The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 01/23/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you, my friend. Your E
block tonight, your second to last block tonight, in particular, was
stellar. I want you to meet Ted Nugent in person so I can watch.
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: Yes, me against Ted. I`ll straighten
MADDOW: Like go get your buddies, Ted. It was amazing.
SCHULTZ: If I may take 10 seconds.
SCHULTZ: I am going crazy over this filibuster story.
SCHULTZ: How much more evidence do the Democrats have that the
Republicans are not honest brokers, and we need to move this Obama agenda
forward? I`ve got to do a lot more on it tomorrow night. Rachel, thank
MADDOW: I`m looking forward to it. Thank you, Ed. I appreciate it.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
On a day when you probably should have taken the day off and just
watched the news all day, if you did not do that today, it`s OK. This
hour, we will get you all caught up.
But this is one of those days when I had to turn off the speakers on
my computer on my desk at work because the buzzer that I have set to go off
every time a top tier breaking news alert crosses the wires started to seem
like it was just stuck on, it was sounding so often today. It was that
kind of day.
So we`re going to have updates for you this hour on a riveting turn on
Capitol Hill from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today.
And remember the debt ceiling thing that everybody has been fighting
about for months. That finally happened today.
The stealth story that we have been covering about Republicans in the
states changing the rules for presidential elections to make it harder for
Democratic candidates to win, that story moved forward today in a big way,
and is getting increasing national attention.
There is a lot going on. This was a big news day. We`re going to be
getting to all of that.
But none of those stories were the biggest, most surprising thing that
happened on this big, surprising day of news. Now, that story is our lead
story tonight, and it starts here. This is a Medal of Honor ceremony, the
highest award our country gives for valor. President Clinton here
bestowing the Medal of Honor on Vernon Baker, whose Medal of Honor citation
explains his acts of extraordinary heroism and daring leadership in an
attack on a fortified gothic Italian castle in World War II.
By the end of the war, that was considered to be one of the last lines
of defense for the Nazis. The Nazis surrendered in May 1945. The acts for
which Vernon Baker got the Medal of Honor took place in April of 1945. So
this happened right at the end of the war. This was last stand territory,
April 1945, the month before the war ended, April 1945.
But it was not until 52 years after that, it was not until 1997, 52
years after he showed that heroism that Vernon Baker actually received his
Over 400 Medals of Honor were awarded for heroism shown by U.S. troops
fighting in World War II, but not a single one of them went at the time to
a black soldier.
It was not until the mid-`90s that the Army commissioned a study to
see if, really, no black soldiers deserved a Medal of Honor for that war?
Or to look into whether maybe the fact that they served in segregated
units meant that they were just not considered for that medal, even though
some of them deserved it. The Army study found that there were seven
African-American soldiers who were decorated for their service, but that
decoration should have been the Medal of Honor. They only did not receive
the nation`s highest military honor because they were black and served in
President Clinton asked Congress to suspend the statute of limitations
on the award, and in 1997, finally, more than 50 years late, he awarded
seven Medals of Honor to black men for heroism in World War II.
The only one of them who was still alive to receive it was Vernon
Serving is not the same as serving equally. There has been
distinguished service by African-American soldiers in every American war
all the way back to the Revolutionary War on which they fought on both
sides. And, of course, the Civil War, and, of course, World War I, and
every war we have had.
When Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye died a few weeks ago, we remembered
his service in World War II as part of a segregated unit of Japanese
American servicemen. Daniel Inouye`s Medal of Honor was also awarded more
than 50 years after the war when an Army review showed it was not just
black units but also Asian units that were not properly recognized for
their soldiers` heroism.
We are still trying to give appropriate recognition now to the
surviving Tuskegee airmen, who you saw President Obama paying tribute to at
his inauguration this week, just as he did at his inauguration in 2009.
It was not until World War II was over in 1948 that President Harry
Truman issued an executive order to desegregate the United States Armed
Forces by race. Nonwhite service members had been there all along. They
had just never been treated equally. President Truman ordered that to
And it was not easy, and it was not even, but it was 1948. And the
military having an overt policy of desegregation as of 1948 was a
groundbreaking thing, not just for the military, but for our country.
And in that same year of racial integration, in 1948, it`s pretty much
long forgotten, but in that same year in 1948, the Congress also passed the
Women`s Armed Services Integration Act. 1948. There had been of course
the WAC, the Women`s Army Corps, and the Marine Corps Women`s Reserve.
There had been a Coast Guard Female Reserve Group.
But in 1948, the same year that Truman said the military would be
racially integrated, women were, too. They wouldn`t be in a lady`s
auxiliary to the military. They would just be in the military, sort of.
That Women`s Integration Act in 1948 also set a limit on what
proportion of the regular U.S. military women could be. It set that limit
at 2 percent.
Oh, nice, guys. Two percent of the enlisted force. Thanks. Cheers.
By 1967, they realized that was stupid, and they got rid of the 2
percent limit, which came in handy seven years later when the country
abolished the draft and we went to an all volunteer force. And so,
recruiting everybody, including women, frankly recruiting anybody you could
get became even more of a necessity.
By the 1990s, any legal prohibition on what jobs exactly women could
have in the military were gone. There was no law banning women from
specific jobs in the military, but there was a Defense Department policy
that said women could not serve in units whose primary mission was to
engage in direct combat on the ground.
So that has been the rule. No women in combat. That`s the rule,
supposedly, as if.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: Well, I didn`t lose my legs in a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, a Black Hawk
helicopter pilot who lost both legs in Iraq. Technically, she was not
engaged in ground warfare because she was flying the aircraft and it was
only the people shooting her down who were on the ground, until she ended
up on the ground. But do you really want to split hairs with her about
whether or not that counted as combat?
In the wars and Iraq and Afghanistan, defining what counts as a combat
role and what does not count as a combat role has been a fool`s errand from
the beginning. In those wars over the past decade, 61 American women have
been killed in Iraq in combat by hostile action. And in Afghanistan, where
the war is still going on, so far 23 American women have been killed in
combat by hostile action.
Nearly a thousand American women have been wounded in action in those
two wars. But, again, serving is not the same as serving equally. And our
military`s paper ban on women in combat has done less to keep women out of
come bit than it has done to keep women from being recognized for serving
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DUCKWORTH: To make it to a general, for example, without a combat
arms command at the brigade or the battalion level, and this will now allow
women to have some of that command time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In 2009, Major Mary Jennings Hegar, a combat helicopter pilot
in the California Air National Guard, she was on a medevac mission in
Afghanistan when her aircraft was shot down. She was wounded on the
ground. She had 15 pieces of shrapnel in her right arm and leg, but she
still returned to retrieve three wounded soldiers on the ground. She
returned fire in that attack once she was shot down. She was awarded the
Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor for her actions that day in 2009.
But she could not seek the kind of leadership positions that the
military usually affords you because you have experience like that, because
the Defense Department did not officially acknowledge her experience in
combat. Seriously? Yes, seriously.
Contemporaneously, while all of this has been going on, this
administration, this president has been doing painstakingly hard political
work to undo another kind of discrimination in the U.S. military. In
September of 2011, a full repeal of “don`t ask, don`t tell” was
implemented, eliminating the legal ban on people serving in the military
who are openly gay.
Well, now they have done more. Today in a move that was not really
telegraphed in advance, today, we learned that by order of the Secretary of
Defense Leon Panetta, and upon the unanimous recommendation of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, the Obama administration will announce formally tomorrow
that the ban on women in combat is over.
They had been making some progress in this direction, recently opening
up the Special Operations Aviation Command to female pilots, and last year
opening up about 14,000 positions in the military that had been previously
off limits to women because of the combat ban. But this move, which is
going to be announced tomorrow, could open up 230,000 new jobs to women
over the course of the next year.
The various service branches will make their own plans for how to do
it. If there are individual specific jobs that they still want exempt for
women, that they want exempt from this new policy, the service chiefs can
ask for that. But that will not be the expectation.
The priority, of course, is still military readiness and combat
effectiveness above all. But they are making this move, starting tomorrow,
to make serving equally recognized, equally – to clear the way for women
Joining us now is one of the women whose legal case on this issue may
have helped push the military to this decision. She is Captain Zoe Bedell.
She`s one of four plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed a couple of months
ago challenging the Defense Department`s exclusion of women in combat.
Captain Bedell served two deployments in Afghanistan. She is
currently in the Marine Corps Reserve.
Captain Bedell, thank you for being here.
CAPT. ZOE BEDELL, U.S. MARINE CORPS RESERVES: Thank you for having
MADDOW: First, let me ask you how you felt today when you heard this
news? And did you know it was coming?
BEDELL: I had no idea it was coming and I was delighted. Our lawyers
keep saying cautious optimism and there`s certainly a long way to go. This
has to be implemented. This is going to be a phased approach
There are a lot of areas that I can drag their feet or screw this up.
But tonight, I`m just excited.
MADDOW: Obviously, the devil is in the details, as you said, and a
lot remains to be worked out. But in terms of this broad policy being
overturned, being left behind, can you explain how the combat seclusion
policy affected you in your time in the military? It didn`t keep you out
of Afghanistan, obviously.
BEDELL: It did not. It kept me from competing for jobs that I would
have been well qualified for, potentially. Everyone thinks about the
infantry jobs that are closed off, and those are sort of the obvious ones.
But we had intelligence jobs that were closed as well to female Marines,
So, I studied Arabic for three years in college and Farsi for my
fourth year. I studied abroad in the Middle East. And I couldn`t even
compete to serve in some of these intelligence jobs that would have seemed
like a natural fit. So, that was at the beginning of my career.
Then as you get into the military and you start deploying, you say
that, wait a second, I know the policy says this, but I`m out patrolling or
my female friends are running convoys or they`re spending just as much time
outside the wire as we say as anyone else. Oh, and also, all these bases
are being attacked.
This is a combat zone. We train for that. We mentally prepare
ourselves for that. But the policy wasn`t recognizing that reality.
MADDOW: If this had happened earlier, again this is Defense
Department policy, and a lot of review has gone into this. I read a lot of
the Defense Department studies on this today. If they had made this
decision 10 years ago or eight years ago, where do you think you would be
in your career now as opposed to where you are now?
BEDELL: That`s an interesting question. I – this was a big factor
of me getting out. The policy being in place was a policy that led me to
leave the military because, you know, I consider myself a smart person who
has a good future ahead of me, but the military wasn`t going to recognize
that they were going to evaluate me based on my gender, rather than how I
performed on my job and how I had done in the past.
And, you know, I have other options. So why would I put up with that?
And there was more to it than that, of course. But I think this would
have been a very different situation.
MADDOW: I know that – forgive me for mentioning, but have I read
that you graduated at the top of your Marine Corps officer candidate class.
MADDOW: That`s neat.
MADDOW: That`s impressive.
Tomorrow morning when all the newspapers are printed, the headline is
going to be women in combat, and everybody is going to think infantry.
Everybody is going to be slightly overwhelmed by the blunt implication of
Having been through the training that you have been through and the
deployments that you have been through, and having made the decision that
you made, is there anything else that you want people to understand about
what this policy change would mean, that maybe that headline alone does not
BEDELL: Well, there are two elements of it. First of all, as you
spent the last 10 minutes mentioning, women have been in combat, right?
So, this isn`t such a shock to the system. Frankly, women have been doing
it. We`re going to keep doing it tomorrow morning, regardless what the
But the other thing it means, we`re not reserving special spots for
women. We`re just asking for a chance to compete to meet the same
standards that everyone else is being held to. So this means that we can -
- we can prove that we belong based on how we perform. We have an equal
chance to compete for the jobs. And that means the best person will get
selected for the job, not just the man.
And I think that`s going to make our force stronger overall.
MADDOW: Do you think the men who you have served alongside in the
Marine Corps will feel differently about this than you do today?
BEDELL: Some of them will certainly. I know there`s already a lot of
support. A lot of people have served with women, and they`ve seen women in
combat, and they see that they respond exactly as everyone else does, and
they`ve had the same training and they respond to the same drills, and they
act the same way.
And those men aren`t going to be fazed by this. It`s probably the men
who haven`t had the experience who are going to be a little bit more
MADDOW: To know that each of the service chiefs get to make their own
decision, each of the service branches makes their own decision about how
to do this at what pace and what order and with what kind of training, it`s
going to be interesting to see throughout the military how they make the
Well, Marine Corps Captain Zoe Bedell, congratulations. This is
something you were fighting for. Thanks for being here.
BEDELL: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got lots more coming up, including
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton`s rather amazing confrontational
appearance on Capitol Hill today.
Plus, Virginia`s attempt to fix things. And by fix I neither mean
neuter nor repair. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: We have been documenting over the last few days what appears
to be a coordinated effort by Republicans in a number of key states to
change the rules for electing a president. To change the rules so
essentially Democrats running for president cannot win. Each of these
states voted twice for Democrat Barack Obama for president, and each of
these states at the state level is under complete Republican control.
Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governorship.
Republicans are talking about using that state level power to change
the rules in each of these states for electing the president. They`re able
to consider doing this because of the success they had in drawing up local
legislative districts and congressional district seats after 2010. They
drew those maps very strategically so that even if more people vote for
Democrats, Republicans still win a majority of seats, and they`re proud of
Look, Republicans in late December posted this memo about their
redistricting program, which they call RedMap. They`re bragging about not
just the program, but its effect on the national elections. Quote,
“Democratic candidates for the U.S. House won 1.1 million more votes in
2012 than their Republican opponents. But the speaker of the House of
Representatives is a Republican, and presides over a 33-seat House
Republican majority.” And that`s because of Republicans` vision and
foresight in drawing the maps.
So, it`s not like Republicans are the only ones that have ever done
this. But right now, Republicans are really psyched that they did this for
a very specific reason. They successfully tilted the playing field in
their favor for these House races. It really, really paid off.
But the way it would really, really pay off is what they would like to
do next. They would now like to make that same tilted playing field that
they tilted for the House, they would like to make that the same playing
field on which we decide the presidency.
The national chairman of the Republican Party Reince Priebus says he
supports the idea of states changing their Electoral College rules. The
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he is intrigued by this idea. The
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, says he is open to talking about this idea.
Last night we reported on related news out of the state of Virginia,
the Virginia State Senate. Virginia Republicans waited until this one
particular Democratic senator, a noted civil rights lawyer named Henry
Marsh, they waited until Senator Marsh left town on Monday for the day to
go to the inauguration of President Obama.
Virginia Republicans had to wait until he was gone because the state
Senate is equally divided in Virginia, 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats.
But with Henry Marsh gone for the day, it`s no longer an even divide,
right? It`s 20-19. And with that advantage, Republicans decided to spring
on the Senate and spring on the entire state a whole new set of RedMaps. A
whole new set of gerrymandered maps for the state, drafted to put
Republicans in charge in Virginia effectively permanently.
Because they did it when Henry marsh was away, Republicans succeeded
in this plan by one vote, and their stealth attack to change the maps.
That one vote was the missing vote of the senator who had gone to the
inauguration. That`s how they started the week.
Now, Virginia Republicans are moving on to the next part of it.
They`re moving on to the Electoral College scheme part of it, using the
same maps they have gerrymandered for a permanent Republican advantage at
the state level to also dispute Virginia`s Electoral College votes when it
comes to voting for president.
Today, a Virginia subcommittee sent a bill to that effect to the full
committee, and in that full committee, a 10-5 Republican majority appears
poised to send the bill to the full Senate, which, again, is evenly
divided, and where if it is a 20-20 tie, because they vote on a day that
everybody is there, then this is the guy who will get to decide the tie,
Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. He will get to break the tie
in the event of a 20-20 vote. And now is the part where I tell you that
he, the tiebreaker, was the Virginia statewide chair of the Mitt Romney for
President campaign. He will get to break the tie.
If the system Virginia Republicans are pushing now had been in place
in 2012, Barack Obama would still have received 150,000 more votes than
Mitt Romney in 2012 in Virginia, but the Electoral College vote from
Virginia would have been four votes for Barack Obama and nine votes for
I wonder why they want to make that change.
The action today in Virginia is the first of its kind in the nation.
What we have been covering is Republicans making noises about doing this
across the country wherever they can. We`ve been covering Democrats
bracing for the prospect of moves like this all across the country, not
just in Virginia, but in Wisconsin and Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania.
And in Pennsylvania, the Republicans have a bill in committee.
Virginia is the first state to actually get on with it and start
moving it forward.
This is a big story, and it is gathering steam. We`ll keep you
MADDOW: You know, Hillary Clinton gets attention for whatever she
does, whatever she does it anywhere near a camera. But anyone would have
gotten attention for a trip to Capitol Hill like Hillary Clinton had today.
We`ve got that story coming up next.
And then at the end of the show tonight, on Monday`s show, and
actually on Monday during the day, during the course of our inauguration
coverage, Chris Matthews and I together made a mistake while discussing
I know, what are the odds? I will correct that, just ahead.
Stay with us. My $11 jacket.
MADDOW: The Serena Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, is one of the nicer,
higher-end hotels in that war-torn capital. It`s got lots of security and
Western-style amenities, or so I hear. It is located right near the city
center in Kabul.
But before it was called the Serena Hotel, it was called the Kabul
Hotel. And in 1979, Adolph Dubs, the American ambassador at the time, was
taken hostage at the hotel. The American ambassador was taken hostage.
There was a standoff, and I`m sorry to say that Ambassador Dubs was killed.
He was shot multiple times and ultimately buried at Arlington National
The United States did not have another ambassador sent to Afghanistan
for more than 20 years after that. Ambassador Dubs was killed on
Valentine`s Day in 1979, February 1979.
Later that year, in November 1979, more than 60 Americans were taken
hostage in Tehran. The Americans were taken hostage when a mob of militant
students stormed the United States embassy in Tehran. They fought the
Marines on guard there for hours. The Americans were held hostage after
the embassy for 444 days. That was later in 1979.
In 1983, at the U.S. embassy in Beirut in Lebanon, a car bomb
targeting the embassy killed 63 people, including 17 Americans. It was a
2,000-pound bomb that just decimated the embassy building in Beirut.
This is what the embassy looked like before the bombing. This is what
it looked like after the bombing the next day.
In 1987, in Rome, a man detonated a car bomb outside the U.S. embassy
in Rome. He launched rocket-propelled grenades from a nearby hotel room.
In 1988, the American military attache in Athens was killed outside
his home by a car bomb. He was in his armor plated car about to leave for
work when the bomb went off, he was killed, the armored vehicle was
destroyed. It was no match for the explosives.
1995, another grenade attack at a U.S. embassy. A man standing in a
driveway launched the grenade at the embassy. It did penetrate one of the
walls at the Moscow embassy. Nobody was injured in that attack. Scared
probably, but not injured.
1998 at the U.S. embassy in Kenya and the U.S. embassy in Tanzania,
two huge bombs exploded almost simultaneously, four minutes and 450 miles
apart. Hundreds of people killed, including 12 Americans. The person
responsible for those attacks was Osama bin Laden.
After the U.S. embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania, the FBI put bin
Laden on their ten most wanted list. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
escorted home the bodies of 10 of the 12 Americans who were killed in those
Since 1970, not a year has gone by where there has not been some sort
of violent attack against U.S. diplomats and diplomatic facilities around
the world. Not all of them are deadly, but they happen all the time, year
after year after year. And nobody is more aware of that than whoever is
the secretary of state at the time.
And our secretary of state right now is Hillary Clinton, who was on
Capitol Hill today to testify about the latest deadly attack on U.S.
diplomats. The attack in Benghazi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Benghazi joins a long list of
tragedies for our department, for other agencies, and for America.
Hostages taken in Tehran in 1979, our embassy and Marine barracks bombed in
Beirut in 1983, Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, our embassies in
east Africa in 1998, consulate staff murdered in Jeddah in 2004, the Khost
attack in 2009 and too many others.
I could give you a long list of attacks averted, of assassinations
stopped, of the kinds of daily efforts that our diplomatic security
professionals are engaged in.
So, I have a lot of confidence in them, but we`re going to – we`re
going to do what we can to make sure that they get the support within our
bureaucracy that they deserve out on the ground protecting our diplomats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In the middle of what ended up being a riveting, combative
hearing today, as Republicans tried to find some political advantage over
the Obama administration, over Hillary Clinton in particular over the
attack in Benghazi, what ended up looming unexpectedly large over these
proceedings was how Benghazi is not an unprecedented thing.
The State Department has had its personnel and its facilities in
danger and facing different kinds of attack over and over and over and over
again for decades all over the world. And the attempted political acrimony
of today`s hearing ended up kind of dead-ending today whenever Secretary
Clinton would bring back what Congress does not see as a priority the
safety of the people who work at the State Department and they have not
made available to the State Department the resources to ensure that safety.
And yes, there is a political agenda to be driven, always, always.
But in terms of steps necessary to protect people, so far, Hillary Clinton
made the case today that Congress has been against it, specifically right
now, members of the Republican-controlled House have been against it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: We have asked the Congress to help us real locate funds.
The Senate has given us that authority. We don`t yet have it from the
House, so that we can get more Marine guard. We can get more diplomatic
The Senate was good enough to put into the Senate version of the Sandy
supplemental. It did not get into the House side. So we`re still looking
for the House to act.
Currently, the House has holds on bilateral security assistance, on
other kinds of support for anti-terrorism assistance. So we got to get our
act together between the administration and the Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The CIA has a black box budget, a secret budget that is at
least partly secret, right, opaque, unquestionable. And even if we did
know how big the intelligence budget was for the CIA and the rest of the
intelligence community in this country, rest assured that the only
political impact of knowing that number would be that someone in Congress
would insist that we double that number.
The United States military has a budget so gargantuan that it roughly
approximates the military budgets of all of our conceivable adversaries and
major allies combined.
The State Department is the only part of the U.S. government that
fields high-level personnel doing high security, high tension work in
highly sensitive places around the globe, alongside the intelligence and
the military, except they, the State Department employees are the ones who
have to do it on a shoestring budget, whose budget and resources are
minuscule in comparison and under pressure, under pressure compared to the
other ways that Americans serve long-terms abroad in dangerous places.
The best hope for the State Department ever getting its due in
Washington, ever upscaling its profile and its respect and its resources in
Washington was probably to put the biggest political star in the modern era
of this country who is not a president in charge of that agency, right?
The highest profile American woman in politics ever, a woman who transfixes
the media and the political class wherever she goes.
If the State Department was ever going to get what it needed to
protect its people to advance its mission, to assume its rightful place
among the American mega agencies who do dangerous work around the globe,
having Hillary Clinton be secretary of state was probably that moment.
And today was a tour de force of Hillary Clinton fighting for that,
fighting for that department in the kind of spotlight that only she can
attract, fighting for it because her agency still isn`t getting it, even
after four years of her at the helm. And now, she is due to leave.
What are the prospects for State getting its due now that John Kerry
is about to take over?
Joining us now is Andrea Mitchell, NBC`s chief foreign affairs
correspondent, and the host “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS” on MSNBC.
Andrea, it`s always great to see you. Thank you for being here.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Thank
you. Good to be with you.
MADDOW: Testimony was riveting in part because it was combative – to
see Hillary Clinton talking to anybody gets news coverage. To see her
going hand to hand with Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is guaranteed to
get a lot of attention.
But what do you think was the most important take-away from this
MITCHELL: That she is a fighter, that they obviously, the Republicans
think that she is a likely candidate, because they were trying to muddy her
up. I think that both partisans on both sides, the Democrats
congratulating her and hinting with a wink and a nod, we hope we see more
of you and this isn`t the last we`ll see of you. And the Republicans
saying all the tough things they`re saying about Benghazi.
There are, look, legitimate criticisms about Benghazi, and the State
Department was devastated by the report, the independent action report, the
review board that Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen reported back.
They very explicitly excused her for direct responsibility because all of
these reports went below her level. And she had not been aware of the
cables. And that`s one of the things she was testifying to today.
But she got, as you know, Ron Johnson and Rand Paul just fiercely
criticizing her. And Rand Paul saying, you know, if he had been president,
that he would have fired her for not knowing about these cables. That was
pretty interesting stuff.
MADDOW: It`s a remarkable window into how Rand Paul thinks of
himself, for one.
MITCHELL: It is indeed, isn`t it? There is no shortage of egos on
Well, Hillary Clinton used to be part of that committee. And that is
one of the things that was fascinating today, talking to the members of
that committee as somebody who had been there. And talking with them about
what Congress`s responsibility is for some of the things that they are
trying to score political points on now.
Given that Hillary Clinton is one of the most high profile peoples in
the world, one of the most high profile secretaries of state ever, how
effective is her successor going to be, John Kerry, if he is confirmed, at
getting the State Department adequately funded and getting it the sort of
respect that she was demanding today?
MITCHELL: Well, he does have a great deal of gravitas with this
committee. He chaired the committee up until today or tomorrow when he
goes before the committee for his confirmation hearing and will be
appearing before the new chairman, Bob Menendez, presented by Hillary
Clinton, by the way.
So, technically, that will be her last appearance, and certainly will
be a more genial one than the one she experienced today, more than five
hours before both the Senate and the House. And the House was more fierce
against her than the Senate, but not by a whole lot.
But he as the chairman, the former chairman, and she was on Armed
Services actually. So she was a senator, but she didn`t know all the ins
and outs of their funding. She does now. And she has managed to restore
some and hold the line against deeper cuts because of her celebrity and
But Kerry is not one to be toyed with either. And he`s actually done
a number of missions, secret and otherwise, for this president. He knows
the ropes. It`s the job he has wanted forever.
So I would not look at him too lightly. I think that he is a very
experienced diplomat and has got a lot of chops.
MADDOW: When President Obama was first inaugurated, one of the things
that he talked about in terms of American power around the globe, and he
was back stopped in a big way by both Hillary Clinton and by Bob Gates, who
was initial secretary of defense was this idea that State Department needs
to grow in esteem, that the military has what it needs effectively in terms
of resources, that they don`t see themselves as having an enemy in the
world on Capitol Hill, but that the state department needs to grow in order
to exert that kind of American power that can only be exerted by people who
don`t have guns, rather than asking the military to do so much more than
it`s ever been asked to do. If that is an overall project of the Obama
administration, have they made any progress toward that yet? And do you
think they will continue to make that progress?
MITCHELL: I don`t think they`ve made progress in that regard. I
think in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where they were supposed to do take
over for the military in Iraq and in Afghanistan, doing these civilian
projects, these have not worked as they had been imagined. You`ve got the
largest embassy in the world in Baghdad, and it is largely populated with
So we`ve grown the contractors, the private security people, but not
the diplomats that are needed. And it`s not safe enough for them to go to
many of these places, certainly not in Afghanistan.
So they have not accomplished that civilian takeover of the military
functions that have been imagined.
MADDOW: Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs
correspondent, host of “ANDRE MITCHELL REPORTS”, weekdays at 1:00 here on
MITCHELL: Thank you for that shout-out.
MADDOW: Thank you. I really appreciate you being here. Thank you.
MITCHELL: You bet.
MADDOW: All right. All of you looking forward to a self-inflicted
worldwide economic meltdown, I have bad news. That`s next.
MADDOW: Graph time.
During the George W. Bush administration, government spending went up
a lot. This is government expenditures per capita, per American person.
It combines federal, and state and local governments, right?
As you can see, it start there`s when George W. Bush took office in
2001, and it wasn`t like there was just some individual spike in spending
that happened right after 9/11. It was a steady, huge increase over time.
So per capita government spending was roughly 12 grand per person when
W. came into office. When he left office, it wasn`t 12 grand anymore, it
was 16 grand in government spending for every man, woman and child in the
country. That is a big, steep increase.
For comparison sake, if you look at Bill Clinton, who was in office
for the same amount of time, Bill Clinton also saw a spending rise, but
compared to W., he kept spending under control. It really takes off, as
you can see, when it goes to Bush.
Since President Obama has been in office, he has been better than both
of them. He hasn`t just held the reins, like Clinton did, he has turned it
around, he has bent the curve, brought spending down from where it was. At
the per capita level, I know you don`t believe President Obama has actually
brought spending down since he took office.
So remember that. Bush, more spending. Obama, less spending. That
is what is true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It`s clear the
president is not serious about cutting spending. But spending is the
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: We`ve got to stop the president on this issue. He
is an out-of-control train right now on spending.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president remains committed to an agenda
that calls for ever higher spending, a government that is out of control.
BOEHNER: The president wants to pretend that spending isn`t the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a spending problem. And the president wants
to increase taxes to continue the spending
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These Democrats are going to spend us right into
bankruptcy. They`re not serious about getting things under control and
stopping the spending.
BOEHNER: The White House is so unserious about cutting spending.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: None of that is true. I mean, to the extent that true means
attached to facts. Here is spending under bush. Here is spending under
Clinton. Here is how spending has dropped under President Obama.
These guys were not mad about George W. Bush`s big spike in spending,
buzz they have decided to get really mad at the guy who is fixing that, and
that anger is weird enough on its own terms. It`s weird enough that this
Republican analysis of this problem is so divorced from reality. But what
today`s news reminded us is it`s not just the analysis that is weird, it`s
also the purpose of the analysis, what they are using this cockamamie
backwards analysis to justify that is really deeply strange.
For decades, raising the debt ceiling was something that Congress has
been willing to do. Since the presidency of FDR, congress has to do.
Since FDR, congress voted to raise it literally dozens of times. It is the
normal part of American governing. It is the way we run the country, and
have or generations, you may not like it, but we use debt financing.
We have to raise the debt ceiling under every president in modern
history. We have raised it 89 times just between 1939 and 2010. The only
time we haven`t had to raise it in recent years was at the very end of the
Clinton administration when we started to run a budget surplus, remember
But other than that, it`s a kind of thing that happens as a matter of
course. It is routine, but in 2011, the Republicans decided they wouldn`t
do it anymore. And that standoff, where they said they weren`t going to do
it again, this thing that has been done dozen of times before under
Republican presidents and Democratic presidents before them, they were not
going to do it. The country could default on its debts, they didn`t care,
they were going to draw a line in the sand, or whatever.
That was an economic disaster when they made that decision. Check it
out. This is job growth, month to month in the year 2011.
During that time when it is weirdly suppressed, see that big dip over
the summer, oh, yes, that was the fight over the debt ceiling. So when you
hear others saying, we agree with President Obama, the debt ceiling should
not be an issue. It needs to be raised and stop fighting about it.
They`re looking back at 2011 and saying that`s why.
The Chamber of Commerce fights President Obama on everything. The
Chamber of Commerce wants them to just raise the debt ceiling, because not
doing it is a ridiculous, self-inflicted economic wound.
Well, today, Republicans decided that we`re not going to do in 2013
what we did in 2011. They decided that we are not going to have
artificially depressed job growth and economic pain caused by Washington
for one period of the year like we did in 2011. They decided today that
we`re now going to have that all the time. We`re going to do that
Yes, today, the House passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling, but
they want to have us hit it again in a few months. They raised the debt
ceiling for a few months, instead of just do this once for the year or for
two years or in some more permanent way to avoid the self-inflicted
economic wound, they voted today that we should do this always, every few
months, because remember, yeah, Obama is a big spender.
Yes, Democrats are going along with this reluctantly. They were more
Democratic votes against this that than there were for this today. But
this is what Republicans want to be the new normal. So, whether or not you
think there is constitutional support for trying to take this decision out
of the hands with Congress, what just happened today was the reason why
people want to take this particular decision out of the hands of this
For decades, Congress was capable of handling this decision.
Apparently that is not the case anymore.
MADDOW: OK, during MSNBC`s live coverage of the inaugural festivities
on Monday – I had the best seat in the world, which is sitting next to
Chris Matthews on an Inauguration Day. It is like being in the one place
selling king cakes on Mardi Gras. It`s like working at the first water
stall on the first off ramp after the desert.
There is nowhere that I or anyone in America would rather have been
than where I was on Monday, during the inauguration, getting to sit there
and explain it and watch it and marvel in it with Chris Matthews.
And – and Chris and I, during that discussion, during that coverage
had one sort of extended discussion between the two of us about the first
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Did you notice that the first lady
MATTHEWS: See, this is like a wedding almost. You have to rush away
to the car at the end, you know, the whole thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Here is me off camera.
Yes. That was totally wrong. We saw the first lady switch from the
coat that she wore over her amazing dress into a cardigan over the same
dress, and we thought she changed dresses.
She did not change, she did not change, we were wrong. It was by an
American designer named Thom Browne. Thom Browne, I`ve since learned, also
who makes very funny top hats that are square.
But the first lady did not wear a funny square top hat on Monday. No,
the first lady left the wearing of funny hats on Monday to this man, Jim
Sensenbrenner, member of Congress, congressman from Wisconsin. How do you
like me now, Wisconsin?
This man apparently was heading out to the inauguration platform. He
felt a little chilly. And reached into the closet and found this to put on
his head for the inauguration. In case you can`t quite make out what that
is, here is a close-up. It`s a Green Bay Packer`s themed mellow yellow
hat, which looked like this on Congressman Sensenbrenner`s head up on the
VIP platform was during the swearing-in of the president of the United
States. You`re welcome.
Also, this man also had a reservation on the funny hat train on
inauguration day. The image is a little grainy. It`s from far away. But
this is Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, who apparently didn`t have time to
change after going Burmese python-hunting this weekend in Florida. Really,
that`s what he did.
Look, Senator Bill Nelson goes on python hat, went there, did that,
got the hat and then wore it for the inauguration.
This man wore a cowboy hat. That is not the secretary of the
interior, Ken Salazar, who always wears a cowboy hat. So, he`s excused.
That is Orrin Hatch, who doesn`t always wear one, but did on Monday.
Same deal, Max Baucus, doesn`t usually wear a cowboy hat, but wore one
to the inauguration, thus completely covering the view of Barbara Mikulski,
little Barbara Mikulski, who is sitting behind Max Baucus and his giant
Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, the guy who always wears a cowboy
hat, but on Monday, he didn`t, instead always wears a baseball hat. I have
no idea why.
One sure sign that it brings people together, is on your left, energy
secretary and Nobel Laureate physicist Steven Chu. On your right,
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who once said his solution to global warming
is we should clear cut the rainforest. Not much in common, except the rob
the liquor store stocking caps for these two. Both saved up for the day.
Steven Breyer, the Supreme Court justice wore an adorable little judge
hate for the inauguration. Justice Antonin Scalia wore a somewhat floppier
and less adorable judge hat, but he wants you to know his is supposed to
look like this one, modeled here in the famous 16th century German portrait
of Sir Thomas Moore, who had his head cut off by Henry VIII incidentally.
After Senator Claire McCaskill tweeted about Justice Scalia`s, quote,
“weird hat”, the weird hat became the most remarked piece of presidential
head gear, since Aretha Franklin`s belle chapeau (ph) in 2009. And I
admit, Mr. Scalia`s hat is notable, but nowhere near as notable, as
Congressman Sensenbrenner? What are you doing?
For the record to be clear, the first lady on Monday wore Thom Browne,
and she looked amazing. And Chris and I have no idea what we are talking
about, but we are lucky to have a chance to cover these days like that,
occasions, even though when we sometimes screw them up.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Jim Sensenbrenner, call me.
Have a great night.
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