tv Morning Joe MSNBC August 27, 2018 3:00am-6:00am PDT
obviously crickets from the white house. that will be one. are there more developments in the mueller investigation? remember, he said he probably -- most people think he won't do anything two months before the election. if we're going to hear something from him, we would hear something soon. >> we'll see you at the end of the week and check if you got any of those predictions right. always appreciate your insight. we'll read axios am in just a bit. sign up to for the newsletter you at home. that does it for me. "morning joe," everyone, starts right now. senator john mccain of arizona, very good to have you on the show this morning, sir. >> thank you. >> i'm one of the few who gets up early. >> i have to get my blood going in the morning. >> i confess i watch you all the time. >> can i say, congratulations to
you and joe. i'm really pleased that joe has found someone that loves him as much as he does. i'm very pleased. the question was that a lot of us had -- get that, david. >> the phone is ringing. >> four years later -- >> first of all, let me ask you, how is -- >> keep it up. i hope i'm not on your program soon. >> are you still freezing your ass off is the question? >> thank you so much. >> cue the music. >> thank you for your honesty and thank you for your strength at a time when this republic needs it the most. i thank you. hopefully it's not too late. >> exactly. senator john mccain. >> oh, my god, this morning john mccain, his humor, his leadership and his life time of
service to the united states of america, a country that the senator said he learned to love while being a prisoner in another country. welcome to "morning joe," on this monday, august 27th. and we brought in a lot of people to talk about the legacy and life of senator john mccain. msnbc contributor mike barnacle, richard haass, andrea mitchell, katty kay and historian and the author of "soul of the america," jon meacham. mika has the morning off. willie will also be back later this week. and there's so many -- jon meacham, you go through all the paradoxes, all the conflicts
that are internal to the united states of america and its greatness and you talk about always arking towards ever upward in our trajectory of the civilization. john mccain had some conflicts, he had some contradictions, he had sharp edges, he had sharp elbows, yet in all of my years dealing with the man, it made me love him even more. even when i knew at times when he loathed me, he was a straight shooter. he spoke his mind. and he was exactly what america needed, not only in the 1960s in vietnam, the courage that he showed, the extraordinary strength he showed, but also in the age of trump. a man who just didn't give a damn about an errant tweet from a blustery president because he
had already been through hell and back and he could put up with it. >> absolutely. as the greeks said, character is destiny and his character, as a young man, both before his captivity and afterward were those salient elements that you just described. he's a young man who i think graduated fifth from the bottom of his class at annapolis and i think as he once put it rarely met members of the opposite sex or fermented liquid that he did not enjoy, i think was one way he framed it. and then he's tempered and shaped in that calderon of captivity in vietnam and emerges as at once reverent about america and irreverent about himself. and that is a powerful combination. and i think that we all
benefitted from it. he called them as he saw them. he defies, categorization and i think one of the reasons so many people have been so affected by this is we realize that in this tribal moment we've lost someone who was willing to look at an issue, look at a question and just tell you what he thought damn the consequences. and that's what john mccain offered. >> yeah. he certainly did. mike, very few would have guessed that john mccain would have served his country and become really the most prominent american public figure of the past 50 years that didn't serve as president from that start that jon meacham said he was always filled with surprises. he wasn't considered to be a serious student. and, you know, he went through
pensacola, everybody had a story about john mccain crawling on to their porch in the middle of the night and leaving their porch in the early morning while he was in flight training. or the time just -- but it's so fascinating that he was seen as this party boy. then he goes to vietnam. he gets shot down. he's given an opportunity to leave because they find out, oh my god, this p.o.w.'s father is one of the top admirals. we'll let him go. mccain refuses to go. he stays with his band of brothers while he's getting beaten unmercifully to a point that he'll never be able to raise his arms over his shoulders for the rest of his life. character that no one saw
coming. character like we see so rarely today. >> joe, and character just rooted in cement. his life was not perfect. he didn't lead his life perfectly, but his life was truly important and his time in captivity, as you just spoke to, as jon meacham just spoke to, i think he always had the feeling that now he has a second chance. he had a second chance at american life. he took advantage of it every single second after his return to this country. he was a uniquely human figure. over the past 25 years, and i was going through all the clips this weekend where he and i were together, where i had written about him, i once asked him again about his captivity. how long did you ever go without seeing the sun? and he said, the longest that i can remember going without
seeing the sun was about four months. then he paused. and he added, but i remember one time when they took me out of my cell for a nighttime interrogation and it struck me that it had been three years since i saw the moon. that's the foundation of the man we lost. character, courage, commitment to this country, all of it absorbed in his cell, much in the course of the five and a half years he spent alone. he was uniquely a solely human being. we won't see his like for many, many years if ever. >> no. and you know, andrea, he was so unique. and he was human. when i got up to washington the
first time, i was struck by when i talked about john mccain and what a great american hero he was, i was struck by the sneers. yeah, you haven't dealt with him yet in committee. yeah, you haven't had him kill your bill. and i heard to a person john mccain had sharp elbows. he was tough. he was a maverick. he was an outsider. he was a guy that wasn't going to go along to get along. and yet when somebody needed help, when somebody's back was to the wall, they immediately knew to go to john mccain because this was a guy that you wanted to be in the fox hole with you, whether it was at war or in peace or in committee fighting for something that you believed would make america a better place. >> absolutely. those sharp elbows were part of
the character that made him so unique and why we are feeling the gut punch of his loss so deeply because there is no one else in the senate certainly, no one else who would ignore the protocols and the niceties and say what he thinks. and that cranky soul that we all got to know and were occasionally chastised by. one of the most great parts of his character is the way he grew and changed and reached not just across the aisle but across a huge gulf. and i am really struck by what i was covering back in the '90s, which was the growing relationship when i was covering the senate between john kerry and john mccain not likely partners on anything when they first joined hands on that p.o.w., m.i.a. commission in '90/'91 in the senate and then
decided on a long flight to kuwait that year to join together across their divide over vietnam and make peace, help bill clinton eventually in '95. but it was a long process. it ended along the way with them going together in '93 to the hanoi hilton and john kerry going to the cell with him and listening. listening to john mccain and beginning to understand. and then together they gave political cover to an accused draft dodger back in the day when that almost derailed his campaign in the primary in 1992 that was such a big gesture. i can't even imagine what it took for john mccain to stand up for bill clinton in 1993 when he was under fire and help him satisfy the joint chiefs and satisfy all the veterans groups
who were out there. i was there on memorial day in '93 and bill clinton was being screwed down by groups. and two years later, he was able to normalize relations with vietnam. >> yeah. unbelievable. and you talked about john mccain chastising all of us from time to time. i remember him telling mike barnacle after mike had said, hey, i hear they sunk the forest stall to create a reef. his response was, yeah, it's a shame they didn't chain joe to the deck. that's the chastising john was comfortable doing. again, mike, when push came to shove, though, especially after 2017 and donald trump getting elected, mccain was the one
voice that everybody knew would continue to talk straight no matter what. again, he didn't care about donald trump's errant tweets or his insults. and by the way, he didn't care what donald trump had been saying over the past six months, i'm sure because he had been through so much more. and he was just tough to the core. >> yes, he was, joe. one correction, it was the ariscanny that was sunk off the coast of pennsylvania. but you're right. and the thing about it, richard, is over the weekend there have been reports that president trump nixed the idea of an official statement and instead tweeted something about the family without mentioning senator mccain specifically. he signed the defense appropriations bill named after john mccain last week without
mentioning him specifically. i think it's a measure of john mccain and his role and his s t stature in american life, you cannot compare or contrast the size of both men. the president of the united states, so small, senator mccain, so huge in our lives and now in our memories. >> two reactions. one is, when ever you act small, the only person who gets diminished is yourself. and the president accomplished that in spades this weekend. it was a moment for graciousness, a moment to reach out and he didn't. it's a stain on his character. senator mccain, i've known him for decades. two things. one is he's a throwback. he's a republican hanging out with democrats. he's a politician who says unpolitical things is a
remindment when we had real people walking the halls of the senate, standing in stature. he is one of the guys we grew up. there's not a lot of them anymore. john mccain was one of them. it's interesting to see the european and international reaction. macron reaching out to say things. he was one of the leading advocates of nato enlargement, of reaching out to these independent states of basically saying american foreign policy as to be about strategy and values and principle and democracy. >> it is striking the statements you mentioned macron from germany and great britney and nothing from the oval office really. >> no. just when you think you lost the ability to shake your head anymore, things like this happen. and basically you can't believe what it is you're seeing, or in
this case you're not seeing. >> it's very interesting you see the comments from justin trudeau talking about senator john mccain being an american patriot and life time of public service were an inspiration to millions. canadians join americans tonight in celebrating his life and mourning his passing. and of course, justin trudeau and canadians join americans, except of course for donald trump. some members of my former party who have just acted abhorrently in the time of john mccain's death, so abhorrently that i don't want to even mention their name on this show because they are beneath contempt and you really do at the end of the day you wonder who raised them.
and what are those people thinking of them now that they would kick around a man in his last 24 to 48 hours while he was dying. but, speaking of character, i wanted to read you a tweet from general michael hayden, who talked about john mccain's character and general hayden and john mccain were not on the same side on many things. and of course john mccain especially talked about when we talked about values, he talked about what america should and shouldn't do at war. he's talking about water boarding, torture, of course. we all remember that. and we had some cross words about that ourselves, but general michael hayden said while i was at the c.i.a., senator john mccain ripped me a new one on several occasions, but not once did he think i
shouldn't have a security clearance. go figure. rest in peace, american hero. and i think that's the greatest legacy that here you have some of the most liberal candidates in america right now who represent the far progressive left remembering john mccain positively. you have michael hayden and others who john mccain ripped to shreds because of policy differences, coming out, calling him an american hero. this is a man that people loved and respected and admired, even after engaging in the toughest of political fights because they knew that it was coming from his heart and not talk cheap, political gain. >> yeah, joe. you have to wonder if you want people down in arizona.
or those who have spoken out against john mccain, whether they don't realize they're on the wrong side of history in this one as they see this huge outpouring of respect for john mccain's courage, not just from americans, as you mentioned, but from right around the world. as the world sits at this moment and wonders where american leadership is going and what america's role is going to be in the world and whether universal values are going to be upheld, john mccain stood for that. i think part of the reason that you've seen this outpouring from canada, from europe, from as far away as australia is this fear that we are losing the united states at the moment in the sense that america is going to lead on those values and stand up for what is right and john mccain always did that. a month into donald trump's presidency, john mccain stood up in mu munich and warned people against resentment of refugees
and immigrants and even muslims and spoke about the need for the kind of values that have got us through the cold war. that is the america that the rest of the world still wants to hear from. that is the america that john mccain right up until the end was saying is still with you. don't give up on america. don't give up on that america. and yet we watched the direction of this white house. i think part of the reason you're seeing this global outpouring of concern today and loss is not just john mccain, it's what john mccain stood for. >> well, and what he stood for not only for this country but also what he tried to stand for for the republican party. the party that abraham lincoln. i found this quote this weekend that about what john mccain said after the republican national convention. and donald trump's very public fight with the khan family. it is time for donald trump to set an example for our country and the future of the republican party. our party bestowed upon him the
nomination, it is not accompanied by unfeddered license to defend those who are the best among us. again, jon meacham, talking about the khan family, gold star parents and their son who gave all for this country. mccain, put it in perspective for us, if you will. when bobby kennedy -- we just remember the 50th anniversary of bobby kennedy's passing. and obviously he was the most significant person of his time not to be a president since john mccain, like alexander hamilton at the beginning of the republic. again, it's hard to think of many people over the past half century that had more of an impact and public life that was not a president. >> it's true. hamilton is a great example. daniel webster who articulated a
vision of the american union. henry clay who patched together important compromises if ultimately flawed in the middle of the 19th century. you go into john foster dulles, james baker in our time is an incredibly talented public servant who was never president. they're statesmen. there's people who love the country. you led with i think one of the great mccain insights, which is i fell in love with my country when i was a prisoner in someone else's. and i've always been incredibly struck by that. when you think of what your reaction coming out of that cell and the way mike so wonderfully talked about it. the idea that you would actually fall more in love with the country which had consigned you to this unimaginable for so many
of us experience. and i think that's part of the reason for this reaction is we honor that service and i think all of us wonder what would we do if we were shot down out of the sky over enemy territory and found ourselves in captivity without doctors, where the only entertainment was mccain once had to steal a bible, copy down some passages in order to memorize them and read them. he was the chaplain in the cell. he would repeat the episcopal litergy that he had learned in alexandria. he used to act out movies that they could remember. mccain remembered how when there was a new prisoner, they were sort of secretly happy about it in some ways because at least they could find out there were some new movies and they would
have a little bit more to go. one last thing, we see mccain, we do see this emblem of tran sen dents and candor in public life. i was just thinking over the weekend, there's a moment at a very dark hour in george h.w. bush's presidential diary. he just lost the presidency to bill clinton. he's gone up to capitol hill for a dinner. he's in a state, as you can imagine, having lost the presidency to this draft dodger as he called him in the diary. and he's going through the receiving line at a senate dinner, and john mccain appears. and bush starts to cry. shakes his hand, apologized to mccain. mccain moves on. president bush finishes the dinner, goes back to the white house, but the image of john mccain is right in his mind. so he gets up, he wakes barbara up. he gets the secret service to
drive them over to the vietnam memorial late at night where it's veteran's day. so they're reading the names of the fallen. and without publicity, the president of the united states, the defeated president of the united states, gets up and reads names of the fallen from that controversial conflict. and it was all because john mccain reminded him of what service was. and i think that's why we're reacting the way we are. >> wow. still ahead, this morning on "morning joe," the legacy of john mccain will forever be tied to america's foreign policy. right now we're facing huge challenges on the world stage. we're going to be talking about new developments in one of the hottest flash points, north korea. we have andrea mitchell with us, richard haass and many more straight ahead on "morning joe." i fell in love with my country when i was a prisoner in
someone else's. i loved it not just for the many comforts of life here, i loved it for its decency, for its faith, and the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. i loved it because it was not just a place but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. i was never the same again. i wasn't my own man anymore. i was my country's. country's neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair® works in just one week. with the fastest retinol formula available. it's clinically proven to work on fine lines and wrinkles. one week? that definitely works! rapid wrinkle repair®. and for dark spots, rapid tone repair. neutrogena®. see what's possible. when did you see the sign? when i needed to jumpstart sales. build attendance for an event.
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even though the president and john kerry believe this is not east/west, that this is not the cold war, that's exactly what putin has treated it as and why there's been a fundamental misreading of vladimir putin, his intentions and the things that he will do. didn't we pay attention when vladimir putin said the greatest disaster of the 20th century was the dissolution of the soviet
union? >> that was john mccain on "morning joe" in 2014 warning about what he saw as the obama administration's lax approach to russia. now as you know russia was notably absent from the list of foreign nations and foreign leaders honoring john mccain's record of service, also staying silent, of course, president trump. the only reference mccain's family while posting a picture of himself even after those aides who were closest to him were actually imploring him to say something nice about john mccain in the statement, but he refused. andrea mitchell, john mccain was always tough on russia, always warned of vladimir putin's aggression. perhaps that's yet another reason why donald trump had little use for him? >> and the fact that john mccain has been so consistently tough
on putin, in a way frankly that a lot of his colleagues, in the republican colleagues in the senate have not been. there has been so little action ward off the on going russian interference in our election in the cyberspace. the mccain statements after helsinki also probably his last statements criticizing trump's foreign policy were after helsinki, calling it the most disgraceful performance of an american president. that was so pointed, so descriptive and it was really a touch stone of john mccain to be consistently critical of donald trump on foreign policy in a way that republicans had always been, going back to the cold war and ronald reagan, and it really is quite striking that there is so much waffling on the russian threat right now. >> richard, there was a
consistency. he was critical of barack obama for not being tough enough on russia. at times critical of george w. bush for not being tough enough on russia, but the only difference between mccain's criticisms then and over the past year the then he was joined by fellow republican senators who also saw the importance of holding the line against putin' expansionism. now so many of those republicans grew silent which is why john mccain's voice was all the more necessary in the age of trump. >> in many ways john mccain represents the main tradition of the american foreign policy. as you were suggesting, bizarre, choose whatever word you want about this moment the mainstream has been relegated to being outsiders or a minority, but we have in some ways what i describe as the most radical foreign policy of any american
president now since harry truman. so john mccain was in the truman through reagan through george bush the senior and so forth tradition, very internationalist, supporting allies, working through international institutions, working closest with democratic countries, tough towards russia, slightly about china and suddenly we have something extraordinarily different. and the fact that it stands out is telling. and one of the worrying things the last few years whether it's about foreign policy or anything else is where is the congress? this is supposed to be the classroom of american foreign policy, holding hearings, challenging the president when they disagree, reigning him in, providing resources where they think is necessary and all too often the congress has been missing in action. jon meacham will know this better than anybody, we used to
talk about the concentration of power in the hands of presidency when it comes to foreign policy. guess what, we still got it. and if anything, it's stronger than ever and it's not caused enough people like john mccain challenging the presidential prerogatives when the president was driving the train off the tracks. >> let's go to the white house now, nbc news pent gone correspondent hans nickels is with us, also in washington, retired four-star navy admiral james stavridis, chief international diplomacy analyst for nbc news and msnbc and operating executive at the carlisle group. hans, we'll start with you. give us the news over the weekend regarding north korea. >> yeah. well, there's an incredible shift on friday from the president canceling that trip while mike pompeo was planning to head to north korea. the pentagon didn't have any
advance warning. at least the officials we talked to. so there is big changes going on there. it's uncertain what is driving it. the president blamed china on trade. and then violating the sanctions. there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of evidence that china has ratically changed their behavior in regards to trade with north korea. there may be some softening with a few truck transfers but nothing tech tonic. here at the white house it doesn't appear they're in mourning any longer. i just checked the flag, it's not at half-staffed today. the flag at the white house was lowered yesterday. today it appears to be still up. dawn has just broken. sometimes they bring it down at night, but not if lights on it. and you contrast to congress at capitol hill, it is still at half-staffed. senator john mccain getting half-staffed one day at the white house. joe? >> admiral stravridis, we're pat
being surprised by anything president trump does. before we get into north korea, give us your thoughts on the life and the legacy of a great man. >> huge loss for the nation as we've been discussing, but if i may, an enormous loss for navy. served so bravely in vietnam. what we treasure about john mccain are the memories of him a rebel with a cause. he went over the wall, in other words, went awol than anybody else. he dated more women than anybody else. he was a legend at the naval academy and that legend pulled through to his service, his incredible heroism as you talked about so much.
if i could put it in terms of a compass because in the navy we're always thinking about being at sea, he could look east and west, right? he was someone who could look to the right and the left politically, but he always sailed true north. >> you know what, admiral, i wanted -- reminds me of something that i'm sure you remember the great admiral fedderman. and admiral fedderman after i got elected, he pulled me to the side and was talking about training in naval aviation and he said, boy, i can use a hell of a lot more p.e. majors and a hell of a lot less engineers. it's so interesting. he wanted somebody on the stick that had the instinct, that had the toughness, that wasn't going to always go by the book, that -- and that was john
mccain, wasn't it? >> it absolutely was. of course, nobody knows naval aviation better than the congressman from pensacola where the fabulous museum is. that's really about right. and john mccain always, always flew, he sailed true north. and to the point we were making earlier about russia, he saw vladimir putin so clearly. you'll remember that president bush met with vladimir putin and famously said, hey, i looked in putin's eyes and i saw his soul. we can work with vladimir putin. john mccain was asked, well, what did you see? >> i saw three letters, kgb. that's john mccain. he conveyed that clearly again and again. mccain knew to the last breath he took that vladimir putin was no friend to the united states. why our current president has this blind spot remains a
mystery. >> mike barnacle is with us and has a question about north korea. mike? >> admiral, at his core, mccain despite -- we knew how he was idealogically, sometimes right, sometimes middle, but at his core he was always for the united states of america, clearly and deeply forever. today i'm wondering what do you think would be on his mind with regard to our relationship after a series of what we were fold terrific meetings with north korea. what would he be thinking today? what do you think? >> first of all, i think the president is significantly distracted by domestic events and his own legal struggles, to be honest with you. to the degree he is thinking about north korea, he is hopeful, he is placing a big bet on north korea coming out his way. but at the end of the day, the fundamentals are bad there, mike.
i think the chances of kim jong-un fully, completely, immediately and verifiably giving up his nuclear weapons are roughly the same chances as the mexicans paying for the wall under the new president. so p i think we're going to require a lot of strategic patience. what i believe is we tuought to increase our missile defense and getting prepared because i think it's going to get worse before it gets better. and i hope we can land this diplomatically. it's going to require patience out of people like mike pompeo. i think he's our best bet, not the president of the united states in solving that one. >> admiral, it's andrea mitchell here. to that point, we at the state department were really shocked by what happened last week. on thursday, mike pompeo, a very deliberate man, as you know, came out with his new special envoy for north korea and announced the trip. we had known this trip had been
possible. he formally announced the trip yesterday. he had two very bad conversations with the north, one trip where he went -- the third trip where he went and did not see kim jong-un, then in singapore. more recently, the north korean envoy snubbed him and criticized him right after he left. things have not been going well. but what precipitated this trigger announcement by the president only 24 hours later? pompeo is having lunch with the president when this tweet went snout was there some intelligence that the north is doing something dramatically different? or is the president realizing that he needed a new target, china? >> i'm going to bet on door number two, andrea. pretty clearly as the drum beat
of midterms comes up, what the president is realizing that he's going to get hammered on his statements that the problem has gone away because increasingly the intelligence community is correctly telling us that north korea is simply moving along with their program. no problem. we've really seen this movie before. so i think he's simply trying to take it off the plate of the midterm by saying we're going to take a little pause here. i still have great respect for kim jong-un, really. and that the not going to be a winning strategy. what we need is what mike pompeo -- by the way, steve vegan is a great choice in this role, the two can craft a methodical path to get to a diplomatic landing. but simply checking out of the problem abruptly like that doesn't help us and it is an attempt to throw blame on china, which is being built up to be the scapegoat for the midterms. >> yeah. admiral, i agree with that that
china is being built up as a scapegoat, but hans had it right, there's no change in chinese policy. they like the status quo. they like there to be an agreement. they don't want a war on the peninsula. they don't want a north korea with nuclear weapons. if hans is still here, i don't know if you see any signs that this president and this administration are willing to move away from a kind of we have to have complete denuclearization. in traditional diplomacy, you would be willing to take some kind of interim or half way measures or whether they see that as unacceptable? do you see any signs they would have their own version of an iran agreement with north korea and trapped themselves. >> the only real difference -- maybe andrea is better suited to speak to this, was that shift on final, complete denuclearization. that was really a slightly linguistic shift that you heard from officials at the state department namely mike pompeo.
what we should watch at the pentagon is if they turn military exercises back on. right now it's august. you should have these exercises taken place called freedom's guardian. they're not taking place. they're indefinitely suspended. if the pentagon turns those back on, trade with the south koreans in a public way, then you know things have really shifted at the pentagon as well. i will just note, the president cancelled that meeting in singapore and put it back on. that was about a 24-hour pause. we're much longer in this one which means that it could be an indication that it's much more serious. guys? >> all right. nbc's hans nichols, thank you so much. james stavridis, did you make it through pensacola? >> only about 1,000 times. but the major event in my life in pensacola, joe, was when the navy sent me down there to see if i would be capable of being a fighter pilot, like maverick in "top gun."
after about the third time i lost my lunch doing barrel rolls, it was clear i would be a destroyer officer and drive ships. >> so then you were familiar with trader johns and the rest of the culture down there. yeah. >> i will buy you a beer at the monkey bar at the museum next time we're both there. >> i look forward to that very soon. admiral james stavridis, thank you so much. still ahead, the money man from the trump organization has been granted immunity in the michael cohen probe. you know, everybody says it seems every week there's a development that will be huge. but this is very, very significant in the investigation. robert mueller's investigation. and in a lot of other investigations is, too. we're going to be talking about what that's going to mean for donald trump and the investigation. plus, much more in the life and legacy of john mccain. we'll be joined by peggy noonan, chris matthews and john mccain's
former chief of staff and speech writer mark salter who, my gosh, knew john mccain more than anybody outside of the senator's immediate family. also, many, many more guests with us. "morning joe" will be right back. >> i spend everyday saying to myself, stay calm, stay cool, be passionate but neither get angry or personal. those are two important lessons i learned. i burnt bridges early in my campaign. now i work to build bridges. >> we'll be watching. thanks for sharing your views. >> i haven't had as much fun since my last interrogation. my . you're turning onto the street when you barely clip a passing car. minor accident - no big deal, right? wrong. your insurance company is gonna raise your rate after the other car got
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all the laughter kevin heart if you change one letter in 'cancer' it becomes 'dancer', what!? all the stars tom hanks keep this movement going strong. every network every star kevin bacon dream big with us. one night to save lives get ready to see it all tune in live, september 7th 8/7 central nbc news has confirmed long time cfo of the trump organization was granted immunity by the federal prosecutors during the course of the michael cohen probe. he testified before a grand jury. wiesellberg -- cohen scents a memo to weisselberg.
a payment really meant to reimburse cohen for the stormy daniels payoff. weisselberg sent that voice to another trump employee with an e-mail say pay from the trust. he is the third confidant who provided information. let's bring in political writer for the "new york times" and nbc political analyst, nicholas. so many people say while michael cohen might get more headlines, more scrapes and more run-ins with people in the press, much more flamboyant, colorful figure, weisselberg will be more damaging to donald trump. what can you tell us? >> exactly. if cohen is the fixer,
weisselberg was a contributor. he was a guy deep in the trump business. long time family adviser back to the '70s. think of the range of things he's had a hand in and knows about. everything from president's taxes, to his build up of trump tower in russia. to details much who his partners and investors are on various projects over the years. to how he filled out his tax returns. so in some years it was weisselberg who filled out the tax returns. this man has an extensive body of the president and his business affairs. >> when you put together the trio of michael cohen, pecker, and weisselberg being given immunity, where does the legal jeopardy come for the president from those three or all three
together have information that dates back so far on what donald trump was doing and who he was paying for what? >> well, the missing piece of the puzzle is if weisselberg was granted immunity for the narrow purpose of the cohen prosecution or playing a broader role in mueller's probe. >> we don't know that yet. >> right. if he's playing a broader role, if he's asking a bunch of questions about mars going back to '80s and '90s that could be devastating for the president. he's a guy who knows where the bodies are buried and checks were written to. a lot of question people had around the president, his finances, his relationship with russia, who his investors were from overseas, can all be answered by weisselberg. he has documentation. he has knowledge and understands this man. it's like having your top guy turned over. >> nick, you just referred to it. can you sflien us between the
use of use immunity and immunity in general in terms of questioning of weisselberg. the cope would wideened if he gets restricted. >> if it's about the cohen matter. cohen is an isolated prosecution in some sense and is it really possible to separate these various inquiries. a lot of people come around to the view they are interconnected. if weisselberg is an all-purpose witness under immunity or if he can be questioned about all range of matters that's much different than given immunity on the payment of stormy daniels. if he was given immunity to testify to this one set of facts it could be one and done. he could be playing a much broader role which could be a problem for the president.
>> much mitandrea mitchell, as we'll be watching you today on "andrea mitchell reports". we want to ask you what will you be working on today? >> we'll be talk a lot about john mccain. his co-author, close friend will join us. mark over the weekend said john mccain was a romantic about his causes, a cynic about the world. recollect what it was like to go myanmar and meet three leased prisoners who were tortured and abused and john mccain met with them in 2011 and the way he related to people around the world, who were victims, human rights victims, such a part of that legacy, something we don't hear very much any more from capitol hill. we'll be talking a lot about that and of course the president and the polling that shows that the president is getting more strengthen from his supporters despite in the past week, despite what happened with paul manafort and michael cohen. the polls are out. >> andrea mitchell, thank you very much.
they were great american. i know what crazy is. these weren't crazy. he insulted me and insulted everybody in that room. i said somebody should run against john mccain who has been, you know, in my opinion not so hot and i supported him. i supported him for president. i raised a million dollars for him. it's a lot of money pep lost. he let us down. he lost. never liked him as much after that because i don't like losers. but, frank, he hit me -- he's not a war hero. he's a war hero because he was captured. i like people that weren't c captured. >> does donald trump owe you and apology. >> i don't think so. i think he owes an apology to families and those who have sacrificed in conflict and what mr. trump says he prefers to be with people who were not captured. a great honor of my life was to serve in the company of heroes.
i'm not a her skro. but those who were my senior ranking officers, congressional mel honor winners, those who inspired us to do things that we otherwise wouldn't have been capable of doing are the real heroes. 55,000 names that are down on the wall engraved in black granite that i stop by sometimes early in the morning and when the sun is going down and i was fourth of july with men and women serving in afghanistan and they are just wonderful. that isn't my generation. >> wow. that's senator john mccain. what a dignified response on "morning joe" to then candidate donald trump now infamous attack on his war record. welcome back to "morning joe". it's monday, august 27th, 2018. still with us we have msnbc mike barn cal. richard haas. political writer for the "new york times" and msnbc political analyst nick confessory.
katty kay. historian and author "soul of america" and rogers professor of the presidency vanderbilt university john meacham and joining the conversation columnist for "wall street journal," peggy noonan and "new york times" columnist, tom friedman with his latest book. peggy, i want to go to you because john mccain was not always a happy warrior. he didn't always bob his head like the gipper and smile with a nice hollywood flare with everything he said. he reminds me in a sense of bobby kennedy. we were telling the story a couple of weeks ago. i asked my parents, i said tell me about bobby kennedy what was he like? my dad said he was a real s.o.
b. then i went off to college. i asked my liberal professors. ethical me about bobby kennedy and he thought for a second, he's a real s.o.b. of course we were laughing about it but bobby kennedy was tough and he needed to be tough and he gave the same tough speech whether he was in the inner-city or whether he was talking to rich white kids at an ivy league school. john mccain in some ways cut-out of the same cloth, became right at you. yes, he could be tough. in fact, he was tough, but so many times that is exactly what his country called for. >> you know, that's an interesting comparison, i think, because mccain and bobby kennedy.
one of the things that strikes me about bobby kennedy is that he had spent a lot of his career, his career after going to law school or, i think, uva, he was a behind-the-scenes player. he helped his brother jack. he was a political operative and a strategist. he didn't do the showbiz part of politics. therefore he felt free to simply be himself behind-the-scenes. he was a tough guy. he was a guy who could make a decision, who could defend his brother very ably. i think john mccain was in a way, he grew up or he entered politics in the age of media. you know, in the early 1970s. i think he understood what it was. i think many of his closest friends, the people he related to the most were the young men, the young reporter on the bus. when he was running for his party's nomination in the '80s
and '90s and then running for the presidency. but i'll tell you, joe, what left me, i realized this about mccain's life. everybody said what was the most striking moment or what do you remember? i'm so touched by the gratitude and love he showed at the end of his life for his life. it has been a big life, fabulous, full of accomplishment and drama and ups and downs. and all sorts of mess, and all sorts of triumphs and he looked back at the age of 80 and 81 it was a great life i loved it. i don't have a regret. i really lived it. that was maybe one of his -- you know as we die in public, those who are public figures, you teach people things and i think he reminded people of gratitude and love. >> thomas friedman, i used this
quote before on the show but bill clinton once told me one of the greatest character traits that any president or any politician can have is a very short memory. i don't know that john mccain had a short memory but he always worked past grudges, to work past rivalries. probably the best example going with john kerry to vietnam. my god those two men couldn't have been more on opposite sides in the early 1970s. yet he forgeed a friendship that made a big difference for this country. >> you know, john, one of the things i heard this morning, mccain surprised people. and it's rare these days that anyone in this poll tested era surprises you in politics. and in that sense he and trump have something in common.
trump always surprises you on the down side. and mccain always surprised you on the upside. that iconic moment where the woman stands up at that minnesota rally and says she thinks obama is an arab and mccain says in words that really remain deep etched in my memory, no, ma'am. no, ma'am. ea decent family man and a citizen. that came from some deep surprising place. just as when donald trump sat there and said, you know, i like heroes who aren't captured. that always shocked. that surprise me too. i couldn't think -- somebody who dodged the vietnam war actually could have the chutzpa to say that. the deepest contrast between these two men, trump surprises you on the down side, even this morning not even having the decency to give a proper tribute to him as president, he always surprises you on the down side.
mccain surprised us on the upside and as a journalist that made covering him fun and interesting. >> make barnacle, a lot of people will look at the life of john mccain and the life of donald trump and realize that john mccain showed more character in one day in captivity than donald trump has shown his entire life. and his life, i talked about -- i drew the parallels with bobby kennedy, that john mccain would agree with that i don't know, mccain lived through tragedy and he was a cynic who wanted to make the world better and mark described it perfectly, john mccain was a romantic but also a cynic. >> joe, i personally have great difficulty even mentioning the two men in the same sentence
together. one of them, john mccain, was larger-than-life. he was a big man. and as peggy just alluded to, he was in love with this country and that love of the country only grew in isolation, away from the country. the other man, mr. trump, is a portrait in smallness. each and every day he gets smaller and smaller. and john meacham, my question to you and to this panel, i think, and to everyone watching this, now with john mccain gone, who do we go to, to talk about the world and america's role in the world. who do we have a symbol for the larger meaner and where do we go? >> we live in hope but unquestionably the ranks of statesman and sources of hard
earned wisdom, a sense of what, quotation what mccain loved, sense of honor in action is very, very small. the good news, i think that senator mccain would say to us, you have to find those people. we have to encourage those people who are in the arena to become bigger than they think possibly they can be now. and, you know, you might not have bet on john mccain 30 years ago becoming a senator on the level of webster and clay and others. but but he did. one of the critical elements in our own time as disappointing and abrasive and ultimately disspiriting as our politics feel right now we have to feel romantic about it. we have to believe in it and
believe there's a re-enchat maep of our public square. >> one thing that struck me about john mccain, this idea that everything is poll tested now was when he repeatedly spoke out against torture. he had the moral authority to do that because he had been a victim of torture himself. when he was doing that at a time that have not the popular thing to do with the people he was tripping to get votes back from in the 2007-2008 campaign, who does that now? who do you hear on the senate on critical issues of america's role around the world, really america's moral authority, who is prepared to buck their party? who is prepared to say i know this isn't politically popular but i'll say it anyway because it's the right thing to say? >> it's hard for me to an that. i almost feel sorry for jfk's publisher to put out a new edition of "profiles in courage" and you look around who is
saying and doing things that entail a political cost for themselves but they are doing it because it's the right thing. where are the free trader standing up against tariffs or over use of sanctions. where are the diplomats saying we didn't put ourselves in a better position by throwing out the iran nuclear deal. we were just talking about north korea. where are the people saying you can't have an all or nothing position. so where is the foreign policy establishment? where is the political establishment that's willing to stand up and i'll be honest with you, i'm hard pressed to see people do it. we're more likely to get it out of governor, maybe more out of mayors, because they are people who are forced to take responsibility. they actually have to go. but it's harder to see it coming out of congress these days. >> peggy noonan what about those who considered john mccain to be a mentor, so many of them have
suddenly gone silent when america needs them to speak out the most. >> i'm not sure, joe, who you're speaking of there, if you have any specific person in mind. let me, as you think of how you want to answer that, it occurred to me this morning that part of john mccain's mystic is not that he was a legislative master. we sort of implied that in the past few days. he was not like lbj and not even like ted kennedy. these were men who were masters of the senate and masters of arranging legislation. i think mccain's mystic is that he was a character and that he bolted. if you think of the past few years in his career, immediately you think of the day he became
sick, unwell, walked into the well of the senate, he's the pivotal vote on the repeal of obamacare and like mccain, walks forward and looks at everybody and gives a thumbs down. it was a stunning moment. i'll never forget the look on mitch mcconnell's face. anyway, i just think he was a unique person who was not really policy driven always so much as driven by his unique character, personality, sense of himself, hunger for history. desire to wrestle life. you know what i mean? pick it up, put it down, have an effect and have a hunger for history to get in the mix and fight. >> and his hunger for justice, not only in the united states, but across the globe. the last time i visited in his
senate office, he was talking about the political figures that vladimir putin, he believed had assassinated and talked about the need to fulfill the promise of reagan, and of bush 41 and of all those who felt the cold war. so russia and eastern europe could be free. obviously, one of his great disappointments. peggy, as far as talking about who the mentors of john mccain are that need to speak up now, they know who they are. there's no need for notice mention their name. tom friedman let's move on to north korea. obviously, a topic on the front of minds of certainly our foreign policy community, apparently oped with kim jong-un provided little or no security for this country and donald trump's assurance we no longer needed to worry about a north korea
nuclear program ended up tube lie. what do we need to do as a country >> let me say one thing about the question peggy posed. i was getting made up at the nbc studio in washington. there's a picture of john mccain and lindsey graham and the two of them traveled around the world together. they echoed one another. and where is lindsey graham? here's a guy who has sat by and watched donald trump insult john mccain, question his heroism, not even be willing to, you know, put out a proper, you know, statement in his honor of his death, and lindsey graham has gone over the wall of bedminster golf course to play golf with donald trump and graham knows better and it's shameful. on north korea, i would simple lie say, joe, we've always had three choices on north korea.
bomb them. negotiate with them or acquiesce. we don't want to bomb or acquiesce so we have to negotiate. that means you'll end up with some version of the iran deal that was the same deal obama had with iran. same challenge. and he got it down to the best he thought company. but ultimately, i'm glad that we diffused that we traded in effect military exercises for, it seems, an end to testing by north korea now both its missiles and nuclear systems. that's good. that lowered the temperature. but this will be a long, long slog. trump oversold it. the question is whether he's up for this long slog, giving the end will involve a compromise just like the iran deal did. >> richard haas, we heard about decnuclearization from the very beginning. believe you said, as did some of the other people that actually
understood the situation, th decnuclearization was never going to happen and sure enough that's where we find ourselves now and that's where we'll find ourselves five graers now after donald trump is out of office. >> right. decnuclearization is a slogan. it's not going to happen. north korea took note. look what happened to you rain when it gave up to its nuclear weapons. look what happened to gadhafi and saddam hussein, didn't work so well to them. they won't do it. nuclear weapons they see is intimately tied their security. as tom said is right. we either have to go war and that would be horrific. we have to acquiesce and that would be horrific with north korea with an ever growing arsenal. so are we prepared to embrace real diplomacy. the problem for the president means he wouldn't have this 100% solution. but there's very little about history that suggests solutions.
you manage situations. you work them almost like george schultz used to use gardening metaphors. do a little bit of weeding here and a little bit of pruning there. you don't solve the north korea problem. you put it in a box you can live with. over time maybe other forces will weaken the regime or change the dynamics which is something different than this president is prepared to do. >> tom friedman? tom respond. >> i totally agree. i think that will be absolutely the dilemma, what richard said, that trump always promises you bigger, better, more i got something nobody has got. i just don't see that happening with north korea. i also believe and this was referred to earlier in the show that for china, joe, the north korea negotiation, the trade negotiation, they are just one big power negotiation with the united states about shaping, you know, the future,
22 -- 21st century. the chinese won't let them do a significant deal with trump which will press china harder on trade. trade wars aren't easy to win and decnuclearization of north korea is not easy to do. >> john meacham, we seen with north korea which is classic example of the president favoring the appearance of success over the nuts and bolts of working and certainly it's a contrast to john mccain. on the other hand, i think about that video that we saw of mccain in the 2008 campaign. trying to explain to that woman that president obama was a real person, he was in a sense, a good man and what strikes me about that moment a little bit was that he lost and she won in
the end, that the strain of politics that that woman represented is now the strain of politics that is dominating politics in washington, and trumpism, essentially. i wonder where do we go next from here. are we headed for more of the same, more in that direction, in some ways is this a requi mrcre politics long gone? >> it's a great way to put it. i think that met for is important. because there's a cycle to these things. fdr once said there's a mysterious cycle in human events. i think that interestingly partly because of the legal and political development in terms of the investigation, last week,
in part because of the conversation that senator mccain's death has sparked. i actually, knock on wood, feel that the fever may, the trump fever in some ways may begin to be breaking. i may be prove convenient woefully wrong about that. but the story of american history, the story of american politics is we get a lot of things wrong, we get a couple of big things right, and we stumble forward. and joe alluded to it earlier, fdr also once said there's quoting his old head master that there's a line of civilization that goes up and down but ultimately it goes upward. dr. king agencies version 's ve arc of universe is long but it
bends towards justice. so i think that the values that mccain demonstrated in that moment and so many other events, so many other context will ultimately triumph here which is a love affair play, a sense that we shouldn't take ourselves all that seriously, but the best way to guarantee a fair chance for you or for me is for me to try to garage it for you. and i just have a sense that american spirit that senator mccain embodied that ronald reagan embodied will win out in the end. >> peggy, it's so important to remember -- first of all, she is not ascendcy.
demographics this is not a birth cry of white nationalism, it's a death rattle. and you look -- you remember 1972, the headiness for republicans, the complete despair for dermonstrates, nixo wins 49 states, 29 months late he's leaving washington. i'm not saying that's exactly what's going to happen here, but often -- well, you know, one of my favorite quotes in politics, senator paul simon said at the end of his long political career, what's your favorite motto in politics, he said sometimes when you win you lose and sometime when you lose you win. and ain't that the truth. >> it is. who said in every victory is the seed of decds krrceciept.
on the issue of the elderly woman and john mccain and the 2008 campaign gently and respectfully corrected her. it seems to me that in america, on the ground in america, in the office, in the schools, in the stores, in the marketplace, on the ground in america, there is a greater peacefulness, easeiness n-at the integrationness of everybody sort of together and living with each other, giving each other enough room. is there a daily ruffle which we all see in the tabloids, causing problems for people on the ground in america kind of getting along and kind of making this work. at some sort of public level
once things become a matter of national discourse and public discourse, then people bring up and i think almost exacerbate tensions and negativity and divisions in a way that's kind of odd. it's as if there's actual peacefulness here and a constant battle up here and i think john mccain and the woman kind of had a little to do with that, touched on that. i think i'll end it there. >> you know, i agree with you, peggy. i tell so many people who are in despair on how split this country is. so much of that is driven by the 24/7 news cycle, by blogs, by social media. in most cases, it's a false positive. and we're going to be talking about 1968, we'll be talking about the 50th anniversary of
chicago coming up. you want to see divided country? stick around. we'll show you a divided country. tom friedman as always, thank you so much for being with us. and thank you for your insight. >> thank you. >> still ahead on "morning joe," one of the men who knew senator john mccain the best called him quota romantic about his causes and a cynic about the world. we'll be talking to mark salter, a friend, close aide and speech writer to the late senator plus we talked about bobby kennedy's toughness as a political figure, much in the same mold as john mccain. up next we're bringing in chris matthews who has written extensionively about rfk and covered john mccain up close and personal. you're watching "morning joe". we'll be right back. g "morning . we'll be right back. >> why did you not serve in the vietnam war? >> because i was going to college, i had student defermens and a medical defermen.
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>> i hope to impress on you again that it is an honor to serve the american people in your company. thank you fellow senators. mr. president. [ applause ] >> that was john mccain's final speech. in a moment we'll be joined by "hardball" chris matthews. first let's bring in mark sal terrify, john mccain's friend, former chief of staff and speech writer. he co-authored john mccain's last memoir "the restless way" which was published this past may. he's out with his latest piece in the "the washington post" entitled "john mccain spent his life serving the dignity of his fellow man." mark, we know it's tough for you to be here today. we're so grateful you are. we've been talking, we've been
remembering john mccain, and, you know, what a tough guy he was. what a loving guy he was. hat an uncompromising guy he was. but you knew him better than anybody outside the family. what was it about john mccain that you loved? >> oh, his instinctive decency. his enthusiasm for life. his love of a good fight. there was nothing he ever liked to do more than to fight bad guys to help little guys. and working for him it was a hectic, very busy exuberant life, pun, purposeful, satisfying experience. i can't say i enjoyed every day of it, but i enjoyed most of it. it was a great honor. >> you know, we've been talking about how john mccain was unique among his peers in washington,
and i wonder too and david brooks brought this up too, i saw one or two people remembering john mccain talking about his raw ambition. i never saw that in john mccain. i saw raw anger a lot, but it seemed to me that he was of all the great political figures certainly of my lifetime, he was probably the least calculated. i mean, john mccain could have made his life a hell a lot easier in washington, d.c. if he had a raw hunger for power, but the guy, the guy was following ideals and a higher calling, wasn't he? >> yeah. yeah. i mean he may have been calculating once or twice or something but he couldn't stick to his calculations. he wanted to be useful. he wanted to do important things. he wanted to fight for things he believed in.
you know, he was never good with a script. you could never -- we used to laugh about message discipline with him. it was pointless. to try to encourage him. but he did want to do big things. he had ambition. you know he got pretty far in life for a guy always stood fifth from the bottom of the class at the naval academy. you know, when i wrote about his romantic sensibility, he wanted just that. he wanted to help people enjoy the rights he had. he couldn't stand bullies. he loved fighting them. and we're going to miss that about him. >> so, mark, so many people are, have been going back to that clip where he talked to the woman at the rally in 2008, defended barack obama.
i'm curious, outside of that moment, of all the things you saw up close with john mccain, of all the reasons he gave to you be proud, be associated with john mccain, can you think a moment this morning that stands out to you? >> oh, there's, you know, just so many. he was just such a decent fellow. you walked through an airport with him, obviously a nationally known politician and celebrity. he always was in danger of not making his plane because he was way layed by people wanting a selfie or sign something for him. he would always stop. i would say we have to hurry up. he said some day they won want me to do this. but there was something i was recalling today, not long after his first diagnosis, we were out here probably right after the media came back to washington and he made that speech and they
had the obamacare vote and we were at his condo in phoenix and i went over for dinner with cindy and john. when i walked in he was -- he had just been given the terminal diagnosis and he was sitting at a table with a list of names of family members from the "uss john s. mccain" who had been, whose loved ones had been killed in the accident that just happened. he was calling each one to express their condolences and requested what he could do for them. then he would assign staff to take care of whatever they need. just in that moment, his typical decency. it really drove the guy. >> mark, thank you for being with us. >> please pass along our thoughts and our love to cindy and megan and the entire family.
>> i sure will, joe. >> thank you so much. let's bring in chris matthews now with "hardball" and mike barnacle, why don't you take the first question. >> yeah, joe, you know, listening to mark salter talking about a public man who was so drenched in humanity and character and honesty and compassion and humor, it stops you in your tracks to think what we're surrounded with today and chris matthews, you've seen a lot in your lifetime and you've interviewed a lot of people in your lifetime. and today many of us are worried about the resilience of the public given the fact that john mccain has pass pandemic we wonder where men like him would come from or where people like him would come from, men and women. it's always struck me and i'm wondering if it struck you that part of the resilience of this country is reflect in the
ridiculous that john mccain displayed in his entire life? >> well, first of all, i'm sorry about your brother, and you're something else, buddy, anyway. i think he had a romance about being a senator. i just want to talk about that a minute because a lot of this, joe, like we grew up -- a u.s. senator is supposed to be a person who really marks his own or her own trail. you're out there on your own. you're kind of like a fighter pilot. you'll be tough. you'll have enemies. but you're going yourself. at the end of the your day you'll bend yourself. in this case bend john mccain not somebody else's guy. i think fight is part of that and i think having enemies is part of that. i think in a classic sense like in a novel, one of my favorites, "advise and consent" he was out there alone like brigham
anderson. he had to be himself and stick to that and have an ideal. i think he was that. the classic, you know, almost out of a novel, u.s. senator. and i think that's who he was. he tough as nails. everybody as a journalist went up against him. i went up against him in the beginning, he parked illegally -- not illegally, parked by a fire hydrant at some event i was attending. i called him on that. how could you do that? i said why did you do that? he said you guys all have drivers. i had to park illegally. and i just said what you going to burn me? so he called me back. he didn't fuss around. he called me back and argued with me on the phone. i don't think he held it against me. he could repress some of his anger as a professional because he knew it would get in the way of being a great senator. he didn't just let it all hang out. i think the guy about vietnam,
he had reasons to resent people who didn't serve like clinton and he didn't -- i think it's so amazing he has w speaking at his funeral. he chose to do that. it tells me he wanted to be great senator, a great figure and wanted to pay a personal price for that. >> chris, peggy noonan here. good morning. >> i miss your column, dear. >> coming back soon. >> you're like walter cronkite, you take the summer off. >> chris, you knew john mccain. you observed him. watched him. talked to him over the decades. i've been curious, do you think he had a sense of destiny, personal destiny? did you get a sense of what his sense of his destiny was, what i'm asking is who did he think he was in history? >> i think he was his biography.
i think vietnam put a mark on him like it did on all of us and i think -- i find myself still fighting that war from my side. i was against the war. i didn't serve. i was in the peace corps in africa. he went over and got captured. avenues pilot that got shot down going into the enemy capital. pulled out of the water and got beat up for five and a half years. that's his life. he was hawkish out of that. i'm telling you when you talked to him in the old days he would say he was really hated what lyndon johnson did in that war he wouldn't fight the war to a finish. they cheered when nixon bombed over hanoi. they were cheering these guys being beat up. but they wanted to win the war. they wanted divisiveness in leadership. he quoted from a movie they used to put on over there from memory you're a gum sucking pig.
he was quoting marlon brando in that movie. he had this real anger at the failure of leadership. i think he wanted to be a clear cut leader. when we got into iraq he said we are with this thing. he wanted to be a real leader like john wayne with heroes we grew up. he wanted to be that kind of hero leader. he had that romance. and it was very clear cut. he wanted to be the hero. he wanted to be president. he ran, should have won. he was winning in south carolina until they destroyed him, went after i had family, his daughter, his wife and that was a pretty rotten campaign but they beat him and he went back against obama and then he said those wonderful things about obama at the dinner. i watched him. that lady called him an arab. he went out and talked about what an honorable guy, what a good guy. i hope we play that tape a few
times. he was losing. benefits to lose to this guy and yet he paid tremendous american tribute to the guy. i mean how many politicians do that? not the one we have leading us today. and i think he was a hero to himself and he wanted to be one. >> chris, it's an indication of the measure of the man that he's going to have the two people who defeated him in elections speaking at his funeral. john mccain would be the first to admit he wasn't perfect. he could be prickly as anyone who tried to interview at some point has known. and he made mistakes. he made them through the course of his political career, perhaps most notably with the pick of sarah palin as his vice presidential candidate in 2008. but he was prefired admit those mistakes and how rare is that in this political world? and he did pick sarah palin. he said look i should have
chosen joe lieberman. but he effectively said that was not the right choice. and i made it for political calculation. whenever he made thing for political calculations he said on "meet the press" it wasn't the right way to go. >> that's true. i think he was a mick. he liked to fight. we make a mistake in assuming that going after, taking punches and hitting somebody else isn't part of politics. it's a competitive sport. it's blood sport at times. he enjoyed that part of it. franklin roosevelt said there's nothing more i like better than a good fight. i think everybody talking right now enjoys a good fight. i think it's a big part of life is competition. and i think if you're in the ring you're in the ring and i think he loved it. he loved to take on us. i mean he had the press with him
in 2000. he didn't have us with him in 2008. he loved to come back and take shots. he did it to me one time. quite public. chris used to like me now he's following someone new. he's found someone new. he just took shots. he didn't like it at all. he liked us being with him. he called us his base. then a lot of us went with obama with our sentiments and he didn't like that at all. i understand that. that's human. he was definitely human. definitely human. definitely human. >> he certainly was. again it's been said here before, he understood that he needed to work through that. he needed to have that short memory for the business that he did, and he certainly had a short memory when it came to me. he was gracious. "hardball's" chris matthews we appreciate you being with us. >> thank you. >> can wait to watch your show tonight at 7:00 eastern,
"hardball". as we go to break, the moment chris just mentioned from the dinner back in 2008. this is john mccain just weeks before presidential election he was expected to lose. >> i don't want it to get out of this room my opponent is an impressive fellow in many ways. political opponents can have little trouble seeing the best in each other but i've had a few glimpses of this man at his best and i admire his great skill, energy, and determination. it's not for nothing that he inspired so many folks in his own party and beyond. senator obama talks about making history and he's made quite a bit of it already. there was a time when the mere invitation of an african-american citizen to dine at the white house was taken as an outrage and an insult in many
quarters. today, is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time and good riddance. i can't wish my opponent luck, but i do wish him well. [ applause ] m well [ applause ] i can do more to lower my a1c. because my body can still make its own insulin. i take trulicity once a week to activate my body to release its own insulin, like it's supposed to. trulicity is not insulin. it works 24/7. it comes in an easy-to-use pen. and i may even lose a little weight. trulicity is an injection to improve blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes when used with diet and exercise.
don't use it as the first medicine to treat diabetes, or if you have type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis. don't take trulicity if you or your family have medullary thyroid cancer, you're allergic to trulicity, or have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2. stop trulicity and call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, a lump or swelling in your neck or severe stomach pain. serious side effects may include pancreatitis. taking trulicity with a sulfonylurea or insulin increases your low blood sugar risk. common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and decreased appetite. these can lead to dehydration, which may worsen kidney problems. to help lower my a1c i choose trulicity to activate my within. ask your doctor about once-weekly trulicity.
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stay with their families until their 40's. what's the matter now? >> now? i got this in -- my ears are filling up. i have a sinus condition. it is the change in temperature. i always get it from air conditioning. >> maybe it will go away. >> no, no, it is all part of my allergies. i get it in the summer. >> only in the summer? >> and in the winter too. i get it all year long. i'm allergic to food, and pillows, curtains, perfumes. can you imagine that, allergic to perfumes. for a while frances couldn't wear anything but my after shave lotion. i was impossible to live with.
ah! ha-huh. >> stop that, will you? what are you doing? >> trying to clear out my ears. you create a pressure inside your head, it opens up the tubes. huh-huh-huh-huh! >> did it open up yet? >> oh, my lord. the theater world is mourning the loss of the man behind the classic play and then the subsequent film, "the odd couple." playwright neil simon who died sunday at the age of 91, a comedy master. simon was one of the theater's most successful and prolific writers with a staggering list of credits that included "barefoot in the park," "biloxi blues" and "laughter on the 25th
floor." while he dominated broadway, his work was not confined to the stage. 13 were adapted to film. he is credited with helping create the television sitcom format. he received four oscar nominations, three tony awards, the pulitzer prize, kennedy center honors, writers guild awards, american comedy awards lifetime achievement honor, and so much more. mike barnacle, one of the most successful writers in american history, it is hard to figure out where you start talking about him. but he actually started -- he was on that famed writing staff with sid cesar on your show of shows. >> yes, he defined american comedy for a generation, urban comedy, comedy set in cities, call it what you will.
the clip from "the odd couple" i want people to know we're not referring to myself and peggy sitting here. peggy, he was a giant of writing and instilling comedy into american life. >> yes, and i think "the odd couple" is probably the work that he did that lasted forever in different mediums, in part because the two guys, felix and the other guy, were like two archetypal males, who the minute you saw them you recognized them. you saw the joke, and you saw their simple humanity and sort of where they came from. i think, you know, it had been a while since this man was fully appreciated. he had a big time in the '60s, '70s and '80s, and then sometimes careers go a little bit quiet. he was productive, he was prolific. >> yes. >> he was inventive.
he created a lot of jobs on broadway. they loved him because he was giving people jobs in hit shows, and they could move their families and have a good life for a year and a half in new york. he was a real person. joe mentioned the old sid cesar show which is where i think he started with woody allen, who was in the writer's room at that time. he turned that into a play, "laughter on the 23rd floor." he was something, he was a force. >> joe, a lot of people are lurking in writing today who are writing on a ticket that was written by neil simon. >> no doubt about it. at one point peggy was talking about how dominant he was on broadway. at one point in the late 1960s he had four shows on broadway at the same time. neil simon was 91. coming up, within the next few months there will be two u.s. senators in arizona. we will get a look at that
state's political landscape, including one candidate who suggested mccain's death bed announcement was timed to hurt her politically. it really is unbelievable. plus tom brokaw, dan rather, susan page and michael bedsloff on the life and legacy of john mccain and what is next for the senate and this country. "morning joe" will be right back.
senator john mccain of arizona. very good to have you on the show this morning, sir. >> thank you. i'm freezing -- off. >> i'm one of the few that gets up early enough to watch. >> oh, my. >> we have to get my blood going in the morning. >> i confess, i watch your -- >> oh, my gosh. >> could i say congratulations to you and joe. i'm really pleased that joe has found someone that loves him as much as he does.
i'm very pleased. >> we disagree. >> sometimes wrong. >> the question was that a lot of us -- get that. >> david, the phone is ringing. >> four years later you are -- >> a has-been. >> ask about -- >> first of all, let me ask -- >> keep it up. i hope that i'm not on your program soon. >> i guess the question would be are you still freezing your -- off? >> well said. thank you so much for having me. >> thank you for coming in. >> thank you so much. >> thank you, senator. >> key the music. >> thank you for your honesty and thank you for your strength at a time when this republic needs it the most. >> thank you. maybe it is not too late. >> exactly. >> senator john mccain. >> oh, my god. this morning john mccain's humor, his leadership and his lifetime of service to the united states of america, a country that the senator said he
learned to love while being a prisoner in other country. welcome to "morning joe" on this monday, august 27th. we brought in a lot of people to talk about the legacy and life of senator john mccain. we have msnbc contributor mike barnacle. president of the council on foreign relations, richard haas. nbc news chief correspondent and a host of andrea mitchell reports, andrea mitchell. washington anchor for bbc world news america, katty kay. historian and the author of "soul of america" and rogers professor of the presidency at vanderbilt ju vanderbilt university, john meacham. mika has the day off. john meacham, you going through all of the paradoxes, all of the conflicts internal to the united states of america and its greatness, and you talk about
also arcing towards -- ever upward in our trajectory of civilization. john mccain had some conflicts. he had some contradictions. he had sharp elbows. he had sharp edges, and yet in all of my years dealing with the man it made me love him even more, even when i knew at times when he loathed me, he was a straight shooter who spoke his mind, and he was exactly what america needed not only in the 1960s in vietnam, the courage that he showed, the extraordinary strength he showed, but also in the age of trump. a mon wa whman who just didn't t a tweet from a blustery president because he had been
through hell and back and he could put up with it. >> absolutely. as the greek said, character is destiny, and his character as a young man, both before his captivity and afterward, were those salient elements that you just described. he was a young man who i think graduated fifth from the bottom of his class at annapolis, and i think as he once put it rarely met members of the opposite sex or fermented liquid that he did not enjoy, i think was one way he framed it. and then he was tempered and shaped in that caldron of captivity in vietnam, and emerges at once reverent about america and irreverent about himself. that is a powerful combination, and i think that we all benefitted from it. he called them as he saw them. he defies easy ideological
categorization, and i think one of the reasons so many people have been affected by this is we realize in this tribal moment we've lost someone who was willing to look at an issue, look at a question and just tell you what he thought, regardless of the consequences. that's what john mccain offered. >> yes, he certainly did. mike, very few would have guessed that john mccain would have served his country and become really the most prominent american public figure of the past 50 years that didn't serve as president, from that start, that john meacham said he was always filled with surprises. he wasn't considered to be a serious student. and, you know, he went through pensacola, everybody had a story about john mccain crawling on to
their porch in the middle of the night and leaving their porch in the early morning while he was in flight training. or the time just -- but it is so fascinating that he was seen as this party boy. then he goes to vietnam. he gets shot down. he's given an opportunity to leave because they find out, oh, my god, this p.o.w.'s father is one of the top admirals, we'll let him go. mccain refuses to go. he stays with his band of brothers while he is getting beaten unmercifully, to a point that he will never be able to raise his arms over his shoulders for the rest of his life. character that no one saw coming, character like we see so rarely today. >> joe, and character just
rooted in cement. his life was not perfect. he didn't lead his life perfectly, but his life was truly important. his time in captivity as you just spoke to, as john meachem just spoke to, think he always had the feeling that now he has a second chance. he had a second chance at american life. he took advantage of it every single second after he returned to this country. he was a uniquely, thoroughly human figure. over the past 25 years -- and i was going through all of the clips this weekend where he and i were together, where i had written about him. i once asked him again about his captivity, how long did you ever go without seeing the sun? and he said the longest that i can remember going without seeing the sun was about four months, and then he paused and
he added, but i remember one time when they took me out of my cell for a nighttime interrogation, and it struck me that it had been three years since i saw the moon. that's the foundation of man we lost, character, courage, commitment to this country, all of it absorbed in a cell, much of it over the course of five-and-a-half years that he spent alone. he was a uniquely thoroughly human being. we won't see his like for many, many years, if ever. >> no, and, you know, andrea, he was so unique and he was human. when i got up to -- when i got up to washington the first time i was struck by -- when i talked about john mccain and what a great american hero he was, i
was struck by the sneer. yeah, you haven't dealt with him yet in committee. yeah, you haven't had him kill your bill. and i heard to a person, john mccain had sharp elbows. he was tough. he was a maverick. he was an outsider. he was a guy that wasn't going to go along to get along. and yet when somebody needed help, when somebody's back was to the wall, they immediately knew to go to john mccain because this was a guy that you wanted to be in the fox hole with you, whether it was in war or in peace or in committee, fighting for something that you believed would make america a better place. >> absolutely. i mean those sharp elbows were part of the character that made him so unique and where we are
feeling the gut punches of his loss so deeply because there is no one else in the senate certainly, no one else who would ignore the protocols and the niceties and say what he thinks. that's that cranky soul that we all got to know and were occasionally chastised by. one of the most sterling parts of his character is the way he grew and changed and reached not just across the aisle but across a haul gulf. i am really struck by what i was covering back in the '90s, which was the growing relationship when i was coming to the senate between john kerry and john mcclain, not likely partners on anything when they first joined hands-on that p.o.w./m.i.a. commission in '90-'91 and decided on a long flight to kuwait that year to join together across their divide of
vietnam and make peace, helped bill clinton eventually in '95. but it was a long process and it ended along the way with them going together in 1993 to the hanoi hilton, them going to that cell and john kerry listening, he wrote about this over the weekend, listening to john mccain and beginning to understand. together they gave political cover to an accused draft dodger back in the day when it almost derailed his campaign in the primary in 1992, aside from the other stuff that happened. that was just such a big gesture. i can't even imagine what it took for john mccain to stand up for bill clinton in 1993 when he was under fire and help him -- help him satisfy the joint chiefs and the veterans groups that were out -- i was there on memorial day in 1993 at the
memorial and bill clinton was being screwed down by groups. two years later he was able to normalize relationships with vietnam. >> still ahead on "morning joe", mark mccain's passing and donald trump posts a picture of -- donald trump. the white house staff wanted to honor the republican senator and war hero, but donald trump refused to. a disappointing part of the conversation, but utterly predictable part of the conversation coming up next. ♪ ♪seven billion swimmers man ♪i'm going through the motions ♪sent up a flare need love and devotion♪ ♪trade it for some faces that i'll never know notion♪ ♪can i get a connection? ♪can i get can i get a connection?♪ ♪can i get a connection? ♪can i get can i get a connection?♪ the full value oft wyour new car? you'd be better off throwing your money right into the harbor. i'm gonna regret that.
even though the president and john kerry believe it is not east/west, this is not the cold war, that's exactly what putin has treated it as and why there's been a fundamental misreading of vladimir putin, his intentions and the things that he will to. didn't we pay attention when vladimir putin said the greater disaster of the 20th century was the dissolution of soviet union?
>> that was john mccain on "morning joe" in 2014, warning about what he saw as the obama administration's lax approach to russia. as you know, russia was notably absent from the list of foreign nations and foreign leaders honoring john mccain's record of service. also staying silent, of course, president trump, who only referenced mccain's family while posting a picture of himself even after the aides closest to him were actually imploring him to say something nice about john mccain in the statement. but he refused. andrea mitchell, john mccain was always tough on russia, also on vladimir putin's aggression. perhaps that's yet another reason why donald trump had little use for him. >> and the fact that john mccain had been so consistently tough on putin, in a way, frankly,
that a lot of his colleagues, republican colleagues in the senate have not been. there has been so little action to ward off against the ongoing -- the ongoing russian interference in our election, you know, in cyber space. mccain's statements after helsinki, also probably his last statement criticizing trump foreign policy were after helsinki, calling it the most disgraceful performance of an american president. that was so poignant, so descriptive, and it was really a touchstone of john mccain to be critical of donald trump on foreign policy, in a way that republicans had always been going back to the cold war and ronald reagan. it is really quite striking that there is so much waffling on the russian threat right now. >> and richard haas, that there was a consistency.
he was critical of barack obama for not being tough enough on russia, at times critical of george w. bush for not being tough enough on russia. but the only difference between mccain's criticisms then and over the past year was then he was joined by fellow republican senators who also saw the importance of holding the line against putin's expansionism. now so many of those republicans grew silent, which is why john mccain's voice was all the more necessary in the age of trump. >> well, in many ways john mccain represents the main tradition of american foreign policy and as you are suggesting, what is so worrisome or bizarre, choose whatever word you want, about this moment is the mainstream in many cases has been relegated to being outside a minority. we have in some ways what i would describe as the most radical foreign policy of any american president now since
harry truman. one of the last things in the last few years, whether foreign policy or not, is where is the congress. this is supposed to be the classroom of american policy, holding hearings, challenging the president when they disagree, reining him in, providing resources when necessary, and too often the congress has been missing in action. john meacham will know this, they used to speak about the imperial presidency, and historians used to worry about the accumulation or concentration of power in the hands of the president when it comes to foreign policy. guess what? we still have it. if anything, it is stronger than other and because there are not enough people like john mccain essentially challenging presidential prerogatives when the president was driving the train off the tracks. >> admiral, we're past being surprised by anything that donald trump does. let's talking stead about
character. and john mccain, a fellow navy man, give us your thoughts on the life and legacy of a great man. >> huge loss for the nation, as we've been discussing. if i may, an enormous loss for the u.s. navy. son and grandson of four-star admirals, part of the naval aristocracy, served so bravely in vietnam. what we treasure about john mccain are the memories of him as the rebel with a cause, particularly when he was a midshipman at the naval academy. he went over the wall, in other words went awol more than anybody else. he got more de merits than anybody else, he dated more women than anybody else. he was a legend at the naval academy, and that legend pulled through to his service, his incredible heroism as you have talked about so much. if i could put it in terms of a compass, because in terms of the navy we are always thinking about being at sea, he could look east and west, right.
he was someone who could look to the right and the left politically, but he always sailed true north. >> coming up next on "morning joe", a political panel that rivals the '27 yankees. each covered john mccain for decades and shared their personal stories of an american icon. next on "morning joe." roxy sure is having fun. party's over, 'six legs', she's got simparica now. simpari-what? simparica is what kills tick and fleas, like us. kills? kills! studies show at the end of the month, it kills more ticks in less time than frontline plus and nexgard. guess we should mosey on. see ya never, roxy! use simparica with caution in dogs with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders. the most common side effects are vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. say goodbye to ticks and fleas...
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click, call or visit a store today. good evening. polls now have closed in 34 states, and while they remain open most of the voters in the country have cast their ballots by this hour. in arizona this is a man we all want to watch. his name is john mccain. he was a prisoner of war in vietnam for six years, in congress from arizona, now elected to the senate seat of retiring barry goldwater. >> that was nbc's tom brokaw nearly 32 years ago as john mccain moved from the house to the senate, and an otherwise tough year for republicans senator mccain went on to win reelection five times. the senator passed away on saturday, yet this morning the flag at the white house flies at full staff, having been lowered from a mere few hours following
the senator's death. with us we have nbc news senior correspondent tom brokaw, former anchor of "cbs evening news", now the president of news and guts and host of axios tv, dan rather, susan page. author, columnist and political analyst, jeff greenfield. author and nbc news presidential historian, microsohael beshloff. his coming book will be published in october. mike and peggy are with us still. tom, going back to that night in 1936, what an incredible 32 years it was for john mccain. >> you know, i'm here in chicago, joe, because it was 50 years ago that the convention that defined the democratic party at that time was underway. utter chaos in the streets and in the hall, and john mccain was a prisoner of war at that time in hanoi, had no idea about what
was going on. his life can be divided into two parts, before and after his capture. he often attributes the fact he lived and survived to the military code everybody paid attention to and how they took care of each other, and he brought that same attitude into politics. it was not an identification just by your party, but what was in the best interests of this country, and he kept that very much in mind. i must say that i can't believe that president trump, he's commander in chief. he's not a regent. he is not fulfilling his duties. he represents all of the american people as commander in chief, and not to honor john mccain at a time when the entire country is focused on his life it seems to me is a terrible, terrible mark on his presidency. >> yeah. and let's bring in dan rather. dan, these are divided times, but john mccain came of age in perhaps some of the most divided times. we're going to be talking about 1968 fairly soon, but john
mccain came out of the vietnam war, wasn't particularly pleased with how l.b.j. ran it and how people like john kerry protested, even after serving there, but he formed bonds with john kerry and others with whom he disagreed with so vehemently, and learned to be constructive even in difficult times. >> well, so true. one reason john mccain became a kind of popular every-man hero is because, you know, he understood what it was supposed to be like as a legislator in the united states congress, both as a congressman and a senator. no question that grew out of his vietnam experience. but if you look at john mccain and his record before he went to vietnam, before his imprisonment, then you compare it with what happened to him afterward, there's virtually no
comparison in that he finished low in his classes, and he was known, he said himself with a great smile, he was a hell-raiser when he was a younger man. the vietnam experience, and why wouldn't we believe being in a vietnamese prison for almost six years, six years wouldn't change a man? but he understood that to legislate you have to talk to people on the other side. you have to -- and somewhere along the line you have to compromise. that's what the whole system is built on. mccain also, you know, he was a leader. whatever else you say about him, he would be the first to say he was imperfect, he was human, but he was a leader, down to the point he knew that good leadership required a good staff. i said it before and i'll say it kben, one again, one of the things that made him an effective legislature and later a lyon io the senate is he always had good
staff. >> as we consider john mccain and his life today, many of the politicians we have known, studied, remember or recall or read about, the most effective in terms of understanding people, of being able to reach people with their stories and listen to people's stories themselves, are those politicians who know what it is like from firsthand experience to be damaged. >> absolutely. >> to have suffered. >> absolutely. >> can you speak to that? >> yes, you're so right, mike. by the way, if i can also chime in, i find it sickening that the flag over the white house is not at half staff this morning. i can't believe that i would have seen a president do something like this. but in terms of your point, you're absolutely right, mike. it gave him a connection with all americans that otherwise john mccain would not have had. we know the moral stature he had from being five-and-a-half years in the hanoi hilton and being so
noble, but at the same time it allowed anyone dealing with or deals as every american does, gave them a feeling that he understood them. just like f.d.r. going through polio or perhaps j.f.k. through the pt-109 and some of his other tr tib la tribulations, it sent him apark. >> you know, jeff, i think we were at the 30th celebration of bobby kennedy's announcement in 1968 and celebrating the 30th anniversary of that. i remember you coming up afterwards because i talked about the indianapolis speech the night martin luther king died, and you said, you know what, bobby had the bad taste of giving the greatest speech of hips life off the top of his head, without the help of any of his speech writers and you kind of laughed and said he was just as original.
we just talked to mark salter who said you could not keep john mccain on script. and i hear about that and both of these men were mavericks. we just heard mike barnacle talking about great politicians being politicians that were hurt, that were suffering, and it seems to me there are some parallels between john mccain and bobby kennedy in that way. >> i think the idea of the rebel, the person who was not confined by the traditions or the assumed limit us of what politicians ought to do, you are quite right about that. i was with him for a part of that straighttalk express experience for the 2000 campaign in new hampshire, and the sheer joy he brought to breaking the rules. he would gather the reporters on his bus. he would announce, all right, good morning, i want you to know everything is on the record. when he meant everything, he meant everything. and he barrelled into the small
towns in new hampshire, telling the audience what it necessarily didn't want to hear, which was a mark of bobby as well. i was also thinking, you know, one of his favorite writers was hemingway who said that courage is grace under pressure. i think at his best mccain demonstrated a lot of that. to be blunt with you, joe, what we are seeing from the white house today is gracelessness under no pressure. you know, you cannot inherit or buy grace or class, and the contrast between john mccain at his best and what we are seeing from the white house today is absolutely striking and, frankly, appalling. >> peggy. >> joe and susan page, i was thinking this morning that part of the charm and in a way the force of john mccain was that he enjoyed, took great joy in being contrary. he was a contrarian in some ways
and in policy, and in some ways in his personal relationship. it seemed to me, and i may be wrong, that in a way he liked democrats a little more than he liked republicans in washington, maybe in part because he enjoyed jousting with democrats and he didn't necessarily enjoy the implied sense he agreed with republicans. sometimes i think he liked the press a little better than he liked the base. so tell me if i'm at all right there, if i'm on to something? >> peggy, i would agree with you. he liked being around reporter. in some ways he was like a reporter in that he was curious, he was willing to entertain opposition points of view. he had a sort of dark humor about everything. he know, people talked about just now about the lessons he true from his terrible trial as a prisoner of war. if people who go through tragic
experiences like that don't always draw strong lessons from it, sometimes it makes them small and bitter and broken. the lesson he took was to live a big life every day, a life with high aspiration goes and one that took joy in all of the things around him. that's a lesson we should all take to heart. >> you know, peggy, it is interesting you talked about that. i can tell you in the republican caucus back in the 1990s we would bitterly and derisively talk about john mccain as the board's favorite senator. he was more comfortable with democrats than republicans. there was a friction back in the 1990s, and of course john mccain didn't make it any better when a reporter asked him about what the house was going to be doing under newt gingrich. he said, ah, don't worry about the house, they don't matter. >> it was a candor that was
delightful perversity. he took pleasures in it. >> always sharp elbows. everybody stay with us because we will be marking 50 years since the bloody 1968 democratic national convention and the divisions from that era that still linger half a century later. "morning joe" will be right back. " will be right back it's time for the 'biggest sale of the year' on the
♪ from chicago, illinois, nbc news reports democratic national convention. that was the nbc news open animation nor the network's 1968 coverage. the anger and division we see in the country today may seem unprecedented, but, boy, we've seen it before. 50 years ago america seemed to be coming apart at the seams, party against party, generation against generation, tribe against tribe. it was 1968, a violent year culminating in a violent democratic convention. the city of chicago hosted 50 years ago this week. tom brokaw, you were there, and you give us this look back at
america's great divide and its terrible consequences. >> the democratic national convention, chicago, august 1968, the country deeply divided. the war in vietnam claiming hundreds of americans lives every week. the convention was a disaster waiting to happen. >> the democratic con tenders were vice president hubert humphrey and anti-war senators eugene mcarthy and george mcgovern. president lyndon johnson had withdrawn from the race over vietnam. he retreated to his texas ranch and marked his 60th birthday, on the phone constantly trying to manipulate the convention on behalf of hubert humphrey, watching as his party tore itself apart.
>> unless we stop killing and slaughtering these boys in vietnam, the american people will not support any administration in power that continues it. >> thousands of anti-war demonstrators descended on chicago. they hated the war and the establishment that supported it. many flew vietcong flags, throwing things at police. they wanted a confrontation and they got just that. chicago police were under the iron control of mayor richard j. daly. there was trouble inside the convention as well. on day two, a vietnam peace initiative failed to pass. angry delegates demonstrated. until the house band was ordered to drown them out. it continued to get ugly. >> why are you trying to strong arm stuff. elect delegates --
>> chicago police are in the aisles with billy clubs, clearing people out. >> this surely is the first time police ever entered the floor of a convention. >> in the united states. >> on day three in nearby grant park, police with billy clubs and tear gas broke up a rally of thousands of protesters who refused to disburse. the police waded in and the battle was on. that night as the convention nominated hubert humphrey, police moved on demonstrators trying to march to the convention hall and all hell broke loose. america's fault line opened up right on michigan avenue. >> police swirling all around us, people screaming, being dragged to the paddy wagons, a
scene of wild disorder. >> the whole world was watching, appalled at both sides. news of the violence soon reached the convention floor. connecticut governor, a mcgovern supporter, took aim at mayor richard daly. >> with george mcgovern as president of the united states, we wouldn't have to stop this action in the streets of chicago. >> mr. daly is not pleased with the senator. >> how hard it is to accept the truth. >> pretty gutsy. >> daly fiercely defended his police department and famously misspoke in the process. >> gentlemen, get the thing straight once and for all. the policeman isn't there to create disorder. the policeman is there to preserve disorder.
>> the morning after, america's generational divide was on full display. one of the radical organizers, jerry rubin. >> police are brutal. they protect the status quo and consider enemies of the state anyone who protests what they protect. >> frank sullivan. >> these people are revolutionaries bent on destruction of the government of the united states of america. they're a pitiful handful. >> what i saw there were american young men and women being savagely beaten by policemen simply because they were out on the streets protesting against pom situatlir which they had very little to say. >> hubert humphrey after a long time of yearning for it has finally won his party's nomination, and in the opinion of many people there's serious discussion about how much the nomination he won is worth. >> humphrey faced and almost
impossible task to bridge the divide, to unify his party. >> we do not want a police state, but we need a state of law and order. and neither mob violence nor police brutality have any place in america. >> even as he spoke, the showdown in the streets continued. the final enduring image of a disastrous convention. >> the old man running this convention would absolutely determined to have everything their way, and they almost succeeded. in the process they may have succeeded in losing the election. >> all set? see you downtown, fellows. >> just days later richard nixon opened his campaign in chicago and was welcomed with a ticker tape parade. he promised law and order, and that november a nation still deeply divided narrowly elected him president of the united states. >> and our special thanks --
>> senior producer andy franklin and editor bob kaplan for that piece. tom, my god, going into the convention it is hard for people to imagine today. you had the tet offensive in january. you had mcarthy shocking lbj in february. in march, of course, lbj getting out. april, martin luther king assassinated. june, bobby assassinated. it seemed that the country was coming apart at the seams, didn't it? >> not just the country but the world. i remember i was a young reporter, 28 years old, and in august of that year russia invaded czechoslovakia and 15,000 people died in vietnam that year, including one of my very closest friends. i went home from this convention to south dakota. my father and parents were real dirt road democrats. my dad was in a rage about what he witnessed against the demonstrators. he hated the war in vietnam.
my brother was a marine serving there, but he saw the disillusion of the american spirit about how we come together peacefully to solve problems. the fact is a lot of the very peaceful. they came here for the right reasons. the others knew what they were doing. they wanted to provoke the police. they did that successfully. because that was a political objective. and so the party went home from here and rupert humphrey came as close as he did in part because he came out against the war in the closing days. a very astute observation. he said, we have to remember, i'm sure a lot of those cops had sons serving in vietnam. they came out of that culture. a lot of them had served in world war ii. nonethele nonetheless, it was a brutal reaction to what was going on and for the people who were the radicals, they got what they
wanted. they tried to cleave the country and they did just that. >> jeff greenfeld, talked about his family who were democrats. certainly my mom's family, also democrats. my grandma always had a picture of fdr hanging up in her kitchen because they were in dalton, georgia, in the great depths of the great depression and they always thanked fdr for helping them survive. between 1968 and 1972, they left that democratic party in large part because of the images we showed right there. >> yes, i think that con convention in particular, the images which were endlessly rebroadcast, were vivid demonstrations of that generational chasm, not even a gap. what i find so interesting, when we talk about the echoes, is that what that did to the
democratic party and to the political process is literally still with us. the effort to bring more people into the nominating process because back in '68, most of those delegations were held by the party leaders. just saturday, two days ago, the democratic national committee once again tried to minimize the roles of the insiders and maximize the roles of ordinary people. that fight, half a century on, has characterized what's happened to the democratic party and, to some extent, the republicans ever since. it was because of the feeling enjengerred at that convention that the process was closed. there are people who tell you it had negleative impacts. it helped donald trump take over the party. we're still living with the consequences with what tom reported so well just a few minutes ago and that's 50 years on. >> dan rather, one of the most stunning moments of the '68
convention, inside at least, is when the police came in and start rufding up reporters and actually you famously got -- or infamously got punched and it just -- it didn't look like an image that we were used to seeing in america. >> well, two points. one, historians will be talking about this convention 50 to 100 years from now. there's not a convention anywhere near it in terms of the way it con vul jed the country. many americans, those of us who were worked in chicago, both inside the hall, outside, in what was called the battle of michigan avenue. everybody was saying to themselves, what's happened to our country? we're better than this. what's happened to the country? and of course it is true the whole world was watching due to television coverage. it was this sense of what's happened to the united states of
america. so the psychological impact of this is -- and its effect on american politics, not just on the democratic party but on the republican party as well and then the whole america, for those who find themselves today, i find meemz myself among them sometimes. that we've never been as divided as this. the race riots in the streets. the tet offensive in january. martin luther king assassinated. bobby kennedy assassinated in june. the russians moving on che czechoslovakia with great force. by the way, seeing both inside and outside the hall, was something from a bad american movie. they had steel fences, barbed wire. many of the elevators didn't
work. telephones were not very dependable. and taxi drivers were on strike. you put all of them together in this cauldron of the democratic con convention of 1968 and you can see why at that point the country was in the situation, as said, and it did not hold and hasn't held to this point. >> jerry, that convention, that year, 1968, chicago, was certainly part of it, was a true fault line of fracturing of american culture and certainly of american politics. part of the background for what happened in 1968 and specifically what happened in chicago because i am a flat-out eternal optimist. i say this. for those of you out there today and, michael, you can give me your opinion on my thought, when i finish here, for those of you out there today who think that this country is in dire straights up against it, we
might not survive, i would ask you to consider just the single week in chicago. 50 years ago. getting gas and running away from the police riot. over 200 young men were killed in vietnam. in 1968, the total of deaths killed, k.i.a., in vietnam was over 16,000. so pump the brakes on your desperation about 2018 and reflect on the fact we survived and even prospered after 1968. >> you're right. you have to believe, american history, you've got to be an optimist. you look over 200 years. our system does change to respond to these things. you know, the democratic convention that year, the majority of democrats across the country turned against the vietnam war. but lbj and the establishment had such a grip on what the delegates did on that floor that they couldn't pass an anti-vietnam war platform plank.
they nominated hubert humphrey who had not campaigned in a single primary. as jeff mentioned, you know, the system changed. it's a lot more open. and you have to learn from these things, you know. it took a long time for congress finally to demand that the vietnam war ended. but it did. after watergate. politicians across the country looked to the president, who was forced to resign because of corrosion, because of scandal. they said, i want to make sure i'm the opposite of that. americans demanded it. >> you know, peggy, though, i completely agree, the united states learned and the arc of civilization is forever altered. but i am reminded that it was 50 years since chicago. it was 25 years again, that i started knocking on doors to run for office. after my first day of knocking
on doors, i was with my mom and dad that night and they said, what did you learn today? i said, i learned you're either on john wayne's side or you're on jane fonda's side and there's no in between. i was shocked at how split, even in pensacola, how split everybody was. of course it was a joke back then but 25 years later, it seems we're still there. >> yes, "time" magazine had a cover 50 years ago, 1968, that said america divided. they said we are different. we are two countries. i think of that often because all of my life since then it has been america divided. sometimes sharply and painfully. sometimes less so. but it's just true. and "time" captured it. i want to mention, quickly, joe, something optimistic i guess. 1968 was a brutal and harrowing
year. but in december of 1968, nasa sent up a spaceship and jim lovell was on it. it was apollo viii. i think they were attempting the moon. during that trip they read from the bible. they read from the old testament. they read, as i remember it, from genesis, in the beginning was the word. and nasa shortly after that broadcast received a telegram from a woman in the midwest if i remember it who said the simple words, thank you, guys, for saving 1968. it was a transcendent moment and a beautiful punctuation after the end of a painful, harrowing year. >> and, susan page, seven months later, neil armstrong walked on the moon.
for probably all of us, when we see the image of those apollo rockets going off the launch pads, it gives us chills. america at its best. >> you know, there's a lesson from john mccain, we were talking about earlier. it said you should be optimistic in general and optimistic about america in particular. you think about the contest. think about the opportunities for someone like me. for a woman in america. so greatly expanded in the past 50 years. or the racial diversity. not a perfect nation. but racial diversity in our country. so much more fabric of the country now than it was then. our treatment of the lgbt community. i mean, there are ways in which our society -- although there is no denying, we have some big divisions and challenges ahead. >> all right. our thanks to an incredible panel. we need three hours just for this panel. tom brokaw, dan rather, michael, susan page, jeff