Martin Bashir | November 16, 2012
>> after a hard-won re-election fight, it's been a high-stakes return to the business of governing for the president of the united states . today he hosted congressional leaders at the white house to begin working on what he called the urgent business of reaching an agreement on taxes and spending cuts by the end of next month. this afternoon the president greeted a diverse range of civic leaders at the white house and, of course, he's preparing for his impending tour of southeast asia which begins at the week end. so that's what's been going on at the white house . or is it?
>> the president of the united states did not tell the american people the truth about the attacks that took four brave americans' lives.
>> the president himself has intentionally misinformed, read that lied, to the american people in the aftermath of this tragedy. this is not simply a cover-up of a third rate burglary. we have four of our diplomatic personnel dead.
>> this widespread cover-up in fact continues today.
>> what altered their talking spounts.
>> general petraeus ' testimony today has really put this dead cat right on the white house 's doorstep.
>> turns out general petraeus has left a dead feline at the doorstep of the white house . investigation pending into what exactly his relationship was to said cat, it's possible there were some polaroid photos involved, but dead cats notwithstanding, suppose there was fluid information coming out after a tumultuous attack in libya. that would be expected, wouldn't it? or could it be that the president's opponent and their media wing are trying to cook up a controversy where there isn't one?
>> that it's just politically very inconvenient less than two months away from an election to have a terrorist attack that will he can pose the errors and fallacies of the obama administration's policies.
>> okay. so this is part of the twilight zone narrative in which superstorm sandy or so-called presidential gifts to minorities in this case a benghazi cover-up conspiracy is to blame for republicans losing the election. now, this is not to say that there can't be questions about what happened in benghazi . four americans died, and we must prevent such a tragedy ever happening again. but to suggest the phrasing of the perpetrators as al qaeda or extremist elements amounts to a vast conspiracy is, frankly, ridiculous. just for recollection's sake, let's remember the very real consequences of the bush administration 's actions on faulty intelligence regarding iraq and a guy called saddam hussein .
>> we were told by no less a person by your own secretary of state that he had an active and ongoing program for acquiring and developing weapons of mass destruction .
>> and i fully believe that all of the evidence on that is not yet in.
>> yes, apparently ambassador bolton believes in intelligence can be quite fluid in some circumstances, up to four years later. let's get right to our panel now. richard wolffe is vice president and executive editor of msnbc.com and msnbc political analyst karen finney, both are with us here in new york. so, karen, the latest "twilight" movie "breaking down" has just been released. it stars kristin stewart, mitt romney , and members of fox news. just to be clear, the president won re-election because, and tell us which, a goody bag of gifts, altered talking points , or hurricane sandy. which was it?
>> actually it was the bureau of labor stats messing around with the data. that's what it was. you forgot that one.
>> i'm glad you answered that. that's the sole reason he won.
>> it has nothing to do with the fact that even as the president pointed out this week, more people than who voted with him agree with him.
>> la, la, la, talking points , benghazi , latinos, minorities, gifts, presents, presents, presents. forget about that. richard. contraception. the world appears to have moved on. the president as we know is attempting to address the issue of the financial fiscal cliff. he's traveling overseas, but how long will it be that his opponents will hang onto this benghazi controversy? give us an assessment of how long you think that will be?
>> i think there are some different voices in the republican party emerging. listen to what the republican governors are saying. people who have to actually get elected, number one, unlike some people in the conservative echo chamber , people who have to get elected statewide as opposed to just the gerrymandered house district. they understand there's a reasonable center and do you actually need to get a majority of those people as well as your base to show up to get elected. those governors are saying, hey, let's not do this. we have to get back into the real world and maybe there are policy changes, heaven forbid , we need to talk about. if fox news wants to lead the republican party down a path where they're not in the real world , they're not even talking about the economy anymore, they're not talking about anything that speaks to what voters cared about in this election, okay, if they want to relitigate the nixon era, it's cheaper than other forms of self-medication but it's totally delusional. the president has serious challenges challenges, the country does, whether it's taxes jobs, and there are a few things going on in the rest of the world which we should be talking about. benghazi is complicated, as you point out quite rightly. john mccain wanted to arm gadhafi, then he wanted to arm the rebels, and now he's complaining that there are some jihadists out there who have the weapons to take on minimal security protecting american diplomats. get real. they should know what the real world is like.
>> and this is the politics of the false equivalency. they're consistently trying to say that this is a watergate, iran contra . we've had several instances where they've tried to compare it to things that happened during the bush years which actually lying about weapons of mass destruction which it took them a year to figure that out and we're talking about five days that it took our intelligence guys to get a clearer picture of what was going on.
>> no withstanding the fact that 120,000 iraqis lost their lives. i want to quote to you the great televangelist franklin graham , he thinks we may have to hit economic armageddon before we're saved from this president i'm quoting. maybe god will have to bring our nation down to our knees to where you have a complete economic collapse and maybe at that point, maybe people will again begin to call upon the name of almighty god . now, once again i put it to you, is he reading the mayan apocalypse literature .
>> it's nothing i have read about in the bible talking about caring for the poor and the needy. you know, my read of this at this point is this is the conservative movement literally coming unglued. they just -- every week we have a new rationale for why this, why that. instead of saying this is the country as it is. this is america as it is. part of the problem i think the republicans will have and part of the reason it's a long-term problem, it's not just him saying it, right? it is the gop chairman in the state of maine , you know, complaining that a horde of black people came in and voted. it's congressman ryan saying, urban turnout surprised them. this politics of division, it feels like now that the president has been re-elected, they don't care. it's no holds barred. let's just keep going and as you said, john mccain knows better. so there's no other reason for this kind of attack.
>> are they getting some relief by ventilating all of their bile immediately after this election?
>> look, losing is hard. there were plenty of democrats --
>> it is hard to lose, but don't you shake the hand of your opponent and say well-played, you beat me?
>> not in this case. when the soviet union collapsed there were plenty of people who said it was only because communism wasn't pure enough.
>> fair enough.
>> you can be in the state of denial for a very long time, and it may be comforting to be in that position but at some point rational minds say we're never going to wine like this. i think those rational voices are out there and that's why the pushback against mitt romney 's comments from governors christie and jindal and, you know, martinez. they're the national figure that is this party has to deal with much more than maybe someone running a prime time hour on another channel.
>> problem i have with this having been at the democratic party in 2005 when we were licking our wounds from 2004 and trying to understand what happened and what changes we needed to make, you didn't see this kind of vial talk. instead, we said what can we do differently. it was the 350-stiate strategy and the idea that you have to ask them for their vote, not insult half the country over and over and over again.