Return to Transcripts main page
Lou Dobbs Tonight
President Bush Meets Top Senate Democrats; Some in GOP Furious at White House for Election Defeat; Democrats Split on Iraq; Senator- Elect Jim Webb Discusses Democrats' Future
Aired November 10, 2006 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everybody.
Tonight, President Bush steps up his efforts working with Democrats in what will be a new Congress. But after years of bitter political fighting, will this new spirit of bipartisanship last?
We'll have complete coverage tonight from Washington. And three of the country's brightest political analysts join us.
And Democrats are promising voters a bold agenda of reform and action, but it's far from clear that Democrats will be able to do more than the Republicans for our battered middle class. That's the view of some.
The new Democratic senator-elect from Virginia, Jim Webb, however, says he's going to get a lot done. He's a decorated Vietnam veteran, former Navy secretary, a best-selling author. He has the capacity to do what he says.
All of that and a great deal more, straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Friday, November 10th.
Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
President Bush today made a new appeal to Democrats trying to work together after the Democratic election victory. At a meeting with leading Senate Democrats, the president said there is a great opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to show their patriotism.
Democratic leader Senator Harry Reid called for bipartisanship and openness. But that spirit of bipartisanship could easily founder on conflicts over the conduct of the war in Iraq. The Democrats themselves far from united on Iraq policy. The divisions already a factor in the race for a new House majority leader.
Elaine Quijano tonight reports from the White House on the meeting between President Bush and Democratic leaders.
Bill Schneider reports from Washington on the divisions among Democrats over the conduct of the war in Iraq and its future.
And Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill tonight on the rising anger within the Republican Party over the GOP's election defeat.
We turn first to Elaine Quijano at the White House -- Elaine.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And Lou, it was all smiles once again in the Oval Office today as President Bush and Senate Democratic leaders pledged to move beyond partisanship.
QUIJANO (voice-over): They can get along. That was the message from President Bush and Senate majority leader-to-be Harry Reid.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I assured the senators that -- that we will cooperate as closely as we can to solve common problems.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: The election's over. The only way to move forward is with bipartisanship and openness, and to get some results.
QUIJANO: The meeting marked the second consecutive day President Bush has tried underscoring a bipartisan approach.
STEVE ELMENDORF, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL ADVISER: He's going to have to change the way he does business. I think he has approached the previous six years as "my way or the highway."
QUIJANO: So far, an encouraging sign for Senator Harry Reid, who suggested to President Bush a bipartisan summit on Iraq.
REID: He didn't reject it. I think it's -- I think it's -- I really think it's a good idea that he would meet with the bipartisan congressional leadership.
QUIJANO: Among the starting points, to stake out common ground, education and energy. Stalled immigration reform may also be among the first of the more contentious issues Democrats tackle in the new term, building political goodwill with the White House.
Yet, for all the talk of bipartisanship, some Democrats are already bristling over the agenda items the president has laid out for the lame duck session. They include the Terrorist Surveillance Act and the renomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations.
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow insists the president is not trying to test the Democrats by laying out those priorities.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think you should look at these as necessarily provocative. I know it's -- you should -- that there's an attempt to do so.
QUIJANO: And Iraq remains the issue that most deeply divides Democrats and Republicans. On Monday, President Bush is set to meet with members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, the panel that is assessing U.S. policy in Iraq -- Lou.
DOBBS: Elaine, thank you very much.
Elaine Quijano from the White House.
As Elaine just reported, the president and members of his national security team will meet with the Iraq Study Group Monday to discuss the direction of war strategy in Iraq. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, is among those officials who will meet with the group. General Pace told CNN what that study group is trying to achieve in his view.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: I think the serious issue on the table is, what are the strategic objectives of the United States in the war on terrorism? And what is going right in the pursuit of those objectives and what is not going right and should be changed?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: The study group is expected to deliver its report before the end of this year.
Insurgents in Iraq have killed five more of our troops. Three of our soldiers, two of our Marines. Twenty-six of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month, 2,844 of our troops have been killed so far in this war.
The war in Iraq one large reason for the defeat of the Republican Party. Some leading conservative Republicans say there were other major factors as well. Among them, out-of-control government spending and outright corruption on Capitol Hill. And those conservative Republicans are now voicing their anger at the party's leadership.
Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill.
BUSH: It was the thumpin'.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thumping, pounding, beating... no Republican is trying to sugarcoat what happened to their Grand Old Party on election night, and recriminations are everywhere. Arizona's John Shadegg first came to Congress in 1994, part of the Republican wave that took the majority from Democrats. Like many conservatives, he blames his own party for losing its way.
REP. JOHN SHADEGG (R), ARIZONA: We broke faith with the American people, and they sent us a clear message. Now, I don't know if my colleagues have understood that message yet. I think they are really kind of in shock, still, but they sent a clear message: You promised to change the way Washington works and you didn't do it, and so it's time to give the other team a turn. BASH: Republicans like Shadegg says it's easy to see what went wrong. The party let the deficit balloon with too much pork-barrel spending, let the government get too big with new entitlements like prescription drugs for Medicare, and let themselves be corrupted by power.
SHADEGG: We had said we would be different, we would clean up Washington and it would operate openly and above board, and no secret deals, and no smoke room deals, smoke-filled room deals, and no back- room deals that are cut, and no late-night deals. And the American people have now read that, in point of fact, none of that happened.
BASH: Shadegg is one of several rank-and-file Republicans now running to unseat GOP leaders. Part of the Republican search for a new direction and a path back to power. But most Republicans call it a matter of better discipline, because, they say, voters rejected their party's behavior, not its philosophy, and say it's time to get back to basics.
SEN. JOHN SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: The issues of fiscal responsibility, getting rid of wasteful government spending, encouraging economic growth and opportunity.
BASH: Now, you can't talk about GOP finger-pointing without talking about Iraq. During the last month or two of the campaign, more and more candidates, Republican candidates, distanced themselves from the White House. Now expect Republicans to follow the Democrats' lead and be much more aggressive in challenging the White House on its Iraq policy -- Lou.
DOBBS: Those Republicans or conservatives, as they style themselves, Dana, to what degree do they blame the president for pushing them over a cliff come Election Day?
BASH: You know, it depends who you ask, to be quite honest with you. When you talk to the people who really think Iraq was one of the big problems, they say, no, it was the president's policy. But I talked to several Republican lawmakers who say, you know what? We really only have ourselves to blame. We were in the ones in control here, we were the ones from their perspective who didn't control spending, and it's -- we have ourselves to blame, not the president, not anybody else.
DOBBS: Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.
Another reason for some anger in Republican ranks is the abrupt resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Some Republicans are simply furious with the White House over the timing of the Rumsfeld resignation announcement.
Brian Todd has that report from Washington.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): GOP candidates were still in post-election trauma when they had to absorb this...
BUSH: Secretary Rumsfeld and I agreed that the timing is right for new leadership at the Pentagon.
TODD: But was the timing right for his party? Former House speaker Newt Gingrich says to "The New York Times," "If the president had replaced Rumsfeld two weeks ago, the Republicans would still control the Senate, and they would probably have 10 more House members."
A spokeswoman for longtime Republican Congressman Clay Shaw of Florida, who lost on Tuesday, tells CNN his first impression when he heard of Rumsfeld's departure was that the votes he needed would have been there if Rumsfeld had left earlier. But she says White House political adviser Karl Rove gave Shaw the same explanation Mr. Bush gave to reporters on Wednesday.
BUSH: I think it sends a bad signal to our troops that they think the commander in chief is constantly adjusting tactics and decisions based upon politics.
TODD: But according to Republican strategist Richard Viguerie, a pre-election Rumsfeld exit could have made the difference in the two closest Senate races.
Look at the CNN election-night tracking graphics from Montana and Virginia. The deeper the red or blue, the more heavily these districts lean Republican or Democrat. The faded colors show how close those races were throughout the two states. And in Virginia, Iraq was a key issue.
RICHARD VIGUERIE, AUTHOR, "CONSERVATIVES BETRAYED": They were waiting to hear something from the president that he would not stay the course, that he would change course. And if the president had communicated weeks before the election instead of the day after that he would change course in Iraq, George Allen would be the new senator- elect.
TODD: But others believe senators Allen and Conrad Burns would not have been helped by that.
KAREN TUMULTY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: With George Allen, we saw the most accident-prone Senate campaign in modern history, and Conrad Burns was really being pulled down by his association with Jack Abramoff.
TODD: Two top Republican strategists told me the only way a pre- election Rumsfeld removal could have helped the GOP is if it was done back in July or August. But again, it is worth looking at those margins in Virginia and Montana. George Allen, Conrad Burns each lose their races by less than one percent of the vote. With races so close, a lot of "what-ifs" being uttered today -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Brian.
Brian Todd from Washington.
Democrats tonight facing some division of their own as well just days after their election victory. The Democratic Party far from united over the direction of the conduct of the war in Iraq, and those divisions could be a factor in the race for the new House majority leader, set for next week.
Bill Schneider has our report.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Iraq got the Democrats their new majority.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Nowhere was the call for a new direction more clear from the American people than in the war in Iraq.
SCHNEIDER: Next week, House Democrats will meet to choose a new majority leader. They can choose to make a bold statement about Iraq or not. The bold choice would be John Murtha.
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: The president kept talking about the last election being a mandate for him to go forward in Iraq. Well, this election was the opposite. This election was for -- to re- deploy the troops and my plan, which is the opposite of his plan, as soon as practicable out of Iraq.
SCHNEIDER: The cautious choice would be Steny Hoyer, who is now the Democratic whip, and, therefore, next in line to become leader.
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MINORITY WHIP: But we will work together, we being Republicans and Democrats, the president and the Congress, to solve the problems, and make their lives better, more secure, and more -- and our country more safe.
SCHNEIDER: Hoyer has been in the leadership since 1989, and has broad support among party veterans.
But freshmen Democrats are deeply imprinted with the force that got them elected. More than anything else, that means Iraq.
PATRICK MURPHY (D), PENNSYLVANIA CONGRESSMAN-ELECT: We absolutely need the change of direction in Iraq. And I will fight every single day down in Washington, D.C., to make that happen.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SCHNEIDER: Murtha, a 16-term congressional veteran, is a hero to many freshman Democrats, the guy who stood up first, and is still standing up. MURTHA: Why did we go into Iraq with insufficient forces? Why did we go into Iraq with inadequate body armor and with inadequate Humvees? We want to make -- find out who is responsible for the mistakes that were made.
HOYER: We had a welfare bill.
SCHNEIDER: Hoyer has the inside track for the leadership post. Murtha has the message that won the glorious victory of '06.
SCHNEIDER: Today, just over half the freshmen Democrats signed a letter supporting Steny Hoyer, but it is a secret ballot, so we wont know for sure how anybody actually votes.
Another wrinkle in this race, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer were rivals for the whip position in 2001. Pelosi's campaign manager in that race? John Murtha -- Lou.
DOBBS: Bill Schneider.
Thank you very much.
Still ahead here, members of Congress repeatedly raise their own pay while refusing to raise the minimum wage. We'll have that special report and what's about to be done about it.
And Congress voted to build a fence along part of our border with Mexico. The president signed the bill. Now powerful Democrats threatening to open our borders to anyone who wants to enter the country? Is that right?
We'll have the story.
And Democrats promising bold new legislation in the first 100 hours. Will they deliver? The new Democratic senator-elect from the state of Virginia, Jim Webb, joins us.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Congress hasn't raised the federal minimum wage since 1997. But there's one group that has raised wages for themselves consistently. And Congress continues to ignore the needs of working men and women and their families. They may be on the verge of allowing more cheap foreign labor into this country as well.
Christine Romans reports on congressional action in raising their own wages while not helping anyone with the minimum wage.
Bill Tucker reports on Congress, a Congress that may fold under corporate pressure to allow more foreign workers to enter the country.
We begin tonight with Christine Romans -- Christine. CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Congress has had no trouble at all raising its own pay by $30,000 over the past few years, a $30,000 raise, while keeping the minimum wage for everyone else stuck at only $5.15 an hour.
ROMANS (voice-over): An hour of work at the minimum wage barely buys two gallons of gas. A full-time minimum- age job earns just over $10,000 a year, technically right on the poverty line.
REBECCA BLANK, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: We really want to send a message to workers that if you work, and if you work full time, you're going to make enough to support yourself and support, you know, your spouse and maybe a child or two. And, you know, at the current level of the minimum wage, that's just not possible.
ROMANS: But members of Congress who have consistently failed to raise the minimum wage, earn $165,200 a year, four times the average U.S. family. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, though, have done what Congress won't.
HENRY AARON, BROOKINGS INST.: The states are acting because of a failure of leadership in Washington.
ROMANS: Six more states this week raising the minimum wage. Most ballot initiatives passing by at least a 2-1 margin.
Voters aren't buying the business lobby argument that a higher minimum wage is a job killer, that it raises the cost of doing business and could lead to inflation. Indeed, evidence mounts that a higher minimum wage does not hurt job or business growth.
The Fiscal Policy Institute found states with a higher minimum wage had faster job growth in retail and small business. Studies in Oregon and New Mexico found no ill effects from higher wages. The evidence so compelling, Nobel laureates and 650 other economists this month pledged their supports for a higher federal minimum wage.
ROMANS: A remarkable list of people. And then, of also great concern to the middle class, is this growing income gap, something a top central banker warned about this week. San Francisco fed president Janet Yellen called it a threat to our democracy -- Lou.
DOBBS: Imagine that. Something we've been warning about on this broadcast for five years. It's really nice to see Nobel laureates and 650 economists kind of awaken to the realities of what an economy is about. That is, it's about people.
Christine, thank you very much.
Regardless of the power shift in Congress, the cheap foreign labor lobby is coming on strong, pushing for legislation that would dramatically increase the number of foreign workers allowed into this country under existing guest worker programs.
Bill Tucker reports.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Microsoft's Bill Gates this week fired the first shot in the coming fight for more cheap foreign labor. Gates warning of a shortage of high-tech workers that his company needs to be competitive.
His solution? Bringing in more foreign workers.
Critics say he's got it wrong.
STEVE CAMAROTA, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: If we have a shortage, then the solution is to let the labor market be tight and more Americans will be attracted to those jobs as wages rise. If American business really feels that we're not teaching enough math and science in school, they need to pressure the political institutions to do a better job of teaching our kids.
TUCKER: Congress has a different solution. It's known as the Skill Act of 2006. It would nearly double the current cap on H1B visas and allow for a 20 percent increase every year after the previous year's quota was met, virtually guaranteeing an endless supply of lower-paid workers from overseas.
A study by Georgetown University found that the total potential number of new tech visas created by the Senate bill would by 1.88 million over the next decade. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics only projects a need for 1.25 million workers in computing and engineering fields. That's more visas than jobs.
Worker advocates say Congress is ready to sole a problem that doesn't exist.
KIM BERRY, PROGRAMMERS GUILD: We don't see any evidence of a shortage. A shortage under the laws of supply and demand would be an increase in wages, it would be body shops or headhunters stealing employees from other companies.
TUCKER: And that's not happening.
TUCKER: No. In fact, wages are stagnant and declining. A study published by "BusinessWeek," in fact, found that the starting wages for computer scientists and engineers fell 12 percent or worse, Lou, from 2001 to 2005. It doesn't sound like a tight labor market to me.
DOBBS: No, it's just going in the opposite direction.
You know, at some point these people have got to be a little embarrassed by their shoddy economics and their lack of, let's say, integrity and intellectual honesty in what they are doing here. And perhaps at some point find a conscious in corporate America about what they are doing to working men and women in this country. You would think it would happen -- we hope sooner rather than later.
Thank you, Bill Tucker.
When we come back, Democrats want to change their focus on efforts in education. We'll have that report.
And it's an encouraging possibility the Democratic Congress may be at odds with the majority of Americans, however, when it comes to establishing border security and port security.
We'll have that report.
And Virginia's senator-elect, Jim Webb, a highly-decorated Vietnam veteran, former secretary of the Navy, joins us to talk about the Democratic plan to help out America's working men and women, our middle class.
And we'll also hear from our panel of political analysts about the next few months before they take over.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Big changes and apparently some big setbacks may be in the looming for the fight to protect our broken borders. Congressman Bennie Thompson, the incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, may want to do away entirely with that border fence project.
Casey Wian reports.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mississippi Democrat Bennie Thompson is poised to take over as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee in January.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D), MISSISSIPPI: It seems like I've heard this before, Mr. Speaker.
WIAN: Already he's talking about knocking down plans to build 700 miles of new doubled-layered fence along the border with Mexico. Thompson told CongressDaily this week he hopes to revisit the fence legislation and perhaps do away with it entirely. He also says it's a good time to be a Democrat.
Thompson's staff said he was traveling and not available to discuss his comments. During a previous congressional debate, he supported an approach critics call amnesty for illegal aliens.
THOMPSON: We need a comprehensive border security and immigration plan. Not a piecemeal plan. WIAN: Fence bill sponsor Pete King was first to shake the president's hand after he signed the law last month. King says he'll do everything he can to block any effort to stop the fence, adding that "Failing to complete the construction will be a betrayal of trust to the American people and will be an open invitation to illegal immigrants coming into this country."
Thompson did say one of his top priorities will be to ensure that all cargo containers coming from foreign ports be scanned before they reach the United States. That would help prevent illegal aliens, terrorists, or a radioactive dirty bomb from being smuggled through our ports.
REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: In terms of doing something on container cargo, I'm not opposed to that. We can do more in that -- in that area. But that doesn't mean we should open our borders wide open at a time when terrorists have come across that border.
WIAN: Thompson hints he might support a virtual fence with cameras and remote sensors instead of the physical barrier his congressional colleagues approved by a margin of more than 2-1.
WIAN: Now, 64 Democrats voted in favor of the border fence, but their leaders appear ready to violate the will of the very people who put them into power. Of course, Americans favor a physical border fence by a margin of 54-44 percent -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, we're going to find out just what the difference is between a Democrat and a Republican here in the next few months.
Thank you very much.
Casey Wian, reporting from Los Angeles.
That bring us to the subject of our poll tonight. With the election now behind us, do you believe it is more likely that our borders and ports will be secured and illegal immigration curtailed? More likely, less likely?
Please cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have those results coming up at the end of the broadcast.
Time now for some of your thoughts.
Jack in Arizona wrote in to say, "While watching your show, I can't help but think of how much good it may do for George Bush to watch your show daily. Maybe he would get an idea of where the American public really is coming from. Upon reading this, Bush would probably assume that I am a Democrat."
"Well, I'm a Republican. And guess what, George? I voted Democratic across the board. George, are you starting to get it?"
And Carolyn in New Jersey, "I'm a liberal on everything except immigration. Why is my stand on immigration considered to be very conservative according to CNN since I simply feel all laws should be enforced? That's not a liberal or conservative stand. It's democratic."
Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. We'll have more of your thoughts here later.
Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book, "War on the Middle Class".
Up next, our nation's schools failing an entire generation of students. Do the Democrats have the right answers? They may have.
We'll have a special report.
Senator-Elect Jim Webb of Virginia joins us. I'll be asking the senator-elect, a former Republican, about his campaign that put the Senate in the hands of the Democrats.
And three of the nation's most distinguished political analysts join us here with their thoughts on the new pledges of bipartisanship and the likely course of a new Congress.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Members of the newly elected Democratic Congress say improving our education system will be one of their top priorities. The question is whether they'll be able to save failing schools and alleviate the debt burdens of higher education for our middle-class. Kitty Pilgrim reports.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Early word from the Bush administration, there will be cooperation between Pennsylvania Avenue and Capitol Hill to improve education in America.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The No Child Left Behind Act is going to come up for re-authorization. There's an area where we must work together for the sake of our children and for the sake of a competitive America.
PILGRIM: Truth is the sweep in the House by Democrats this week did not reach the House education and the workforce committee. All 24 Republicans on that panel held their seats. California Democratic George Miller is seeking the chairmanship of that committee.
REP. GEORGE MILLER (D), CALIFORNIA: We built this country on people joining the middle-class, people getting into the middle-class through education, getting there through the acquisition of skills, and now we see that that's becoming more and more difficult, even though it's becoming more and more important.
PILGRIM: Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy is in line to lead the Senate on education. The Democrats' plan for education, outlined before the election looks something like this: cut interest rates for federal student loans. Allow families to write off up to $3,000 in college tuition payments, and expansion of Pell Grants to students.
ANTONIA CORTESE, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: It's our hope that we will be able to take NCLB, the No Child Left Behind Act, and to correct the flaws in it and to make it right and work for schools and for students.
PILGRIM: Republicans' concern is how will the Democrats manage to do all that without interfering with efforts to balance the budget?
PILGRIM: Now help is needed. The middle class has been struggling with higher education costs. The DNC Web site points out that tuition at four-year colleges has climbed 40 percent since 2001 and the average student graduates with more than $17,000 in debt, Lou.
DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much -- Kitty Pilgrim.
The Senate race in Virginia, one of the ugliest campaigns, and it was the cliffhanger of this election. Democratic challenger Jim Webb defeated Senator George Allen and in so doing gave Democrats control of the U.S. Senate. Jim Webb is a highly decorated marine Vietnam veteran, the only graduate of the Naval Academy to also serve as the secretary of the Navy and the author of six best-selling novels.
He left the Republican Party in disagreement with the Bush administration's Iraq policy, and I'm delighted to welcome the senator-elect from Virginia, Jim Webb. Good to have you here.
JAMES WEBB, SENATOR-ELECT, VIRGINIA: Thank you for having me. I'd like to make a clarification, if I may.
WEBB: I left the Republican Party on a number of issues. I affiliated with the Republican Party on national security, but one of the strongest reasons that I decided to go back to the Democratic Party was the issue that you've been talking about a lot here, and that is what has happened to the people in the working elements of our country.
DOBBS: Well, that's certainly a priority, I'm delighted it's a priority for you. I know that you campaigned hard on those issues. You've made it fundamental. You constructed it, if I may show our audience.
You put up on your Web site, a number of the issues that you were going to deal with. If we could put that up please. During your campaign you focused on four major themes: refocusing America's foreign and defense policies, reinstituting notions of true fairness in American society, restoring the constitutional role of Congress as an equal partner. Jim Webb, the idea that we could reinstitute the idea of fairness in this society, now that kind of gets me excited.
WEBB: Well, it's incredible. I know you've been talking about this for a long time and I've been talking about it for a good number of years before I ever thought I would run for office. But when you see the bifurcation in our society, the incredible transfer of wealth to the top and the historic high levels of corporate profits as a percentage of our national wealth, at the same time that wage and salaries are at an all-time low, somebody needs to be dealing with those.
You mentioned before the half-hour break something that you've said a lot about the lack of conscience in corporate America, and I really think that if you look at these problems, a wide variety of the problems, you can go back to two things. One is a sense of entitlement that has come with this migration of wealth to the top one percent, that goes even into things like military service.
WEBB: And the second is the lack of accountability in corporate America, even in terms of tax policies and we really need to get our arms around this or we're going to have problems with protectionism and social unrest, in my view.
DOBBS: The idea that when equality is the cornerstone of our constitution, our declaration of independence, equality of opportunity, equal rights, equality of educational opportunity, economic opportunity.
Nobody can guarantee anybody's success in any of that, but we can guarantee and do guarantee that. What's your -- how did we get so far away from that fundamental sense of fairness, the square deal, the fair deal, that has been the essence of American society?
WEBB: You know, I believe you measure the health of your society not at its apex, but at the base. You can't any longer measure the health of our society simply by what's happening with the stock market, because there's been such a tremendous migration of wealth toward a very small percentage of people who are owning stocks and those sorts of things.
And it's -- to me, part of it is the leadership that we have in the Congress and the notion that there are so many loopholes that have been built into the system that have allowed this thing to perpetuate itself and I'm looking forward to taking a healthy look at this.
This isn't trying to create class warfare or to go after corporate America or any of this stuff in an unfair way. It's simply trying to bring fairness back to the system. We have 13 percent of the taxes in this country being paid by corporate America, when we have these all-time profits up there, and we have 86 percent being paid by the individuals.
DOBBS: Yes, that issue of fairness, whether in tax policy, education, what committees would you like to serve on, you're focused on foreign policy, domestic policy? But which would be most interesting to you?
WEBB: This is a little awkward for me right now because I have some requests in and the Democratic leadership is going to decide on them next week. But I will -- I can say that one of the committees that I will be in, I can guarantee, will be the one that deals with defense or foreign policy. One will be on issues that we're talking about right here.
And then the third committee, I will say, I want to be on the veterans' committee. I've spent a good part of my life, as you know, either serving or working with veterans and I feel an obligation, a special obligation, to people that are serving. And, by the way, happy birthday to all the marines out there.
DOBBS: November 10th, outstanding. Thank you very much, Jim Webb. And congratulations on your win.
WEBB: Well I appreciate all the work you're doing to try to bring the issues to the fore. We really need to try to work on them.
DOBBS: We try. We know you will, and you have the capacity, the experience and the character to get it done, so we wish you all the best.
WEBB: Thank you very much.
DOBBS: This weekend we'll have much more on the shift of political power in Washington and its likely impact on our middle- class. I'll be talking with some of the nation's best political analysts on what this Congress is likely to do. Join us for "LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK" Saturday and Sunday 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
And coming up here next, change afoot here in Washington. I'll be talking with our expert panel of political savants, analysts and strategists about what those changes in the power structure means to the country.
And on this Veterans Day weekend, we'll hear from a true American hero, an army sergeant that served in some of the toughest fighting in Fallujah.
Also immediately following this broadcast, please stay tuned, our one-hour special, "Heroes," our tribute to America's men and women in uniform, serving the nation all around the world and our veterans -- right after this broadcast tonight, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Joining me now, James Taranto of the "Wall Street Journal," opinion.com and -- you know, I just said that entirely wrong, but I'm going to keep moving -- Michael Goodwin, the "New York Daily News." I got that right. Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman, thank you all for being here. Let me start with this percolating blame game in Washington, D.C., blaming the president for their ills, blaming just about everything this Congress.
Did anybody notice they were only in session for 93 days, do you think, James?
JAMES TARANTO, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": I think some people noticed. And I have to say, I think I blame the Republican Congress for losing this election. I've said on it this show before, the Republicans deserve to lose. I also said the Democrats didn't deserve to win, but let's hope...
DOBBS: What are you going to do? I mean...
TARANTO: Exactly. It's a zero-sum game. Let's hope that the Democrats now show that they did deserve to win.
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I disagree -- I agree with half of what you said about the Republican Congress. I'll go as far. But ultimately, you had a climate in Washington where the Republican Congress failed to actually execute their constitutional duties of oversight and checks and balances. And we talk about a do- nothing Congress. They took a two-week recess for St. Patrick's Day...
DOBBS: They were, I'm sure, busy.
ZIMMERMAN: Now, I'm devoted to St. Patrick's Day, but never before had there been a two-week recess.
DOBBS: Well, you know, I fell forth on these sort of ethnocentric holidays before. I'm not going there.
ZIMMERMAN: OK, fine.
MICHAEL GOODWIN, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, look, I mean, I think with the Congress really what mattered was Iraq, and I think had Iraq been going well, this election would have had a very different outcome regardless of what the Congress did. And it was Bush, it was Rumsfeld on Iraq.
And I just -- if I could on the issue of the timing of Rumsfeld being dumped. You know, Newt Gingrich and others complaining that had he done it earlier it would have meant a difference in the outcome. I think it depends when he did it.
And I think if he had done it on the eve of the election, it would have been a disaster. I think it would have been pandering. It would have smacked of panic. Had he done it back in May and June, had the president recognized then how bad ...
DOBBS: How about the first time that it occurred to someone in this administration that the generals weren't getting the job done and that this war was protracted and the leadership ineffective? And how about that -- let's forget the -- I mean... GOODWIN: And I think that was very clear in the spring.
ZIMMERMAN: But I think Iraq has taken on a much greater meaning. It's not just the war, but Iraq became a symbol for the incompetence of this administration, their failure to be straightforward with the administration, inability to keep us safe and fight terrorism effectively. And so while I think Rumsfeld's departure is important, we also have to be realistic that unless the Bush White House has a different approach, it's for naught.
TARANTO: But let me point out two facts that I run counter to this argument that it was all about Iraq. First of all, Joe Lieberman trounced Ned Lamont. Joe Lieberman is the most steadfast supporter of the Iraq war among the Democrats, and one of the most steadfast in either party.
Second, of the five Republicans who voted against the war who were left in Congress, three of them lost: Lincoln Chafee, Jim Leach and John Hostettler. So I think that it was an anti-Republican wave that went beyond Iraq.
ZIMMERMAN: Well, I think -- I'm going to tell you something. I think you're really -- I hope the Republicans believe that message, because it's only good for Democrats. Realistically, this was a message about the Iraq war. It was a message about a Republican Congress that deserted the middle-class in this country, and I think all of it was really tied together in terms of the failed leadership from the White House.
DOBBS: Michael, the idea that John Bolton is being moved forward, again, for confirmation in the Senate as U.N. ambassador, bad move or intelligent move?
GOODWIN: I think John Bolton is a terrific ambassador, and I think he's exactly what we need at the U.N. Now, it may backfire, however, politically on the president, because if he really does hope to kind of make nice with Pelosi and Harry Reid, I think this is the kind of thing that will be a stick in the eye and start the recrimination.
TARANTO: I think it's not going to matter, because Lincoln Chafee, you know, pretty much just out of spite, has made it clear that he's not let it go through and I think the Bolton nomination is sunk.
TARANTO: And it's sad, because he's terrific. I agree with Michael.
DOBBS: Chafee has to be one of the most confused people in terms of his own identity serving in either the Senate or the House.
ZIMMERMAN: It's ironic he wrote in George Bush's father for president in 2004.
ZIMMERMAN: And, of course, after he opposed the White House, the White House fought hard to get him the Republican nomination because he was the best shot of victory. But I think though -- and this is an interesting test of whether the White House is prepared to work in a bipartisan way. Moving forward with the Bolton nomination when they know the votes don't exist sends out the wrong message. And the issue for both the Democrats and the leaders...
DOBBS: How about this? How about this? See a new bipartisan in Washington that we've been promised. Bolton is, without question, qualified. There is no -- to my knowledge, somebody correct me, there is a question of his demeanor, but there is no question of his professionalism, his competence, his intelligence, his effectiveness, am I wrong on that?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, I think that's not so much the issue as much as -- that's not the issue.
GOODWIN: Competence is not the issue.
DOBBS: But in terms that he's got to be guilty of all -- of anything else.
ZIMMERMAN: I can see I'm really scoring with the panel on this one.
GOODWIN: He screamed at somebody one time.
ZIMMERMAN: There was an issue that -- no, there was an issue about whether he accurately provided proper information to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. These are issues that should be aired.
DOBBS: They've been aired and aired and aired. Meanwhile, he's been functioning quite nicely as the U.N. ambassador.
GOODWIN: And I think it's a sign that this bipartisanship is very -- is kind of paper thin, that they are going to hit heads very quickly.
DOBBS: Well, it does seem like, you know, I -- you know, I'm a sucker for civics, grade school civics. I really want to see people working together.
GOODWIN: Yes, of course.
DOBBS: And I think most folks do. But this -- we're going to see -- it's going to take some while to drain the pettiness out of that town that is built on a swamp, if I may.
GOODWIN: But there are real substantive differences, too, and I think they're going to come to the fore. They can do the low-hanging fruit. Maybe Bush will go along with the minimum wage and things like that.
(CROSSTALK) DOBBS: Go along with the minimum wage -- if this president and this Congress stood in the way of that minimum wage while giving themselves a pay raise, what is it, nine times during the period, it is the most unconscionable act by a bunch of phony pseudoeconomists and faith-based political ignoramuses.
GOODWIN: How do you really feel?
DOBBS: I mean, it's insane. I mean, it's bad economics to fight it. It's bad politics and it's a lousy thing to do with Americans who work at the lower end of the wage scale.
GOODWIN: Right, and I think he won't. I think he won't.
ZIMMERMAN: Why did he fight it for the first four years is the first question that has to be addressed. And the most important is I don't really consider these issues low-hanging fruit. I think they are really a test.
DOBBS: I don't either after what we've been through in the country.
ZIMMERMAN: That's right. For example, implementing the 9/11 committee recommendations, that's an important test of bipartisan.
DOBBS: Right. How about securing the borders? Democrats and Republicans work together to do something...
DOBBS: Oh, you know, we're going to have to see.
GOODWIN: But they'll work together on this but it will be worse, because Bush agrees with the worst end.
DOBBS: Let's hope. You get the last word.
TARANTO: I think, though, that if the Democrats are smart -- and you have to say at this point they certainly seem to be since they won this election big.
DOBBS: Well, they're a lot smarter than Republicans...
TARANTO: They look a lot smarter now than they did a few months ago. If they are smart, they're not going to spend the next two years on the attack against President Bush. They are going to be looking ahead to 2008. Bush isn't going to be on the ballot. I think they're going to try to behave constructively.
DOBBS: Those are your marching orders, Robert.
ZIMMERMAN: We've been doing it.
DOBBS: Michael Goodwin, James Taranto, thank you very much, gentlemen. Have a great weekend. And a reminder to please vote in our poll. With the election behind us, do you believe it's more likely that our borders and ports will be secured and illegal immigration curtailed? More likely, less likely? Please cast your votes at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results for you in just a moment.
And still ahead, an American soldier who served in Iraq speaks of home, heart, the heat of battle and sacrifice. Stay with us.
DOBBS: On this, the Marine Corps birthday, President Bush today dedicated a new museum to the U.S. Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. President Bush said Americans one day will speak of battles in Iraq with the same reverence and awe as they speak of battles of World War II. The new museum is the centerpiece of a New Marine Corps Heritage Center.
"Heroes," our weekly tribute to men and women in uniform who serve this country overseas. Tonight a remarkable young soldier. He served with distinction and valor in Iraq. He inspired his comrades with his dedication to duty, his commitment, his bravery under fire.
Arwa Damon reports from Baghdad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm specialist Will Mock (ph) from Harper, Kansas, with 22 Infantry here in Falluja. Mission accomplished.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was during the fight for Falluja in November 2004 when we really got to know the soldier everyone simply called Mock.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just like every other man, distressed, a little scared. But, you know, this is what we do. And I thought about telling my family about it, but no way. I didn't want them to worry.
How would I describe Falluja to someone else that had never been there? First I'd say, "You might want to rethink about going." And say, "Make your peace with God, because you might not come back."
It's a living hell. It was a living hell. Some moments lasted a lifetime.
DAMON: No pretenses with Mock, not about the mission, not about his love for being a soldier, despite all the emotional turmoil of his experiences.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's not only me that's changed. I think everybody that was there -- enemy, friendly, everybody -- walked away changed. The ways that we changed, you have a different outlook on life. You don't take nearly as much for granted. And when you tell your girlfriend or your mother, father, "Hey, I love you," you really mean it. This right here is my family.
DAMON: He was afraid then of going back home to Kansas, worried he had changed too much. His motto, tattooed on both arms, "Strength and honor."
A tough soldier, apologizing to us for being rough around the edges. He wasn't. In many ways, still the gentleman his family brought him up to be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no reason in me saying, "Hey, Ma," you know, "I got shot at a lot today" or, "Hey, Ma, we had to fight the enemy and, you know, some people didn't make it out, friendly and foe." It's just something better left untalked about.
DAMON: His first one-year tour of duty finally ended in February 2005.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A big relief. Overwhelming joy. You've got a deep feeling of our part is completed here.
Nobody wants to die out here. Even though the soldiers would for our country, any of them would, that's not a question.
I heard my grandfather once say, "Somebody's got to do it." I guess I'm that somebody.
Every time we lose soldiers and we have our ceremonies here for the fallen comrades, and they play the "Taps" for those men, that's probably the moments that will stay in my mind more than ever.
From now until the day that I die, every Memorial Day and Veterans Day, when I go to the local cemetery in Hartford, Kansas, and they play "Taps," I'm sure I'll -- it will hit me pretty hard then.
DAMON: This Veterans Day they will be playing "Taps" for him. Mock redeployed to Iraq in August of 2006. The last time we saw him was on a rooftop in eastern Baghdad.
Twenty days later, on October 22nd, Mock was killed by a roadside bomb, one of 11 killed in Iraq that weekend. At his memorial, his commanders and his men echoed his motto, "Strength and honor, Sergeant Mock."
Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.
DOBBS: And on this Veterans Day weekend, we pay tribute to all our brave men and women who have served, and who continue to serve this nation. At the top of the hour, immediately after this broadcast, we begin our special hour-long salute and tribute, "Heroes." We hope you'll watch. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Now the results of our poll tonight. Fifty-four percent of you say, with the election now behind us, it is more likely that our borders and ports will be secured and illegal immigration curtailed.
Time now for more of your thoughts.
Tina in Michigan writing in to say, "I have a problem with not being able to get a job in my own country because I don't speak another country's language. This applies to bank teller jobs, fast food jobs, any jobs that deals with the public. If immigrants come to this country, they need to learn English. I was born and raised in the United States, and I do not feel I should have to learn their language to be able to make a living here in my home."
Francis in Minnesota: "We, the voters, have sent a clear and strong message to the Bush-Cheney arrogance that we know where we are, and where we want to be. Definitely not the path of blood or broken borders, but the path of a strong and prosperous middle class with a government that listens to its people and provides security."
Vince in Pennsylvania: "I hope since the Dems were voted in they don't think the American people want immigration reform, or they will be out as fast as they got in. Our laws are fine, just enforce them."
Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book, "War on the Middle Class."
That's the broadcast for tonight. We thank you for being buy us. Now, our Veterans Day tribute to all the brave men and women who have served and continue to serve this nation, our special tribute, "HEROES."
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com