tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC February 3, 2010 12:00am-1:00am EST
the number, if you can believe it, is astonishing. we've got that in the "hardball" sideshow tonight. let's begin with breaking news about the christmas day bomber abdulmutallab. let's go to justice department correspondent pete williams. he has the information about the kind of intelligence the suspect is giving officials. let's go right now, abdulmutallab, what's he talking about right now? do we know, peter? >> we know that he's talking more about the details of al qaeda in yemen, the people who helped him with the attack and the organization of al qaeda there. chris, this is a big development. because, as you know, the initial stage of questioning with him on christmas day was that the fbi questioned him for 50 minutes after he was arrested but before he went into surgery for burns on his legs. after that surgery, later on christmas, the fbi tried to go back and resume the conversation, and he wanted none of it. he would say nothing more. so the fbi ultimately read him
his miranda warning informing him of the right to remain silent. and our understanding was that he had, in fact, been silent. that he hadn't given the fbi any new information since then. well, now we know that is not the case. that, in fact, for several days he's been talking to the fbi, we're told by several officials in the government, giving what they consider to be very valuable and still current information about the nature of al qaeda in iraq, information these officials say that the united states is aggressively chasing down. so i guess you could say, chris, this is an interesting development for a couple of reasons. number one, because of its intelligence value. the government says it's still considered good that it's not gone past its sell-by date. and the debate here in washington about whether he's being handled properly. there have been many people in both parties, frankly, mostly republicans though, that say the government missed an opportunity, that he never should have been classified as a criminal defendant but should have been made an enemy combatant so he could be exploited for intelligence reasons by intelligence officials.
and they feel they would have gotten more out of him that way. but what the administration says tonight is, he is now talking. now, what we don't know is why he's doing this. but i think it's fair to assume that one very strong possibility is that he's preparing to make some sort of a deal with the government in which he would plead guilty and would escape the death penalty. >> so much information. what a story that is. what an amazing development. thank you much, pete william, covering justice for nbc news. right now, let's go to president obama who held a town meeting up in nashua, new hampshire today. "time" magazine's mark halperin, the co-author of the huge book "game change." it's about the last election. "newsweek's" howard fineman is an nbc political analyst. let's take a look at the president up there in new hampshire. >> the message you all sent when you elected me, the message that was sent this past month is whether you're democrat, republican, independent, you're out of patience. you're out of patience with this kind of business as usual.
you want us to start worrying less about our jobs and more about your jobs. you want us -- you want us to worry less about our election and more about solving your problems. >> something's working. the gallup poll which does daily tracking shows the president's job approval has been heading upward the last few days. at the very right end of that, you see it going up to 51%. after all those months of coming down, that's the black chart line coming down. the black line coming down. the red one is his disapproval. finally disapproval starting to tick downward after all these months. howard, it's finally turning around. maybe tactics are enough. you don't need strategy. >> going over my notes from talking to white house people before and after the massachusetts race, i think they decided after massachusetts, they were going to go after the republicans. first of all, obama's good at it. he was never a courtroom lawyer, but he looks good going after them the way he did in the lion's den last friday, looked
good doing this. second, the democrats on the hill are not popular. get them out of the way. attack the republicans who are not popular. a two-fer for him. get harry reid and nancy pelosi off the stage and make it a one-on-one race between him and congressional republicans. that's what he's trying to do. >> do you think it is possible he can create a phantom bad guy? a bet noir as you do in fiction. somebody out there to vote besides him. >> he's got to put the republicans on the defensive. he tried very hard to do that. great scheduling and staging going to the house republicans, to new hampshire where he has got two house races up. a senate race. a state that the politics are going to be a lot of focus and create energy. the only concern i have for him in terms of success and strategy, the ap said the president today, with one hand, he reached out to the republicans, looking for the sentence here, but the other hand he slapped them. the problem i think he has is, this is what they tried earlier in the administration when he was popular. destroy the republican party,
make them so weak they must surrender. they're not going to surrender. i think for his point of view, success is here involved in some bipartisan compromise. this is not the way to get it. this will make the republicans dig in. >> he tried a couple days ago to cut a deal. he got behind this idea of a commission to deal with long-term debt. deal with the entitlements. deal with all the issues that republicans care more about than democrats do. at the last minute, seven of the republicans dropped away. here he is making them pay for their legislative gamesmanship. here's the president taking them on, talking about the deficit commission that the senate shot down last week. let's listen. >> last week the senate blocked a law that i had supported to create a bipartisan fiscal commission that would come up with a set of recommendations for cutting our deficits in the long term. this law failed by seven votes. when seven republicans who had co-sponsored the bill -- had co-sponsored the idea --
suddenly walked away from their own proposal after i endorsed it. so they make a proposal, sign onto the bill. i say great, good idea. i turn around, they're gone. what happened? >> you know, i talked to somebody yesterday, who really knows about politics, and he said if he had acted like this, the democratic party, rather, acted like this, they wouldn't have lost massachusetts. if they had smoked out scott brown, his voting record as a state senator, if they had made the focus not on his car or good looks or the fact he hasn't done much to what he has done as a politician, his long voting record on republican issues, they could have beaten the guy. >> clearly they decided that. because before massachusetts, the president was still talking the inside game, making deals. afterwards, clearly different. and i think they're going to take the gamble that mark is talking about. this strategy now is really more like the fall of a campaign year. he's doing this awfully early. but i think they felt they had
no choice, because mitch mcconnell and john boehner just not going to cut any deals. >> he's got to sharpen up his -- >> so he's got to put the spotlight on them. >> he's the hot shooter. i use the basketball analogy. he can't shoot all the bachk ets. he needs some people around him. he's got to sharpen up his cabinet. we had the o & b director on, he's not a politician. napolitano doesn't seem like much of a politician on issues she's responsible for. he needs sharp team members. and i don't know who they are. geithner's not a pol. biden is. he needs people out there shooting with him and working with him and i don't see it. >> i still think he needs a commander in chief on the economy. it can't be him. there has to be somebody like norman schwarzkopf every day on tv. >> a politician. >> a politician with some incentive about politics and credibility with wall street and main street. he needs that. howard's right, this is the way he would be acting if he were simply trying to win the midterms. i still don't understand how this helps his legislative agenda this year. he's right on the merits. the republicans outrageously walked away from something they sponsored. that's not going to make them
come to the table. >> he needs a cabinet packed with guys like, let's go for the list here. eddie rendell of pennsylvania. schumer. guys who are verbal, aggressive, know how to talk, can talk to people who are middle of the road voters from the suburbs, say here's the problems we face. we inherited. here's what we're doing about it. it ain't perfect, but it's better than what those jokers are doing. they don't talk like that. >> also, where's joe biden? don't forget, this middle class task force that they put together, where is that? where is -- joe biden was supposed to be somebody who could do some -- >> carry the fire. >> -- of what mark's talking about. but they're not giving joe biden any real online responsibilities. he's in the room, but not making any decisions. you can't put larry summers out there. you're right. you can't put geithner out there. >> he's not a pol. gates is not a pol. where are the pols in this administration besides the president and vice president? >> i love joe biden, but it's a plan predicated on putting him out regularly to talk has a lot of risk.
>> i have never seen an administration with so few politicians in it. >> name bush's three treasury secretaries. go. you got to have somebody in that job at a time like this who can speak like they're in a war for jobs for america. >> by default. >> ed rendell would be great. >> by default, the president is doing it right now. i think he likes doing it. i think he's got to worry about that a little bit. the standard conservative criticism is he's too self-involved, et cetera. i only take that half-way. he's very good at what he does. and he's showing how good he is in this situation. but he can't do it all on his own. >> here's the president hitting wall street today. let's listen. >> i'm announcing a proposal to take $30 billion of the money that was repaid by wall street banks, now that they're back on their feet, take that $30 billion and use it to create a new small business lending fund that will provide capital for community banks on main street. you combine it with my proposal back in december to continue
waiving fees and increasing guarantees for sba-backed loans. all this will help small banks do even more of what our economy needs, and that's to ensure that small businesses are once again the engine of job growth in america. i'm convinced we can make that happen. >> it's a very small percentage of our gdp, that $30 billion, by the way. >> as you're pointing out, the law has to be -- >> he has to change the law. >> the law has to be changed to do that. but if i'm obama and i'm thinking the way axlerod and company are thinking, they're saying, do it. make the republicans vote for it. >> the law says use the money to bring down the debt or pay back the t.a.r.p. money. >> they said we're going to take some of this money in the cash drawer and give it to small businesses, small banks. force the republicans to vote against it. mark might be right, they're going to keep voting against everything. i think what obama and axelrod and rahm are thinking of, let's design a series of votes that they don't dare say no to. >> in the military, they have the guy in the front of the unit in the jungle and has to take the shots, the second lieutenant
often, who gets the bullet. >> right. >> we have a president of the united states. just forget the warfare references, he's out in front. he's now taking it. he's now the leader of the democratic congress, the whole shebang. he's out there fighting it out like he's the candidate. isn't that dangerous? >> nancy pelosi has a 7% approval rating. harry reid has a 3%. strongly positive rating in the nbc poll. that's part of it. >> would you do that again, howard? what did you do just do? hand gesture. >> 7% strongly positive -- >> i've never seen quotations. >> 3% strongly positive for harry reid. >> there's no one else who can do it. reid is going to have to worry about saving himself anyway. the president has to do it. >> chris dodd's retiring. >> there's nobody. look, in the media landscape in which we live, he can still dominate when he wants to. when he's this good and when they schedule him this smartly, they win the day. >> he still needs a balanced offense, four or five people out there selling it.
he needs eddie rendell, schumer, he needs guys in government. i'm sure schumer's not joining the government. but they need him. congratulations on the book. "game change." howard fineman. president obama vowed to end don't ask, don't tell. top pentagon officials were on capitol hill to make the case to end the policy. how would the pentagon go about doing it? how they make the transition. how big a political fight would the president face in doing it. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. (matt ryan) my face takes enough abuse. that's why i use gillette fusion for my sensitive skin. fusion has 5 blades, with an anti-friction coating, that float comfortably. fusion, proven performance even on sensitive skin. of maxwell house's flavor lock lid. hear that? seals it tight. smells like fresh ground. fresh fresh fresh fre-- that's our favorite part. ...fresh! (announcer) taste why maxwell house is good to the last drop.
welcome back to "hardball." the pentagon's top two defense officials testified on capitol hill today in support of president obama's plan to repeal the don't ask, don't tell policy. here's what the chairman of the joint chiefs, admiral michael mullen, told the senate armed services committee today. >> it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. no matter how i look at this issue, i cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. for me personally, it comes down to integrity. theirs as individuals and ours as an institution. >> republicans were resistant to the idea of overturning the policy of don't ask, don't tell. how much of a political fight does president obama have on his
hands right now? the executive director of service members legal defense network and peter spring the senior fellow for policy at the family research council. you served in the military. you were in the army. where were you stationed? what kind of unit were you in? >> i was in the infantry in south korea, 7th infantry division. i was a sharpshooter. >> as a gay man, what was it like? you were not in the open obviously. what was your experience in that regard? what did you learn in terms of this issue of whether gay people should be allowed to serve openly? >> by and large, even in the '60s, chris, i found that gays and lesbians serving and most were serving in silence. and it was not a big deal. but all gays and lesbians want to serve openly. they want to be honest about their service to their country. and as admiral mullen said today, it comes down to integrity. and every service member counts, gay or straight. >> let me go to peter. what is the argument against -- in terms of actual performance
in the barracks, in life, in the military? what gets in the way of military discipline in a crack unit? your view. performing as soldiers. >> military life is unlike civilian life. soldiers are put in positions of forced intimacy all the time. they shower together, sleep together in the barracks. and it's simply unfair to put soldiers in a position of forced cohabitation with those who may be viewing them as a sexual object. that is a formula guaranteed to lead to greater sexual tensions, sexual harassment and even sexual assault. >> my dad was in the military, my brother was in the military. everybody i know who has ever been in the military says there are gay people in the military. they're known to be gay. you say we will have a gay people forced with intimacy with straight people? isn't that the case now? it's simply not official. isn't that the case now? are you saying there are no gay people in the barracks or on submarines or in any other kind
of intimate setting, as you put it? >> to the extent it is the case now -- >> well, it is true, isn't it? first of all, let's agree on this. are you questioning whether there are not sizeable numbers of americans who have gay orientation, who are gay men and women who are serving in the military? do you deny that? significant numbers of them right now? >> i don't know how sizeable or significant the numbers are. >> you don't? >> i agree there are some. >> i thought you were an expert in this field. >> well, i don't know -- >> i thought we were talking on television about an area that you're talking about. you don't know about what you're talking about? >> there are no polls how many people are gay in the military. >> i'm not asking you for a percentage. do you deny we in the history of our country have had an experience of gay men and women serving in the military, a significant experience? it's not new to us. you acknowledge that. >> there are people who have experienced homosexual attractions who have served in the military and do continue to serve in the military. but they are restrained in their behavior by the current policy. if we had a policy where the -- where people were considered
bigoted if they were opposed to same-sex conduct, then there would be much greater danger of misconduct on the part of the homosexuals. and much greater likelihood that people who are objecting to that would simply choose not to serve at all. >> there's no data, there's no evidence to support the assertion that was just made by this gentleman. >> well, there is 58% of currently serving members in the question by the "military times" would not support this. >> what this gentleman is suggesting and putting out on the table is insulting to all service members, gay and straight. it's about professionalism. gay soldiers and sailors are professionals. as are the straight counterparts. at the end of the day, it's about professionalism. it's about getting the mission done. and it's not about your sexual preference or orientation. >> that's exactly the point i'm trying to make. the military should not be used
as an avenue for social re-engineering. the purpose of the military is to fight and win wars. and we need -- >> okay. you go ahead. >> now, come on. the purpose of the military is to defend this country. we need every service member who is qualified to be on active duty today to be defending this country. their sexual orientation is not a factor. it's about the mission. it's about professionalism. and as admiral mullen said today, it's about integrity. no one should have to lie to fight and die for this country. >> let me try one more time. peter, i accept your right to make this case. this is an american debate which is very much alive, so i'm not taking sides exactly in this debate although i do have a position. let me ask you this. what should a young woman or man, say 22 years old, out of college, officer material, they want to serve their country. but they're gay. what should they do? they want to serve their country. they're patriotic.
what should they do? >> they should serve it in some civilian capacity and not join the military. >> why not? >> because the presence of homosexuals in the military is incompatible with good order, morale, discipline and unit cohesion. that's what congress found in 1993 and that's what the law states. >> again, there is no data, there is no evidence, there is no study whatsoever that you can point to to support that outrageous statement. and what i would also suggest to you is that 79% of americans today support open service. they support gays and lesbians, being able to serve their country openly. indeed, i would say to you that the latest gallup polling shows that 61% of weekly churchgoers support gays and lesbians being able to serve openly. indeed, 58% of conservatives support repeal of don't ask, don't tell.
>> what's your response, sir? >> well, don't ask, don't tell is the clinton compromise policy which is actually incompatible with the law ha was passed by congress. there's almost universal misunderstanding about that. i'd like to see us do away with this don't ask, don't tell and simply enforce the law that was passed by congress. >> what i hear you saying is that you believe that gays and lesbians should not serve their country in the uniform whatsoever. >> that's absolutely right. >> not only are you opposed to repealing don't ask, don't tell, you would prohibit all gays and lesbians from serving their country? >> that's exactly right. and that would -- >> right now we're fighting two wars and we need every qualified trooper to be out there. >> the percentage of people, the number who had refused to serve in the military if they're forced to serve with open homosexuals would dwarf the number of homosexuals who would actually volunteer. >> there's no basis in fact for
that assertion. >> there is. there's a "military times" poll showing 10% of those currently serving military would consider not re-enlisting. >> that's a poll of the readers of "the military times." >> that's the only indication we have of the views of serving service members. >> let him finish up here. let me ask you, peter, do you think people choose to be gay? >> people do not choose to have same-sex attractions, but they do choose to engage in homosexual conduct. and that's conduct, also, incidentally, which is against the law in the military. it violates the uniform code of justice. it does not make sense to actively recruit people who are going to violate the uniform code of military justice. >> do you think we should outlaw gay behavior? >> well, i think certainly -- >> i'm just asking you should we outlaw gay behavior? >> i think the supreme court decision which overturned sodomy laws in this country was wrongly decided. i think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.
>> so we should outlaw gay behavior? >> yes. >> thank you very much. we know your position. it's a clear one. thank you, aubrey. i've known this fellow for 30 years. amazing new numbers. from a poll of republicans. how many of them have awful things to say about president obama. that he's a racist, foreigner, that he should be impeached. these people have strong views. the "sideshow's" coming next. breathe right, the small strip that gives you... big nighttime breathing relief... introduces-- drum roll please-- new breathe right extra. the only strip with an extra spring-like band, it's 50% stronger for congested noses that need extra help in opening nasal passages... so you breathe even better. and now get two free samples... and experience a better night's sleep for yourself. go to breatheright.com to try new breathe right extra.
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back to "hardball." time for the "sideshow." first congresswoman, michelle bachman is on the offensive. yesterday in a minnesota town hall, she rolled out a new attack line against health care. she predicts the government of the united states could use health care to limit free peach to punish those who disagree with the government. here's the congresswoman with an anecdote she says she got from a
friend living overseas. >> this is something people don't know. in japan, people have stopped voicing their opinion on health care. there's things that are wrong with japanese health care, but people started voicing, well, why is that, i ask? he said, that's because they know that they would get on a list and they wouldn't get health care. they wouldn't get in. they wouldn't get seen. so people are afraid. they're afraid to speak back to government. they're afraid to say anything. is that what we want for our future? and we're going to give up. we're not going to quit fighting. because government takeover of health care is the crown jewel of socialism. >> the government's going to get you like they do in japan. wait until japan hears this charge. michelle bachman is going for the title. she's the one who said, by the way, she wants the media, us, to investigate democratic member of the u.s. congress for anti-american attitudes.
but she's the one who wants to sick the thought police on the people. not the japanese government or this government. it reminds me of what huey long once said, if fascism will ever come to america, it will be called anti-fascism. next, a wild new poll conducted by research 2000, sponsored by the progressive blog daily kos. 58% of republicans polled say no, or not sure when asked in president obama was born in the u.s. whoa. 79% say yes or no. or not sure, rather, to the question whether he's a socialist. 64%, about two-thirds, say yes or not sure on if the president's a racist who hates white people. and 57% of republicans say yes, or not sure, on whether he wants the terrorists to win. here's the wildest number of them all. the big number. how many republicans in this poll think president obama should be impeached? 68% said yes or not sure to the question of whether barack obama should be impeached. now, i guess if you think the guy's an illegal immigrant, you figure he's got to be impeached. 68% of republicans say either yes or not sure on impeachment
of this president. tonight's hard to fath um big number. the academy award nominees are out. one of the nominated movies say about the big issues facing americans today? this is going to be fun. ahhh. time to get the latte budget under control. [ female announcer ] trying to be smart with the family budget? here goes the good old steam. [ pfffft! ] whooa!!!! [ female announcer ] let bounty help... because it cleans the mess with less than the bargain brands. it's thick and absorbent... and really durable. in lab tests bounty absorbs twice as much as the bargain brand. [ steam hisses ] why use more when you can use less? bring it. with bounty. the thick quicker picker-upper. want huge value? try new bounty huge roll.
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i'm lynn berry. here's what's happening. at least 13 people were injured when a man rolled a shopping cart containing a makeshift explosive device into a strip mall in darwin, australia. police have not identified a motive, but a suspect is in custody. in a surprising reversal, iran now says it is willing to send its uranium out of the country for enrichment. the u.n. has been pressuring iran to agree to the proposal for months. israel's president suggested in a tv interview that his
country would release three jailed american hikers in tehran in exchange for three prisoners held in the u. the christmas day bomber is providing kurn and valuable information on terror activities in yemen. the suspect's family report lid persuaded him to help authorities. people are without power in oklahoma after freezing rain downed tree limbs and power lines in some area. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball. we don't mind if the movie connects on some personal level, relevant to world we live. in year's nominations are what's in our minds and in our hearts. "up in the air" about a guy
traveling around the country firing people. about the humiliation of it all, especially among middle classed middle aged people who get the sack. "the hurt locker" is about the hell of iraq and ieds where your next step could blow to you kingdom come. what a war. and race relations in "the blind side." and "precious" about poverty and despair. and "avatar" is really about the exploitation of one race over another, which some recognize in this movie as the exploitation of whites over north american indians about 300 years ago. let's turn to vanity fair's michael wolf and paul farr who is a critic. that first movie we talked about, "up in the air" is so much about right now, the cold separation of labor from humanity. the corporations are cold and they're hiring and firing. that you're just a number.
i outsource firing, you bring in some cold-arteried guy to fire you. michael? >> i missed the last part, chris. you cut out. but completely. it's a movie that you sit there with your mouth wide open and you think two things. you think, geez, i'm glad i'm not in an airport and i'm glad i'm not being fired by a guy who's always in an airport. >> paul, your thoughts about this selection? this movie's in the top ranks of movies that might win best picture. it's so today. >> it's totally today. in fact, it benefited enormously by its timing. it was delayed somewhat, finally came out in the teeth of the recession. and it could not have been more appropriate to the period in which it's appearing. it's exactly as you say, it's the cold-heartedness of corporations. who doesn't feel that these days? >> let's take a look at a movie that's about a different kind of war. not a john wayne war. or even imaginary war like john
wayne may have been in. certainly those romanticized notions of war. here's one about a war about ieds, about booby traps, about ieds, these explosives that could go off at any moment, kill you, ruin your life. and this guy has the job of defusing them. this incredibly nervy guy played by jeremy renner. here it is. "the hurt locker." >> 25. >> 25 meters. roger that. >> butcher shop. 2:00. dude has a phone! >> he's running. come on, guys, talk to me. >> drop the phone! drop the phone! >> i can't get a shot. >> michael wolf, it wasn't exactly a movie. it's something else. it's catherine bigelow's incredible look of what it's like to be walking every day of your life when every step can blow you to smithereens. >> it goes on and on, this movie.
you watch it and think, i can't -- you know, can this, will this ever end? please let it end. but you're actually riveted to it and hoping it will go on and on. it's really quite something. >> paul, it's a different kind of war. it's a different kind of gallantry that it calls for. not being a better shot than the other guy. almost being a sitting duck in many ways when you get in a car and drive somewhere and the car blows up or you walk down the street. look at this. we're watching the scenes of the bombs and constantly being set everywhere. >> the disturbing thing about the movie, too, is jeremy renner's character is actually sort of crazy. he's not just heroic. he goes beyond heroic and almost into sort of insanity in his bravery. it's quite something to watch. >> yeah. here's another movie. there's a lot of the movies this year i find a racial -- sometimes a positive view. certainly in some days a condemn
na tory look at repression with "avatar," about the colonizing or resourcing of another planet, and killing anybody in our way. like white people did when they first got to north america. here's one that's heart warming. i really like this movie. i know it was controversial. this is sandra bullock in a part of her lifetime. here is sandra bullock as the white woman who brings in this young kid from desperate circumstances and lets him grow up in a very positive way. >> does michael get a family discount at taco bell? because if he does, sean's going to lose a few stores. >> he's a good kid. >> i say you make it official and just adopt him. >> he's going to be 18 in a few months. it doesn't really make much sense to legally adopt. >> leann. is this some sort of white guilt thing? >> what will your daddy say? >> before or after he turns over in his grave? daddy's been gone five years, elaine. make matters worse, you were at
the funeral. remember? you wore chanel and that awful black hat. look, here's the deal. i don't need y'all to approve my choices. all right? but i do ask that you respect them. >> amazing scene, michael. i don't know what you thought of that movie. i loved it. your thoughts? >> you know, absolutely. and i think that there's a larger point here that this is a great time to be a moviemaker. there aren't all that many times when you can swing at subjects like this. and so this particular moment in time, when everybody -- i mean, there's this enormous allowance of everybody saying, it's there, it's a problem, we all feel it. gives you as a moviemaker an incredible opportunity. >> you know what struck me about "the blind side," the same thing that struck me about "avatar." that the white people hold the
solution to the minority people's problems. it's only through white action that the people in "avatar" can solve the problem. and the only way this kid in "the blind side" to have a life is through white action. >> well, paul, it is still hollywood. >> it is. but that's the racial dynamic in both show. >> i know sandra bullock is looking too good. but i think that scene when she took on her peer group, this upper middle-class peer group and basically shoved it back at them, said i don't care about your value system, i'm not here to appeal to what my daddy thought. i'm trying to make these points a lot of nights around here. if we sat around and tried to judge this country the way our parents would have ran it, we wouldn't be getting anywhere. you've got to move forward. >> the problem is that the black character is basically a prop to make the white people feel better about themselves. that's been the major criticism. it's also the magic negro. in other words, the idea that a black character will emerge to provide wisdom for the white people involved in the movie.
>> at the same time, the really interesting thing is these movies are incredibly successful at this point in time. and i don't think that would have been the case as recently as a couple of years ago. >> i actually disagree. because that character goes back a long time in movie history. this not something new. "the green mile" came out ten years ago. it was the same kind of portrayal. >> you know what? when you see the movie, you have your own reaction. i accept all those criticisms. sociologically, paul, i agree with you, but i liked the movie a lot. maybe it was sandra bullock. i agree with your points. but i loved the movie. sometimes that happens. michael wolff, and paul, thank you for joining us. it is going to be a great oscar night. primary day in illinois tonight. voters there are choosing candidates for the senate and governor's seat. of course, barack obama's home state. what will the choices say about what to expect in november's midterms? i think we'll start seeing a trend. if the republicans unite today, there's trouble for the democrats.
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the 2010 election cycle officially kicks off today. with a big primary in illinois, where voters are deciding the nominees for u.s. senate and governor of that state, jobs that used to belong to barack obama and rod blagojevich. are they as angry in illinois as they were in massachusetts a few week back? what's the white house, what's the president have riding on today's vote? lynn sweet, an expert in chi-town politics. washington bureau chief of the "chicago sun-times." and john heilemann is the best-selling author of "game change," also a reporter for new york magazine. lynn sweet on the ground, lynn, this race, what skin does the president have in this race in the sense that he'd like to -- i guess let me ask you the question. what skin's he got in the game? >> he's got a lot of skin because illinois, we are the first in the primary state. it's his state and it's his seat. symbolical
symbolically, he's got a lot of skin in the game. and you have a lot of chicagoans in the race who are supposed to know a thing or two about winning chicago elections. the democrats are not the favorite to win in november. >> let's take a look at the anti-incumbent thing, we have an incumbent governor who went in appointed governor to take over for blagojevich. you have the president's own senate seat there, is the party going to suffer? the democratic party going to suffer? is pat quinn, the governor going to be punished for being an incumbent? >> it's quite possible. >> well, let's john -- >> it's interesting. there's any incumbent in the country -- you look at illinois, before the days of bill clinton. to being a solidary red state, to being a purple state, then the bluest of blue states. this is a big thing if illinoisans end up drifting back to the purple or the red category. >> if they pick up the paper and look on the blogs, they say that
kirk the republican has won a big victory for the senate nomination, looks like they're united for the fall? is that bad news for the ds? >> well, republicans, that news is out already, chris. the illinois republicans put aside this instance their big divides between conservative and moderate, ideological differences. they didn't have the fight that united around mark kirk who has run a rose garden campaign. he never campaigned publicly here in order not to give his rivals any ammunition. so the democrats are the ones in disarray starting tomorrow it's the republicans that are unity. payton barber, the governor of mississippi is supposed to be here for a unity breakfast tomorrow. democrats don't have anything planned. >> what about the seat that the president held down, that roland burris holds down. he got that appointment by blagojevich. there he is right now, we got to know him on this show. that seat, the president's seat,
where is that likely to go? does cheryle jackson have a chance? does the state treasurer have that thing pretty much under control? >> right now, i wouldn't make any predictions. the race heated up in the end. i wouldn't call it this close. there are some other big -- there's the potential of big african-american turnout. she's the only female in the african-american race. the state treasurer has been in the lead for most of the campaign, the race tightened up in these last few days, a lot of negative campaigning going on, mainly by david hoffman who is the former city hall inspector general who had enough money to go on tv. the negative ads were continuing up through this afternoon in both the governor and senate races on both sides. >> hang on there. john heilman, we'll come back and talk about the president as a candidate again. he's out there acting like a candidate again. i wonder what it's all about, we're going to find out on msnbc. (announcer) sinus pressure. you can blow your nose but nothing comes out! because the real problem isn't always mucus.
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we're back with lynn sweet from the "chicago sun-times" and "new york magazine's" john heilman. here's more from president obama up in new hampshire today. let's listen. >> we've got two parties in this country. that's a good thing. it means we have heated debates and vigorous disagreements. i was pleased when the house republican caucus graciously invited me to attend the retreat
last week. we had a good time for more than an hour. for more than an hour we had a frank exchange about the issues facing our country. and we aired some of our grievances, shared some ideas. there were plenty of things on which we didn't agree, but there were also some things on which we did. and even more things that we should agree on if we could just focus on solving problems instead of scoring political points. >> lynn sweet, you follow politics closely. what is the president's game? what's he up to getting out there like a candidate? >> well, he needs to rally his troops and change the narrative, which has always been a big problem with him in the last few weeks. when he's been at the low point of his presidency. he has to get ahead of what i think is this stall that he's in right now, chris. >> john, is that it, to get us away from looking at the economic number, get us away from looking at the failure so far of health care, get us away
from looking at harry reid and the rest of the democratic leadership that doesn't seem to be helping him right now? >> i think all those things are a part of the story. one thing they have to do is start winning outside game again. they were too mired. number two, they have to make the republicans pay for their intras ij ens. >> say it your way. how do you get a guy like mitch mcconnell who sits there pompously laughing at him. how do you make them pay for being against everything that tries to solve the country's problem? >> he did a nice job today when he pointed out the ways that republicans had signed on to the bipartisan commission to deal with the deficit issue, how these people suddenly, as soon as obama endoerss it, they all bailed out. he's got to call them on their hip ok accuracy. he should hold them up to the
white house. and sit down and say, what do you want? >> go ahead. >> when you do that, you're going back to the incremental approach that they disavowed in the beginning on health care because they always said they wanted to do the whole thing. the other thing, john and chris, in the end, the test here is when the next big initiative comes up before congress, will obama get a bipartisan or not? >> thank you. "countdown" with keith olbermann starts right now. >> which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? the breaking news that the underwear bomber is cooperating again with authorities? what he's spilling is current, the u.s. is aggressively pursuing it in yemen, quoting an administration official, this isn't stale. it's proving to be very valuable. so he's talking even though we haven't hung him upside down in his cell? even though we read him his
miranda rights, even though we let him have a lawyer? sort of destroys the main republican talking point thon, doesn't it? don't ask, don't tell, don't live up to your own words. 2006 john mccain says if the military men told him it was time to end don't ask, don't tell, he'd listen. today -- >> it's my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians serving openly is the right thing to do. >> he told them they were wrong and he won't listen to them anyway. just lie about it. frank luntz writes a guidebook for defeating financial reform. just lie and say it means more bailouts for wall street. little jimmy olson o'keefe explains it all. >> we're not stopping. our goal is to expose truth, expose corruption until it's gone and that's it. >> will that be before or after your trial? and beck again? today -- >> i said -- i've never used the word slaughter on the air.
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