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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/24/11

Guests: Scot Ross, Bob Herbert; Susan Rice

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Ed, it is great to see you here in the 8:00 Eastern slot. I`m looking forward to our new flow (ph) here in the evening. I think this is going to work out great. Thanks a lot, my friend. ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: I do, too. Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Thank you. And thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has already published a memoir of her life. A book about growing up in segregated Alabama, her rise to prominence as a Russia scholar, her involvement with Republican politics, her eventual ascendance to the highest ranks of the George W. Bush administration. That book is already done. She published that book last year. But now, Condoleezza Rice has published another one -- a 734-page new book of which all 734 pages are apparently about her time in the Bush White House. I have not read this book yet, you haven`t read it yet either. We do not have it yet. It is not out yet. I will read it as soon as it comes out. And, Condoleezza Rice, please do an interview with me on this show about your book. I promise I will read the book. I promise it will be fun. I know you won`t come. But "The New York Times" did manage to get a copy of Condoleezza Rice`s book early. And the headline of their review of the book reveals the secret of all Bush administration officials trying to ensure their careers do not die with the end of the George W. Bush presidency. Like basically all Bushies not named Cheney who came before her, Condoleezza Rice is trying to secure her future and place in history as a not too bad person by explaining that she, too, fought with Dick Cheney during the Bush presidency. See that? Rice tells of clashes with Cheney. See? She wasn`t on his side. She was against him. That`s the way you have to make your case for yourself if you are in the Bush administration. I wasn`t with Cheney, I fought him every step of the way. The post-White House memoir in which a senior White House official says how screwed up the White House was -- except for them, of course, they were fighting it the whole time -- that is a great and rich modern American political tradition now. But the godfather of that genre, the mother of all "I worked in that White House and, boy, was that White House screwed up" memoirs, was actually from the Reagan era. It was from Ronald Reagan`s chief of staff back in 1988. His name was Don Reagan. Don Reagan resign/got fired in 1987 and, by 1988, he was already out with his book. His book about the Reagan White House in which he broke the bombshell news that the first lady, the president`s wife, had been controlling President Reagan`s schedule based on advice from an astrologer. Joan Quigley, astrologer, would read the heavens and tell Nancy Reagan if that day would be a good day, a bad day or an average day -- astrologically speaking. And then president`s day would be planned accordingly. Conflict between the astrologer`s advice about the president`s calendar and what the president`s chief of staff thought president Reagan ought to be doing was ultimately part of what led to the chief of staff resigning and to him writing this astonishing book with its astonishing astrologer in the White House scoop. Now, for all of the Reagan worship among today`s Republicans, the "I believe in magic signals from the sky" thing. That`s one of the things from the Reagan White House you would think today`s candidates might not try to emulate. But you would be wrong. As Michelle Cottle of "The Daily Beast" noted recently, Republican front runner Herman Cain`s new book devotes an entire chapter to magic power of a specific number, the number 45. Not kidding. Chapter nine of Mr. Cain`s new book is titled "Forty-Five`-A Special Number." "Mr. Cain notes that his conception, gestation and birth all occurred within the year 1945. He then launches into a detailed account of how `45 keeps on popping up as I go about the business of being elected -- you guessed it -- as the 45th president of the United States.` In some cases, the digits 4 and 5 are only part of the figure, like the times when one of Cain`s weekly commentaries ran to 645 words, or when the final leg of a campaign trip took place on Flight 1045 traveling at 45,000 feet. At times, the 45 in question is tangentially related to Cain, as when he cites a Las Vegas campaign event where he met a couple celebrating their 45th anniversary." In 2013, the year the 45th president will be inaugurated as president, Herman Cain and his wife will be celebrating their wedding anniversary. Do you know which year it is? Forty-five. Oh my God. Herman Cain is apparently an obsessed numerologist. I mean, think about it. The title of his book is "This is Herman Cain." five syllables. Multiply five by the chapter number where he writes about his obsession with the number 45. Chapter nine, five times nine equals 45. Also, where do you think the 9-9-9 plan came from? Four plus five equals nine -- 9- 9-9. Four plus five, four plus five, four plus five, 45. It`s all about 45. So, that Herman Cain is an out and proud numerologist, that the number 45 is apparently an organizing principle of Herman Cain`s life, is one of the things about Herman Cain that makes it hard to imagine him as a viable mainstream candidate for Republican nomination for president of the United States. It is not the only thing, though. Mr. Cain is out and proud about not wanting to know the names of leaders of other countries. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When they ask me who`s the president of Ubecky, ubecky, stan, stan, I`m going to say, I don`t know. Do you know? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: When asked what he thinks bout the defining feature of Republican foreign policy over the last decade, which is, of course, neo- conservatism, Herman Cain said he was unfamiliar with the movement. And, then, of course, there`s Herman Cain on abortion. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CAIN: My position is I`m pro-life, period. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If a woman is raped, she should not be allowed to end the pregnancy? CAIN: That`s her choice. That is not government`s choice. I support life from conception. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So abortion should be legal? CAIN: No. Abortion should not be legal. I believe in the sanctity of life. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not getting -- I`m not understanding. If it`s her choice, that means it`s legal. CAIN: No. I believe -- I don`t believe a woman should have an abortion. Does that help to clear it up? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: When I saw that clip on the Bill Maher show Friday night and they moved the camera to Ellis Henican and he was going like this, I thought that was something that the Bill Maher people put in there to be funny. No, that really happened. But you know what? It is possible to extrapolate too much from Herman Cain on the abortion issue. I mean, there is inherent awkwardness in Republicans advocating small government and also advocating government big enough to intervene in every pregnancy in America. There is an awkwardness there. And Herman Cain being so awkward about it sort of perfectly manifests the intrinsically oxymoronic nature of wanting a small, weak government, that monitors every pregnancy in the nation to force American women to give birth against their will. There`s also the political issue of whether the Republican Party would ever nominate someone who said abortion wasn`t government`s business, someone who`s effectively pro-choice. So, you can extrapolate it to those things. But, really, I think the most important thing about Herman Cain on the abortion issue is the simplest thing about it. He does not seem to understand that if abortion is illegal, if there is a law against abortion, then government is the one that makes that law. Government makes law. Law forces people to do stuff they don`t want to do. When Herman Cain says abortion should be illegal but it`s not the government`s choice, Herman Cain appears to not understand why we call members of Congress lawmakers. Government makes law. Law -- never mind. Despite all of this, despite all of the reasons it seems like Herman Cain cannot possibly be a real viable candidate, this has been going on for a long time now. This is not a flash in the pan. Herman Cain persists in the polls. The latest poll out of Iowa shows Mr. Cain leading Mitt Romney by 10 points. "The Real Clear Politics" average of all polls across the country now shows Herman Cain out in front of everybody. This is not a flash in the pan. And that has even led the Beltway press to notice something glaringly strange about the very successful Herman Cain campaign. And that is that he doesn`t really seem to have a campaign. In "Time" magazine today, quote, "Well-connected GOP operatives in New Hampshire, Florida and South Carolina say they see little or no evidence of Cain`s campaign in those key early states." A New Hampshire Republican strategist says, "If you said, tell me who was running the effort here, I could not even give you that person." In Florida, quote, "there is almost no organization to speak of. If there is a local group who wanted to invite him to speak, it is unclear whom to call." In South Carolina, quote, "We see nothing to resemble a real campaign." Herman campaign doesn`t have a campaign organization. He does not really have any organization, any on the ground staff anywhere across the country, including in the early primary states. Maybe he doesn`t need it. Herman Cain is essentially a popup candidate. This is a ready-made candidacy. Remember the big mega-funded conservative group Americans for Prosperity funded by the billionaire Koch brothers? That organization it turns out is the Herman Cain presidential campaign. Herman Cain`s campaign manager, the guy that recruited him to run for office supposedly, is the former head of Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Cain`s former campaign spokeswoman -- excuse me, Mr. Cain`s campaign spokeswoman, the Americans for Prosperity coordinator in Louisiana. Mr. Cain`s economic adviser, the guy who came up with the 9-9-9 plan was on Americans for Prosperity board of advisers from 2006 to 2008. At least six other current and former paid employees and consultants for Cain`s campaign have also worked for Americans for Prosperity, this Koch brothers group. While the other Republican presidential candidates are going to be appearing at an Iowa Republican Party dinner on November 4th, where is Herman Cain going to be at that night? He`ll be at American for Prosperity summit in Washington. Herman Cain`s entire campaign structure in so far as it exists appears to be basically the Koch brothers, big conservative activist group, Americans for Prosperity. What was Herman Cain, himself, doing before he started running for president? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CAIN: Hello. I`m Herman Cain. You know, there are some people in this country that are trying to make the word "prosperity" a dirty word. But it is not. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Before running for president, Herman Cain was working for Americans for Prosperity. The pizza thing, that was a while ago. As AlterNet first reported, Herman Cain was tapped to be a public face of something called Prosperity 101 -- it is a workplace seminar program that businesses use to educate their employees about the dangers of things like health reform and taxes on millionaires and regulations on businesses. So your boss tells you to sit through this lecture, you sit through the lecture. Message received. Your boss essentially just told you how to vote. In other words, this Prosperity 101 thing is yet another way the Koch brothers are funding a means by which business interests can get their way politically. Intimidate your employees into voting for the boss` interest, too. And if billionaires like the Koch brothers can spend infinitely on elections and if most of what the Koch brothers want is for business interests like theirs to get their way in politics, if you can spend infinitely, why not just buy a ready-made presidential candidate? Pick a guy who already makes for you, give him a ready made Koch brothers-built campaign. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: What do you think of David Koch? CAIN: David Koch? REPORTER: Yes. CAIN: I think David Koch is a patriot. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You know what else David Koch is? D-A-V-I-D K-O-C-H. Koch four, David five -- 45. There it is again. Joining us now is Scot Ross, the executive director of One Wisconsin Now, which has had a lot of experience with the Americans for Prosperity organization there, mostly for being on the opposite side of most issues from them. Scot, thank you very much for joining us tonight. SCOT ROSS, ONE WISCONSIN NOW: Good evening, Rachel. MADDOW: Herman Cain`s campaign manager, his named is Mark Block. He was most recently the state director for the Wisconsin chapter of AFP. How much overlap do you see between that experience, the AFP experience, and running Republican election campaigns? ROSS: Well, I think from top to bottom, whether it`s the staff that Herman Cain has hired to run his campaign, the Astroturf way in which they`re running the campaign, and most importantly and most sinister the message of the campaign: this pro-corporate, pro-regressive tax policy. One of the worst ideas that this nation has ever seen in terms of really taking money out of the pockets of the middle class and poor people and putting it in the hands of corporations and billionaires like David and Charles Koch. MADDOW: This "Time" magazine report now says Republican operatives in New Hampshire, and Florida and South Carolina, they see few signs of an organized Herman Cain campaign staff in these early primary states. But with the backing of the Koch brothers and AFP behind him, from what you have seen in Wisconsin, do you think Herman Cain needs a traditional campaign apparatus or could AFP and the Koch brothers money sort of render that obsolete? ROSS: Well, he`s defining the message right now when it comes to the Republican primary. I mean, you know, Rick Perry just came out with his flat tax proposal. This is -- you know, Herman Cain is the first corporate spokes candidate and he is articulating the gospel of David Koch when it comes to regressive tax policies. MADDOW: From what you have seen about how this group has operated in your state, what do you predict -- you describe there as an Astroturf campaign -- what do you predict this Astroturf campaign for Cain might look like as the primary season keeps going? ROSS: Well, I think they`ll continue to push the 9-9-9 plan because that seems to have all the attention of the media. They`ll continue to have problems when it comes to Herman Cain articulating specifics on the issues as we`ve already seen. And they`ll continue to preach, again, that pro-corporate, anti-corporate accountability, anti-middle class, anti- working families agenda. And, you know, I`m in Wisconsin and I see the way that it`s working. I mean, we have a governor who`s passed $2.3 billion in tax breaks for corporations and rich people. What`s happened 10 months in? Well, our unemployment rate has risen 5.5 percent and that we`ve got 14,000 more people looking for employment. MADDOW: Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now -- thank you for helping us see how this worked on the ground in your state. Appreciate your time tonight, sir. ROSS: Thank you. MADDOW: The interview tonight is our nation`s ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. That`s very exciting. We`ve also got "Debunktion Junction" coming up tonight. And Bob Herbert is here. Please stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED KID (singing): Oh who are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood? Oh who are the people in your neighborhood? The people that you meet each day (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I come from California, but frankly I am made of "Sesame Street." One of the classic bits is the song about who are the people in your neighborhood? And it`s the tennis player, it`s the mail carrier, it`s the firefighters who come to save you when you call and the teachers who show you all about the alphabet. Your neighborhood if it`s like a lot of the neighborhoods in this country has been rearranged a bit since Wall Street blew up at the end of the Bush administration and we got the great recession to show for it. Flint, Michigan, for example, is a tough neighborhood right now -- one of the murder capitals of the country. Flint, Michigan, has laid off most of its police force there. Paterson, New Jersey, same story. After a year in which violent crimes surge, Paterson sent a quarter of its officers home this spring. The tiny town of Alto in Texas just eliminated its whole police force. We talked about that before on the show. If you do a Google news search on police layoffs, and you can read about towns from Wenatchee, Washington, to Newburgh, New York, to the port authority of Virginia, all considering or going through with massive police layoffs. The thin blue line is getting still thinner across America. The Justice Department still reporting today some 12,000 police officers will lose their jobs this year, maybe more. It`s the first decline in law enforcement jobs in America in 25 years. When President Obama sent his American Jobs Act to Congress, it included $35 billion for keeping teachers, cops and firefighters on the job across the country. Republicans in the Senate blocked the jobs act -- although Americans overwhelmingly say they want Congress to keep cops and firefighters and teachers on the job. When last week President Obama put that one super popular pr provision into a new smaller bill, the Senate rejected it yet again. So, showing every sign that President Obama gets that Congress is not going to pass his jobs act either in big chunks or bite-sized pieces, the White House today rolled out a new agenda for trying to help the economy -- a new agenda that can get at least some things done without the help of Republicans in Congress. President Obama announcing in Las Vegas today that he`d use his authority as president to change the rules so more homeowners can rework their mortgages to make them more affordable instead of getting foreclosed on by the banks. Later this week, the president`s expected to make changes that will help people deal with outsized student loans. Again, he`s not asking Congress for their cooperation on this, he`s just going for it by the power he has as president. White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer writing, quote, "Using the mantra `we can`t wait,` the president will highlight executive actions that his administration will take. He`ll continue to pressure congressional Republicans to put country before party and pass the American Jobs Act. But he believes we cannot wait, so he will act where they won`t." It`s pretty clear challenge to Republicans. And Republicans today bit. They bit hard. The head of the Republican Party replying today, quote, "We can`t wait to make Barack Obama one-term president." He actually said that -- Reince Priebus out of the RNC. A year ago almost exactly, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell making President Obama a one-term president the Republican Party`s number one priority for the nation. And they mean it. A year later even, they mean it, and they are doubling down. So, now, at least everybody agrees on the two sides America has to choose from. We can`t wait to work on jobs. Or we can`t wait to oppose the president. In the self-declared terms of both parties, that is your choice, America. Both sides agree that is your choice. Joining us now is Bob Herbert, former "New York Times" columnist, now a distinguish senior fellow at Demos, and a contributor to policyshop.net. Bob, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for coming in. BOB HERBERT, DEMOS: Great to see you, Rachel. MADDOW: I feel like it is a slur against the Republican Party to say their number one priority is getting rid of this president. And it is their self-identified raison d`etre, their self-identified reason for being right now. I almost feel guilty saying it. What explains why they would be claiming this as their -- the thing they want to be nationally known for? HERBERT: You know, they`re so obsessed that they almost don`t care. They`ve been consistent as you just pointed out. They will -- they will do anything. They want to get rid of Barack Obama. They want to recapture the White House. I don`t think they care about the economy. I don`t think they care about this job situation. Obviously, they don`t care about the problems that will come out if the cities and towns keep laying off police officers. MADDOW: One of these things -- this feels to me like one of these things where maybe it`s Republican voters in the Republican base are not horrified by hearing it`s not jobs, it`s Obama who`s the problem. But the rest of the country sort of sees that as crass. Is this one of those things where there is sort of a Republican set of mores and the rest of the country just really sees things differently or -- HERBERT: You know, it`s hard for me to believe that the Republican electorate in total would follow this line. I mean, I assume the majority of Republicans are in favor of this, otherwise the leadership, you know, would maybe have a change of tune. They`re looking at polls and that sort of thing. But, you know, the elections are generally decided by the so-called middle of the road voters, many of them suburban independents, and that sort of thing. The real craziness that we see going on in the Republican Party, some of which you were detailing at the top of the show, I think tends to frighten these voters and that tends to play toward Obama who is seen as a reasonable person, whatever one thinks about the policies or some of the things that the administration is doing. MADDOW: You know, that has been -- we`ve heard that again and again from the White House I think in some of their more candid moments that even in the face of progressives pushing them, pushing the president to be more combative, more pugilistic toward the Republicans, really calling them. We have seen some of that. I think they see the downside of that is the president stopping, seeming as reasonable as he does, that it`s scary times. HERBERT: Yes, I think that`s true. I mean, I`m one of the ones who wish the president had been more combative, you know? But then you look at the Republican field and you almost can`t believe, you know, what you`re seeing with the Rick Perry craziness and Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann - - although I guess Bachmann is over by now. But the real problem is -- I mean, we know how combative politics has become. But the real problem is that a lot of the stuff the Republicans are dealing with now is really harmful to individuals and harmful to the national interests overall. I mean, the economy right now is in a very delicate situation. And economists tell us there`s a danger of another recession coming up over the next year or so. You start throwing these people out of work in state and local governments, for example, when in fact you could do something to prevent that, that just weakens the economy more. And then, you know, I know there`s controversy over the way, over Joe Biden`s recent comments. But the simple fact of the matter is, when you start slashing police forces the way some of these towns and cities have been doing lately, you do endanger public safety and crime does tend to go up. MADDOW: In terms of the White House`s approach here, I would have thought that first responders, that breaking out that first responders` money would have meant that the first responders` money would have passed. I was actually surprised that it did not get through the Senate because of the Republican filibuster there. But, now, the White House laying out steps that President Obama can take on his own -- some smaller steps, frankly, on student loans and potentially a larger step on housing. What do you make of that strategy? HERBERT: I think it`s the only thing he`s got left to do. I think it`s smart. But I think it`s primarily political. I don`t think it will save a lot of jobs or create many jobs. And I don`t think it will do much for the economy. But I think that what we`ve been watching recently has mostly been political. It`s all about the presidential race. I mean, the truth is, the Republicans were never going to pass the president`s jobs bill. Whether, you know, even now things can get so bad that they might pass one component or another. You know, I don`t know. But I think the Republicans have shown that they are willing to play chicken all the way and do things that are just out and out harmful to people if they think that it will help them capture the White House next year. MADDOW: Bob Herbert, former "New York Times" columnist, distinguish senior fellow at Demos, and a contributor at policyshop.net -- Bob, thank you for coming in. HERBERT: Great to see you. MADDOW: Good to see you. All right. Susan Rice has one of the most difficult jobs in the world, particularly on days like this. She`s America`s ambassador to the United Nations. Right now, she`s one of the best people in the world for me to get a chance to interview and she is the interview on tonight`s program. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve had every official in Hawaii, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has investigated this, confirm that, yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August 4th, 1961 in Kapiolani Hospital. We`ve posted the certification that is given by the state of Hawaii on the Internet for everybody to see. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Ah, yes, the president`s elusive long-form birth certificate. It is back in today`s political news if you can believe it. And for this show, that can only mean one thing -- "Debunktion Junction." We will meet you there in just a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: A few weeks ago we bestowed a deserved but admittedly slightly sweary nickname on an American diplomat, on Robert Ford, the American ambassador to Syria. We decided he should not be called ambassador but rather ambadassador. The Syrian government, President Bashar al-Assad`s regime, had been trying to keep Robert Ford from leaving Syria`s capital, they did not want him visiting and thereby bucking up anti-government protesters in Syria cities -- Syria cities like Hama, where tens of thousands of people have been protesting Assad`s government for months. As we reported, "Ambadassador" Ford went to Hama anyway. Protesters greeted him by throwing flowers on his car and extending to him actual physical olive branches. Suffice to say, the Assad government was none too thrilled with the ambassador. Government loyalists attacked the U.S. embassy in Syria. They also attacked Ambassador Ford`s house to which the ambassador responded by going out and showing his support for protesters again -- hence the nickname. But today, our government decided that credible threats to Robert Ford`s safety in Syria decided that, bad ass or not, he should now come home. So, Ambassador Ford is coming home. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Ambassador Ford has been asked to come home for consultations. He has not been withdrawn. He has not been recalled. He`s been asked to come home for consultations. I want to take this opportunity to call on the government of Syria to immediately end its smear campaign of malicious and deceitful propaganda against Ambassador Ford. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Following the news today that our ambassador is coming home from Syria. Now, Syria has responded by calling their ambassador home from here. Joining us exclusively tonight for the interview is someone for whom a circumstance like that is not unusually complicated or fraught. It`s just Monday. Our nation`s ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. Madame Ambassador, thank you for being here. SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: God to be back. MADDOW: The Syrian situation is one of many complicated situations right now in the U.S. But because I started with it, let me just ask you if this is -- this is serious thing. Does this constitute a really escalation and tensions between our two countries? RICE: No, Rachel. I think the reality is that Ambassador Ford is coming back to have the opportunity to consult with colleagues and officials in Washington. We obviously take quite seriously the threat information that we`ve had, and we want to ensure that he has all of the protection that he needs and deserves when we returns and that the Syrian authorities assume their responsibilities to first stop inciting violence against him, stop inciting attacks on our embassy and our personnel, and ensure as they`re obliged to do under international law, that he and every diplomat have the protections that they are deserving of. MADDOW: When we look at the changes that happened in the Middle East in recent months, in just the past year -- I mean, in Syria, our government`s position is that the Assad regime should go. In Libya, our position was we would intervene militarily to protect civilians there. But it was not a military aim of that intervention to replace Gadhafi. The people of Libya did that themselves, but with significant military help from us. We`ve also got a complicated relationship with Bahrain. We`ve got a complicated relationship in Iran. In Egypt, obviously, our support for Hosni Mubarak has transferred to support for the people who overthrew Hosni Mubarak. Is there a way we should understand in what way the United States will get involved in conflicts abroad? How does our government now decide that? RICE: Well, first of all, Rachel, each of these situations is obviously different, not just within the Middle East in context of the Arab spring, but around the world where the same question pertains. We`ve been very consistent in adhering to some bottom line core principles. We will stand up for people who seek to assert their basic human rights, to assemble freely, speak freely, form their future governments. And we have done that throughout the Arab Spring, throughout north Africa and the Middle East as we frankly do around the world. Now, we do that in different contexts, obviously, has varied, according to what we think will be most effective and desirable in that particular context. So, in some places like Iran and Libya, we`ve employed tough sanctions. In some places, we have used real strong diplomatic efforts to try to affect the situation. Yemen is an example of that. In other places, we`ve been very forthright in saying leaders have to go. As we have in Syria, as we ultimately did in Egypt. In the case of Libya, which was quite unique, we ultimately led an international coalition approved by the United Nations to protect civilians -- but that was, as you pointed out, not a coalition that`s aim was regime change. Why did we do that in Libya? What made Libya particular? Well, in the first instance, we had Gadhafi who after 42 years demonstrated on numerous occasions his readiness to slaughter tens of thousands of his own people in one day. We had him on the doorstep of Benghazi, threatening to go house to house and kill his people like rats -- language which is reminiscent of genocides that we`ve heard in other contexts. We knew he had the ability, and was ready and on the doorstep to do it and had the history of doing it. At the same time, we had the Arab League, the countries of the region, as well as the people of Libya literally begging the international community to intervene. We were able to get clear cut international authorization through the United Nations Security Council for collective action to protect civilians. And we were able to mobilize a coalition to accomplish that, that included not only NATO countries but Arab countries - - and to do so on short notice. All of those things came together and President Obama made the judgment that it was in our national security interest, as well as consistent with our principles and values, given that we had the ability, we had the support and it was dead urgent that we do so to intervene and that was an enormous success. We not only protected the people of Benghazi and throughout the east, but with the support of NATO and Arab partners, we were able ultimately to see civilians now throughout Libya protected. And as you point out, a nonmilitary aim, removal of Gadhafi achieved. MADDOW: I think a lot about how much the United States uses military force. We are obviously the inheritors and the builders and custodians of the greatest military force the world has ever known, at great expense. That`s something about which we have great pride and also comes with a great responsibility. Is there no bright line about deciding whether or not to use military force? Is there nothing that`s different about military force as compared to all of the other options that the United States has? Tough language, diplomatic confrontations, sanctions and all these other things. Is there one thing that makes it possible for the U.S. to use military force that isn`t true about the other kinds of things that we use? RICE: Well, certainly, the decision to employ the military forces of our country and send men and women into armed conflict is the most solemn decision that any president has to take. I think President Obama has been very clear that he is exercising that judgment very judiciously and wisely and has only employed the use of force on one occasion, under his presidency, other than conflicts that he inherited. But -- (CROSSTALK) MADDOW: That`s, I mean, that`s not true. I mean, we`ve just sent 100 combat armed trainers into Uganda with a notice they would fire back if fired upon. RICE: No, Rachel, there are 100 advisers and trainers. MADDOW: Armed. RICE: Of course, armed for self-defense. And the rules of engagement are purely for self-defense. They will not be engaged in combat. That`s been explicit from the outset and explicit in their rules of engagement. Why have we sent 100 trainers and advisers to Central Africa, particularly Uganda? To help finalize the defeat of the Lord`s Resistance Army -- one of the most brutal, heinous terrorist organizations on the planet that has been going around for 15, 20 years and literally kidnapping children, killing their parents, raping their brothers and sisters and impressing them into conflict. I`ve been up to northern Uganda, to Gulu, during the height of the conflict. I held a 1-month-old child who was left for dead on the side of the road where her family was slaughtered and her brothers taken off to fight. That is one of the most brutal, horrific conflicts on the planet, and through the concerted efforts of countries in the region, particularly Uganda with American support over many years, they have shrunk enormously the size of the Lord`s Resistance Army. There is a remnant of a few hundred that are still marauding around the Central African region, including in south Sudan, Congo, Central Africa, and republic parts of Uganda. The president took the decision on a basis of a bipartisan piece of legislation coming out of Congress that if we could help through advice and assistance, not putting Americans into combat, to help the countries of the region end this threat once and for all, then that was a worthwhile investment. So, we need to make the distinction where we send advisers and trainers, which we have in many different parts of the world that are not engaged in combat, as is the case here, from actual combat. And in the case of Libya, let us also recall that not a single American soldier was deployed on the ground. Not a single boot on the ground. All that we accomplished, and it was a great deal, was accomplished in the first instance by diplomacy and second instance by a coalition of NATO and Arab partners that employed air power and we contributed enormously to that in the early days and subsequently with intelligence throughout, and accomplished a mission that some said couldn`t be accomplished without boots on the ground. So, there`s more than one way to use the U.S. military to achieve our objectives, not all of which necessitate putting U.S. force into combat. MADDOW: In terms of how we -- even if you don`t think about the way the other countries perceive us, but in terms of we as citizens perceive the way we`re using force around the world, this is something about which I know you will not say anything, but I have to ask you anyway. We use the CIA as essentially a military force in our country now. CIA drone strikes are essentially disavowed by our government but are a means by which we use force. When can Americans as a citizenry expect to ever have accountability for that? If our own political elected officials will not explain to us what we are doing, what they are doing in our name, because it`s the CIA, how can we ever have a say of whether we ought to be doing that or not? How is that not just autonomous action? RICE: The American people had a say when they -- when Congress passed the authorization to use force following 9/11, to go after al Qaeda. And that`s what we`re doing. MADDOW: Does that ever expire? RICE: There isn`t a deadline in that law. But hopefully it will expire as we continue to weaken and trite al Qaeda, and we`ve made enormous progress over the course of the last several years, but particularly the last year where we have seen the -- we`ve seen Osama bin Laden and many of his most senior deputies taken off the battlefield, Awlaki off the battlefield, and people in places that we don`t often discuss including some very important cases in Somalia. So, look, al Qaeda is a global force. Its aims have not changed. It`s morphed somewhat since 9/11, but it remains dangerous. And President Obama is committed to protecting the American people in the ways that are necessary. And he has done it with remarkable success. He`s done it with limited engagement of U.S. forces outside of Iraq and Afghanistan. And I think that`s something that the American people respect and appreciate -- given that we are safer when we have fewer adversaries sworn to kill us and with the means to do it. MADDOW: Our nation`s ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice -- I -- you have an impossibly complicated job and I appreciate your willingness to talk with me about it even when I ask you stuff that I`m sure isn`t the most comfortable conversation making. Thank you for being here. RICE: I always enjoy being on your show. Thank you very much. MADDOW: Thanks very much. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL" is at it`s new time tonight, which is right after me. Tonight, Lawrence`s guest is Apple`s cofounder Steve Wozniak. Here to talk about the late Steve Jobs. Coming up next here, "Debunktion Junction" starring Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and a whole lot of bunk. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: "Debunktion Function," what`s my function? First up, true or false? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Apparently, it is going to be another year like that. Birtherism is dead. Long live the accusation of the president`s secret foreign-ness. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: A couple of months ago on this show, I said that by releasing his long form birth certificate, President Obama had killed overt birtherism as a campaign strategy, only to be replaced by a subtle strategy by saying that the president doesn`t love America. The birtherism itself, the idea that the president`s birth certificate is a fake, birtherism is dead. Is that true or false? (BUZZER) MADDOW: False. No need for subtlety apparently. Birtherism is not dead. Republican hopeful Rick Perry in an interview with "Parade" magazine, quote, "Governor, do you believe President Barack Obama was born in the U.S.?" "I have no reason to think otherwise." "That`s not definitive." "Well, I don`t have a definitive answer because he`s never seen my birth certificate." "But you have seen his?" "I don`t know. Have I?" "You don`t believe what I`ve been released?" "I don`t know. I had dinner with Donald Trump the other night." "And?" "That came up." "And he said?" "He doesn`t think it`s real." "And you said?" "I don`t have any idea. It doesn`t matter. He`s the president of the United States. He`s elected. It`s a distractive issue." A distractive issue -- but I do you want know if I have seen his birth certificate. That is how birtherism is done. Then sure enough today, a statement from Donald Trump. Quote, "Despite releasing what is alleged to be his birth certificate, serious questions remain." Actually no serious questions remain. Donald remains as does Rick Perry, but nothing serious remains here. Amazing. We got more "Debunktion Junction" just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. "Debunktion Junction." True or false? Voting for president this year could start as early as next month? Is that true or is that false? (BUZZER) MADDOW: False. The New Hampshire Republican Party freaked everybody out about this a week and a half ago when they put out a statement that they were thinking about holding their presidential primary in New Hampshire on December 6th. Since Iowa`s caucuses are held at least eight days before New Hampshire`s primary, that meant we were looking down the barrel at the voting for president starting in November of this year. So, that worry that voting for president would start at roughly Thanksgiving this year that was well-founded worry. There was reason to worry. But now, they have caved. The reason New Hampshire was going to go so early was because Nevada Republicans had moved their voting date way up. But now, Nevada has caved and moved back. Now, the schedule is Iowa, January 3rd; New Hampshire, January 10th; South Carolina, January 21st; Florida, January 31st; and then Nevada comes four days later on February 4th. So, we as a nation will be voting for president for only 10 straight months instead of for 11 straight months. Whoopee. Next up, according to Michele Bachmann`s national campaign, her campaign staff in New Hampshire did not quit. No matter what you might have heard. That`s what her national campaign said on Friday when reports surfaced of a New Hampshire for Bachmann mass exodus. Quote, "We have a great team in New Hampshire and we have not notified that anybody is leaving the campaign." So, did Michele Bachmann`s entire New Hampshire staff walk out on her? Is that true or false? (RING) MADDOW: True. They really, really did. But because her national campaign either did not have its act together enough to know it or because they did not want to believe it, Michele Bachmann`s team -- get this -- had to release a glorious adjective-laden press release over the weekend to prove that they had quit since the national campaign was denying it. The New Hampshire folks called themselves Team New Hampshire. And under that name, the Bachmann staffers wrote, quote, "The manner in which some in the national team conducted themselves against toward Team New Hampshire was rude, unprofessional, dishonest and at times cruel. But more concerning was how abrasive, discourteous and dismissive some within the national team were toward many New Hampshire citizens. These are our neighbors and our friends, and some within the national team treated as more a nuisance than as potential supporters." Even after that press release, the Bachmann national campaign still refused to admit that its New Hampshire staffers had quit, saying this afternoon, quote, "The unauthorized news release was sent by person who doesn`t even worked for the campaign and has never had the authority to speak on the campaign. We are not responding to comments by a person who was not even a staff member in New Hampshire." So, they`re dismissing the allegation that they are being dismissive. You also need apparently need permission to quit the Bachmann campaign. And if you don`t get it, you`re not allowed. We put in a call today at the woman listed as contact on the Bachmann Team New Hampshire press release. Her name is Karen Testerman. She ran for governor of New Hampshire last year. Ms. Testerman told us that she was happy to be the person point for the staff that all quit in New Hampshire and she says she finds it odd that Bachmann`s national campaign manager says she`s not a viable person to speak for the campaign since he`s the same guy who called her up and ask her to file the paperwork for Michele Bachmann to be able to run in the New Hampshire primary. She`s not filed that by the way. The paperwork is due by the end of the next month. And it sounds like if the Bachmann campaign does actually intend to run in New Hampshire, they are going to have to make some New Hampshire friends -- very, very fast. That does it for us tonight. Now, it is tonight for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL" at this new time. Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END