Martin Bashir | February 22, 2013
>>> it was exactly two years ago today that retiring defense secretary leon panetta said good-bye to his colleagues in a farewell ceremony at a joint military base in virginia. but today mr. panetta is not enjoying his second week of retirement. instead, he's attending a nato meeting on the future of afghanistan because republicans have prevented the appointment of his successor. after ensuring the failure of a cloture vote on the nomination of chuck hagel , a group of 15 republican senators have now sent a letter to the president urging him to withdraw the nomination. in response the white house press secretary referred to a bogus report fabricated by the breitbart media team which suggested chuck hagel may be connected to a nonexistent organization called the friends of hamas.
>> just to be clear, he won't be withdrawn.
>> absolutely not. if any suggestion to the otherwise -- to the contrary might have been found in the minutes of the meetings of the friends of hamas, yeah.
>> ari melber is an msnbc contributor and correspondent for "the nation" magazine and toure is my colleague and co-host of "the cycle." "both of them are known by breitbart as brothers of hezbollah. it's one thing for a news organization to make up a story and fabricate it, it's quite another for senators to embrace that story and use it against a nominee. i mean, is the nomination process now not about ascertaining information but literally throwing rotten eggs at the nominee?
>> absolutely. we have the right that doesn't believe in science, in polls, and in using real facts. it's like once again the eastwooding you see a lot on the gop, on the right, where we have reasonable critique we could allege at hagel, but we won't. we'll throw fake facts at him. why not actually use real facts? why not use real facts to attack the president and critique the president? no, we're going to use fake facts and present him as a kenyan, marxist, socialist, on and on. the right just wants to attack the president at all costs. when they go back to their district, they can say i stood up against the president. i was tough on the president --
>> even if that harms the nation?
>> well --
>> even if it means the embarrassment of nato where the world's super power in military terms doesn't have its future defense secretary --
>> it doesn't harm you in your district because the people in your district want to see you attacking the president, and it's a red district, right? it's intellectual gerrymandering, so everybody is going to vote for me as long as i stay in d.c. all is good, right? the whole republican mantra is ruin government, ruin the popularity of government. that's the whole strategy of obstruction.
>> of course, even though they're drawing government salaries. ari, let me read you part of the letter sent to the president where these republicans claim to be worried about hagel's ability to deal with iran . let me quote it. his statements regarding iran were disconcerting. if senator hagel becomes secretary of defense, the military option will have zero credibility. i'm sorry, ari, can you remind me how many purple hearts lindsey graham , ted cruz , and marco rubio have between them?
>> i think it's zero.
>> i think it's zero. and i think that the problem with that letter goes deeper than just their sort of shallow criticisms of chuck hagel . the decided in our democracy by the korng working with the president to decide if and when to declare war . so that substantive attempt at a critique acts as if the secretary of defense is going to decide it all along.
>> the critique is a complete falsehood.
>> whether he is hawkish or not, the president will set the goals of the policy, but the declaration of war against iran or an authorization of force would come from the congress. there's something else that toure said that i thought was important and it almost got lost in the flurry of hoorayish -- toure ish hand motions. you said something that really struck a chord with me. you talked about intellectual gerrymandering and i think that's such a true thing, that you take breitbart , which is not journalism. it's not media. it is not facts. it's like a giant comment section of anger and fantasy, and that's fine. they have the right, in fact, i would defend their right under our constitution to go talk about whatever they want to talk about. but when you see senators, as you pointed out, martin, stand up and take things from that comment section full of lies and just repeat them and treat them as if they were true, that is the jergerrymandering of the mind and it's a real problem because what they end up with is not only being irresponsible on the substance, about you they look really stupid. and their own base will see that.
>> the one thing i would say to that comment they had before that they're uncomfortable with what chuck hagel said about iran . i said you spelled iraq wrong because what you're talking about is you're still upset you opposed the surge and you left the republican position on iraq. and you must be punished, when you go outside of the herd of elephants, you must be punished. discipline is importance.
>> toure and ari melber, even though you didn't move your hands as much as i'd like you to, thank you very much. the brothers of hezbollah will return no doubt