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tv   In the Arena  CNN  June 7, 2011 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT

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to what we have done before? >> i'm a republican strategist, here is my problem. the orthodox of simply tax cuts, you know, it is one that we can easily beat up on. this idea you're going to cut more taxes and that's going to pull us out, i don't know if independent voters will buy that. >> we'll see. we have a debate monday night, all the republican candidates up in the state of new hampshire. we'll be there. hope you're there for that. see you tomorrow night right here. "in the arena" starts right now. good evening. welcome to the program. i'm eliot spitzer. tonight, the pressure on congressman anthony weiner is getting fierce as the scandal surrounding him continues to grow, the most powerful democrat on capitol hill is making his feelings clear. >> i'm not here to defend weiner. that's all i'm going to say. >> what advice would you give him if he asked you?
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>> call somebody else. >> and it is coming from all sides. most powerful man in the house of representatives is also turning his back on anthony weiner. >> i think it is up to congressman weiner and his constituents to make that decision. i don't condone his activity. i think he should resign. >> tonight, is the congressman headed home from work, cnn producer adam reese told weiner about eric cantor's remarks. >> congressman cantor called for your resignation. official call for your resignation. >> careful, guys. >> how do you feel about that? >> he's entitled to his viewpoint. careful. >> would you consider it? >> i'm not resigning, no. >> new details about the scandal surrounding congressman weiner in a moment, but first, a look at some of the other stories we'll be drilling down on tonight. afghanistan, is it time to go? president obama sure seems to
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think so. >> we have accomplished a big chunk of our mission. >> but secretary gates isn't so sure. >> what's the cost of failure? >> sebastian junger says there are risks if we stay too long or leave too soon. and mercenaries in the middle east. e.d. hill reports in a new private army of americans. do they pledge allegiance to the flag or the highest bidder? then, who's minding the store? another key member of obama's economic council is leaving, with the recovery going backwards, who should the president turn to for answers? now more on our top story, there has been talk about the fact that anthony weiner doesn't have a lot of friends backing him up on capitol hill, especially now. he's an abrasive sort. anthony weiner in recent months found a friend in of all people republican congressman jason chaffetz. jason, thank you for being here. congressman, you know, anthony weiner has become a friend and
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political odd couple. as a friend, what would your advice to him be? >> i don't see any option but to step down. i like the guy. i've gotten along with him. i've sponsored bills with him, i've done fun things on television and what not with him. but there comes a point where you just have to say, i'm sorry, but there is also some consequence to this. this is about the trust that he has -- with the american people and specifically the people in new york, but i just don't see how you can go on for this. >> folks know, i made that decision to resign, get that out there on the table, but let me play devil's advocate in terms of anthony weiner for a moment. he's saying he hasn't been shown to have committed any violation of the law as of yet. he has done things he has acknowledged. he's confessed his error. if your threshold is now you acted in a way that casts ill repute upon the house of representatives, aren't there an awful lot of other members who should be told the same thing by both eric cantor and, don't want to put you on the spot, you or other republicans? >> i can only look at what
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happened -- just over two years in the house of representatives. i can tell you on the republican side of the aisle, john boehner has done some things behind the scene that are pretty remarkable. you had eric -- representative souder, representative lee, when they had scandals, literally within hours both of them stepped out. i don't know that speaker boehner did anything directly, but i tend to think he was somewhat involved somehow. and those gentlemen moved on. and the body itself, i think it was better for the body. that's the ultimate question. what is best for the congress is really what ought to be first and foremost. >> let me ask you this, does your discomfort and your sense then -- you speak to him, you're saying this to somebody as somebody who has been a friend of his, if he acknowledged his wrongdoing immediately, instead of lying to the media, would that have changed your perspective about the obligation on his part now to resign? >> i think it plays a big, big role because time after time after time what i saw him repeatedly say is i was hacked. what he said, now he's saying was a lie. and not just once, but multiple
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times. and, again, i haven't spoken to him directly, i put my arm around him and say, you know, anthony, please, do the right thing. he has to make this decision. i'm not trying to take a cheap shot at the guy. i think the body of congress, we have to raise the bar, not lower the bar. >> i think everybody would agree with that sentiment and everybody would hope that would be what happens. let me ask you in terms of raising the bar, let me ask this, if you were to look at what congress has done in terms of imposing sanctions on members of congress who have acted improperly, not necessarily illegally, would expulsion be the proper remedy if congress had to vote, if he doesn't resign, would you vote to expel him from congress? >> well, that's a difficult thing. but here on national television saying, yeah, i think he probably should resign. and i don't want to put the congress through having to go through months of this at a cost of i don't know how much money, how much pain and what not. but, you know, he's going to have to look to himself to make that decision. >> if the ethics commission finds he did not use any public
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property, no public phones, you know, offices, does that fact near this or was it the -- >> i think it is the -- look, you have information, sensitive information about war and about classified material and there has got to be some degree of trust. and you have somebody openly admit that they were lying, that they were breaching that trust to such a magnitude that he did, it makes all of us uncomfortable speaking about this. i'm not trying to cast ill repute upon the guy, but at the same time, i worry that here we are talking about this instead of afghanistan, these other things that really, really matter. >> everybody agrees with you about this being a distraction. you are close to him. people made fun it of it on both sides of the aisle. have you spoken to him? >> i have not. i have not. we have been in a district work period this week. i'm sure i'll see him next week if it is still there. and it is very difficult.
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it is sad. it is just sad. i feel for him and his family. >> at every level, but not to put you on the spot, you're here, i'm thankful you're on the set, in new york city, not far from queens where he lives, you're going to get in the cab and he doesn't have many friends right now. the silence is deafening. do you feel an obligation to get in a cab and go talk to him? >> if he's watching the show, anthony, i'd come chat with you. but i don't know what to say. he's going through things that are difficult to relate to. >> are you surprised that the democratic leadership, i know you don't want to take shots across the line, but are you surprised the democratic leadership hasn't shown any support for him at a personal level and emotional level? it has been kind of stark how icy cold the reception has been. >> well, i think, you know, nancy pelosi did the right thing referring it to the ethics committee. that's going to be very costly. i can tell you my own experience seeing john boehner exert some leadership, i thought he did a remarkable job. these things with sadr and lee,
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they were done within hours. >> i think the time issue, the cost is obviously a factor as well from a taxpayer's perspective we pay our taxes, don't want to see them spent on this. the ethics commission investigation takes a long time. >> they take years sometimes. it is a ridiculously slow process but methodical and you want it to be that way. you're dealing with the constitution. you have to be very, very careful. >> that does raise -- come full circle. is it due process? you might say, look, he was elected, he has a job to do, due process isn't the threshold here. but is it due process for everybody suddenly to be rushing to judgment saying he did not break the law, it is a grotesque act, he's wrong, he apologized, but expulsion is the right remedy here. >> no question about whether or not he lied, whether or not he's misleading people. he admitted that. case closed on that. i think you now have to move to the next part what is the right thing to do. >> any way for him to remedy this to resuscitate his reputation or his relationship with the democratic or republican or both -- leadership of both parties in the next
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short period of time? >> it is hard to see. at the ultimate, right at the center of this is trust. it is trust. and that has been -- i don't see how you bring that back together. >> all right, congressman chaffetz. >> it is tough. >> all right, congressman, thank you for being here. congressman weiner's fellow democrats aren't directly calling for him to resign, but they are making it clear he doesn't have their back. that's just what they're saying publicly. what is happening behind closed doors, for that, let's go to washington, our senior congressional correspondent dana bash, dana, the pressure on congressman weiner doesn't seem to be pushing him out at this point. have you seen anything new on the horizon, any second shoe about to drop, new facts that make you think something would change dramatically in the near term? >> at this point, eliot, no. in talking to democratic lawmakers and senior democratic aides today, they're holding their breath, waiting for another shoe to drop. and they say the people -- the people i talked to say that would be the final straw, depending what it is.
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you talk to congressman chaffetz about the fact that he says he just announce on the show he thinks that congressman weiner should resign. he's one of two people saying that publicly and from my reporting even privately. i am told, eliot, that even though the democratic leadership is very unhappy with him, to say the least, that there has been no private call to say, okay, anthony, you got to go. publicly, though, there are move being made. for example, nancy pelosi, the house democratic leader said yesterday the house ethics committee should investigate. today, she went a step further putting a letter out formalizing that. she didn't have to do that. she doesn't have to do any of that. but it is a political move according to one senior democratic aide i talked to that adds pressure for him to go. >> it is remarkable, dana. there has been such icy silence from the democratic leadership. anthony weiner, as i said a few moments ago, is an abrasive sort by nature. that's what many people appreciate in him, his style was to be aggressive and to make his
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point with a certain fervor and energy. but you think he would have had a few friends on the democratic side of the aisle who would have stood up and said low down the rush to judgment, not a single word to that effect that i've heard at least. >> no and, you know, first of all, just the fact that nobody is coming out except for harry reid who was already at a microphone today, and publicly saying anything about this, it is hard to get people on the phone to talk, not for attribution, but first of all, you're right in terms of personality. i talked to a couple of democratic lawmakers, people who like him today. but say, look, he's angered them because of grandstanding on issues like health care, because of the fact that he is openly critical. sometimes he has a point. but he's openly critical of the democratic leadership, of the white house. that's number one. and number two, you know, i can tell you going back to last week, eliot, talking to members of the democratic leadership, they were urging him, begging him, please, get the facts out there, get the accurate story out there because it is drip, drip, drip and it is a
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distraction. and he didn't listen to them and they're really, really angry about that. >> yeah, you know, it is interesting, dana, at one level, all the things that made him popular with the public and the media a few months ago when there was contentious debate about health care, now we're rebounding against him and creating zero reservoir, no friends left for him to turn to when he needs the help. dana bash, thank you so much. >> thanks. political leaders in both washington and new york still finding their footing on the scandal, what role is the media playing? for more on that now, joined by dan abrams, abc legal analyst and founder of thank you for being here. >> pleasure. >> this came not from the traditional media. it came from the part of the media world that is often scorned that is denigrated. is this the media's shining -- great shining moment or the media's roll around in tawdry issues? >> look, i think that the media was initially skeptical because it was coming from andrew breitbart. the mainstream media, we don't know if we can trust this guy.
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this wasn't really reported much the first weekend. the mainstream media kind of ignored the story. a lot of the blogs did and andrew breitbart is saying why is no one listening to me, why is no one listening? then more photos came out and now the mainstream media is looking back and saying, look, he was right and we probably should have started covering this earlier. >> to a certain extent, i think anthony weiner got the benefit of the doubt. he was putting out pretty, you know, vehement denials and accusations of hacking and because he was always viewed as somebody with credibility. >> they weren't quite vehement. they were always sort of nuanced. from the beginning, it was that he was saying he was hacked. he still hadn't answered the question, did you send it? then he responded saying, no, i didn't send it. but then when the question was a specific question, is that you? he couldn't answer that. so immediately people start wondering, come on what is going on here? and then additional photos come out of this new woman comes out and then he was -- he had no choice. >> the worst of the -- the use
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of the word certitude, it began to unravel. the media has a way of saying, if you lie to us, we'll get you. if anthony weiner at the very first moment had stood up and said, let me be open, let me tell you, this is a chapter in my life, i'm not proud of, here are the facts, would he have been able to overcome this or is this the media saying greatest sin here is the lie? >> he had a better chance, a much better chance. when you see him in interview after interview, not just lying, but lying in a way where he was indignant at the questions, you dare to ask me that question, i think that's a really tough position for him to be in. let me ask you, i'll turn the table on you for a moment, you're someone who -- >> wait a minute. >> just quickly, i would think that this is something that you know about, you come out, you make your statement, you come clean, do you think that that helped your situation? >> let me be very clear. i sympathize with anthony weiner. i know he's going through torment like virtually no other, but his greatest sin from the
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perspective of the public was not being truthful at the moment of crisis. what that showed unfortunately was a flaw in his judgment, in his belief, up to that point that he could somehow continue to deceive and i think that, as it goes back to congressman chaffetz's point, that trust and bond has been broken, that additional time, not just by the behavior, but by the additional lie on top. >> i think you benefitted from that to some degree coming out early and then, look, the question is going to be, i think it is going to be a matter daves now. you see the pressure that is being put upon him, we're not going to get to the ethics investigation. >> let me ask you about that. your point is exactly right, you also are an attorney. do you think that he has broken the law? an issue that sort of has been lost in the haze of this. >> not based on anything we have seen so far. based on anything we have seen so far, but this is the problem with an investigation is that it opens up a lot of other information that might not already be out there.
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that's, to me, what weiner's great fear is right now is, okay, i'd like to think this is behind me. but, a, there could be more pictures that come out. and, b, there is a new investigation that is going to start here and that just means more information and more information and more information coming out. >> to say the least this is a pandora's box that he certainly does not want to remain open. and it is a mess. >> i think the only way to close it is to resign and think for himself, okay, what do i -- what's going to be the next chapter? >> abrams, as always, thank you for being here. coming up, two years ago, president obama assembled a high powered team of economic advisers and every one of them is walking out the door. more on that in a moment. first, cnn's chief political analyst gloria borger is here. you spoke to a politician who is not seeking higher office. tell us about him. >> right, governor mitch daniels of indiana who decided very recently as you know, eliot, he's not going to run for the presidency. he cited family concerns. but i went to the state capital and visited with him and it is
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very clear to me that this is somebody who is not bowing out of the national policy debate on economic issues. >> all right, thanks, gloria. looking forward to it. before we go to break, one more prominent new yorker weighed in on the anthony weiner scandal today. and donald trump, as usual, did not mince words. take a listen. >> many people have been asking me about anthony weiner, the congressman from new york who had big ambitions and wanted to run for the mayor of new york city. the fact is i know him very well. he called me all the time looking for campaign contributions. they would never stop. he would give me all sorts of phone numbers. fortunately i don't think i ever called him. the fact is, anthony weiner is a bad guy. he's a psycho. and when this came out, i was not surprised at all. i would watch him in interviews, i would watch him on television, i'd hear what he had to say, and you could see he was like a boiler ready to explode.
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it's the economy, stupid. that's how presidents get elected or re-elected. and for president obama, the economy just doesn't seem to be
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cooperating. his economic advisers have been fleeing. look at that screen. every one of them, jared bernstein, larry summers, peter or zag, christina romer and most recently it was announced, austan goolsbee, all of them leaving. and you know what, the much ballyhooed daily economic briefing the president was going to get, it is gone. unemployment is going up. job creation down. and there doesn't seem to be any real plan to deal with it. so republicans are jumping all over this. here's what mitt romney told piers morgan last night. >> right now the message that you're hearing from republicans is government is too big, it is too intrusive, and the economy is a wreck. people are in crisis and the president doesn't understand it. just the other day, the president said, look this 9%, 9.1% unemployment is a bump in the road. this isn't a bump, mr. president. these are americans. >> joining me now from harvard, cnn's david gergen and from los angeles, former labor secretary robert reich, author of the book "after shock."
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welcome to you both. david, let me start with you. isn't this getting untenable at a political level for the white house not to have a specific, articulate clarion voice saying here is what the answer is goinging to going i to be to the economic problems? >> i think austan goolsbee departure leaves that void and tim geithner, in fairness, not everybody has left. tim geithner is there as treasury secretary. he was there from the beginning. gene sperling moved up. he's been there since the beginning and ben bernanke has been there since the beginning, from the fed. i don't think everybody has jump shipped or left them. i think the goolsbee departure has left a void on the spokesman side. and i really think that it signals that maybe this administration is not going to rethink its economic policy. they're going to ride this out. and as we discussed last week, i think both bob reich and i would argue, you've really got to
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think about putting more steam back in this economy. >> secretary reich, let me come to you, you have been there in the thick of the politics of this when you served in the clinton administration, when the economy is not going well. we'll get to the substance in a minute or so. but just as a matter of politics, don't you think there has been a notable absence of articulation from the white house about what the white house is going to do and also to use president clinton's famous phrase, who is saying i feel your pain right now, where is that sense of empathy coming from, if anywhere? >> i think, eliot, the president has to get out in front on the jobs situation. i don't think the white house can any longer pretend that the economy is a recovery path. the recovery really has stalled. there is every evidence of a major stall here. and the president has got to say, look, here are my ideas for getting us out of the stall. even if those ideas can't go very far. even if republicans oppose them, he has got to not only for the purpose of helping average americans, but also for the political optics, he's got to
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actually show that he is being active and proactive with regard to jobs and wages. >> you know, i think you just said something so critically important. the likelihood is that anything the president would propose now of any order of magnitude, whether in the form of a stimulus, or even, you know, government spending of any form, tax breaks or anything else, the republican party would object to it, but doesn't he need to stake out his position if only to create the tension between what he is saying and what the republican candidates, the presidency are saying? right now there is none of that tension. doesn't he need to create that sort of tension between himself and the republican party? >> yeah, i do think he does. and, listen, on the question of whether the economy is stalling out, of course, ben bernanke, the fed chairman gave a speech today, it is still slowly on the mend, frustratingly slow. i think growth is going to grow in the second half. there are some legitimate disagreements about sort of where we find ourselves. but i'm totally with bob reich in thinking the president needs
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to be much more empathic. he needs to be much more concerned about the pain that so many people are feeling. and i think he has to hold out the prospect that if this continues, he's going to make some policy changes. i don't think he can just sort of simply say this is a bump in the road. i think it leaves him eventual initi vulnerable to the romney attack you played last night. >> i think i heard, david, the speech by ben bernanke today, gas prices are up and we had the japanese tsunami and earthquake and then he said the third reason things are slow is because things are slow, there are not enough jobs being created. he's confusing disease and the pain we're feeling. how do you solve it? bob, what would you do if you were sitting in the oval office, to say to the president, here is what you've got to do now to jump start this economy? >> well, there are several things that could be done. again, they may not get through congress, but if they could get through, they would help a great deal. number one, for example, exempt
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the first $20,000 of income from the payroll tax. at least for a year. that would put money directly in people's pockets, that would give employers an incentive to hire additional people. number two, provide the states with at least loans so that they did not have to basically fire so many teachers, firefighters and others. that would, again, help maintain employment. the states are right now on the road to doing -- basically firing large numbers of government workers. at number three, what the federal government could do is have a wpa, basically something like what was done during the depression, because you've got almost half of all of the unemployed have been unemployed for more than six months. this is a huge army. a larger percentage by the way than we had during the great depression. a huge army of unemployed. they're just sitting there. they need to have jobs, even if they're public sector jobs. my point is there are many things that could be proposed that could be done, but -- and
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the president has got to take that kind of control. >> one thing i would add to that litany of options is something to do with mortgage crisis which is dragging down the housing market. david, let me come back to you, let me go it david for a second, time runs short, unfortunately. have you heard anything, i don't want to ignore the proposals or lack of proposals from the other side, have you heard anything new and creative from tim pawlenty, from mitt romney, any of the -- jon huntsman, any of the established republican candidates, anything other than the traditional republican mantras. >> not so far. i do think there is a deal to be cut here. i do think that the president should take up bob reich's point about payroll tax holiday. if he were to cut taxes some in the short term, either republicans will obviously grab hold of that, but i think the president would have -- given the new deficits that would occur, he would have to make some deeper concessions in the long term on the deficit side. i would like to see him consider an lccc.
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the works project administration created 8 million jobs over eight years. the civilian conservation corps created 1 million jobs right away for young people to be out in the woods, building national park and that sort of thing. we have got a huge problem on our hands with the young people who can't find jobs coming out of school. >> bob, taking it as a given that you're going to disagree with anything you've heard from the other side, as a matter of intellectual disagreement, have you heard anything creative coming out of the republican side, anything that at least makes you stop and think, you know what, that's worth thinking about because it is a new twist on this. anything that intrigued you. >> eliot, i tried my hardest to listen and to be open minded, but it is the same mantra. they seem to say the same thing they have been saying for 60 years, small government and lower taxes are all we need and deregulation, throw in that, and we'll get jobs back. there is no evidence. that did not work during the great depression and the 1950s, '60s, didn't work in the '80s,
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didn't work in the early 1990s. there is no reason to think the republican mantra of small government, lower taxes on the wealthy, and deregulation actually helps. we do know, though, because we have a lot of evidence that some of the things that i have suggested, other people have suggested, maybe a little bit more government spending right now, while you have to stimulate the economy because consumers are not going to do it, is critically important and, yes, you've got to have a credible plan for reducing the long-term budget deficit. but the critical most important thing is jobs, right now. >> all right, robert reich, david gergen, great to talk to you. we'll be continuing this conversation in the days and weeks ahead, no doubt. coming up, president obama is feeling the heat to bring the troops home from afghanistan. sebastian junger has been on the ground there. he has a lot to say about what's going on there. you'll want to hear it. stay right there. [ male announcer ] this is james.
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back in 2009, president obama announced we would begin a reduction of u.s. forces in afghanistan in july of 2011. well, july is practically here. and it is not clear what kind of drawdown he's talking about. writer sebastian junger spent a lot of time wrestling with the complexities of afghanistan. his new book "war" is an account of his time embedded with american platoon at the site of some of the most intense fighting. sebastian junger, welcome. >> thank you. >> so what is your test for when we should begin to withdraw
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significant numbers of troops from afghanistan? when and how do we measure success such that we can turn responsibility back to the afghan army for its own security? >> well, in the past couple of years there has been a significant surge of something like 30,000 troops in the southern part of the country. you know, i think those troops probably served their purpose. they certainly degraded the taliban's capability tremendously. i imagine that the drawdown will begin by returning some of those troops. how do you tell success? it is a complicated thing. first of all, for sure, we would not have killed bin laden without our bases in afghanistan. you're not going to fly the team out of virginia to do that. you need the forward operating bases, the intelligence gather. recently we killed another al qaeda top operative, cakashmiri. those guys are still out there. if you want to continue degrading their capabilities, we're going to have to be in
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afghanistan. a success, i think, ultimately is when the -- two things, when the aftghan government becomes viable and has enough integrity and viable enough to take care of the needs of the people. likewise, the afghan people themselves need a government that they're proud of and, frankly, willing to fight for and die for. we, the nato forces, have not given them a responsible government. it is corrupt. it is basically a criminal syndicate. and we can't leave until the afghans, i think that their government is worth fighting for. >> sebastian, it is fascinating to hear you articulate those premises or those boundaries for withdraw. i think most people having read your very powerful writing and seeing the movie you're involved in, "restrepo" would have thought you would have been in favor of a more rapid withdraw. it seems you're saying not only do we have to deal with al qaeda, the stated first rational for our presence in afghanistan, but we need to be involved in
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nation building and the traditional sense of houses, the infrastructure of a nation. you're saying something even more subtle, you used the word the government is a criminal syndicate as though somehow we need to get the corruption out of the afghan government before we can leave. describe as i've seen you do it before, describe the actuality of the corruption, how granular it is from the bottom up to the top in afghanistan. >> well, it is from top to bottom. at the local level, policemen are demanding bribes from the afghan people on up to district governors and provincial governors, right on up to hamid karzai who i'm going from memory here, but there was a criminal -- a corruption investigation that was tracking down some very prominent people in the government, friends of karzai, and the leader of the -- the head of that investigation was put in prison because of the investigation. i mean, you just can't -- you can't did that. that's not fighting corruption. it is aiding and abetting it. and the united states, first
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under bush and now under obama, they didn't -- we didn't like it, but we basically ignored it. i think we have come to a point where we have to really twist karzai's arm, really threaten serious consequences if he does not tackle this terrible problem of corruption. his government is stealing -- is robbing the afghan people, robbing them blind. >> here is my question for you. you make a powerful case in a world of unlimited resources where we had no other concerns in the world, but let me pause at this, the corruption in afghanistan is so endemic, so much a part of the culture as it were, afghanistan was just deemed most corrupt country in the world by something called transparency international that studies these things, if you're saying we need to have 100,000 marines there until we reach that threshold, my goodness, that sounds as though we're going to be there for as long as we have been in europe after world war ii, 40, 50 years. how is there ever an end point if that is the objective? >> i think we have to -- listen,
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i'm not urging that we keep 100,000 marines there forever and ever. what i'm saying is we have to threaten real consequences. if nato forces leave, karzai is dead. he's not going to survive the implosion and the bloodbath that will -- and the civil war that will happen in that country if nato forces withdraw. this is the lowest level of civilian casualties in that country in 30 years, precisely because there are international forces there. i think one thing we could do is very publicly say if you don't tackle corruption, we are leaving completely and i do not think he would call our bluff. i think he would finally have to deal with that problem. >> that would be -- that would be a high stakes game of poker, interesting to watch. sebastian junger, great to have you with us. >> thank you. >> when we come back, gloria borger's interview with the republican who isn't running for president. stay with us.
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he was widely considered one of the republicans' best hopes for winning back the white house in 2012. that is until he said no thanks. i sat down with indiana governor mitch daniels at his office in the state capital. he says he could have beaten president obama, but it was his family that vetoed the run. daniels says he has no regrets and the first question i asked him was about the process of making a very personal and difficult decision. >> oh, it was almost surrealistic. i mean, i think it takes a
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certain amount of presumption to think of yourself in those terms and i never had, never thought of running for president. but i felt some sense of responsibility to people who thought we had something to offer. and i hope i didn't let them down. >> so you're not doing it, but do you think somebody else can beat barack obama in this republican field? >> absolutely i do. >> who do you think has a good chance? >> i wouldn't rule out anybody that is out there talking about it right now. but certainly among those who are most discussed, mitt romney, tim pawlenty, jon huntsman. these are really talented people with a lot to offer the country. >> on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most vulnerable, how vulnerable is barack obama? >> i think he's toward the upper end of the range, 7, 8. i don't know how to calibrate. but clearly their economic policies have failed. debts that are coming really are of terrifying dimension.
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>> when you were considering running you took on your own party. and at a conservative convention in washington in february, i'm sure you remember it, you talked about the kind of pitfalls of purity and politics. >> purity and martyrdom is for suicide bombers. king purist is remembered, but his nation disappeared. i for one have no interest in standing in the wreckage of our republic saying i told you so or you should have done it my way. >> in a way, were you calling for a truce on social issues of which tends to divide voters and while you pay attention to the more pressing financial problems? >> i did at the national level. i said that maybe as a matter of priority we ought to just agree to disagree for a little while. i likened it to a threat to the national security, which it literally is and said if a foreign army, you know, came to
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one of the borders, we would all put aside our other disagreements for a while, and join arms as americans to repel it. and i think that the danger that we have -- that we are facing is every bit as severe as some of those military threats we faced before. >> daniels was george w. bush's budget chief and they called him the blade. in indiana, he's turned to state state deficit into an $800 million surplus, irking some conservatives by raising sales and cigarette taxes. if he were still in washington, taxes, as in tax reform, would be on the table. let me talk about the republican budget proposal, because as you know very well, it takes on medicare. but it doesn't do anything on the tax side. >> here's what i think about taxes. we need a lot more tax revenue, revenue, dollars in hand. we'll only get them if we have a
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period of strong growth. question is, how can you change the tax system to make it more pro growth and more pro jobs and we all know what the answer is. wipe out a lot of the preferences which incidentally tend to favor upper income people, and lower the rates, make a lower, flatter tax system that -- with far fewer distortions of economic activity. you know, people who are -- >> that's what the deficit commission suggested and some republicans including paul ryan did not sign on to that. >> we go about $10 trillion deeper in the hole. >> ryan is a daniels friend and protege. but daniels has a different formula. and isn't shy about saying that ryan did not go far enough. >> i think congressman ryan's made tremendous contribution. and nobody should criticize his plan unless they have something of similar dimension of their own to offer up. but his plan is not perfect. it did mention social security.
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and that has to be -- we have to have a new social security system for the future, for the next generation. he didn't mention defense. and while defense is a nonnegotiable, the physical safety of americans must always be protected with assurance, i personally would have preferred to see a more pro growth approach to taxes, one that has low and flatter rates, and therefore by creating a lot of new economic activity would create the revenues we need to pay down our debts. but on balance, it is still the best plan out there, cheap shots on medicare are going to happen. and we have to have that debate. i personally believe that it demeans the american public to say that we are so juvenile or so dimwitted as a people that we cannot see an economic iceberg that is right ahead of us.
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the american people, we ought to give them more credit than that. >> but our polls show, when you look at the ryan budget, the american people want to cut the deficit, but don't touch my medicare, don't touch my social security. >> i know all this. but the conversation -- he's just gotten the conversation started. and, of course we heard all the nonsense, all the really reprehensible demagoguery about grandma over the cliff. it is all wrong, of course. in terms of either what representative ryan has suggested or the facts of life. again, the enemies of medicare and social security are those people who say don't touch them because they're not only going to ruin those programs, they're going to ruin the american dream. >> let me take you back to 2010 though. the midterm election of 2010, when the tables were turned, and the democrats had made changes in medicare as part of health care reform, as you know, savings in medicare and
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republicans were out there on the campaign trail saying they're going to hurt grannie, your phrase. same thing? >> well, fair point. i did not think it was an especially proud moment for our party. i couldn't help but savor the turnabout being fair play after decades of democrats ruthlessly misrepresenting republican positions and misleading people that somehow we can really afford these things exactly the way they are. it was only fair that they get a little dose of their own medicine, but no, i agree with you. >> daniels says he would have tried to replace bickering with substance. but he never got that far. no matter who called to try and persuade. did your former boss, president bush, try to get you to run? >> he was encouraging about it. but, you know, so were -- >> what did he say? >> that would be between us, but
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i'll just -- there were an awful lot of people i respect that approached me about it. if they hadn't, i never would have thought of such a negotiation at all. >> a foolish notion, maybe, but what about a vice presidential bid. i asked and he said it was improbable and wasn't a useful question. was that a no? not exactly. quote, it is a definite nonanswer, daniels said. so there you have it. we'll be right back.
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mercenaries in the middle east. we have seen them in libya where moammar gadhafi has hired guns killing his own people. and now the united arab emirates where hired americans are building a fighting force of foreigners for the royal family. eric margolis has insight into the troubling trend, the author of the book "war at top of the world" and joins us now. thanks for being with us. >> pleasure.
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>> you know, the company hired by the uae is called rapid responses or r-2 and it is being run by americans, hiring this entire battalion of foreigners to train them for the royal family there in case of labor unrest. is this something we have seen before? >> well, we have. you know, use of mercenaries are otherwise known as private contractors in our parlance has become very common. the u.s. has employed tens of thousands of mercenaries in iraq. and now in afghanistan. cia has its own 5,000-man mercenary army, it is reported. and it is a standard function. they have been active in africa for decades. what we're seeing now is interesting, though, the first insertion in the gulf of a western, apparently western dominated or run mercenary force whose job is to protect the royal family in abu dhabi.
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secondly, what they call labor unrest is not labor unrest, it is angry workers who feel they haven't been paid. it is the threat of a bahrain-style uprising. and possibly some intervention by iranian forces. >> well, here's what the uae says when asked about this. they say, quote, all engagements of commercial entities by the uae armed forces are compliant with international law and relevant conventions. so you're just talking about this being unique in terms of this -- of being in the middle east here now. well, say we swap uae for libya. you've got someone who is leading a country, whether it is a royal family or other, and they hire guns to come in and turn them against their civilian population for whatever the reason is. how do we know when that crosses the legal line? why isn't that a terrorist attack or something that nato or the american military would take action against? >> good question. you know, the u.s. has been saying for years that many of
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the people that it is holding in guantanamo prison are illegal combatants because they don't belong to any army, and they don't wear uniforms. well, what do you call all these mercenaries we're using, what do we call cia killer hit teams that are being used in afghanistan and pakistan? they would seem to fall under the same definition. the bigger problem is to whom do these people report in the middle east? everybody thinks mr. prince, who has been accused of running this, he denies it -- >> that's erik prince, who had founded a company called blackwater, a lot of people are familiar with the name blackwater. this company, r-2, says he's not affiliated with it in any way. there has been some debate about that. but -- >> correct. but he's moved to abu dhabi apparently. i doubt it is to learn how to make bedouin ceramics there.
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they're building a protection force and used to intervene in other arab countries. >> you talk about the loyalties. that's the very troubling part of this, at the heart of what is happening here for me. if you have americans going in there, hiring, training, operating their own battalion of foreign fighters in a foreign country, say the united states military or nato or anyone else we're affiliated with decides to take action against, civilians are being killed, atrocities being committed, we're going to take action, we're potentially setting up having american military going against fighters trained and operated by other americans. >> well, there is that problem and there is the bigger problem as secretary -- defense secretary gates pointed out recently that we have an out of control shadow security government or apparatus in
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washington of all these private contractors, mercenaries, interrogators, et cetera, et cetera. >> do they live by any rules? do they have any rules they have to adhere to? >> no. they're very much like these black dark pools of investments that brought down wall street. they're rogue operators. they're under nobody's control. and they're not under the control of the american military. what happens if they start massacring villagers. to whom do they report? it is a very messy situation. the regular military men, i used to be one, don't like this one bit. and i don't think america's role in the world should be hiring mercenaries. many of whom are former gunmen, right wing paramilitary gunmen from colombia and south america. these are not the people you want to be associated with. >> and i believe the colombians are a large part of the force that is being hired right now by the americans in the uae. it is certainly a change in how we are waging our battles over
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in the middle east. and it doesn't seem like this is going to stop anytime soon. >> well, the -- >> we have to take a break. >> they're going to hire 5,000 more in iraq as well. >> and we'll see what happens in afghanistan as we start pulling out. eric margolis, thank you very much. we will be right back. lligee that's helping drive the future of business. in here, inventory can be taught to learn. ♪ machines have a voice. ♪ medical history follows you. it's the at&t network -- a network of possibilities... committed to delivering the most advanced mobile broadband experience to help move business... forward. ♪
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