The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/19/11
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL: A quick note
about tomorrow night`s show. We will have an exclusive interview with my
buddy Jane Lynch, who`s fresh off her duties as host of the Emmy`s. We`ll
tell you about her new memoir “Happy Accidents.” That`s tomorrow night on
“THE LAST WORD.”
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is up next.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Lawrence. Thanks very much for
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
We`ve got Michael Moore coming up with us this hour.
Also, the repeal of “don`t ask, don`t tell” goes into effect at one
minute past midnight tonight.
And the president took a major turn today toward confrontation with
congressional Republicans, threatening to veto anything Congress sends him
that tries to reduce the deficit using cuts alone without making taxation
more fair as well.
That is all ahead over the course of this hour.
But the president`s political schedule these days sort of a bifurcated
thing. He has been making a lot of policy speeches about his priorities,
about what the country needs and what Congress needs to get done. He has
also at the same time been doing a lot of Democratic fund-raisers recently.
The president tonight, for example, speaking to a small high dollar
fund-raiser in New York City.
At the end of last week, speaking to a different Democratic audience
at a fund-raiser, the president said this, quote, “I know that over the
last couple of months, there have been Democrats that voiced concerns and
nervousness about, well, in this kind of economy, aren`t these just huge
headwinds in terms of your re-election? And I just have to remind people
that here`s one thing I know for certain. The odds of me being re-elected
are much higher than the odds of me being elected in the first place.”
Which is a fair point.
People who support President Obama`s re-election or who aren`t sure if
they do, but who despair about the prospect of any of this year`s crop of
Republican candidates winning, for perspective, it is also worth
remembering that in 2008, not only did Mr. Obama beat John McCain, not only
did Mr. Obama win, he won hugely. He won by nearly an eight-point margin.
He won by about nearly 10 million votes.
His margin of victory over John McCain was three times the margin of
victory that George W. Bush had over John Kerry in the previous election.
And the map from the `08 election makes that clear. The Republican
nominees for president and vice president won their home states, of course,
Alaska and Arizona. And then they got deep red, mostly low population
And that was it. That`s all they got. They got the South, minus
Florida, minus North Carolina, minus Virginia.
Even though John McCain did win his home state of Arizona, he wasn`t
able to translate that into victory in Nevada, New Mexico or Colorado.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden in 2008 won big, so big that even this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Hey, Brian, one more thing, by the way, that
I`m having fun watching.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Yes?
TODD: Nebraska, too, you know –
WILLIAMS: I know, it`s your favorite congressional –
TODD: They split their electoral votes. There`s a way to follow it
very easily. Omaha right here.
It`s two counties make up the entire congressional district. It is
Douglas County, Obama`s up a little bit. And it is Sarpy County, Obama
also up. So, he`s got a narrow lead.
We could see Nebraska for the very first time actually split its
electorate votes and not have them all go in the same direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is, in fact, what happened on election night 2008. See?
And here`s what that look the like on the map. You have all these red
states and all these blue states.
And then what`s up with Nebraska? Nebraska is red but with a spot.
Nebraska and Maine are the only two states in the country where
presidential candidates don`t necessarily get all the electoral votes for
the state. They don`t win the whole state. Those states, Nebraska and
Maine, hand out their electoral votes in part district by district.
So, even though John McCain won Nebraska overall, in the congressional
district where Omaha is, Barack Obama won. And so, Obama/Biden got one
blue electoral vote there. That`s the spot.
Of course, the 2008 election was, as I`ve been saying, sort of a
blowout. So, that one electorate vote from Nebraska did not matter. That
one blue spot in Nebraska was not a deciding thing.
But in 2012, those economic headwinds President Obama was talking
about to that Democratic audience last week – I mean, nobody knows for
sure, but looks like because of those economic headwinds, it may very well
be a much closer election in 2012. It may be a very hard fought election.
And so, that one Democratic electoral vote from Omaha, Nebraska – Obama
was the first Democrat to win an electoral vote in Nebraska since 1964.
That one vote may not have mattered on election night in 2008. It may just
have been a curiosity that night and something that got Chuck Todd very
But in 2012, 2012, that one electoral vote in Omaha, Nebraska, might
just matter. It might be that close. And Nebraska Republicans know that.
And so, Nebraska Republicans are now mobilizing to make sure that blue
Omaha thing, that one electoral Democratic vote from Omaha, Nebraska, never
happens again. And by mobilizing to make sure it never happens again, I
don`t mean they are redoubling their efforts to make their case to the
people of Nebraska that Nebraskans should vote for Republicans and not for
Democrats. That is not what I mean by mobilizing.
What I mean by mobilizing is that Republicans in Nebraska are now
trying to change the structure of voting in Nebraska. Change the means by
which Nebraska conducts its elections so that that structure will benefit
the Republican Party in a partisan way.
Leadership committee of the Republican Party in Nebraska at their
meeting this weekend in Lincoln passed a resolution demanding that all
Nebraska Republican legislators vote to get rid of Nebraska`s current
election system in favor of one that won`t run the risk of giving Barack
Obama even one electoral vote. Republicans in the legislature have been
promoting a plan to change Nebraska into a winner take all system for
And as of this weekend, here`s what the Republican Party had to say to
any Republican who does not vote for their party`s plan. Quote, “Be it
resolved that the Nebraska Republican Party will not support in any manner,
financial or otherwise, any state senator who opposes the return of the
state to the winner take all electoral vote plan either by failing to vote
for such in committee or on the floor of the legislature.”
If you don`t vote for us to change to winner take all, the Republican
Party will disown you.
Why is the Nebraska Republican Party playing such hardball on this?
Making this a do or die issue for Nebraska Republicans? They must vote to
change this or.
When they, earlier this year back in January, brought this up, the
Republican senator who sponsored the bill to get rid of Nebraska`s election
system, he told “The Lincoln Journal Star,” quote, “We would not want to
see Obama re-elected in 2012 by one electoral vote in Omaha.”
So the principle at work here is that changing this rule would be a
way to deny President Obama an electoral vote. Changing this rule is a way
to deny President Obama a shot at re-election. Not by changing the way
people vote or the way people feel about either candidate, but simply by
changing the rules so that the rules, themselves, advantage the Republican
Party. This is the principle at work here.
You can tell that this is the principle at work for Republicans this
year because they are also in the process of changing the election rules in
the opposite direction in a different state, because in that state, they
figured out a way to change the rules so they benefit the Republican Party
and hurt President Obama`s chances at re-election. Pennsylvania is the
state where Republicans have the opposite problem that they have in
In Nebraska, you can pretty much count on a Republican winning the
state overall, even if there are some pockets of blue. In Pennsylvania, if
the last couple of decades are any guide, you can pretty much count on a
Democrat winning the state overall even though there will be pockets of red
in the state.
And so, what Republicans are trying to create, a winner take all
system, to benefit a Republican who will likely win the whole state of
Nebraska. They`re also at the same time trying to eliminate a winner take
all system in Pennsylvania so that can benefit a Republican nominee there.
John McCain won 10 congressional districts in Pennsylvania in 2008,
even as he lost the state overall to Barack Obama. Pennsylvania
Republicans right now are trying to change the rules so that another result
like they had in 2008 wouldn`t give the Democrat, wouldn`t give Barack
Obama 21 electoral votes like he got then or 20 which is how many
Pennsylvania had at the time – has this time around. It would instead
give the Republican probably as many as 12 of those electoral votes, even
if that Republican candidate lost the whole state.
Think about this, think about this in big terms – two states,
Republicans pursuing exactly opposite policies in the two states.
Parties generally pursue policies they ideologically agree with, that
they have a principled reason for supporting. The only principle that
could possibly guide opposite decisions in two different states is that the
principle for both of them is that both policy changes, both election rule
changes will make it harder for President Obama to get re-elected,
But it`s not just Nebraska and Pennsylvania. I mean, Nebraska and
Pennsylvania are so different that nothing`s ever just Nebraska and
Pennsylvania. These states are never a pair. These are never the only two
states to have done something. There`s no connection between Nebraska and
Where Republicans have control of the state legislature, all over the
country, they are if not banking on a close presidential election in 2012.
If they are not banking on it, they`re at least planning for it, preparing
for it, making sure that their rules are set up in such a way that the
election is most likely to go for the Republican, and they are changing the
rules of their elections to benefit the Republican nominee and to make it
harder for President Obama to get re-elected.
In 32 states and in the District of Columbia right now, you can vote
before election day. And the people who take advantage of early voting are
a pretty diverse group. They can just be highly motivated voters who can`t
just wait to get into polls. They may be people who have a hard time
getting off work or school to go vote and therefore, the shorter lines and
easy access of early voting make it easier for them. People vote early for
all sorts of reasons. But people who vote early for whatever reason,
particularly since 2008, those early voters tend to vote Democratic.
Even in 2010, which was a Republican blowout, elections went red last
year, up and down the ticket, coast to coast, all over the country. It was
a huge Republican year in 2010. But among early voters, even that year,
even in 2010, in the words of “The associated Press” today, quote,
“Democratic voters held an edge in early voting during the 2010 elections
despite the unfavorable climate for the party nationally and the eventual
So, allowing people to vote early shortens the lines. It makes voting
more accessible and Democratic-leaning voters have been taking advantage of
early voting, particularly in the past couple of election cycles. It
increases voter turnout, which generally speaking tends to help Democratic
And so, now, where Republicans control legislatures this year,
particularly where they control legislatures and governorships, Republicans
are rolling back early voting. They`re cutting down the number of days.
They`re cutting down the number of hours. They`re cutting down the number
They`re making it harder to vote, shortening the hours you can vote,
shortening the numbers of days when you can vote. Making voting a more
challenging thing to do because they think it might help the Republican
nominee. They think it will make it less likely for President Obama to get
re-elected, structurally. Not on the substance, but on the means by which
we vote for president.
In Florida, in Ohio, in Wisconsin, in Georgia, in Tennessee, in West
Virginia, and the latest one now in North Carolina, Republicans in those
state legislatures are restricting or trying to restrict early voting.
And then there`s newly registered voters. Newly registered voters
went overwhelmingly for President Obama in 2008. He won newly registered
voters in 2008 by 69 percent to 30 percent over John McCain, according to
the exit polls.
And so, Republicans are changing election rules all over the country,
to make it essentially impossible to make even nonpartisan groups run voter
registration drives, particularly in Florida. It has been the vanguard of
these groups, like the Boy Scouts and the League of Women Voters walking
away from the opportunity to do voter registration drives because it has
become legally threatening to do so – thanks to the actions of the
Republicans in the legislature and the Republican governor.
And, of course, five states have passed new laws this year requiring
you to show photo ID at the polls. According to the Brennan Center, as
many as 12 percent of eligible voters do not have a government-issued photo
ID. That percentage is higher for groups like students. Young people
voted for Barack Obama 66 percent to 37 percent over John McCain.
Also, it includes minorities who voted in the 60s to the 90s over John
McCain, and low-income voters who also came down for Obama over McCain in
huge, huge margins.
If 2012 plays out like 2008, and it is another blowout election, if
Barack Obama wins hugely again in 2012, then, of course, none of these
things will matter. But if it is close, any one of these things, let alone
all of these things in combination could very well matter.
And after that election is over, no matter what happens in that
election, these states have now structurally changed the way they conduct
elections, the way democracy functions in these American states, so that
the Republican Party has a partisan structural advantage in every election.
What is the Democrats` answer to this?
Joining us now is Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC contributor, political
science professor at Tulane University, and author of the new book, “Sister
Citizens: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America.”
Melissa, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It`s great to be here whoa!
I`m sorry. It was a goal post moving. I didn`t want to get hit by it.
MADDOW: Is it a goal post moving? Or is it a small democracy being
seen by Republicans as capital “D” democracy, as something that in itself
benefits the Democratic Party and then therefore must be squelched?
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, look, you know, in a certain way, I just hate I
have to sit here as a progressive and say, no, we got to keep the Electoral
College just as it is. Because, obviously, reform of the Electoral College
has been a standard progressive claim, right? The desire to move away from
a system that actually buffers us from the popular vote, choosing who the
American president is and vastly overrepresented under-populated states
because of the way the Electoral College votes are determined – two
senators and one congressman in these states that have very, very small
So, on the one hand, you know, having a conversation about the rules
of the game is the best kind of democracy with a little “D.” But when we
see it happening in this format, clearly, as you point out, not about
ideology, not about a claim toward how democracy should work, but just
about keeping this president from being re-elected, basically buying 2012,
you know, election AFLAC, kind of a secondary insurance to make sure if
they can`t beat the president on ideas, if they can`t beat the president on
the economy, then they will beat him on the rules of the game. That is
absolutely a twisting of the purposes of American democracy.
MADDOW: Have you seen Democrats or progressive groups broadly taking
this up as an issue that Republicans need to answer for? I realize that we
have a more sometimes robust federal discussion in this country than we do
a federalist discussion. And a lot of times, state policies sort of go
under the radar.
But with abortion rights, with union rights, with voting rights this
year, we`ve seen a really coordinated multistate effort by Republicans all
pushing in the same direction. Is there an effort, do you think, by
Democrats and by progressives to make Republicans answer for that?
HARRIS-PERRY: Not yet. I mean, this is part of sort of us getting
very clear that 2010 was one of the most important elections of our lives
and in many ways we sat it out. That part of what 2010 did was not only to
give a very powerful cohort within the Republican Party enormous control
over the legislative direction of American politics at the federal level.
But a huge portion of what 2010 did was to give the statehouses, the
state senates and these governors mansions to Republicans who would make
choices that have long-term consequences, that aren`t just about policies
for their administration but actually changing the rules of the game in a
dramatic way – whether it`s about the capacity for labor to organize, the
ability for women to control their own reproductive capacity. Or in this
case, really for the meaning of the vote, what your vote cast in your state
will mean in 2012.
And we sort of missed that you can`t just hand over a midterm in a
decennial census year when people are redrawing districts and expect not to
have exactly these kinds of rule changes. But, now, this has not been –
you know, I appreciate the vigor with which you gave that early
introduction, but the fact is talking about rule changes is not very
exciting stuff for organizing politics on the ground.
MADDOW: Well, Republicans have found it sufficiently organized to be
in lockstep on this all over the country. But I feel like Democrats are
sort of watching it happen at this point.
Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC contributor, political science professor
at Tulane University and author of “Sister Citizen,” new book just out –
Melissa, it is always great to have you on the show. Thanks for being
HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore will join us,
just ahead. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore will join us in
just a few minutes. I suspect Mr. Moore may want to sure a few thoughts
about current events, possibly, possibly President Obama`s newly aggressive
stance against Republican opposition in Congress. I don`t know.
I will try to draw Michael Moore out of his shell – in just a moment.
MADDOW: The “don`t ask, don`t tell” law which kicked people out of
the U.S. military for being gay will be fully repealed officially at one
minute past midnight tonight. And yes, there will be some celebration by
gay service members, by gay people who wish to join the military, by
supporters of gay service members, by people who fought for repeal of this
law for 18 years. And for, more broadly, by supporters of President Obama
who will celebrate repeal as a very big, very difficult to keep promise
that Mr. Obama made and that he kept.
It took a lot of work but the repeal got through Congress during the
lame duck session, just after the midterm elections this past December.
Democrats pushed it through the House and through the more problematic
Senate, even though the Republicans filibustered it there and even though a
senator from his own party`s side, the late Robert Byrd, insisted on an
additional 60 days` wait just because an additional 60 days waiting after
the military said it was ready to implement repeal of the policy.
Also, this all happened despite Republicans` continued effort right
until the very end, right until now, to try to delay repeal even further.
There was also some initial resistance from some corners of the military.
But despite all of that, on the eve of repeal, tonight, everyone
charged with making this thing happen seems to be in line and onboard with
getting rid of “don`t ask, don`t tell.” There will be a press conference
about it at the Pentagon tomorrow, including the chairman of the joint
chiefs and secretary of defense.
The regulations, themselves, will change at 12:01 a.m., a minute after
So, in a few short hours, the policy of hounding people out of the
military for being gay will end. And tonight, at midnight and tomorrow on
what they`re calling “repeal day,” I can confidently confirm there will be
But what I have found myself wondering in recent days is how repeal
day will be noted by people who fought to keep “don`t ask, don`t tell” in
place, by the people who said we need to keep kicking gay people out of the
military, 14,000 is not enough. How, for example, will John McCain spend
repeal day? How will Lindsey Graham spend repeal day?
How, for example, will the lady who said that “don`t ask, don`t tell”
was responsible for the mass deaths of birds in Arkansas – how will she
spend repeal day? Remember her?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY JACOBS, FOUNDER, GENERALS INTERNATIONAL: The blackbirds fell to
the ground in Beebe, Arkansas. The governor of Arkansas`s name is Beebe.
And also, there was something put out of Arkansas called “don`t ask, don`t
tell” by a former governor this was proposed, Bill Clinton. And so, could
there be a connection between this passage where said, and now that we had
the repeal of the “don`t ask, don`t tell.”
It could be because we have said it`s OK for people who commit these
kinds of acts to be recognized, you know, in our military for the first
time in our history. There is a potential that there is something that
actually happened in the land where 100,000 drum fish died and also where
these birds just fell out of the air.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: She was one of the endorsers of Republican presidential
front-runner Rick Perry`s stadium prayer event a few weeks back, Cindy
Jacobs. I`ve been thinking about folks like Cindy Jacobs as repeal day
approaches for “don`t ask, don`t tell.”
I mean, if the Rick Perry stadium prayer event people think that just
signing the repeal of “don`t ask, don`t tell” killed thousands of birds in
Arkansas, what these folks think is going to happen when full repeal
happens tonight at a minute past midnight?
If you know any of these folks and you can – and you`re having
trouble finding them, this time tomorrow, I suggest you check under their
beds where they will be hiding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We cannot afford $1
trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our
society. We can`t afford it. And I refuse to renew them again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I refuse to renew them again. President Obama in April
talking about the Bush tax cuts, after he reached a deal with Republicans
in Congress to extend all of the Bush tax cuts. Although the president
said he wanted to extend the Bush tax cuts for middle class folks, he did
not want to extend them for rich people at the time he said. He said we
couldn`t afford that and he would not extend the tax cuts for rich people
again. “I refuse to renew them again,” he said back in April.
Well, today the president unveiled his suggestions to that
supercommittee in Congress working on budget issues and his proposal was
not only to get rid of those Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans. The
president said he would veto any economic legislation that does not make
the tax burden more fair, that spares the rich and squeezed everybody else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I will not support – I will not support any plan that puts
all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans. And I will
veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does
not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest
corporations to pay their fair share.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I will veto any bill. This president has used the veto
threat before, but sparingly. Today, he showed that he`s willing not only
to put real muscle behind his policy priorities. He`s also willing to call
out Republicans by name for how they deal with their policy priorities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: You know, last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner gave a
speech about the economy. And to his credit, he made the point that we
can`t afford the kind of politics that says, “It`s my way or the highway.”
I was encouraged by that.
Here`s the problem. In the same speech, he also came out against any
plan to cut the deficit that includes any additional revenues whatsoever.
So, the speaker says, we can`t have it my way or the highway and then
basically says, my way – or the highway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, we get the line in the sand with the veto threat. We get
naming and shaming his political opponents for saying one thing and doing
another. And we get the president demanding policy that is kind of
populist and because of that kind of popular – raising taxes on rich
instead of leaving grandma to go halfsies on her arthritis meds.
This summer, nearly three quarters of Americans surveyed said they
support raising taxes on people with the largest incomes in America. It
was the single most popular way of lowering the debt, when you ask
Americans about this, ahead of even raising taxes on oil and gas companies
and that`s pretty popular. Americans apparently really do think the
wealthy can and should pay more. They really do think, as the president
suggested today, that the investor, Warren Buffett, should be taxed more
heavily than the assistant who takes his calls or at least he should be
taxed as much.
Last week, MoveOn.org, among the loudest voices on the dedicated and
restless left, the political folks at MoveOn.org last week said they were
not sure they were going to support President Obama in his re-election in
2012, complaining of their disappointment in him, complaining of fights he
should have been leading that were either lost or left un-fought. That was
Then today, Move On`s civic action came out with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m Warren Buffett`s secretary, and I pay a
higher tax rate than my billionaire boss.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m Warren Buffett`s secretary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m Warren Buffett`s secretary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have three kids, make $40,000 a year and I
contribute a greater percentage of my income than many billionaires and
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most Americans want Congress to raise taxes on the
wealthy, but the GOP refuses to do it. Why?
ANNOUNCER: Call Congress and tell them, raise taxes on millionaires
and billionaires so all Americans pay their fair share.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You know, if you listen just to the Beltway media, Democratic
Party doesn`t really have a base. And liberals don`t really function in
I have said before, and I will say again, the way the Beltway media
covers liberals in this country is sort of on a good day akin to the way
they cover really, really, really foreign news in countries where we don`t
have diplomatic relations and on a bad day, it`s like extraterrestrial
The Beltway media doesn`t believe liberals are important. This White
House has been able to get away for a long time without believing the
loyalty of its base is important, that the left and frankly the center
didn`t have anywhere to go, that they were going to support this president
and his re-election effort no matter what happened.
Seeing the poll numbers on the left and among Democrats soften in
recent weeks and in recent months has brought this back to the center, has
brought this issue back to the center and has made liberals a relevant
point of Beltway discussion for the first time in a very long time –
certainly the first time in the Barack Obama presidency.
Beware of people who don`t know what they`re talking about discussing
the ins and outs of liberal feelings about this policy. Somebody whose
confidence as a liberal and whose prominence as a member of the restless
left, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, will join us next for
MADDOW: Joining us for the interview tonight is the one and only
Michael Moore. Michael Moore has a new book out called “Here Comes
Trouble: Stories from My Life.”
Michael, it`s great to see you. Thanks for your time.
MICHAEL MOORE, ACADEMY AWARD-WINNING FILMMAKER: Thanks for having me
MADDOW: You have been saying President Obama does not fight hard
enough for what he believes in. You have been making this case for a long
time – I think since earlier than a lot of other people were making it.
When I heard the speech today, I was really happy I was having you on the
show. I wanted to know if you feel better about his tone these days.
MOORE: I felt instantly better. So, it doesn`t take much for me.
MOORE: That`s another good thing about liberals. That`s just how
easy we are. Just a little – you referenced us as being treated sometimes
by the mainstream media as extraterrestrials. Well, you put a few of those
Reece`s Pieces out in front of us and we got a whole bag of Reece`s Pieces
By the way, the American public loves E.T. So, as beloved as E.T. is,
I think the American public is actually, as you`ve pointed out many times
on this show, much more liberal than the Beltway pundits give America
credit for being. When you look at the actual issues, the American public
takes the liberal position on the majority of them, whether being against
the war, whether it`s equal rights for women, whether it`s a strong
In last month`s poll, for the first time ever, 54 percent of Americans
saying that they believe gay marriage should be the law of the land.
So, Americans are actually quite liberal even though they may not call
themselves that. And I think what happened today was exactly what we`ve
been wanting President Obama to do. And he has to do more of it.
He`s – the problem with the base, with you mentioned Move On not
knowing what to do next year. In the end, the people who are members of
Move On, the Michael Moores out there, are going to, you know, vote for
That really – his problem isn`t me or Move On so much as it is all
the people who voted for him in `08 who may vote for him again. They
probably won`t vote for the Republican. But they`re not going to go out
and bring 10 people to the polls with them. They`re not going to be
excited about voting again. And that`s where it could really hurt him.
So, this thing that happened today is very exciting and to have him
just repeat over and over again, I will refuse to let these Bush tax cuts
for the rich continue, I will refuse to rebuild this country on the backs
of the poor and the middle class, that is music to my ears. We should have
heard this from day one. I`ll take it on day 900 if that`s when I get it.
MADDOW: You know, in reading your book about – which is called “Here
Comes Trouble,” – it`s sort of an autobiography but also a political
autobiography. You write about your values being – your liberal values,
your confrontational Michael Moore liberal values, really being an American
inheritance, being something that you learned in a mainstream way.
But then the book is also a story about your life of tough
confrontation, trying to live your values, trying to make the world accord
to what you think is right and what you think is just.
So I wonder if you – if in that, a feeling that you have mainstream
values, but getting justice means confrontation, I wonder if you identify
somewhat with the Democrats who you criticize for not fighting hard enough?
MOORE: Well, I understand their pain. I understand that the
difficulty road that they`re on. I really understand the difficult road
Obama has been on because he inherited an incredible mess, the likes of
which I don`t know any other president that`s inherited a mess like this.
So he has, I think in his own mind, tried to do the best that he can
What I wish that he would have done is to come in more with the
resolve of understanding – as you said earlier in the show, that he won by
10 million votes, three times the difference of Bush over Kerry in 2004.
That`s – it was a huge mandate. And he didn`t understand the mandate very
The confrontation, though, you know, I`m actually – I mean, you know
me a little bit. I mean, we`re not – you know, we don`t go out and drink.
MADDOW: We ought to.
MOORE: If you`ll bring Kent Jones along.
MADDOW: All right. Fair enough. Date. Done.
MOORE: But I`m not really that – I`m not – I`m not inclined to just
automatically want to be confrontational or just take this position. I`m
actually – I actually admired Obama holding out the olive branch when he
first came into office to the Republicans. I thought, wow, that`s the way
I was raised and I don`t know whether I could do that after eight years of
The way he did that to the Republicans – turning the other cheek,
loving your enemy, doing good to those who persecute you, all those lessons
that the nuns and the priests drilled into our heads – and he was doing
it. And I thought, geez, he`s a better man than I.
So after they whacked the olive branch out of his hands so many times,
it`s kind of like, OK, I think we get the message here. They`re going to
ignore you and they`re going to try and stop you. And you have to at some
point stand up.
I mean, the lesson I learned as a teenager, and I tell this one story
in the book of being silent actually when I saw some injustice going on in
my high school against another student, and I said nothing. And I just
really felt bad. And it just weighed heavily on my conscience.
And I decided after that, that`s it, I`m not going to – I`m not going
to remain silent again, even though I`d rather remain silent and just sit
in my chair with a bag of Doritos and watch the tigers or the lions. I
just couldn`t do that. My conscience wasn`t wired that way.
And I think I`m not alone in that. I think there are tens of millions
of Americans that are just like that, too, and they just don`t have the
benefit maybe of being on TV or whatever. But I know that they`re out
there. The Internet certainly proves that they are.
MADDOW: Michael Moore`s new book is called “Here Comes Trouble:
Stories from My Life.”
Michael, there`s a story today out of Michigan politics, out of Benton
Harbor, Michigan, that I saved until this point in the show because I
really want to get your take on it as well as what`s going on with the
Republican presidential candidates. Can you hold on one second?
MOORE: Absolutely, yes.
MADDOW: We will be back with Michael Moore in just one moment.
MADDOW: Two quick vignettes from Republican America in today`s news.
First from Benton Harbor, Michigan, a town taken over after the new
Republican controlled legislature and Michigan`s new Republican governor
expanded and beefed up a law covering emergency financial managers. Under
the new law, the state government can declare a local emergency, overrule
local elections and replace any locally elected officials.
Republican Governor Rick Snyder`s administration will weigh in and do
what they want in a town or a school district. They will override local
democracy and local control.
In April, the emergency manager put in charge of Benton Harbor,
Michigan, declared unilaterally the elected officials of the city would
henceforth only be allowed to do three things: they could call a meeting to
order, approve meeting minutes and adjourn a meeting. That`s it. It does
not matter the tone voted for these elected officials. They`re not allowed
to do anything now.
Despite that order, Benton Harbor`s locally elected town commissioners
recently decided to do something other than call a meeting to order,
approve the minutes and then adjourn. They voted unanimously to declare
the week starting September 17th as Constitution Week – honoring our
democracy and the signing of the U.S. Constitution.
Benton harbor`s emergency manager has now rescinded that resolution,
declaring that the decision to acknowledge and honor the U.S. Constitution,
quote, “was not authorized by the emergency manager and is null and void
and of no force or effect.”
Elected officials not being allowed to honor the Constitution because
they`ve been overruled by an appointed overseer who nobody voted for.
Second vignette from Republican America in today`s news comes from the
Republican race for president. One of the stranger developments in how
Republicans are running this year is about who they have to make nice with,
who they have to court publicly to try to become the nominee. Since Donald
Trump made a short lived almost run earlier this year based chiefly on him
questioning whether President Obama was secretly foreign, Republican
candidates and maybe candidates have started making big public photo ops
out of being seen to meet with Donald Trump.
He met with Sarah Palin back in May and Michele Bachmann back in July.
He met with Rick Perry last week and then called him “Jim” which was weird.
Now, we learn that Donald Trump is reportedly meeting with Mitt Romney at
Mitt Romney`s request next week.
Republican presidential candidates you would think would want to put
the birther nonsense questioning the president`s birth certificate behind
them. But, no, apparently this is a ticket you have to get punched on the
way to the Republican nomination this year.
Republican candidates also falling all over themselves this year to be
seen meeting with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Here`s Joe Arpaio
last week with Michele Bachmann, signing a copy of his book for her in
front of the cameras. Joe Arpaio has also spoken with Mitt Romney, and
with Rick Perry and with Herman Cain.
Today, we learn that Sheriff Arpaio has formed a posse in Maricopa
County to, quote, “investigate the authenticity of Barack Obama`s birth
certificate.” The investigation requested by the Surprise Tea Party. Not
– surprise, it`s the Tea Party. But it`s the Tea Party from city of
Surprise, Arizona. Because, remember, according to the Beltway media, the
Tea Party is all about fiscal conservatism.
Joining us once again is filmmaker and author Michael Moore. His new
book, “Here Comes Trouble: Stories of My Life,” just hit the shelves.
Michael, thank you for staying with us.
MOORE: I thought I was just listening to a weekend update on
“Saturday Night Live.”
MOORE: I mean, you can`t write comedy to top this. This is
absolutely insane that we`re now going to revisit this birther.
I thought if they would revisit it, they just would take it to the
next level and just question whether or not he was born. That – that he`s
a hologram or he`s something else.
But this is just – this is absolute insanity. And the thing from
Michigan with vetoing the community, wanting to celebrate Constitution
Week, this is – you know, if it weren`t so tragic, it would be pretty
But you have here is the slow creep of those who want to limit and in
some cases get rid of pieces of our democracy, piece by piece by piece, so
that we can end up with the kleptocracy – that they would like to have
where they can steal as they`ve been doing, stealing money from the middle
class and from the poor and amass that $2 trillion now I think you said on
a show last week that they`re holding in their bank accounts, corporate
America, just cash sitting there that normally could be circulating, no
These are – these are very serious times and it demands the attention
and the participation of everybody watching this show.
MADDOW: You know, we were talking a moment ago about how – and it`s
one of the things I complain about a lot – that the Beltway doesn`t cover
the left. There isn`t really a sense that the Democratic Party has a base.
The other side of that is they really, really do heavily cover the
right and the conservative base and the Tea Party in particular. So, why
do we have – with all of the blanket coverage, why do we have such a
difference between what they say they are about and what they are doing? I
mean, the Tea Party narrative, if you read the Beltway media, really still
says they are all about taxes and fiscal conservativism, even with all of
the evidence about the birtherism and all of the other social conservative
issues that they do seem to motivate them?
MOORE: Yes. And they are not the majority of Americans. I mean, the
actual number – the members, the members of the Tea Party is a very small
number. They had to cancel their convention in D.C. last year because they
couldn`t get people to come. They`re on their own crazy boat that I call
the “tea-tanic” and I think the American people are smarter than this and
they`re not going – they`re just going to let the boat sink.
But last week when Wolf Blitzer and CNN had that debates, the CNN Tea
Party Express debate and Wolf sat there and called them his partners – I
just thought, this was amazing because would you ever see the CNN nurses
union debate or the CNN teachers union debate? Because I think there are a
few more teachers and nurses in this country than there are members of the
But we`ll never see that in the mainstream media and liberal
organizations which have many more members just don`t get the attention. A
thousand people arrested in front of the White House a couple of weeks ago
on the tar sands environmental issue – hardly any coverage of this.
Can you imagine if 1,000 Tea Party members had been arrested in front
of the White House? It would be at the top of every news story.
People are down on Wall Street right now, holding a sit-in and a camp-
in down there, virtually no news about this protest.
This goes on with liberals and the left all of the time, and it gets
ignored. And, fortunately, there are shows like yours and others who
aren`t ignoring it. It doesn`t mean it isn`t happening and it will
continue to happen.
Can I just say one more thing with the Donald Trump reference?
MADDOW: Of course, yes.
MOORE: I mean, I have a theory about Romney and these guys, Perry,
going to meet with him. Let`s not be so sure that they`re going there just
to get an endorsement. I just – just from little I know him, the way I
think his head and his hair operate in sync with each other, I think that
they`re going there to convince him not to get back in the race, not to run
an independent candidacy.
I think Republicans are still somewhat looking over their shoulder at
him, that he just may go off at any time in the next few months when he
doesn`t see a real front-runner happening that can beat Obama and he`s just
going to declare. And I think they`re afraid that and I think that`s why
they`re talking to him.
You heard it here first. I have no inside information. I just – I
like to watch how their heads tick.
MADDOW: I have 20 seconds left. In that 20 second, do you think
Republicans are more likely to have a third party challenger from somewhere
on the right if Romney is the nominee or if Perry is the nominee?
MOORE: If Romney is the nominee. The Tea Party will not allow that
election without one of their own on the ballot. So that`s the way it will
break and they`ll split the vote and President Obama will have a second
term, which I hope he comes in like gangbusters and does the Roosevelt that
we need to see take place – really do the job in those next four years
because we are on a brink of the abyss and it`s a historic moment for him
and he needs to pull the country back, but he better start doing it now or
he`s not going to get those voters out there next year.
MADDOW: Michael Moore, filmmaker and author of the new book, “Here
Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life” – Michael, I know your schedule is
crazy these days and you`re promoting this everywhere. So, thank you for
taking time to be here tonight. It`s always really good to see you.
MOORE: No, thank you for having me from Seattle. I was here at the
battle of Seattle. So, it`s great to be back.
MADDOW: Thanks a lot, Michael. Good to see you.
MOORE: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Tonight at one minute past midnight, the repeal of “don`t
ask, don`t tell” goes into effect. Regulations will go into force at
12:01, eliminating the Clinton-era regulations that were supposed to allow
people to serve in the U.S. military as long as they stayed closeted. In
practice, those Clinton era regulations ensured 18 years of witch hunts
against GLBT service members and people suspected of being GLBT. Fourteen
thousand people kicked out of the U.S. military for nothing other than
being gay over the life of this policy.
Tomorrow night, we will finally be able to reveal to you the identity
of one gay service member who we were able to interview him in silhouette
in order to hide his identity. We hope you will join us on what`s being
called “Repeal Day.”
Now, it`s time for “THE ED SHOW.” Have a great night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>