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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 01/21/13

Guests: Dan Rather

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: The commander-in-chief ball in Washington, D.C. on this Inauguration Day, the president and first lady dancing. And that is "THE ED SHOW." I`m Ed Schultz. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, my friend. I am not going to interrupt their dancing. We`re going to go back to this. I`ll talk to you in a minute. (MUSIC) ANNOUNCER: Joining the first couple are Staff Sergeant Bria Nelson and Gunnery Sergeant Timothy Easterling. (MUSIC) MADDOW: You`re looking at live pictures of the commander-in-chief ball tonight. President and Mrs. Obama dancing first together and then with a member of the Air Force and a member of the Marines, with a chest full of medals, to Al Green, as sung by Jennifer Hudson. I`m duty-bound to inform you that the first lady`s gown is by Jason Wu, and her shoes are by jimmy Choo. I know I sound ridiculous saying that, but you know you wanted to know it. This is a ball that happens specifically for members of the United States military and their families. It`s a tradition that was started under President George W. Bush. They have expanded it this year to be larger than it has ever been. It`s essentially doubled in size. There are two official inaugural balls, two only in Washington tonight. One of them is the commander in chief ball. And the other of them is the other official inaugural ball. Thanks for being with us on what is kind of a big day in Washington. You know the basics of what happened today, right? Church service at St. John`s Church, right near the White House. The president goes from the White House then to the Capitol, then he is sworn in at the Capitol on the west front. And that is the spot from which President Obama today delivered his second inaugural address. Well will have much more on all of that coming up this hour. But -- but here is the moment from today, the moment that I want to show you was not part of the official program. It was not on anybody`s schedule. We did not know it was coming, and it was not spoken into any microphone. So I`m just going to play this for you for a second. But notice it`s going to be a little weirder than usually expect on cable. There is no official sound here. So it`s going to be quiet for just a second. But just watch -- watch the president. This is after he had just finished his inaugural address. There had been the poem and the benediction and the national anthem. And he and everybody else in the presidential inauguration platform are leaving to file back into the Capitol. And at that moment, the president stops and turns around to look at this sight. He stops and turns around as people keep filing past him. He stops and he looks for a long time, alone. He looks back at the people who have come to Washington to seen him sworn in as president. If you watch him closely on this tape I`m about to show you, you can see what he says. He says, you can read his lips. I`m just going to take a look just one more second. I`m not going to see this again. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m going to take a look one more time. I`m not going to see this again. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well done, Mr. Vice President. Great job. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Senator, great job. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The president alone looking one direction as everybody walking toward him is looking past him. That is the moment today when you see the man inside the trappings of the office, when you see the way that any of us might be a little overwhelmed in human terms by the importance of your office, the singular scale of the importance of that particular office. That was a cool moment. Days like this are special because of what is scripted and preordained about them. The least suspenseful things on days like this are the most important things on days like this. Days that display the ritual of how we peaceably and agreeably move between presidencies in America. Days of ritual are days of forgone conclusion. They are scripted, which makes it all the more amazing when all of the sudden there is not a script. Like that moment after the inaugural address when we saw the president turn to be as amazed to see that crowd as that crowd was to see their president. That was an unscripted moment. As was this -- the president and the first lady and their two beautiful daughters in the front row of the reviewing stand, watching the inaugural parade, but they are just being themselves, being a normal family, albeit one in very unusual circumstances. But for whatever reason, this live shot of them watching the parade caught them candidly for long time, teasing each other, laughing, Sasha, the younger daughter taking pictures of her own parents, and them sort of mugging for her. Her sister mugging for some friend who she saw nearby. Mom helping the girls with coats and bottles of water and iPhones. Dad getting caught checking his BlackBerry, and at one point teasing his girls. We do not usually see them this way. We see them usually in the hyper restrained dignity that is demanded of formal occasions and heads of state. But for whatever reason -- and I really hope they did not mind us seeing them this way -- for whatever reason, today, for a long stretch of time we got to seem them while the parade was going by, just hanging out and having a great time. Being able to see the overlap between our regular humanity and the ceremony and celebration of greatness, of great office, of great achievement is always a moving thing. We`re reminded that -- reminded of that in this city of monuments, monuments to human achievement that are rendered, of course, super human in their scale. We`re reminded of this on days that are full of pageantry and ceremony and displays of national power when nevertheless they turn out to be rendered in human scale, walking flesh and blood when the president and the first lady get out of that car and walk the parade route themselves. We`re reminded of that overlap of human scale achievement and towering achievement on holidays like this. The federal holiday honoring the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Today on that holiday swearing in the nation`s first African-American president, not for the first time, but for the second time, it marks a different kind of milestone. Because in winning his second term, let it be known that this was not a fluke. Our country did not just pick our first black president by luck because he was just the Democrat who happened to benefit from a national recoil and backlash against what was widely viewed as a rather disastrous Republican presidency that preceded him. The country did not just choose Barack Hussein Obama to be president. The country chose Barack Hussein Obama to be president twice. We picked him again a second time after watching him in action for four years, and then having a very good chance to pick a new guy instead. This will never happen again. Barack Obama will never run for office again. And we do not know who will succeed him as president in four years. But the honoring of the office of presidency today, again, entrusted to him, will forever be a day writ large, writ large by us by our generation, our country in our time. We did this. And days like this, it is worth turning around, and standing in a stream of people going the other direction, and taking the long view, taking it in, taking a look, just one more second. We are not going to see this again. Joining us now is Andrea Mitchell, NBC`s chief foreign affairs correspondent, host of "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS" on MSNBC, and a person who is very good at covering inaugurations. Hi, Andrea. ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Thank you for that. I love it. MADDOW: You have been my lodestar for all the time that you have done this. But today, seeing you up there on the VIP platform, working and interviewing people and taking it in, I felt like you were taking a long view on what happened today. You were taking a historic view of this. MITCHELL: The irony is for a variety of reasons, I was escorted out through that door that the president takes, never done that before. So an hour or two before he entered, I entered that way and saw the developing crowd and said wow. I`ve never seen this from this vantage point on that blue carpet with the red bunting overhead. That was a very cool moment. And then -- so seeing him pausing, as you illustrated, and taking it all in because he`ll never see it quite that way again, he`ll come as a former president, but he`ll never be just having taken the oath of office, the whole pageant, the panorama, the pageantry and the words, the words really mattered today. I was so struck by that. Some people felt that there was very important news on entitlements. And I think that is true, that he was talking about middle class priorities and about entitlements not being something that, you know, involves taking, that it is something that helps us develop our economy and that people need Medicaid and Medicare. MADDOW: Actually, we have that clip while you`re referencing that. Do we have that cued up, guys? Can we just play that brief clip there? Roll that. I think we`ve got it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative. They strengthen us. APPLAUSE) They do not make us a nation of takers. They free us to take the risks that make this country great. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I saw that as essentially sort of a bottom line on the election that got him to this day. MITCHELL: Yes. MADDOW: Maybe a signal about what is to come in terms of the governing fights in Washington. MITCHELL: Absolutely. It is quite likely that there will be some give and some compromise. But he is creating a bottom line here beyond which he will not go. And that is a very strong signal for these budget fights to come. But writ more broadly, I was thinking of Martin Luther King Jr. and of equal rights and of the refrain that, you know, our job is not done, what he basically was saying is our journey is not complete, to use his words. MADDOW: Yes, our journey is not complete. Those are the two repeated phrases. Our journey is not complete, and you and I as citizens, you and I. MITCHELL: Exactly. This is an exclusive moment. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are recognized as equal under the law. He is talking about DOMA. He is talking about the Supreme Court argument to come. He is surrounded, of course, by the Supreme Court right this. And he talked about Stonewall. You know, talking about Stonewall in an inaugural address, I was really profoundly moved by that. This is not just saying, OK, these people helped elect me. This was saying this is a commitment. We`re expanding the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and we`re talking about equal rights for all of us. He is talking about Seneca Falls. He is talking about women`s rights and equal pay. And this was a very forward-looking, progressive, inclusive speech. MADDOW: I will say as a gay person that I am used to gay people being name checked in speeches, put in a list of demographic groups that you want to shout out to, to show that you recognize that we exist, which is always nice. But to have the president articulate why the fight, the continuing struggle, the not at all settled struggle for equal rights is an American project, and to have that delivered from the inaugural lectern was I think -- felt personally was moving to me personally. But I also felt like it was a landmark moment in a president who was trying to take those things and make them not outsider fights, but make them central to how we think of ourselves as Americans. MITCHELL: That`s the way I took it. And it just seemed to me that he has been reelected. He doesn`t have a mandate for a lot of the things he now needs to do -- gun laws, for instance, because he did not run on that. But whatever his staff says to the contrary, it isn`t only the things that he ran on that he now has to face. MADDOW: Yes. MITCHELL: And many of them will be foreign challenges, but some will be Newtown and the domestic challenges. But he made equal right a central part of this message today and it was significant because it was on Dr. Martin Luther King`s Day. MADDOW: And not doing it in an adversarial way, but saying this is who we are. This is how we got to be here. This is how you got to have a president like me and this is what it means and it says about us as a country. I thought it was a big-minded speech and I thought it was very nonpartisan and really interesting. Andrea Mitchell, I love being able to talk to you on big days. MITCHELL: It`s great to be here with you. MADDOW: Thank you. You`ve had a long day. Thanks for being here late. I appreciate it. All right. We`re going to be right back with Dan Rather. Stay tuned. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths -- that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forbearers through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall; just as it guided all of the men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone, to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on earth. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: You need to stay with us during this hour in part because we are awaiting president and Mrs. Obama and the further dancing. They have danced so far and the president made remarks at the commander-in-chief ball. The other official inaugural ball today is due for a visit from the president and the first lady. We`re also expecting further remarks tonight from vice President Biden at the commander in chief`s ball. That is all due to happen roughly this hour. So you should stick with us. Also, Dan Rather coming up. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: That is our generation`s task, to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty exactly the same way. Or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time. You and I as citizens have the power to set this country`s course. You and I as citizens have the obligation to shape the debates of our time, not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You and I as citizens have the obligation to shape the debates of our time not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our ancient values and ideals. You and I as citizens -- President Obama giving his second inaugural address today. That speech happened just before noon Eastern Time today. And then after that, this afternoon, while the president was having lunch with members of Congress after that address, this e-mail was sent out from It is signed at the bottom there by Barack. You know, your friend, Barack, who are in your first name basis with. The email says, "I just renewed my oath of office to serve as your president four more years. Thank you for making this possible. It is an honor to be your president. Now, it`s time to finish what we started, let`s get going." And then like all good political letters, it has a postscript. It says "P.S.: Organizing for Action is the next step in our grassroots movement, and will be crucial to finishing what we started. If you have not already, say you will be part of it." If you click on that say you will be part of it link, it takes you here to Obama Biden at the top there. This is a page at Organizing for Action. The headline there is "You In?", and then there is a video from the first lady and the president, asking you to join not a campaign, but this new thing, this Organizing for Action thing. Post campaign -- a thing that looks a lot like a continuing campaign. What you`re looking at right now is a live shot of President Obama and Mrs. Obama at the official inaugural ball. We saw them earlier at the commander-in-chief ball. This will be our second chance tonight to see them dance together, possibly our last chance together tonight to see them dance, which means that I should probably shut up and get out of the way. (APPLAUSE AND CHEERS) ANNOUNCER: And now, please welcome Grammy and Academy Award winner, Jennifer Hudson. (MUSIC) MADDOW: President Obama and Mrs. Obama dancing at the official inaugural ball tonight, being serenaded by Jennifer Hudson for the second time. She also serenaded them at the commander-in-chief ball. "Let`s Stay Together", of course, is: (a), Al Green, so always great; (b), a nice metaphor for picking me again to be your president for four more years. And also (c), a nice reminder of the president`s turn at a microphone at a fundraiser I believe it was last year singing a little Al Green himself -- a nice reminder of that tonight. But the president and the first lady, I do believe that is the last time we`ll see them dancing tonight. But the night is young, and these inaugural balls are still ongoing. Is there going to be one more dance? Oh, right. OK. Here is how it goes there is two official inaugural balls, the commander-in-chief ball, which the president and first lady have already appear at, and the official inaugural ball, which you just saw them dance at right here. But the official inaugural ball is so enormous at the Washington Convention Center, that it takes place on two different floors. And as they move into the next room, so the other people in the other room can see them. Also at that part of the inaugural ball, there will be another president and first lady dance. So there. This is a weird thing to emcee. Who knew? I barely even went to prom. But the things we do on inauguration night. In 2009, he had 10 official inaugural balls. For his second inaugural ball, Bill Clinton had 14 official inaugural balls. So I should be excited that there are only two, enough to get me confused. But we`ll have that for you live as it happens. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Looking at a live shot right now of Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, dancing at the official inaugural ball at the Washington Convention Center. They`re being serenaded I believe by Jamie Foxx. (MUSIC) MADDOW: Vice President and Mrs. Biden wrapping up their inaugural dance. This is in one of the two rooms in which the official inaugural ball is being held. This is the room in which President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have not yet appeared to dance. But they are expected momentarily. Yesterday, around -- right around the time that President Obama was being officially but privately sworn in at the White House for his second term, the Sunday swearing in, and in keeping with the constitution, has to happen on the 20th, while that was happening, there was a meeting taking place in Washington a few blocks away in the ballroom of the Washington Hilton. It was a meeting called the Obama Legacy Conference. Thousands of Obama campaign staffers and volunteers gathering on inauguration weekend to essentially map out what comes next. What comes next for this enormous organization that they built over the last few years to win the president`s reelection, and which now having done that is looking to keep working on something else. Organizing for Action is what they officially rolled out at that conference yesterday. It`s the new iteration of the president`s campaign operation. It is a tax-exempt group. It can accept unlimited donations. It does not have to disclose its donors, although the president`s new organization says it will. They say their main purpose is to mobilize support for the president`s second term policy goals. This is something new. After President George W. Bush won reelection in 2004, he did not have an entire campaign structure at the ready, millions of supporters strong mobilizing behind him and raising money for him to achieve his second term goals. President Clinton didn`t have anything like that when he was elected to a second term. No president has had an independent group do that. But Barack Obama now has that. His election campaign has been turned into an independent group. The chairman of the new group will be a man named Jim Messina. He is not exactly a political lightweight. His last job was in fact running President Obama`s 2012 reelection campaign. To have Jim Messina in charge of this thing means this is not a place where emeritus your friends to keep them on the payroll. This is something that is going to be an active political operation with some of the biggest guns in Democratic politics at the helm of it. Democrats are turning their brightest lights from the two successful campaigns of this president into a political operation that will operate throughout President Obama`s second term. Nobody has any idea what that is going to be like or how that is going to work, because nobody has ever done this before in American politics. Joining us now to talk about the inauguration and this development in our politics is Dan Rather, the anchor and managing editor of "Dan Rather Reports" on AXS TV. Mr. Rather, happy Inauguration Day. Thank you for joining us. DAN RATHER, DAN RATHER REPORTS: Well, happy Inauguration Day to you, and what a job you have done, Rachel, and what a day for the country. MADDOW: Yes. RATHER: One can be blase about a lot. But we can`t be blase about a day like this where a reelected person of color becomes president of the United States for another four years. Listen, I don`t care whether you`re Republican, Democrat, Mugwump, whatever, it`s a day where you have to say, what a country. MADDOW: Dan, I have said that there`s no precedent for exactly the way the president is planning on spending his second term. Obviously every presidency is different. Political strategy evolves over time as presidents evolve over time. Is this president planning something that is materially different than anybody else has done in terms of cementing his legacy and accomplishing his goals for his second term in office? RATHER: Well, no president that -- I tried to do some research on this afternoon. I don`t find any precedent for this at all. And it`s a very smart move. What he is trying to do is take what he learned, what he and those around him learned during the election and put it into an effect to not just for his legacy, but for his agenda and his -- what he hopes to accomplish in the second term. And he made it clear today in his second inaugural address that he is playing for the long-term. He is playing for history. We have talked before he has a chance in the second term to dare to be great. And what he wants to do, and I think this organization, if it actually materializes and is effective as it possibly will be, if it`s half as effective as his presidential campaign, it will be of tremendous help to him on such things, and he mentioned all of these today in his inaugural address -- immigration, climate change, gay rights, the first president in an inaugural address to mention gay rights. He spent some time on climate change, immigration. These are the builders for his historic record. Also, for the good of the country as he sees it. Now, to accomplish those things in the face of what has been and continues to be at this moment basically an obstructionist opposition party, the Republican Party, he is going to need all the organization he can muster. And to get that organization, of course, he has to have money. So to get the money, they established this nonprofit. The closest thing I think we`ve had, Rachel, in terms of a precedent for this was the Ronald Reagan operation, the Ronald Reagan campaign and the ongoing echoes of that campaign. They didn`t have one organization, but they had a series of organizations to make certain that they played for the long pull. They played for history. And they were in many ways effective in doing that. Now, we`re in the 21st century. And what President Obama did during the campaign, he took the most creative thinkers that he could find, people to use the cliche who think out of the box. He married them up, if you will, wedded them, molded them into the information era high technology whiz people who knew how to leverage the information age to his electoral advantage. Now that`s what they want to do with this organize for action. And frankly, I wouldn`t bet against them. This could be very, very effective as he tries to get his agenda going and maintain it. But make no mistake, we are dealing here and the country is dealing with and the Republicans are dealing with a somewhat different Barack Obama. You could feel it today. It`s been coming for some days, I think, that in the first term, he was -- yes, sometimes timid, trying to be conciliatory. Now, in the way he has turned today and said give me a moment, I want to take in this view again, because I`ll never see this again, he now sees this four years is going to decide what history says about what he did as president. He is already a historical figure, the first person of color to become a president and then be reelected as president, obviously. But now, he is talking about what the history is going to say of what he actually accomplished in his eight years in office. And let`s pray to God he does have the eight years in office. A recent columnist "The New York Times" said -- asked the question are we now looking at the Democratic Party`s equivalent of Ronald Reagan and what Ronald Reagan did for the conservatives and for the Republican Party in the 1980s. I think the answer is -- we may well be. MADDOW: It certainly seems like that is what he is aiming at. And I had read that hypothesis before today. And then hearing that speech today, I thought that is what he is trying to do. Dan Rather, witness, anchor, reporter for more than 50 years of inaugurations now -- Dan Rather now reporting on AXS TV. Dan, it`s quite wonderful to have you here. Thank you so much for your insight tonight. It`s great to see you. RATHER: Thanks so much, Rachel. Thanks for having me. MADDOW: Thank you. All right. Lots more ahead. We`re expecting to see the president and Mrs. Obama dancing again shortly. Plus, I`ll repeat the thing about who made the shoes, which makes me blush for some reason. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends. And we must carry those lessons into this time as well. We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Last week, on the occasion of the end of President Obama`s first term in office, NBC News did a big comprehensive national poll on how Americans viewed this president right now. They asked specifically, what was the best thing that President Obama got done in the last four years? Coming in at number three on the list was preventing middle class tax hikes while raising taxes on the highest levels of income. That was the third greatest accomplishment of the president`s first term, according to the latest NBC poll. Number two, killing bin Laden. Killing Osama bin Laden is what President Obama himself refers to as the single most important day of his presidency. For Americans at large, that was number two. What ranked higher than that? What does Americans think was the single best accomplishment of his first term, even better than killing bin Laden? It was ending the war in Iraq. President Obama campaigned on ending the war in Iraq in 2008. He was against that war right from the very start, and in December 2011, after eight and a half years of war, the president, as he promised, did bring the Iraq war to a close. When President Obama took the office -- took the oath of office four years ago, there were 144,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Today, it is about 200. That right there is what Americans consider about the single greatest accomplishment of his first term. Heading into his second term, the president has just come off a campaign in which he promised to bring America`s other war, our longest war ever to a close, the war in Afghanistan. Here is the president tonight at the commander in chief ball with members of the military and their families. The president announced two weeks ago with Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, that American troops will transition out of a combat role in that country in this spring. He says all American troops will come home by the end of next year. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. (APPLAUSE) We the people still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Joining us now is Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential scholar and historian. Mr. Beschloss, thanks for being here. MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL SCHOLAR AND HISTORIAN: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: The big arc of presidential history tells us that modern presidents and their second terms end up focusing on foreign policy, maybe more than they intend to, certainly maybe more than their first terms. Why is that? BESCHLOSS: The main reason probably is, is that when a president comes in for a second term, he usually has about six to eight months to get things through Congress. It may seem small, but even LBJ in `65, with 61 percent presidential landslide, more Democrats in Congress than any other time in the 20th century, except for Roosevelt, he knew enough about the Senate and the House, he said I`ve got six months because I`m going to be asking Democrats and some Republicans to cast some risky votes. After a while, they`re going to start rebelling because they`re going to look to the election next year. No reason that won`t happen this year. Foreign policy is something you can do without running to Congress for permission ever day. MADDOW: Ah. It`s because you can when you can`t do other things. BESCHLOSS: Indeed. MADDOW: I understand. The prosaic answers are always the most direct ones, and they`re always from history. In terms of the president looking ahead at six to eight months, what they`re telegraphing right now from the White House is that the heavy lift they`re going to ask for is a variety of measures related to gun violence. Because it is a variety of measures, I think they mean it to be treated as a grab bag and not a comprehensive process, but then, a comprehensive package of immigration reform that cannot be broken into its component parts. Is that the kind of heavy lift that you might expect might be feasible at the start of a second term? BESCHLOSS: Very much so. I think he tried to build up his capital today. He did win the election. And I think the LBJ example is not bad one, because during those first six months of 1965, Medicare, education, voting rights, all the things that we think of really as the Great Society didn`t happen across four years, really just in that first half of one year. The fact that Johnson was asking for all those big things together really helped. MADDOW: The end of the Iraq war was not marked as a massive occasion in this country when it happened. There was some primetime news programs that didn`t cover it the day that it happened, the day that was the end of the war. But people, when you ask them broadly in the country, end up ranking ending the war as President Obama`s greatest single accomplishment in his first four years. What explains the primacy of that in memory, even as it was buried in the news as we went through it? BESCHLOSS: Well, go back to the Democratic primaries of 2008. What was the biggest issue? Barack Obama probably became the nominee largely because he was against the war at the beginning. Hillary Clinton was for it. So people obviously noticed the absence of that. But even more than that, I`m sure you`re wiser than I was. But four years ago, I could not imagine that anyone who was president could not only have gotten us completely out of this war, but also do so without that government in Iraq collapsing, and more so, without an angry domestic backlash against whatever president did that as somehow soft on terrorism. One way Barack Obama did this is by not going and saying I deserve all sorts of credit. He did it rather quietly, but very competently. MADDOW: Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, you have been deeply, deeply in demand today. And I know we had to fight for your time. Thank you letting us have -- BESCHLOSS: My pleasure as always. MADDOW: Appreciate it. BESCHLOSS: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Thank you. The day in fashion is coming up, yes, because I`m your fashion correspondent with a lot of credibility. Some of it worked out great. Some of it -- well, I need to do an apology. Please stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: You want to see the tape we found of President Eisenhower allowing himself to be lassoed by a cowboy at the inaugural parade in 1953? There. All right, you`re ready? There you have it. Rodeo cowboy Montie Montana lassoing the 34th president of the United States at the inaugural parade. And yes, that kind of thing does not happen anymore. Now, while you marvel at the fact that this happened and that this footage of it exists, let me put something else on your radar. Tomorrow, in Washington, on Capitol Hill, the Senate has one chance, one day, on which they can change the rules to stop letting the Republicans forced an automatic 60 votes super majority on everything. It would be a huge deal toward returning the Senate toward normalcy. Republicans think that Democrats will never do it. Harry Reid has said multiple times that he wants to do it. Tomorrow is his only chance to do it, but nobody knows if he will do it. That said, nobody knew that Montie Montana would really lasso President Eisenhower at the inaugural parade 60 years, and that happened. Improbable is not the same as impossible. Tomorrow is a big day on Capitol Hill. You will want to keep the news on it. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Happy Inauguration Day, everybody. Inauguration Day night means the president and the first lady dance together at the inaugural balls. As you can hear, we`re having a little trouble with the audio, but this is the president and first lady dancing, as Jennifer Hudson serenades them for the last tonight at the official inaugural ball. (MUSIC) MADDOW: Jennifer Hudson serenading President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as they danced tonight at the official inaugural ball, and the first lady wearing a custom Jason Wu ruby colored chiffon and velvet gown with the handmade diamond embellished drink -- embellished ring, excuse me, by jewelry designer Kimberly McDonald. She`s wearing shoes designed by Jimmy Choo. At the end of the inaugural festivities, the outfit and the accompanying accessories will go to the National Archives. But you are going to stay here all night because our MSNBC live coverage of the second inauguration of President Barack Obama continues live into the night. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Thank you for being with us. Thank you for staying with us. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END