The Rachel Maddow Show | November 13, 2012
>> you last spent significant time doing video games when they looked like this. it's disorienting to know that video games now look like this, which is to say it is really hard to tell that they are not movies. ultimately the basic principles are the same in terms of video games then and now. most of them are fighting and shooting games, and for mof them if you're not good at controlling your thumbs, you're not a world champion at the game. the increasing over the top visual realism of modern video games is matched by an empt of video game makers to make the wartime combat featured in popular games really authentic as combat . this game is called " medal of honor war "it was so authentic seven navy s.e.a.l.s were reprimanded for giving classified information about navy s.e.a.l. stuff to the makers of this game, who presumably used it to make it as authentic as possible. a new combat realism game that came out today, they were advised by oliver north . remember him? he was indicted for 16 felonies in the iran contra panel. he was a conservative movement hero. oliver north not only consulted on this new game that comes out today, he appears as a character in the game. look at his hips. in real life i don't think his hips swing like a hula dancer like they do in the game. i don't know. i've never seen him walk. when the character oliver north talks in " call of duty black ops 2," it's his real voice . here's the thing about this game that came out today and today's news, and i think a thing i guess nobody saw coming before it happened. the game comes out today and set 13 years in the future. it's set in the year 2025 . although the game is supposed to be fiction, the cameo from oliver north is not the only way to make it seem connected to real people in the real world . there's an important scene in the game that takes place on a u.s. aircraft carrier , and that's named the "uss barack obama ." and the u.s. defense secretary meeting on the flight deck with the commander of the u.s. aircraft carrier obama is the american defense secretary , who in the game is named david petraeus . before this week it probably was not a bad bet in video game land that in 13 years a then 73-year-old david petraeus might be defense secretary , but now today that is a rather bad bet. it means that this video game someday in the future will be unearthed with the same glee and disbelief that accompanied the discovery of the old dating game footage of a future michigan governor , jennifer granholm . president obama was sworn into office as president. at the end of january 2009 , just over 100 days after that, less than four months after he was sworn in, the new president did something absolutely remarkable. something that had not been done in more than 50 years. the new president fired the man in charge of the war.
>> president obama has said that the war in afghanistan is one the u.s. must win. senior officials here at the pentagon have diecided it will take new military leadership to do it. defense secretary robert gates mcmckiernan in afghanistan last week to break the bad news, but waited until today to announce it.
>> i asked for the resignation of general david mckiernan .
>> gates and obama relieving him of command. when they did that and relieved him of command as the lead american commander of the war in afghanistan , that was the first time since general truman fired douglas mcarthur during the korean war that a president relieved a four-star commanding general in the middle of the war he was leading. when president obama did that it was the first time in 58 years anything like that happened in this country, and then he did it again. after he fired the man who was running the war when he took office, the replacement general that president obama sent to lead the war thereafter was this guy, general stanley mcchrystal. there was a immediate contracult around him as around david petraeus . a year after general mcchrisle tal took command, he, too, was fired by president obama . he was fired for in effect insubordination after a magazine article portrayed general mcchrisle tmckris mcchrrystal about it. michael hastings story was told in " rolling stone " and told in epic effect in his book called "the operators." after president obama 's first commander of the afghanistan war was fired, after his second commander was fired, president obama turned to the most high profile military leader in the country, general david petraeus , to become his third afghanistan war commanding general . that tenure in afghanistan lasted a year. as the president surged tens of thousands of more americans into that country, ultimately tripling the number of troops who were there when he first took office, that year at the front ended for general petraeus when he came back to washington to become head of the cia. a job from which he unexpectedly and suddenly resigned last week saying he had been having an extra-marital affair. meanwhile, yet another confirmation hearing is due this week for yet another new commander of the war in afghanistan . marine general joe dunford will take on over the reins from john allen . he took over from general petraeus . while general allen is still running the war over there, he too is caught up in the petraeus affair scandal. his confirmation hearings for his next big job, nato supreme commander , those hearings are on hold while the matter of general allen 's only personal relationship with one of the women involved can be sorted out. general allen is in washington for his own now postponed confirmation hearings for his next job and for his own now canceled role in the confirmation hearings for his successor to lead the afghanistan war . in washington he is denying any suggestion that he had an inappropriate relationship with anyone, and the defense department and white house are standing by him while the investigation continues. and while he smits his plans to the president now for which americans are going to remain in afghanistan after the official u.s. troop withdrawal from that war, which is not this year, and it's not next year. that doesn't happen anytime during the following yearle until the very end of the year after that. he submitted plans already for american troop presence in afghanistan starting in the year 2015 . after president obama signs off on that post- 2015 plan in the next couple of weeks, the white house is due to start their plans for how many americans have to stay in the war this year, 2012 , and next year, 2013 and the year after athathat, 2014 . those recommendations will come from general allen , who is the tenth u.s. general to lead the u.s. war in afghanistan . before this latest hubalu, he is going to be replaced with planning well under way for year '13 and '14 and something different they won't call a war but has americans there in year as 15 going on indefinitely. john allen successor to the disgraced petraeus and mcchrystal and fired mckiernan. he remiains in command in afghanistan where americans are risking their necks for a country that has not in a decade paid as much attention to the war as it is paying to the sexual misconduct and disgrace of one of the many, many, many, many, many, many men who have led it. joins us is frank rich , noshz magazine's writer at large.
>> great to be here, rachel.
>> we have went through a presidential election in which we pretty much did not talk about afghanistan . there's new interest in our military commanders there because of the details surrounding general petraeus and these e-mails from general allen . is this inevitable, and can this be a way to turn country's attention back to the war?
>> well, it would seem if you turned this long-running war, which i think is really off the public radar screen. it wasn't only not discussed in the campaign, in the debates, it didn't register in the polls like we're not at war, except for the people actually fighting it. to turn it into the " real housewives of tampa" may be the way to sell it or get people interested. i suspect the moment this is resolved in way or another, people will go back to ignoring the war.
>> is there any way -- i guess the parallel question other than public interest is political interest. you have seen in congress right now, including some of the republicans returning to congress in the house they still control, a real softening of attitudes on the issue of how long the afghanistan war should go on. i feel like if there's anybody who wants to push on this door, they will find it's an open door and there could be political support for leaving sooner than we're planning.
>> i think so. i thought it was true before the election. i felt romney was giving signals and even at times almost stating that it's good we're getting out. that shows that kind of softness. who really in this country is pushing for extending it? lindsey graham , john mccain and the departing joe lieberman . i don't know of any other voices in the national political scene who are saying we can't leave. we have to do as long as it takes and stay there forever. there's no public support for it.
>> because of this scandal, i just -- i mean, one of the things that you hear from veterans groups, that people outside the military i don't think seem all that comfortable talking about is the personal toll of these long deployments over multiple years on people's personal lives. young veterans bemoan the rate of divorce among veterans. how difficult it is to sustain a family and relationships. i don't know why we think it's easier for top commanders than your average infantry man trying to hold his family together. is this potentially -- we tend to defer to the military's own judgment on these things. we ask the commanders on the ground for their own opinion, but is this not another occasion for civilians to say, this is done in our name. the military isn't fighting this war because it wants to, because they want us to be fighting this. could this be an occasion for us to say we're asking the military to do too much for too long now. this is not personally sustainable?
>> i'd like to believe it's the case. we went through the stop leave and multiple tours of duty during iraq, which was so many strains, mental, physical, marital on the people fighting and their families. now this is at a high level , possibly a dramatization of the strains even in the privileged part of the military complex. i just -- the public is not engaged. it's 1% of the country that's fighting this war. most people sadly don't know people involved in the effort. so it's out of sight, out of mind. this will maybe cast a spotlight, but will it be forgotten as we return to the fiscal cliff or whatever we return to next month or next week.
>> in terms of the petraeus affair as it were itself, the story is definitely getting more sorted as days go by, which i think is why it continues to hold public attention so far. as it is getting more sorted, though, it is just getting more personal, or do you actually see it getting more political now? is this at this point a scandal or a tragedy?
>> i think it's just a tragedy. i mean, based on what we know now, it seems to be there's some things about it that are scandalous. i don't understand how a general could be involved in 20 or 30,000 pages worth of e-mail, like allen , how is he doing his job?
>> very short --
>> very short but 20,000 to 30,000. my god. i do think that it's really more -- so far it's the level of personal tragedy, and i think everyone understands that. there was an attempt by republicans to try to connect it to benghazi , to aaccuse obama of a coverup before the election as if it had been known before the election it would have had any effect. it wouldn't have. i think the political efforts are now over or seem to be subsiding, and so we're left with what this country really loves, a good, sorted sex scandal .
>> on the issue of benghazi , the president is trying to put together his second term cabinet. there's been a lot of talk where john kerry is going to go. whether he would be secretary of state or defense. there's this question about whether susan rice might be elevated to secretary of state. the republicans, of course, tried to turn it into a national scandal that she commented after the benghazi attack and said that at that point best intelligence indicated it might have something to do with that protest about the film. the intelligence community later changed its mind saying they don't think it's related. the republicans have tried to hang her out to dry on that subject. do you think that's over, or if she gets the secretary of state nomination, it's a real hurdle for her?
>> i don't think it's a real hurdle if she gets it. frankly, i don't think republicans want to go up against a very distinguished african- american woman in public life with no grounds whatsoever. getting back to kerry, kerry, who actually did serve, could be and has been in the past a great voice for what you're talking about for taking care of our military, taking care of our veterans, dealing with these issues in whatever big post he ends up in, he certainly did it as a senator, that would be a big plus.
>> connecting with the country's concerns to the war that we're still fighting that we prefer not to talk about. il it's a big job, but somebody has to do it. thanks for being here. appreciate it.
>> news ahead on liberal seeming things that happen in utah. also, election results still due to come in. next, president obama 's mini summit today with a who's who of liberal america on purpose. that's next.