW: There is some exclusive reporting tonight that we‘ve got for you about the military‘s “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” policy. The story is about to move forward, thanks to NBC‘s Richard Engel. Richard joins us for that, next.
MADDOW: Let‘s say Republicans pick up some seats in Congress on Tuesday. Who here thinks they‘re going want to work with Democrats to get lots of constructive stuff done for the country during the lame duck period after the election?
Who here thinks Republicans are going to be in a compromising mood? Who here thinks Republicans are going to want to take a softer line on things they have previously dug in their heels about? Anybody? Anybody want to bet? No?
Actually, we do have a taker on this one. The taker is the White House. The Obama administration believing, at least according to what they say, that the Senate will vote after the elections to allow the military to repeal “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell,” even though Senate Republicans blocked the whole Defense Authorization Bill to stop that from happening just five weeks ago.
The military is due on December 1st to release its own study on how a repeal of “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” would work in the armed forces. What the Senate would be voting on is whether the military would be allowed to repeal the policy after the study comes out and president and the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint-chiefs certify its findings.
Tonight, some exclusive reporting from NBC News chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, on what that Defense Department study on “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” is going to say. Richard, thanks very much for joining us.
RICHARD ENGEL, CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: It‘s my
pleasure. I know this is a story you‘ve spent a lot of time covering -
ENGEL: And is very near and dear to you. So when I had the story, you were the first person I wanted to tell it about.
MADDOW: Thank you. Well, you know, the study is expected to have a huge political impact. What have you learned that it is going to say?
ENGEL: OK. So obviously, as you and your viewers know very well, there are several processes going on right now. There are the legal battles over “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.” Should it be implemented to stay? That‘s one process that is one process going on.
Simultaneously, the U.S. military is doing this feasibility study. What would happen to the military as an institution if the legislation was overturned and “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” is no longer the case and you can be openly gay in the military?
So part of this study, the core, really, is a survey asking soldiers how would they react. What would you do if you were told suddenly your commanding officer is gay? Would you follow orders? Would you take a shower? What about your subordinate, someone you give orders to?
A variety of questions. There were actually two separate surveys
one that was carried out by - with the Rand Corporation.
ENGEL: And these surveys, which were quite extensive. Would you move off a base if you found out your neighbor was openly gay and there was a gay couple next to you?
The findings are for most soldiers, and this is not the sum total of all soldiers - it wasn‘t that big of a deal. And the answers were - there were four types of answers that the military were looking for in these kind of questions.
The first to all of those issues, the sensitivities, the first answer was, how would you react? Well, it‘s really not that big of a deal.
ENGEL: That was one type of answer. Second type of answer they were looking for -0- and these are types of answers to various questions.
Second type of answer was, well, it‘s not that big of a deal. I‘m a little uncomfortable with the fact. But if I have a question about how this impacts our relationship - I have a commanding officer and he‘s gay and I don‘t know what that means. I‘ll go straight to that person and deal with it.
So the first answer, I don‘t care. The second answer, there‘s something I don‘t quite get. I‘m going to address that directly with the individual, not raise it up the chain of command.
The third is, I‘m uncomfortable with this. I don‘t want to go to
the person. I want to go with a third party and raise it with my
commanding officer or chaplain - somebody else -
ENGEL: Which starts a procedure, being like going to HR in your company. So the first thing is, I don‘t care. The second person is, I have, you know, an issue but I will deal with the person. The third is I‘m going to go to HR.
And the fourth is, I hate it. I hate it. I can‘t stand with this - you know, very negative answer. The majority - number one answer.
First answer was I don‘t care. That‘s significant. That‘s the most common
MADDOW: OK. OK. The predominant answer is no big deal.
ENGEL: Most common - number one. Number two was, I would deal it - deal directly with the person involved.
ENGEL: So when you put the two of those together, it is the majority. Now, there were some people who said, three, they would go to the chain of command and some four, who hated it, hated it. But the answers one and two are considered positive.
ENGEL: So these studies show a relative, if not positive, outlook, at least an accepting outlook.
MADDOW: And so the military study is - as you said, the survey of the
troops is part of it. It‘s an overall study of the feasibility of the
issue. But at least in terms of this study, the survey of the troops, what
you‘ve learned is that a majority troops - it‘s not going to be a major -
ENGEL: A deal breaker. They‘re not going to be running from the army in droves. A lot of things - a key thing that this study kept coming back to is that it‘s very important about the chain of command, what commanders say, how commanders act, what tone they set.
The Marines were the most negative out of the services. They had the most people who were - with negative responses. And the Marine Corps leadership has taken a stance and has been very vocally against this issue. And the study found that most soldiers and sailors and all different service members follow a chain of command.
ENGEL: So if the chain of command accepts this as the law, the data is that so with the soldiers.
MADDOW: It doesn‘t tell us the full picture of what the military is going to say in the December 1st report. But it tells us what‘s going to be viewed, certainly, politically, as one of the most important components. Fascinating stuff.
ENGEL: Thank you. I would say the most sensitive thing is also about, you know, showers and what happens. And that‘s obviously - as a gut response. But as of right now, a lot of people are asking, are there going to be separate showers for men and women and gay men?
ENGEL: And someone I - a senior source said, that‘s not even being discussed.
MADDOW: Yes. It would be - in my opinion, that would be patently ridiculous, but of course, it‘s part of the political debate at this point.
Richard Engel NBC News chief foreign correspondent with a scoop on this for us, thanks a lot.
ENGEL: It‘s my pleasure.
MADDOW: I really appreciate it. I mean, if you find out anything
ENGEL: All right. I‘ll let you know.
MADDOW: Among the more energizing experiences on our trip to Alaska this week was my race-walking interview with Republican Senate nominee and Tea Party devotee, Joe Miller. Just getting the interview, the crowd of people, the amazing camera crew walking backwards for seven minutes, the whole thing.
And on top of that physical experience and what it looked like and felt like, Joe Miller‘s answers revealed and crystallized one of the major totally overlooked components of this year‘s extreme right-wing pitch to voters. You will see what I mean in scary detail in just a moment.
MADDOW: A bit of breaking news to bring you out of the Senate race in Florida. Kendrick Meek, the Democrat in the race, is holding a press conference in Miami right now. He has just announced that he will be staying in the race until polls close on Tuesday.
Why the urgent press conference? Well, earlier tonight, the Meek campaign released a statement denying the report that he was considering dropping out, a report that he had been pressured to drop out former President Bill Clinton had asked him to in an apparent effort to boost the chances of the Independent candidate, Gov. Charlie Crist, against Tea Party Republican Marco Rubio.
The latest numbers have Mr. Meek polling at about 15 percent in a three-way race; Mr. Crist trailing Republican Marco Rubio by seven, 42 to 35. But again, tonight‘s insistent breaking news from Florida. Democrat Kendrick Meek says he will not be dropping out of that race despite what you might have heard. We‘ll be right back.
MADDOW: It is five days from Election Day. I‘ve just returned from some of the big battleground states and here‘s what seems to be going on, on the right that the beltway media has not figured out is going on, on the right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(on camera): Does anybody want to tell me why you guys support Joe Miller, what it is you like about him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pro life.
MADDOW: Pro life?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In case that was hard to understand, in response to my opening question about why they were supporting Joe Miller, one of his supporters responded by yelling with a lot of enthusiasm, “Pro life!” Joe Miller is pro life, volunteering to me that abortion is her motivation for supporting Joe Miller.
That same Miller supporters also volunteered to me that they support Mr. Miller because of a perceived threat to their gun rights, although they could not identify what exactly that threat was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(on camera) Good luck, you guys.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Eric Holder and we disagree with that.
MADDOW: She what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She voted to confirm Eric Holder.
MADDOW: Why are you against that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he‘s the most anti-gun attorney general this country has ever had.
MADDOW: What‘s he done against guns?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, at this point, it‘s what hasn‘t he done
against guns? Let‘s ask that question. Let‘s look at his voting record
beforehand. I‘m sure you guys -
MADDOW: Eric Holder wasn‘t an elected official.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I‘m asking is look at what his record is with
Obama then. Look at what he‘s -
MADDOW: What‘s he done on guns that you‘re upset about, though?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, I don‘t know enough about him to answer that truthfully right now.
MADDOW: Can I just ask why you‘re upset about Eric Holder?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because he‘s anti-gun.
MADDOW: What has he done that‘s anti-gun?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don‘t know have the facts, but I know that he is anti-gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is not with the national narrative about what‘s going on in these elections - says is going on in these elections. But everywhere you look, if you care to look, you‘ll find that it‘s ‘90s-style social wedge issues that are driving all these hard-right conservative campaigns this year. If you ask the candidates themselves, their enthusiasm on those issues is obvious as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you feel about abortion? Are you for abortion, against abortion - are you for it? In what instances would you allow for abortion?
KEN BUCK ®, CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN COLORADO: I‘m pro life, and I‘ll answer the next question. I don‘t believe in the exceptions of rape or incest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Colorado‘s Republican Senate candidate, Ken Buck, not even waiting for the follow-up questions, seizing the opportunity and volunteering how hard line his position is on criminalizing abortion.
Also, in my bizarre fast motion, steeple-chase interview with Joe Miller in Anchorage, I asked him an open question about how important social issues are in his campaign. I did not ask him specifically about his views on abortion, but he went right to it and volunteered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(on camera) So I was talking with your supporters since I‘ve been here. One of the things that I did not know to expect before I got here is how important social issues are to them. You really run against a Constitutional conservative, fiscal conservative.
People keep raising the issue of abortion, marriage, other social issues that (UNINTELLIGIBLE). How central are those to your campaign in your view?
JOE MILLER ®, CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN ALASKA: I think the life issues are very important. You know, I believe in defending innocent life. I‘m a pro-life candidate and the only pro-life candidate in this race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The coat of paint that‘s been put over conservative politics this year is that it‘s all about small government. And I understand that‘s an appealing message. If I were the conservative movement choosing an attractive branding strategy for this year, that‘s probably what I would choose, too. It sounds great.
But quite literally, one follow-up question was all it takes to show that the small government libertarian impulse, devolve everything to the states theme this year is just messaging. It is not really what these candidates are offering.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(on camera) In terms of gay rights issues, there‘s a man in your campaign payroll who runs a Web site called “HopeForHomosexuals.com.” Do you - his name is Terry Moffett. Do you agree with him that homosexuality can be changed, can be cured?
MILLER: Our perspective, and we answered this question before, is that really, it‘s a state issue. As to how those issues want to be resolved, it should be handled at the state level.
MADDOW: Do you think there should be a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?
MILLER: That‘s up to the people. If it got a three-quarters vote, I would vote for it.
MADDOW: You would vote for it?
MILLER: I would.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So gay rights issues should be handled at the state level, except the federal government should ban gay rights. It does not matter how you feel about gay rights. A candidate who says they should be decided at the state level and they should be banned federally is a candidate who makes no sense.
That‘s like hosting a clam bake to announce that you‘re keeping kosher. That‘s beating up the guy who doesn‘t believe you‘re a pacifist. That‘s like saying I am humble. It makes no sense.
That interview was awkward for reasons besides the fact that we were running down escalators and through doors and lobbies and into cars while doing it. The interview was also awkward because limited federal government is Joe Miller‘s brand as a candidate, but it is clear that that is not what he‘s actually proposing to do in office.
You can‘t simultaneously believe that gay rights issues should all be left to the states and also that there should be a federal constitutional amendment banning gay rights.
On abortion, it‘s the same kind of awkwardness. The message coming from this candidate is small government, limited federal power. But what they‘re actually proposing is giant government with newly radical intrusive power.
Joe Miller, Ken Buck, Christine O‘Donnell, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, branded as the most small government of all the supposedly small government candidates, all proposing a government big enough to monitor every pregnancy in the country, to intervene even after a rape, to force the rape victim to carry to term the pregnancy resulting from rape or from incest.
No matter what the woman wants to do, no matter what her doctor thinks she should do, no matter what her family wants to do, these candidates want a government big enough to impose its own decision by force in those cases.
The messaging on the right this year is that it‘s all about limited government, freedom, small government, fiscal responsibility. The problem with conservative branding this year should have been apparent at the outset.
Even if you didn‘t get the whole social issues thing, you might have noticed that Republicans this year were trying to sell themselves as fiscal conservatives who also want to add massively to the federal deficit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You want to extend all the Bush tax cuts which would add $4 trillion to the deficit. You say balance the budget by cutting spending. Question, as a bottom line businesswoman, where are you going to find $4 trillion to cut?
CARLY FIORINA ®, CANDIDATE FOR SENATE IN CALIFORNIA: I think we ought to ban earmarks. I think we ought to give citizens the opportunity to designate up to 10 percent of their federal income tax towards debt reduction.
WALLACE: You could cut all of that out. It wouldn‘t be anywhere close to $4 trillion. Where are you going to get that kind of money if you extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts? And that only adds to the deficit. That doesn‘t even deal with the deficit we already have.
FIORINA: Well, of course, first, the thing that we need to do to deal with our debt and our deficit is to both cut spending and grow the economy.
WALLACE: Let me ask a specific question. I still haven‘t gotten many specifics from you on how you‘re going to cut $4 trillion and even more out of the budget. You tell me, specifically, what are you going to do to cut the billions, the trillions of dollars in entitlements? What benefits are you going to cut? What eligibility are you going to change?
FIORINA: You see, Chris, I have - you know, Chris, I have to say with all due respect, you‘re asking a typical political question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Just as it is not really about being fiscally conservative,
it is also not really about small government. What‘s firing up support for
these candidates on the right is an old familiar list of social wedge issue
God, guns and gays, right?
It‘s abortion rights. It‘s the homosexual agenda. It‘s, “They‘re coming to take your guns although we don‘t really know how. We just believe that.”
When Democratic candidates zero in on that, when they get it, when they stop buying the bull-pucky branding that bears no resemblance to what these candidates actually stand for, they‘ve been able to nail their Republican opponents for these social issues.
They‘re the cultural radicalism. Case in point, Democrat Michael
Bennett, given the opportunity to ask his own questions of Republican Ken
Buck in their last debate, asked Ken Buck this -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MICHAEL BENNETT (D-CO): Since Ken has supported criminalizing abortion in cases of rape and incest, my question is, who‘s going to go to jail, Ken?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When Democrats stop buying the whitewash, when they get that their opponents this year are old-school cultural war wedge issue, God, guns and gays, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Jesse Helms types, they‘re finding that Republicans are pretty vulnerable on those issues, because the country is just not like that anymore, if it ever was.
Even if the beltway narrative doesn‘t yet own up to this, God, guns and gays are driving conservative candidacies this year. Small government and reducing the deficit, my foot. Look at what these guys are actually proposing. Ask follow-up questions.
God, guns and gays are all familiar issues for motivating the all-familiar conservative base, but they also work to motivate the liberal base, too, if Democrats are smart enough to let their base know that despite the whitewash, that is what these elections are really all about.
Now, it‘s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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