Morning Joe | January 07, 2013
>> welcome back to " morning joe ." 22 past the hour. joining us now from washington, d.c., nbc news chief white house correspondent and political director and host of "the daily rundown," chuck todd . and here on set, editor in chief of buzzfeed.com, ben smith .
>> you know what not to say on the show, right?
>> i've got it done, cycling through my head.
>> no, let's not review it. chuck todd , serious first question. should mike shanahan be fired today, or should they let him at least clean out his desk?
>> ouch. ouch. you think it's that bad?
>> oh, my god. if it were the first time that he were reckless with a franchise player , that would be one thing. this happened a couple weeks ago. he lied about dr. james andrews giving rg3 a pass to go back on the field.
>> if it's proven that he's lying, i think you're right. you can't mess with the franchise. i mean, this is -- but boy, that is horrible -- for a franchise that's been nothing but unstable since danny schneider took it over to then when you're right, looking like you might actually have a period of stability, an actual quarterback that works and a coach that seems to have figured it out, to rock the boat again is a problem.
>> well, then danny schneider needs to sit down and talk to shanahan and say hey, cowboy, don't gamble with this franchise's future. it's just unbelievably reckless.
>> well, what they should have done is kyle shanahan should have been handing the ball, saying, hand the ball off to alfred morris this way. it should have been morris left, morris right, morris up the middle.
>> so do you take notre dame in the points tonight?
>> no, i'm not buying into the hype. i had a feeling this was going to happen. right at the end coming up to the game, all of the secret notre dame lovers were going to come out and say hey, maybe they have a chance. but you made a great point the other day, joe. if notre dame had a quality quarterback that could throw the ball down the field, then alabama would be in trouble. i'm not convinced that goldson's that guy.
>> so let's talk now about less significant matters.
>> yes, please.
>> chuck hagel . why did the president decide to pick a guy that democrats aren't excited about, republicans aren't excited about, and very few people that have to confirm the guy are excited about him?
>> he's motivated by a couple things. the biggest one, i think, is he likes the idea of a man who wore the uniform, who will not be intimidated by the generals. this is not to say that bob gates ever was intimidated by the generals or leon panetta , but there is this different nature, when you have a secretary of defense that had worn the uniform, that has seen combat, who won't feel -- may not be as bullied or feel like they're going to be as bullied by the generals, that there's this, number one, there's mutual respect in a way that isn't always there with some secretaries of defense. and i think that the president also likes the idea that at a time when the budget debates are going to be -- i mean, the job of the pentagon, for the next four years, is going to be navigating these budget fights that we're going to be having, dominating the next few months, having a republican shrink the defense department might be a lot easier than having somebody else do it. so that is what motivates the president.
>> and ben , i don't think it hurts, and i would think probably the whole bipartisan nature of this nomination is a little bit of what washington ne needs right now.
>> i think under the kind of old rules of nomination politics, there's great logic hagel , a former military man. i think in reality, you're facing this incredibly intense republican opposition. there are no republican senators out there saying that they love chuck hagel , they worked with chuck hagel , they'd like to support him. so it's not clear that there's really anything other than being able to say the word bipartisan. you get out of that because this very partisan modern media fight is gearing up around him.
>> i don't know what they love.
>> there's actually bipartisan resentment of chuck hagel .
>> there's bipartisanship, all right. in speaking out.
>> i think there is bipartisan resentment in the senate for people that worked with him because he didn't -- he wasn't clannish. he didn't go to one clan or the other. he was an independent guy. he ruffled feathers on both sides, mark halperin . so now both sides have no reason to support him.
>> i think it's the inside game of hagel 's courtesy calls. if someone goes up, a controversial nominee who has good courtesy calls defuses a lot of stuff in these private meetings with these senators. he'll be meeting with a former colleagues. if he can come out of those softening the rhetoric of the opposition, i think he'll get through quite easily.
>> he needs to go up humble. as i said, chuck hagel , we love him. we know him.
>> a nice guy .
>> the foreign policy community knows him and loves him. he is -- he's straight in the mainstream of u.s. foreign policy . but when he was on the hill, he had really sharp elbows. i didn't like him when he was on the hill. i like him now. now that i got to know him outside -- but he didn't -- he did not play well in that sandbox.
>> i think he has the talents you're talking about. let's look at this resentment, heilmann and then take it to ben . we have to pull a sound bite from lindsey graham accusing him of not being mainstream to try and sum up this resentment. tell me what this resentment is. who is it? by whom? what's the problem? list them for me.
>> will you please stop interrupting him?
>> i want to hear the names.
>> and just let him talk.
>> graham, maybe mcconnell, maybe.
>> the guy who screwed up earlier this morning. that was horrible.
>> to me it comes down to two words.
>> let mihim talk. this makes me sad.
>> he gave appear interview in 2006 in which he used the words " jewish lobby ." those are like a flag in front of a bull for senators who support israel . we can debate whether it's okay to say those words or not, but again, and ben knows about this who's covered this stuff forever.
>> and he's not answering my question.
>> but this is the core -- this is the core of the problem for him.
>> who has a problem besides lindsey graham and john cornyn ? i'd like to know.
>> what's interesting is where is chuck schumer on this, for instance? he has not come out. there's a lot of democrats who are very pro- israel and his constituents really dislike the idea -- this hints as a conspiracy, that there's this jewish lobby behind things. i think you'll see hagel come out and absolutely disavow that, pledge his love and support for america's jewish community . had he a bad relationship, it looks like, with the jewish community in nebraska which is out in an op-ed this morning which accuses him of anti-semitism. that's a pretty strong allegation.
>> is there a jewish community in nebraska ?
>> there is. i buried the lead.
>> hagel 's supporters have put together a list of prominent american jews who support him including a rabbi from nebraska .
>> also bush's former ambassador to israel . mika, to answer your question --
>> thank you. yes.
>> -- this is about iraq , pure and simple. this is about iraq , this is not about israel . this is about hagel flipping on iraq in '06 and '07 and '08 and becoming the republican face of opposition to bush in iraq and the neoconservatives and iraq . you were asking, what -- and when i was talking to a bunch of republicans on the hill, i said, you know, i said, are you guys really going to not, at the end of the day , support a former colleague? and they're, like, he left a lot of enemies. they weren't upset with him on flipping on iraq . they were upset that he -- they thought he threw it in their face too much, if you will. whatever you want to come up with.
>> we still only have two names.
>> that is the resentment.
>> hold on, mika. let's be really clear about it. most republicans are going to defer to john mccain . if john mccain , a former war hero --
>> is he against hagel ?
>> -- we'll see.
>> oh. no, i'm serious.
>> if john mccain comes out strongly against hagel -- and i think we have to assume right now if lindsey graham is out saying that, lindsey usually parrots what john mccain usually tells him to say. so if john mccain 's out there saying that --
>> i guess lindsey 's not coming on the show this week.
>> i love lindsey , he's a good friend, but i'm sorry for telling the truth. that's what lindsey 's done for years now since 2008 . there are people that oppose him.
>> there's the list.
>> i think john mccain 's critical. and chuck todd , it's equally critical that chuck hagel goes up to the hill, hat in hand, and admits that he ruffled feathers there, that he could have been more diplomatic, and that he wasn't as respectful to these guys that have been there for a very long time.
>> but look, hagel -- hagel -- this is not going to be an easy fight. mark halperin 's absolutely right, these courtesy calls are going to be everything. hagel ought to make the argument that hey, ruffling feathers with having that at the pentagon, because we're going to be in the middle of some tough fights and telling whether it's the army, telling the navy that hey, you're not going to get what you want when it comes to how many troops we're going to be funding over the next few years, things like that that, that that could be an asset. but the second thing he's going to have to work on goes to what ben smith just alluded to, and that is where chuck schumer is on this. look, i know of a soft count of ten no votes on the democratic side. you know, forget -- we know republicans look like they're going to be fairly united in opposition to hagel , at least at the beginning. well, if you've got ten no votes, then you don't have the vote. hagel 's most important meetings are not going to be with his republican colleagues, they are going to be with -- they're going to be with chuck schumer , frank lautenberg , bob menendez , a lot of the northeast lawmakers who will be nervous when they've got donors, jewish donors upset about comments.
>> the other irony is the only reason he's being considered is because he ruffled feathers on iraq . that's why obama is president. this whole thing does revolve around iraq , but there's no way he would be considered without republicans being furious about iraq . there's no other path.
>> the other issue is iran , though. people are worried -- some of the people who oppose him say we need a defense secretary who can make a very strong, credible threat to use force against iran if they don't stand down on their nuclear program. and their concern is, based on his past statements, that he will not be the rhetorical force you need in that job.
>> the president's going to make his decision on iran regardless of what.
>> i think chuck hagel 's going to do it for him.
>> chuck hagel 's not going to do it for him. by the way, you've got john kerry who is much more interventionist.
>> it's an incredible theme.
>> look, the president has incredible competence in his own views on foreign policy . these people are, as david ignatius pointed out, he's putting people around him who he's very comfortable with. the president's going to call the shots on foreign policy and national security . these people serve in his pleasure. chuck hagel 's views will ultimately not matter in the sense that they will not be dispositive. president iran and all these issues, the president will be setting the course.
>> as you know, the president has a very tight circle especially on foreign policy . and anybody who believes that he's going to pick up the phone and call the pentagon and ask any cabinet member , hey, should i go into iran or not? there are a lot of cabinet members that aren't really sure they're still cabinet members . the president doesn't talk to his cabinet. he's going to make that decision inside a tight, small group in the white house .
>> you know, but there has been this sort of fake consensus for the last four years that everybody supports a hard line on iran . it's ill defined what has been. i think obama is shattering that in saying there is a real policy debate on iran . hagel is going to prompt a real policy debate . he's opposed sanctions in the past, opposed military action . i think obama is at least, whether he wants to or not, sending a signal that he's much less eager to have military action against iran than at least a lot of republicans in the senate.
>> that's going to show up in a web video .
>> is it really?
>> you did good.
>> i appreciate that.
>> you didn't say all those words --
>> trained not to?
>> only buzzfeed could buzzfeed it out, though.
>> i don't even know what that means, chuck.
>> i don't quite either, but do you it.
>> chuck todd , final prediction, i alabama/ notre dame .
>> i'm sticking with what i stuck with a month ago, double digits, 'bama.
>> roll tide.
>> ben , thank you.
>> thank you, ben .
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