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Lou Dobbs This Week
What Will Democrats Do Now That They Hold Power in Congress?
Aired November 11, 2006 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Carol Lin with a look at what's happening right now in the news.
President Bush honoring America's military service members this Veteran's Day weekend. Mr. Bush placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns (AUDIO GAP). And across the country there were ceremonies and parades and other events paying tribute to veterans.
The Navy's Blue Angels delighted crowds at Pensacola, Florida today. The precision fly team put on a spectacular Veteran's Day show. Now, at time the jets fly only four feet apart at speeds of up to 400 miles an house.
A reward is being offered in the search for a U.S. soldier abducted in Iraq. The Army Reserve specialist was kidnapped nearly three weeks ago in Baghdad while visiting his Iraqi wife and family. The U.S. military is offering up to a $50,000 reward for information leading to his recovery.
The Navy will come to the rescue of the U.S.S. Intrepid. The floating museum got stuck n the mud on Monday, while being towed down the Hudson River for refurbishment. The effort to free the ship also will involve the Army Corps of Engineers.
And tonight at 7:00 Eastern, John Roberts is live in Baghdad for a look at what's next in Iraq after Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as Defense secretary. Now, the big question right now, how much longer will the Iraq war last?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, U.S. ARMY: I think that by the end of 2007, with (AUDIO GAP) with us providing capabilities to them, that they will be largely self reliant. That's our goal.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): In a way that U.S. forces will be able to come home?
DEMSPEY: In a way that U.S. forces will be able to come home, (AUDIO GAP) has somewhat changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIN: See the entire interview tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on "This Week At War" with John Roberts. I'm Carol Lin.
Up next LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK. Find out what Lou has to say about the top issues of the week. That starts right now.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR, LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK: Tonight Democrats have won control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate; controlling Congress for the first time in more than a decade. What does this momentous shift in political power mean for our country? We'll have complete coverage here tonight.
Also, this election was nothing less than an awakening of the power of the people. Middle class Americans telling Washington they won't be taken for granted by either political party. We'll have that story.
And one day after the election, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigned. We'll examine tonight whether U.S. strategy in the war in Iraq will change, whether our troops are likely to be withdrawn from Iraq.
All of that, a great deal more, straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK, news, debate, and opinion, here now, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
The Democratic Party won a stunning victory in the midterm elections. (AUDIO GAP) in election that was a referendum on the president and his conduct of the war in Iraq. President Bush admitted the Republican Party had taken a thumping. President Bush immediately promised a new tone of bipartisanship. He met with the Democratic congressional leadership quickly. Dana Bash reports from Capitol Hill on the shift of power in Washington.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): It's time for a change.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK (voice over): Soon-to-be majority leader Harry Reid promised bipartisanship, but not before taking a swipe at Republicans.
REID: They've set a very bad example in not working with us. We're not following that example.
BASH: And at the white house, the presumptive speaker of the House promised to work with the president, up to a point.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) DEMOCRATIC LEADER: We have our differences and we will debate them. And that is what our Founders intended. But we will do so in a way that gets results for the American people.
BASH: The shift in power means Democrats, not Republicans, will set the agenda across Capitol Hill and take top posts. Liberal Congressman Charlie Rangel is likely to chair the tax writing Ways and Means Committee. Senator Robert Byrd, who says the White House spends money on the wrong things will head appropriations. Joe Biden, who wants to partition Iraq, will lead the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Democrats promise to make good on broad campaign pledges. First and foremost, changing course in Iraq.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN, (D) DEMOCRATIC WHIP: The American soldiers are losing their lives. I don't think we can wait. I don't think we can ask them to wait.
BASH: For now Democrats want a bipartisan summit to discuss the war. And besides Iraq, they have other plans.
REID: We have to have results in doing something to make healthcare more affordable and more available. We have to do something to create energy independence.
BASH: One irony, a guest worker program for illegal immigrants, a top Bush priority, his own party blocked, will likely pass with a Democratic Congress.
(voice-over): But the Democrats are taking control of the Senate by a razor-thin margin, 51-49. And because of the Senate rules it, takes 60 votes to get most legislation through the Senate.
(on camera): So Republicans can block anything they don't like.
SEN. JOHN SENUNU (R-NH): If we're talking about raising taxes, the answer is no. If we're talking about spending more money in areas where we've already spent a tremendous amount of money without result, the answer is going to be no.
BASH: Controlling the Senate means Democrats get to pass judgment on the president's picks for government jobs. And they're already warning the White House to think twice, especially when nominating judges.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't send us a political extremist. There was a time when the president was successful doing that. But I think that time has passed.
BASH: Yet the party thrilled about having power again is well aware it must use that power carefully, not lurch too far left, govern from the middle. Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.
DOBBS: One day after the election, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigned. President Bush says he's open to any new ideas or suggestions on how to conduct the war in Iraq. More than three and a half years after the beginning of the war, American strategy in Iraq is on the verge of failure. Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK (voice over): Returning at day's end to his home in Washington, Donald Rumsfeld showed no sign he had been abruptly replaced by his boss, President Bush, who just last week gave him a public endorsement.
As the chief architect of an increasingly unpopular war, Rumsfeld had become a political liability, who Mr. Bush has admitted in private conversations over the past few days that the Iraq war need a fresh perspective.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He himself understands that Iraq is not working well enough, fast enough.
MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld, who always said he served at the pleasure of the president and gave no indication he would leave on his own, said in his parting statement, the war against terrorism he oversaw is little understood.
DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It is not well known. It was not well understood. It is complex for people to comprehend.
MCINTYRE: While the Pentagon denied Rumsfeld had lost the respect of top military commanders, his departure was greeted by a blizzard of statements from the Capitol Hill, both Republicans and Democrats welcoming the opportunity for a fresh start.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY): Now we can have a new beginning, a new face at the Pentagon, who doesn't carry the baggage that Secretary Rumsfeld carried.
MCINTYRE Many Democrats advocate a strategic redeployment of U.S. troops away from the front lines. By picking Robert Gates as Rumsfeld's replacement, President Bush appears to be signaling he'll give greater weight to the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq study group, of which Gates was a member. And whose recommendations are due out soon.
BUSH: He has traveled to Iraq and met with the country's leaders and our military commanders on the ground. He'll provide the department with new ideas on how America can achieve our goals in Iraq.
MCINTYRE (on camera): The removal of Rumsfeld clears the way for a major course correction in Iraq, if that's what Republicans and Democrats agree is needed. It's also smart politics. It removes an easy target for the Democrats and increases pressure on them to agree to any new strategy for Iraq. Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.
DOBBS: Later here I'll be joined by two former military commanders who for months have been calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. They'll be here to assess the effect of Rumsfeld's departure on both our troops and the conduct of the war.
Joining me now, our Chief National Correspondent John King.
John, give us your assessment of what the democrats are likely to be able to achieve controlling both houses of Congress. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK: Significant differences still remain between the Democratic agenda and the views of this Republican president in the White House, but both sides feel a burden to show they can produce results after this "thumping", as President Bush called it, the midterm put the Democrats in power.
A few of the issues you've highlighted in recent months and years of middle class concern are likely to be enacted by the Democratic Congress quite early on.
One is an increase in the minimum wage. President Bush has signaled a willingness to compromise on that. They're looking to quickly expand access to healthcare, especially for those who are employed, or have their own small businesses. That's an area of concern to the president as well. Still some philosophical differences, but also an area of potential compromise.
One significant reform you discussed before, more transparency in government, the Democrats are promising that when they get back on Capitol Hill. And an issue you oppose them on is the idea of having that guest worker program the president pushed for. He couldn't get it through when his own conservative Republicans controlled the House of Representatives. There are now the votes to pass that program.
It is something the Democrats and the White House say could be done in the first three to six months of the new Congress. The new guest worker program that would give legal status to millions who, of course, entered this country illegally, Lou.
DOBBS: Do you suppose the Democratic leadership will be reassessing the political risk they will be running with November 4th, 2008 looming just less than two years after they take power in January, on the issue of illegal immigration and border security? Because poll after poll shows the American people want those borders secured and they want illegal immigration ended.
KING: It will an critical thing to watch, to see if they continue. As you know, the Republicans just appropriated the down payment to build a fence across the border with Mexico. Most of the Democrats oppose that idea. It will be interesting to watch in the next appropriations process if there is any effort to pull back that money or redirect it somewhere else.
Obviously the president has his veto pen. He rarely used it in the first six years. The question is whether he is prepared to be confrontational on those issues as well. Many believe he was forced into signing the legislation creating that fence.
So, one point of conflict, if you will, with the voters especially on immigration, could be the idea of the guest worker program, and all of the other add-ons, whether it's border security, building the fence, something like that.
But the Democrats will have as a check within their own caucus a number of more conservative Democrats, in both the House and the Senate, who campaigned on the immigration issue. It will be something to watch. Everyone is talking now about unity in the Democratic Caucus, bipartisan cooperation with the president, but there are many potential points of conflict just ahead.
DOBBS: And seemingly more points of potential conflict rather than fewer. John King, thank you very much. John King reporting from Washington, D.C.
Still ahead here, voters express frustration with the endless influx of illegal aliens into this country. We'll have that special report. And will the election help the president push his amnesty agenda through for illegal aliens in the Congress? We'll have that story.
E-voting causing problems in many states on election day, luckily not in critically close elections. We'll have a special report on democracy at risk. All of that and more, straight ahead.
DOBBS: President Bush, this week, claimed some success in his administration's efforts to reduce illegal immigration. President Bush said what he called recent success on border security will allow him to bring the new Congress on board with his plans for comprehensive immigration reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Show me progress on the border, then we'll be interested in talking about other aspects. Well, there is progress being made on the border in terms of security and I would hope we can get something done. It's a vital issue. There's an issue where I believe we can find common ground with the Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: In the states that deal with illegal immigration daily, and directly, voters are taking a much harder line than the president's plan. And a new balance of power in Congress may bring new federal action on illegal immigration. Casey Wian reports on efforts in Arizona and Colorado to restrict the flow of taxpayer money to illegal aliens. Lisa Sylvester reports on how illegal immigration reform may fare in this new Congress. We begin with Casey Wian in Los Angeles -- Casey.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK: Lou, despite the Democratic takeover of Congress, most lawmakers who support strong border security survived the midterm election.
REP. BRIAN BILBRAY (R-CA): You do have to have papers to vote!
WIAN (voice over): San Diego Representative Brian Bilbray's message of border security first delivered a convincing victory over Democrat Francine Busby, who infamously told an audience of immigrants you don't need papers for voting.
BILRAY: Illegal immigration is an issue you just can't ignore and you can't look the other way, and you darn well shouldn't be rewarding them with an amnesty or voting.
WIAN: Fellow border security Californians Ed Royce and 2008 presidential candidate Duncan Hunter also won easily. Michael McCall and Ted Poe from Texas retained their seats, as did Colorado's Tom Tancredo and Iowa's Steve King.
However, a Minuteman Project endorsement failed to save Indiana's John Hostettler. And Arizona lost border security advocate Randy Graf, and apparently J.D. Hayworth, who is refusing to concede despite a preliminary 4 point deficit.
Illegal immigration was by far the most important issue to Arizona voters. They passed Propositions 100, denying illegal alien suspects bail, 102, barring them from collecting punitive damages in civil lawsuits, 103, declaring English Arizona's official language, and 300 restricting state-funded adult education and child care to citizens and legal residents. All received more than 70 percent of the vote.
DEAN MARTIN, (R) ARIZONA TREASUER-ELECT: This is not a silver bullet. It's not going to solve the problem. But it definitely helps.
WIAN: Colorado's referendum disallowing illegal alien wages as a business expense is narrowly ahead and another to measure ordering the state to sue the federal government to enforce its own immigration laws easily passed.
WIAN: It's clear border security hawks still have plenty of political power. Here in California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has often talked tough on border security, won reelection in a landslide. However, the very next day, he went on a trade mission to Mexico, Lou.
LEMON: Casey, thanks very much. Casey Wian from Los Angeles.
President Bush may believe the new Congress will approve his so- called comprehensive immigration reform plan, or what his critics call outright amnesty. But there are indications that the president's amnesty plan faces some congressional hurdles. Lisa Sylvester reports.
LISA SLYVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK (voice over): The Democratic pickup of House seats may not be enough to guarantee passage of comprehensive immigration reform, pushed by the president and the open borders advocates. Because of the numbers.
TAMAR JACOBY, THE MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: You're still going to need 60, 70 Republicans in the House, 10, 20 Republicans in the Senate. SYLVESTER: It's not a given that those votes are there. Many of the Democratic newcomers in the 110th Congress are more conservative on immigration than the 109th Congress. Democrats in close races who took a tough stand on border enforcement include Missouri's Claire McCaskill and Pennsylvania's Altmire.
DAN STEIN, FED. FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: Not a single Democrat ran for re-election promising a big amnesty, a guest worker program or flooding middle class jobs with foreign workers. Not one. It would be the height of criticism for Democrats to turn around and do that. We have to assume while we lost some moderate Republicans, we gained moderate Democrats.
SYLVESTER: The biggest challenge for opponents of a guest worker amnesty plan will be the House leadership change. Congressman James Sensenbrenner, a strong opponent of a comprehensive immigration plan, will likely be replaced by Representative John Conyers, who is a strong advocate for the comprehensive approach.
Indiana's John Hofstettler who chaired the Immigration and Border Security Sub-Committee and opposed open borders lost his race. His position could be filled by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, another ardent supporters of the comprehensive plan.
SYLVESTER: At least in the immediate future, it doesn't appear that Democrats are willing to revisit the immigration issue. House Democrats put out a list of the issues they will tackle first. Middle class concerns top the agenda. A guest worker and amnesty plan was not included -- Lou.
DOBBS: A set of priorities that sound entirely rational and representative of the people who put these folks in office. How about that, Lisa?
SYLVESTER: Imagine that, Lou. Indeed it does.
DOBBS: Thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester from Washington.
The president this week discussed illegal alien amnesty and open borders with the president-elect of Mexico, Felipe Calderon. During this meeting, in Washington, Calderon, as did his predecessor, he demanded that the new democratically controlled Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform, a program that is, in the minds of critics, simply amnesty for illegal aliens.
And President Bush, as he did with Fox, pledged to work with Calderon to achieve that goal. Calderon, who takes office next month, also criticized U.S. plans to build that fence along our southern border. And incredibly, he compares the fence to the Berlin Wall.
Coming up next, e-voting may not have been a national disaster on election day, but e-voting machines were responsible for an 18,000 vote discrepancy in one congressional race. We'll have that special report. And working Americans sending a strong message to their elected representatives on Tuesday. Democrats say they heard the message lout and clear. We'll have that story.
And one Republican who didn't lose on election is out of a job anyway. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. We'll hear from two retired military commanders who have been calling for his resignation for months. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Election day did not result in an e-voting machine disaster, but that doesn't mean that there weren't problems with those e-voting machines. In fact, in Florida, one race, the outcome of which is still unclear and the reason for the problems still unclear. Kitty Pilgrim has the report.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK (voice over): The charge is the electronic machines malfunctioned and dropped more than 18,000 votes for congressional candidates. Republican Vern Buchanan issued a statement claiming victory by a razor-thin margin, 368 votes.
"The votes have been counted. The people have spoken. And I am honored to be your next congressman." Buchanan claims the machines didn't drop votes. Some people decided not to vote for congressional candidates, even though they voted for other issues on the ballot.
SALLY TIBBETTS, BUCHANAN CAMPAIGN: I can't explain it, other than it appears that a number of the voters, for whatever reason, decided to skip over this race. But there's no reason, to my knowledge, to believe that there's any malfunction of the machines, or any fraud or abuse.
PILGRIM: But Democratic opponent Christine Jennings says her office got calls on election day from voters complaining that the machines were not registering votes for her. She wants a recount.
The problem is these touch screen machines don't have a paper trail.
KINDRA MUNTZ, SARASOTA ALLIANCE: The candidates need to know that the elections are fair. All the voters need to know that their votes are counted as cast. It's a perfect example of why we need voter verified paper ballots and mandatory random audits of elections.
PILGRIM: Jennings' lawyer is asking the voting machine company for help.
KENDALL COFFEY, ATTY. FOR JENNINGS CAMPAIGN: We intend to reach out to ES&S, and we hope they will also be candid and forthcoming in assistance. I would like to think they, too, would want to get to the truth. And that they, too, would want to know if there are any problems with their system. (END VIDEOTAPE)
PILGRIM: The under vote rate of 13 percent was significantly higher on the touch screen machines, than it was on the absentee ballots. It was only 2 percent on the votes that were written in. That suggests something may have gone wrong with electronic voting. ES&S says the county is responsible to program the machines, and they're only there to assist -- Lou.
DOBBS: Gobbledy-gook. Unbelievable.
Hopefully we'll find out what really did happen, but that was a good clue for them, that 13 versus 2 percent difference. Sharp folks. You can't fool them.
Thanks, Kitty. Kitty Pilgrim.
Ninety-five-year-old Anna Urban of Reading, Pennsylvania, has been voting in our election since Franklin Roosevelt was president. And she wasn't about to miss this year. Urban found herself without a ride to the polls on election day.
She's too old to drive, but she's too smart to quit. She called 911 and they put her in touch with election officials and Reading's county commissioner personally drove her to the polls. Urban says, quote, "You need to vote to be a good citizen." And she is. And we need more like her.
Time now for some of your thoughts.
Barry in Florida: "We listen to Mrs. Pelosi's speech. She said they, the Dems, got the message and will do the business and the will of the people. Please caution her that the last party in power thought they could spin, lie and mislead the American people as if they were stupid sheep. This is from a 43-year voting Democrat that is going independent thanks to you. Earn my vote in the next two years Mrs. Pelosi!"
And Richard in West Virginia: "If the Democrats do not come to bat and save the shrinking middle class and stop the six year cash flow to the likes of Halliburton and the big dollar contributors, the signal will be clear; it's time for a third party, run by the majority which is hard-working middle class Americans."
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".
Up next, the midterm elections not just a victory for the Democratic Party but for the people. Voter outrage at the polls could spark real reform across this nation help our desperate middle class. We'll have a special report.
And the midterm election is certainly over. The race for the presidency has now officially begun. We'll have a special report of the nation's never ending political campaign. And the fall of Donald Rumsfeld, what it means for our troops and for the nation. Two retired commanders who called for Rumsfeld's resignation months ago join us here next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Welcome back.
Middle class voters delivered a stunning, strong rebuke to Washington's political elite in the election. Voter outrage over the Republican party and the widening war against our middle class was heard far and wide all across the country.
Christine Romans reports on the resounding victory for ballot initiatives, defending the rights of the middle class.
And Bill Tucker reports on the congressional candidates who blasted this nation's failed trade policy, stood up for workers and their families and, by golly, who won their elections.
We begin with Christine Romans -- Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, Congress has voted to give itself a pay raise nine times since 1997 without once raising the minimum wage for hard working Americans.
Well, this week Americans across the country sent a message to Washington. They said, enough is enough.
(voice over): What voters did here will make a big difference here. The message doesn't get louder or clearer than this. Six more states raised the minimum wage. A clear majority of states declaring the federal wage of $5.15 an hour is simply not enough for working families.
HENRY AARON, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The minimum wage has eroded to the lowest level adjusted for average wages in about a half a century.
ROMANS: The business community has long opposed higher minimum wages, preferring instead low taxes and less regulation.
BILL BEACH, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: When you increase the minimum wage, you increase the cost of doing business. And that is kind of tough.
ROMANS: Voters overwhelmingly disagreed. And in 10 states this fall, they offered a sharp rebuke of last year's unpopular Supreme Court decision, which allowed personal homes to be razed for commercial development.
JENNIE BOWSER, NATL. CONF. OF STATE LEGISLATURES: They basically say that the government can't take property for economic developments, so they can't take your house and turn it over to a developer to build a strip mall.
ROMANS: Arizona's measure went even further, requiring compensation for property owners if land use regulations lower their property values.
(on camera): Historically less than half of ballot initiatives are passed by voters. But this time around, voters sending a very clear signal, Lou, on the issues that matter to the middle class most.
DOBBS: And I think a lot of the pundits and analysts will be paying a lot of attention to what happened. Those initiatives saying basically that state and federal government, not doing the job for the people and they'll take care of it themselves.
Terrific, Christine, thank you very much.
Middle class voters sent that message to Washington demanding a change in the direction of trade policies as well. Maybe now Washington may begin to listen to middle class workers, workers who have seen their jobs threatened and destroyed by so-called free trade.
Bill Tucker reports.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Ohio, where an estimated 37,000 jobs have been lost because of NAFTA, and in North Carolina, where textile and manufacturing workers have been especially hard hit, candidates ran on trade platforms and won.
Two of the more prominent winners, senators elect Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sherrod Brown of Ohio. They could shake up the approach toward trade policies in the Senate.
ALAN TONELSON, U.S. BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY COUNCIL: These are two legislators who have not been content to simply give off soundbyte statements or even vote the wrong way. They have been legislators who have wanted to lead and actually introduce legislation. We haven't had that in the Senate for a long time, and it's long overdue.
TUCKER: Those two lawmakers are not alone. According to Global Trade Watch, critics of current trade policy ran and captured at least six Senate and 27 House seats.
LORI WALLACH, GLOBAL TRADE WATCH: What these elections communicate is that the public expects Congress to get control of our trade policies, which is what the U.S. Constitution requires. And so Congress now has enormous pressure to get a new way of making trade policy that puts a steering wheel and emergency brakes on our trade negotiators.
TUCKER: The reason critics don't think Congress has control of trade policy is because it doesn't. Congress conceded that authority in 2001 by granting the president what's known as fast track authority, allowing Congress to only vote yes or no on trade agreements negotiated by the executive branch.
That authority expires next year.
(on camera): The administration has already made it clear it will seek renewable of fast track. By repealing that authority, Congress would be able to once again assume responsibility regarding trade policy that it exercises in every other major policy issue -- Lou.
DOBBS: And it's worth pointing out, I believe, that constitutionally, that is the responsibility of Congress.
TUCKER: Yes, it is.
DOBBS: Bill Tucker, thank you very much.
Joining me now are Democratic strategists Hank Sheinkopf and Errol Louis of the "New York Daily News" and Diana West of the "Washington Times".
Thank you all for being here.
Let me start with you, Diana. What is your take? It looks like the people have spoken. And a Republican majority thought it was election proof proved it isn't.
DIANA WEST, "WASHINGTON TIMES": Well, that's true. Although I can't say I share your cock-eyed optimism about the voice of the people. What I see coming down the pike is I see amnesty coming. I see higher taxes. I see bigger government or, should I say, even bigger government. And I see continued disarray on Iraq because what I see is the party that got it wrong, being the Republicans, has been replaced by the party that just doesn't get it. And by it I mean the fact that we're fighting a war on global jihad. So I'm not happy.
DOBBS: Let's find out if Hank Sheinkopf gets it.
HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think I get it. I think you're going to see tax relief for the middle class, who have been really put upon in the last several years. You're going to see a different sense about government. I don't think government's going to grow exponentially the way the Republicans would try to say.
In fact, if we look at the people who have been elected, they are not wide-eyed liberals or lefties. They are centrist Democrats and that will make all the difference.
ERROL LOUIS, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": You've got the Democrats using a strategy that worked for Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in 1994, which is what Gingrich used to call "60 percent issues". The broad middle, things that aren't really controversial. It's not so much gay marriage, even immigration, which are divisive issues within each party. But they're sticking to -- if they stick to their bread and butter, they'll have a governing coalition for a couple of years.
DOBBS: Let's go to that thing about divisive within each party, because you talked about the 60 percent rule. The fact is, 70 percent in every poll I've seen in the country, 70 percent of Americans want our borders secured, our ports secured and they want illegal immigration to end.
Why do -- if there's a message here for the Republicans, it was that elites who don't listen ain't going to make it. Are the Democrats going to make it, Hank?
SHEINKOPF: The message here is pay attention to your constituents, Lou. Do what the public wants and they will be happy. Do not drift far from them to the right or the left. Bill Clinton learned it in 1994 and the Republicans certainly learned it in 2006.
WEST: But if border security was uppermost in all the -- across the board, we would have seen all of the Republicans returned who wanted to make border security happen. So I'm not so sure that this is all going to work out.
DOBBS: Is that true? Because what we watched was a kabuki dance where the House Republicans tried to hold the line against a president who is -- as -- you talked about my cock-eyed optimism, who has got some cockamamey (ph) ideas that he can fool the American people and put up a PR Potemkin village around everything that he talk about.
WEST: I agree...
DOBBS: No one was fooled by that idiotic fence deal.
WEST: Well, listen, there's been tons of confusion coming across from all these politicians on the hugely important issues. And I think that confusion is reflected in the fact that you had border -- or anti-immigration initiatives passed in a couple of states and, yet, you did not return a majority that is going to take care of the border.
DOBBS: They weren't anti-immigration measures. They were anti- illegal immigration.
WEST: All right. I misspoke.
DOBBS: and that's a very important distinction.
WEST: Correct. Correct.
Anti-illegal immigration measures. But you did not see that kind of majority -- you don't see a majority like that could coalescing in the Congress. So I see confusion continuing. We're not really facing these issues honestly. LOUIS: Yes, it's going to certainly take more leadership. I mean, if you look at the substance of some of those referenda that passed in Arizona and in Colorado and Arizona, they're talking about denying benefits including child care and other kind of benefits.
Now, in a state like Colorado, it means...
DOBBS: To illegal immigrants.
LOUIS: To illegal aliens.
That means one thing in Colorado and it means something entirely different in a place like New York or California. And it could actually lead to sort of a kind of chaotic situation. This is going to take more...
DOBBS: How so?
LOUIS: Well, when you've got in a city like New York, you've got hundreds of thousands of people whose immigration status is either unknown or questionable or in need of some repair or flat-out illegal.
DOBBS: There you go. It took a while you but you said it.
But the thing is what do you really do? Are you going to tell them, don't come into our public schools, go somewhere else?
WEST: Yes. Go somewhere else.
DOBBS: Well, let's see if we can get real simple about this. And each of us weigh in on this.
They're illegally in the United States. They have violated the law. We have, we are told by our political and business elites, need for labor from other countries.
Why do we not control our immigration policy and bring them in legally? We have a number of programs, the H-2 program, the L programs, all of these ways, and why should you or anyone else permit people to decide whether or not they will enter this country illegally?
LOUIS: Well, OK. But here's...
DOBBS: But I'm just curious. If you'd just answer that, I would be curious.
LOUIS: That's actually not what the question is, though.
DOBBS: No. That was my question.
LOUIS: Well, your question -- let's say -- let's say somebody has entered illegally and we've got to figure out how to deport them. Their child is an American citizen. Now what do you...
DOBBS: Not necessarily.
LOUIS: ... what do you do? Do you split up the family?
DOBBS: Only if they've had an anchor baby.
LOUIS: Excuse me?
DOBBS: Only if they've had an anchor baby.
WEST: And listen, the family doesn't remain split if they all go home. I mean, the split family argument always makes me ponder...
DOBBS: But see -- if you've already -- this is the problem with this argument. People won't look at the basic fact. Why -- and the question was -- I'll repeat -- the idea is why should we permit people who are violating our laws to determine whether or not they will live in this country? I don't understand that.
LOUIS: I think what -- well, I think what we're going to see is -- unless you want...
DOBBS: You're not going to answer that question, are you?
LOUIS: Unless you want localities to answer that question, it has to be something that Congress answers. And one of the most revealing, I think, of the initiatives was the one -- I think it was in Colorado -- where they said they want to send a strong sense or even demand that a lawsuit be launched against the federal government if they continue to let this question devolve down to the local level.
DOBBS: We know the efficacy of that, unfortunately.
SHEINKOPF: What we're going to need here, frankly, Lou, is leadership on the part of this Congress that we didn't have in the last Congress to deal with the war in Iraq, the war against the middle class and illegal or immigration, per se.
Come up with something that works, pay attention to your constituents. And by the way, Lou, if they don't, two years from now the American public may tell them what they just told the last Congress.
DOBBS: I don't think -- given the mood of the people, I don't think there's any doubt that November 4, 2008 is going to be a date in destiny for the Democratic Party if they pull the same spin obfuscatory nonsense that the Republicans did. At least I would hope so.
Wouldn't you, Diana?
WEST: Sure, I agree with that. And I think these next two years are going to be some of the most fascinating years we've had in a long time. LOUIS: It's going to continue to be a third rail issue. Stepping wrong in either direction, I think, will torch whichever party does so.
DOBBS: Ooh, we're all scared now.
Diana West, Errol Louis, thank you very much.
Hank Sheinkopf, as always, appreciate it.
WEST: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: Coming up next, two former military commanders, harsh critics of outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and they have been so for some time, are men with -- well, with whom we can say mission accomplished.
And it's just days since the midterms. Politicians and pollsters already turning, just as we did, to 2008.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: When Donald Rumsfeld resigned this week, he didn't acknowledge any errors in his conduct of the war. And he certainly didn't express any regrets about his strategy.
Earlier, I talked with two retired military commanders who called for the resignation of the defense secretary, Colonel Thomas Hammes, who served in Iraq with the Marine Corps, Major General Paul Eaton, who led the training of Iraqi security and police forces.
I began by asking Colonel Hammes just how Rumsfeld's resignation would affect our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
COL. THOMAS HAMMES, U.S. MARINE CORPS (RET.): I think the key is going to be how the administration uses this. If they use it to change the strategy so it's effective and to provide equipment for the troops, both in country and training, it's very positive.
DOBBS: All right. General Eaton?
MAJ. GEN. PAUL EATON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Lou, great to be with you again. It's going to energize the troops. It's going to energize the Pentagon. In fact, it's already started. The feedback that I'm getting is that the energy levels have just popped in the Pentagon.
DOBBS: And when you say the energy levels have just popped -- as you know, I've been on this broadcast extremely critical of our generals, the Pentagon, the general staff, because in many cases they have been inserted into domestic as well as international political issues. They have asked the American people for patience while not procuring victory nor enunciating a strategy. Are we going to see a real, substantive difference in the actions of the general staff?
EATON: Lou, I think that one of the outcomes of the election that we've just gone through and the fact we're changing to a very reasonable man -- this Robert Gates is a man of considerable professional background, positive, and is a reasonable man.
I expect to see generals and men of all ranks testify before Congress on what they really need, where they really want this thing to go. So I see it as a liberating influence for the uniformed military.
DOBBS: Tom Hammes, as General Eaton just said, there are very few men or women who have served this country with greater distinction than Bob Gates. He's just enormously respected.
Is it your sense that he will be able, working as he has with the Iraq Study Group, the group being led by the former Secretary of State James Baker and Congressman Lee Hamilton, to make a profound difference, within this administration, on the conduct of this war?
Whether that means a strategy for victory or a strategy for withdrawal.
HAMMES: I think he can make a difference. He's certainly got the background. With his background in human intelligence, he should understand more clearly the human aspects of this war, which are the critical aspects.
It's going to be whether he then chooses to really mobilize the Pentagon, use that enthusiasm, put it on a wartime footing or not.
DOBBS: And give us your best judgment, militarily, General Eaton. Should this country prepare for a greater engagement in Iraq, or should it begin an acceleration, if you will -- just to give you two options here -- an acceleration of withdrawal, and bringing more Iraqis online as we do so?
EATON: Lou, a great question.
We need to change the method that we're dealing with the problem in Iraq, certainly not back away from it. We cannot accept a failed state. And the single greatest factor that we've got to get after, aside from the political solution with the Iraqi government, is the Iraqi security forces.
DOBBS: Colonel Hammes, General Eaton, we thank you both for being here. Appreciate it.
DOBBS: Up next, the Democratic takeover of Congress may have changed the dynamics of the upcoming race for the White House. We'll take a look at why. And we'll take a look back at the election itself and the campaign leading up to it. The scandal-ridden run-up giving credence to the adage "The truth is stranger than fiction". That special report, you won't want to miss it.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Well, with the election behind us, what's left for all those politicians and political analysts, savants and gurus to do?
Well, now it's time for them to look ahead to the presidential election of 2008. Candy Crowley has the report.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Out with the old, in with the new, on to the next thing.
REP. SHERROD BROWN, (D), OHIO SENATE-ELECT: As Ohio goes in '06, so goes the nation in '08.
CROWLEY: It's a touch early to put Ohio in the Democratic column for '08, but across the country assorted politicians are dissecting the end trails of '06, with the Oval Office in mind. Not that anyone running for president will actually cop to it.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: It's something that I've got to spend some serious time thinking about.
CROWLEY: Roughly 10 percent of the U.S. Senate is thinking about running for president, along with a couple of current and former House members, and several governors.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven't made that decision yet.
CROWLEY: Most of them say that. But check out the visual here. Flag to the left of him, flag to the right. You can kind of picture this guy in the Oval Office. And that's the point.
McCain's ambitions are complicated by the '06 results, with much of the country wanting a plan to get out of Iraq. He thinks the way out is to put more troops in.
McCain's lead position in the tough guy category has been challenged by Rudy Giuliani, his honor, the in-your-face 9/11 New York mayor. He's been frequently areas west of the Mississippi and south of the Mason-Dixon, where so far they have politely ignored that he is pro-gay rights, pro-choice, and pro-gun licensing.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR, NEW YORK: When things aren't working, you need new people.
CROWLEY: The Democratic Senator from New York capped her re- election celebration Tuesday night to the tune of, "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet." But Wednesday morning, she still ain't showing anything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When will you address the question of whether you will be running?
CLINTON: You know, I am going to relish this victory.
CROWLEY: Hillary Clinton is the political world's most reluctant bride. She hasn't set foot on the presidential trail, running from Iowa to New Hampshire, making her all the more appealing.
The latest CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll shows Hillary in dead heat with Republican front-runners John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.
Warning sign, her negatives are twice those of potential Republican rivals, though she fares better than John Kerry whose unfavorables are 51 percent.
Senator Clinton's pull is so strong, she's in a class all her own. The other class in her party is the not Hillaries. Generally less controversial, more centrist options like Former Vice Presidential Candidate John Edwards or Indiana Senator Evan Bayh.
(on camera): From rising stars to familiar faces, from the right and the left and everywhere in between, you're going to need a scorecard to keep up. But the game is on.
Candy Crowley, CNN, New York.
DOBBS: Still ahead, the midterm campaign filled with controversy, scandal, attack ads, from Foley to Kerry to Haggard. We'll take a look back.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: The midterm campaigns, in some parts, unlike any other. Candidates and their surrogates sinking to new lows in their efforts to smear their opponents and to insult the intelligence of voters. This campaign season made for a true theater of the absurd at more than a few points.
Christine Romans reports.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It began with what is now known as the macaca moment and quickly devolved.
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN, (R) VIRGINIA: And let's give a welcome to macaca here. Welcome to America.
ROMANS: From a racially insensitive remark to lurid instant messages. Congressman Foley coming on to teenage boys, coming out of the closet and rushing right into rehab.
DAVID ROTH, ATTORNEY FOR MARK FOLEY: He has never had sexual contact with a minor. Between the ages of 13 and 15, he was molested by a clergyman. Mark Foley wants you to know that he is a gay man.
ROMANS: Next comes a celebrity slugfest over stem cell research.
MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR: What you do in Missouri matters to millions of Americans, Americans like me.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting, one of the two.
ROMANS: And then along comes what Senator John Kerry describes as a joke gone bad, telling students, if you don't study...
SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: ... if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.
ROMANS: An apparent indictment of the intelligence of U.S. troops. Democrats cringed and the White House demanded an apology.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is an absolute insult.
ROMANS: Kerry called him a stuffed suit and Rush Limbaugh doughy.
KERRY: I apology to no one for my criticism of the president and of his broken policy.
ROMANS: A day later Kerry did apologize. For a moment watching these two going at it almost felt like 2004.
But then came Pastor Ted, an evangelical advisor to the White House clumsily answering allegations he frequented a gay prostitute and used drugs.
REV. TED HAGGARD, FMR. NEW LIFE CHURCH LEADER: I called him to buy some meth, but I threw it away. I went there for a massage.
ROMANS: Finally admitting in a letter to his congregation...
HAGGARD: The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. I am a deceiver and a liar.
ROMANS: An American evangelical leader disgraced.
(on camera): Plenty of disgrace and misbehavior all around. Veterans of the political process say this looks like it could be the ugliest they've ever seen. But then again, we do manage to set new records for the ridiculous each political season.
Christine Romans, CNN, New York.
DOBBS: Well, we can all hope that the new Congress will put the ridiculous and the partisanship all behind it and instead focus on doing what's right for this country's middle class and for this country.
We thank you for being with us tonight. For all of us here, thanks for watching.
Good night from New York.
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