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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  November 27, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PST

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i'm fine with the ones who are really libertarian, but you can't be truly libertarian and then also ignore everything that's come before you. >> the closer gets tonight's last word. "hardball" is up next. grudge match. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start with this. there's a real battle going on tonight. john mccain is out there on every television show accusing
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u.n. ambassador susan rice of covering up a national security breach. he says rice denied al qaeda's lead role in the attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi that cost the lives of ambassador chris stevens and three others and she did so knowing it was true. well, the man who defeated mccain in the 2008 presidential campaign takes this as a personal shot at him. how will he respond? will he name ambassador rice his new secretary of state to replace hillary clinton? will he meet mccain's challenge head on and send rice up to the capitol to go face-to-face with the enemy? tonight we study the battlefield and the firepower of the two sides in this year-ending fire fight. mccain sure wants this fight, but do his fellow republicans? do they want an older white guy taking on the competence of a young woman of color, a rhodes scholar of solid reputation? most important, what end does the president want for this match of fact and wits? i'm joined by michael o'hanlon of the brookings institution and jonathan landay. the intelligence reporter for mcclatchy newspapers. michael, thank you for this. i want to get to the facts. am i right, is the main charge here coming from mccain and the others that ambassador rice knowingly covered up a national security breach for political purposes? >> i think that's probably correct, chris, because i don't
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understand the level of invective and anger otherwise. clearly, there could be a debate about whether rice chose the correct words even based on what was known at the time, and i don't think it was her most stellar performance, but i have a real hard time believing that she was trying to be mendacious or in any way misleading, and i think that senator mccain must have reached the other conclusion or it's hard for me to see why he would be so focused on this issue so long after it happened. >> so, jonathan, thank you for joining us. this is an argument about fact. i don't know how to address it except the argument being made by mccain, by lindsey graham, and by senator ayotte of new hampshire is that this ambassador to the u.n. went on all the national shows, including "meet the press," in mid-september and basically tried to delay the news because it would get out eventually, that it was al qaeda that launched this attack. does that pass the smell test? that somebody would knowingly do that knowing the truth would be coming out in a matter of days? >> they still don't know who was responsible.
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there are links to al qaeda, they say, but links is a broad word. those links can take many forms. i think this is all a political red herrings. >> you're with tom ricks on this one. >> the main question is why was the consulate in benghazi still open when the administration, when even the ambassador acknowledged that the threats against the united states was rising and security was -- >> and the answer could be we had cia agents in that area -- >> absolutely. >> -- that needed to be protected. ambassador susan rice met with her strongest critics on capitol hill today to answer questions about benghazi, and the verdict was decidedly negative from her adversaries. senator john mccain, lindsey graham and senator ayotte left the meeting, here's the word, troubled. let's watch. >> we are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn't get concerning evidence that was overwhelming leading up to the
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attack on our consulate. >> i'm more disturbed now than i was before. if you don't know what happened, just say you don't know what happened. people can push you to give explanations, and you can say i don't want to give bad information. >> i'm more troubled today because it's certainly clear from the beginning that we knew that those with ties to al qaeda were involved in the attack on the embassy. >> well, then we go back to michael here. what i'm hearing today is ambassador rice when she went on "meet the press" in mid-september was basically handed a set of talking points which came directly from the director of national intelligence, mr. clapper, and she followed them. what did she do wrong by the likes of anybody, objective democrat or republican or just hater? what can you say she did wrong if she took the talking points from our top intelligence official? >> hi, chris. again, on that, i don't know that there was anything that was particularly wrong that susan rice did.
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we don't really know who took the latest intelligence information as it was developing on the 14th and 15th and put it into these unclassified talking points. that appears not to have been done all that well, to be blunt, and even someone like myself who is a big defender of susan rice and definitely does not think she should be disqualified for this episode has to acknowledge that someone in the administration probably should have done a better job. >> apparently she said today that she had nothing to do with the campaign. she met with no one from the campaign, had no one in the white house involved in this. it was all done, according to her, through the intelligence agency. she went to the source, primary source of information in our government, our g-2,
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intelligence people. she got it from them and then took it on television. there wasn't any political filter going on. she wasn't playing any political games for the team. if you think to the demonstrations in afghanistan over the years when the korans were burned or the prophet was insulted, that was often the span spontaneous. demonstrations throughout the muslim world. it was not an unreasonable initial assumption. i do believe that someone in the administration, not in the campaign, but in the administration probably could have done a better job between
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wednesday and sunday of getting better talking points. but i don't think it was ambassador rice's fault. i definitely don't think she lied. >> if it came through the white house, then she didn't give a straight story. anyway, joe lieberman, who's fascinating to watch because you never know which way he's going to go. he's usually a faithful ally of mccain and graham, but this afternoon joe lieberman came to a far different conclusion. take a listen. >> i specifically asked her whether at any point prior to going on those sunday morning television shows she was briefed or urged to say certain things by anybody in the white house related to the campaign or political operation. she said no, she was not given messaging points at all by the white house. to me, based on her public record and her public service, barring some evidence to the contrary, i think she's answered the questions that i have about why she said the things she did on those sunday morning talk shows. >> well, there you have joe lieberman. i think he's an honest broker in this case saying everything he asked her the right questions did you get any pr advice from the white house, any way to spin this thing so it looks like it was a spontaneous demonstration we couldn't have prevented. if he asked her did you talk to the white house about this, did you get any push from them to spin this thing?
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she must have -- he must have concluded in his question the national security council, tom donilon's office. there's no way she could have answered honestly and said i talked to the national security council because the national security council is part of the white house, right? >> that's true, but the talking points were actually not prepared for her. they were prepared for republican members of the house intelligence committee who were going on the sunday talk shows. there were no other talking points. the intelligence community ran them through the filters according to what they've said. they took out classified information, and they took talking points that originally for the house and given to her. >> let me -- this might not be the right question for you, mike, but i'm thinking about it. do the republicans, does john mccain -- it looks to me watching him over the years, he's a pugnacious fellow, to put it lightly. john mccain likes to fight. that's what he does. kids in the backseat fight. people fight in the middle east. john mccain fights. it's his normal mode of living. is he wanting to bring this thing for weeks -- does it look like he's in the mood now to keep this going through christmas?
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>> i don't know. >> he's trying to kill the nomination, it seems, at least you could argue that, nomination of her to the secretary of state f she is the president's pick. something nobody i know knows for a fact, by the way. >> that's a good point. here is the analogy i would use to ask senator mccain to reconsider. eight years ago condoleezza rice at roughly the same age as susan rice is now had a legacy that was not altogether perfect in the first bush term. as national security adviser she had been responsible for trying to coordinate different positions or at least bring them up to a level of decision making where the president could decide between competing views -- >> she said the smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud. i would say that was a problem. she led us to believe if we didn't go to iraq, we would have a nuclear weapon used against us. i would say that was a problem. >> and i like condi rice, and i'm glad the senate confirmed her, but there were more serious mistakes made in the first bush term on intelligence and also on coordinating as condi rice's job required her to do. it wasn't all her fault,
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therefore the senate gave her a second chance. this is a much smaller issue, and, therefore, i think the senate should also give a second chance even if people think susan rice made a mistake here. >> isn't it interesting they're accusing her of flacking for the administration, which is what condi rice did big time when she made the case for war which was totally overblown. and we all know it now. >> absolutely. the irony -- this is full of ironies. one of the ironies is the security problems that occurred in benghazi was because of the overthrow of the dictator gadhafi. who was one of the main american promoters of that? it was john mccain. and that's one of the ironies that's lost in all this. >> because gadhafi was our help -- >> he was helpful against al qaeda. absolutely. >> this is really black spy, white spy. this is crazy stuff. thank you. michael o'hanlon and jonathan landay. elections have consequences, i say it all the time. and the democrats are feeling emboldened. they want to see taxes go up on the rich. they want to protect programs
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like medicare and medicaid. will they give president obama room to negotiate some kind of deal that gets through this hell coming january 1st. they say they won, the other side lost, they're going to fight. plus democrats are moving to end the so-called silent filibuster which republicans have used to quietly say if you don't have 60 votes, you ain't going nowhere. this is the big question, if they're successful, it's possible, it's possible the democrats will be able to get some things done. we'll talk about that in a minute. they're going to be just like jimmy stewart finally. they're going to force them to actually filibuster like they did in "mr. smith goes to washington." anytime they really want to shut down the senate. and the democrats considered least likely to win back her senate seat beats the odds, and i think thanks to todd akin, and is back for a second term. our friend, the great claire mccaskill, joins us tonight, the senator from missouri. what's the first sound you hear after a democrat wins a presidential election? a republican crying fraud. tonight, the latest republican fairytale of how president obama -- i'm not going to say it -- took the election by ruse or whatever.
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they say stole. i hate that word. anyway, this is "hardball," the place for politics.
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a lot of people think president obama was helped when chris christie effusively praised him in the aftermath of hurricane sandy. christie is getting a lot of home state love. look at this. a new quinnipiac poll finds his job approval has soared to 72%. that's nearly 3 in 4. even democrats approve the job the governor is doing. christie yesterday filed paperwork for running for re-election next year. that's 2013. we'll be right back. why do toys for tots and hasbro trust duracell to power their donated toys? duralock power preserve. it locks in power for up to 10 years in storage. guaranteed. duracell with duralock. trusted everywhere.
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we need to be open to some topics and some issues that are painful and hard to talk about. we cannot stand by the sidelines in denial that this is ever going to engage us in the things that we value. we can't be so naive as to believe that just taxing the
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rich is going to solve our problems. i really go back to simpson/bowles. i think they had it right. put everything on the table, repeat, everything on the table. >> one of my heroes there. welcome back. that was senator dick durbin of illinois who voted for the simpson/bowles plan and today he served on the commission and voted for the proposal. i'll say it again and again even though it includes significant entitlement cuts and he as a democrat doesn't like that. the upcoming december 31st deadline, the so-called cliff, anything from that fiscal cliff to that fiscal slope. liberals are saying to that austerity bomb that progressive people don't like at all. former senator alan simpson proposed a plan to get the united states financial house in order that some say was our best shot at solvency. and avoiding the mess that
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awaits us come december 31st. senator simpson, it's always an honor. politics, i know you understand the irony of politics, it makes strange bedfellows. i want to try something by you. the president wants a deal. the president would obviously like to include something on revenues. the conservatives may not want to go along with that. but if it will include something on revenues. the best push is coming from people i don't normally side with like tom donohue of the u.s. chamber of commerce because he's warning if the congress screws around with this thing, through new year's, christmas and new year's, the whole world is going to be watching us screw it up again. and it's going to hurt the economy no matter who is in charge, it will hurt everybody, and we better darn well have a deal. i think they're the strongest push, better than the progressives, in getting a deal. your thoughts? >> i think dick durbin is a hero. i'd give him the medal of honor with oak leaf clusters. he was on our commission. when you give a spread between dick durbin and tom coburn and get five democrats and five republicans, one independent, 60% of the commission, a supermajority and everybody walks away because they all say, and durbin is tremendous, he's absolutely up front on that, but everybody is saying, well, it's the framework. we don't care whether our names are connected with it. call it rivlin/domenici, that's a beautiful piece of work, the gang of eight, but for god's
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sake get off your can and do something. unless you go big, go home, because on december 31st there's a mess floating around right now, about 7.2 trillion bucks worth of stuff in ten years. got to do something. >> why do members of the house and the senate play the clock? people are now talking today about this isn't going to get done, the need to meet this $4 trillion cut over ten years is not going to get done until you can smell the jet fuel. they have to be on their way to the plane, the kids are crying, they want to go home, their wives or husband are saying we have to be somewhere. we promised, we got the cheap tickets. what are you doing screwing around. it's not until then they actually do something. are we going to face something like that around new year's? >> you're the man who knows too much. you have been here too long. let me tell you, that's exactly. these people never respond, which would be a beautiful reaction. they react. they react. and they'll going to react right down to the last point when there's going to be blood and hair and eyeballs all over the floor and they're going to come up with something.
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but let me tell you, if it's just kicking the can down the road, the can is now a 55 gallon drum filled with explosives. you can't play that game anymore. if it's kick the can down the road, the markets are going to chop us up, and it will be an unknown day. durbin was the guy who kept saying, where's the tipping point? when the tipping point comes, inflation kicks in, inflation rates go up. who is the guy that gets diddled the most? the middle class. >> the payroll tax goes up and the tax goes up for everybody including the people that make just barely enough to live on. my concern is the world. i'm sitting there imagining you're in england right now or australia or africa and you're watching the news every day. and you know that in the united states both political parties, you sort of know who they are, both know there's a problem, both know the number they need to reach, both know they have to reach an agreement, and they don't do it. what does it say about our country? we're the great role model for democracy for the republican form of government and we can't govern ourselves in the simplest damn thing of getting the numbers straight.
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i worry about that. >> they love their party more than they love their country. how did we get to that point? don't ask me, but, you know, the whole business of reform and money in the campaign and beat up the guy and it's not a case of who wins. it's you want to be sure somebody loses. and i say to people whether it's grover norquist or whatever, lord sake, if you can't step up to the plate, what can happen to you? they can't murder you, they can't burn your house. the only thing they can do is defeat you for re-election by throwing some cuckoo from the left or from the right. if that means more than your country, it means patriots instead of panderers, you shouldn't even be in the damn congress. >> what do you make of speaker boehner? i sort of like boehner personally. he seems he's a jack lemmon character in the movies. he's always under assault. a middle class guy under assault, crying a lot. i don't know what the purpose of that is. i get the feeling he would like to deal, but he has this new constraint. not just the 218 votes to get a majority in the house.
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there has to be a majority of the republicans in the house and then a majority of the house. he wants to get that first majority -- is that a reasonable demand that he has to deliver? i've seen politicians, you and i know this over the years, they have bucked the majority in their own caucus, and they have gotten through deals that way. one party says we'll kick in 100 votes, the other party says we can do 120, it's easier for us and they get stuff done that way. now they're saying, no, i have to get my majority before we get your minority or whatever. >> he's got -- he lost 11 of the tea party guys, but he's got then 70 guys who didn't go to congress to limit government, they came there to stop it. so how do you deal with guys who came to stop government or grover wandering the earth in his white robe saying you want to drown government in the bathtub. i hope he slips in there with it. >> well, i can't -- i'm with you on the full metaphor there. the full metaphor. thank you, senator alan simpson, co-chair of the simpson/bowles -- or could be bowles/simpson,
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if you will -- >> don't use bowles/simpson because the acronyms can be wrong. we don't do that. >> you had to tell me. you had to ruin my day. you were doing so good with that soap and bathtub. thank you, senator. an article in today's "new york times" points out president obama may get trouble from his own left wing, the progressives, even far progressive when he tries to negotiate a budget deal. it reads in part, president obama's re-election and democratic gains in congress were supposed to make it easier for the party to strike a deal with republicans to resolve the year-end fiscal crisis by providing new leverage, but they could also make it harder as empowered democrats, including some elected on liberal platforms, resist significant changes in entitlement programs like social security and medicare. joining me is a liberal senator from rhode island, senator sheldon whitehouse of rhode island. senator, you're smiling but i don't know whether it's in delight you're going to be a holdout. a friend of mine, frank sullivan, lives up there, regularly tells me about the unemployment situation in your state, the need of a lot of
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seniors who rely on medicare and medication and social security. is that going to be your position, no deal if it involves those programs? >> well, i think the president has already said that social security should be outside of this discussion. it has not contributed to the deficit, and it shouldn't be part of the discussion. i think the press office said that the other day. we completely agree with that. we should set social security aside. it is solvent for decades, and by simply kicking in the social security tax above $250,000 you can make it solvent for decades more. so that's less of an issue i think in reality than it is in the long time republican desire to attack it whenever they can. remember, this is a party that tried to put it into the stock market just before the crash. >> i remember. >> so they have a long history of going after social security, and we have to, i think, set it aside. medicare is a more complicated problem because we have a health care system in this country that's immensely expensive, way too expensive, somewhere between
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$700 billion and $1 trillion a year by most standards, and 40% of that washes back through the federal budget. my position is that if we're going after the old folks on medicare and cutting their benefits, if we're going after the families who have a disabled child who couldn't take care of them if it wasn't for medicaid and we're not dealing with the overall cost problem, then we are really disgracing ourselves. i had this conversation with senator simpson in the budget committee when he was our witness there. he agrees with it. but, and there's always a caveat in these things, that side of the equation is hard to score. >> i know. >> so from the technical cbo insider -- >> i know. i want to keep it simple. i always say to people when you talk about cutting spending by the government, you're actually stopping a check from going to some person. >> yeah. >> maybe going to a nurse, maybe going to a doctor who is really working very hard in the surgery room. it may be going on an attendant
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that works in a hospital, does a very good job. you're cutting somebody's check off. whose check do you think we could cut off in the health care world that wouldn't hurt the patient? that's my question always. >> you could do it with efficiencies. if you look at the institutes of medicine, just said there's $750 billion a year we can save. the president's own council of economic advisers said it's $700 billion a year. you go to lewin institution, george bush's secretary of state o'neill, they're up to $1 trillion a year. when you talk budget numbers, you multiply by ten because that's the budget horizon we talk about. that takes you to $7 trillion to $10 trillion in the budget year. you only get 40% of that back in the federal government, but that's still a very big number. and if you only succeed at getting 25% of those savings, you're still back to $700 billion to $1 trillion. >> you're looking for a way through. thank you. we're looking for a way through this. we have to get cost control. thank you, senator sheldon whitehouse.
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i agree. it's not easy to turn off the check writing. coming up, republicans are trying to explain president obama's re-election victory by crying fraud. i'm reporting this because it's crazy. it's not real. they are saying the president stole the election. nonsense. we're going to cover the nonsense because we like to do it here, in the "sideshow," where it belongs. we sort of fence it off from reality. this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ thunder crashes ] [ female announcer ] some people like to pretend a flood
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first of all, i caught up on "homeland." if you haven't seen it, it's the twisting tale of an iraq war vet who may or may not be a terrorist operative or a double agent who has been brainwashed by al qaeda who matches wits with a bipolar cia operative who is convinced he's part of an attack against america and is in an on again/off again affair with him.
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here is what i can't figure out. when do they charge their cell phones? they're always on them. it's always like full bars. d.c., beirut, baghdad, great reception. makes the whole thing kind of unbelievable. >> back to "hardball." some republicans are still suggesting that president obama won re-election because of voter fraud. this time it's virginia attorney general ken cuccinelli, a republican who actively supported mitt romney. he did a radio interview where one of the hosts, cheri jacobus, had questionable reasoning for photo i.d. laws. let's hear what she said. >> voter photo i.d., obama lost every one of those states. he can't win in a state where photo i.d. is required. so clearly there's something going on out there, and until there's a way to have something done about it, where when you
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report it, you know it's going to be looked into, the other side just says, oh, well, you're just poor losers and that sort of thing. >> your tone suggests you're a little upset with me. you're preaching to the choir. >> no, we get that. >> i'm with you completely. >> well, get this, president obama lost georgia, indiana, kansas, and tennessee not because of their strict photo i.d. laws but because of their conservative voting majorities obviously. next, a whole new meaning for a campaign in shreds. we're talking literally. the remains of some documents with information about mitt romney's campaign motorcade went through an unlikely disposal process. they became the confetti found by bystanders at the macy's thanksgiving day parade. some parade watchers notified police when they noticed the numbers and other text on the confetti seemed to match up with the romney campaign. other documents with the social security numbers and license plate numbers of long island police officers were in the confetti mix. macy's spokesman said the documents were not part of its stock of confetti, that it had to have been brought in by other means.
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do you believe that or not? anyway, the police force in new york says they're reviewing their procedures for disposing of documents. finally, the other sexiest man alive. we all know about the "people" magazine version of sexiest man alive but check out this headline from a chinese news website. quote, north korea's top leader named "the onion's" sexiest man alive for 2012 with a snapshot of kim jong-un. that's the onion,. the author did not catch the joke at all. quoting "the onion" piece, he has the rare ability to somehow be completely adorable and completely macho at the same time. they're not the only international news source that fell for "the onion" spoof. an iranian website ran an article about a gallup poll showing that rural whites in the united states preferred their president mahmoud ahmadinejad to president obama. their source, "the onion." i love this stuff.
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up next, democrats in the senate are proposing changes to the filibuster rule which republicans have been using, we all know, to block anything they don't like under president obama. and if the dems get their way, republicans may be forced to stand up and actually talk for hours on end just like jimmy stewart did wonderfully in "mr. smith goes to washington." i love that movie. that's ahead. this is "hardball," the place for politics.
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♪ >> i'm not late! and i'm going to stay right here and fight until this is done. even if this room gets filled with lies like these and the tailors and all their armies come marching into this place. somebody will listen to me. >> wow. welcome back to "hardball." now, that is what a filibuster looks like, a real one. jimmy stewart collapsing at the end of a 23-hour filibuster, one-man filibuster in "mr. smith goes to washington." now filibusters are the nonevents that gum up legislation and have almost paralyzed the united states
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senate. the talking filibuster like you saw in that famous jimmy stewart scene may be making a comeback. no more just hiding and having dual tracks but forcing the filibuster to go out there and filibust. democrats are pushing for the change. republicans led by, you won't be surprised like this, mitch mcconnell says it will only make the gridlock worse. senator jeff merkley of oregon supports a rule enforcing a talking filibuster. jonathan weisman is a congressional correspondent for "the new york times." senator, thank you so much for joining us tonight. i never met you, but this is quite a cause. how does it look? can you get this done on the first day of business in january? >> well, i think it has a very good possibility. senators are so frustrated with
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the current state of affairs that they're recognizing that there is no longer a choice, if you will, between just getting along or reforming. we're going to have to reform the rules in order to have the senate have any chance of addressing the big issues america faces. >> as you look at it as a student of politics, you're now a united states senator, what is a proper use of a jimmy stewart type filibuster where one guy or woman goes out there and basically holds the floor as long as their physical ability and their moral strength holds? >> when you have an issue that you feel so profoundly concerned about that it threatens core values or core interests of your state, core constitutional principles, then to stand up and be heard and make your case before your colleagues and the american people, the jimmy stewart-style filibuster is completely appropriate. >> and so you don't believe -- if you force them to go -- i'll get to jonathan in a minute. if you force them out there, you don't expect they'll use the -- read the bible or read the constitution. they'll be on c-span now. jimmy stewart wasn't on c-span. now that he would have to do it 24/7. do you think it would be a good filibuster, just asking a qualitative question, if it didn't include hard arguments again and again for the position you were taking?
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>> certainly i think the senator reading, if you will, from a phone book is going to make much less of an impression to the american people than someone who is arguing convictions from their heart. but here is the thing. if they do read from a phone book, then it's before the american people. it's on television, and the american people can see the source of the obstruction, and they can say, given the cause, that that person is either a hero in their eyes or a bum. and they can call up their own senator, their own home state senator and say either join the filibuster or vote to end debate because it's outrageous and ridiculous. but right now we don't have any of that public accountability. it's all hidden. >> let's take a case here, jonathan. suppose john mccain sticks to his guns and he's -- if -- i don't know, it's all an if. i don't know if the president has made up his mind or not. if he does put up susan rice for secretary of state to replace secretary clinton and john mccain says, i'll filibuster it, wouldn't he have to get up there and argue really hard facts that knock down her right to be accepted? >> if senator merkley gets his
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way, absolutely. but right now all he'd have to do is say, i object, or have mitch mcconnell say i object. harry reid says, oh, well, we move on to the next thing and that's the end of it. >> that's the way they do it. they double track it. they say we'll talk about other business now. what do you think is going to be the way the senate decides this? will it be partisan whether they decide to go to a real filibuster, you go to the mattresses, you stay up all night and force quorum calls over and over again? or they give up on change? what do you think is going to be the politics of this? >> the politics right now is mitch mcconnell is absolutely opposing any change in the rules because he has the advantage of paralyzing the senate with no public accountability. the talking filibuster forces his process to be done before the american people, and i think he realizes the american people are not going to like what they see. and yet that's where it should be. if you don't have the courage of your convictions to stand before the american people and say, i am obstructing this bill and here is why, then, in fact, you
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should shut up, sit down, and let the vote go forward, and there's no silver bullet here, but creating this public visibility so there's time and effort put into a filibuster and responses, feedback and perhaps change and the next cloture vote to end debate s probably the best chance of creating a real dialogue on the senate floor, real accountability and transparency before the american people. >> jonathan, when the senate comes back this january, how will it work? how will the people like senator merkley who want to get this done, how will they do it? technically how do they do it? >> senator reid has a huge decision here because if he can have -- if he can get 51 democrats, he's got 55 democrats, 53 and 2 independents, if he can get 51 of them, he could do this by doing what senator merkley would call the constitutional option, what a lot of other people on both sides call the nuclear option, which is to say i'm going to go, i'm going to move to make this rules change, and i'm going to just ignore a
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republican filibuster. if they do that, the senate parliamentarian will rule almost certainly that they've broken the rules, and then with 51 votes, senator reid could just overrule the parliamentarian, throw out his ruling and say, we're changing the rules anyway. if he does it, that's going nuclear. it would be a huge deal, and really it's never been done on anything this big. it's really the big question that senator reid has to do because i'll tell you, they're not going to get the republicans they need to make this rules change. >> you know, senator, back in 1957 when nixon was vice president, he tried to do this from the vice president's chair. he tried to declare the senate a new body, like the house is a new body every two years, a new congress. and he tried to do it. it was the democrats who backed up the segregationists, and they defeated him. he tried to do this single-handedly.
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what do you think are the odds of you winning this one? >> i think the odds are fairly good, and the reason why is that each time there's been a ruling in the past, it's been actually in favor of the constitutional option or as a constitutional issue it's been put to the body and the body has then -- for example, in 1975 voted that, indeed, 51 could change the rules. that set the stage for a negotiation. so there is the possibility that if 51 are in place and ready to act, that we will be able to persuade republicans, look, you have concerns. you want to be able to do amendments on the floor. that's something i think is a legitimate issue. democrats want to be able to do amendments on the floor. let's come together, recognizing that if we don't come together, we're going to have a rule change with 51 that will address the filibuster but not the amendments, and let's find a proposal that actually works on both of the major concerns, republicans' concern about amendments and democrats' concern about this silent blockade of legislative action.
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>> you know, when the nazis shut down the american films in occupied france in world war ii, they said no more american and british movies, that was the movie that the theater managers ran again and again as the last free movie, the last movie about freedom. anyway, thank you, senator jeff merkley and jonathan weisman of the new york times. up next, senator claire mccaskill won re-election this year by beating the odds. of course, we all followed that race. she also had the luck of running against todd akin, but she'll be back with us, as she should be, in just a moment. and this is "hardball," the place for politics.
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"the new york times" has listed my book on its best-seller list. the book has just been released in paperback. it's a great honor to be back on that list. it's the story of a real american hero and heroism and a leader who inspired the country through some of its toughest times. it makes a great gift. anyone who wants to share our love of history and american greatness should get it. we'll be right back.
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we're back. pundits declared missouri
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senator claire mccaskill the underdog earlier this year in her race against todd akin, but she battled back and won a decisive victory against mr. legitimate rape. returning to the senate. she's one of the leading moderates in her party, and her top goal right now in the lame duck session coming subpoena to find a compromise with republicans on the issue of taxes and spending. what exactly would that look like? welcome back to "hardball," senator mccaskill. for coming to us from the russell building. this is the classic american dilemma. missouri is a moderate state, somewhere near the middle. your state voted for george romney -- mitt romney, rather, maybe george romney had a chance, too. you won 55% to 39%. how do you represent a state that voted for you and romney? >> well, it's not hard as long as you are trying to solve problems instead of play politics. i think compromise is what the
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senate should be about. it's what it's always been about in our history. and finding -- our founding fathers were really smart. they have the people -- people have equal power regardless of what size or kind of state your from. and that is supposed to be an environment where we come together and hash out our differences and agree to compromise. so, i want to be part of that middle that finds those compromises, which we have to have to solve hard problems. >> well, my belief is i want to compromise, too, but i don't think you'll get the liberal core of your party to support anything unless they see the vampire bites on the necks of the republicans. until they see them taking a piece out of them on the issue of high income taxation. are they going to give on entitlements. they're not going to give. what do you think? you know the politics. >> i think there are ways we can move forward. everyone has to understand we are the majority party because we have moderates in our caucus. the republicans need to
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understand that these tax cuts are going to go away at the end of the year if they don't get reasonable. once they go away, then we can come back in and pass tax cuts for the middle class and leave the very wealthy out of that equation. so, there is pressure here on both sides of the equation. we've got a real debt and deficit problem. we need to be serious about it, while we protect the middle class. i'm hopeful we can find some combination of an increase in rates for the wealthy, some limitation on deductions for the wealthy and some kind of means testing for medicare that would -- you know, we don't need to be buying donald trump's prescription drugs, chris. we can do this -- >> for a number of reasons. >> for a number of reasons, although he may need the drugs we don't need to be buying them. we need to also look at spending cuts across the board. maybe not as -- with a 2x4 like sequestration but we need to look at spending cuts. all those things need to be on
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the table and we need to quit trying to play politics with this and get it done. >> let me ask you a question on the social front. john mccain the other day, and i think i read him clearly on one of the sunday shows with chris wallace, he said basically -- read him this way, abortion rights shouldn't be a partisan issue. do you think that's an issue that should stay on the table, your party is pro choice, one is pro life, to use the shorthand. is that something that should cease being partisan debate? i think he's sort of saying it shouldn't be a partisan issue. it may be a personal/political issue. >> i think the republican party has a real problem with women. if you look at the next congress, there will not be one committee in the house of representatives that will be led by a woman. if you look at just the violence against women act, this has never been a controversial provision. how dare the house of representatives sit on that legislation? it passed the senate with a bipartisan number. it sits in the house languishing.
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you know, violence against women is a real problem in this country. that legislation is thoughtful and it's needed. so, if the republicans are worried -- >> what's their problem? it seems good politics to vote for that. why would they vote against their interests? why are republicans so hard-nosed about this? what is it? >> i think it's the same problem they had, frankly, with a extreme position congressman akin expressed is that rape victims should not be entitled to get the morning-after pill. there's a core of the republican party that wants to drag this country to the edge of the world. and meanwhile, like the violence against women act -- >> i'm just glad you got one to run against you. senator, i'm glad you found one to run against you. so many issues i'm a moderate. you're a great voice for missouri. when we return, let me finish with how i think we should get government working again.
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get rid of prepaid problems. get chase liquid. let me finish with this. it looks like this country will be divided politically for years to come. i can't imagine a situation lasting for long where one party gets working control of the entire u.s. government, controlling the house, the senate and the white house. i really can't foresee the
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democrats or the republicans becoming so dominant in years to come that they get the presidency, the house and a 60-vote filibuster super majority in the senate. that leads us with two ways to go down the line. that's if we want this republic to move, to take on the challenge of the time, take on the future and the people who will be the americans of the future of the latter 21st century and beyond. one is to remove barriers like the filibuster rule. as long as a lone senator, a minority of senators can log jam the entire u.s. government the people want to get something done will be in the words of tennessee williams, relying on the kindness of strangers. anyone in the minority will be able to demand not just a majority of senators to pass a bill but a super majority of 60. that means we're not going to see much get done, are we? the other way to make the government more active, of course, more responsive to the country's need is for one party to do a bang-up job, manifestly good job that people rewarded with a strong super majority of support in the u.s. senate. along with a majority in the house and regularly re-electing democratic or republican