Morning Joe | January 08, 2013
>> and joe is off today basking in alabama's big win. joining me on set is willie geist and mark halperin and national affairs editor for "new york " magazine and msnbc political analyst , i have decided you are " morning joe "'s new men. new men, like sign felt.
>> the star of "elf."
>> i decided that on twitter with a twitter viewer who seems to feel the same way.
>> jon, how do you feel about that?
>> heilemann, see --
>> he just folded up his ipad and he's leaving.
>> you two need to go to wendy's wo and work this out.
>> and visiting professor at nyu and former democratic congressman, howard ford junior is with us. good morning. very elgadget. how are you?
>> i'm good.
>> let's get to the news. happy new year. did you have a good one?
>> i did.
>> we were talking about the hagel nomination that went down and president obama 's nomination team taking shape. former senator chuck hagel has been tapped to take over the lead at the pentagon from leon pennetta, who offered some parting thoughts during the announcement. take a listen.
>> the time has come for me to return to my wife, sylvia, our three sons, their families, our six grandchildren and my walnut farm. dealing with a different set of nuts. [ laughter ]
>> i guess when you're out-going, mark halperin , you can do that.
>> look, he's a funny guy and he survived in washington in public service for 50 years in the military in executive branch and congress being not just serious and smart and dedicated but a really funny and nice guy . incredible story. i was glad to see amist thedst the announcement of the new nominees he got his ceremony and i'm sure there will be more in the next couple of weeks.
>> a vietnam soldier and veteran has been nominated as the next secretary of defense and the president emphasized hagel 's government service and personal connection to the organization he's now been nominated to run.
>> chuck represents the bipartisan tradition we need more of in washington . for his independence and commitment to consensus, he's earned the respect of national security and military leaders, republicans and democrats , including me. in the senate, i came to admire his courage and his judgment, his willingness to speak his mind, even if it wasn't popular. even if it denified the con tension -- conventional wisdom and that's exactly the spirit i want on my national security team. we are not democrats or republicans, we are americans. maybe most importantly, chuck no, sir war is not an abstraction. he understands that sending young americans to fight and bleed in the dirt and mud, that's something we only do when it's absolutely necessary. the frame of reference he has set is geared towards the guy at the bottom doing the fighting and the dying.
>> one of hagel 's former colleagues, senate minority whip john cornyn says he has extreme concerns about the nomination.
>> i know chuck hagel , he's an honorable man, had a record of distinguished service but he's profoundly wrong on a number of the most important national security issues that face our country today, like denying iran nuclear weapons, like direct face to face negotiations with state department designated terrorist organizations like hamas and calling into question our commitment to our principal ally in the middle east , israel .
>> senator mccain released a statement echoing that sentiment, which is so interesting because i think he even considered hagel as secretary of state in his concept if he were president. anyhow, he said this yesterday. i have serious concerns about positions senator hagel has taken on a range of critical national security issues in recent years. as i just mentioned in 2006 , while he was preparing to run for president, mccain was asked whether he'd consider hagel for a cabinet post. he cold the "new york times" quote this. i'd be honored to have chuck with me in any capacity. he'd make a great secretary of state. john heilemann.
>> that's one of those things that speaks for itself.
>> kind of does. what's wrong with these people?
>> there's a lot of -- there are a lot of people that pointed out a lot of republicans fans of chuck hagel 's before he buck the party's line on iraq, before he turned against the iraq war are now not such big fans of chuck hagel . there was a time, joe made this point yesterday on the show, when chuck hagel 's brand of republican reform policy and national security outlook was the mainstream of the party. he was vetted for vice president for -- by dick cheney for george w. bush in 2000 . he was enough in the mainstream of republican thinking not that long ago, the last republican administration considered for the vice presidential slot. the party has moved far to the right. that's part of what's happened and chuck hagel has not moved with it. part of what's happening, some sense a lot of republicans talked about the israel question, a personal pique in the case of some people and john mccain may be one of them.
>> joe made that point yesterday. there's some people in washington who personally don't like chuck hagel . they may actually like him personally but he rubbed some people the wrong way in the course of doing politics in d.c. what do you think is going on here with someone like senator mccain says one thing six years ago and another thing today. people like lindsey graham bring up the word " israel " an awful lot. what's at the core of the opposition?
>> i think some of those substantive issues do concern him? . john and joe are right. chuck hagel has distanced himself from the republican party in a real and significant way. he essentially voiced support in 2008 for then senator obama 's campaign for the presidency. traveled with him offer seas and really worked to squash concerns raised by mccain at the time and some of the fringe of the republican party barack obama was unfit, unqualified and maybe not even an american. this confirmation hearing will be important. it's obvious even some democrats want to hear answers from senator hagel on a variety of issues. have confidence he will be confirmed unless one of these senators steps forward and says he or she will put a hold on his nomination. i doubt that will happen. as long as that doesn't happen we will have a spirited confirmation and he will be confirmed.
>> we get to the point about some democrats being a little tepid. the two of you write about campaign campaigns in game change about the mccain campaign. i know a lot of things are said. so many things happening, the in incoming is so unbelievable for these candidates. do you forget saying someone would be a great secretary of state? do you forget saying that, feeling that, knowing that zblnktsz h? how does that happen? how does senator mccain vote against chuck hagel ?
>> first, i don't think he has said he will vote against chuck hag hagel .
>> how does he do that? i don't think he will.
>> they say we want to hear answers and i imagine someone like chuck schumer who is not voicing -- we will get to this in a second will eventually come around and vote for chuck hagel . john mccain has been a politician drought his career driven by personal grudges --
>> like susan rice ?
>> yes. that was another case part of what was driving him. in this case, i do think part of what he would say, if he were here, back to the policy point, there's no greater champion of the iraq war and surge and everything that happened after that than john mccain was and no greater critic of that than republican chuck hagel . he would make the case it is not just a personal thing although i believe part of it is personal and this element they do have very different world views now.
>> which is why the confirmation hearing and his answers will be that much more critical than earlier.
>> they also, as you mentioned, harold, reservations from democrats with members of the party stopping short of offering hagel a full throated endorsement. senator chuck schumer of new york released a statement reading in part quote chuck hagel has earned the right to nothing less than a full and fair process in the senate. i look forward to fully studying his record and exploring his views. at the white house yesterday, hagel did not address the controversy surrounding his nomination.
>> mr. president, i'm grateful for this opportunity to serve our country again. especially its men and women in uniform and their families. these are people who give so much to this nation everyday with such dignity and selflessness. i will always do my best. i will do my best for our country, for those i represent at the pentagon and for all our citizens. mr. president, i will always give you my honest and most inform informed counsel.
>> hagel did however defend himself in an interview with his hometown newspaper in the lincoln journal star saying quote the distortions about my record have been astounding, adding there is not one shred of evidence i'm anti-israeli, not one vote that matters that hurt israe israel .
>> mark halperin , back to the democrats and their lukewarm response to this and to his comments in his hometown newspaper. what do you make of it? is he correct in what he's saying about his record?
>> some democrats are already supporting. jack reed , another veteran senator from rhode island . some are holding their fire and keeping their powder dry if i can cram some cliches in there. it's unusual to do an interview when you're awaiting confirmation. you're supposed to do an immediate blackout. he chose his hometown newspaper to do it. while do we care about this as a political story, will he be confirmed or not? everybody thinks in the end he will be. senator schumer is key here. a democratic nominee who doesn't have a scandal or personal scandal, all about policy, very rare to beat somebody just on policy, particularly if it stays an inside game. are there people in washington , in elite circles who want to stop hagel ? absolutely. is the public engage on this? no way, not now. the challenge for the people who oppose is to do one of two things, either get the public engaged and say we want to stop chuck hagel , unlikely or pick off a prominent democratic senator who says i can't support this person. schumer is the key. if schumer supports hagel , almost impossible to stop him.
>> i have to say, not to -- i feel like this is all -- all -- especially the extreme opposition here, it's kind of a waste of time. tell me the value that chuck hagel would bring to the table as the first secretary of defense who has actually served, who was wounded in war, knows the ins and outs of the senate of the halls of congress. he brings to the table -- he's a republican, at a time when washington needs sort of a bi bipartisan attitude injected into the system. can't imagine why this would become a massive fight. if it does, my god, it makes the fiscal cliff debacle look tiny. really? are we doing this? are these people doing this? sn>> in fairness, i do think it's important for some of these things to be laid out. if i were in the u.s. senate , i would support chuck hagel .
>> to call it extreme, in your face nomination.
>> that's politics at its worst and its least. he will have to answer questions specifically about sequestration. leon panetta is on record saying sequestration would hurt the department and undermine our defense capabilities and how he would downsize the pentagon. i'm interested in hearing.
>> it will.
>> i think he has great ideas and i'd love to hear. he has to answer questions about israel and iran and questions about whether his previous positions would allow the iranians, stop the iranians from getting a nuclear-these are important questions and the other is carl levin who chairs one of the more important committees in this senate as well. you're right, it's all about schumer.
>> before we go to break, want to ask you two, halpern and heilemann and about the passing of richard ben cramer , who wrote the opus, to pick your word, "what it takes" about the 1998 presidential campaign . for people who don't know his work and what he meant, john, i'll start with you. who was this man and why was he so influential?
>> richard was a newspaper journalist initially. covered a lot of stories from city hall to the middle east before he became a magazine journalist, worked for " rolling stone ," esquire, " sports illustrated ," before he went down that path. this book was the pantheon of the great campaign books, written about the 1998 campaign and took him a long time to do it, came out in four years after. it became one of the classic books that reporters and people in politics look to as having been definitive, not just about that campaign but style of campaign journalism, a blend of deeply researched reporting with new journalistic techniques in the tom wolfe kind of school. it's an incredible, incredible book. the most impress sev thing about it, true of all his books of politics. he wrote some of the best sports profiles about ted williams and joe dimaggio . he's the most sympathetic writer you can imagine, always striving to understand the world that his characters, how they saw the world. he would say he's always trying to get behind their eyes. he didn't write in a confrontational way, trying to see the world as his characters saw the world and gave them em immense empathy very rich and rare in our business.
>> coming up, new york city mayor michael bloomberg .
>> well said.
>> general stanley mcchrystal and former security advisor dr. brzezinski. first, bill cakarins with a look at the forecast.
>> thank you, mika. a nice warm day across much of the country. it's a little chilly. if you're traveling in the greater houston or galveston area, have showers or thunderstorms heading your way about local time 4:00 a.m . to 6:00 a.m . is when we see the worst rolling through, pretty much from now maybe until about 6:00 or 7:00. if you're flying, i think most of the airlines won't start up until after the rain is gone. then we have another round of showers and thunderstorms later on today. damaging winds and possibly tornadoes. and we're watching south florida and much of the nation. the snow is melting in a hurry across missouri, illinois, indiana, through the great lakes. even illinois going to do significant snow melt . 44 in boston and 53 in washington d.c. pretty incredible this time of the year. as we go throughout this week, no signs of cooler air. rain in this east thursday-friday and another warm week, could be 50s in the week for new england patriots football game . incredible for mid january. i've always