Return to Transcripts main page
Lou Dobbs Tonight
McCain Surges Ahead of Obama in the Polls; Battle over Care for Illegal Aliens
Aired August 20, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Wolf, thank you.
Tonight, Senator Obama has lost his lead in the presidential race amid new doubts about Obama's confidence to lead and to campaign. We'll have complete coverage from an independent point of view.
And, tonight, a rising threat to our democracy that most are trying to ignore. Many of our election officials are outsourcing their responsibilities to, you guessed it, the manufacturers of the e- voting machines that they won't certify.
And tonight, you won't believe this, a hospital in Chicago that has saved the life of an illegal alien at tremendous financial expense is now being accused by the man's family of discriminating against him because he is a citizen of Mexico. We'll have that special report. All the day's news and much more, from an independent perspective, straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Wednesday, August 20th. Now, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening everybody.
A stunning surge in the polls tonight for Senator McCain. A new Reuters/Zogby poll gives McCain a five-point lead over Obama, 46 percent to 41 percent among likely voters. That's reflected in the latest CNN poll of polls.
And that survey shows Obama with a lead of just one percent. Senator Obama, tonight is escalating his attacks on Senator McCain trying to lift those poll numbers. This only five days before the Democratic National Convention begins in Denver. Tonight, we have extensive coverage. And we begin with Bill Schneider in Denver.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Why is the race so close? For the same reason the Democratic primaries were so close. McCain is following the Hillary Clinton playbook. Remember this Clinton ad?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CAMPAIGN COMMERCAL: It's 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone in the White House and it's ringing. Something's happening in the world.
SCHNEIDER: This month, we had a 3:00 a.m. moment. Russia invaded Georgia. John McCain touted his experience and military expertise.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And in the term of the next president, skillful handling of such a crisis would be the difference between temporary hardship and far-reaching disaster.
SCHNEIDER: Obama emphasized his judgment.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The next commander in chief is going to have to exercise the best possible judgment in getting us through these difficult times.
SCHNEIDER: Who do voters feel is better qualified to deal with Russia? McCain, by better than two to one. Clinton was accused of crude populism when she made this proposal during the primaries.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My opponent Senator Obama opposes giving consumers a break from the tax -- the gas tax at the federal level. I support it.
SCHNEIDER: Now McCain is being accused of crude populism.
MCCAIN: Senator Obama says he wants energy independence, but he's opposed to doing drilling at home.
SCHNEIDER: Obama mocks McCain.
OBAMA: He points down at his feet. And I don't know if he knows something I don't. Drill here, drill now.
SCHNEIDER: Gas prices have risen sharply under a Republican president. The issue ought to be killing the Republican. So who do voters think would better handle energy prices? Close call.
One poll shows McCain slightly ahead. Another shows Obama leading by a narrow margin.
SCHNEIDER: The playbook did not quite work for Clinton in the primaries. Now, will it work for McCain in the general election? Well, this is a larger and more conservative electorate. On the other hand, a change is a more powerful issue against the Republican candidate than it was against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries -- Lou.
DOBBS: If that's true, Bill, why isn't Senator Obama, then, doing better in the polling?
SCHNEIDER: Yeah, well, the change issue should be leading him to a bigger lead than he has. As we discussed earlier, yesterday, rather, when you ask people, would you rather see a Democrat or a Republican win the election, people choose the Democrat by a margin of 12 points, which means that Obama is clearly underperforming for the Democratic candidate. That's why the election is so close, because he underperforms. DOBBS: May I, Bill, just throw out a couple of things for you to consider and perhaps you can test my reasoning on the objective reasons that might be propelling McCain forward in the polls. One is, he took an early -- in fact, the earliest position supporting the surge strategy in Iraq, which is succeeding. Still not determinant as to whether or not it will be sustainable.
He was the first to call for drilling offshore for oil and natural gas, even before the president. That complies with about 80 percent of the American people who believe we should. He was absolutely out front in communicating with Saakashvili, the president of Georgia, as many as three times a day during that crisis, the height of that crisis, while Senator Obama was vacationing in Hawaii.
And he also is generally credited with doing far better than Obama in the faith forum. Could all of those things be objective reasons that he has improved his standing in the polls?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, indeed, they could. Here's something else. Barack Obama should have a big lead on the economy. That's his issue. The economy is terrible right now. But the polls are showing that Obama has a very narrow lead on the economy. He doesn't seem to have the populist voice on the economy that, say, Bill Clinton had when he ran on that issue back in 1992.
DOBBS: All right, Bill, thank you very much. Bill Schneider. We appreciate it.
Well, Senator Obama is using a combative new tone in his attacks against Senator McCain. Some say Obama has even modified his accent to sound less elitist. It's sort of a peculiar southern kind of accent that Senator Hillary Clinton was accused of adopting during the campaign a year ago.
Now, responding to the attacks, McCain today (INAUDIBLE) Senator Obama said -- Senator Obama's becoming, as he put it, a little testy. Let's listen to Obama first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I don't intend to lose this election. John McCain doesn't know what he's up against right now. I don't intend to lose this election.
MCCAIN: Yesterday, Senator Obama got a little testy on this issue. He said, I'm questioning his patriotism. Let me be very clear. I am not questioning his patriotism. I am questioning his judgment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Senator McCain went on to say Obama values a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq more than he values a U.S. victory against terrorists and insurgents. Senator Obama tonight continues to sharpen those attacks against Senator McCain, trying to lift those poll ratings. Obama today trying to present himself as a populist to win the support of Independent voters. Our Jessica Yellin with the report.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barack Obama, taking aim at John McCain.
OBAMA: He wants to continue the same economic policies that George Bush has been doing for the last eight years. So my job in this election is to say I honor his service, but I don't honor his policies.
YELLIN: And insisting he's as patriotic as his opponent.
OBAMA: I have never suggested and never will that Senator McCain picks his position on national security based on politics or personal ambition. I'm not suggesting it because I believe that he genuinely wants to serve America's national interests. Now it's time for him to acknowledge that I want to do the same. Let me be clear, I will let no one question my love of this country.
YELLIN: McCain has spent weeks challenging Obama's judgment and readiness and he's managed to almost eliminate the Democrat's lead. So now the Obama campaign is hitting back, trying to change the topic with ads like these.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL: John McCain supports Bush's tax cuts for millionaires, but nothing for 100 million households.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL: Economics by John McCain, support George Bush 95 percent of the time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL: Can we really afford more of the same? John McCain's tax plan for big corporations, $200 billion in new tax breaks.
STUART ROTHENBERG, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "THE ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Somehow, the presidential campaign became about Barack Obama when Democrats thought it was going to be about George W. Bush and the state of the economy and Iraq. And so by going on the attack, he hopes to redirect the public's attention to what's this about, it's about McCain, it's about Bush, it's about the economy.
YELLIN: And he's promising a spirited fight.
OBAMA: John McCain doesn't know what he's up against right now. I don't intend to lose this election.
YELLIN: Lou, on a conference call with reporters that I was on this afternoon, one of Obama's top surrogates accused John McCain of practicing dishonest gutter politics, her word. Apparently the campaign is saving the harshest attacks for Obama's surrogates so the candidate himself can appear to stay above the fray -- Lou.
DOBBS: Oh we've never seen that before, have we, Jessica?
DOBBS: I love -- well there was a question on this network earlier today whether or not -- asking whether or not viewers believed that Senator Obama should go on the attack to improve his standing against Senator McCain. The implication being that he hadn't already. I found that amusing, if I may say. Thank you very much, Jessica. Jessica Yellin.
Well, some breaking news just in and sad news, it is. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, of Ohio, has died. She suffered from an aneurysm today while she was at the wheel of her car. She was 59 years old. Tubbs Jones, a Democrat, was in her fifth term. She represents parts of Cleveland and its suburbs, a heavily Democratic district. She was the first black woman to represent Ohio in the House of Representatives. The first black woman to sit on the powerful Weighs and Means Committee. Again, CNN has confirmed that Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio has died.
Well, turning, again, to the presidential campaign, Senator McCain has not chosen a running mate yet. He's already facing strong opposition, however, from conservatives after at least two of his potential running mates were -- well, trial balloons were floated, I guess is the best way to put it. Senator Joe Lieberman, an Independent and former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, a former Pennsylvania governor as well. Both men supporting abortion rights and that set off something of a firestorm with the Republican base. Ed Henry has our report.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In New Mexico, John McCain was twice pressed on whether he will pick a running mate who opposes abortion rights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard a rumor that you're going to pick a pro-life V.P. Is that true?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to pick a vice president that conservatives can actually rally around in the future?
HENRY: Both times, McCain kept his cards close to the vest.
MCCAIN: I will nominate a person to be vice president, my running mate who shares my principles, my values and my priorities. I said on Saturday night that I have a proud pro-life record in Congress and I am proud of that.
MCCAIN: I respect the views of others.
HENRY: Saturday was the faith forum at Saddleback Church, where McCain won raves from conservatives for speaking out forcefully against abortion. But Republican sources tell CNN conservatives have privately warned that good will would evaporate if McCain selects someone who supports abortion rights, like Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman.
KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: On the issue of abortion, in the issue of picking a pro-choice vice president, there is much -- there is a lot more -- I think on this issue there is a lot more risk than there is reward.
HENRY: McCain will walk that tight rope between moderates and conservatives at his convention in St. Paul. Lieberman will speak Monday night in between Vice President Cheney and President Bush. A remarkable transformation for Lieberman eight years after accepting the Democratic vice presidential nomination.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I'm glad that the GOP has changed their rhetoric, but, you know what, I wish they'd also change their policies.
HENRY: Ridge gets a speaking role Tuesday night, as does Rudy Giuliani, who supports abortion rights and delivers the keynote. Wednesday night will feature Mitt Romney who once supported abortion rights but now opposes it. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who opposes abortion rights, is supposed to speak Thursday.
HENRY: Now a few weeks ago senior McCain adviser Rick Davis put together a PowerPoint presentation, warning McCain supporters that right on the eve of the Democratic Convention, in fact right about now, Senator Obama could have a big lead. In that presentation, he said McCain supporters should not panic, they should let it play out, and McCain will try to make up that lead at his convention.
Obviously it's a much different race right now. The polls showing this is neck and neck. That's why the McCain camp feels good about where they are right now, but they still have to navigate this V.P. pick very carefully, Lou.
DOBBS: All right, thank you very much. Ed Henry.
Coming up here next, outrage after a hospital in Chicago that saved the life of an illegal alien is now being accused by the family of that illegal alien of racial discrimination. His family saying it's because he is a citizen of Mexico. We'll have that special report.
And many election officials across the country are outsourcing our very democracy to the private companies that have made the e- voting machines that are suspect and are not being certified by state election departments. Their interest appears to be in profit rather than in democracy. Stay with us.
DOBBS: For more than two years here, we've been reporting on the serious threat that electronic voting poses to this democracy. As a result, some states have begun to scrap their e-voting machines altogether. But a third of the nation will still be using e-voting machines in November. And more disturbing a new report says election officials often are outsourcing their responsibilities to the very companies that make the e-voting machines, even trusting those companies to count the votes. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ellen Theisen has been a software writer for more than two decades. Living in Washington State, she was disturbed by electronic voting problems across the country, so she formed a nonpartisan citizen's activist group to investigate voting irregularities. A new report by that organization, VotersUnite.org, says that private companies now run many elections.
ELLEN THEISEN, VOTERSUNITE.ORG: Elections should be accountable to the people and run by public officials who are selected by the people to run them. So when that's handed over to private vendors, these public elections are no longer public.
PILGRIM: According to the report, many jurisdictions in the country are entirely dependent on the voting machine companies. The companies also tabulate results. State officials have to take their word for the results. The company owns the software and equipment and doesn't have to share it. It's proprietary. Election officials often can't do a recount without help. One state that rejected that arrangement is Oklahoma. In 1992, Oklahoma put in its own optical scan system, which is still owned and operated by the state.
MICHAEL CLINGMAN, OKLAHOMA STATE ELECTION BOARD: Election night, it's really all public officials dealing with the election and nobody else.
PILGRIM: Oklahoma wasn't tempted by new federal funds in 2002 when many other state and local governments used the Help America Vote Act money to buy touch screen machines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was really nothing on the market we would buy then and there's still nothing we would want to buy today.
PILGRIM: Oklahoma does its own software testing and election recounts without private companies being involved.
PILGRIM: Now, election officials are often left in the dark on election night. If a private company is in charge, officials just have to trust the election company to point out any problems. Even staffing of technicians at the polls is a decision that can be left up to a private company, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, that's just utterly idiotic. I have to say, Oklahoma is a real piece of America...
DOBBS: ... independent thinking, they're self-reliant, they're telling these silly son of a guns to go stick it, and they're honoring their commitment to the public they're hired and elected to serve.
DOBBS: What is wrong with you people in Oklahoma? What are you doing out there? You're making the whole country look bad. But good for you.
PILGRIM: They say we like to keep it simple. And they're right. They can keep it real simple by keeping it under state jurisdiction.
DOBBS: Well, I don't see why any state's population, any constituent of any state would put up with this nonsense. We're going to go through this. Let's do this. Let's provide every state a rundown on whether or not their election officials are outsourcing or whether it's by district or whatever it may be or county, if they're outsourcing on this. Let's put that up on our Web site so everybody's got that and we can show the folks who the real fools are.
PILGRIM: All right, sounds like a great...
DOBBS: They ought to be exposed and thank you for doing so. Kitty, thank you very much. Kitty Pilgrim who has been doing an outstanding job of reporting on e-voting and the threats to our democracy for the past almost three years now.
Well time now to look at some of your thoughts. Charles in West Virginia said, "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce should change its name to the IACC, Illegal Alien Chamber of Commerce, since they don't want to use the E-Verify system, how can any organization or government agency that bears the name of the United States be so disloyal to our own citizens? This is an outrage, Lou." I couldn't agree with you more. And I'll tell you right now from the e-mails we've received here and the reaction we've received, just about everybody agrees with you.
Brenda in Texas said, "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not misguided. They are clearly guided by big business and not the wishes of the American people. This is treason. By all means, let's not do anything that really works." You mean just for the country and for the public.
Wanda in California, "I have listened to you for over a year now and I agree with you that there isn't one bit of difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. That's why I dropped them both and became an Independent." Yes. We'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast.
And up next, Russia tonight is threatening more than a diplomatic response to the installation of the U.S. missile defense shield in Europe. I'll be talking with one of the country's leading authorities on international security.
And an incredible story out of Chicago tonight. Doctors there have saved the life of an illegal alien, provided care for him for a month, saved his life, and now are being accused of racial discrimination because the patient is -- the patient's family says they don't like citizens of Mexico at this particular hospital. We'll have a special report for you. And no report yet of a thank you from the family to the hospital. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: There is a sad and illuminating battle going on tonight in Chicago that involves health care for illegal aliens. Doctors at the University of Illinois Medical Center saved the life of an illegal alien from Mexico after he suffered a severe brain hemorrhage. Now the man's family is accusing the hospital of discriminating against Mexicans. Bill Tucker has our report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Francisco Pantaleon (ph) is an illegal alien with no health insurance. In mid-July, suffered a brain hemorrhage and lapsed into a coma. Pantaleon was admitted to this hospital. Because he has no insurance and poor, the complete cost of his medical care has been picked up by the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago.
Now that his condition has stabilized, the hospital wants to discharge him, as they would any other patient, to a long-term care facility. And that's where this story becomes complicated. The hospital wants to return Pantaleon, a Mexican citizen, to his country of origin because he's an illegal alien.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
TUCKER: His wife and sister have organized protests outside of the hospital, objecting to the plans to discharge him and charging that the hospital is discriminating against Mexicans. The attorney representing the family is also the general counsel to the Mexican Consulate. He says Mr. Pantaleon is not leaving the hospital in Chicago, because they are responsible for looking after him.
JOHN DELEON, FAMILY ATTORNEY: All I'm telling you is he happens to be an immigrant who is in need of desperate medical attention, around the clock, and the hospital, under federal law and I believe under the laws of the state of Illinois, have got to provide the necessary care for this individual.
TUCKER: Ironically, Mr. Pantaleon was not worried about federal law when he entered the country illegally. The Illinois Hospital Association notes that Illinois hospitals spend millions of dollars a year providing this kind of medical care and that it puts hospitals in a difficult position.
HOWARD PETERS, ILLINOIS HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION: I think it's unfair to criticize the hospital after the hospital has really provided world class care and has really made an appropriate arrangement and is willing to pay the medical transport of this person by Medical Air Ambulance to the new facility.
TUCKER: A spokesman for the University of Illinois Medical Center insists that it is not in the deportation business and that, quote, "we have been working with a family member authorized to make the necessary decisions regarding Mr. Pantaleon's care." (END VIDEOTAPE)
TUCKER: And just who that family member is, well it's not clear. Because a spokesman for the Mexican Consulate in Chicago says Pantaleon's wife does not want her husband returned to Mexico because she would not be able to visit him there. The Consulate says it is now working with the hospital to find appropriate care facility for his long-term care. And Lou, the hospital can't say how much they've spent on care so far because of privacy concerns, but they do say a similar patient receiving similar treatment would receive a bill of about $250,000 so far.
DOBBS: And the Mexican Consulate does not want a citizen of that nation returned to the nation of Mexico for long-term care there? That makes no sense.
TUCKER: Well the Consulate is representing the wife and the sister...
DOBBS: ... so it's all so very clear that it is the view of the Mexican government. This is extraordinary.
DOBBS: It extraordinary.
TUCKER: It is very interesting. And the role of special interest groups here aren't clear just yet, Lou, because late today I learned that the referral to Mr. Pantaleon came from MALDEF and it's my understanding that this Friday LULAC is going to be holding a press conference on behalf of the family, so we'll continue to follow the story.
DOBBS: Well here's a little because LULAC and MALDEF have been severe critics of me because I do not like illegal immigration running rampant in this country. I want our border secure. I want the transport of illegal drugs from Mexico -- Mexico remains a primary source of methamphetamines, heroin, cocaine and marijuana into this country.
I do want that and I do want an end to illegal immigration. Let me say to you MALDEF and to LULAC, here is something else I want. I would hope that working with the government of Mexico that you would instill some sense of responsibility on the part of that government for its citizens. And the idea that there would not be a demonstration on the part of LULAC and MALDEF in front of that hospital to say thank you to the doctors and the staff of the University of Illinois Medical Center for what they've done for that patient, I think is reprehensible on your part.
Thank you for listening. Thank you, Bill Tucker, for reporting. That brings us to the subject of the poll tonight. Do you believe it's time illegal aliens said "thank you" for all the help and support they receive in this country, help and support they don't receive from the countries they've left? Yes or no. We'd love to hear from you. We'll have the results next in the broadcast.
While the battle rages over illegal immigration and health care in Chicago, families all across this country are struggling more than ever to afford even basic medical care. A new study released today finds that 72 million Americans -- American citizens -- between the ages of 19 and 64 say they have problems paying their medical bills.
A staggering increase from 58 million just two years ago. Nearly half of our working-age population saying the cost of health care in this country has prevented them from seeking necessary medical care just in the last year. That's up from less than a third seven years ago. All told, nearly two-thirds of all American adults -- that would be more than 100 million people -- were uninsured, had trouble paying for medical bills or did not receive need medical care last year because of rising health care costs.
Just two more days to go now before the immigration customs enforcement scheduled departure program that allows illegal aliens to voluntarily turn themselves in for deportation. We want to point out that this is day 16 of the 18-day program. So far, exactly 6 illegal aliens have turned themselves in voluntarily. We will continue to keep you updated on the program's progress over the next 48 hours until its conclusion.
Senator Obama today said this country needs to bring illegal aliens in this country out of the shadows, as he put it, but Obama also said something I've been saying on this broadcast for years. Is Senator Obama starting to listen?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should crack down on employers who are hiring undocumented workers because they are more responsible than anybody -- they're more responsible than anybody. They're creating the magnet that is leading these undocumented workers to come here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Good grief. Was that really Senator Obama? The same man who, five months ago, was criticizing me and my position on illegal immigration, and the fact that I called for a crackdown on illegal employers of illegal aliens? Is this Senator Obama listening or is someone reading his poll numbers? It seems someone on the senator's staff at least is watching this broadcast.
Up next, has America reached the limits of its global military and economic power? What is the appropriate exercise of that power? The author of the compelling new book on the geopolitical challenges facing this country is my guest next. The book is "The Limit of Power."
And Russia's aggression and invasion of Georgia. Moscow's nuclear threats now against Poland. We'll examine the risk of a new cold war between the west and Russia.
DOBBS: Moscow tonight still refusing to comply with the terms of the cease-fire agreement that requires Russian troops to withdraw from Georgia immediately. Large numbers of Russian troops remain dug in, in fact, near the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Some Russian troops appear to have left the strategic city of Gori tonight, north of Tbilisi, but it is unclear where those troops have moved to. They may have taken up new positions elsewhere in Georgia. They may have returned to Russia.
Well, Russia tonight is making new threats against this country and NATO. After the United States and Poland today sign add missile defense agreement, Russia declaring its response to that agreement will, as it put it, go beyond diplomacy. Moscow did not specify what "beyond diplomacy" means. But tonight Norway said Russia has cut all military ties with NATO. A few days ago, a top Russian general threatened Poland with a possible nuclear strike in response to the announced plan to sign the missile defense agreement.
Secretary of State Rice and the Polish foreign minister today signed that agreement in Warsaw. The United States will base, now, ten interceptor missiles in Poland to defense Europe by an attack from a rogue state such as Iran. The U.S. military will also deploy a battery of missiles in Poland to defend that base from air and missile attacks.
Joining me now for more on the Russian reaction to the U.S./Poland missile agreement, the latest investment with Russia saying it will go beyond diplomatic means to respond. I'm joined by one of the country's leading strategic affairs analyst, George Friedman, founder and chairman of Stratfor joining us from Austin, Texas.
Good to have you here.
GEORGE FRIEDMAN, STRATFOR: Good to be here.
DOBBS: Let me ask you, first of all, Condoleezza Rice today said the Russian response, in its words have been, at this point, bizarre. Would you agree with that characterization?
FRIEDMAN: No, I mean, the Russians have actually been saying these things for about two years. Condoleezza Rice seems to just be noticing it. The Russians are dead serious that they see a window of opportunity to re-establish their sphere of influence, they're moving aggressively to do that, and I don't find it bizarre. If I were Russian, I'd find Condoleezza Rice's statement strange.
DOBBS: Turning to the deal itself, to move that missile defense shield base into Poland, to what degree do you take -- well, let's put it this way, how do you interpret Russia's statement that it will go beyond diplomatic means to respond to that deal?
FRIEDMAN: They've said for about a year that if we put this base into Poland, they're going to move missiles into an area called Konigsberg, Kaliningrad, an area they occupy there. I think what they're referring to. They're going to put themselves in a position to send short-range ballistic missiles into Poland. They don't plan to do that, to actually send them, but what they're saying is we redeploy, they redeploy.
DOBBS: And we're told, again, by Medvedev, that Russian troops will leave Georgia by this Friday. All reports are telling us they're building sentry posts and making no move or even indicating any sign of planning to move. What do you think will happen?
FRIEDMAN: I don't think they're planning to occupy Georgia. They're afraid of a guerrilla war against them. They're instructing everybody in the region. The Russians went into Georgia when they wanted to. They will leave Georgia when they want to. All the speeches by western diplomats, all the visits by President Sarkozy, that's not what's going to determine the situation. And their audience for this is the Ukraine, the Baltic States, Kazakhstan, they want them all to be aware there's a new sheriff in town and he's calling the shots.
DOBBS: The new sheriff, does the tepid response by NATO mean that effectively there's no countervailing influence against Russian power in either Europe or Central Asia?
FRIEDMAN: The Russians are completely aware the U.S. is tapped out militarily in Iraq and in Afghanistan. They have nothing to send. But they're also aware -- and this is important to remember -- that the United States needs the Russians against Iran, to put new sanctions on there, to make sure they don't sell weapons to Iran. The Russians feel they have this tremendous window of opportunity where not only is the United States weak, but they also are dependant on the Russians, and they're trying to take advantage of it. Doing a pretty good job.
DOBBS: The dependency on the Russians is really that of Europe, 50 percent dependence upon Russia for natural gas, 30 percent for its crude oil. That has to be an inhibiting factor in the response on the part of the Europe union. It has been, it seem, at this point. Now, Russia signing a mutual defense treaty with Syria. There is immense possibility here, however, is there not, George, great miscalculation on the part, particularly, of the Russians?
FRIEDMAN: In the long run there is, because the United States and Europe are inherently more powerful. In the short run, there are very few options. Right now, NATO has to deal with a very important question -- the Russians are back, there's going to be no cheap response. They have to build up their military in the regions. The United States will either have to pull out of Iraq or build a bigger force. There's some hard decisions to make.
DOBBS: All right. George Friedman, thank you very much for being with us.
Up next, we report here extensively on the dangers of our soaring national debt, our soaring trade dealt, our unfunded liabilities, and the brilliant geniuses who handle everything from their swank offices on Wall Street. Now, an important new documentary joins the fight. The filmmaker, the subject of the film, former U.S. controller General David Walker joins me, and more on Russian foreign policy. I'll be joined with Andrew Bacevich, professor to discussion that and more next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: My next guest says our strong foreign policy has been weakened by a weakened economy. Russia may be the beneficiary of all of this. Andrew Bacevich is a distinguished historian and retired colonel in the United States Army. His newest book is "The Limits of Power, The End of American Exceptionalism."
Professor, great to have you here.
PROF. ANDREW BACEVICH, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: Thanks for having me on.
DOBBS: As we listened to John Friedman of Stratfor talking about the difficult position the United States is in, he was setting up perfectly your premise, which is that even though we are a superpower, we are straining those limits.
BACEVICH: Yes, he was stealing my lines. I mean, when he said, you know, we're tapped out militarily, we are. I mean, we have committed ourselves to an unnecessary war in Iraq that has sapped our military power. We've underinvested in Afghanistan and, basically, therefore, have very few options in dealing with the Russians.
DOBBS: You say this in your book. And I'd like to put this full screen up so everybody can read it. "In our pursuit of freedom, we have accrued obligations and piled up debts that we are increasingly hard-pressed to meet. We teeter on the edge of insolvency, desperately trying to balance accounts by relying on our presumably invincible armed forces. Yet, there, too having exaggerated our military might, we court bankruptcy." That's about as straight forward as you could possibly put it. What can we do here to move back to within the limits of both power and the constraints of what has been our natural heritage?
BACEVICH: You know, it's about a week, ten days, after 9/11, Secretary Rumsfeld had a press conference. In the press conference, he said, we've got a choice. Either we're going to change the way we live, which he said is unacceptable, or we're going to change the way they live, and he said that's the choice we, the administration, made. And "they" means change the way something like 1.4 billion Muslims live.
BACEVICH: Well, we've been trying to do that for seven years, and it's pretty evident, I would say, today, that we're not going to be able to change the way they live. Therefore, we have to change the way we live. Not in a sense of abandoning our freedom, but learning to live within our means. DOBBS: Right.
BACEVICH: We're going to have to make some adjustments in our domestic policies in order to ensure the survival of American liberty.
DOBBS: Another -- another statement that you made. Which I think in very few words sums up where we are. "American power has limits and is inadequate to the ambitions to which hubris and sanctimony has given rise." The first thing that has to change is the ambition and the hubris. There was a time when we heard people talk, including George W. Bush when he was campaigning for president. Not many people recall, but he talked about the necessity of humility on the part of the American foreign policy.
BACEVICH: I mean, the conversion -- I really think that's the right word, the conversion that he underwent after 9/11 was astonishing. Somebody who was in his own way I think something of a realist.
BACEVICH: After 9/11, became a person who said we have this mission to change the world.
DOBBS: Senator Barack Obama, Senator John McCain -- do you think both or either of those two men get it?
BACEVICH: No. Alas, no. I mean, I'm struck -- I think that the key difference between the two on foreign policy is a difference in operational priorities. Senator McCain says the central front in the war on terror is Iraq, I'm going to stay there as long as necessary to win it. Senator Obama says the central front in the war on terror is Afghanistan, I'll invest more troops and win that. Neither one seems to be willing to consider the possibility that the global war on terror is the wrong idea, that we should have a different framework for thinking about U.S. national security policy.
DOBBS: Professor Bacevich, thank you for being here.
BACEBVICH: Thank you.
DOBBS: Andrew Bacevich, the book is "The Limits of Power, The End Of American Exceptionalism." Terrific book, I recommend it to you.
And I ask you to join me on the radio Monday through Friday for the Lou Dobbs show. Tomorrow, my guests include congresswoman brown of Florida. We'll talk about politics and what we can expect at the democratic national convention. Go to loudobbsradio.com to get your local listings for the show on the radio.
Up next, an important new documentary about this country's worsening economic crisis and the possible disaster that lies ahead if we don't deal effectively with the threat. Two of the men behind the documentary, David Walker and Patrick Creadon, join me next.
DOBBS: Our national debt now exceeds $9.5 trillion. If you include the unfunded entitlement such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the number is more like $53 trillion of obligations. "IOUSA" is an important new documentary and warning of the serious consequences of this country's economic crisis. It's a crisis caused in part by national debt and rising reliance on foreign lenders and producers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN BUFFETT: I do think they're piling up more and more and more external debt and having the rest of the world own more and more of the United States may create real instability down the line and increase the possibility that demagogues come along and do foolish things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: You know I just wonder who could come along who could do anything more foolish than the leaders that we've elected over the past several decades. Former controller General David Walker's efforts to educate all of us about this troubled economy are at the center of IOUSA and Patrick Creadon is the writer and director of the documentary joining us from Omaha, Nebraska. Patrick, that makes me think it has something to do with Warren Buffett, you being in Omaha. Is that right?
PATRICK CREADON, WRITER/DIRECTOR, "IOUSA": Yes, we're here for tomorrow night's world premiere. We're going to be live from Omaha. The film is going to be broadcast to 400 theaters around the country. It's really exciting.
DOBBS: Well, you've taken on, David Walker, as you ran the government General Accountability Office for years and brought so many important issues to the attention of both the American public and our lawmakers, what do you think is the most important aspect of this that will be the takeaway for the audience of this documentary?
DAVID WALKER, FMR. U.S. COMPTROLLER GENERAL: Our financial condition is worse than advertised. We're in tough shape. Our situation is deteriorating with the passage of time. We need to start making tough choices now, if we want our future to be better than our past. We need to start holding elected officials accountable for -- if they don't act.
DOBBS: You say that if we continue on this course, by the year 2040, the debt to GDP percentage will be 244 percent. Just 244 -- 2 1/2 times the GDP.
WALKER: Third world nation. And we'll owe it to other countries. Because today 70 percent of our new debt is being purchased by foreign lenders, 50 percent of our public debt is held by foreign lenders, and that means America's being mortgaged, which is not good for our economy. It's not good for our foreign policy. It's not good for our national security over the long term. DOBBS: Why is the American public simply not slamming their fists on the table and saying what in the world are you fools in Washington doing? Both political parties are absolutely responsible for creating this disaster, and yet these -- you know, we have people in this country going off with a ban they're says "republican" and one that says "democrat" and they're so riled up about their partisan branding they forget they're not accomplishing a darn thing.
WALKER: Well, two reasons. Number one, because not enough politicians telling the truth. A lot of people tell them we can grow our way out of the problem. Don't worry about it. We've had higher debt levels in the past. And they're not looking to the future. Secondly, a lot of people have their own problems. They're focusing on their own problems day to day.
DOBBS: Trying to perhaps make due, as corporate America outsources their jobs, offshores production, their political and government leaders bankrupt them through the folly of public policies that are just ridiculous and have been for two decades.
WALKER: In the meantime, the government's doing more bail out, expanding entitlement benefits like it really has some money.
DOBBS: And somebody should -- we're going to do a report here over the next few weeks on all of the money that's been taken overseas by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, all of the people who have made a fortune managing what was an insured result, insured by the federal government.
Patrick, let me turn to you. This is a difficult issue at best for the smartest people, for example, like David Walker, and no one smarter. But to bring it to life in a documentary, that had to be -- I mean that had to be an immense, challenging, difficult, absurdly difficult task.
CREADON: Yes, it's a tricky topic. And when we told our colleagues that we were doing our next documentary about the national debt, they thought we were insane. Because how do you -- how do you explain this topic? Where do you begin? How do you get your head around it?
We were lucky very early on, we met David Walker, the comptroller general, and no one in the country knows the story better than he does. And one of the things that I like and respect so much about Mr. Walker is he's an independent. He's had three presidential appointments, one from Reagan, one from Bush 41, and his third one --
DOBBS: It's one of the reasons I like him too, Patrick.
CREADON: Right, right, right. He doesn't have an ax to grind. He's there telling you basically what the score of the game is. And what --
DOBBS: Did I just see Steve Martin in this documentary? What's going on here? CREADON: Right, right, right -- yeah, the documentary -- our documentary -- yeah. Our -- I can promise you that the movie is a lot more entertaining than people might think it would be, considering the subject. It's funny. It's sad. And at the end of the day, it's very scary.
DOBBS: Very quickly, David, we're wrapping up here where can people go to see the documentary?
WALKER: They need to go to the website, www.iouasathemovie.com.
DOBBS: iouasthemovie.com. All right. How about if they want to see it out in the theater?
WALKER: That's right. Go there, it will show all the theaters that are showing it, when, where. Believe me it will be a big investment. But don't put it on your credit card. We already have too much of a debt problem.
DOBBS: David Walker, Patrick Creadon, thank you very much. As always, come up with a terrific idea. Thank you.
Still ahead, tonight's poll results, more of your thoughts. Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: Tonight's poll results, 98 percent of you say it's time illegal aliens said thank you for all the help and support they get in this country, help and support they don't receive from the countries they've left.
Time now for some of your thoughts.
Jim in Nevada said, "Lou, I've had enough, I'm writing you in for president who do you choose as VP?"
And John in California says, "Maybe we should have merit pay for all our public sector workers especially the politicians. This might help get things done."
Thanks for being with us. Join us here tomorrow. Thank you for watching. Good night from New York.
Now our CNN special presentation, "McCain Revealed."