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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  September 3, 2013 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT

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hours of our attack on syria? we watch obama challenge a congress that doesn't like him to do something it doesn't want to do. this, my friends, is a tough one, don't you think? that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from washington, d.c. i'm chris hayes. tonight on "all in," the cont t contested case for war in syria as the secretaries of state and defense face the foreign relations committee. they find a senate much like the country divided across unlikely lines. we will debate it all here coming up. also tonight, president obama is heading to russia. who he is going to meet with may completely surprise you. surprised me. we're going to talk about it. plus, we're not sure where exactly mitch mcconnell stands on the proposed syria situation, but we know where he is on women's issues. he's for them. just as long as you don't pay
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attention to his record. the all new mitch mcconnell, later in the show. but we begin tonight with a remarkable and dramatic day in the nation's capital. less than one week before congress officially reconvened, a senate hearing on a u.s. military strike against syria on which secretary of state john kerry offered dire, some might say hyperbolic, warnings of the consequences of inaction. >> the opportunity for other dictators and/or terrorists to pursue their own weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons. i will tell you there are some people hoping that the united states congress doesn't vote for this very limited request the president has put before you. iran is hoping you look the other way. >> that was just one small part of a day in which the political machinery in support of a military strike was on full display. this morning president obama held a private meeting with congressional leaders and used the opportunity to try to reassure a wary public.
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>> military plan that has been developed by our joint chiefs and that i believe is appropriate is proportional. it is limited. it does not involve boots on the ground. this is not iraq, and this is not afghanistan. >> immediately after that private meeting, house speaker john boehner and democratic leader nancy pelosi were quick to announce their support of war authorization. >> the use of these weapons had to be responded to, and only the united states has the capability and the capacity to stop assad and to warn others around the world that this type of behavior is not going to be tolerated. i'm going to support the president's call for action. i believe my colleagues should support this call for action. >> president obama did not draw the red line. humanity drew it decades ago.
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170-some countries. so it is really something that from a humanitarian standpoint cannot be ignored or else we cannot say never again. >> senate minority leader mitch mcconnell reserved judgment and there's certainly no consensus yet among either party about the use of force. and in that senate foreign relations hearing today, a democrat, senator robert m menend menendez, asked if a prohibition of ground troops in the congressional authorization would be something the administration could accept. >> in the event syria imploded, for instance, or in the event there was a threat of a chemical weapons cache falling into the hands of al nusra or someone else, i don't want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to the president of the united states to secure our country. >> later in the same hearing, secretary kerry back tracked on
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whether such a limiting resolution would be a deal breaker for the white house. >> i don't want anybody misinterpreting this from earlier. this authorization does not contemplate and should not have any allowance for any troop on the ground. i just want to make that absolutely clear. you know, what i was doing was hypothesizing about a potential it might occur at some point in time, but not in this authorization in no way, be crystal clear, there's no problem in our having the language that has zero capacity for american troops on the ground within the authorization the president is asking for. >> it's no wonder secretary kerry tried to clarify that hypothetical situation. the public is strongly opposed to u.s. military action even in the event of a determination of the use of chemical weapons by syria. according to the latest poll, this is nearly reverse the findings of a december poll
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showing public support. in other words, as the idea of military action against syria has become less abstract, the public seems to be less supportive. it is also notable that today in a press conference in new york, the u.n. secretary general ban ki-moon essentially said a u.s. strike under these circumstances without u.n. approval would be illegal. >> the use of force is lawful only when an exercise of self-defense in accordance with article 51 of the united nations charter and/or when the security council approves such action. >> all of this as president obama is set to depart within the hour en route to stockholm before the g-20 summit. joining me now is senator jim rich, republican from idaho, a member of senate foreign relations committee. he considers himself extremely reluctant to authorize a strike on ssyria. senator, anything you heard
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today in testimony change your mind? >> well, not really. i want to keep an open mind on this. i wanted to let the administration make the best case it can for it. i thought senator kerry gave an excellent speech today, but i still have difficulties with it for reasons i'm sure we'll talk about here in a minute. >> do you agree with secretary of state john kerry and the president and all we've heard from the white house that the president has the authority, legally, constitutionally to do this even without congressional approval? >> i do not agree with that, and not only that, i'm not alone up here, and it's bipartisan. the democrats, a lot of them are of the same frame of mind. if you read the constitution, it's absolutely clear that the war-making power is vested in the first branch of government, not in the executive branch. indeed, james madison in the federalist papers said over and over again that the branch most likely to make war was the
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executive branch, and therefore, the founding fathers put that in the hands of people in the first branch of government. >> do you believe in a counterfactual universe in which we're discussing a republican president, mitt romney, that you would have the same reluctance? >> well, if it -- are you talking about his compliance with the constitution or talking about the actual attack on syria? >> i'm talking about both the constitutional position that this -- >> the answer would be -- >> -- has to come through article 1 the actual substance of the matter. >> the answer would be yeses as to both of those. i would counsel president romney that he shouldn't do it in violation of the constitution, and secondly, i would counsel him that he would have to have better answers than what this administration has as far as making justifications. and more importantly, to me, where we're going with this, what does success look like? what does day two, three and four look like? how are you going to deal with the fallout assuming russia
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reacts adversely, which we know they will to some degree or another, and depending how they would react if hezbollah reacted adversely, which we know they will. they're already fighting on behalf of assad in syria. >> can you imagine a future situation in which some scale of chemical weapons attack from the assad regime, if we stipulate for the moment that they were responsible, as the evidence suggests, can you imagine a scale of chemical attack over which point you would feel the u.s. is actually compelled to act? >> absolutely. i think if they use chemical against any american, against any american interest, against any american ally. let me be clear, they are a neighbor to israel. we have treaties with israel. they require the defense. i would be all in. as far as within the country, everybody knows that this isn't the first time that assad has used gas against his own people. indeed, saddam hussein used it
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against his own people, and so i can envision a point where there was a catastrophic use that would engage us. you know, the other thing that's overlooked here, he's already killed 100,000 people with conventional weapons. you know, that is bad. and, again, i don't want to deminimize what this man's done. he's done awful, awful terrible things. and so, you know, i don't want to deminimize that. on the other hand, i do not buy on to the theory that this is in -- that this is a national security matter for the united states. indeed, and i'm certainly not advocating this, but indeed, if we go in and bomb a few facilities then walk away, i'm not so sure that we've taught anybody a lesson. >> senator jim risch, republican from idaho. thank you so much for time, sir. >> thank you. >> i should clarify the 100,000 number is the total estimated death toll in the civil war on
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both sides as of now. we do not know how that's apportioned by by the assad regime and the rebels. joining me, gerry connolly of virginia. he's drafting the house democrats resolution that would put strict limits on a syria attra attack. how does it differ from the proposed draft language that was sent over by the white house? >> radically. first of all, it puts a time limit on when this authority can be used. it strictly limits it to a military targeting in response to this heinous crime. the chemical attack on citizens in the damascus suburbs. it also codifies in the resolution that we preclude boots on the ground. so that debate you were looking at just a little bit earlier is addressed in our resolution. >> let's say that the -- this resolution were to pass which i think is probably very much up in the air, am i right, you do
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not know whether this is going to have the votes in the house. >> the reason we drafted this resolution was to try to find a path toward acting in the narrow way constructed by the president, himself. the white house resolution that was submitted to the congress is overly broad, in my opinion, cannot pass the house. i personally would not support it. >> you would not support the white house's resolution. you are obviously supporting this since you helped draft it. let's say that this were to pass and the white house were to engage in the kind of strike that is kind of foreseen in the draft language here. what do you say to people that say, okay, so then what? >> well, the question in front of us is, is the evidence convincing? i believe it is. >> is the evidence -- let's be very clear on what it is. is the evidence clear that the assad regime actually launched this chemical weapons, killed -- >> to suggest the rebels did that is absurd. they have no such capability. it was clearly done by the assad
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regime. i believe intelligence corroborates that. the intelligence is fairly convinc convinces. what is the remedy? people of good conscience on both sides of the aisle are wrestling with that. some prefer to do nothing. my concern is the legacy of that is very dangerous. >> can i give a counterexample? senator john kerry invoked the legacy question. it was a big part of the argument. saddam hussein used chemical weapons in two different uses. both against the kurds to put down a domestic insurgency against the kurds and also in his war with iran. now, he was never punished with that in the way we're talking about punishing assad. yet no other leader used these kind of weapons until assad did which would suggest to me that it's possible that it's really only extreme circumstances that led to the use rather than this punitively established international norm. >> by in large for the last 90 or 100 years, these weapons have not been used except in the iran/iraq war and by saddam hussein. i happen to be on the senate foreign relations committee staff when that happened. we tried to get the evidence and tried to get the administration
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at that time to take that action seriously. we failed eed on that effort. it's not that it wasn't noted and it wasn't that there weren't voices urging action at that time. >> empb in the absence of that action, my point being, as a historical matter, in the absence of that action, it was not the case that failure to act in a punitive way after that opened the flood gates on the use of chemical weapons. >> very little attention was brought to it at the time. that's not the case here. the whole world is watching now. including bad actors in the region. and including north korea and iran. >> so the argument is the heightened scrutiny of the international community on this occasion means the stakes are higher if there is no action. that's your argument. >> i believe that is an argument and a fairly compelling one. i also believe international law is fairly clear in outlawing the use of these weapons. >> are you going to get a majority of democrats to vote for this resolution? >> i have no idea. we're -- chris van hollen and i collaborated on writing this very excruciatingly, narrowly drafted to try to allow the
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president to have the authority he's seeking and codify what the president, himself, said is limited in terms of this action. it isn't designed to be an all-comprehensive approach to syria or the syrian crisis. it's designed to address this tragic event with this remedy on a limited basis. >> congressman gerry connolly, democrat from virginia. >> thank you, chris, for having me. >> joining me, director of the middle east studies program at george mason university. he's a scholar who specializes in syria. he opposes u.s. military intervention there. and professor, my first question to you is, the argument being made largely by john kerry and the administration is on the grounds of a humanitarian case. essentially enforcing this international norm against the use of weapons that are as ghastly as the ones we see deployed here. why do you not think it's a good idea for the united states to engage in military action to enforce that norm? >> well, first of all, to push for this argument on humanitarian level is actually
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quite ridiculous, considering what has taken place in the region under our nose and our spore and continues to take place in the region with the support of the united states, of various dictatorships and support of settler colonial state of israel and various other forms. what needs to be discussed right now is something a lot more serious than the debate suggests. >> let me interrupt. we have very similar views on american foreign policy. it also seems to be like a little bit of hiding the ball to talk in those circumstances. whatever the sins of the american government and its participation in the region, which i'm sure you could spend a lot of time listing, many of which i would agree with you on, that does not necessarily, right, in an operational, moral or legal sense, take away from the possibility that it would be actually beneficial to the international world order or to syrians for the u.s. to get involved? >> okay. i mean, this is what i'm trying to get to, the devil's advocate
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argument. the debate right now centers around the idea that taking action is less risky than not taking action. this way of framing the debate is actually extremely problematic and off.ways, firsts eliminates the possibility that there is another action. it absolves the u.s. from taking another action or another choice because the debate is being framed as action versus inaction. no, there is another course of action, and that is as we have been listening to many people saying, i've been saying several times on various media, that there is a solution to the conflict as much as we think it is difficult, the united states and russia can come together and compel all parties to the conflict that the united states and russia will actually potentially come to a table and create the opportunity or the
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circumstances for the transition, because let me just say this, because what we are not paying attention to is that a limited strike, first of all, will not be effective. second of all, it will make the conflict more volatile, and third of all, foreclose any possibility of a solution down the road. it's basically eliminating that possibility for the sake of very limited gains that can spin out of control and bring the entire region into this conflict. >> bassam haddad, from george mason university. thank you for your time tonight. i really appreciate it. coming up later in the show, a debate over whether we should two to war in syria. my panel will include former white house aide involved in the strategy session today to help the president get the votes he needs, and the president's trip to russia which will include what is sure to be an excruciatingly awkward encounter with one vladimir putin. that's ahead.
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senator mitch mcconnell is hoping you'll forget he voted down the violence against women act three times.
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(announcer) take their taste buds for a little spin told you i'd get half. with more than 50 delicious flavors. friskies. feed the senses. in just minutes, president obama will board air force one and travel first to sweden, and then to st. petersburg, russia, for the g-20 summit. there he will almost certainly have the most tense encounter yet with russia president vladimir putin in their long and very tense history. the summit is expected to be dominated by the potential u.s.
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military strike on syria. pulten has dismissed the chemical attack on syrian civilians as work of the rebels telling reporters o saturday, "i am sure that it is a provocation of those who want to involve other countries in syrian conflict who want to get support from powerful participants of international activities, first of all the usa." h he continued saying "as for the position of our american colleagues, the evidence should be presented. if the evidence is not presented, there is no evidence." yesterday in a nod to the upcoming congressional vote authorizing u.s. military strikes in russia, putin proposed sending a delegation of russian lawmakers to lobby congress against military intervention in syria. president obama for his part is firing back at putin. the white house has now confirmed that obama will meet with lgbt and human rights activists during his trip to russia. a strong message of support for human rights and dignity, but also surprisingly bold diplomatic provocation coming after the president already canceled his scheduled one-on-one meeting with putin, the first time any such visit
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has been canceled since 1960. the meeting will come at the low point in u.s./russian relations in the obama era. putin fashions himself as the global foil for u.s. military intervention in syria, while there is growing international and domestic outrage at russia's embrace of anti-gay laws and persecution in the run-up to the winter olympics in sochi this winter. joining me, julia ioffe of the "new republic." "the new york times" had a big, long piece by peter baker on the front page today about the nature of this relationship, and the basic part of it was the relationship with medvedev was actually fairly good and there was a kind of thawing. there was a famous attempt at a reset. since putin's come back, it has gone from bad to worse. is it a question of the personalities or the leaders clashing, or is it the fact the two countries' interests are just determined to be in opposition to each other? >> i think it's the latter and
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because the times have changed, the world has changed. in the meantime, you've had the arab spring exploding on to the world stage and dominating america's attention as it tries to pivot away to asia. you have protests breaking out domestically in russia against putin's return to power. really if you go back, medvedev wasn't acting alone. when he talked to -- and you even saw this during the hot mike incident when he talked to obama, he would often say, i'll pass this on to my boss, and there were certain things -- >> just so people remember, this is the point at which the medvey to vladimir, a point obama made about having more latitude after the election. >> this happened all the time behind closed doors from what i heard. obama would ask medvedev if he could do something on x and he would say i'd love to but i'm on a short leash for my boss. the reset was enabled by putin having that interest, like he
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was interested in having a reset. what i think -- i think peter baker is one of the best journalists alive, but where i would disagree with him on, is i would go back even further. i think things started to sour with libya, and i think that's where medvedev started to lose his grip on power. >> you made this point in some of your writing that basically russia did something very novel in libya. it's very germane to what's mapening now. >> that's right. >> medvedev allowed the u.n. security council resolution to two forwa go forward. >> that's right. >> they feel like they got hoodwinked on that. >> that's right. they say they didn't anticipate the strikes would going on as long as they did, that they would be intensive. they certainly didn't anticipate gadhafi being killed in the brutal manner he was. putin was said to have been preoccupied about that, would keep obsessing on it in private meetings. you have to imagine he was kind of seeing all of this through a personal lens. and this was all happening while there were protests exploding -- >> of course now we're in the situation with syria. russia has quite famously
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blocked any u.n. security council action. even the most basic condemning of the human rights, you know, violations of the regime. very basic stuff. there's an anecdote in baker's story in which the firm time that the president's national security adviser goes to meet with putin, the first thing putin says to him is when are you going to start bombing syria? this was 18 months ago. you can imagine watching this unfold that from putin's perspective, this is playing out precisely what he thought the u.s. was about. >> that was actually right after gadhafi was killed. that was right after the nato bombing campaign in libya. this was already on his mind. there were protests happening in moscow. mike mcfall who had been one of obama's closest advisers arrived in moscow as the ambassador to russia and his specialty in akd academia had been color revoluti revolutions. it's like color to a vampire in moscow. >> color revolution as being the nonviolent uprisings we've seen across the world. the orange revolution in ukraine
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and places like that. this was seen as a provocation. in fact, the russian press went nuts at this ambassador showing up. >> you had pro-kremlin youth groups with flash mobs, zombies lying on the ground playing dead, saying they didn't want to be victims of american aggression like the libyans. it was crazy. they were following mike mcfall around moscow, showing up at his meetings and harassing him. it went up to the highest levels. >> julia ioffe, senior editor at the "new republic." thank you so much for your time. we will be right back with #click3. [thinking] i'm still working. he's retired. i hope he's saving. i hope he saved enough. who matters most to you says the most about you. at massmutual we're owned by our policyowners, and they matter most to us. whether you're just starting your 401(k) or you are ready for retirement, we'll help you get there.
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apparently senator mitch mcconnell's hoping no one has noticed his dismal record on women's rights because suddenly he's totally for them. despite years of being otherwise. and we'll debate whether we should go to war with sere wra. all that is ahead. first i want to share the three awesomest things on the internet today. beginning with what may be the trick basketball shot of the summer. the group how ridiculous is an australian trick shot basketball team with a social conscience. according to the group's website, their goal is to inspire people to live selflessly, give generously and swro join us in the fight against child poverty. they upload their wicked shots to youtube. their latest effort, the netherlands, a tower 96 meters in the air. the equivalent of over three full-court shots away. counted. to be absolutely transparent,
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though there are multiple angles of the shot not look legit, #click3 has yet to authenticate the voracity of this video. it remains the 11 man banana hammock backyard jam. the second awesomest thing on the internet today takes us back to the senate hearings on the situation in syria. a most serious matter requiring careful consideration from the world's greatest deliberative body. the hearings, however, were kind of long testing the concentration skills of the most veteran members. behold the proof. that's the steady hand of john mccain playing poker on his phone. the senate's resident republican hawk was caught by intrepid "washington post" photographer. mccain defending his actions in a tw tweet, of course. "scandal, caught playing iphone game at three hour senate hearing. worst of all i lost." he's on the verge of getting the war in the middle east he's wanted for the last five years. third awesomest thing on the
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interpret today, the return to mother russia for back to school twofer. buzz feed links to what can only be described as truly bizarre video of what appears to be the russian military performing a drill shooting blanks at the opening of a moscow school. if you listen closely, you can hear romstein playing in the background during the display. dark and disturbing showing. outdone by russian president vladimir putin's own bizarre display at a russian middle school classroom to commemorate back to school week. we'll let the folks at "russia today" describe what the russian president is drawing on the smartboard. >> mr. putin wasn't just doing that, he was also busy giving an artist lesson on the day as well on how to draw a cat from behind. >> how to draw a cat from behind. >> am i hearing you right? >> wyes, you are. >> given a tour of a russian middle school, putin showed the young teens how to draw the back
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end of a kitty. this is the actual finished product. putin asked the class if anyone could identify his drawing. when no one responded he told them they were all going to jail. he told them it was a cat's backside before exit stage left. it's not terrible. if putin wants to work on the front ends of household pets, i know a guy in texas who can hook him up. find all the links for tonight's #click3 on our website, we'll be right back. ts to know if we can pick her up. yeah, we can make room. yeah. [ male announcer ] space. yes, we're loving this communal seating. it's great. [ male announcer ] the best thing to share? a data plan. at&t mobile share for business. one bucket of data for everyone on the plan, unlimited talk and text on smart phones. now, everyone's in the spirit of sharing. hey, can i borrow your boat this weekend? no. [ male announcer ] share more. save more. at&t mobile share for business. ♪ it's delicious. so now we've turned her toffee into a business. my goal was to take an idea
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senator mitch mcconnell dodged questions on foreign affairs and syria, and instead focused this campaign event on a new strategy. team mitch for women. >> senator mitch mcconnell. >> a sign gop leaders are targeting women more than a year before voters have their chance to choose. >> senate minority leader mitch mcconnell facing his toughest election battle in memory is determined to win the support of female voters.
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but in order to do that, he'll have to get creative with his record and hope that no one notices the difference. mcconnell up for re-election next year is facing threats from both the right and left. if you successfully fights off a tea party primary challenge, not at all assured, he will face democratic opponent allison lundergan-grimes. sees an opening hitting the thats's top republican for his embrace of anti-woman policies. that's where team mitch for women comes in. as the louisville "courier journal" reports "dozens of women came out to support mcconnell in a small rally in an office complex." one aide previously told "the new york times" "we're going to be very aggressive to make sure people don't mischaracterize what his record is when it comes to women and women's issues. not only are we not afraid of it, we're very proud of it." team mitch distributed a packet at the event, featuring test moan withdraw testimonial from kentucky women.
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a tweet "this quote in mcconnell press packet on co-sponsorship is interesting." the quote comes from angela lee which says "mitch is the co-sponsor of the original violence again women act. "the truth is, mcconnell did co-sponsor a version 20 years ago. that legislation died in committee and never got a vote. by the time the measure came up again in 1993, for real this time, mcconnell was no longer a co-sponsor and, in fact, voted against final passage of the bill. of course, mcconnell has had two decades to redeem himself on that no vote. yet earlier this very year, he voted against the legislation's reauthorization even though he knew it would pass by a wide bipartisan margin. aides say mcconnell voted for a, quote, stronger alternative to the bill. one that excluded protections for lesbians and gays, native
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americans and undocumented workers. of course, the violence against women act is just one example of mcconnell's hypocrisy. declaration for mcconnell's inner circle demonstrate -- one aide smopoke of the senator aft her son was diagnosed with cancer. he told her, stay home, focus on what's important. come back when you're ready. i've got your back. the same mcconnell voted against the leave act of 1993 which requires businesses to allow employees unpaid leave to deal with medical issues of their own family members. there's this testimonial from mcconnell's own wife who spoke about her husband, "fought for funding for breast cancer research as well as funding for expanded cancer screenings for underprivileged and underserved communities." yet, mcconnell, of course, is in favor of repealing obama care and he's given his blessing to the sequester. which has caused the state of kentucky to cut off cancer screenings to hundreds of
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low-income women. while mitch the man and mitch the policymaker stand in stark contrast, mitch the candidate's best strategy is to basically hope no one notices or cares about what he truly stands for. maybe he'll figure out the best way to win the support of women is to stand for policies that actually help him. though i don't think anyone should hold their breath. congress much like the country is divided on what to do about syria. we'll break down the issues with a panel including a former obama aide who was brought back to the white house to help the president make his case. next. sthma's under control. i don't miss out... you sat out most of our game yesterday! asthma doesn't affect my job... you were out sick last week. my asthma doesn't bother my family... you coughed all through our date night! i hardly use my rescue inhaler at all. what did you say? how about - every day? coping with asthma isn't controlling it. test your level of control at, then talk to your doctor. there may be more you could do for your asthma.
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join today. i will seek authorization for the use of force from the american people's representatives in congress. over the last several days, we've heard from members of congress who want their voices to be heard. i absolutely agree. >> the president said on saturday he would go to congress to decide whether to execute a punitive strike against syria. he immediately stepped into uncharted territory. space where liberal and conservative lawmakers will line up on the same side in the normally divided house of representatives. it's already apparent a congressional vote on whether to strike syria will scramble traditional alliances in the house. one of the first hints of this came last week when 186 lawmakers including 50 democrats signed letters calling for the president to seek authorization for any military action.
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what we're seeing this week is a sharper bifurcation within both political parties. house speaker john boehner said today he would back the president on a congressional vote to authorize a strike against syria. so did congressman elliot engel, top democrat on the house foreign affairs committee who said if we didn't respond in kind, it would send a message to every despot, every thug you could commit war crimes and nothing is going happen. nancy pelosi made a similar pro-interventionist argument, herself. >> from the humanitarian standpoint cannot be ignored or else we cannot say never again. secondly, from a national security standpoint, we have to send a very clear message to those who have weapons of mass destruction, of any variety, that should forget about using them. >> on the anti-interventionist side, many members of congressional progressive caucus including the liberal congressman from florida, alan grayson, who launched a position against attacking seyria and
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opposes any military strike there. lining up alongside grayson, junior republican senator from the state of kentucky. >> i think it's a mistake to get involved in the syrian civil war, and what i would ask john kerry is, you know, he's famous for saying, you know, how can you ask a man to be a last one to die for a mistake? i would ask john kerry, how can you ask a man to be the first one to die for a mistake? >> paul's own views on this don't come as much of a surprise. what we will also see in this vote is the ongoing brawl inside the republican coalition over that party's foreign policy direction. and when watching the news today, each new position for or against the resolution from both democrats and republicans often came as a genuine surprise. citizens looking to their political leaders for direction are likely to find themselves profoundly contorted. joining me now is tommy vieator, former national security focus span in the obama administration, co-founder of fenway strategies. he was back in the white house today to help the president win support for intervention in syria. ben dominic, at think tank the
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heartland institute. he co-founded "red state" a conservative blog. eli lake, senior national security reporter from "newsweek" and the "daily beast." explain this to me. i found the moment in the hearing today that was most interesting was several senators saying, if you think you have the authority to do this without coming to congress, why are you coming to congress? and if the vote doesn't go your way, isn't this a preposterous bit of theater? >> i think the vote is going to go their way. i think that the president believes that this action will be stronger if it is a u.s. action that is supported by congress, supported by more of the american people and not just barack obama stepping out and taking a limited strike. >> let's be clear about supported by the american people. i mean, you know, the t.a.r.p. bailout vote a very famous example. this vote if and when it comes about, i think probably -- i don't see the polling on this turning around fast enough for the white house to get the
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votes. >> the american people don't support congress, either, we should stipulate. >> at all. no one supports anyone, tommy. that's the point. that's why it's impossible to wage wars under these conditions. no one has any credibility. there's a complete and total blanket crisis of authority. no one trusts anything after years of failure and misery and destruction. i'm sorry if i'm expounding here. it's true. people look at this entire thing and think, are you out of your mind? >> there is healthy skepticism after iraq about taking someone's word for it before we go to war. this is very different. this is a short, limited operation. we're talks a couple hundred cruise missilessyria. yes, there is the potential to get pulled into something longer. the white house has been very clear about what they want to scope this -- >> what do you say? >> love it or hate it, ousting assad has the searvirtue of bein idea. this is not an idea. lobbing a few missiles over there to a compact operation you're talking about. one the white house is already
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saying only will degrade the ability of assad to use weapons against his people, not eliminate it. em even in that sort of space, this represents something that's a much bigger ship you talked about in your book and other context. level of stress for american people and elites. that's what we're seeing played out here. it's being targeted by the president which is why he wants to spread the blame around a little bit and gets the republicans and congress to go along. >> he's also right to go to congress. whatever cynical reading you want to give him. >> i don't think he necessary needs to. it depends on the scope. >> you could actually do it if you had been attacked beforehand, you didn't need to go to congress to get approval. in this context, i think you need to go to congress. this is well beyond what reagan did in libya. >> do you agree with ben this is not even an idea? >> well, there's a reason why
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regime change is not on the table right now. martin dempsey in a letter in july to senator levin, chairman of the senate armed services committee, said very clearly, if the regime collapses and there's no viable opposition, those chemical weapons could get into the hands of al qaeda and that's really bad. so the satisfying option in the case of syria is probably a very dangerous option. but at the same time, i think obama's got a real problem right now. that is the rhetoric and the crime, the gassing of his own people, the moral obscenity and how we hear this administration, including the president describe what happened, does not meet the military action he's talking about. it is a redux of cruise missile diplomacy, the kind of thing clinton did in the 1990s without weapons inspectors. i'm saying there's a disconnect between the severity of what has just happened and the moral obscenity that just happened and what is actually being proposed militarily.
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>> so i thifg there'snk there's parts to this. this is the worst chemical attack in the 21st century. there's a set of laws preventing the use, production of these horrific weapons. now, president obama drew a red line and the international community drew a line in the sand with the chemical weapons convention a long time ago. congress ratified that. yes, this is standing up for an idea. the nonproliferation regime that's been critical to barack obama. >> hold that thought, hold that thought, hold that thought. we'll be right back. and apple crisp back for a limited time. see? you really do call the shots. ♪ yoplait. it is so good. with olay regenerist eye and lash duo. the serum instantly thickens and defines lashes. the cream smooths and softens the look of lines. ♪ so wow! another eye opener from olay. ♪ we go, go, we don't have to go solo ♪ ♪ fire, fire, you can take me higher ♪
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footage from just moments ago as the president boarded air force one. to embark to sweden then on to russia. the g-20 summit, we just mentioned, a little while later. what is sure to be very, very tense conversations with his russian counterpart vladimir putin. still with me, tommy vietor.
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ben dominic from the heartland institute. eli lake from "newsweek" and the "daily beast." this idea you've drawn international red line, there's this prohibition on the use of weapons. respond to the argument, i made an argument earlier in the show, i still haven't heard anyone convince me. saddam hussein used the weapons twice notably against the kurds and iran/iraq war. there were no punitive missile strikes. it w it was ghastly, disgusting, horrible, evil action. there were no international sanctions for it. the u.s. government knew they had the weapons and basically looked the other way. no one used it until 30 years later -- >> you could argue those consequences. that was christopher hidgens' argument at the time. they used the run-up to war saying he's used these sorts of things. >> the idea that we're hearing from john kerry today in the senate foreign relations
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committee is that you will open the flood gates on use of these kinds of weapons and lord knows who else is assad is not punished here. what do you say to that historical precedence? >> i think in this instance there was a smaller use that eventually the community came out and said, he did that, and he ratcheted up diplomacy. they used rockets -- >> you're talking about assad. there's been an escalation. >> i think the sense is they drew this red line for assad in this instance. iran is watching. if they don't act now -- >> but the word that you used there is punish. this is the problem i have with this scenario. this is why it fails the just war test. have to have just cause, just authority, just result. i think in this case, it fails at least two of those and probably all three in the sense that you don't have -- you don't have the result being a protection for the people. i mean, the way i sort of view this -- >> wait a second. you do if the theory of the case here were to play out as they were saying.
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the theory of the case is that he's doing this because he's getting away with it. if we basically say, no, you can't do this, we degrade his actual operational capacity to do it and send this international message. that will protect -- >> i still think you're setting yourself up to fail. do or do not, there is no try in this scenario. >> the do in your scenario is a buffer zone or humanitarian court order which is isa ground invasion. >> i think you have to go in on the ground if your aim is -- >> let's be clear, no one is saying we're going to. >> zdestroy the runways. >> how confident are we? >> secure the chemical weapons? >> not secure them, degrade the capacity to deliver them. >> the u.s. military has a real capacity, the ability to deliver these weapons. not wipe out their existence. >> no, they're not going to secure the chemical weapons, themselves. the rokckets to deliver them, a lot of them are probably going
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to be degraded or blown up to use plain english. >> very quickly to you, eli. do you think this is a turning point in the internal politics of foreign policy in the republican party? because i think the majority of republicans are going to go vote against this. and it seems to me that the rand pauls, this will be the moment in which the rand pauls of the party finally sort of can declare victory for their foreign policy vision being the dominant one. >> they will have a great moment until there's another republican president and it will go back to an expansive executive -- >> ding, ding, ding, ding, isn't that true? >> i think eli is right, unfortunately. >> right. >> i think that there's obviously there's a tremendous amount of -- >> you have to feel bad in some ways for obama. i mean, like, here's a guy who killed gadhafi and osama bin laden and people are saying he's a wimp. >> right. >> who else do i have to kill. >> let me say this as a definitive statement, taking the host's prerogative to editorialize. there's no more stupider reason to go to war than fear that
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people think you're weak. tommy vietor. ben. and eli lake from "newsweek" the and the "daily beast." that's "all in." the "rachel maddow show" starts now. >> that was a stupendous debate. thank you for joining us th this hour. it's an unbreakable law of american political science wroin have a midterm election the president's party loses seats. if you have a democratic president who was elected or re-elected, then two years later when there is the next election, republicans will do really well and vice versa. if you have a republican president who's just been elected or re-elected, then two years later the president's party will lose seats and in that case the democrats will do well. it's just the way it goes. every once in a while we defy that but it's basically a rule. in american politics we like the pendulum to swing back and forth between the parties. although we have been trained now for years to think about republican president ronald