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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  January 13, 2012 1:00am-2:00am PST

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the rachel maddow show starts now. >> good evening, my friend. thank you at home for staying with us for the next hour. the last time mitt romney ran for president 2007 heading into the 2008 campaign, the boston globe ran a get to know mitt romney human interest profile. on the man who had been massachusetts governor and who now wanted to be the united states president. that profile in the summer of 2007 opened up with what is now a very famous story. a very famous story about this member of the romney family. the story involves this very, very handsome enormous irish setter, whose name is shameus, and it also involves that car. that wood paneled station wagon you see on your screen.
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it also involves a 12-hour drive from the boston area to ontario canada. and i quote. the white chevy station wagon with the wood paneling was overstuffed with suitcases, supplies and sons when mitt romney climbed behind the wheel to begin the annual 12-hour family trek from boston to ontario. the destination for this journey in the summer of 1983 was his parent's cottage on the canadian shores of lake huron. before beginning the drive, mitt romney put seamus, the family's irish setter in a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon's roof rack. he built a windshield for the carrier to make the ride more comfortable for a dog. it was what you would expect with five brothers packed into a wagon they called the white whale. tag romney was at the back window. dad, he yelled. gross, a brown liquid was
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dripping down the back window. i'm quoting from "the boston globe." do not judge me. pay back from an irish setter who had been riding on the roof in the wind for hours. as the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, romney coolly pulled off the highway into a service station. he borrowed a hose, washed down seamus and the car and hopped back on the highway. a teeny free view of a trait he would grow famous for in business. emotion-free crisis management. that was published at the end of 2007. at the end of the summer, he ron the ames, iowa, straw poll for president. right after he won that straw poll he went on fox news sunday. the host of fox news sunday asked mr. romney about this dog business. >> back in 1983. you took your irish setter seamus on oo 12-hour road trip tied to the roof of your car. inside a kennel.
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>> yes, yes. >> i have a yellow lab named winston. i would no sooner put him in a kennel on the roof of my car than i would one of my children. question. what were you thinking? >> this is a completely airtight kennel. and mounted on the top of our car. he climbed up there regularly, enjoyed himself. he was in a kennel at home a great deal of time as well. we love the dog. it was where he was comfortable. we had five kids inside the car. my guess is he liked it better in his kennel than he would have liked it inside. >> massachusetts law and dog lovers, and i'm one of them take this seriously. massachusetts law prohibits carrying an animal on top of car, even in a kennel as cruel and inhumane. >> i wasn't familiar with that. in terms of massachusetts law. love my dog. we've had a lot of dogs over the years. love them. seamus climbed up there all by himself. joined his ride. whether in the back of the
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pickup truck or the rooftop carrier, it was a good ride. and all i can tell you is, i didn't know there was any problem with that in terms of the law. >> i'm glad that fox host chris wallace asked romney about that when the story first came out. so we were able to get mr. romney on the record about it. i think mr. wallace at fox is usually pretty good with follow-up questions with politicians. he did not, however, ask the obvious follow-up at this point in the interview. >> this is a completely airtight kennel mounted on the top of our car. he climbed up there regularly. enjoyed himself. >> enjoyed himself. he later said he enjoyed his ride. enjoyed his ride. remember, though. the story that had just broken in the boston globe. the story that prompted his question to mr. romney in the first place was that seamus, however much he usually enjoy d himself on other occasions, on that 12-hour ride to canada was not enjoying himself. the whole point was that the dog
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was in very, very evident gastrointestinal distress. the brown liquid thing. the reporter from the boston globe who described the story in 2007, did not write about this incident again for four and a half years after he wrote the original story. he finally broke his silence and wrote about it again for the first time this week. you can tell that he's somewhat reluctantly back to this subject. but he knows even as he criticizes some people for exaggerating the story or embellishing the story. he says people have questioned his reporting inappropriately. he thinks one part is important. he says to me romney's critics have focused on the wrong part. it's not a that romney put his dog on the roof. i'll take it at his word that he loved his rides.
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what is beyond debate, though, is that this far into this particular trip, seamus had ceased enjoying his ride. this would be the gross part of the story. faced with such irrefutable evidence, most people would have relented and let the ailing dog cram into the back of the wagon. right. even if you're okay with the dog being strapped to the roof of the car. once the dog has been up there for hours and is sick, once he is ailing, you take a hose to him and put him back up there and keep driving with him still strapped to the roof of the car for more hours. you remember rick santorum's google problem. he famously said same-sex relation shapes were akin to man on dog relationship ls. proponents google bombed him. they redefined his last name as a term and pushed the redefinition to the top of his google search results via a website called spreading
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spreadingsantorum.com. there's now a spreadingromney.com website about poor seamus. it describes romney as a verb. which means, well, you can see it here. the word terror is a hyperlink to the story about him strapping his dog to the roof of the car and mr. romney hosing off the dog and strapping the dog back to the roof of the car for more hours of driving. this incident happened in 1983. it has been around in the public record since 2007. as mr. romney's political fortunes have risen, the story has received more and more attention. this week the newt gingrich campaign, not some pac vaguely related to newt gingrich, but the newt gingrich for president campaign put up this web ad which features footage of chris wallace asking mitt romney about the dog amid a number of other mitt romney gaffes for the campaign trail.
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the title of the web ad is for the dogs. they have also created an official website called pets with newt where people take pictures of they beloved animals, and i guess they describe their animals as newt gingrich supporters. a little weird. but it exists. mr. gingrich's spokesman asked if the campaign did the pets with newt to create a contrast with what we know about mitt romney and pets. the gingrich campaign said i will neither confirm nor deny that that is why pets with newt were launched. there's also what appears to be a grass roots website called dogs against romney. they refer to the seamus incident as crate gate. never forget crate gate, dogs against romney. or this one with the tough looking dog. the overall deal is rom flee is
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unfit to be president because of the way he treated his dog. look at this. hi, i'm rusty. mitt romney is mean to dogs. the t-shirts hit the mitt romney is mean theme over and over again. this one just says it. mitt is mean. dogsagainstromney.com. whether or not the seamus story -- oh, seamus -- whether or not the seamus story moves you, the reason this story has some political energy behind it, the reason this story has -- forgive me -- legs, is because the idea of a presidential candidate as mean and cold and unfeeling can be defining as a framework in the presidential election. we had an economic recession and when -- no matter what else was going on in the country frankly economic pain was the defining feature of the election. it was the most important thing in the country.
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one of the candidates for president who was from humble beginnings himself. he had an incredible gift for demonstrating his empathy towards people who were hurting. he was the "i feel your pain" guy. that was a very real thing. in contrast to the other candidate who had been a rich guy his whole life. whether or not it was why, he just seemed to have a tennier when it came to relating to people. particularly on the issue of money and poverty. just as a snapshot from that race. this is just a squim from one of the debates that took place during the campaign. watch how george h.w. bush and bill clinton each respond to a question about how they've been personally affected by the economic pain in the country. first here's president bush. >> we have a question right here. here. >> how has national debt personally affected each of your lives, and if it hasn't, how can you honestly find a cure for the economic problems of the common
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people if you have no experience in what's ailing them. >> i think the national debt affects everybody. obviously it has a lot to do with interest rates. >> she's saying you. >> on a personal basis, how has it affected you? >> has it affected you personally. >> i'm sure it has. i love my grandchildren. >> how? >> i want to think they're going to be able to afford an education. i think that's an important part of being a parent. i don't want to get it wrong. are you suggesting if somebody has mean has the national debt doesn't affect them? i'm not sure -- help me with the question and i'll try to answer it. >> in fairness, the woman in the audience probably meant, how are you affected by the recession as opposed to the national debt. but the response there from president bush was not exactly "i feel your pain" stuff. whatever she was trying to communicate, he did not get it. in contrast, here was bill clinton's answer to the same
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woman right immediately after that. >> i've been governor of a small state for 12 years. i'll tell you how it's affected me. in my state when people lose their jobs there's a good chance i'll know them by their names. when a factory closes, i know the people who ran it. when the businesses go bankrupt, i know them. i've been out here for 13 months meeting citizens just like this ever since october with people like you all over america. people that have lost their jobs, lost their livelihood, lost their health insurance. what i want you to understand the national debt is not the only cause of that. it's because america has not invested in its people. it's because we have not grown. it's because we've had 12 years of trickle down economics. >> mr. clinton went on and on in that vein, but that's sort of how it's done. the perception of george herbert walker bush as patrician and cold and out of touch was partly stuff that he did, like flunking that question in that debate. it was partly who he was and how who he was showed up on the campaign trail.
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>> the president got a chance to see a supermarket checkout scanner in action. seems that he hadn't seen one of those. >> the president said he was amazed. to this day don't you wonder if any member of the bush family has ever bought groceries for him or herself? do they all try to do that now so they don't get trapped the same way he did? this year the role of incumbent is reversed. but the likely challenger this time around is the patrician silver spoon guy. the guy who has to worry about coming about out of touch. as cold an unfeeling during a time of economic pain. in a speech by the chief economist he doubled down on economic empathy. they're putting income inequality and the good fortunes of the rich not translating to good fortune for the rest of the country. they're putting that right at
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the center of the president's re-election campaign, where it looks like it will remain until november. meanwhile, over in seamusville, thus far, the response is anybody talking about income equality in the united states is just playing the politics of envy. they're just jealous about how good rich people have it. >> when you say we already have a leader who divides us with envy. do you suggest that anyone who questions the policies and practices of wall street and financial institutions, anyone who has questions about the distribution of wealth and power in this country is envious? is it about jealousy? or is it about fairness? >> you know, i think it's about envy. everywhere we go or he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and wall street. it's a very envy oriented, attack oriented approach. >> this is the intangible that can define a presidential campaign.
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is america just jealous of mitt romney? does the whole country really just want to be like him? or do we look at him and his life and say, wow, not me, no. i can't imagine ever doing that. no. never. joining us now is steve cornaki. steve, thanks for joining us. >> i'm here as the senior dog defecation analyst, too. >> it's like the dog story gets shorthanded as mitt romney put the dog on the roof of his car. not the point of the story. tough get to the gruesome details before you get why it might reflect on him as a guy. i've been putting off doing that for a long time. sort of feel like, got to do it. looking back at 1992. incumbent president running for re-election during a recession, george h.w. bush versus bill clinton. are there parallels? >> you're right. part of it is bush couldn't help himself. part of it is who he was. it's also because of who he was
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and because how deeply engrained in the public's consciousness that was, innocent innocuous things he did would reinforce the image. the same debate when he looked at his watch. i can naj the same debate if bill clinton glanced at his watch, nobody would have noticed, but when george bush did, it became one of the headlines that came out of the debate. there's bill clinton feeling everybody's pain. there's george bush who can't wait to get the heck out of there. can't understand why these people are so upset at him. so it creates a problem for a guy like romney. too. there's a picture of the shoe shine on the tarmac. i don't know if you saw this one. he's sitting in front of an airplane. here's wearing a suit and he's getting a shoe shine. >> he's not shining his own shoes? >> no, he's getting a shoe shine. we put this on salon earlier today. i'm not sure where it
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originated. but it never looks good for a politician to be getting a shoe sign on a tarmac. but it looks terrible when it's mitt romney and this is your image and background. it looks worse when it's if year 2012 and the economy is in such a bad place, and the democrats are going to be going after your party for being the one who favors the people who gets shoe shines on tarmacs. >> drumming down on that, though, what is the image that he creates? what is the image that a candidate like bill clinton wouldn't create but poppy bush or mitt romney does. i don't think it's a problem that the guy has money. americans don't particularly dislike people who have money. there's something about it, though, that is, the guy who has money who also appears to not know what it is to enjoy the trappings of not having money. am i getting close to it? >> you look at george bush senior's life, he couldn't help himself. he's going to have the
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aristocratic bearing. part of it is, took into consideration is the charge from democrats will be he represents a party, he represents a philosophy trying to protect the money, the elite in the country. it's very tough to sort of defense against that when you embody it. if you look at the platforms of the candidates, they're no different than romney when it comes to questions of inequality and class. romney is slightly less hostile than the middle class. romney said, no, i don't want to go that far. he's more moderate. but he has the image problem that reinforces where the party is. i think of chris christie. he has the same views as mitt romney, but he wouldn't face the questions if he was the republican candidate because he exudes middle class values. romney exudes 1% values. >> if that's the dynamic, what do you make of the defense that you're just jealous.
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you're just envious? >> could say that if you're mitt romney. maybe he meant it that way. but it's going to be taken that way. multiply that by here we are in january. if he's the nominee, we're going to do this through november in a climate where this country is talking about economic inequality and class. and this guy has the tendencies. i still think he's the strongest candidate. but this is a serious flaw. >> political news editor at salon.com. i'm sorry i made you sit through the dog poop stuff. >> i learned something about it. >> now we have to bleach our minds to make it go away. michael hastings is here tonight for the interview. stephen colbert isedly running for president now. that's just broken tonight. also, i think cnn is doing the rick perry campaign a weird favor. and i'm not exactly understanding why they are doing that. but i think they're doing it. [ male announcer ] new vicks nature fusion cold & flu syrup.
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stephen colbert of comedy central may be running for president. he's tweeting after the colbert report and the daily show taped that stephen colbert is transfer transferring his super pac to jon stewart and exforming his own exploratory committee for president. we do know that he's already out
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polling jon huntsman, former governor of utah, in south carolina among republican voters there. i guess this means if you thought the race this year was already good, it's getting better.
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the south carolina primary is saturday. the 21st of january. two days before that primary, cnn is hosting a debate for the presidential candidates.
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will texas governor rick perry be allowed into that debate? on the surface it appears he does not qualify. to qualify for the debate here's what cnn says you have to do. you need to either place in the top four in iowa or new hampshire. there's no question that rick perry didn't do that. he was fifth in iowa. he was sixth in new hampshire. but cnn says you either need a first, second, third or fourth in iowa or new hampshire to qualify to be in the debate. or you can get in if you have an average of 7% in at least three national or three south carolina polls released this month. rick perry also does not seem to have that. nonetheless, cnn told talking points memo yesterday that rick perry can still be in the debate. really? is cnn changing debate rules so rick perry can be in the debate? at first glass it seems like they are. they say no. they are not changing the rules for rick perry. they're just looking at his pull numbers in a very creative way. the deal is he needs an average of 7% of three polls. all right.
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so three polls. averaged together they have to come up to 7%. they have to all be polls from january. either from south carolina or polls for the whole country. rick perry is at 5 % in the insider advantage poll. he's at 5% in the cnn poll out last week. any three average out to 5%. because they're all 5 pk. in south carolina rick perry is mr. 5%. so how about the national polls? in the national polls, he's again 5%. in this week's gallup poll he's at 6% in both the cbs poll and pew research poll over the
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weekend. in the poll out last week he's even worse at 4%. putting together his three best of those results, still the most generous average he gets doesn't cut it. less than 7%. 7% is the cut off. cnn has a take on it that's very generous to rick perry. cnn says, yeah, you only got 6% in the poll. but if you look at a different part of the poll, not reported at a result. not the one everyone reported as the important thing, but if you look at a different section of the raw polling data, there was a different way of asking the presidential preference question that did result in rick perry getting 7% instead of six. if you balance that very raw data result with an earlier
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gallup tracking poll, and then you average those against the one poll where he did get seven. you can get three sort of polls at 7%. joining me now is felicia felicia seungmess. thank you for being with us. >> thank you for having me, rachel.
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>> rick perry, as i tried to explain is already not polling terribly well in south carolina. he's really borderline for making it into the cnn debate. how important is the loss of this south carolina donor for mr. perry at this point? >> it's a pretty significant loss, rachel. it could be a significant turning point for the campaign. he's pretty much having the air waves open to himself. in that span of time, $2 million has been spent on his behalf. he's seen polling numbers go down back to 5% now since november. so there's not much further down you can go. yet today we saw this supporter as well as two other major donors to his campaign have not only left, but went over to mitt romney. it's a big blow to him. it's pretty hard to see how he's able to recover from this. and this debate performance last week could make things worse for him based on his previous performance ls.
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>> this isn't all decided at once. it isn't all decided in the country. it's decided state by state. but rick perry has been advertising the heck out of south carolina. but yet it hasn't translated into numbers. national dynamics are influencing the elector rat more than state specific targeting they ma be getting from campaigns? >> sure. they're looking at rick perry and seeing the performance he put in. it's not something that inspired a lot of confidence in his campaign. what's interesting now is the attacks that you're seeing both rick perry and newt gingrich a lot are considered beyond the pale. jim demint, popular conservative in south carolina, one of the
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most popular ones in the whole state is coming to mitt romney eel defense on this. that will be hard for the other candidates to overcome. it reminded me of the 2008 primary when he was making attacks against barack obama at the time. a lot of democrats, jim cleburne in south carolina came out and told him he needed to cut it out. i think you're seeing the same reaction among republicans to rick perry and newt gingrich. both nationally and within south carolina. carolina. >> we talk about this stuff all yearlong. the stuff we've been talking about all year, you finally see it happen. people in movement politics talk about the elites. about the establishment people that might be good for the next election but don't reflect the party's principles. it gets talked all yearlong. nights like this you see it overtly in action.
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are you seeing any sort of meaningful, powerful insurgency against the elites of the republican party who seem to be settling on romney and counting out specific attacks against him? >> it's fascinating. comparing the race now in 2012 versus where the republican party was in november of 2010. back then you saw a ton of tea party fueled insurgencies and candidates never involved in politics before. businessmen such as ron johnson in wisconsin. overwhelmingly getting voters to go to the polls for them. this time around you're not quite seeing that. in new hampshire, polls showed that the number of voters in the republican party primary who were supporting the tea party had dropped ten points. you're seeing the same elites that a lot of the members were revolting against. and a candidate like mitt romney who might have been the last
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person you would imagine to capture his nomination seems well on his way to a win. >> all the sound and fury about the insurgency. turns out when it counts, it signifies nothing. felicia of the "washington post." it's really nice to have you on the show. thank you for be with us. >> michael hastings is still ahead for the interview. his new book is one of the best nonfiction books i have read in a really long. it's exciting that he's here. stay with us. [ male announcer ] what makes you trust a company? wait -- scratch that -- what makes you trust a car insurance company? a talking animal? a talking character?
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vu you bleached your mind yet from the image of mitt romney's dog? i'm still sorry about that. i promise from here on out at least for tonight's show. no more gastrointestinal distress and its fluids on the rachel maddow show. in discussing mr. romney's potential image problem as a man of privilege, we did not show this picture, but our guest described this picture, which
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has been circulating heavily on the internet today. he described it as showing mr. romney sitting on a tarmac appearing to getting his shoes signed. i had not seen this picture before the guest mentioned it. but it have been everywhere today. this is not a picture of mitt romney getting his shoes signed. the ca photographed at an airport in san diego in 2008 shows mr. romney being wanded as part of getting cleared by security. or he may be sitting in front of a private jet, which is not how most people get security screened, but still, it's a picture of him being screened, not a picture of him having his shoes shined. we'll be right back.
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the last american president to relieve his top military commander inned the middle of a war was harry truman who fired douglas mcarthur in the midst of the korean war. president truman explains i
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fired him because he wouldn't respect the authority of the president. i didn't fire him because a dumb son of a [ bleep ], although he was. but that's not against the law for generals. if it was half to three quarters of them would be in jail. so 1951 was the last time a commanding general got himself fired in wartime. it was the last time before barack obama became president. whereupon that same thing has since happened twice. the young reporter whose article led to president obama firing celebrity general stanley mcchrystal will join us next. [ female announcer ] eyes feeling overworked? discover visine® tired eye relief with hydroblend™, only from visine®. just one drop instantly soothes and revives tired, overworked eyes. and comforts them for up to ten hours. visine® tired eye relief. try now and save $3. [ male announcer ] that onion after taste after you again? new crest complete with scope dual blast technology blasts away bad breath germs and food after tastes. new crest complete with scope dual blast. blast your way to fresh breath.
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in the summer of 2010, less than two years into the obama presidency, rolling stone published the runaway general. a no bleeps, no holds barred account of a young but experienced war correspondent hanging out with the commanding general for the u.s. war in afghanistan. while the general and his top aides aides went through europe, supposedly encouraging them to do more for the afghan fight. they were quoted talking smack at president obama. talking smack about vice president biden. talking smack about the plitig envoy. talking smack about the american ambassador to afghanistan. they got really drunk. they swore. they derided what it was they were working on on behalf of the u.s. military and the the country. and it all ended up, all of it, words and all, in "rolling stone." the response was swift and certain. >> today i accepted general
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stanley mcchrystal's resignation at the commander of the international security force. the conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. it undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system. that point the president just made about undermining civilian control of the military, that pointed up getting lost in the drama of a president firing a wartime commanding general. especially a wartime commanding general as famous as stan mcchrystal was. but that point was key to what michael hastings reported in "rolling stone." a celebrity general and his hand picked general just dripping with contempt for the civilians who supposedly decide what the u.s. military does. that was one of, i think, two key insights that michael hastings brought back from his mcchrystal reporting and from
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his war reporting. the other key insight he brought back is about what we're doing in afghanistan anyway. stanley mcchrystal was not just a celebrity general. his celebrity was based on how he embodied the military's new way of doing things. do anything, be everything. never leave doctrine that has kind of a liberal elegance to it that tends to shut up its natural critics. as it justifies calls for tens if not hundreds of thousands ofs staying in places like afghanistan for decades. now 18 months after the runaway general confrontation, general stanley mcchrystal runs a consulting company and teaching the other celebrity general of the post 9/11 wars, david petraeus is now out of uniform. he's running the cia. this document is busted down to number nine. ninth on the army's list of stated priorities. the balance of power between the pentagon and the political
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leaders appears to be tilting toward civilian control. twice as many americans have died in afghanistan under president obama as died there under president bush. and today the new national intelligence estimate on the war in afghanistan leaked to the los angeles times. the l.a. times reporting this year's review of the war is as bad as last year's review of the war. sort of a stalemate. not getting better. no prospects for getting better. true to form the pentagon reacted by saying there things are much better than that. top brass filing a decent to the and according to the l.a. times today. but are the brass in a position to get what they want? if what they want conflicts with what our civilian government wants? are we still, as a country, beholden to the operators? which is how michael hastings has titled his great new book. "the operators: the wild and terrifying inside story of the war in afghanistan."
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michael, congratulations on the book. it's great. >> thanks for having me. appreciate it. >> that's how i see the two key insights of your book and of your reporting for rolling stone that weren't about mcchrystal as a person. counter insurgency as sort of a problem. >> i think those are the two main points. the original article was the runaway general. the book is the runaway military. besides the crazy one-month boozy wild maniac killers running around europe and in kandahar and afghanistan, i feel i'm trying to give an insight into the people after ten years of work who ended up running this thing. so that's very important. but, yes, the white house's struggle with the pentagon and president obama is trying to regain control of the don't. it's one of the major themes. and coins on the outs. at least the pentagon is reading my material. they finally came around.
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it only took them a coup ol f years. i've been saying this for years now. >> i'm struck by -- and i don't think i thought about it until i read the book. that america has this long history of celebrity generals. right? george patton, colin powell, stanley mcchrystal and david petraeus is the biggest names of the post- 9/11 wars. now there are new celebrity generals. is that on accident or do you think it's on purpose? >> i wonder if president obama did this by design or if it sort of happened this way in his quest to regain control of the pentagon. petraeus has been defrauded. he's at cia. general mcchrystal -- who is running the war in afghanistan now? you probably know. but some guy named john allen. none of the other generals -- there's no big-time general that can threaten the president's command. >> are you troubled -- not ambivalence but the way that generals do pr. describe the problems with civil
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affairs as a struggle in the military. and also the sort of weirdness about generals picking up civilian pr pros to essentially as famous people. do you have mixed feelings about that? was i reading that right? >> i think we're using taxpayer dollars to give generals their sort of personal pr team. and what are they doing with the media influence? they are using it to push their own agenda and policy. david petraeus sort of pioneered this message. you get a fan base in the media. therefore, you can bypass the traditional chain of command. by the way, this is the book to read for petraeus opposition research. this is the one that they are going to go to. >> general petraeus' name floated today about presidential picks. >> and the white house was
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worried about that. this plays again into the tense things that we're talking about. back to the pr point, the pentagon spent some $4 billion a year on broadly speaking border relations. how many are there in a good month? probably much lower than that. how many reporters are there in the press corps? there's this total imbalance and the tremendous amount of resources that the pentagon has to shape the message. the new york times bureau is not $4 billion. it wouldn't even come close to what the pentagon is spending on this message. >> have you paid a professional cost for what you did in the run away general? how have you been able to get to talk to people on the record after that? >> i've been able to do a bunch of pretty interesting stories and then people will talk. i was banned sort of de facto banned into my reporting.
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the kind of cover story of the investigations were that to find out the wrongdoing that the generals in the pentagon were up to but in fact the real intent was to try to damage "rolling stone's" credibility. but i think what i've tried to demonstrate and without seeming like too much of a jerk is that does this kind of reporting. like if you're a young reporter out there, you can do this kind of reporting. you can be uncompromising and hard hitting and fair and accurate and honest and you can still -- people will pick up the phone again. >> yeah. fair and accurate and honest being key because you will attack them with everything you've got and you will be absolutely right and cross every t and dot every i. >> bombs away. this is the joy of reporting. i mean, the stakes are so high. >> yeah. >> and the challenge that i face with writing about this and that
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i face with writing about these issues all the time is how do you get the reader to actually read about afghanistan or iraq. and in this case i did it in a way that i hoped was sort of entertaining and kind of smart alicky and dead serious. >> let me ask you about that. you describe something that almost -- that very rarely gets described in reporting about afghanistan. a little bit about iraq but not afghanistan. you describe being with a group of reporters in afghanistan who you describe as borderline mutanist and that's mcchrystal not getting that and playing as part of pr. is there a broader story to be told about morale of the troops in the war? >> i think there is. i mean, we saw this horrible video that just came out with the soldiers urinating on the -- >> the corpses. >> the corpses. there certainly was at that time when i was with that unit, like the lowest morale that i've
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seen. it reminded me of baghdad 2006 when everyone just didn't believe in the mission and one of the problems with morale is that essentially the war is over. in a strange way, when president obama continuously says the tide of war is receding, we're leaving, it's just now a glide path that is going to play out and that might be dispiriting for a soldier on the ground saying no one is really caring, no one is paying attention and at the end of the day we're going to be left with some sort of mess that we can call victory but no one's buying it. >> well caring about it and paying attention to it is something that we as citizens are depending on them being good and well-written reporting on it and you are doing it and you're my friend so i might blow a little smoke at you if i didn't believe this but i'm not smoking at all to say this is one of the best books i have read in more than the past year. congratulations on it. thanks so much. >> thanks.
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really appreciate it. >> michael hastings new book is called "the operators" and it is really good and it has a lot of "f" words in it. right after this show, on the last word, lawrence's guest is fred armadsen with lawrence and with my friend envy. we'll be right back.
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updating our breaking news, steven colbert will reportedly announce on his show tonight that he is forming an ex pla tore committee as part of a presidential run. at least one poll of his state has him at 5% among republican voters which would put him ahead of jon huntsman who is definitely running for president and who has been running for a

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