The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/12/12
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: I`m Ed Schultz.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Ed, congratulations on that interview, man.
That was awesome. Well done.
SCHULTZ: Thank you. Thank you. He`s a down to earth guy. People
like him. He is just really – I`m sold, so to speak.
MADDOW: Well, you know, you can tell when you were talking to him.
But it was, you got a lot of him, man. Thank you. Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Thank you.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us this hour.
We are beginning tonight with breaking news, breaking international
news from North Korea, which tried to launch a long-range rocket just a
couple of hours ago at about 7:39 a.m. local time, Friday morning, tomorrow
morning in North Korea. The news is so recent that we do not yet have
video of the launch and we, frankly, don`t know if we`ll ever get it. The
footage shows the three-stage rocket being prepared for launch this week.
North Korea said this rocket, this Unha-3, was designed to carry a
satellite into space, a communication satellite. They said it was for the
good of the national economy. That`s what they said.
The launch, however, was the object of major international and, in
particular, American consternation, because although no one particularly
cares about whether or not North Korea has communication satellites, there
are a lot of countries that care about whether or not North Korea has a
long-range intercontinental missile that could theoretically be capable of
delivering a nuclear warhead to, say, us.
North Korea`s military dictatorship denied any military purpose
whatsoever for this rocket. But that was met internationally with
something like skepticism but far more intense.
Now, though, the major news here – now that there has been a launch,
it`s technical. The major news here is that the launch appears to have
failed. Instead of the rocket going up in three stages with each one
burning off in turn and propelling the rocket upward eventually into orbit,
which is how a three-stage rocket in this case is supposed to work, this
one just launched in North Korea appears to have broken apart very soon
A U.S. officially telling NBC News that the rocket fell harmlessly
into the sea very shortly after liftoff.
Now, North Korea has made other attempts at launching rockets. It
tried in 2006. It tried again in 2009. The 2009 one crashed into the sea
off the coast of Japan.
Because of North Korea`s absolutely intransigent rejection of
international norms and international pressure, the world at large has
seemed to have very little means of getting North Korea to go along with
international norms. Particularly it set very little means of pressuring
North Korea to give up on the nuclear weapons program.
But just a few weeks ago, the U.S. reached an agreement with North
Korea. Well, not explicitly tying food aid to the country to military
issues, the agreement pretty much did just tie food aid to military issues.
The U.S. said that we will give North Korea the food aid that it
desperately needs since so much of the country`s resources go into its
military. We will help feed the North Korean people if the North Korean
government will agree to not test any more missiles.
Before the launch today, the White House press secretary told
reporters that if North Korea had – were to go ahead with this missile
launch, that would constitute a significant and clear demonstration of bad
faith and would leave the U.S. unable to move forward with that program –
meaning that food aid program. He said it would make going ahead with that
program, quote, “virtually impossible”.
Also today, before the launch, the U.S. secretary of state met with
the other nations in the G-8 – France, Germany, the U.K., Japan, Canada,
Italy, and Russia. Secretary Clinton emerged from that meeting with this
message for North Korea`s government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: If Pyongyang goes forward, we
will all be back in the secretary council to take further action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: But again, tonight, the breaking news, the nation of North
Korea, just hours ago, attempted to launch a lock-range rocket against the
demands of the United States and many American allies.
U.S. officials tell NBC News that the launch failed. The rocket,
which was said to be carrying a communications satellite, did not reach
orbit. It crashed into the sea.
And now for the rest of the world, the question that changes every
time there`s a development like this but never goes away, the question of
how to deal with the strange and confounding nation of Korea remains.
Joining us live from Pyongyang in North Korea is now Richard Engel,
NBC News chief foreign correspondent.
Richard, thank you so much for being with us.
From Pyongyang, how did you learn the news that the rocket launch had
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: We certainly
didn`t hear it from North Korean officials. North Korea has brought in
about 100 reporters and we were expecting to have a press conference.
There was some anticipation that we would even see this go up live or with
a slight delay on video screens. But instead we were told by officials in
Washington, we were alerted by our own news desk, there are reports coming
out of Japan and South Korea that not only had the rocket gone up, but that
it had failed.
And one of the moments I`ll remember today, as we rushed into the
press center, the only place that has Internet, the only place that has
computer access, and we saw our minder, our link to the government here and
the minder said, OK, are you ready? We`re going to go in a few hours to a
music festival. We said, what, what music festival? What are you talking
about? There has just been a rocket launch.
We were met with a completely blank stare and then he shrugged his
shoulders and ran out of the room.
Just a short while ago, there was an empty desk where officials were
supposed to give us a briefing about what happened and we`ve just been told
in a few hours, we`re going to be taken by – to some sort of military
facility, perhaps to learn more information or to learn North Korea`s
version of events.
Rachel, I have a surprise for you. I have a scale model of the rocket
which I keep with me at all times. And it shows the three-stage rocket
that you were describing.
This is the first stage, liquid fuel. Second stage, also liquid fuel.
The third stage, not exactly sure, either liquid or solid.
And it appears that the rocket exploded, crashed, failed sometime as
the first stage was burning off and right around the time of separation.
Because the way these work is first stage propels the rocket up and then
it`s supposed to break into two. The first stage drops into the ground,
drops into the sea, in this case, and then the second stage continues. And
we are told that somewhere between a minute and two minutes that this
rocket failed, which would have been right around the time of the end of
the first stage.
This is an enormous embarrassment for North Korea and what is critical
to see now is how the North Korean government is going to explain this to
the world and explain it to its own people.
MADDOW: Richard, given what you have been told about what the missile
launch was nor in North Korea, the fact that you are there at all, that
they are letting you see things, that they are trying to show this off to
you in some way or other –
ENGEL: I no longer have audio.
MADDOW: Oh. I can hear Richard but he can`t hear me. Richard, still
can`t hear me?
All right. We have lost our connection with Richard Engel in
Pyongyang – talking to anyone in Pyongyang is an amazing thing in any
It is notable that Richard is there. As he was mentioning, he`s there
part of essentially an international delegation of press into this closed
military dictatorship of a country. The reason they did that and this even
got a sort of rebuke from the White House this week was that the North
Korean government was interested in showing off that they were doing this
rocket launch, of course, denying any military purpose for this rocket
whatsoever. Potential military use for this rocket is the thing that
brought about so much international condemnation of their plans to do this.
Now that it has failed, it is going to be very interesting to see how
North Korea goes about explaining both the technical failure. Usually when
they have a technical failure, they come up with some ornate blame system
for coming up – for expunging any responsibility for themselves for the
technical failure. The fact that there are a lot of international
journalists still in that country where they are coming up with some sort
of an explanation for what`s happened is itself a huge part of the
political impact here.
Joining us now is Andrea Mitchell, who`s NBC News chief foreign
affairs correspondent. Andrea is in Washington. She`s been covering this
Andrea, thanks very much for being here.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You
The White House has just put out a statement by Jay Carney, the press
secretary. We are waiting for confirmation from NORAD as exactly where the
three parts of the missile went down – in the ocean, we are told, I am
told, that it`s been tracked by NORAD and by American intelligence, of
But the statement from the White House says that this, first of all, a
provocative act, aggressive behavior is the term, that the president is
prepared to deal constructively with North Korea and as you know, did
provide a commitment to food aid until North Korea reneged on its
commitment from last – from just this past February to not conduct further
tests and announced that this test would indeed take place.
So now they are saying that is another proof of North Korea`s bad
faith quoting the president`s press secretary, “North Korea is only further
isolating itself by engaging in provocative acts and is wasting its money
on weapons and propaganda displays while the North Korean people go
And Carney continues, “North Korea`s long-standing development of
missiles and pursuit of nuclear weapons has not brought its security and
never will.” Carney says this will further isolate the North.
They are going to convene a U.N. Security Council meeting chaired by
this month`s president of the Security Council who is in this rotation,
Rachel, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. And while
they are not going to call for new resolutions, they believe they have
enough authority under existing resolution to tighten sanctions against
North Korea. They are going to be watching very closely to see how China
China, clearly, the closest North Korean ally on that Security Council
MADDOW: Briefly, Andrea, the bottom line here in terms of what
appears to be the technical failure of this launch is that does not affect
the political impact at all. The fact that North Korea tried to do this,
even if they failed is itself being seen as a provocation as if it had
succeeded. Is that basically true?
MITCHELL: Exactly. And, in fact, I`m told by senior officials that
they believe one other aspect of this for North Korea is that they are
trying to sell things on the market. They are trying to show off to
potential missile technology buyers. And now, they think the rest of the
world will see that the existing sanctions which hold back on a lot of
metals technology and other parts that they need to do a successful launch,
that this will prove to potential buyers, black market and otherwise, that
North Korea is not an adequate provider and that they should not buy their
MADDOW: Fascinating. That`s a fascinating detail.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent, host of
“ANDREA MTICHELL REPORTS” here on MSNBC – Andrea, thanks for joining us.
I really appreciate it.
MITCHELL: You bet.
MADDOW: Again, breaking news this hour, North Korea has once again
defied international condemnation, this time to go ahead with an attempted
long-range rocket launch. To add insult to that provocation, though, U.S.
officials and others now say that the launch was a failure, that the rocket
fell harmlessly into the sea without achieving anything near what the North
Koreans said it would do.
Stay with us. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: The governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, the former
executive editor of the “New York Times,” Bill Keller, both of them are
here tonight and we are inexplicably in San Francisco right now. There`s a
lot to come on this show this hour, a lot to explain.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: All right. Here was strike one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: If the Democrats said we had a war on
caterpillars, and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that
Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we`d have problems with
caterpillars. I mean, t fact of the matter is, is it`s a fiction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The chairman of the Republican Party trying to say the whole
idea that the Republican had some sort of war on women was as fictitious as
the idea that Republicans were waging a war on caterpillars. This was
This was a swing and a miss for Reince Priebus, not only because his
party has earned the war on women thing through all sorts of demonstrable
stuff, like restricting access to contraception and opposing equal pay for
equal work and going hog wild against abortion rights – not only because
of the substance of it, but also because comparing women to caterpillars is
not an awesome way to convince women how much respect you have for them.
So that was –
MADDOW: Thank you. Strike one.
Then they gave it another shot. Not the chairman of the Republican
Party but the spokesman for the Republican Party, Sean Spicer. Remember
that name. It`s coming back.
Mr. Spicer said the problem with the war on women idea was not the
women part of the war on women phrase but the war part of the war on women
phrase. He said it was borderline unpatriotic for anyone to use war as a
And, yes, Mr. Spicer is the spokesman for the Republican Party.
That`s their Web site right there, headlining one of the many wars that
they have declared concerning President Obama – in this case, the war on
So that was strike two.
MADDOW: The next batter up to the plate was the top Republican in the
Senate, Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Talk about a
manufactured issue. There is no issue. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and
Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire, and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe from
Maine I think would be the first to say – and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska -
- we don`t see any evidence of this.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: The problem with rebutting the whole war on women thing,
saying it`s manufactured, these women that you`re citing might agree with
you on it. The problem is the woman when who say agree with him on this do
not agree with him on this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: If you don`t view this as an attack
on women, you need to go home and you need to talk to your wives, you need
to go talk to your daughters. Ask them if they feel that this is an
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: So at this point we have –
MADDOW: – three strikes, which under normal circumstances would mean
the end, it would mean you`re out, right?
But the Republicans are still out there swinging away at this war on
women issue. And they have to. I mean, they will lose the election with
numbers among this bad on women. This idea that Republicans are acting
contrary to women`s interest and women are therefore turning away from in
polls is not going away.
So, yesterday, the Republicans gave it yet another go. The Romney
campaign convened a conference call to talk about how a Romney presidency
would be for women and the economy in particular, and how awful President
Obama was for women. Their call on this subject did not go well.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OPERATOR: Our next question will come from Sam Stein with “Huffington
Post.” Please go ahead.
SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: Yes. Does Governor Romney support the
Lilly Ledbetter Act?
ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Sam, we`ll get back to you on that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Lilly Ledbetter Pay Act was the first bill that President
Obama signed into act. It guaranteed women`s access to the courts to sue
what they were getting paid less than men for doing the same work.
It`s a really high-profile thing. The Romney campaign, apparently,
had not prepared an answer on whether or not their candidate supported that
MADDOW: – that was strike four.
But since that didn`t exactly happen in private, that was, after all,
on a press call that they themselves called, that was a call of reporters
hearing that, the Romney campaign knew they had to try to fix that problem
they created for themselves. So, they stepped back up to the plate, they
put out a statement that Mitt Romney would not repeal the Fair Pay Act if
he became president, even though he wouldn`t say whether he would have
signed it himself, and then they rolled a bunch of female Republican
surrogates to reassure everybody that Mitt Romney supports Fair Pay.
And that, of course, constituted strike five –
MADDOW: – because those surrogates that the Romney campaign rolled
out did not themselves vote for the Fair Pay Act. So they don`t
particularly support it either. Trust them.
Here`s the things, though. This whole concept of whether or not the
Republicans are waging a war on women, it`s not an impressionistic thing.
It`s not a how do the girls feel about these guys kind of thing?
The whole reason anybody has been talking about a Republican war on
women is not because of any personal factors that work here. It`s not
because of language or who is being P.C. or not. It`s because of what
Republicans have pursued as a policy agenda and the fair pay issue is a
great one on which to talk about the difference between the parties.
I mean, Mitt Romney says he doesn`t want to talk about Republicans
rolling back contraception or being super anti-abortion that people have
been complaining about in the war on women idea. He says he just wants to
talk about women in an economic context.
Well, here`s a perfect case of a women`s economic issue, equal pay,
right? Women being able to sue if they are getting paid less than a man
for doing the same work that that man is doing. You can`t get more pure if
you`re looking for a gender issue that is an economic issue, right?
This is what Romney says he is specializing on. This is what his
message of the week is. We still have no idea whether or not Mitt Romney
supports that. He says he would not repeal the Fair Pay Act. But would he
have signed it if he was president?
Most Republicans voted against it. What should we read into the fact
that the surrogates he`s putting out to talk for him on this issue
themselves voted no on the Fair Pay Act. Mr. Romney won the Wisconsin
primary in part by coddling up as close as he could possibly get to the
embattled Republican governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker.
Not only does Scott Walker apparently not support the equal pay for
equal work concept, he overtly did just repeal Wisconsin state level
version of the Equal Pay Act. He repealed that law on the same day that he
signed abortion rights in Wisconsin.
This is not hypothetical stuff. This is not about whether or not
somebody is using P.C. language or wearing the right color tie, or showing
up with enough women around them or even whether or not they are women
themselves. This is policy.
That`s where the whole concept of the Republican war on women and the
Republican`s consequent problem with women in the polls has come from. And
not recognizing that, not recognizing that it`s substantive, it`s about
policy, is I think why Republicans keep striking out on this issue. They
keep missing the point every time they try to address this it. They keep
making it worse.
But today, that all turned around. Today, the Republicans finally got
a pitch they could hit on this subject. It was not on policy, it was on
the substance of any of these issues that are being fought over here. So,
maybe that`s why they thought it was perfect for them.
A Democratic strategist who does not work for the Obama campaign or
the Democratic Party, who, in fact, works for CNN as a pundit on CNN said
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: What you have is Mitt Romney
running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me that
what women really care about are economic issues and when I listen to my
wife, that`s what I`m hearing.
Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.
She`s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority
of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our
kids, how do we send them to school, and how do we worry – why do we worry
about their future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now, substantively, Mitt Romney does say that his adviser on
women and the economy, his adviser on women`s issues generally is his wife.
And so he technically brought her into it by claiming her as politically
relevant, claiming that her experience, her expertise, he advice, is what
he has counting on to come up with his policy ideas and his perspective as
a potential president.
But no matter, the Louisville slugger was already making perfect
contact with this particular proverbial baseball. The Republicans knew
they could finally get a hit in this political fight about women voters,
this fight that they have been losing so badly in recent weeks.
So, after putting Ann Romney all over the TV machine, the Romney
campaign convened another conference call on women in the economy, but it
was actually just another round of Romney surrogates condemning this
pundit, Hilary Rosen, for what she said, one surrogate saying that in
insulting Ann Romney this way, Hilary Rosen actually spoke for what
President Obama really felt about women.
The Obama administration, everybody from the president`s campaign
manager, Jim Messina, to his wife strategist, David Axelrod, to his wife,
Michelle Obama herself, they all responded immediately to condemn in no
uncertain terms what Hilary Rosen had said on CNN.
The Republican Party kept pressing its advantage, though, putting this
web banner ad trying to solicit donations as if President Obama had said
this thing himself. Mitt Romney`s chief strategist said that this one
statement on CNN was the declaration of President Obama`s kill Ann strategy
for the entire campaign.
The Republicans were so excited, so excited that they had this pitch
to hit, that they have blown it up into something that has frankly clouded
out all other domestic political news of the day. Even after Hilary Rosen
apologized for her remarks, they are working this thing, they are still
trying to get more out of this.
But in their excitement, they are appeared to be trying to turn what
is probably a single, maybe a double into a home run. And in their
excitement they have screwed this one up, too.
Here`s how. This is the delightful and charming Twitter feed of the
group that calls itself the Catholic League. I personally cannot figure
out a way to erase from my mind that the one time I was on TV, that the guy
from the Catholic League and he told me on TV that gay people should
apologize to straight people because of AIDS.
No matter how much I try, I can`t figure out a way to forget that.
So, the Catholic League has always had a special place in my heart and
apparently I have as well in theirs. This is how the Catholic League
greeted the publication of my book that came out a couple weeks ago. “`The
Times` has a book review about the military written by an expert who never
spent a day in uniform. But she is a lesbian. Rachel Maddow.”
Seriously? Really? This is what they`re like.
And this is how they responded to the Hillary Rosen excitement in
today`s politics. This is what they wrote, “Lesbian-Dem Hilary Rosen tells
Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen who had to
adopt kids, Ann raised five of her own.”
This is a thing now, attacking people for adopting children? I did
not know this is thing. But apparently this is a thing.
When this wired super anti-gay, anti anti-adoption, right wing
criticism of Hilary Rosen started to inflict the politics of this, this
thing that the Republicans thought was otherwise going their way, the
Republican Party spokesman, remember Sean Spicer, remember him? Sean
Spicer weighed in and frankly he told these Catholic League guys where to
go. “The Catholic league should be encouraging adoption, not demeaning the
parents who are blessed to raise these children.” Which is a very nice
thing for Mr. Spicer to have said and it is also a huge mess for Republican
politics because the Republican Party, or at least the presumptive nominee
of the Republican Party, Mitt Romney, is adamantly opposed to gay people
So in criticizing the Catholic League for having said the nasty anti-
gay thing about Hilary Rosen`s adopted kids, is the Republican Party now
weighing in to say it`s OK for gay people to adopt kids? Oh, no, this is
going so well. How did we get into this mess?
When people started pointing out online that now the Republican Party
spokesman is endorsing gay adoption rights, and that represent a real
change for the party, then Sean Spicer had to back pedal away from what was
otherwise supposed to be his noble anti-Catholic League thing. Spicer
having to say, quote, “This is not what I said.”
So, right now, the Republican Party`s position on this flap is that
they do not believe gay people should be allowed to adopt children and they
are very angry at the Catholic League for saying that gay people should not
be allowed to adopt children. And now what they thought was the perfect
issue about somebody having problematized Mitt Romney invoking his wife as
his adviser on women in the economy, the whole thing that they thought they
were going to win for the day has been sullied by this weird anti-gay
politics that the Republicans have no idea what to say about – a solid
single here and they tried to turn it into a home run and now it`s all
The Romney campaign was already in this mess on gay politics anyway.
Yesterday, a group called the National Organization for Marriage, its
initials are NOM, pronounced nom, nom, nom, the National Organization for
Marriage, endorsed Mitt Romney for president just hours after Rick Santorum
dropped out of the race.
And you may remember, NOM is the group that PhotoShopped a giant pro-
Obama crowd into a photo of one of their own rallies to make it seem like
the super enthusiastic people were there supporting an anti-gay group which
they were not. You may also remember them from the leaked memos showing
their strategy to try to turn African-Americans and gay people against each
other, to try to stoke anti-gay animus in the black community in order to
help them get their way on anti-gay policies.
Their endorsement for Mr. Romney led to immediate calls for Mr. Romney
to reject that because of NOM`s involvement in some extreme politics. But
Mr. Romney is on the record as having given NOM a $10,000 donation. He
also signed a pledge committing himself as president to support a
constitutional amendment to the United States – the United States
Constitution to ban gay marriage, plus a whole bunch of other stuff,
including promising to appoint anti-gay judges.
So, it doesn`t seem that Mitt Romney is going to turn down their
endorsement since he has supported this group so much in the past. He has
made it clear that even once upon a time back in Massachusetts, he said he
would run to the left of Ted Kennedy on gay rights, he has made clear that
he`s not that Mitt Romney anymore. Now, he`s a pretty hardcore anti-gay
And that is also a mess for him. I mean, this week in the “New York
Times Sunday Magazine” feature, which is great, is about the four
Republican state senators, Republicans, who flipped positions on this
issue, flipped to support same-sex marriage rights in New York and thereby
got those rights passed and signed into law in New York.
The author of that piece, Bill Keller, is going to be joining us in
just a moment to talk about what`s happened to those Republican state
senators since they made that momentous decision.
Now, in New Hampshire, a NOM, NOM, NOM, supported effort to repeal
same sex marriage rights there in the hugely Republican dominated
legislature New Hampshire legislature failed, even though the anti-gay
marriage people guaranteed that that repeal would pass.
Not only did Democrats in New Hampshire refuse to repeal gay rights,
but Republicans did, too, by a huge margin.
The Republican Party is definitely still anti-gay, broadly speaking,
but it is sprinting in the other direction. Politico.com front page in the
story about how three of Mr. Romney`s top donors, guys who have been
writing him seven-figure checks already are also major supporters of same-
sex marriage rights.
So, yes, maybe Mitt Romney has a billionaire to spare, but three of
the hedge fund zillionaires who have given him more money than almost
anybody are very pro-gay marriage rights.
And so Mitt Romney has wanted to seem like he`s to the left of Ted
Kennedy on gay rights and he`s also pledging to change the U.S.
Constitution to block gay rights, and he`s writing $10,000 checks to groups
fighting against gay rights in the states and even in Republican-dominated
states, those groups are losing their fight, because not only the country,
but even Republicans cannot feel safe being, politically anymore, being all
The Republican Party`s spokesman, is horrified by the Catholic League,
being so anti-gay in tune but he has to clarify that he`s not so horrified
on the Catholic League being so anti-gay in substance.
I mean, this is a mess. Gay rights and Republican politics right now
are a mess. At least they are a mine field if you are trying to get across
this issue. If Mitt Romney really does want to pivot from the hardcore
right wing Republican primary to the general election, rejecting that
endorsement from NOM, from the super rabidly anti-gay marriage people, that
would be a great way to make that pivot, right? Can he do that?
Even what should have been a simple base hit with this Hilary Rosen
comment, even what should have been a base hit for them ended up getting
fouled up when these other political mess intruded on the war on women
mess, right, and it seems like they still haven`t figured out a way to win.
Honestly, if I were being paid to advise Mitt Romney on this subject,
I have no idea what my advice would be. It`s the most complicated and most
unpredictable issue right now within the Republican Party.
Bill Keller from “The New York Times” joins us to talk about it, next.
MADDOW: Joining us now is Bill Keller, op-ed columnist for “The New
York Times”. He writes in this weekend`s “New York Times” magazine about
the four Republican state senators who broke with their own party on New
York`s gay marriage law last year and what has happened to them since.
It`s a fascinating piece.
Mr. Keller, thank you very much for joining us. It`s nice to have you
BILL KELLER, NEW YORK TIMES: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: In your article on these four state senators, you write that
support for gay marriage is not just growing, it is accelerating. What do
you mean by that and how does that affect how Republicans are calculating
the political costs and benefits on this issue?
KELLER: I mean, you know, just within the last six months or so most
national polls show that there`s now an American majority in favor of this
and the pace at which support for gay marriage is changing. And some
experts were saying a year or so ago that it would be 1 percent, 2 percent
change a year up until 2015. But it`s already 3 or 4 percent a year. I
mean, it`s changing at a rate.
Interestingly, given your tiff with Catholic League today, of course,
young people are the biggest sources of support for gay marriage. But one
of the fastest growing sources of support is white Catholics.
MADDOW: In terms of that demographic breakdown, the thing that sort
of – that strikes me about this is that the demographic change seems a
little bit unpredictable. That you can`t predict, for example, what states
are going to be more or less virulent on the issue, or more less I guess
benign on the issue based on demographic character of those states. It
seems to be sort of an unpredictable spread.
KELLER: I think that`s right. That`s one reason that a lot of people
across the country are watching these four senate state races in New York,
is for some guidance on what the consequences are for conservative
Republicans who break with the party and support the issue. I mean, people
think of New York as Manhattan, you know, Upper West Side liberals. But
these four state senators come from mainstream heartland America, middle
towns, up to Hudson Valley, Rochester, Buffalo, and they are on most issues
pretty conservative guys.
So both sides, both national lobbies are watching quite closely to see
how this comes out.
MADDOW: Can you extrapolate from what you wrote about the
conservative party in New York state, which is taking a hard line on this
issue, trying to punish the senators for having voted for same-sex marriage
rights despite having been supported by the party in the past where they
are against an issue like this – can you extrapolate how the conservative
party in New York is trying to be an enforcer on this issue to who
functions that way at the national level? Who Republicans might be afraid
of crossing on this issue at the national level?
KELLER: I think at the national level, the Republican Party is still
the main enforcer on that issue. But things are changing fast.
Even, you know, Governor Christie of New Jersey who is a smart
politician, very smart politician, is not opposing gay marriage per se.
He`s saying, you know, he`s got the fallback position – I want to put it
to a popular vote and not let the legislator decide. That`s a problematic
point of view. But it`s shrewd one politically, and he recognizes that on
this issue, the conservatives and conservative Republicans are swimming
against a fairly fast moving tide.
MADDOW: I think the contours of that tide are underappreciated but I
think your piece this weekend will help start a discussion about it.
So, Bill Keller, op-ed columnist for “The New York Times” – thanks
for your reporting on this. Thanks for being here tonight.
KELLER: You`re welcome.
All right. Last night, Connecticut became the 17th state in our
nation to vote to repeal the death penalty. How did that happen?
Connecticut`s governor, Dannel Malloy, joins us for the interview, next.
MADDOW: I am in San Francisco tonight, which is awesome. I`m from
here. I love being here.
I was in Los Angeles yesterday. I`m presumably going somewhere else
next. I don`t know at this point. I can only focus on what`s happening in
It`s kind of a whirlwind West Coast tour that we are doing this week,
in part to promote my new book, “Drift.” But I can tell you that on
tomorrow`s program, we`ve got the great and good Bill Maher. Me and Bill
Maher and stuff that needs to be bleeped on a very short delay.
That`s tomorrow night show. But we`ll be right back.
MADDOW: In 33 states in the country, if you are the governor, one of
your responsibilities as governor, at least theoretically, is to kill
people who are in prison, to oversee the process of taking people for whom
the state has been responsible for housing and feeding and their medical
care and their eyeglasses and their clothes and their mail and their
reading material and their toilet paper and everything, taking those people
out of the prison cells in which they have been housed by the state and
quietly, deliberately, killing them, usually in front of an invited
In 33 states, that is part of the governor`s job description, to
oversee that process. But something interesting has been happening –
somewhat below the political radar about the politics of this issue. Yes,
these 33 states have the death penalty. But Illinois, New Jersey, New
Mexico, and New York, these states used to have it as well. And they have
decided just in the past five years to get rid of the death penalty, to get
rid of the state process of killing people in prison. They have all
abolished the death penalty in the past few years.
As well – five months ago the governor of Oregon didn`t go so far as
to repeal the death penalty in the state but he said that as governor, he
would no longer enforce it. Reflecting on the two executions he had
overseen in a previous term as Oregon governor, John Kitzhaber said, quote,
“They were the most agonizing and difficult decisions I have made as
governor and I have revisited and questioned them over and over again. I
do not believe that those executions made us safer and certainly did not
make us nobler as a society. And I simply cannot participate once again in
something I believe to be morally wrong.”
And so, he will not oversee executions in Oregon. And so, in a world
where the country cannot join the European Union if it has the death
penalty, in a world where the United States stands almost alone among major
Western democracies and still claiming the right to legally kill prisoners,
in a world where still a Republican debate audience lustily cheered for a
Texas governor`s record of overseeing 200 executions, still in this world,
American states are quietly and steadily ending the death penalty.
Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York have gotten rid of it.
Oregon has stopped it.
California will put the likely put the issue of repealing the death
penalty before California voters in November in a referendum.
The Capital Punishment Project at the ACLU also tells us that there
are strong left-right coalitions in favor of repealing the death penalty in
Montana, in Kentucky, and in Kansas. But tonight, one more state is poised
to take itself off the map of American states where the government does
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House of Representatives is voting by roll
call. Members to the chamber of the House taking a roll call vote.
Members to the members to the chamber please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clerk, please announce the tally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senate bill 280 as amended by Senate A and Senate
I, in concurrence with the Senate, total number voting 148, necessary to
pass is 75 – yea 86, nay 62, absent not voting three.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill as amended is passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Last night at 10:57 p.m., after almost 10 hours of debate,
the Connecticut House of Representatives decided to abolish the death
penalty, the bill goes to the governor of the state for his decision.
Joining us now for the interview is Governor Dan Malloy of the great
state of Connecticut.
Governor Malloy, thank you very much for your time tonight, sir. It`s
nice to have you here.
GOV. DANNEL MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: It`s great to be with you,
MADDOW: Are you going to sign the repeal of the death penalty of your
MALLOY: Yes, I`ve talked about it for years. During the campaign in
which I was elected a governor, I made it clear that I would sign a repeal,
a statute if it got before me, it almost cost me the election, quite
frankly. But it was what I believe.
I`m a governor who`s actually tried and prosecuted four murder cases
and actually defended one. And during that period of time, I switched from
being pro-death penalty to being against it. I don`t believe as a society
we should be engaged in that activity.
Almost no other industrialized nation in the world is doing it. It`s
China, it`s Iran, it`s Yemen, it`s us, and a few others.
MADDOW: When you mentioned that this almost cost you the
governorship, because you were clear about your intentions on this when you
MALLOY: My opponent actually ran ads against me on this subject. But
listen, if you believe something, you believe it.
And, by the way, this is not about me. This is about some wonderful
leadership in the Senate. This is wonderful leadership in the House that
got together and passed this bill again. It`s the second time that it`s
passed. It was vetoed by my predecessor and I`m proud to be in a position
to sign this.
Now, I also have to say that I understand the victims` families are
divided on this issue. Some of them in our own state wanted this repeal to
be passed and some of them were very ardent in arguing that it was the only
way to bring closure. I understand both sides` arguments.
But as a society, this is not something that we should be doing. And
it`s applied in our nation even this day, this year in an arbitrary and
capricious fashion. If you examine the statistics and understand that
people of color who kill white people are much more likely to receive the
death penalty than other groups, you start to understand how capricious
this is in some case in its application.
MADDOW: In terms of that issue of how it is applied, do you think
that is what is changing people`s minds on this the most? I mean,
Connecticut has a history of executions going back to the 1700s, and this
has been an issue that has been hotly debated year after year after year.
What do you think it is that changed enough people`s minds on this
issue over time that this repeal has finally come to pass?
MALLOY: Well, let us remember, the first person put to death in
Connecticut was put to death because that person was accused of being a
witch. And we`ve made other mistakes in Connecticut, I believe.
But most importantly, we are violating the Supreme Court`s decision
that originally outlawed the death penalty because we are doing it in an
arbitrary and capricious fashion. If you were prosecuted in one particular
city in our state, you were seven times more likely to receive the death
penalty than if you had committed a crime and been tried in another city in
So, we weren`t meeting a constitutional standard, nor do we have a
workable death penalty statute in our own state. Since 1961, the only
person to be put to death actually volunteered for it by withdrawing their
appeals. Every other person currently on death penalty – on death row is
not likely to have been put to death anyway. But we had this practice in
place where they could be.
We have several people on death row been on longer than 20 years. I
think what we are doing is joining the rest of the industrialized world,
joining the other 16 states. By the way, when you talk about the states,
understand that Wisconsin outlawed the death penalty in 1853 and Maine did
it in 1876. This is not a new movement. It was a slow one to develop.
It`s picking up steam.
I believe there is a day coming when our nation will join the rest of
the industrialized world in doing away with it.
MADDOW: In terms of the men in Connecticut who are on death row. I
know that part of it getting passed was an agreement that it would not
apply retroactively. Those men, those 11 men in death row in Connecticut
will still be technically be facing execution, this just means that
there`ll be no new death sentences handed in the state.
If any of those cases did come to an end in terms of appeals, while
you were still governor, can you imagine yourself carrying out the
executions for the men who were not grandfathered in in this legal change?
MALLOY: No, I couldn`t imagine myself doing that. But actually, I`m
a governor in the state that doesn`t vest that power in the governor. So,
I would never have to make that decision as governor.
But I understand other governors who have been bothered by the
decisions they have been made, that they`ve made and how difficult it must
be. That`s simply not the law here.
But I have to tell you, I`m proud to be the governor who will sign
this legislation, proud to serve with the men and women of the Senate and
the House that passed the legislation, and proud that we are joining 16
other states that have joined the rest of the industrialized world in
moving beyond this penalty.
Now, listen, we also made another compromise, or actually good
improvement I think on the bill and we`ve said for particularly heinous
crimes, people will be treated differently as if they are on death row,
with very limited rights and privileges. We understand that there should
be differences – different forms of punishment for individuals but death
is not one of those.
MADDOW: Governor Dan Malloy of Connecticut – thank you for being
with us on the show tonight, sir. Thank you.
MALLOY: Thank you.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Recapping tonight`s breaking news, just a few hours ago,
North Korea attempted to launch a rocket, this three-stage rocket which
North Korea said was carrying a communication satellite. The U.S. military
says it detected the launch at 6:39 p.m. Eastern Time. The launch was not
successful. The rocket said to have crashed harmlessly into the sea
shortly after liftoff.
Despite the apparently failure of the launch, the White House is
calling this a, quote, “provocative action threatens regional security.”
The U.S. is calling a U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss the issue
tomorrow – high international drama.
That does it for us tonight. Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” word
with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a good evening.
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