tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC July 18, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PDT
the boy scouts, have been for a very long time, both a service and a religion organization. every time you say the scout oath, you pledge to do your duty to god and country. >> zach wahls gets tonight's last word. thanks for joining us tonight, zach. >> thank you, lawrence. > under the boardwalk with chris christie. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in san francisco. let me start tonight with the brazen decision by mitt romney to have chris christie open the republican convention. what a blunder bust. it's like bringing in the nastiest weapon of the boardwalk to blast at the president. got the message? i got it the second i heard christie's name. romney will not put the big guy on the ticket. oh, no. he's not perfect enough for the team. no. we're talking outsourcing.
have the big noise from jersey do the nasty stuff. pick a pleasant, unthreatening fellow like, say, tim pawlenty for the ticket. christie now joins the tuba section along with john sununu and other big boys brought in to pound away to obama. having won the nomination in a clown show, here come the parade of elephants. uh-oh. look out. there's some rogues out there. republicans who wonder why mitt romney won't release those sticky tax returns. and why he's letting the crazies attack hillary's closest aide for being islamic. desperate to change the subject romney ruminate about a running mate and could be close in coming. something has to change the subject. don't you think? david corn of mother jones always good for an insight. let me go to you, david corn. what do you make of this thing? christie, who he will not be on the ticket clearly, they are making him the blunder bust. what's your thought? >> you know, we see what's happening in the last couple of days. last couple of hours.
as mitt romney gets mired in the tax return issue and shows that he really can't get his -- get out of it. they're going to, like, all out obama hatred. an attack. so you have john sununu saying what was he smoking in hawaii and indonesia? you know. have you mitt romney calling barack obama foreign. we've been over this is a couple hundred times, chris. it is all about painting barack obama as non-american and as different from you and me and the other. racially tinged or not is up to you. chris christie is one of the best sluggers they have. you know, what's he bring to the republican party that mitt romney doesn't? an earthiness. he can connect with people. he can talk like a real person. doesn't have to be translated into human. they will bring him out the first -- to sort of start -- beating the meat. you know. sort of tender it up. so far later in the convention when mitt romney finally shows with or without his tim pawlenty vice president. >> let me -- bring new here in a
second, john. take a look at this. by choosing chris christie to give the big keynote speech to set the tone for the convention in tampa, romney is ensuring what the theme of the campaign will be. come out snarling. here are examples of christie at his most charming. let's listen. >> you're a real big shot. you're a real big shut. shut your mouth. you're walking away. >> on monday, are you going to be addressing the legislature? >> did i say on topic? are you stupid? thank you all very much. i'm sorry for the idiot over there. first off, it's none of your business. i don't ask you where you send your kids to school. don't bother asking me where i send mine. it is people like you divide this country. we are here to bring this country together. not divide it. you've got to be one arrogant s.o.b. to be telling the people of new jersey he'll decide when you've been good enough to get some of your own money back.
>> so joining us tonight is john braybender who worked for rick santorum. who decided to bring miss personality, miss congeniality to start the republican convention? what do you think is going on here? >> i think it is great pick. first of all, you have a governor who ran in a democratic state of principles cutting spending and taxes and got elected and governing that way. second of all, he is a great speaker. he will go out there and make a great case why this president has been a disaster. >> what will he say about the guy that won the nomination? >> i think he will -- he has been with romney from day one. he has been out there supporting him and saying that we immediate somebody that knows thousand turn this economy around. but at the same time, you have to remember, this is a referendum on the sitting president and frankly i'm happy that the romney people are willing to take the gloves off and start fighting back. >> have you noticed one thing, john. let's go back to david. have you noticed the republicans who are up for vp are the only ones not saying release your tax returns?
that's one way to shut them up. you might be on my list. here is a list of republicans who say mitt romney should release tax returns and grows day by day. former republican haley bore bauer, bill kristol, george will, matt dowd, rick perry, ron paul. among others, dnc already put out the republicans web video. let's look at what the democrats are doing, excitement among republicans to have this guy show where he made his money and if he's paid any taxes. >> more and more republicans agree mitt romney has not released more tax returns because he has something to hide. >> the cost of not releasing the returns are clear. therefore, he must have calculated there are higher costs in releasing them. >> obviously there is something there because if there was nothing there he would say have at it. >> clearly a problem with the tax returns other side he would release ten years of tax returns. >> if he had 20 years of great, clean everything is fine, it
would all be out there. >> i don't know what that sparkly music supposed to say. "the washington post" reports there are rifts within the romney campaign on how to handle the tax return matter. some are arguing privately romney needs to release additional returns. others are resisting the candidate's longtime reluctance to publicly disclosed information about his personal finances. david you first then john. what's going on here? looks like the palace guard business types around romney from the beginning are protecting his sensibilities and sensitivities here where the tougher political types say this ain't going away, governor. >> listen, mitt romney went to harvard business school. one of the first -- in bain consulting before he was in bain capital. one of the deepest core principles you learn in both places is cost benefit and analysis. he knows the political hit he is getting. he also is probably of the few people even if he does who knows what's in his tax returns. he knows whether he paid zero percent or not in 2009.
tax return that was not looked at my the mccain campaign. he knows whether he listed a couple of swiss bank accounts that haven't been disclosed previously. you have to believe at this point in time that if he's not doing the obvious political move of putting that stuff out, there is a strong reason and that would be that putting it out would give people a road map to romney world which would be not flattering or would be something that he couldn't overcome. if he didn't pay taxes in 2009, i don't think he could really stand that going into the november election. >> what do you think, john? >> well, i think the decision that they inside sort of move forward but not close the door on this is the worst decision. either they got to put them out there or they have to saw we are not talking about this anymore, any time anybody brings up the word tax we are going to remind them it is this president that gave tuesday biggest tax increase in history. but the sort of -- >> what happens if they go in, -- what happens if they -- look, what happens if he stone walls and that's his decision. right through say mid-september. they go into national debate,
hour and a half on national television. isn't that the easiest pedal important the president to push? to say what about your tax returns? and then it becomes the number one story in the debates which are critical of romney to show a better person, i think. >> no good answer. >> you know what will happen. every time he throws more information out there there will be more scrutiny and a lot of it is going to be insignificant but the obama people are going to make it into something it is not. the romney people know that. what they really need to do is start acting more like a challenger than an incumbent and start going after this president and his record and not let this middle ground stay there where they are not seeing anything. >> it is amazing. there is an old thing in politics. jerry brown has done tonight the past in california. he went after his opponents' pension he was getting. younger back in the -- what was -- in 1978. spending the whole summer talking about the other guy's pensions and you have them beat by labor day. no one knows and i don't know for sure what's in mitt romney's unreleased tax returns. the void leaves room for as if -- amazing guesses.
romney paid no taxes in 2009. he carried his losses forward from the financial hit of 2008. business week's josh green, among others, writes it is not implausible he carried forward those losses from the financial meltdown in 2008 and paid no federal taxes whatsoever the following year. number two, romney took advantage of a one-time irs program in 2009 that gave amnesty for fraudulent none disclosure offshore income. even though it is unlikely that could be lurking in romney's returns. since 2009, the last year in which romney got payments as part of his retroactive retirement deal, there could be something in that he doesn't want us to see. this possibility comes from nyu tax law professor dan shapiro. let me ask you this, dan. david. it seems to me what's the worst case here? let's be honest about this. if it shows he didn't pay taxes for a couple of years, that's devastating to a guy talking about reducing the corporate tax rate and putting more pressure on lower-income people.
if he had carried interest in which is the way equity people are able -- who pay regular income taxes on what is capital gains. what else? >> let's listen. >> i'm sorry. they don't pay regular taxes. she enthused pay regular taxes and get capital gains treatment which is 15% rate rather than 30-some percent rate. >> rick santorum tried to develop a populist appeal against mitt romney. didn't quite work. can you imagine what he would have said if it came out during the campaign that mitt romney for all his riches did not pay any taxes in a given year or two. i don't know if a candidate can withstand that. working class voters in ohio, pennsylvania, michigan. mitt romney would be spending every day between now and november explaining that. he may have even a good explanation. you know. that there was nothing illegal about it. but it just is exactly the wrong position for the top -- 1% candidate of the gop is about to
nominate. >> i want to talk about ann romney's dancing horse. featured in a new dnc website that skewers romney for not releasing more tax returns. i'm not sure this is fair game. haven't seen this one yet. let's judge it. let's listen. ♪ >> governor, will you release your income tax records? >> if that's been the tradition, i'm not opposed to doing that. time will tell. i anticipate most likely i am going get asked to do that around the april time period. i will keep that open. >> when you release yours, will you follow your father's example? >> maybe. >> that must be an attempt to win surfing commercial. never go after the spouse. last question to you, john. why are so many republicans led my haley barbour calling for him to release them? they are partisans with him, not against him. they want him to do it. >> they know every day like
today, somebody like myself on here talking about this issue as a good day for obama and bad day for romney. i think a lot of republicans just think it is time to put this behind us and get back to what this race really should be about. that's obama's record. >> john, it is great to have you on the show. thank you for joining us on "hardball." david, you have great insight and passion always, sir. >> thank you. coming up, republicans are desperate to change the subject as john just said so. once again, they are trying to turn president obama into a -- i hate saying this -- a foreigner. they're all doing it. they do it relentlessly. it didn't work four years ago. why are they doing it again? they're going to try again. plus vetting candidates for vice president. you will find this fascinating. we will talk to a journalist that wants to get himself vetted by the people vetting people like sarah palin in the recent history. see how it works. and could the bombing that killed three top syrian government officials including the brother-in-law of president assad mark the beginning of the end for the regime? i'm very skeptical. i think he will fight to the end. let me finish with mitt romney's board rock emperor, chris christie himself. why he picked christie to trash obama. this is "hardball," the place for politics.
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birther talk does not die and does not fade away. enter joe arpaio who announced today that his, quote, that president obama's hawaii birth certificate is a forgery. hawaii officials responded to the allegations are untrue and misinformed and he misconstrues hawaii law itself. arpaio's trial of charging of racially profiling latinos beginning tomorrow. that's a trial for him. we'll be back. we know a place where tossing and turning have given way to sleeping. where sleepless nights yield to restful sleep. and lunesta can help you get there, like it has for so many people before. when taking lunesta, don't drive or operate machinery until you feel fully awake. walking, eating, driving, or engaging in other activities
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for salon. and msnbc political analyst. anybody who doubts this is really not paying attention, charles and joan. this is a symphony. he's foreign. the references by sununu all over the place. the candidate himself yesterday said he's foreign. i think the president plays the xylophone like lionel hampton and lets the orchestra around him fill it in. they're all singing the same song. this guy's not one of us. here's a guy that's been president for four years. he is one of us. why are they doing it? >> me? >> yeah, you. yes, sir. >> well, i mean you know why it is.
it kind of connects to a certain part of the base that -- of the republican base that barack obama even to this day is very other than they are. and as much as they can drive a wedge between the american population, the american electorate and barack obama, they see that as a winning strategy. that happened since the 2008 campaign of trying to paint this particular guy as other. it is not completely different from clinton but it is kind of one-up it is clinton -- >> i just -- do you think it would be the case if he was a regular guy with a more familiar african-american background than n this country? coming up from slavery and jim crowe moving north into the midwest, do you think they would be playing the same card or would it be different? >> i think it is absolutely different for a lot of reasons. and -- part of that is that he's worn in hawaii -- born those in hawaii, for those that even believe he was born in america. many believe he was born in kenya or some other country.
his mother dated, fell in love and married two men out of her race and never once married another white man. he was raised in hawaii which not every republican even believes is part of the influence. that's the funny part. i would like to see that test on jay leno some night when he does -- you know, jaywalking. do you think hawaii should be independent to the union? >> like a foreign operating base in asia ever gets out of control. how people see it. not -- drawn in this that way. have you education that is in part in indonesia and -- even if you don't know where that is you know it is not england. it is very exotic, the tale of barack obama. >> he went to prep school in honolulu. one of the best in the city of honolulu. he has gone to columbia, went to school in -- california. columbia undergrad, harvard law. he has been involved in politics since he got out of school. he has been a public figure. he has not lived his life in the shadows. let me bring in joan. the other day sununu -- there he
is talking the guy saying all this sununu -- all this stuff about cocaine and all this stuff. all these old charges and saying that he went back to indonesia a e second time. only there when he was a kid. then made it sound like he had to go back to his homeland and just keeps putting -- by the way, this terrible thing, the -- michele bachmann is push being we have muslim brotherhood running the show. why doesn't john sununu who comes from a middle eastern background, members are -- member of a lot of legitimate organizations, why doesn't he speak up and say stop this rot? mccain has said this. he said it today. joan? >> yes, chris. mccain came out and you a tacked bam mann and defended huma abedin. we have to go when john mccain we stood up and said to that woman who called barack obama an arab, ma'am he is a good christian man. we disagree on policy.
that's the last decent thing that -- republican has done. he was called upon basically to do it again. he did it. john sununu should be saying that. he should be talking about his palestinian american father and should be talking about his international roots. but he can't because they have double downed on the hatred and doubled down on demonizing this president that most of us recognize as one of us who was raised by his white grandparents, who grandfather was a world war ii veteran, who has -- a different background and then a very, very, very american background. >> at love us are proud of the fact where he came from and how far he has gone. as he said in the way that always grabbed me, and i -- think of this as -- something only could have happened in this country. today in the senate floor john mccain snowed himself at his best and showed courage and decency. look at what he did here. defended the longtime clinton aide huma abedin who has been on many trips with he and secretary clinton when she was in the zmath. here he is going after
republicans including michele bachmann for this trash talk. let's listen. >> on june 13, five members of congress wrote to the deputy inspector general of the department of state, demanding he begin an investigation into the possibility that abideen and other officials are using their influence to promote the cause of muslim brotherhood within the u.s. government. these allegations and the report from which they are drawn are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, dedicated american and loyal public servant. >> you know, charles, it seems to me even the right wing on the far right ought to pay attention. hillary clinton supported the war in iraq. i opposed it. i believe you did, too. one of my problems with her candidacy. she was a hawk on that war. huma was with her the whole time.
she is having a lot of influence an arab mole. it's so ludicrous. she is one of the most pro in this. to say she some how is being the tool through houma of the terrorists it's -- well, it's ridiculous, but somebody is buying this. certainly somebody is selling it. i think this is less about houma and more about barack obama. if you look at the anti-international laws, they don't pop up right after 9/11 which you might have thought maybe that's the impetus for this. they don't pop up when we go to war in iraq. they pop up post-barack obama. this is kind of -- that whole kind of other -- will is some kind of muslim relationship there, there's in kind of devious activity that's happening in the government and
it also allows people to paint someone who they don't necessarily live around. these laws don't pop up necessarily in the blue states. if you look at the way muslims are drinted in this country, just the top ten states where they are, it's not really blue states. the only one that fits into this is texas and less than 1% of the population of texas is muslim. it's somebody other than the people who live next to me and i can demonize them and demonize barack obama through these people. and the people are being used in that way. it's a very sad kind of statement about where we are in our politics in america that we would choose to do that to people who have done nothing wrong. >> well, making your point, charles, anonymous romney advisers now signal in a paper an interview with buzzfede that the next stage would be ruthless. this is a guy who admitted to cocaine use. he's talking about the president, had a sweetheart deal with his house in chicago, and was associated and worked with rod blagojevich to get valerie jaret appointed to the senate.
are you familiar with the florida right, they're florinating our water because they want to get to our minds. >> not for our teeth. >> no, to control our minds. this brings up john mccain to me. one of the things they're saying is john mccain had a lousy campaign. he maybe had access to this kind of stuff and he didn't use it. the other group that is being insulted by the romney campaign is the media. they're saying we didn't look into the rezko stuff, which we did, the cocaine stuff, which people did. this president has been vetted. we looked into those stories. i certainly -- we all spent time talking about reverend wright. they think they're going to go back to the playbook that didn't work in 2008. four years later, when we know this president, you may disagree with him about the affordable
care act, have at it. but we know who he is. we know his family, his wife. we know he's one of us. this isn't going to work this time. as you have made the case many times before, this is have they have. >> speaking of the topic you talked about, the president's old bad habits, i want to talk charles blow for joining us tonight. i'm sure you have heard that one before. >> that's the worst. >> thank you. thank you, joan walsh. up next, holy paranoia, batman. this involves batman, hollywood, and the caped crusader. same bat time, same bat channel.
the hot topic of the moment is his venture capital company that happens to bear the same name as the most frightening and current batman villain. >> it's john stewart sticking in a night and wiggling a bit. it's the name of the soon to be released movie the dark knight rises. is it a coincidence that he bears the same money? enter elrushbo, here's the verdict from his parallel universe. >> the villain in the "dark knight rises" is named bane. b-a-n-e. do you think that it is accidental that the name of the really vicious, fire-breathing, four-eyed whatever it is villain in the movie is named bane? the audience is going to be huge. a lot of people are going to see the movie. and it's a lot of brain dead
people entertainment to pop culture crowd, and they're going to hear bane in the movie and associate bane. >> now, back to earth. the bane character was created by chuck dixon back in the early '90s, when romney was proud of his time at bain and obama was still a professor at the university of chicago law school. rush's theory seems to be the then nonexistent team obama conspired with the author almost two decades ago so the movie release coincided with an election between the then unknown obama and the then unnoticed romney. here is chuck dixon on the point. movie people in in the process of making money. not alienating 50% of their audience with a goofy ridiculous point. romney does thing they'll use the coincidence to their advantage. here is a guy who wants to pay romney are a living. remember this anti-romney ad in the campaign.
>> mitt romney's negative attack machine is back on full throttle. this time, romney is firing his mud at rick santorum. romney is trying to hide from his big government romney care and his support for job killing cap and trade in in the end, mitt romney's ugly attacks are going to backfire. >> he looks like romney. anyway, at the time, romney called it it the most negative ad of the season. the actor hopes to perfect his romney impression. he has picked up on some romneyism. these are really good. he said romney stands up, quote, like he has a plank nailed to his back. he looks starry eyed when listening. and he wears a smirk in debrates. all three are true. if he were flamboyant, impersonating him might be easier, but the man he is trying to mimic is like he said, like a ken doll with a string. he needs that to win or his
comments will be worthless. >> next, the scoop that failed. connie schultz wound up more than tickles after receiving an e-mail from a conservative blogger she's not going to name. here is what she got in the name. dear ms. schultz, we're doing an expose about journalists in the media that they are assigned to cover. we found numerous photos of you with senator sherrod brown. she did care to comment. here is what she wrote back. dear mr. blank, i'm surprised you didn't find a photo of me kissing sherrod brown so hard he passes out from lack of oxygen. he's really cute. he's also my husband. you know that, right? connie schultz. that's right, schultz and sherrod brown have been married since 2004. not the hardest info to track down, if you're a great blogger.
now back to "hardball." back to "hardball" and back to the sheer game of it. there's been a lot of speculation about when mitt romney might name a running mate, when and who, and will it be tim pawlenty, rob portman, or louisiana governor bobby jintal, their thought to be topping the list right now. the vp vetting process is shrouded in mystery, but jason zhangerly went straight to a former campaign vetter, one who vetted sarah palin to get himself vetted so he could see what it's like. he writes about it in the magazine's august issue. and susan paige covers -- i hate to do this to you, nine elections so far. she's the washington bureau chief. i think i might have you beat. thank you so much for joining
us. first of all y want to ask jason about the vetting process. what do you ask? we were going through dangers here and i'll put them in regular english. you're a married guy, right? so girlfriends? drugs? >> girlfriends, they ask about, lots of questions about your sex life. have you ever paid for sex, have you ever been accused of sexual harassment, sex tapes, a homosexual encounter. lots of questions about your sex life. they want to know about drug history, alcohol use, they want all of your tax records. it's a fairly invasive process. >> who does the questioning usually? is it the scand dt for president or is it a high level campaign person or somebody just as good at this kind of thing, digging? >> it's usual a high level campaign person. in 2008, for john mccain, a.b. coldhouse who worked for reagan was in charge of the process. for romney, it's beth myers. it's always someone who is fairly prominent in the party.
and has a lot of washington experience and has a lot of trust built up with the particular presidential candidate. >> let's go to the history book. it seems like it started with tom eagleten in 1972 who had electroshock therapy, and frank mankowitz who spocked to him, never actually said, did you have elecroshock therapy? i loved him, but you think he would have offered that up? >> you would think so. that's one reason we know that the standard final question people get asked when they're being vetted, is there anything i haven't asked you about that could prove to be really embarrassing. that's the eagleton question. we have seen this process get more and more detailed into finances and drug use and employment of household workers, something that wasn't asked too far long ago and became an issue with a couple nominees for senate confirmation, not really for vice president. it's become a much more
elaborate process, and they also look at things are more personal, like the personal rapport between the presidential candidate and the perspective vice president. >> what about the questions of belief? and i know this sounds a little ethereal, jason, but what do you believe? what is your religiouss beliefs? do they get into that? why did you convert from one religion to another? is it that intimate? >> it was with me. ted frank was following a script he used in 2008. he had a lot of questions about stuff like my synagogue attendance, whether i was bar mitzvahs, whether my son was briszed, you want to be comfortable they're sufficiently relicious. in some ways, an atheist candidate would be a taboo. >> the vetting was the old way of shaking hands and saying i like the cut of that guy's jib. you have to say one of the two following things, i knew it but
thought he would be okay, or i never asked him. >> that's right, and vice presidents don't really make that much difference in campaigns. a long time since a vice president has really determined an election. but it does tell people something about the decision making process that a potential president would go through. if you don't have a thorough vet and something embarrassing comes out, it makes you look like you're not a good decision maker. that was one of the things with sarah palin, i think. in the end, it didn't reflect well on john mccain's decision making process and that hurt him with some voters. >> let me ask you starting with susan because we're pros, but let me ask you this, it seems there are more intimate questions that you want to get out of a candidate for vp that have nothing to do with the list. do you feel comfortable working with the process on a regular basis for four to eight years? number two, do they have the kind of character where you don't stay up at night wondering
what they're up to. you know they're telling the truth, and three, do they have judgment? will they be forcing you -- will you be getting up in the morning and reading some stupid thing they said. judgment, character and comfort. you can't get someone to vet that stuff, can you? >> those are the more important things. you can find out that someone had an affair, smoked dope in college, and still think they're okay to put on the ticket, but you want someone you trust to have your back and is not going to embarrass you. that's among the reasons i think tim pawlenty and rob portman have come to the top of this list because these are people that i think governor romney seems to trust. when you see them campaign together, you see they have a relationship of some comfort. >> my top two. do you have a third possibility in your list from what you have been able to get? >> i was out in wisconsin and struck by the relationship, the
personal relationship that there seemed to be between mitt romney and paul ryan. you know, they campaigned together in a way that was very comfortable, and that made paul ryan a little higher on my list that he would be otherwise because he comes with some risk because he has the budget plan. >> there's a lot of jobs out there if you win. you got any thoughts on this, jason, young man. you have anything besides the pros who say portman or pawlenty. i smell pawlenty. >> i think the three that have been mentioned. the personal relationship between them. that was something in 22004, we saw the results of this. looking add the way the guys interact with each other and seeing portman and pawlenty and ryan, based on that, it has to be one of the three. >> pawlenty seems lake a good guy. i have a sense that would be romney's reaction. portman, a little too boring if that's possible in the case of romney to think someone else is too boring. i'm getting sarcastic. don't want to do that.
you have been vetted, i guess you're clean. you can read about his vetting process in "gq" and susan page for joining us. >> could we be seeing the beginning of the end in syria. we're going to look at this from a human point of view. here is bashar al assad who didn't want the job. he's having to do the dirty work and he does is doing it. what options does he have now. and the killing of people so close to him, including his brother-in-law, suggesting he way be facing the end of this regime? this is "hardball," place for politics. those little things still get you. for you, life's about her. but your erectile dysfunction - that could be a question of blood flow. cialis tadalafil for daily use helps you be ready anytime the moment's right. you can be more confident in your ability to be ready. and the same cialis is the only daily ed tablet approved to treat ed and symptoms of bph, like needing to go frequently or urgently. tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and medications, and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sexual activity.
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last month, president obama softened this government's policy on illegal immigrants who have been here a long time. now he's reaping the political benefits. let's check the "hardball" scoreboard. they polled latino voters by latino decisions finds the president leading mitt romney now 70% to 22%. the first time in almost two years mr. obama has been at 70 or this high in this poll. we'll be right back.
words of secretary of defense leon panetta today is spinning out of control. a bombing by the opposition hit in the heart of the regime and killed three senior officials very close to the president. bosher al assad. it includesed the defense minitary and the deputy defense minister which happens to be the president's brother-in-law. how long can president assad hold the reins of power. what are his options? what can he do and will he evacuate or escalate the violence against his own people? richard engle, i'm not saying i identify with al assad, but i think about his predicament. does he have any options really in life now? >> well, his physical option would be if he wanted to leave power, would be to go to russia. that's probably the only country that would take him in at this stage. i don't see any political resolution. the international community, if
such a thing exists, talks about a cease fire or reconciliation. that's not an option. they want to killham. they tried to kill him today. he has to pack tup, go to russia, live in exile, live badly, and then be hunted down by international criminal courts or he has to try to win this conflict, which doesn't seem likely, or he goes down fighting and probably is arrested or killed, and that seems most likely at this stage. >> i look at that predicament. he knows what is going on, he watches television. he saw what happened to gadhafi, to sutaum dom, they went and hid somewhere and got found. >> or mubarak. >> why couldn't russia, which i was reading history recently, the history between the baath party and the russians going back to the '60s, if not the '50s, was strong. don't the russians want to keep
some semblance of a worldwide network of power by showing their loyalty to this guy? >> that's exactly what russia has been trying to do. but it seems like russia misplayed the syria card. russia was very upset when libya suddenly went from a humanitarian intervention to an all-out military assault or that involved regime change. russia felt duped by that and lost one ally which was libya. and russia decided it wasn't going to lose another ally, and it wasn't going to do what the obama administration did, which was turn on an old ally in president mubarak, and they decided to ride it out. the problem was bashar al assad turned out to be a brutal dictator in his final months. there's that expression, be careful of the quiet ones. a lot of people, i was very surprised at the way the syrian regime was acting. this was not the kind of person you would expect to become a saddam hussein leader, yet for
the last several months, that's what the inner circle of the government has behaving. >> maybe like the godfather where he became more evil and evil until he was a devil, basically, or a bunch of uncles? he took over, thinking he's a doctor, he ends up on the throne, but he realizes immediately he's surrounded by a bunch of uncles telling him what to do. what happened here? >> a little bit of both. in the beginning, if you remember, bashar al assad was the darling of the international community, and some people in syria were very happy that he had come, and there was talk that he was going to be the new reformist and he was going to change the tone of syria. syria was becoming a hot travel destination, and there were travel magazines writing about the old city of damascus. they were not lying. it was a great place to visit a few years ago. >> what about vogue magazine and building up his family and how glamorous, the superficiality of a lot of journalism?
>> exactly, and when pushed and cornered, i don't know if it was an evil streak within bashar al assad himself or he became a prisoner of his inner circle, or as i said earlier, a little bit of both, i suspect, but this regime started behaving like saddam hussein's regime in the worst days. there's no way to go back from there. >> i wish there was some place to go where could dump these guys. >> sandals? >> many people killed in the end. it seems these guys go down and tens of thousands of people go down with them. >> chemical weapons are the biggest concern. syria has a lot of chemical weapons and the biggest concern is syria could use them. it's not like a nuclear weapon. you can use them for reasons, to deny terrain, to punish an area. i don't know if he's going to do it. i hope he doesn't.
>> his father did that. thank you for being on top of this. you're one of the best, i think you are the best when it comes to anything foreign. >> you're nicer to me than on the last guest. at least you didn't tell me i'm a young kid who doesn't know anything. >> let me finish with mitt romney's boardwalk emperor. why he picked chris christie to bash obama. hmm, it says here that cheerios helps lower cholesterol as part of a heart healthy diet. that's true. ...but you still have to go to the gym. ♪ the one and only, cheerios i've got a nice long life ahead.
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let me finish tonight with this, so the word is going forth the torch has been passed to the king of the board walk, the killer of hecklers, chris christie. he's the voice romney wants bellowing forth from tampa the week before labor day. once it was the great jerry lewis setting the tone. now it's the emperor of the board walk himself. i think it tells us what romney is up to. outsource the trash talk, the snarling, and spanking of obama and then put a more pleasant guy on the ticket. he doesn't want to hang of with christie, he just wants him to do the dirty work. clever division of labor. use the big guy from jersey to clear the beach of obama so mitt and tim can put their chairs together for the next eight years. let chris scream about the bad stuff going on. this is the way i see it shaping up. a dirty, snarling attack