The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/03/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you. I`m looking
forward to that.
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: Yes. Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
If you ever get a tweet from President Obama, you will know it by his
signature. The president has an official Twitter account from which all
sorts of on message things get tweeted all the time.
But the White House says you will know when a tweet has been written
by and sent by the president himself because in that case, the tweet gets a
little initial signature. A “bo” in lower case, which kind of makes it
look like it was maybe sent by the presidential dog, but it was not. It`s
“bo” as in B.O., as in Barack Obama, as in “I the president wrote this
tweet.” If it was a dog, it would be the paw print.
The president was writing his own tweet this afternoon. The string of
Twitter messages – the president wrote about the budget negotiations in
Washington. The White House announcing in advance today that the president
himself would be answering people`s questions about the negotiations in
Washington. He`d be answering them directly on Twitter starting at 2:00
It is kind of awesome that regular people can ask direct questions in
real time of the leader of the free world. It`s like a town hall during
the primaries, but you don`t have to go to New Hampshire in the winter for
But doing this shows the unique risks of totally unmediated modern
communication methods for very high profile people. Like, for example,
there was this exchange this afternoon – which does make sense and it is
on message, even if at first it doesn`t seem that way.
All right. Look, the person who`s writing the president here is
called, “don`t be a prat”. That`s their name on Twitter. That`s kind of
the first pitfall, right? Here`s the president talking to somebody called
“don`t be a prat”.
And here`s “don`t be a prat`s” question for the president.
@BarackObama, that`s how you know this person is talking to the president.
@Barack Obama, “As a recent college grad without a job, these cuts wouldn`t
help me, would they?”
Here`s the president`s response, to “don`t be a prat,” from the
president, he types that up. “Cuts without revenue equal reductions in
student loans. Also work study and college tax credits expire. Bad for
growth, like your hair.”
Bad for growth, like your hair. Right. No. Punctuation very
important here. End of one thought, start of a new thought.
So, all of those things that might happen in the negotiations, those
are bad for growth. Also I like your hair. And indeed, when you look at
the little avatar for `don`t be a prat”, indeed, nice hair. I myself had
blue hair once. More blue, less purple, but still.
Direct public-to-president communications have potential risks, right?
But paying those risks is one of the things that this White House has
proven willing to do. It`s sort of part of the price of admission that
they have been willing to pay for how this president is trying to win his
first big political fight in D.C. after being reelected.
The president`s e-mail system for contacting his supporters, being
employed to ask the people who just voted for him to now contact Congress
and take the president`s side in these negotiations over taxes and
spending. The president asking people to use Twitter and Facebook and
anything else they can in social media to weigh in on these negotiations in
terms of contacting Congress. The president touring outside of Washington
like it was still during the campaign, building up support for his side of
the argument. All to increase his political capital in this fight he`s
having with the Republicans in Congress.
Now, the Republicans have not been shy in condemning the president for
taking this populist approach in the way he`s trying to get his way in this
big fight with them. The Republicans own strategy is basically the
opposite to what the president is doing. They are keeping their side of
the argument very firmly within the Beltway.
They are not out barnstorming anybody on this. They are not asking
the public to get involved. They are trying to make sure this conversation
ventures no further afield than the Sunday morning talk shows. Let`s keep
this in Washington, because it is in the belt beltway where the Republican
side of the argument makes the most apparent sense.
Right? I mean, there`s no suspense in how Washington, D.C. is going
to vote in the election, right? But in the real world, out in the rest of
the country, the president just won reelection and his party, the
Democrats, picked up seats in the House and Senate at the same time.
Before this election, which the Democrats did very well and the
Republicans did not do well, before this election happened, the Republican
speaker of the House, John Boehner, had proposed that revenues should be
raised by this much. This was his pre-election offer. After the election,
which his party lost, after contesting on these grounds, now after the
election where his side lost, look at his new offer.
Now, he`s offering this much new revenue. His offer has gone down.
His offer since losing the election has gotten worse. You cannot have even
what I offered you before the election. What election?
That`s how the Republican House speaker is playing the game this week.
And, you know, Maybe in the world of the beltway and the Sunday morning
talk shows, maybe that makes sense.
But in the real world, here`s what happened, here`s the bigger
picture, right? Our economy broke very, very badly. Not long ago on a
historic scale. And now in the real world, we are having these teeny, tiny
little glimmers of recovery of economic growth.
The first blue bar, that`s when the stimulus bill passed by Congress
and signed by President Obama, went into effect. The stimulus kicks in and
the economy starts to grow after having fallen off a cliff. That`s the
real cliff, right?
Just the other day, we learned that our latest teeny, tiny glimmer of
growth was actually bigger than we had thought it was, which was awesome.
The bad news, though, is that we are in danger of falling back. We
are in real danger. The deficit is not the biggest problem in the country.
The deficit is shrinking already by hundreds of millions of dollars every
year the president has been president.
I mean, to the extent we need to count on debt, we need to use debt to
accomplish other goals, you may not like the idea in the abstract, but,
honestly, debt is cheaper now than it has been in a long time. Focusing on
the debt and deficit to the exclusion of everything else is like arguing
about the color you might paint your car while you`re crashing that car
into a tree.
In Washington, the Republicans are arguing about not a pretend problem
but something honestly that is a secondary or tertiary problem – a problem
that has no pressing real world need to be the one problem we wreck
everything else to solve. If you look at the real economy in the real
world right now, outside of Sunday morning, what everybody else in the
country can tell, is what the economy needs right now is stimulus.
You don`t need to take money out of the economy right now. You don`t
need to further contract the economy. You need to stimulate the economy.
The economists who track this stuff already think we`re not growing
enough to get back to a healthy economy.
On Friday morning, economists cut their estimate to for how much we
are growing right now. And then they cut it again on Friday afternoon,
because people are not making enough money and therefore, not spending
enough money and businesses are not hiring enough people. We need to be
talking about growth in this country.
The problem we`ve got in this country is an economic growth problem.
The problem is not the deficit. The deficit – sure, nobody wants there to
be a deficit, but that`s not exactly the pressing need we`ve got as a
Growing the economy, frankly, is also the only way we have gotten rid
of red ink in the past, right? When Americans are better off, they pay
more in taxes. With more tax revenue, the government can pay for the usual
things. Plus, we can pay down the debt.
President Clinton, that surplus he left behind, he got that surplus
partly from raising revenue, raising taxes. But also he did it in a way
that grew the economy and the nation prospered and the debt became sort of
no big deal and then all of a sudden, the debt was gone and the debt clocks
that were supposed to be scary got shut off and have to run the other
direction. That was because of prioritizing economic growth and being
willing to raise revenues.
Look when we started growing again after the Great Recession. It was
not long after the stimulus kicked in, right? The government spent money
and the economy grew. That`s how it works.
That`s why it used to be a sort of Beltway consensus that when the
economy needed to grow, you needed economic stimulus in terms of your
But now, this beltway discussion about how we need to make sure that
we contract the economy as much as possible and causes much pain as
possible to the people who will be hurt the most by that contracting, maybe
that works and makes sense on Sunday morning inside the beltway, but the
rest of us go to work during the week and sometimes we go to parties.
And, right now, as we speak, here`s the scene in Washington, right?
We`re at the White House, which Bo Obama has shown us all what it looks
like for the holidays. Tonight is the first White House Christmas party of
the season. It`s the White House Christmas party for members of Congress -
- John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, the top three House
Republicans are all there at the White House alongside President Obama
And so, E.J. Dionne, “Washington Post” columnist, Brookings
Institution senior fellow, friendliest person in the whole Sunday morning
circuit – while those guys are standing over the punch bowl, what should
President Obama be saying to them to get them to focus on what the country
needs, as opposed to what sounds so good on Sunday?
E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, I think I might say and
do a couple things. I would have two really beautiful leather bound
volumes and say to them, happy – merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah. These
are the county by county returns from the last election bound in this
beautiful leather. You might want to study these. You know, it`s not 2010
anymore so let`s figure out what to do.
And I think the second thing I`d say is, you know, this is a religious
season so we think of religious folks. You know, St. Augustine once said,
“Dear Lord, give me chastity, but not yet.”
And that`s how you guys are with taxes. You sent me this letter. You
say $800 million in taxes from tax reform, but we`ll figure it out next
And no, we need the money now. And, by the way, tell us what
deductions you get rid of and maybe you can give me a specific proposal
where you outline those cuts and then we can negotiate and maybe we`ll get
this settled by Christmas.
MADDOW: The first point about the election returns I think is a
beautiful idea and makes me want to commission that from somebody, leather
But there is this remarkable thing that John Boehner is doing, which
is that he did have an offer on the table before the election. That got
worse after the election. And I`m assuming this is just some sort of hard-
nose negotiating tactic.
But at some point, how does his bluff get called on that? He can`t
reasonably expect that after this election, he might get more than what he
wanted before the election.
DIONNE: I think the bluff can get called in two ways. We can always
go past January 1st and then all the taxes come back and we can start from
there. And that`s why I don`t think people should be worried about the
fiscal slope or whatever we want to call it. These are bunch of
artificially-imposed deadlines to create a frenzy. They`re there for
political reasons. So, that`s one thing that can happen.
But I think a second thing can happen is you`ve got Tom Cole out
there, the Republican from Oklahoma, who said, you know, we`re crazy if we
don`t extend the middle class tax cuts. It`s politically smart. I think
you could see more Republicans get there.
And that`s why I`m really glad President Obama is not negotiating both
for himself and for the Republicans, which was sometimes his habit the last
time. He`s basically saying, you want a whole bunch of cuts I don`t have.
You propose them. Don`t make me propose them.
And I think that`s creating some pressure on them. And I think both
those things will have an effect. But, you know, we`ll get the taxes back
if we do nothing.
MADDOW: The conversation in Washington being separate from what it
feels like the real needs of the country, what were the real needs are a
familiar feeling for me. I often have this frustration that the Beltway
discussion is just not what the important questions are that are facing the
But in this case, I feel like as long as we`re willing to talk about
the economic needs of the country, as long as we`re willing to talk about
fiscal policy, how can it be we`re not talking about new stimulus? I
realize the Republicans ran against that as if the stimulus was this awful
thing. But then the Republicans lost and we have an economic growth
I wonder if you see sort of signs of hope in what the president is
asking for there in the way people are talking about the need to goose
DIONNE: Well, there were three good things in his proposal. One is
$50 billion to create an infrastructure bank, which, by the way,
Republicans ought to like because it`s a public/private partnership.
He also says – and I think he`s absolutely right about this – we`ve
got to extend unemployment insurance and we should extend the payroll tax
holiday another year, because we don`t want to take all that money out of
people`s hands when the economy is this shaky.
The money to average Americans is more stimulative than to rich folks.
You wouldn`t do damage by those on the rich, if any.
And there are other things you could do. I think they should speed
the resolution of some of these mortgages that are under water. We could
take a lot of pressure off the economy.
I`d like to see something like a holiday on student loans or something
to cut back what people owe on that.
The other I like is an old idea that died, which was an idea for
school improvements all over the country. There are a lot of schools in
our country, particularly in poor neighborhoods, that aren`t in good shape.
And these projects don`t need new permits. They`re in existing schools.
We could get good money out there and it would do something really
good, which would make kids proud of their schools.
MADDOW: E.J. Dionne, relentlessly constructive as always, which
always makes me happy to talk to you. “Washington Post” columnist,
Brookings Institution senior fellow – E.J., thank you.
DIONNE: Great to be with you.
MADDOW: All right. President Obama said that he was not going to
make a big speech this afternoon. But then he ended up kind of making a
big speech about the subject that he cared most about when he was Senator
Obama. There`s lots to get to tonight. That`s coming up next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: The president gave a funny, informal speech where he talked
about traveling as a young, brand new senator with Republican Senator Dick
Lugar. They were in Ukraine together. And Senator Obama had to be told by
his hosts to please not touch the TNT – as in please do not touch the
The speech today from the president was full of stuff I had never
heard him talk about before. It had a lot of very funny anecdotes in it.
At times, we got some of the funniest stuff coming up in just a moment.
But there was one very serious moment in the same speech. It appeared
to be just a serious digression in the middle of this otherwise fairly
informal set of remarks from the president. And when the president made
this digression in the middle of this otherwise informal speech today, his
digression made headlines around the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I want to make
it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command, the world is
watching. The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally
unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons,
there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There will be consequences. What will those consequences be?
No one is saying, but everybody who is saying there are consequences
are saying it in a way that we are supposed to believe would be a very big
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is a red line for the
United States. I`m not going to telegraph in any specifics what we would
do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to
using chemical weapons against their own people, but suffice it to say, we
are certainly planning to take action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Apparently, we are planning to take action.
When a conflict has been going on somewhere in the world for a long
time, it`s sometimes hard to tell when a development in that far-away
conflict in that war crosses the line into being a big deal, into being a
newsworthy thing for the world.
What is maybe happening in Syria is one of those things that crosses
the line. You can tell in part because both the president and the American
secretary of state today about it today and threatened that the U.S. is
going to act in response.
Now, I do not know exactly what that means and neither do you, but
we`re probably not talking about a sternly-worded letter here.
When we talk about Syria having chemical weapons, we`re talking about
like the nerve agents, Sarin and VX. We`re talking about mustard gas.
Do you remember the doomsday cult that released Sarin gas in the Tokyo
subway system back in the mid-`90s? They killed 13 people, they seriously
injured 50 people. They temporarily blinded a thousand people. Imagine
that but with weapons grade sarin disseminated by missile.
The “Associated Press” says today that Syria is believed to have
several hundred ballistic surface-to-surface missiles capable of carrying
chemical warheads plus several tons of chemical weapons stored in either
large drums or in artillery shells.
The cause for all the concern right now, including the statements from
President Obama and Secretary Clinton, is the reports from this weekend.
Reports from this weekend quoting American and Israeli intelligence sources
saying that there was, quote, “heightened activity at some of Syria`s
chemical weapons sites” in the past few days.
The State Department spokesman today raising the prospect that the
Syrian government may feel like they are losing the war its fighting
against its rebels conventional weapons and they may instead be looking to
their chemical weapons supplies out of desperation.
There`s no reason to be alarmist about this going on, but this is also
alarming enough now that it makes sense to be paying attention and paying
attention closely. And toward that end, I just want to highlight one other
detail of this evolving story. The last time the international community
noticed unusual activity around Syria`s chemical weapons site, the last
time the world basically freaked out that maybe the Syrians were going to
gas their own people with sarin or VX or mustard gas, the last time this
happened was in July.
And in July this is who stood up for the Syrian government and said,
don`t worry it will never happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any talks of WMD or any unconventional weapon that
the Syrian Republic possessed would never be used against civilian or
against the Syrian people during this crisis at any circumstances. No
matter how the crisis would evolve, no matter how.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That spokesman assuring the world that Syria would never use
its chemical weapons, would never use its weapons of mass destruction
against its own people, that guy, the last government spokesman who told
the world, don`t worry about this, we won`t use them – that guy today
defected, fled the country. He`s said to be on his way to London.
Even if you have not been paying attention to Syria before now, or
you`ve only been paying attention on and off, depending on the headlines,
it is worth understanding why this is now a focus of international concern
– and international focus.
MADDOW: Back in 2009 and 2010, Republican protests against President
Obama`s supposedly socialist, communist, Marxist, fascist, Kenyan secret
Muslim agenda were usually touted as grassroots events. Most of them were
not grassroots events. Most of the big ones at least were organized by
groups like the one called FreedomWorks, which grew out of a conservative
advocacy organization that was founded and funded by the billionaire Koch
Well, the front man of FreedomWorks was a man named Dick Armey. He
had been a congressman from Texas. For a while, he had been the House
majority leader for the Republican Party, which is itself not a grassroots-
y thing, right?
But none of this is very grassroots-y.
And today, David Corn and “Mother Jones” magazine had a scoop about
the famously powerful, fake grassroots part of Republican Party politics.
“Mother Jones” published a (INAUDIBLE) of e-mail to FreedomWorks in which
Dick Armey quit. He quit.
He then told “Mother Jones”, quote, “The top management team of
FreedomWorks was taking a direction I thought was unproductive and I
thought it was time to move on with my life.”
I don`t know exactly why Dick Armey and FreedomWorks broke up, but
there`s discord at the fake grassroots conservative level. Actually
there`s a lot going on. We`ve got more on that ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Once upon a time, the former president of the United States
went out on his very pretty, very fast boat and he took out on his very
pretty, very fast boat with him these tiny people who are too tiny to
discern in this picture, but who I assure include this man, who happens to
be the current president of Kazakhstan.
Former President George H.W. Bush and the president of Kazakhstan went
boating together in the not-so-distant past at the Bush family compound in
The president of Kazakhstan has been president of that country for
more than 20 years. If you want to know what kind of president he has
been, suffice to say that he tells us he got 95 percent of the vote in the
last election. His government declared last Saturday to be president`s day
and 30,000 people performed in a pageant that was devoted to expressing his
personal awesomeness. He also controls the state media, naturally. So,
he`s not exactly a president in the way we think of a president, but that`s
the president of Kazakhstan.
Also president/dictator vein is this man, president of Belarus,
Alexander Lukashenko. He has been president there for almost 20 years. In
an amazing Q&A last week, “Reuters” straight up asked this guy, asked
Lukashenko his reaction to being called a dictator.
This is how he replied, quote, “I asked myself, `What is a dictator?
I`m not a bad person at all. I don`t really understand what a dictator is.
But on the other hand, I sometimes in a nice way envy myself. I am
the last and only dictator in Europe and indeed there are none anywhere
else in the world.
You came here and looked at a living dictator. Where else would you
Imagine what it feels like to envy yourself.
It would be totally inappropriate for our country to be friendly with
guys who run these Soviet republics, right? Guys who call themselves
president that are psyched to be referred to as a dictator.
But honestly in the real world, we do have some relationships with
these types of leaders and these types of countries. Sometimes our
presidents even go speedboating with these types of leaders. And we do as
a country, even when these guys are real creeps, we do lead projects with
them that our government sees as being in our national interests.
So, for example, in Belarus – Belarus gave up their nuclear weapons
in the 1990s, but it was a big deal and a rather surprising thing when the
Obama administration got Belarus to agree to give up their highly enriched
uranium, too. Their stockpile of fissile material, nearly 200 pounds of
it, were taken away and secured by the United States.
Kazakhstan, too, the guy in Kazakhstan who just named a national
holiday in his own honor, he agreed to work with the National Nuclear
Security Administration to give up a portion of his country`s highly-
enriched uranium and, of course, all the risk that goes with it.
It is remarkable that these countries, countries that used to be part
of a Soviet Union before the Soviet Union disbanded, these countries agreed
to give up their nuclear weapons, right? And that they also agreed to give
up fissile material used to make nuclear weapons.
So while there are to this day a lot of things to worry about when it
comes to Belarus, we can worry a little bit less about their stockpile of
highly enriched uranium because they let us lock some of it up.
The American policy that makes this a priority is now more than 20
years old. It goes back to 1992. It`s called the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative
Threat Reduction Program. It`s named after the Democratic Senator Sam Nunn
and the Republican Senator Richard Lugar.
This is one of the things that our government does, right? You may
remember me wearing a funny outfit when we traveled to Mexico in February
of this year while Mexico is giving up the last of its highly enriched
uranium, working with us, working with our National Nuclear Security
Administration to safely contain and take away that material.
From the beginning of this presidency, this work has been a priority
for President Obama. Ten weeks after he was first inaugurated in 2009, he
traveled to Prague and laid out his vision before a crowd of 20,000 people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: As a nuclear power as the only nuclear power to have used a
nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We
cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it. We can start
it. So today I state clearly and with conviction America`s commitment to
seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.
I`m not naive. This it goal will not be reached quickly, perhaps not
in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence. But now we, too,
must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have
to insist – yes, we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was in 2009, just weeks after he was inaugurated.
The following year in 2010, President Obama convened the first Nuclear
Security Summit in Washington. More than 40 heads of state got together to
discuss among other things how to best safeguard the nuclear material that
already exists around the world. That same year, President Obama signed a
new START Treaty, an agreement between United States and Russia to reduce
the number of nuclear weapons in each country`s arsenal.
Obama called that treaty his top national security priority and he got
the Senate to ratify it that year by hook or by crook.
It`s hard to put a bigger exclamation point on a policy than this
president has tried to do with the way he`s talked about nuclear
disarmament from the very beginning of this presidency. Nuclear
disarmament and counter-proliferation – keeping the world safe not just
from nuclear weapons, but from nuclear material falling into the wrong
But it`s still this underappreciated thing about what is important to
him, and also how long it`s been important to him.
Today, President Obama underscored just how seriously he`s taken this
issue from the beginning of his career in a speech praising in part
Republican Richard Lugar`s work on nuclear weapons and nuclear material as
Senator Lugar prepares to leave Washington after decades.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It was Dick who took me on my first foreign trip as a senator
to Russia and Ukraine and Azerbaijan. I remember walking through one
facility. I started leaning in for a closer look, and one of the workers
said, “Don`t touch that orange stuff.” It`s turned out to be TNT.
At another point, the workers were taking apart munitions, gloves on
their hands, masks over their faces. And I`m thinking, wait a second, why
don`t we have masks on?
This is the kind of trip you take with Dick Lugar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It does not covered that often by the Beltway media, but
nuclear weapons, nuclear material, reducing the number of them in the
world, making sure that the material that`s out there in the world does not
fall into the hands of crazies, trying to secure all the material that can
be used to make a nuclear weapon, these have been at the top of Barack
Obama`s to do list in Washington since he first came to Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: You may remember this, Dick. I was in Ukraine. We went to a
facility, an old factory. We walked down these long, dark corridors.
We`re ducking our heads, stepping over puddles of something – we`re not
sure what it was.
Finally, we came across some women sitting at a work table. On it
were piles of old artillery shells and the women were sitting there taking
them apart by hand, slowly, carefully, one by one.
It took decades and extraordinary sums of money to build those
arsenals. This is going to take decades and continued investments to
dismantle them. It`s painstaking work. It rarely makes headlines.
Missile by missile, warhead by warhead, shell by shell, we`re putting a
bygone era behind us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Joe Cirincione, he`s president of the
Ploughshares Fund, which is a global security foundation. He`s also a
member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Joe, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
JOE CIRINCIONE, PLOUGHSHARES FUND PRESIDENT: My pleasure, Rachel.
Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: I know you were there when President Obama gave that speech
MADDOW: Is this – should we see this as a commemoration of Richard
Lugar at the end of his Senate career, which was so important to this issue
– or did this have policy significance?
CIRINCIONE: It`s more than a commemoration, although that was a big
part of the purpose. He told some very funny stories and had some very
warm reminiscences of both Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar who were being
But then he turned serious. You heard this part of his speech. You
quoted my favorite line. “Missile by missile, warhead by warhead, shell by
shell, we`re taking this bygone era apart.” We`re moving towards a world
where these weapons will never again threaten our children.
So, he chose this moment, this is the first national security speech
since he was reelected. And he chooses to talk about nuclear weapons – to
underscore his personal commitment to it, to reaffirm his vision that he
expressed in Prague in his first foreign policy speech as president that
this is important to him and he did it at the National Defense University
with his entire nuclear security team in front of him. This was as much a
message to the bureaucracy as it was to the American people in the world.
This is important to me. I intend to see this through.
MADDOW: His personal commitment on this issue, his longstanding
personal interest in this issue, is something that`s made it an issue to
watch since he first became president. Frankly, since he first became
senator. But how do you judge his first term in terms of keeping his
promises or aimed at least toward the things he wanted to get accomplished
in his first as president in this field?
CIRINCIONE: He has kept almost all his promises in this field. In
fact, there`s a fact checking site PolitiFact, I think –
MADDOW: I`ve never heard of them.
CIRINCIONE: – that ran the numbers down today and judged that in
most cases, he kept his promises.
He did a nuclear reduction treaty with Russia. He did increase and
speed up the work to secure these nuclear materials. He strengthened the
international nonproliferation regime, making it harder for other countries
to try to get these.
But he faced resistance from his own bureaucracy, he faced some
reluctant partners, particularly in Russia and he faced political
opponents, particularly in the U.S. Senate. So he`s only achieved about
half of what he intended to do.
And that`s what made this speech so important today. Here he is
saying the job is not yet done. We have a long way to go. I intend to see
it through to the end.
MADDOW: One of the last times you and I talked about this, we talked
about the fact that what the Republicans in the Senate, in particular,
demanded in exchange for ratifying the new START Treaty with Russia, is
that they demanded many, many, many billions of dollars to be put into
building new nuclear weapons and supposedly modernizing the nuclear
And for a president taking this thing apart shell by shell, missile by
missile, to also be making those big investments in nuclear weapons
laboratories and nuclear weapons manufacturing and nuclear weapons
modernizing, it seems like a bit of an oxymoron.
How do you assess that side of his deal-making?
CIRINCIONE: Well, in the Prague speech, he also said that as long as
these weapons exist, we have to make sure they are safe and secure and
effective – which is true. We`re stuck with the cost in the nuclear
weapons complex. We spend about $56 billion every year on nuclear weapons
and related programs. We`re scheduled to spend $640 billion on these
programs over the next 10 years.
Clearly, this is excessive. Clearly, this can be cut back. This is
the gap in the president`s program. There`s been a gap between his
policies, which seek to reduce and eliminate these weapons, and the
contracts, the procurement for these systems which continue to go upwards.
The policy has not caught up with the procurement. That`s why it`s so
urgent he act soon in his new term to bridge that gap, to want to gain
control of the policy apparatus, to slow the contracts down before we lock
in the building of an entire new generation of missiles, bombers and subs.
MADDOW: Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund – Joe,
thank you very much tonight. It`s always great to have you here.
CIRINCIONE: Thank you it, Rachel. Great segment.
MADDOW: All right. Cheers!
All right. Anybody who has ever Googled the word “Santorum” knows how
that turns out. Now it`s going to be awkward and embarrassing for a new
MADDOW: There`s a bunch of new news today about how the Republican
Party is trying to have talk some introspection and talks amongst
themselves about what went wrong for them this election cycle, how they
positioned themselves to shore up who it is they are and what it is they
stand for after this bad year.
Beyond the news about my boyfriend from high school, Dick Armey,
apparently angrily leaving his Koch brothers-funded conservative mega
group, FreedomWorks, today. Aside from that scoop from David Corn at
“Mother Jones” tonight, there`s more ahead about the party`s strange new
round of decision making. That story is coming up.
But before we get to that last story tonight, there`s something that I
think went unusually unnoticed, I guess, in today`s news from Washington –
something that seems that it might end up being important.
OK. You`ll remember that at the beginning of last week, the
Republican Party made news when they picked committee chairs for their 19
Republican-led committees in Congress, right? And for those 19 committee
chairs, they pick 19 white men.
House Speaker John Boehner tried to do a little damage control on
Friday with the two that he personally can choose. But he had a problem in
trying to give one of those two committee chairmanships at least to a woman
because the Republican membership of those two remaining committees
contained no women. No women members. So no women to choose from in
trying to find a Republican female committee chair.
Ultimately, John Boehner decided to break all precedent going back to
the 1800s so he could pick a woman to be a chair of one of these committees
even though she was not currently a member of that committee. John Boehner
still has one to bestow. The House Ethics Committee needs a chairman –
the man who currently holds that gavel is Republican Joe Bonner of Alabama.
He said publicly he doesn`t want the job again this time.
But again, how is it going to be a woman? There are no Republican
women on that committee. So who knows?
There have been no Republican women on that committee in years. This
one might even be more awkward than the last one that John Boehner had to
go through gymnastic gyrations to fix. Good luck on that, Mr. Speaker.
Honestly, the problem that Republicans have in trying to appear
diverse in their leadership is that they just don`t have a deep pool of
Republican-elected women to choose from. There aren`t that many.
And here`s what just happened to make that worse, which I think
deserves a little more attention – Republicans already have like no women
in Congress, right? Before this last election, out of 241 members of
Congress, only 24 Republicans were women – 24 Republican congresswomen
heading into this last election. And then after this election, they went
down. They went from 24 down to 20, a net loss of four.
And today, that net loss of four became a net loss of five because
Republican Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri`s eight district, Jo
Ann Emerson just announced that she is quitting. She was just re-elected
to her ninth term in Congress, handedly reelected, 72 percent of the vote.
But she`s stepping down to become CEO of the National Rural Electric
Cooperative Association. Basically, she`s stepping down to be a lobbyist.
And by her leaving, the proportion of women among the Republicans in
Congress drops into the single digits in the 21st century and maybe they
will keep doing these ornate gymnastic backbends to make it look like that
is not true. Or maybe they`ll just come out against women suffrage and try
to fix the problem that way.
MADDOW: New York City, in the New York City area has two football
teams. One of them is pretty good. They won the Super Bowl this past
The other team is not good. They are called the Jets. They wear
green. And even the people who like them now show up at their games
wearing homemade jerseys that say this, “buttfumble”. This refers to the
Jets` quarterback who is very handsome, shown here modeling with his shirt
off for “GQ.”
In his day job, when he`s not modeling, he`s supposed to be playing
football. And last weekend, he was holding the football and inexplicably
ran into the butts of one of his own teammates, boom, and kind of knock
himself out and fell down and dropped the ball and the other team picked up
the ball and ran for a touchdown. Hence, the buttfumble.
The jets are just not a good football team this year. You can address
your hate mail to me at Rachel@MSNBC.com. I will tell you, the auto reply
you will get will include the word buttfumble. So, just be prepared.
Now, the owner of the buttfumblers is a man named Woody Johnson.
Woody Johnson was the New York chairman of Mitt Romney`s presidential
campaign this year.
And today, Woody Johnson hosted a lunch meeting in Manhattan for
dozens of New York area Republican bundlers, big time Republican donors, to
talk about what went wrong this year. What went wrong with their party`s
effort to retake the White House.
The audience for their venting about that was Reince Priebus who
attended the meeting. Mr. Priebus is the Republican Party`s chairman. It
was his RNC that hired the firm ran by the guy who had been accused in the
past of voter registration improprieties to run the Republican voter
registration efforts in five swing states.
When that firm, ran by that guy with the shady past in the voter
registration business, was inevitably accused of doing shady things this
year with voter registration, the Republican Party in all of those states
had to fire the firm which meant ending voter registration in those five
crucial swing states in the final crucial weeks before the election.
There was no plan B. Thanks, Reince. The Republicans just had to
give up registering voters in those states. Reince Priebus` leadership at
the RNC – so, maybe that came up in today`s meeting.
Also potentially on the menu today, the RNC`s field program, part of
the overall Mitt Romney ground game effort that was just swamped this year.
The Republicans get-out-the-vote technology crashed early on Election Day.
One campaign official telling “The Daily Beast,” quote, “Pretty much
everything about the system that was supposed to work actually failed.”
So these dozens of big-time Republican donors meeting today to talk
about what went wrong and Reince Priebus is there to listen, to listen to
them vent about what went wrong, but his answer to all of their complaints
is – let`s do it all again because Reince Priebus, after all he did this
disastrous election cycle, wants to be re-elected as RNC chairman. He was
trying to shore up that re-election effort by meeting with these dozen of
Republican donors today, including the owner of the buttfumblers here in
New York City.
Meanwhile, “The Washington Post” reporting today on the other guy who
was responsible for the Republican`s very bad election year, reporting that
Mitt Romney is mostly living in La Jolla now in southern California and is
suffering from, quote, “sustained boredom”.
Speaking of bored, Mr. Romney has been put back on the board of the
Marriott Corporation. He`s subletting a private equity office from one of
his sons apparently.
But while Republicans try to figure out what went wrong with their
hoax for getting back in the White House, what about the guy that came in
more or less second to Mitt Romney this year? There`s news on him today.
He`s taking a job as a columnist for “World Net Daily”.
You might remember “World Net Daily” as the birther Web site. That
has not worked out all that well for them lately so “World Net Daily” has
These days, “World Net Daily” is your one-stop shop for a whole host
of new conspiracy theories about President Obama. They have been pushing
the theory that not only is President Obama secretly foreign but he`s also
secretly gay, and he used to be secretly married in college, probably
secretly gay married, and maybe he secretly murdered his secretly gay ex-
boyfriend. And his wedding ring proves that he`s secretly Muslim.
“World Net Daily” also has a superstore for all of your conspiracy-
related safety and self defense shopping needs. For example, you can buy a
how-to DVD called “Defensive Cane Fighting” where you apparently learned to
ward off would-be knife wielding attackers with your cane.
You can also buy a radiation detecting sticker to keep with you for
any future radiation emergency. Got your sticker?
Or maybe you`re in the market for a flash flight that doubles as a
tool for field stripping a Glock handgun.
That`s what`s going on at “World Net Daily” these days. This week,
“World Net Daily” columnist is writing about how a new secessionist party
could help white Americans start a new country. He rails about, quote,
“The U.S. bifactional ruling party`s hatred and contempt for white
Americans who still hold to traditional values, believe in their
constitutional liberties and derive their sense of identity from historical
America. They mock the secessionist petitioners in Texas and other states,
celebrate the infestation of even the smallest American heartland towns by
African and Asian and Aztec cultures and engage in ruthless doublethink as
they worship at the altar of a false and entirely nonexistent equality.”
So Mitt Romney has landed bored at his La Jolla mansion. That`s the
one that`s going to have the car elevators but they`re not there yet. So,
it`s still boring.
But the guy who was essentially came in second to Mitt Romney this
year, the guy who was a runner up in the Republican Party efforts to pick
their nominee, the guy who could have been Mitt Romney if for some reason
it didn`t work out for Mitt Romney, he landed at “World Net Daily”. He`s
going to be doing a regular column for “World Net Daily”, sharing space
with the white secession guy.
We have a two-party system in this country. And that is what half of
our two-party system is. That is half of what is supposed to be plausible
in American politics. Rick Santorum at “World Net Daily”. Also, cane
That does it for tonight. We`ll see you tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Thanks for being with us.
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.>