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Interview With Tom Daschle; Afghanistan: War of Choice or Necessity?; MSNBC Suspends Olbermann
Aired November 5, 2010 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATHLEEN PARKER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Good Friday. I'm Kathleen Parker.
ELIOT SPITZER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: And I'm Eliot Spitzer. Welcome to the program. And boy, do we have a great show tonight? Is compromise possible after the heat and venom of that campaign that ended on Tuesday? We will have that conversation with Tom Daschle who was the majority leader in the Senate, a Democrat when George Bush, a Republican, was president.
PARKER: Plus, one of the sharpest foreign policy minds who argues that America's greatest threat isn't al Qaeda or our two wars, but the national debt. We'll ask him to explain.
And comedian Adam Carolla joins us with his new book "In 50 Years We'll all be Chicks."
PARKER: Since my own book recommended saving the males, this should be, well, provocative, anyway.
SPITZER: Can't wait.
PARKER: But, first Eliot, we have our "Opening Argument." What's the headline today?
SPITZER: The headline today, Kathleen, and we knew it Tuesday, jobs, jobs, jobs, that's what everything is about these days. And you know what? We got some data today that's a little confusing to say the least. The unemployment rate, 9.6 percent, exactly where it was before -- 18.7 percent if you count al the discouraged workers, still a really ugly, bad number.
The good news, 151,000 jobs were created last month. That is encouraging. Let's take a look at a chart we created for folks. We call this the smile. The red bars there when George Bush was president. A lot of job losses, 700,000 a month. Barack Obama becomes president. It tips up and you can see all the charts going up and the bars going up. A lot of jobs being created in the profit 10 months -- over a million private sector jobs being created over the past year. That's good news.
PARKER: That is good news, but I have to say that chart is sort of a Rorschach, because it looked a little bit like a smirk to me.
SPITZER: Oh, smirk/smile, all right.
PARKER: Grimace. Anyway, but here's the weird thing, right, President Obama three days after an election landslide for the Republicans unemployment figures not so thrilling and he's off on a trip again.
SPITZER: Wouldn't you go away too.
PARKER: Off on another -- now, I think what's happened is he thinks his job was outsourced so he's going to Asia, right?
SPITZER: Come on, don't be so mean to the poor guy.
PARKER: He's go to Asia for 10 days. All right, I know I'm supposed to be a contrarian here, but I'm going to be contra- contracontrarian.
SPITZER: Contra-contrarian, all right. That's a positive, right?
PARKER: There's all this criticism about Obama is going off on this trip and there's so many are going with him and it's going to cause laddy-dee, lady-da. We don't know how much it's going to cost because our government doesn't release those figures. But somebody came up with $200 million a day.
You know, what -- at this point I have to say what do we expect the president to do? I mean, he is going on a trip that's been on the books for a long time, he's had to cancel before. The purpose of the trip is to talk about economics and our trade situation and try to create jobs here at home. And, you know, it includes the G-20 -- I sound like a Democrat, here.
SPITZER: That's why I'm not interrupting. I'm saying, this is good, keep going.
PARKER: Finally we found out how to keep you from interrupting me. G-20 Summit (INAUDIBLE), I mean this is the responsible thing for him to do, right?
PARKER: It seems like partisan hackery to be picking on him about this at this time.
SPITZER: Well Kathleen, I hate to say it but I could not agree more. Let him go do his job. The G-20 is hugely important, as you said, about currency, which is the key to trade. But anyway, let's go back to jobs, because jobs is going to be the key. I have a chart to show up here what the jobs figures have been. I love charts. Come on. There it is.
When the president, as in President Obama, came in, unemployment at 7.7, it peaked at 10.1, now it's down to 9.6 and here's the question, he got shellacked, his word, on Tuesday, in the elections because the job situation is so terrible. If he wants to have a fighting chance, this is my view now, if he wants to have a fighting chance to get re-elected he's got to get that number down to 7.6, below where it was when he came into office. If he's going to do that, we calculate he's got to create about 550,000 jobs a month. Now, compare that to the 150,000 we just created this past month, you see how much work we still have to do, a big, big chasm.
PARKER: Well, it is the big political question, jobs, jobs, jobs, as you say, and James Carville, on our show just the other night said, if Barack Obama doesn't get that level down to at least eight percent he's probably not even going to run again.
SPITZER: Well, mind you, the 7.6 percent I'm talking about was by the Iowa caucuses which is really when that campaign goes into full throttle, so you can give him the few extra months if you extend it further into 2012, but order of magnitude we are still hundreds of thousands of jobs a month away from where the president needs to be to be able to say to the American public, look, we've really turned the ship around.
PARKER: Well, and now to talk more about the job situation let's go to our own team and "The Arena."
All right, and joining us now from Salon.com is Steve Kornacki and from the "Wall Street Journal", none other than John Fund.
Steve, the other night when James Carville was on the show he said if President Obama doesn't get unemployment down below eight percent he probably won't even run for president. Is that remotely possible?
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: It's James Carville being a little mischievous, think. He's been known to do that. I would say two things about it. The first is that this kind of talk inevitably follows the kind of midterm that we saw Tuesday when the Democrats got slaughtered in 1994, the talk was that Bill Clinton wouldn't run for a second term in 1996 and if he dared to run, he'd be challenged from the Democratic Party. We all know what happened then. The talk after the 1982 midterms with Ronald Reagan was very similar, they said he's too old. He'll step aside, the Republicans have to come up with somebody else.
Again, we remember what happened there. Now, obviously in both of those situations the economy improved between the midterm and re- election year and by historical standard it's got to improve for Obama to have a chance in 2012.
SPITZER: John, you're big on jobs, right, you think private sector does all things magical. How do we turn this around and how many jobs do we think we'll...
PARKER: Don't you love how he puts words in your mouth?
SPITZER: That the private sector will create over the next year.
PARKER: Yeah, John.
JOHN FUND, WALL STREET JOURNAL: When Obama came into office his economist said if we pass the stimulus bill we're going to hold unemployment below eight percent. That didn't quite work out as well as it hoped. I don't see anything new on the Obama playbook. Maybe I'll be wrong, maybe the state of the union message in January will have some different proposal, but if he keeps on the present course the level of uncertainty which has helped retard job creation for so long is probably going to continue.
Now, I think he's going to cut a deal on Bush tax cuts, I think he'll extend them for everyone but on the upper income brackets he'll only extend them for a couple of years. That will help, he's also apparently acknowledged that Cap and Trade is pretty much dead. Those are helpful, but I think you actually need something to spur the economy. His own tax commission headed by Paul Volcker, a good Democrat, said our corporate tax rate is the second highest in the industrialized world. He recommended that we cut it. Obama himself has suggested that. There are lots of -- proposed tax credits. That kind of strategy would increase people's certainty and their confidence...
SPITZER: Can I just give you some numbers. I think most people would agree if he could lower our corporate tax rate, fine, be competitive on the other hand, we need the revenue we've had, as you know, "Name Your Cuts," but here's some numbers: Between President Bush's inauguration, his departure, we had a net loss of about four million jobs. President Obama, and I'm not trying to play games here, but since the worst moment of the recession he has created over a million private sector jobs. So I'm not sure where this argument about massive uncertainty -- it's a demand crisis. It is a demand crisis, it is driving this, it was too much leverage that led to an enormous collapse. Now it is a demand crisis that is not letting people invest.
FUND: Do you still want to sit at your Keynesian...
SPITZER: You bet. I will take Keynes any day...
FUND: I understand. I mean, you want to worship a dead British white economist, that's your business.
SPITZER: Look, I will take that over the voodoo economics of (INAUDIBLE). But some back -- all right, you jump in here.
PARKER: Steve, let me just ask you this, when President Obama offers to extend these tax cuts, is he really interested in compromise or is he attacking center so he can get re-elected?
KORNACKI: Yeah, I think this is a -- it's a very interesting dilemma for him because on the surface if you look at a poll question on this subject and say to people do you favor tax increases only on the wealthy, that individual poll question always polls very well. But these tax questions are actually more complicated than you think. I think we have a prime example of it in the last year where President Obama came into office, it's true, he has said this on the campaign trail this year, he did cut taxes through his stimulus program for 95 percent of Americans. But if you take a poll and you ask Americans if their taxes were cut they don't believe that happened. If you can think back to when Bill Clinton was president, in his first budget, a budget that was key to the economic success we had in the 1990s he raised taxes only on the top two percent of income earners. Again, something that polled very popularly -- a year later, most people said raised it on everybody.
FUND: Class warfare is very tempting, publicly, but it usually doesn't work out that well. We had an example in Washington State. They had a proposal to create a new state income tax. It would only have affected two percent of all the taxpayers in the state and there would have been middle class tax cuts attached to it. Guess what, it lost -- it won 35 percent of the vote. It was crushed even though it had the support of Bill Gates, Sr., Bill Gates, Jr. and the Labor Union.
SPITZER: Let's say there's a compromise and you get an extension of all the Bush tax cuts, Cap and Trade, probably is done. That eliminates all the uncertainty folks have been talking about. Will the private sector then invest the $2 trillion according to your economic models? Where initially they've been sitting on the sidelines watching.
FUND: Well, right now they're investing some of it overseas which is one of the problems, that we're sending jobs overseas. I think that if you increase certainty in all previous recessions we've had a more significant recovery and a faster recovery. We have not had this lag between the end of a recover -- when is the last time we had this much of a lag?
SPITZER: There is a reason for that, it's called globalization, we are facing a much more dramatic set of competitors overseas. We have solved the...
FUND: Germany is facing competitors, they're recovering faster than we are.
SPITZER: They have a very different economic base. They've always been a massive exporter, they have driven the European economy with an export driven model for many, many years and as a...
FUND: Canada's recovering faster than we are.
SPITZER: You're right. In certain examples you can point to that, but here's the reality. We have a demand...
FUND: How many do you want me to mention? Australia, New Zealand -- how many more countries do you want me to mention?
SPITZER: Because the center of our economy was whittled away by the Reagan deregulatory structure and the overleveraging it went to...
FUND: You're blaming somebody president 25 years ago?
Watch "Inside Job," listen to Paul Volcker... FUND: I can't believe this.
SPITZER: Listen to Alan Greenspan who says that is what led to this enormous collapse. We are beginning to dig out and that's why the job creation...
FUND: Look, I'll make a compromise with you. Paul Volcker is a good Democrat. He happened to chaired a tax commission under Barack Obama. I'll take all of his recommendation, call that a political compromise, we would have a better economy and more jobs and a faster economy.
SPITZER: Will you take the Volcker rule and fully implement it.
FUND: As a compromise, of course.
PARKER: You know, we've been doing -- we've been asking all our guests to name their cuts. We starting asking them to name their compromise, John just named one, so you get a turn.
KORNACKI: A compromise...
PARKER: Name a compromise. What would you be willing to compromise?
KORNACKI: Well no, I think it's an inevitable compromise at this point and that's the Bush tax cuts. I think the idea that they're going to be extended for at least a year and then maybe you have it out a year from now or a couple of years down the line I think that's coming. I see no harm in terms of a recovery in raising the income tax rates on the absolutely wealthiest people in this country. I don't think it hindered a recovery in 1993 when Bill Clinton did it. I don't think it will now. I don't think we should raise taxes on anybody else. I think we should keep those low rates for everybody else, but I see no harm...
PARKER: How about raising the threshold for the rich, because $250,000 ain't what it used to be and there's a lot of small business people...
KORNACKI: No, the percentage of small business people who would be affected by this, it's minimal. And again, I think I look back to 1993...
FUND: Half the small business income would be affected.
KORNACKI: I heard dire predictions from Republicans the last time we raised income tax in the top two percent. We were coming out of a recession. It was a double dip recession, it was going to be the inevitable result was going to be job killing and the result was 1990s. In 1993 we raised those tax rates and we had a decade of growth. And I...
FUND: In June of 1993, when Clinton raised taxes, we were out of the recession for already a year.
FUND: And every Republican...
PARKER: All right, guys.
FUND: ...Political propaganda from either party...-
KORNACKI: Newt Gingrich said it.
FUND: We were not in recession when we raised those taxes.
PARKER: Oh, my gosh.
FUND: Watch what the numbers are, not what people propagandize.
PARKER: I'm afraid we have gridlock, here. I'm sorry. Steve Kornacki and John Fund, thanks so much for being with us. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARKER: The new speaker, John Boehner, who keeps talking about repeal, repeal, repeal, he's just wrong. That's not what the people have voted for him to do.
TOM DASCHLE, FMR SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I think he's wrong both substantively and politically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SPITZER: And now it's time for tonight's "headliner." the looming question over Washington in the wake of Tuesday's election, can gridlock be avoided?
PARKER: Our next guest knows a thing or two about forging compromise as former Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, hammered out several bipartisan deals and now is the author of a new book "getting it done: how Obama and Congress finally Broke the Stalemate to Make way for a new Health Care System."
SPITZER: We sat down with Tom Daschle earlier. Take a look.
PARKER: A lot of people around here have been saying if you had been the chief of staff Tuesday would not have happened. That would not have turned out quite the way it did.
TOM DASCHLE, FMR SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, my mother doesn't get by with getting that kind of work out so successfully, but...
(LAUGHTER) PARKER: I don't know how she got my e-mail address. But let's pretend that you are chief of staff, what would you advise president Obama to do?
DASCHLE: I think in a word I'd use the word "inclusion." I think the more inclusive, the more we can build relationships and trust, the more we can tear down sort of the barriers that have existed because of the polarization, the more successful we're going to be.
When we're in crisis, Kathleen, more often than not we find this is the time we've got to do it. We don't -- it shouldn't take a crisis, but we are in a crisis in many respects today, economically and in so many social -- and the social challenges that we face. We've got to understand that inclusive politics is something we've got to embrace.
PARKER: What happened Tuesday night? Was this massive Republican takeover of the House, OK, and a lot of that was tied to voters' unhappiness with the health care bill. So how -- what is your position on this? I mean should the people just -- do they not know better? Are you just -- should they just sort take their medicine and be quiet? I mean, they've obviously voiced their position and they're in support of what the Republicans apparently want to do.
DASCHLE: Actually, Kathleen, I challenge the premise. Every poll I've seen, and I mean this -- and I really don't think this is inaccurate -- every poll I've seen the American people are evenly divided between those who support it and those who don't. and when you drill down on those who oppose it, when you ask them about specific provisions in the bill, they are very supportive and so I think we have to be -- I think the election turned on three things. One, there is a tremendous concern and anxiety about the economy and about the future of this country and in terms of jobs and every other aspect of the financial lives of most Americans.
Secondly, there's an extraordinary frustration with Washington today. Democrats were in control and I believe in large measure Democrats got the blame for the fact that Washington is not more functional than it is today.
And, third, I think there was a lot more energy on the Republican side today than there is on the Democratic side. And that energy level, which was evidenced more in the funding and -- than it was on any other aspect, those three factors played a big role in what happened on Tuesday.
PARKER: So, the new speaker, John Boehner who keeps talking about repeal, repeal, he's just wrong.
DASCHLE: I think he's wrong both substantively and politically. He can't do it politically because I think when you drill down to say we want to repeal insurance reform, we want to repeal the very protections that we've finally put in place, we want to repeal the things that might actually bring about real cost savings and improvement in quality. When you ask those questions the American people say overwhelmingly we don't want to do that. Now, does that mean it's perfect? Absolutely not. Is there plenty of opportunity for compromise and finding more common ground on health? Absolutely. But repeal is not the option.
SPITZER: Here's the question I've got. The Senate was dysfunctional when we as Democrats had 59 or 60 seats. What's it going to be like with 53? I mean, this is going to be gridlock and as every day gets closer to the Iowa caucuses, even hate to utter that phrase, presidential race is around the corner. What will happen? It's going to become awful. I mean, you were the majority leader. How do you drive bills through this when you're dealing with an intransigent opposition?
DASCHLE: Well, Eliot, I think that I actually had to preside over initially a 50/50 Senate, and so I know close margins. I think what you have to do is to make sure both sides feel invested in the process. If one side doesn't feel invested and for the last two years, the Republicans have not felt invested at all, things changed Tuesday night. Now the Republicans are in the majority. Now they've got to show that electing them the in the majority made a difference and they can't get away with just saying "no" because they now have to demonstrate that being in the majority means something. They've got to show some progress.
So, they're going to have to come to the table just as Newt Gingrich did on welfare reform and on the deficit and on an array of issues in the '90s. I think the Republicans are going have to do the same thing now.
PARKER: OK, we have to ask you, we ask all of our guest to name their cuts and then also to name their compromise. So we'll start with the cuts. What would you cut in order to reduce this deficit?
DASCHLE: My No. 1 candidate would be health care. Somewhat ironically because I'm such an advocate of health reform, but I think one of the reasons why I feel so strongly about the need for health reform is cost cutting and making more out of what we already spend.
But secondly we spend a billion dollars on fossil fuel research every year. I'm from farm country. We spend more money on subsidies than we should. You know? There's never been a limit on how much subsidy a farmer is entitled to. I'd like to cap it, I'd say $200,000. No more than that, regardless of circumstance and those are the kinds of cuts that I think could make a big difference.
SPITZER: All right and on the compromise front, is there an opportunity to get the Republican Party to agree to cuts in the defense budget, something that is being said by primarily those outside government either private sector or former elected, is there any opportunity to get the Republican Party to cross over and say, yes, we can and must cut defense.
DASCHLE: You know, I'm encouraged by some of the newer Republican candidates. I should say the newer Republican leadership. There's been more of an expressed willingness, more privately than publicly, to say we ought to make sure defense is on the table, as well.
SPITZER: Which ones?
DASCHLE: And I think that -- Paul Ryan. I think, you know, he's always the person you point to, but thinkers, you know, across the board. And I don't what to pin anybody down because I don't want to speak for others, but I will say I think that there's a better environment than there's ever been for us to look at that.
SPITZER: Senator, thank you very much for being with us.
DASCHLE: Thank you for having me.
PARKER: Thanks so much.
PARKER: Don't go away. We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARKER: I mean, I know why I think men are becoming chicks, why do you think?
ADAM CAROLLA, COMEDIAN: Well, I don't even think we're becoming women, I think we're becoming one. I think it's like an "X" and somewhere whenever they filmed "Mad Men" we were at the bottom of one side of the "X" and you guys were at the bottom of the other and we're heading toward this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SPITZER: Now it's time for fun with politics. As we all know Kathleen wrote a book "Save the Males" and our guest tonight seems to agree with her that men are an endangered species.
PARKER: He's got a lot of man cred. He rose up from being a construction worker and boxing training to "Jimmy Kimmel," comedian and co-host of TV's "Love Line" and "The Man Show." Please welcome author of "In Fifty Years We'll all be Chicks," Adam Carolla.
CAROLLA: Thank you.
PARKER: All right, Adam, you don't look like a chick. Do you think you're becoming a chick?
CAROLLA: Well, if I took my shirt off I think...
PARKER: You did dance in a Zorro contest on "Dancing with the Stars," come on.
CAROLLA: Well, I was the only one entered in a Zorro contest, everyone else was trying to win a dance contest.
SPITZER: On a unicycle, no less.
PARKER: On a unicycle.
CAROLLA: You know what? I got no love for going out there on my unicycle in front of 20 million people and possibly landing on my keister and...
SPITZER: Oh come on, people must applaud you when you walk down the street, now.
PARKER: All right. So why do you think men are becoming chicks? I mean, I know why I think men are becoming chicks, why do you think?
CAROLLA: Well, I don't even think we're becoming women, I think we're becoming one. I think it's like an "X" and somewhere whenever they filmed "Mad Men" we were at the bottom of one side of the "X" and you guys were at the bottom of the other and we're heading toward this.
SPITZER: You think this is a dangerous thing to be avoided?
CAROLLA: It is.
SPITZER: You're trying to swing away this trend.
CAROLLA: I think there's a reason why we're different and it's mostly about the kids. I mean it's mostly about saying, here's dad and here's mom. Not here's blah and here's blah. You know, mom's got the six-pack abs and the dads staying home...
PARKER: OK, so you know that when kids come out of the chute they are different for the most part, they are very, very different, right?
CAROLLA: Totally different. Absolutely. I have twins.
PARKER: We try to make them the same. What's up with that?
SPITZER: Twins, boys, girl.
CAROLLA: I have a boy and girl and they're wildly different and it's the same deal. It's the same thing I sort of grew up on a steady diet from the '70s of all this crap where, well it's all society and the man and if you give a little boy a dolly he'll love the dolly just like he'll love his truck.
SPITZER: No, no.
CAROLLA: BS. BS. These people should all be run down and sued, by the way.
SPITZER: You're winning this debate now, right, I mean, you're winning. I think there's a real pushback and people are buying your... CAROLLA: How can you argue with it? it's so true, you have kids. You can tell.
PARKER: I gave my son a doll. I was one of those people...
SPITZER: No, you didn't.
PARKER: Yes, I did. I gave him a doll because I wanted him to be -- I grew up the same time you did. I did, but you know, he like started ripping the arms off and then...
SPITZER: Oh, my god.
PARKER: No, I recovered quickly because then I said what am I doing? This is ridiculous. And girls, girls will sit and watch things and talk and chitchat. You know, they like to do that. You know, they build little nests.
CAROLLA: We're very different. We're different and it's good. In the animal kingdom they're different. We don't have a problem with it. We're not like, hey, that polar bear chick and that polar bear dude aren't almost the same. How come she's doing this and he's out hunting for blubber? This is -- no, it's just the way it is.
SPITZER: You've got a view on everything in the world. You read this book and there's nothing you don't have an opinion about. I mean, you want people to vote based on how much they pay in taxes.
SPITZER: So Bill Gates and Warren Buffett get to choose the next president.
CAROLLA: Yes. Well, I have an idea -- I, in the book, say for every 10 grand you pay in you get one vote, because right now my mom's vote is canceling out Warren Buffett's vote.
PARKER: Is that right?
SPITZER: Your mom may be listening to this.
CAROLLA: She can't afford cable.
SPITZER: Another thing you love to say is "greed is good."
CAROLLA: Yeah, I think so. It motivates people. I know, you know, this sort of thing where it's like big pharmaceuticals always -- they're the man and they're nasty, bit it motivates them to come up with cures.
SPITZER: When you saw Gordon Gekko say that in "Wall Street" you know, that famous moment when he's up there, "greed is good" you said, that's it, that's great.
CAROLLA: Well, I mean, obviously there's limits, as we've seen, things can spin out of control but you want society and you want companies motivated. I mean you want someone to go, look, you cure AIDS and we'll give you a pat on the back or you cure AIDS, we'll give you billion, you get AIDS cure a lot faster.
PARKER: Apparently your mother is a good short because you talk about her a little bit. You said that you grew up on welfare and that welfare is "monetary methadone."
PARKER: So what do you wish would have happened instead?
CAROLLA: Well, I wish -- well, actually -- I mean...
PARKER: You wish you had been adopted.
CAROLLA: The thing is, is if you give somebody just enough to get by sort of in perpetuity then they will just sort of sink to that level. I saw all the wind taken out of my mom's sail. I saw all the fire taken out of her belly, you know? It's like you need to be a little bit hungry. You need to be a little cold when it's cold outside or a little too hot. I said, this is horrible. It's embarrassing. I don't want to live this way and it motivated me and I think when you just give people just enough it sort of just makes them all docile.
SPITZER: All right.
PARKER: All right, Adam Carolla, thank you so much for being with us.
He's also got a podcast on iTunes and we will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea that in the 20-odd years since the Berlin wall came down the two great involvements of American foreign policy is a place called Iraq and Afghanistan rather than in Latin America or Africa or Asia seems to me strategically really flawed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PARKER: Our next guest just returned from a trip throughout Asia. Richard Haass is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was Mideast adviser to first President Bush and the director of policy planning at the State Department from 2001 to 2003. He's also the author of "War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars."
Richards, thank you so much for joining us.
HAASS: It's great to be here.
PARKER: "War of Necessity, War of Choice," what's the difference? HAASS: War of necessity when the United States' vital national interests are at stake and where there's no really other alternative to the use of force. World War II, Korean war, I would say the first Iraq will go for. Wars of choice are just that. The interests tend to be less than vital. More important we have other policy options rather than an all-out war. There I would put the second Iraq war. We clearly didn't have to do what we did when we do it, and more recently what we're doing in Afghanistan. Interestingly, Afghanistan was a war of necessity after 9/11. We had to act in order to prevent the second 9/11. But what we're doing now, this very ambitious policy of taking on the Taliban, of nation building, of counterinsurgency is very much a war of choice in my view, not a terribly wise one.
PARKER: So in your view, we should withdraw.
HAASS: I would wind it -- I would draw it back. I would reduce. Essentially, I would do a version in Afghanistan of what we're doing in places like Yemen, Somalia, even Pakistan. Special forces, drones, counterterrorism, a limited U.S. troop presence on the ground. We simply don't have the luxury financially and militarily of the sort of investment we're making in Afghanistan.
ELIOT SPITZER, HOST: We'll get to your take on U.S. financial situation in a moment. But what you're essentially saying is that the war against terrorism is diffused and to pour the resources we are into Afghanistan which, frankly, is a losing effort right now when simultaneously just today we saw Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula claiming credit for the attack of a few weeks ago, the packages that were being sent. We should be doing something more universal and higher tech.
HAASS: Exactly. And also, I don't think we can succeed in Afghanistan given that you've got a sanctuary in Pakistan. We learned the hard way, in other words, that when you fight a guerrilla-type effort or, in this case terrorist who have a sanctuary, you're not going to succeed.
Second of all, our so-called partner in Afghanistan, in Kabul is not really a partner. It's weak, corrupt. We can make things a little bit better while the U.S. military is acting at 100,000. What we can't do is make the improvement stick so we can do this for however long we're going to do it. We're going to lose a lot of lives and a lot of dollars. And my concern is we will not be able to make enduring advances.
SPITZER: Look, if I say so, you -- your prominence exploded when you were one of the first center, centrist conservative Republican saying that the second gulf war was a mistake. It was, as your book saw a war of choice and a wrong choice.
Afghanistan, you were one of the first to say this is a failure. Have you gotten push-back? I mean, the foreign policy establishment has not yet said you were correct but I think everybody in the general public is saying, yes, of course, Richard Haass is correct.
HAASS: Well, I haven't met that many people saying Richard Haass is correct walking down the street here. Afghanistan is very much an act in play, and same with Iraq. There's still people who say hold it, it's too soon to draw judgments about Iraq and I think that's fair enough. I would simply say that even if Iraq turns out fairly well and quite honestly I'm skeptical, given the sorts of things we're seeing there, I still don't believe it will have been worth the investment in lives, in dollars, in time, all that it's taken.
I say the same thing with Afghanistan. Again, I'm skeptical what it's going to achieve but you've always got to look at the costs and benefits, what you achieve versus what it costs. And, again, you mentioned I came back from Asia. That's where history is happening. The idea that in the 20 odd years since the Berlin wall came down, the two great involvements of American foreign policy are in a place called Iraq and Afghanistan rather than in Latin America or Africa or Asia seems to me strategically really flawed.
PARKER: Yes, I want -- you talk more about your trip to Asia and about the economy, as well. But one last question for me on Afghanistan, very personal, which has to do with women. I think all of us are deeply concerned what happens to the women when we withdraw? Is that collateral damage?
HAASS: Well, again, I'm not talking about withdrawal. I'm talking about drawing down our presence. But in parts of Afghanistan, the role of women is going to be rough. In areas in the south, in particular, where the Pashtuns, a very traditional group, where the Taliban have the greatest inroads where they're likely to dominate or have heavy influence, I think we've got to be very realistic. Things are not going to be great, but I don't think we can have an investment on the scale over $2 billion a week losing perhaps 40 to 50 American soldiers a month. I simply don't think we can sustain that in an open-ended way to protect the women of Afghanistan. I think there are, however, some other things we can do with aid, with training up local Afghan forces. So in parts of Afghanistan I do think we can make the situation OK, and they may even have to be some population movement.
PARKER: You've recently written that our greatest national security threat is not Al Qaeda or terrorism even, but the economy. Can you talk about that a bit?
HAASS: Sure, the foundation of what all we do in the world, the ability to support a military, the ability to be a successful example of an economy, the ability to maintain a good standard of living here at home, all that rests on economic foundations, and what worries me is our economic foundations are weak right now. We are spending far more than we're taking in. In my view, it's unsustainable. And if we don't correct it, my concern is one day we're going to wake up and the world is going to do to us a version of what it did to Greece and other countries in southern Europe.
SPITZER: In your article and this is the most recent issue of "foreign affairs" it's actually very pointed and you say that the consensus that it held deficit spending in check broke down during the Bush administration.
SPITZER: What happened?
HAASS: Well, just that. People started spending way too much on everything from prescription drug benefits to you name it, and what we stopped doing was balancing. The idea, well, if we're going to spend more here, we have to spend less here. That discipline went out the window.
SPITZER: And you also point -- pointing fingers perhaps a bad metaphor, but you clearly articulated the tax cuts were a flawed decision from a fiscal perspective.
HAASS: Well, again, because they weren't married or combined with various spending cuts. You have to look at these things on both sides. No one runs a business unless you tell me what comes in as opposed to what comes out. You've got to think about both sides, revenues and cost. And the idea that we would run the United States without thinking of both sides of the ledger, no wonder that we're in the jam we're in.
SPITZER: Which takes us to not only the question we've been asking everybody name your cuts. We're not going to put you through that. But you do at the end of your article say, our last best hope perhaps is the deficit commission --
SPITZER: -- that is going to report back very shortly. You think it will have meaningful answers.
HAASS: I'm worried. And I think the results of the elections we just had reduced the odds which were already not great that we are going to get some sort of a consensus. My concern is though, if they report on December 1, and over the next few months the president and the Congress can't agree on what to do, I worry that the rest of the world is going to be begin to lose confidence in our ability to sort out our economic situation and why do we think that the rest of the world will forever fund American extravagance?
PARKER: Do you think the recent elections in this Republican bloodbath, does that undercut President Obama as he heads to Asia?
HAASS: Whatever the opposite of wind in your sails I'd tell you that's the situation. On the other hand, I just came back from there. What's so interesting is people there are hungry for an American presence.
The 800-pound gorilla in the room is called China. They want the United States to be more present there diplomatically. And I think to the administration's credit, it has been. Hillary Clinton, Bob Gates have made an extraordinary number of trips there. The one area where we're really hurting ourselves is a lack of a trade policy. Trade is now the principal dynamic or driver, not just of economic integration in the region and wealth creation, but it's also where you buttress your security relationships. The fact that we can't pass the U.S./Korea free trade agreement, the fact that this president doesn't have the authority to negotiate trade agreements globally or regionally, really ties us, ties our hands in what we can accomplish.
One of the big questions, and I'm not again terribly optimistic, is whether the president and this new Congress will be able to come to a consensus that the United States needs an open trade policy. It's a major job generator, and it's a major strategic benefit for this country. I'm concerned though that they probably won't be able to agree.
SPITZER: Yes. Richard, thank you so much for a fascinating conversation.
HAASS: Thank you.
SPITZER: We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPITZER: Is this the right decision? Should those rules apply to a journalist like Keith Olbermann on a cable network on a show like "Countdown"?
WILL CAIN, NATIONALREVIEW.COM: And you guys are conservative, you almost expect me to say it's about time. But this is absurd. No one was under any perception that Keith was an impartial journalist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PARKER: Welcome to "Our Political Party," a chance to speak our minds in a whole range of subjects. Tonight, we have with us Shushannah Walshe, who is the author of -- co-author of "Sarah Palin from Alaska," the biography, and she's also a reporter for TheDailyBeast.com. Stephen A. Smith, also known as Stephen A., is a national syndicated radio host. And Will Cain is the host of "Off the Page" at the NationalReview.com and a good friend of "Our Political Party."
Thank you all for coming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
SHUSHANNAH WALSHE, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: Thank you.
SPITZER: Any party tonight is going to be talking about this. MSNBC announced today that anchor Keith Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely without pay for contributing to Democratic candidates, an apparent violation of NBC News ethics policy. The network's policy states and I quote, "Anyone working for NBC News who takes part in other -- in civic or other outside activities may find that these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest." Olbermann acknowledged that he made donations of 2,400 to three candidates, said he had not either publicly or privately encouraged anyone else to make any donations.
All right. Is this the right decision? Should those rules apply to a journalist like Keith Olbermann on a cable network on a show like "Countdown"?
WILL CAIN, NATIONALREVIEW.COM: And you guys are conservative, you almost expect me to say it's about time. But this is absurd. No one was under any perception that Keith was an impartial journalist. That's the key word in their statement, impartial. And for that matter, no one was under any misperception that MSNBC is impartial. It took 10 minutes of election coverage --
SPITZER: They don't deliver the news right down the middle?
CAIN: Come on.
SPITZER: Just like FOX, I want to be clear on being equally --
CAIN: For 10 minutes on election night, that's all you had to see. So I feel like, you know, if I were Keith, I'd be like I've been doing what I've been doing for years and now this is what you do to me.
PARKER: Yes. But let me just make a point here. As a journalist, I would never do this but also the policy is clear and if that's the policy, that's the policy. End of story, right?
WALSHE: Yes, I agree. I don't think impartiality, I think it's the rule. He broke it. The punishment is very strong. I agree but that's the rule and he broke it. That's my view on it. I think that is clear.
PARKER: Stephen A.?
STEPHEN A. SMITH, RADIO HOST: I think it's utterly ridiculous. I really do. And I'm going to tell you why.
I think the -- again, what Will said, it's not impartial. If it were NBC, if it were Tom Brokaw, you know, that would be different. If it was somebody like that, that would be different. But MSNBC, there's a clear tilt to the left. We all know that. They go on the air every night. They give their opinions. They let you know how they speak. I mean they dedicated a show.
If you listen to Keith Olbermann giving, you know, talking about universal health care and he gave an impassioned 30 minutes about this -- I'm sorry, an hour, clearly, you know what his position is. There is no denying it. There's nothing impartial about what he does.
PARKER: I agree there's nothing impartial and clearly, look, the network can change their policy if they want. If it's not the right policy for those circumstances, then they can change it. But, you know, as far as I'm concerned, Keith missed a great gig here because as a journalist you don't get to donate -- they don't have to.
SMITH: But what I'm saying -- wait a minute, wait a minute. Somebody that -- because he worked for ESPN years ago just like he did. He worked for FOX just like I did. The reality is that at MSNBC, I don't know -- how long has this policy been in place and was that made clear to him?
SPITZER: OK. Look --
SMITH: That's when it becomes --
PARKER: You're the lawyer.
SPITZER: Well, I think Shushannah got it right. As a matter of lawyering, it's in his contract. They have the right to do this, but that's not the big question in my mind. It's a silly policy. And I'm with you, Stephen and I'm with you, Will. It is ridiculous to believe that MSNBC any more than FOX is impartial.
Let's talk about the elephant in the room here. FOX News Corp gave a million dollars to the Republican Governor's Association.
PARKER: Well, exactly. Right.
SPITZER: This is -- first, it's a First Amendment right. There is no such thing as pure impartiality on either MSNBC or FOX. We try to be impartial. If I gave a contribution, which I haven't, I would certainly disclose it.
PARKER: Well, transparency --
SPITZER: But it is a ridiculous false line that's being drawn in the sand and I don't buy it for a second. He is partial. He is a partisan. He made it very clear he was. That's the First Amendment. God bless it.
CAIN: Two insights. Kathleen is right on point, though. Keith, why did you feel the need to do this? You dedicate so much time to liberal causes every night. The dollar amount value, who knows what?
SPITZER: Will, you're exactly right. You know what? And that was true for Rupert Murdoch's contribution through News Corp. He gave millions of dollars to the Republican Party. It cost him a lot more in credibility --
PARKER: All right. The moral of the story --
SPITZER: -- than they got from the money.
PARKER: I think the moral of the story is that journalism has changed a lot and we need to address that and maybe the rules have to be changed accordingly. SPITZER: You know what, it hasn't changed. Journalism --
PARKER: No, he's got a contract. You've got a deal. You sign on to it. That's what you did.
OK, so to the elections. Midterm. It's halftime in the football game. You're the coach, you're in the locker room with President Obama. He's your quarterback. What do you tell him?
CAIN: I slap him on the back and say, hell of a job. You put up a lot of points in the first half. Don't worry about the second half, you're not going to put up as many. But you just set a record. But let me say this, football --
SPITZER: Then you disclose you're being paid by the other side.
CAIN: No, football is the wrong analogy. Team tug-of-war, that's the right analogy.
Look, Eliot, you and I are on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum.
CAIN: We're both doing what we think is right for America.
CAIN: And the game is to pull each other and America to our side. President Obama's had the most successful legislative sessions in 50 years.
SPITZER: Says you.
CAIN: And he has passed a health care bill that liberal presidents have tried to do for a century. I would say, President Obama, relax, look how far you advanced that rope. That is unprecedented.
SPITZER: Wow. And now I'm not trying to figure out if you're playing just a very clever game of saying boy, this guy is going to a big defeat and you're speaking as the conservative warrior really --
It's the ideologue. I think that's right.
CAIN: I think when liberals lament, I'm afraid Stephen might try to do here, what Obama has accomplished over the last two years, that's totally off base. I mean, it is amazing the liberal agenda that's been driven. I mean, the ball has been advanced on your side so far, you should not be sitting here complaining.
PARKER: OK, Coach Shushannah? WALSHE: Well, I guess on a lighter side I would pat him on the back and say great job. I'm going to go run for the mayor of Chicago. But seriously, I would say that he needs to sit down, look at the other players on his team, talk to them and decide which ones need to maybe go to a different team or sit out the season. And my football analogies aren't great, but I think that he really needs to sit with his team and I think that the American people have spoken that they're unhappy. And even though there has been a lot of work done, an incredible amount as you said, I don't think that they're happy with it and it was just clear on Tuesday. And so --
SPITZER: The fans may not be showing up, but he still played a great game.
SMITH: Exactly. Well, that's a great analogy.
SPITZER: And I think Will is right on that point. Anyway, Steve.
PARKER: All right.
SMITH: I'm lost. Maybe I'm just completely ignorant because I don't feel -- well, first of all, you could use whatever analogy you want. Pick your sport. It doesn't matter to me. I don't think he's had that great of a time thus far. I respect where you're coming from. I'm a registered independent. I don't swing to the left or the right. I'm as center as they come.
SPITZER: Wait. You said you're not objective, come on.
SMITH: No, I'm not objective but what I'm saying is I'm in the center.
SMITH: I'm comfortable with the middle. I don't like extremes. And I do understand that you have a lot of people out there that look at universal health care and they're incredibly happy about that. I'm the lone African-American on this panel just like I told Larry King the other day. And let me say this to you, when I think about jobs, when I think about the fact that while we have an unemployment rate hovering at around 9.6 percent but is over 15 percent in the African- American community, it's over 30 percent among young black males, it's at 45 percent according to economist Ben Stein, in terms of young black males, I'm sorry, black teenagers, it affects me in a different kind of way, because I'm saying to you I'm not knocking the fact that universal health care was his agenda. What I'm saying is when he went into office, the number one objective should have been unemployment, should have been about jobs, should have been about stimulating an economy as opposed to pushing his leftist agenda. I think that's what cost the Democrats the 60 to 63 seats that has cost them. I'm happy for him because I think Nancy Pelosi has been an impediment to him, and he'll be even better this time around but I don't view it the way you do.
PARKER: OK. The crowd is cheering now. Can I hit the applause button, please. That was awesome.
SPITZER: We will come right back and continue this. Follow us on our blog at CNN.com/parkerspitzer. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, as well.
PARKER: Hate to punt but we'll be right back. Another quick question for "Our Political Party." Stay with us.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: I'm Joe Johns. More of "PARKER SPITZER" in a moment. First, the latest.
Hurricane Tomas is pounding Haiti with torrential rains. The hurricane passed to the west of Haiti this afternoon, but winds are expected to bring heavy rains well into Saturday to various parts of the country. While it stop raining for now in Port-au-Prince, the capital city, anywhere between five and 15 inches of rain is expected to fall across Haiti. The immediate concerns are flash flooding and mud slides.
And tonight on "360" at 10:00 p.m., we'll talk to actor Sean Penn who's in Haiti on what conditions are like on the ground. Tens of thousands of Haitians are still homeless from January's powerful earthquake.
The Yemen-based arm of Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for last week's plot to send explosive devices on cargo planes bound for the United States. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula posted its claim on various radical Islamist Web sites.
The Connecticut jury deciding the sentence for Stephen Hayes will resume deliberations tomorrow. He could receive the death penalty. Hayes was convicted of murdering Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters during a home invasion in 2007.
And Keith Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely from his nightly program on MSNBC. The network took the action after discovering that Olbermann donated money to three Democrats running in the midterm elections in violation of NBC policy.
That's the latest. "PARKER SPITZER" is back after this.
SPITZER: All right. This weekend is the Breeders Cup. That's the big Kahuna of horse racing and the leading contender is Zenyatta. Zenyatta has never lost a race. She drinks Fiji water and Guinness ale. She's the only mare ever to have won the Breeders Cup classic and she's a huge star on the circuit. So who is the Zenyatta of politics?
PARKER: Zenyatta. Sorry. Zenyatta. Pardone-moi (ph).
Zenyatta. Who's the Zenyatta? Who's the great all right one? We would call her a hag.
CAIN: So let me get this straight. You want me to find an undefeated winning woman politician that survives on imported water and booze?
SPITZER: And runs that fast. Runs that fast.
PARKER: A great dame.
CAIN: That's a stretch.
SMITH: I don't know.
SPITZER: And the answer is?
CAIN: I feel like you want me to say Sarah Palin?
SPITZER: No. Goodness gracious, no. No.
PARKER: No, no, no.
WALSHE: She doesn't drink but she's unconventional and she's been very successful so this -- this cycle.
49 out of 77.
PARKER: Sarah doesn't drink?
WALSHE: Well, I mean, not like -- if she does, I don't know.
PARKER: She drinks melted glacier water, right?
WALSHE: I have no idea. That's one thing I don't know about Sarah Palin.
SPITZER: And Steve, you have anything?
SMITH: You missed it but the answer is very easy.
SMITH: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
SMITH: Yes, she lost the Democratic nomination but she had 18 million folks that supported her. She came out with flying colors. You've got people now because of the shaky presidency of Barack Obama, I'm sorry. And you've got people looking at her and thinking that she could potentially be a presidential candidate or that she should be. You combine that with the fact that she's been the secretary of state and basically she stayed out of the way when this election was going. I think she was out of the country and not anywhere to be found. You didn't hear her name. You know what? Because she said let me get on the first flight out of town so when they lose these seats they talk about everybody but me. She has learned her lesson from Bill "teflon" Clinton. OK. She knows exactly what she's doing. And, by the way, you still have people clamoring for her.
SPITZER: I think Stephen's case, Stephen A. takes the argument.
SMITH: It's easy. Hillary Rodham Clinton by a landslide. Easy. Easy.
PARKER: I think you've got it, Stephen A.
SMITH: And she's rich. And her daughter got married this year. Oh, she's beautiful.
SPITZER: I'm trying to figure out, by a furlough, to use the racing metaphor.
All right. Shushannah, Stephen, Will, thank you so much for being here.
Good night from New York. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.