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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  November 19, 2012 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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important to the united states, obviously. important to our position in the world. important in particular to this president's view of us as a world power, specifically as a pacific power. but this trip happens to be going on while something worrying and compelling is happening in a totally unrelated part of the world very far away. so there's our president in thailand standing there with the prime minister of thailand. but our president in the setting is fielding questions about something that's going on 4,000 miles away. around the other side of the globe in the middle east. >> there's no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. so we are fully supportive of israel's right to defend itself from missiles landing on people's homes and workplaces
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and potentially killing civilians. my message to all of them was that israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory. if that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in gaza, that's preferable. not just for the people of gaza, it's also preferable for israelis because if israeli troops are in gaza, they are much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded. >> long simmering conflict between israel and gaza boiled over on wednesday after israel killed the top commander of hamas. since then, five straight days of air strikes and rocket barrages into israel. some rockets targeted tel aviv and jerusalem. whether both sides feel like they have accomplished whatever
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they felt like they needed to accomplish with this exchange of force. or alternatively, whether israel is going to roll these tanks that has massed on the border over that border for a big ground incursion into gaza. 75,000 military reservists have been mobilized. and they are making it clear that they just might turn it into a ground war. so it is a little unsettling to see the president traveling in asia while this is happening in the middle east, but this is sort of the way the presidency works. this happens and it happens pretty much to every president. when the libya war was kicking off, president obama was in south america. in 2006 when the lebanon war was kicking off, president bush at the time was in germany. when you are the president, the presidency travels with you. when international crises
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happen, you weigh in no matter where you are. and president obama is weighing in right now with clear support for israel, but he's also putting the weight of the united states behind the idea of deescalation, encouraging israel to not, for example, start the ground war they are threatening to start. that position is essentially where most of the world is with this conflict right now. the head of the united nations went to egypt today where he would appeal personally for deescalating the violence. why did he go to egypt? after ousting hosni mubarak, negotiations are going on as we speak and i hope we will reach something soon that will stop the violence and counterviolence. the whole world is working on trying to deescalate this conflict. the european union weighed in today as did russia. russia preparing a u.n.
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resolution calling for a cease fire. probably our closest ally abroad in matters of war and peace is britain, and they are taking the same line as president obama, although they are being even more direct about it. the foreign secretary saying that hamas bares responsibility for what's going on, but he warns that "a ground invasion of gaza would lose israel a lot of the international support they have in this situation." a ground invasion is more difficult for the international community to sympathize with or support. so the world, at least the world of the united states and our allies is pretty much speaking with one voice here. israel, stop the ground work thing. that's the message from the president. that's the message from allies. that's the message from the
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international community. that's the message from the europeans. that's the message from the egyptians. and even though our own president is traveling abroad in asia, that's the word from the mouth of our own president. everybody agrees. except for one rogue state, i mean one red state. >> i think israel should do whatever it has to do to defend itself. the president is going to work diplomatic channels. but i'm not in position to second guess what israel hazard tooz. >> send in ground troops is the only way to clean out the nests of rockets being fired at them. you can't blame them for doing it. >> the whole world calling for deescalation until republicans go on morning news programs and then it's not the whole world. what does the republican party stand for? the republicans nominated candidates for president and vice president who had precisely zero foreign policy experience between them. i guess i should correct that. the vice presidential candidate for the republicans this year did say he had some foreign policy experience, in that he voted for the iraq war. which he did.
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mazel tov. their presidential candidate vying to be president in the middle of our longest war ever took a big trip designed to fortify his foreign policy. he did not visit the war. he did not mention the war in his speech accepting the republican nomination and nobody knows what he would have done about it had he become commander-in-chief. his position on in, setting a date for withdrawal would be a horrible mistake and that he would go along with setting a date for withdrawal. in terms of his broader take, the republican nominee's idea was that our great enemy in the world is russia. now in 2012. not like used to be that our enemy was russia, no. he thinks that right now our biggest foe in the world is not china, iran, north korea, no, it's russia. this is a weird and important
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time for the republican party. because you can't pick and choose what kind of presidency you're going to have. you can't predetermine what's going to be important in the country or for our country in the world. stuff happens. things fall apart. and the republican party has essentially absented itself from any real substantive engagement on the issue of foreign policy. at least any coherent engagement on it. what is the republican position? how about on israel? after the iraq war debacle, the time when the george bush administration turned grief and anger and horror over what happened on 9/11 into a false pretense for attacking a totally unrelated country and starting a war that it took nine years to get out of. ten years on from that unmitigated foreign policy disaster perpetrated by the last
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republican administration, ten years later, the democrats who went along with that misadventure paid a heavy political price. it's not an accident that so many leading democrats at the time voted to go along with george bush's march to war. it's not an accident that none of them ended up becoming president. it's not an accident that the guy who did become president was the guy who was against the war from the beginning. these are not two unrelated circumstances. the democratic party had a real reckoning about what they got wrong by going along with that bush administration hoax and that disaster perpetrated on the american people. even the press went through a period of shame and horror to what the bush administration did on foreign policy. the press is not perfect, but it's better than it used to be on matters of war and foreign policy and self-consciously so. they went through a bit of a reckoning there. the republican party though, which is the party that committed that error, they never figured out what went wrong there, if anything.
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>> to go into iraq, i supported it at the time. i support it now. >> it was the right decision to go into iraq. i support it now. that was five years into that war. let me cut to the chase. the iraq war was not a good idea. if that's confusing to you, if you have not bothered to figure that out, that means you're not thinking clearly about the role of america in the world and the idea of what counts as a good idea for a war. and the republican party has not been thinking very hard or clearly about these issues for the past ten years. as evidenced by the fact they picked somebody to be their nominee who had nothing to say on the subject of foreign policy and that didn't bother anybody in the republican party. because they are not taking this issue seriously.
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they are refusing to think hard about the issue or reckon with mistakes made. the party is at sea when it comes to what america's role in the world should be. there's nobody in charge. that means by default the guy who gets to be in charge is the guy who says he ought to be, the guy who is the real republican party expert on foreign policy. so for the lack of any competition for the title, the republican party is once again turning to this man senator john mccain to lead them on foreign policy. senator mccain continued to lead the charge. as of this weekend, for politicizing the attack on the u.s. consulate in libya, he's not only saying he would block susan rice from being nominated to succeed hillary clinton as secretary of state if president obama makes that nomination, he now says he would block all nominations for anybody to succeed hillary clinton as secretary of state until he feels satisfied that he, john mccain, has received the information that he wants to receive about libya. this coming from the man who didn't bother to show up to the three-hour briefing on libya that was in his committee last week. but he's not embarrassed by
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that. he wants america not to have a secretary of state until he gets what he wants. even though we don't know what it is that he wants. because it's definitely not more information, because when information is being offered, he's not showing up for the briefings. how did john mccain get to be the republican party's north star on foreign policy in 2012? i mean, senator mccain had a capital h heroic military career. being held as a prisoner of war and holding himself in circumstances as a prisoner of war that have never been duplicated in modern times. but in terms of whether that translated into any akment on foreign policy, why is he the guy in charge? in terms of whether or not his experience has translated into him being the guy who is right about foreign policy, you be the judge.
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>> that old beach boys song, bomb iran. any way. >> do you believe the people of iraq will treat us as liberators? >> absolutely. i believe we can win an overwhelming victory in a very short period of time. >> i believe the success will be fairly easy. >> president bush has talked about our staying in iraq for 50 years. >> maybe 100. >> the second phase is iraq. there's some indication, and i don't have the conclusions, but some of this anthrax may have come from iraq. >> no, that's not right. no we were not greeted as liberators and the iraq war wasn't easy. it turned out not to be cool to muddle through in afghanistan for 12 years. muddle through was his suggested policy proposal. he suggested back in 1994 our approach toward north korea should be to threaten them with
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extinction. he said when running for president in 2008, he said we are all georgians now and the u.s. should think about going to war with russia. u.s., war with russia, what could possibly go wrong. it's also often his basic grasp of the facts. >> it's common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al qaeda is going back into iran and receiving training and are coming back into iraq from iran. that's well known. >> i'm sorry. the iranians are training extremists, not al qaeda. i'm sorry. >> you and i are both students of history and seen this movie before. when ronald reagan stood up for workers, when he stood up for the people and america did. and some good democrats did too.
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we were on the right side of history. >> we have a lot of work to do and i'm afraid that it's a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the iraq/pakistan border. >> the iraq/pakistan border. they do not share a border. iran was not training al qaeda operatives. ronald reagan did not cause the prague spring. that was his first year as governor of california. do you remember when up with chris hayes did the arm the ripples montage? >> we need to get a sanctuary for the free syrian army. we need to get them supplies. >> i do believe that as we have in the past, we can help facilitate weapons to get to the hands of the libyan military. those who are fighting against gadhafi.
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>> we should help them with arms. >> if not strategic air strikes, what if any military option would you think realistic and plausible? >> arming the bosnians. >> his favorite approach to bosnia, arm the rebels. his favorite approach to iraq, we should arm the rebels. his favorite approach to libya, we should arm the rebels. his favorite approach to syria was, arm the rebels. that just works everywhere. i understand the republican party needs somebody to tell them what to do. needs somebody to tell them what direction to point in when it comes to foreign policy. but they haven't figured out if iraq was a bad idea. if that was a bad idea, how did that happen in your own party? in this last election, the republican party tried to just
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punt on the issue of foreign policy. by the time of that third debate, it was more like a forfeit, okay, you win, we don't want to talk about it. but you don't get to decide when you want to learn about it or talk about it. the policy committee is in congress that makes decision about foreign policy have to make decision about foreign policy. the senate has to confirm somebody as secretary of state, even if john mccain decides he doesn't want one this year. there's a basic level of competence required, even of the opposition party on the subject. not after what george bush did with it. even if you're just in congress, even if you're just the opposition, you need to know what you're talking about. you need to have a basic level of competence. doing what john mccain says is not a reasonable substitution for basic competence on this subject. pick somebody else. frank rich joins us next. [ male announcer ] we got a real mom
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do you believe the people of iraq will treat us as liberators? >> absolutely. >> i believe we can win in a short period of time. >> i believe that the success will be fairly easy. >> president bush talked about our staying in iraq for 50 years. >> maybe 100. >> the second phase is iraq. there's some indication, and i don't have the conclusions, but
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some of this anthrax may have come from iraq. >> is that right? >> senator john mccain telling the american people how the war in iraq was going to be easy and we would be greeted as liberators and iraq was behind the anthrax attacks. how do you go from being that guy to growing up to be the guy who is now suggesting that the republican's fight with the president should be on foreign policy because you guys have the credibility. joining us is frank rich. thank you for being here. >> great to be here as always. >> why is john mccain the leading voice on national security in the republican party? >> because there's a total vacuum. this is a party in defeat. what path for foreign policy in the romney campaign was the last bunker remnants of the bush let's charge into iraq. all these people whose policies
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have been discredited. now romney is gone. there's no one there. the one republican senator who had some stature on foreign policy was richard lugar who was replaced with richard mourdock. that's what happened to the foreign policy expertise in the senate. mccain has a vacuum to fill. he loves to be on camera. he's constantly on the sunday shows and everything in between. there's no one else home. and meanwhile, the rest of the party is worrying about discovering latinos and women and young people that they have to court. >> the thing that struck me watching news over the weekend and watching today, seeing president obama on this trip to asia, which is about his priorities about our spatial power. he wants us oriented towards the pacific nations. it's important to him in terms of his long range view of how he
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views the country. and while that's happening, everybody wants to talk about israel and gaza. it seems like a reminder to me that you don't have the luxury of choosing to specialize in one type of policy and to just give up on the others. and the republicans have just sort of given up on competing in foreign policy. >> they are not talking about the pacific and mccain isn't really talking about israel and gaza. he's talking about susan rice. an appointment that hasn't even happened yet, a figure that, frankly, not known to most of the american public. and he's like a kid holding his breath until his face turns blue wanting, as you said, some information. he's not going to approve any secretary of state? he lost too four years ago. he's going to have to reconcile himself to that fact one day. >> in terms of what mccainism is, for the lack of anything else on foreign policy, we have
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that. when john mccain did try to talk about what was going on in israel and gaza, he said we were crumbling all over the middle east because of the light footprint policy of the obama administration. what do you think he means by light footprint? >> all i can think of is he wants a heavy footprint. he wants to arm everybody. >> not leave iraq? >> not leave iraq. surge, surge worked in iraq. it didn't. a surge was going to work in afghanistan, he pushed for that. it didn't. you forgot about the surge we should have had in afghanistan after 9/11, as we went off into iraq. so it's this one size fits all, bomb, bomb, bomb, fill in the blank. so i guess obama has a light footprint, whatever that means, because he doesn't want to bomb everybody, arm everybody, and be a bull in the china shop in the middle east. >> do you think that -- even if they are coming from this place that i think you and i agree on
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is frustrating in terms of john mccain's prominence on this subject. if the president wants to nominate susan rice for secretary of state, should they be taking the john mccain threats seriously? do you think he could stop it? >> i don't think he could stop it. i don't think they should take seriously. his power is just about noise because the republican party really doesn't care about it. yes, there are a group of people in the house who agree with him. he's now lost one of his three amigos, his lame duck. so it's him and lindsey graham and a republican party that doesn't give a damn about foreign policy except to fight about taxes. >> when you look ahead -- you wrote so eloquently about iraq and the lead-up to the war when it was happening. i feel like looking back on that
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ten years later now, i really, really want the republican party to have changed because iraq was such a bad idea. i want them to both know it was a bad idea and to have come up with a new conservative idea about how to clean up the problems that got them to iraq and to have a better idea about how to be a conservative opposition party on issues of foreign policy. how long is it going to take to get that? >> there's going to have to be a turnover in the republican party on this issue. there really is no foreign policy. there's a return to isolationism, being advanced by rand paul. and that's an old kind of republicanism that didn't want us to go after hitler. then you have this remnant in the bluster of mccain who one of these days is going to be on his way out. and the paul ryans and marco rubios, they have no foreign policy. they are going to have to wait. we're going to have to hope they will educate themselves and find something worthwhile and an opposition to the democrats, but
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the democrats and to some extent the press did learn from the iraq debacle. but they are in this sort of denial about the iraq war like everything else. >> we need to force progress there. i don't know how it's going to happen. >> it's all up to you now. >> they are not going to listen to me or you. frank, it's always good to have you here. have you ever, speaking of iraq, failed really dismally at something and then feared the consequences of you failing so dismally? i have a story that will set your mind at ease. nothing bad might happen to you, no matter how bad you failed. hold on. [ male announcer ] the only thing better than giving her a diamond is surprising her with one. save the surprise. shop online and ship to any zales store free. only at the diamond store. ♪ i'm lost in the light
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the republican party got shellacked in the election this year. nobody has been elected with an unemployment rate this high. but president obama did it and did it by a lot. it was just supposed to be a no brainer this year that the republicans would take back the senate. their numbers were all in their favor this year. not only did the republicans not take back the senate, they lost seats in the senate and in the house. the republicans had a terrible election this year. and after this election, guess who they have decided to fire for that outcome. guess who is losing his job. that's coming up.
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the president spoke with warren buffett. one of the richest men in the world. he spoke with the ceo of jpmorgan chase. he spoke with the ceo of apple, which is a bigger market capitalization than any other company in the world. the president spoke with the ceo of boeing, which is the largest exporter in the united states. he spoke with the ceo of costco, one of the world's biggest retailers. all the calls to the top tier ceos come right on the heels of the president's meeting with a different list of top tier ceos. given how obsessed they were with the titans of the business world siding with mitt romney over president obama, i'm surprised that the president making this much nice with the who's who of the business world has not attracted more mainstream attention. turns out i'm a bad predictor of
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what the beltway media thinks is interesting. in any case, with all of the president to ceo chitchat, it does raise the question of whether the president is trying to hit the reset button with the business community in general. specifically, with some of the most powerful and influence executives in the business community. but it also raises questions about the way that big business wields its power in washington. how they wield their power and what they are capable of getting for themselves when they want something. i raise that question today in one specific context. we are at the moment when not just newly-elected senators, but incumbents are looking to get their assignments and what kind of work they are able to get done as senators. after the basic question of whether or not you can get elected, your assignment once you're in the senate is the most important thing about a
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senator's power in terms of what kind of impact you can have in d.c. if you want to influence policy in the senate, step one is get elected. step two is get on the right committees, and step three is try to take over your favorite committee. try to become the chair. both parties have their specific rules on how the assignments are made. the republicans have a term limit rule for being chairman or the top ranking republican on a committee. after six years, you have to roll over. you have to move on to a new place unless you can get a special waiver to stay longer. the democrats don't have that strict kind of rule. if you're a democrat, once you have become a top democrat, you can remain the top democrat as long as you can keep winning reelection. but for both parties, even with the different systems of promoting people, decisions about who serves on which committees and when are basically made unilaterally. made by the top two guys. mitch mcconnell and harry reid. they get to decide themselves.
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they have a ton of power in terms of putting senators where they want to put them or where the senators want to be put, or not. so here's my question. what's going to happen with her? what's going to happen with the most high profile freshman member in a long time? what's going to happen? elizabeth warren's background is an expert on bankruptcy law. she was the chair of the oversight panel for the bank bailout. she came up with the idea for the consumer financial protection bureau and helped get it off the ground. elizabeth warren was born to be on the senate banking committee. if anybody want ever born to be on that committee, she was born to be on that committee. want to know who would very much not like elizabeth warren to be on the banking committee? the banks. we have been hearing pretty much since she got elected about how wall street is going to do anything in its power to keep elizabeth warren off the banking
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committee and presumably out of their hair as much as possible. the latest reporting coming from mother jones. mother jones reporting on trade groups pressuring lawmakers to somehow block elizabeth warren from getting a seat on the banking committee. one senate aid telling mother jones that d.c.'s lobbying corridor has been going nuts trying to keep her off that particular committee. but what -- how does that work? how does that work in day-to-day terms? how does wall street trying to effect its own outcome, how does that manifest in the real world? what are they doing now? who is making calls to whom? and what are they using as leverage? and perhaps most importantly, is it likely to work? joining us now to help us understand this small thing that might have a big impact on us as a country is ezra cline, msnbc's policy analyst. thank you for being here.
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>> good evening. >> i think if there was a young handsome guy committee, you'd be the guy who would be born. >> you're going to make me blush. >> i've been trying for years. when i say elizabeth warren was born for the banking committee, it's as natural a fit. do you see it that way? that's the natural fit for her? >> yeah. and everybody else does too. i have a hipsters take. i liked her before her stuff became cool when she was doing papers on bankruptcy. and so i think it's important to say that banking committees more than just wall street, it's also bankruptcy and the credit card bill and all these things. but i made a number of calls today to try to talk to people who would know how the process is going. and almost to a person when i talked to them, this is not going to be a problem here. people seem to assume this would be a smooth process and she would end up on the committee. they didn't see wall street's
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leverage. >> people do not need to be confirmed by the larger senate to get their committee assignment. there isn't any public review process is there? >> they kind of do. the way it works, harry reid will put forward a slate of committee assignments. and then the entire democratic conference or caucus will vote on that slate. so in theory, it's true. the democratic caucus could reject harry reid's slate. it just never happens. because these appointments are done in consultation with the committee and done in consultation with the members. every effort is made to assure that seniority and what people want is respected. there are two slots coming open on the banking committee. herb kohl is retiring and daniel akaka of hawaii. it would be hard for harry reid to say he couldn't get one of america's foremost experts on
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bankruptcy and wall street and a person beloved by the same people who gave harry reid a victory that he couldn't get that person a seat. >> so to the extent that wall street is lobbying, they wouldn't just be lobbying harry reid on this. they would be lobbying the whole conference to try to turn people against her, however, unlikely that might be. >> they could be trying, but it probably wouldn't be working that well. the other thing, you remember the line in the wire, if you come at the king, you best not miss. wall street came at democrats as hard as it could. but if you look at obama's 2008 donors, eight of the top ten were wall street. 2012, none were. and almost all of romney's were. wall street hundreds of billions to elect a republican president or senate or house and they failed on all counts because of redistricting the house. the nature of wall street's relationship with the democratic party is now a little reversed.
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it's them who are supplicants trying to get back into the graces of a party that largely controls the government. and so they are not going to be trying to make people hate them at the moment on the hill. they are trying to curry back some favor. >> how do you expect wall street to try to get back into democrat's good graces? you can do a lot with campaign donations, but it works both ways. we saw how the president tried to leverage the insurance industry saying i'm going to get you a bunch of new commerce, but you're going to help me sell this. is there something like that that the president can use them on if they are trying to get back in? >> i don't think particularly to wall street because they -- people don't love hearing wall street is on the side of something. the broader project, and it does have wall street in it, but is to try to get ceos to break away from their trade associations in washington. as a general point, ceos are more moderate.
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their believes about what should happen in washington are much more moderate than the chamber of commerce. it tends to be helmed by fairly conservative political operative types. one thing you're seeing with the president trying to single out ceos and bring them into the game is to get them to argue for the more moderate and centrist policies. the white house would like to see republicans begin to accept and break away from the heavily-september ask republican party affiliated representation in washington. >> that's the key i have been looking to unlock this recent spate of political activity. you have helped me figure it out. >> i'm happy to help. >> ezra is a columnist nor "the washington post." fascinating. best new thing in the world tonight is restorative. it will improve your mood even if you're in a good mood. stay tuned.
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a best new thing in the world today coming up at the end of the show tonight. truly good news from a place that needs truly good news. it's a good one tonight. hold on. d in small continuous amounts. citracal slow release continuously releases calcium plus d with efficient absorption in one daily dose. citracal slow release. but, dad, you've got... [ voice of dennis ] allstate. with accident forgiveness, they guarantee your rates won't go up just because of an accident. smart kid. [ voice of dennis ] indeed. are you in good hands?
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under the previous chair of the republican party, republicans won back the house, republicans slunk the democrat's majority in the senate, and republicans won most of the governorships in the country. republicans won more state legislative states than in any
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time since the '20s. the republicans did really, really well. republicans however, decide that national chairman was a failure and they fired him. that was in 2010. they replaced that successful chairman michael steele with the guy you see on the right side of your screen. he said if he was going to get to run the national party that his personal goal would be to get rid of president obama in 2012 and to take back the senate too. and to hold on to the house. more specifically, the new chairman said that under him there would be "more focus on winning." that was in the wake of the historic republican glory of the 2010 elections. his focus on winning manifests in the form of an unprecedented ground game for the election this year in 2012. this was him on fox the day before the election speaking from his home state of wisconsin. >> it's huge. we have the biggest ground operation this party has ever
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seen. we have a good operation. we think we're better than the democrats here. >> that same day on election eve, his republican party sent out a memo bragging about the republican party's ground game nationwide, how it would prove decisive. we're poised to blow the obama campaign out on election day thanks to a superior get out the vote program. we are poised to win the election day vote by greater margins than we did in 2008. it's ground game over. it was game over, but with the opposite outcome. those states all voted democratic. they all voted for president obama this year. in his home state of wisconsin, it also voted for president obama. there are a lot of lessons to be drown from the big, decisive margin victory. but at the level of political, technical proficiency, the correct political science term for understanding what happened on the republican side of things
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in this election is that the republican party's ground game this year sucked. under the chairman's watchful eye, not only did their get out the vote effort fail badly even before election day, it failed badly in a way they were not able to fix it in time for election day. in addition, he said the rnc conducted all the voter registration drives in all the crucial swing states. to be clear, it was the only firm he hired to register republican voters. and then weeks before election day, the party had to fire that consultant and his firm amid-accusations they committed voter registration fraud and were being investigated. the rnc wasted millions of dollars paying this single firm to fake register voters in five crucial swing states and they had no backup plan when things
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went wrong. mitt romney only won one of those five states and he only won it barely. and down ballot in a year where republicans were up for reelection. they managed to lose seats in the senate and lost seats in the house as well. now after all of that, his term is up as the republican party's national chairman. and not only does he intend to run for the job again, he's apparently going to win. according to him, he's got a majority of members supporting him. really? what does it take to get fired at the rnc? other than winning elections, of course. that obviously is grounds for dismissal. customer erin swenson bought from us online today.
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best new thing in the world. cue up the train tape right where it crosses the water. what you are looking at here is one of the strangest parts of the subway system in america's largest city. this is the a train, crossing the water of jamaica bay. new york city is truly huge in terms of the number of people who live here and how much land the city covers. this section of the train goes from queens across jamaica bay. the trip over the water is long enough that, i kid you not, pigeons have learned to get on the train and ride it to the other side. the pigeons commute. and where they are going is the rockaways, an atlantic beach peninsula, which is still part of new york city, but it's more than an hour's ride from manhattan and it has sand and waves and lifeguards all at the southern edge of new york city.
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the rockaways are a funny place. it has a dozen distinct neighborhoods with a lot of housing for the elderly and a lot of housing projects when the city put thousands of families way out there, an hour's ride from the manhattan skyline that everybody thinks of when they think of new york. half a century ago when the projects went up, the urban planners thought the elderly and poor people didn't need to be near town or near jobs, so they put them way out there in the rockaways. now working poor families making long commutes from the beach to their jobs in the city and conversely in the summer, you can find surfers toting their surf boards on the subway out to the part of new york city where the word swells means waves. it's thanks to that miraculous and very long subway route that you can move between the rockaways and town. it just takes awhile. that was the deal before hurricane sandy.
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i'm sorry to tell you these trusty tracks with the families and the surfers and the commuting pigeons, they got washed out last month by hurricane sandy. the storm surge swamped the tracks and twisted them and they are not expected to get fixed for many, many long months, which means tens of thousands of people are logistically stuck out there in the rockaways. lots of them still without power and heat. the rockaways are not an island, but for people out there, that's how life is being lived right now. after the storm, the rockaways got so hard to reach, some bicyclists pedals in supplies, partly because with gas supplies short, biking still worked. believe it or not, the u.s. navy made an amphibious landing a couple weeks ago because that was the best way to bring in equipment. just pull up to the beach and go. today we got some news. the folks that run the subway system just posted this video.
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look at that. the city has trucked in 20 subway cars for the rockaway side of the busted tracks. they did this four nights running, bringing in the subway cars and putting them back together. it will run on the far part of the rockaways where the line remains intact. then a bus will take people across a bridge and then the bus will drop folks off where they can continue their commute. they are calling this rejiggered line the h train. it starts tomorrow morning. it's not a perfect fix, but it gives something back to the people who were left up a creek without a paddle after sandy. the h train and the will and ingenuity and the long nights working of everybody involved to make it happen and the city's determination to not forget that far flung part of the world again, and life looking so slightly up again because of all that hard work, at