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Blagojevich Scandal Grows; Anticipating More Obama Appointments

Aired December 14, 2008 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DONNA BRAZILE, CO-HOST: Politics this week was all about accusations after watching fraud and attempted bribery.
DAVID BRODY, CO-HOST: Yes, Donna, but isn't that just politics as usual for Democrats in Illinois?

BRAZILE: Well, David, even you have to admit these kind of scandals are pretty bipartisan. I'm Donna Brazile and I'll review this week's politics with an all star panel of progressives.

BRODY: And I'm David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network with a team of top conservatives who are going to listen in and then probably tell you how it really is.

BRAZILE: Not on my watch, pal. Let's get started right now. This is THE AFTER PARTY.

It's been quite a few weeks for Democratic politicians from Illinois. One is heading to the White House and it looks like another may be headed to the big house. Liz Chadderdon of the Chadderdon Group is joining us today. Liz, how can Obama bring real change to Washington, D.C. when his old seat was up for sale?

LIZ CHADDERDON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, Obama had nothing to do with this, Donna. I don't think there's any connection between the president-elect and Governor Begojevich in this scandal whatsoever.

BRAZILE: Chris, can President-elect Obama avoid being tainted by this scandal?

CHRISTOPHER HAYES, THE NATION: Yes, look, Liz is right. I mean, he can avoid being tainted if everyone stops asking whether he's being tainted. I mean, the fact of the matter is he's only tainted if that's come to light that showing to be tainted. So we should wait and see what the deal is.

BRAZILE: But Peter, you know a little about honeymoons. I mean, will this end...

PETER BEINART, THE NEW REPUBLIC: It's been a while.

BRAZILE: I'm sure the first time is pretty good.

BEINART: (INAUDIBLE).

BRAZILE: But will this end President-elect's Obama's honeymoon with the American people, this scandal? Will it harm him in any way?

BEINART: No, I mean, we've got incredibly big issues that are going to take center stage the minute he's inaugurated. Stimulus, healthcare. This is going to be in the -- on the sideline.

BRAZILE: Now some conservatives complain that President-elect Obama wasn't doing enough, wasn't saying enough. But this week, he went out before the American people and he said something. So why don't we hear what he had to say?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT: There are two views of politics. There's a view of politics that says you go in this for sacrifice and public service. And then there's a view of politics that says that this is a business and you're wheeling and dealing and what's in it for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRAZILE: Corruption, unethical behavior, sense of entitlement. Are politicians wired for bad behavior? I've worked for a couple politicians. I survived Louisiana politics, D.C. politics. But I mean, what's wrong with politicians?

CHADDERDON: Well, I don't think there's anything wrong with politicians. I think 95% of people who run for public office in America are doing it for all the right reasons. Either Democrats or Republicans. They're just trying to do go.

Do I think if there are about 5% out there who are bad apples, who think that there's something in it for them, who are getting cash in a back, smoky room? Sure. But they are the vast, vast minority.

HAYES: Yes, that's the question, right? The question is if you took a sample of politicians and of civilians, would you get the same amount of misbehavior? Or is there something about being a politician that sort of engenders a sense of entitlement.

It's really hard to figure out. In Blagojevich's case, though, the guy sounds like he is drunk on power, right? I mean, he sounds like he's lost his mind. And I think that that has something to do with the position.

BRAZILE: Yes, but Peter, you know, they -- perhaps it's the dirty water that they drank out of the Potomac because on Capitol Hill, you know that there's two scandals right now that Speaker Pelosi might have to address. What do you think? I mean, will this at all, I mean, affect the Democrats' ability to govern next year?

BEINART: When parties get a lot of power, and the party is very weak, there not a lot of checks. And then they have to police themselves. And when they don't police themselves, as the Republicans didn't, when they were running everything over there, then it starts to taint them. And they start to fall. And so, it's really important, even though Democrats are friends with some of these people, even though they may feel like media's been -- the Democrats are going to be ultra tough and Obama's got to be ultra tough in order so he doesn't get infected with this.

HAYES: And this is particularly important right now because you cannot have bigger government without better government.

BRAZILE: Right.

HAYES: You - we can't make it work. I mean, we're going to see an enlargement of what the federal government's doing. We just art. And it only works if it gets better at doing it.

BRAZILE: But Liz, President-elect Obama promised an era of transparency. And he said this week that he will release some detailed account of whatever contacts. What should be in that? And what will satisfy those Republicans who are out in the wilderness praying that this might just stick?

CHADDERDON: Well, I mean, with all do respect, nothing's going to satisfy them. They're going to keep digging and digging and digging until they find something. I mean, that's what they do. That's what we do to them. Unfortunately, that's part of the game we play in Washington.

But I do think that President-elect Obama set himself up a little bit in a good way in telling the American people, I'm going to be a reformer, I'm going to bring change, I'm going to have a transparent government. I think he's going to live up to that. I think he already has in his transition, but it's a tall order. And it's a very slippery slope. If he makes one misstep, I think he could slide down that slope really fast. And that would be bad.

BRAZILE: Well, I've got to ask a question about Jesse Jackson, Junior. I've known him for many, many years. I mean, come on, why are you shaking your head? He's a good guy. (INAUDIBLE). He's been caught up in this scandal. I mean, Peter, you know the Jackson family. Will this scar his reputation as a good government guy?

BEINART: No, not necessarily. I mean, look, you're from Louisiana, I'm from Boston. We both know something about political corruption. The funny thing is that every place that has a lot of political corruption also has reformers who rebel against that corruption. The irony of Blagojevich is people thought he was a reformer because the last guy was so corrupt.

But the truth is the way to understand Obama is in fact that he was a guy who was basically a reformer against a pretty corrupt political machine. And I think in terms of that line, I think Jesse Jackson's also on the right side of that basic Chicago divide.

BRAZILE: I just got to say that Louisiana, we're cleaning up our mess. We got a good governor.

BEINART: Good luck. BRAZILE: And this past - well, I don't know. And this past week, the voters in my home city of New Orleans threw out the (INAUDIBLE).

CHADDERDON: That's true.

BRAZILE: No more cold cash in the freezer, but let's talk about another...

HAYES: For now.

BRAZILE: For now. Let's talk about another subject that came up this week. President-elect Obama named a health czar and named two experienced people to help lead the crusade for health reform. You know them - Tom Daschle, Jeanne Lambrew. What will they do? Can they accomplish healthcare? That's a miracle if they can pull it off.

CHADDERDON: Well, you're absolutely right, but it's necessary, because here's the good news. The good news is if we can get in there and really rework the healthcare system, it's going to help the economy It's going to help middle class families bottom line. And that's what this economic recovery really needs to do.

Here's the bad news. It's going to be expensive. It's going to be difficult. It's going to be pushing through some legislation that some people aren't going to like. It's a tall order. I'm very proud of President-elect Obama for pushing this now, because it's not going to be easy, but it's the right thing to do.

BEINART: They're in a much better position than Clinton was in 1993.

BRAZILE: I agree.

BEINART: They're starting much earlier. Clinton didn't get a bill for ten months. Ted Kennedy saying he's going to have a bill on Inauguration Day. (INAUDIBLE) is a more conservative Democrat. Seems on board. Business does not so far seem as militantly opposed. They want to be at the table. Unions, which were fighting mostly Clinton on NAFTA in 1993 are now focused on health care as job 1. And he is not being as secretive. And they're telling people they can keep their health care if they already like it. They have learned all the right lessons from 1993.

BRAZILE: But Chris, the big question is can we afford it?

HAYES: Yes, we can afford it. Look, I mean, we can -- to be honest, the U.S. government right now is borrowing money at 0%, OK for the first time since the war.

BRAZILE: (INAUDIBLE).

HAYES: Exactly. We actually need -- it is actually a macro economic imperative that we spend a lot of money from the government. And I know that sounds weird. And I know we...

BEINART: In the short term. HAYES: In the short term. I know we have this analogy that says when times get tough, households balance their budget, the federal government has to do that. It's not true. We need to spend the money. And healthcare is something we could spend money on the short term that is going to reap a lot of long term gains.

BRAZILE: And let me talk about another topic. And Al Gore, my former boss, was in Chicago. And of course...

HAYES: He was overshadowed.

BRAZILE: Well, you know, he's a Nobel winner. You can always shout. Yes, that's true. But clearly, President-elect Obama was seeking his advice and counsel on the energy component of his administration. We're hearing names. Carol Browner, of course, a vet from the Clinton Gore years, and of course Lisa Jackson. What do you think about the next round of appointments?

HAYES: They sound great. I mean, I think that - both, if you look at the health appointments, if you look at the energy appointments, both of them signal to the progressive policy communities in those respective areas that they're serious, right? So I know people who do health policy are very psyched about those appointments. People that do environmental policy here in D.C., have worked on this, think that it's also, those appointments are also a signal that they're very serious about doing it.

BRAZILE: But Peter, should Al Gore have a role in some capacity?

BEINART: Well, first of all, Al Gore's very close to Carol Browner. So this is going to be - he's going to be an influential outside adviser.

No, I think Gore has had a lot of success in rallying people outside. And if you look at the way that big reforms usually take place, usually you have more radical people on the outside, saying you need to go even further. And that scares people so they settle for half a low.

It's good to have a rabble rouser outside who can argue for even more fundamental change than we're likely to get from Congress.

CHADDERDON: Yes, but I'd love to see him in Interior. I have to say it. It's not going to happen. But boy, I would love to see him because he singlehandedly changed the discourse on global warming in this country.

I mean, you know, with all due respect, we ran a brilliant campaign. We were all heartbroken in 2000, but Gore in some ways is exactly where he's supposed to be right now. I mean, Nobel award winner, Oscar winner. I mean, he has literally brought this country to a new level of awareness about global warming singlehandedly to his credit.

BRAZILE: You forget to mention the Grammy. But look, I don't want to shortchange Al Gore. He was shortchanged enough by that one Supreme Court (INAUDIBLE). Some of us will never forget. Look, just weeks before the holidays, liberals are still complaining that there's nothing under the Christmas tree. Can Obama make them happy? And pretty soon, we'll let the conservatives come in and just chime about whatever. This is THE AFTER PARTY. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRAZILE: Welcome back to the AFTER PARTY. I'm Donna Brazile. The conservatives are waiting in the wilderness. But joining me again on center stage is Liz Chadderdon, Chris Hayes, and Peter Beinart.

Chris, let me turn to you about the auto bailout. Congress slammed the door on the Big Three. And millions of Americans are now concerned about losing their jobs. Should the administration do something to give them the money to fill up their tanks?

HAYES: Well, the short answer's yes. They have to do something. I think that a complete sort of implosion of the Big Three or two of the Big Three would be disastrous. But I - like a lot of people, I feel really conflicted about it. Right? I mean, it feels like these companies have been mismanaged. And there's a certain degree to which it's unclear how we get them a long term sustainability.

But that said, it is so clear that the objective of the Republicans, specifically Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, is just to stick it to the unions. And what drives me nuts is to watch him all over television talking about he wants wage concessions. When he voted for the bailout, he wasn't talking about concessions from every banker in the financial industry to give back their pay.

BEINART: Right, these Republican senators have a deep animus towards labor unions. They don't have labor unions in their state. Basically, they have a history of basically shooting people who try to create labor unions in the southern part of this country. Let's be honest about it.

And so - and we, I think that the -- in a different kind of economic situation, it would be one thing to let these kinds of -- but these guys keep saying we can't raise taxes in this environment because it's going to slow down the economy. Well, what do you think it's going to do to try getting us out of this ditch, when you send huge numbers of more people out on the unemployment line and their houses go into foreclosure in the very part of the country that's already been hit worse by this?

BRAZILE: Liz, I mean, did you support the bailout?

CHADDERDON: Which one, we've had two now.

BRAZILE: I mean, the auto bailout. Did you support giving them a life line?

CHADDERDON: Absolutely, I did support giving them a life line. And I don't have a vote in Congress. They didn't really ask me. But if I'd been there, I would have supported it. But I actually agree with Peter. I was a little conflicted about it. I mean, when is this going to end? We keep bailing out these companies that keep doing the wrong thing. I own my own small company. If I don't do the right thing, I go under. Nobody's coming to bail me out.

And yet, we're at Christmas. We're at a terrible, terrible recession. And you know what? You're absolutely right. Putting all these people out of work means more foreclosures, means more unemployment payments. I mean, I don't see how this gets any better. We've got to do something.

BRAZILE: But what should we do in the interim? We don't want these companies to go under. We don't want millions of Americans to lose their jobs. I mean, should the administration step in and do something right now?

HAYES: Well, here's one of the things. The bill they ended up coming up with, that they voted, that's going to die was is in some ways the worst of both worlds. It was going to be enough money that was probably only going to get them through about February. And yet the deadline was March. So they were going to come back ahead of time. So what you could do is you could take the Treasury money from the TARP, and you can give them about $5 billion or $8 billion to get them through, you know, mid-January, and then have the new Congress, a new administration actually pass something long-term.

BRAZILE: Peter, what's next? I mean, the auto industry right now, if the administration doesn't help them out, Congress has said, you know, go to whatever, bleep. What's next for these workers? Will they be able to find a life line from perhaps Wall Street?

BEINART: Well, you know, right now, it looks very grim. I mean, I hope we get the scenario that Chris is talking about by which we can get them basically over the hump into the new administration. And then the Obama administration can say look, let's try to find a way of helping these companies as in a quid pro quo for fundamentally restructuring them. It will, of course, be a smaller auto industry, but still something that will actually produce cars that actually don't contribute to the destruction of the environment. That's the long-term plan.

HAYES: Can I also say that we do this all the time in American political life. It's called the Pentagon and defense contracting. We keep companies on life lines all the time. We have politicians marching into D.C., saying you cannot take away the jobs of my district. And somehow if it's under the 52% of the discretionary budget in the Pentagon, there's no question. Right? That's just part of American life. Suddenly, you move it out into the car world, and this is some huge violation of capitalists.

BRAZILE: I still think this was an attack on the labor union, organized labor in the United Autoworkers. But you know, liberals right now are not happy. They're not happy with anything. We can't wait. We're counting down the days until President-elect Obama...

CHADDERDON: We're never happy. Come on. You know, no matter whatever happens, we just won big majority. We're still not happy.

BRAZILE: Well, some of us have joy, but not the kind of joy that will get us through the holidays without a boost of some kind. And Steve Hildebrand, Deputy campaign manager for President-elect Obama, responded to a number of complaints coming out of the liberal school of politics regarding the appointments of some of the Obama team. And he said now is not the time for the left wing of our party to draw conclusions about the cabinet and the White House appointments that the president-elect is making.

Was Steve absolutely right on target to tell liberals to just keep quiet and just hold their tongue until the president-elect fills out his cabinet?

BEINART: No, I -- why should people hold their tongue? This is a silly kind of thing. These are independent people who have their own point of view. I actually happen to think that Obama's moves have been generally very, very good, and because I think what matters is the agenda.

And I think as Chris is rightly saying, the agenda is a big agenda. It's a big stimulus. He looks very serious about health care and very serious about energy. What more can you want? I mean, there are going to be some people who are upset that we're not going to withdraw troops as fast.

Well, but let me, you know, that's a news flash. The surge has worked much more successfully than most liberals, myself included suspected. If we should eventually move to get out of Iraq. But if it takes a little bit longer to maintain the games, that's not something I'm not going to cry about.

BRAZILE: Chris, I mean, one of your colleagues, David Corn wrote a piece in "The Washington Post." I mean, he's unhappy.

HAYES: And he quoted her magazine a lot. Look, I think one of the things is the liberal versus Obama fight has been overplayed a little bit, because we're - everybody needs more conflict. The election's over.

If you look at the recent Pew survey, even among liberals, Obama has incredibly high approval ratings. Right? So but I agree with Peter about Hildebrand. It thought Hildebrand's thing in the Huffington Post was a little weird insofar as, look, people want to - people have opinions.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: And they have legitimate points of view. Look, I don't think, you know, for instance, that Larry Summers should be running economic policy in the White House. He is someone who is behind a lot of the disastrous decisions that got us here.

Now other people disagree and that's fine, but what should I do? Not write a column about that? CHADDERDON: No, I don't think that's - I don't think Hildebrand was saying, was infringing upon anyone's First Amendment rights. I don't think he was saying to anybody, oh, just sit down and shut up and don't have an opinion.

I think what he's saying that look, just -- it's only been six weeks, or it's only been seven weeks. I mean, come on, we just won this big election. Cut us some slack here. We're trying to put a transition team together. We're trying to get rolling in this really, really tough climate. I mean, that's our base. Come on, everybody take a break, go away for Christmas, take a chill and let's just rejoice in the fact that we are coming out of the wilderness after eight years and stop nit picking every decision this transition team makes.

BRAZILE: I think we have a choir here. We all agree that we're going to stop nit picking and just be happy for the moment.

CHADDERDON: Amen.

BRAZILE: And speaking of...

HAYES: Nit picking's what we do for a living.

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: We normally won. We normally won.

HAYES: It's going to be a bailout for nit pickers.

BRAZILE: That's true.

President-elect Obama has decided to take the oath of office. And he has promised to recite his full name. I, Barack Hussein Obama. Now people are making a big deal out of it. What's wrong with that?

CHADDERDON: There's nothing wrong with that. It's absolutely ridiculous. OK, I got something for you. I looked it up. The word Hussein in Arabic means good or handsome. Do you know what the word Walker in old English means just for fun, as in George Walker Bush? Walker in old English means swamp log, OK? I looked it up. You can go Google it.

BRAZILE: Swamp as in Bayou swamp?

CHADDERDON: As in swamp, as...

HAYES: As in (INAUDIBLE)?

BRAZILE: As in the economy in a ditch?

CHADDERDON: Exactly, as in (INAUDIBLE) swamp, you know.

So, I'm sorry, if we're going to sit here and have the argument about somebody's last name, then let's talk about George Walker Bush. OK?

BRAZILE: For the record, my middle name is Elise. What's your middle name?

CHADDERDON: Reed.

BEINART: Alexander.

HAYES: Lofredo.

BRAZILE: All right.

(CROSSTALK)

BEINART: That's my mom.

BRAZILE: He's special.

All right, don't go anywhere, because here they come. David Brody and his conservative panel can't wait to get started. They're up right now here on the AFTER PARTY.

Come on, guys. Come on out of the wilderness.

BRODY: We got middle names, too. You don't want to know them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRODY: And welcome back to the AFTER PARTY. I'm David Brody. And now it's time for the conservatives.

Democrats stormed into the White House and Congress last month with the promise of change, reform and transparency. So you can imagine the last thing President-elect Obama wanted to see in the headlines this week was a massive scandal involving the Democratic governor from his own state.

Joining me now, Amanda Carpenter, townhall.com. Let's start with you.

How can President-elect Barack Obama really deliver on his change of -- promise of his change to Washington when he's got his own Senate seat up for grabs?

AMANDA CARPENTER, TOWNHALL.COM: You know what? I think at the end of the day, this case is so over the top outrageous, it's not going to touch Obama, but what he has to really worry about the next three months is Charlie Rangel, who's going to have to write his tax bill.

BRODY: We're going to talk about Charlie Rangel in a moment. Brian Debose, "Washington Times", what do you make of this thing?

BRIAN DEBOSE, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: Charlie Rangel issue, we talked about this earlier, (INAUDIBLE) is now chairman of Government Reform Committee, makes it very easy to move Rangel out of the way.

Obama's change that he talked about? It's already done. He's basically gotten elected into the White House. There's not much more change he was talking about as far as I'm concerned.

BRODY: John Feehery, former spokesman for the speaker, Dennis Hastert.

JOHN FEEHERY, PRESIDENT, THE FEEHERY GROUP: Get all your staff from Nebraska. None of your staff from Chicago. That's the only way -- this is the gift that keeps on giving to conservatives and to the press. They're going to love it.

BRODY: All right, let me make very clear that this moderator seat, not up for sale. All right, and I've decided I'm calling you panelist number 1. You're panelist number 2. Well, never mind. Look, this has a trickle, trickle, trickle effect. And John, I would think that's a real concern politically for team Obama at this point.

FEEHERY: Tony Rezko is talking. He's the guy who was the close associate of both Blegojevich and President-elect Obama and almost everyone else in Chicago. He's talking. We're not sure what he's saying.

And we're also not sure who is talking to Governor Blagojevich from Chicago, from the Illinois delegation, from the Obama staff. This is going to keep trickling. We don't know. And that's why Barack Obama's been so careful on how he handles this, because he's not sure what people were saying. And that's the hard part. When the tape recorders are so long, you don't know what people are saying.

DEBOSE: That is a problem. And the major problem, though, is the transition team is headquartered in Chicago.

BRODY: Right.

DEBOSE: The governor is in Chicago. The corruption that we're all talking about is happening in Chicago. As long as they're there, this story's never going to go away.

Another point, there's so much speculation. I mean, what it appears to be is that someone from the Obama --- if the transition team or the campaign staff talked to Blegojevich and then sent that information on to the Justice Department, because they were concerned about what was going on.

Now you have a president-elect who can't really say anything because he can't out an informant. So this is going to go on for at least the month, all the way into Inauguration.

CARPENTER: But I think the thing that really hung everybody up in the beginning was just the blanket denial. I had not talks with the governor. I don't know anything about it, which this is not believable if you're in...

DEBOSE: (INAUDIBLE).

CARPENTER: Right, and so, I mean, that's going to hang him up in the end, if anything.

BRODY: All right, let's listen to Barack Obama real quick. Now this week in Chicago addressing the situation. I thought a little bit of his comments here were pretty interesting. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What I'm absolutely certain about is that our office had no involvement in any deal making around my Senate seat. That I'm absolutely certain of. And the - that is - that would be a violation of everything that this campaign has been about. And that's not how we do business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRODY: And John, you're smiling here, because look, this is a transparency issue, is it not?

FEEHERY; Well, it's not only a transparency issue. Listen, I'm from Chicago. I'm from the South side of Chicago. I'm not that far away from where Jesse Jackson district is.

Don't let him mess with me. You know, the interesting thing about Chicago that's going to be really problematic for Barack Obama, this is not just a Washington press corps thing. This is also a Chicago press corps, the toughest press corps in the country. And they all know where all the bodies are buried. They know all the stories. They know everything about this. And they know all these players who have been so corrupt for so long.

And when President-elect Obama says there have been no deal making, well, of course there's been deal making. That's the Chicago way. And you can't be from Chicago without deals. So we'll see how prescient his comments were. We'll see if there was no deal making with the Obama campaign.

CARPENTER: You know, this reminds me is in August 2007, I went to the DailyKos big blogger conference they had. The big fight was, you know, is Barack Obama tough enough to take Hillary Clinton down? And one of the audience members asked him about this in a Q and A. And I remember he got up and said, now you got to look at where I'm from. And he kind of played on his basketball background and said I have some moves that you haven't seen yet.

And so, I thought of that this morning. I was like I got to - I mean, it was so weird at the time and now it makes a little bit of sense.

BRODY: Well, yes.

DEBOSE: Just for some perspective here. George Ryan corrupt in jail. I think in the last 40 years, at least four governors from Chicago have gone to jail for corruption. And then you have Blegojevich, who has got to be on the lowest rung of the totem pole because this guy's an idiot. You don't sit down fellow politicians for money they don't have. They're professional politicians. You don't make any money. I mean, you do it on the back nine, not on your phone in the office. I mean, it's just - it's so -- his intelligence quotient is so low, it's just embarrassing.

CARPENTER: I got to say, sorry to butt in again, but this has got to be a failure on behalf of the press corps, going through the election. I mean, plain clothes reporters went to Wasilla, Alaska as soon as Sarah Palin was announced as vice president, but who went to the South Side of Chicago and asked questions? Nobody. I know some conservative reporters that did, but they're always on the fringe. Maybe you did and you can tell us some stories. But you know, I think it's a failure that all this stuff was overlooked along the way.

FEEHERY: It's also a failure of the McCain campaign, because they didn't focus on this at all during the campaign.

BRODY: They really didn't.

FEEHERY: They focused - well, they didn't focus on anything. It's a huge problem with the campaign. They didn't focus on this. I wrote about this in my blog several different times about Chicago politics, and how we've come to roost. And they did, the chicken's have come home to roost as Jeremiah Wright might say.

BRODY: Right. Let me ask you real quick. Talking about Charlie Rangel for a moment or for a quick moment. I know we can spend 20 minutes on Charlie Rangel, but Rangel, Blegojevich, William Jefferson, Eliot Spitzer, I mean, they're making the Republicans look pretty good here on the corruption issue. I mean, my goodness. What is your sense on Rangel? And doesn't Obama need to get out in front of this? Because look, he's the powerful chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. You can't have a diminished chairman going in, especially with all the tax policy going on.

DEBOSE: Nancy Pelosi did this to herself. A wise Democrat once told me you never run a corruption because it's a partisan issue. It always affects both sides. And not only that, she has unequally enforced the rules.

Alan Mollohan was being investigated by the FBI at the same time he was chairman of the Appropriations Committee that distributed money to the FBI. She allowed him to give up his ethics seat, which wasn't even working at the time and let him keep his appropriations. That is a conflict of interest of the highest proportions. And this sort of cycle continued to go on where Rangel is just sort ah, everything will be fine. I'll be here as long as I want to be. And nobody's saying thing about it.

CARPENTER: Yes, this is on Pelosi. And it goes back to what the liberal panel was saying, is that they have to police their own party. And I do think, although corruption is not a partisan issue, the Republicans are a little bit better. I mean, you look at Ted Stevens, we were screaming for his head for years. And then finally, you got him to go. I mean, the Senate Republicans wouldn't do it. Mark Foley, Duke Cunningham. We said get out of the party. Why isn't Nancy Pelosi doing this? It's just going to bite her and Obama in a few months?

BRODY: Real quick. Tom Daschle, health care. You know, that was the other news of the week buried by Blegojevich. But you know, Obama's talking about these C-Span hearings for health care. I mean, can you imagine that? You know, get the family around the television for that. You know, forget "Dancing with the Stars." Daschle's talking about the small business tax frame.

FEEHERY: I know that Republicans don't like to talk about health care, but they need to start talking about healthcare. It's extraordinarily important issue for the campaign, for the country. It's very important politically. And it's actually important for the economy.

Republicans, they can't just scoff at these things. They got to engage. They got to come up with a plan, because I tell you, the business community is ready to buckle on health care. The big companies are saying I need help with health care. And if conservatives are the only ones saying you don't need to deal with health care, they're going to be on by themselves.

BRODY: But it seems like Obama's going to have to force the country somehow to - or at least convince them that this is not socialized medicine.

DEBOSE: He has to, but I mean, the problem here is that private health care is so expensive now. And it's so much more expensive than it was even 15 years ago. 50 maybe 90% more expensive, that it's gotten to a point where something has to be done. We can't just say, wow, let -- we haven't been saying let the market take care of theirselves.

FEEHERY: Right.

DEBOSE: So something has to be done at this point. I think the transparency by which he's going about is good. I'm a little suspect about the Tom Daschle thing. I don't know what any skill time Daschle's in the health care industry.

CARPENTER: Well, what Tom Daschle authored a book that came out last February, where he has this very controversial plan to push the creation of the Federal Health Board, that would operate much like the Federal Reserve and essentially to make universal health care pass through the Congress easier, they would regulate all this authority to the board. Tom Daschle is an excellent person to get this through Congress because he's getting all the minutiae out of it. Whereas the secretive board is going to take care of all the details.

BRODY: Well, and John, you know how the Hill works. I mean, Hillary Clinton, there she is somewhere in Indonesia. Isn't she going to pick up the phone call, or the phone to Tom Daschle and really start getting involved to a certain degree on this? I mean, you know how this type of stuff works. I mean, that's going to be a tricky situation.

FEEHERY: Well, there are a couple things going on. First of all, there's some pending legislation on the health care of the -- children's health care program, which they're going to pass I think fairly quickly.

BRODY: Yes.

FEEHERY: And then, there's the big health care plan that Ted Kennedy wants to pass. I wouldn't be surprised if they start calling it the Romney plan. And because the big program for that is there's not any money to pay for any of this. And they're going to have to raise taxes on small businesses to pay for it. And that's where the small business community's going to have to really get aggressive, because they're not -- they can't afford it.

CARPENTER: But there's also going to have to be enforcement taxes, which nobody wants to talk about for people that don't opt in to the plan.

BRODY: All right, well, let's take a break. We got a lot more to talk about, including Washington's plan to bailout the auto industry. My goodness, here we go again. Who are the big winners and losers in all of that? And what will it mean for the U.S. economy? Coming up on the AFTER PARTY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TIME STAMP: 1840:22

BRODY: All right, welcome back to the AFTER PARTY. I'm David Brody.

After Capitol Hill failed to reach an agreement to bail out the auto industry, the White House said Friday it will consider using the money to set aside help for banks and Wall Street to rescue the Big Three car makers.

Brian Debose, I've got to say, my goodness, this -- it seems like "Roots". This is like a mini series. You know, "Roots" or "The Thornbirds." And tonight's installment, we have the UAW. My, this sounds so partisan. It's so partisan.

DEBOSE: It's ridiculous. What it is $25 billion in October. They came back and asked for another 25 billion in November. Then they asked for $34 billion, they upped the (INAUDIBLE) because two weeks have passed.

BRODY: Right.

DEBOSE: And now, it's down to $14 billion. What does that mean? They have no idea what they're going to do with this money. They don't know how they're going to spend this money. They don't know how this money is going to help them stay in business. This is same problem we had with the $700 billion bailout we gave to Paulson. He had no idea what he was going to do with the money. We now know he didn't know what he wanted to do with the money. He didn't do the right things with the money. We could have spent less money, had we just bought out every bad mortgage in the country. No more bailouts.

FEEHERY: Well, I'm a little bit of a contrarian on this. I think they need a bridge loan. This is a credit crisis. The need a bridge loan.

CARPENTER: Which (INAUDIBLE).

FEEHERY: They need a bridge loan. We can't afford bankruptcy for GM. This is all about GM mostly. GM goes bankrupt, the jobs go out the window. And they need a bridge loan to get through to some better economic times.

I know I'm not being necessarily conservative on this, but what's going to happen is the White House is going to give them the money, because the Congress couldn't. And for conservatives, what's going to happen is this gives Barack Obama the chance to use the TARP for anything he wants. And it's a terrible precedent. They should have Congress do it and get it over it, and then have some real reforms. And of course, I do agree with all of you that labor needs to be reigned in. That's a big problem, but also health care costs that need to be reigned in. And -- but the auto companies themselves have made some restructuring. And they're continuing to do it, but the credit crisis has killed them. It's killed them with customers. And it's killed them with getting their own money. And if they go bankrupt, it's bad for America.

BRODY: So here comes George Bush and the White House to the rescue? The big government, George Bush to the rescue, Amanda?

CARPENTER: I mean, it didn't help Wall Street. I mean, where does this end? This goes to the fundamental problem. And I think the biggest controversy that's coming out of this is this a shot at big labor. The progressive panel was talking about this earlier. So what if it is? What has the UAW done for Detroit? Why are we in this situation? I mean, even if it is, I think that's a worthy debate to have. I'm willing to have it.

DEBOSE: It's not a shot at big labor. It's a defense of sanity.

Look, the labor union in the south is the government, the state government. They're called right to work states. They have some of the same sort of principles and laws to protect workers that any union would fight for. And what they don't want is unions coming in and trying to tell the state what to do. That's why you don't have unions in the south. It's got nothing to do with not trying to protect workers. And frankly, the UAW has given up plenty of concessions. This is a bad idea, because what they need is Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That's the only thing that's going to keep him in business.

CARPENTER: But now we can't talk about that. I mean, it is ridiculous to watch that travesty before Congress. And Big Three is coming there, begging for money, begging for the government handout, yet refusing to even consider bankruptcy.

DEBOSE: Exactly. And they're going to lose jobs regardless. Chrysler got bailed out. They only needed a billion dollars. They still laid off 62,000 people.

BRODY: Right. Hey, John, let me ask you real quick. President Bush, and how much of this is a black eye for him because he's cutting deals, the White House is cutting deals with Democrats here.

FEEHERY: Right. BRODY: And then for years, I mean, go back to no child left behind. He's had problems with Republicans since day one. Medicare, spending up. I mean, this has been out of control for a while.

FEEHERY: This has been a failure of legislative strategy from the White House. I don't think they necessarily wanted to do this. And so they kind of lollygagged on this thing. And they never really brought the Republicans and conservatives in on the table. They cut a deal with Democrats, which happens all the time when you have - when the party, opposite party controls Congress. You decide to cut deals with somebody else.

And they never got the conservatives on board with a real plan. And frankly, having them as a bad cop is not a bad legislative strategy. I think the Bush administration has had, since you pointed out, getting very difficult time understanding how Congress operates. As someone who worked with them when I was in the Congress, they never had a particularly good legislative strategy. They never had - they certainly didn't have a particularly good communications strategy with the Hill. And this is just kind of the last installment of that.

BRODY: And it seems like the Republican party trying to find itself a little bit. And Colin Powell addressed some of that today or this week, excuse me, in an interview. I want to play a quick clip of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The Republican party has to now start listening to the African-American community, and the Hispanic, and Asian and other minority communities and see what's in their hearts and minds, and not just try to influence them by Republican principles and dogma. And so, I think the party has to stop shouting at the world and at the country. I think the party has to take a hard look at itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRODY: John Feehery, does he have a point?

FEEHERY: He has an absolute point. I think we have to compete in the cities. We have to go after the African-American vote on three issues. Education, huge problem; crime, huge problem; opportunity. We -- if we go into the season, and corruption's a big problem like in cities like Chicago, where if you can go into the African-American community and say we have a plan that will help you have a better community entirely, we can go after those as we have to, because otherwise, we're not - we don't have any votes anywhere else.

CARPENTER: I was in a meeting last week organized by a young Republican black woman named Priscilla Smith. And she's going to be a rock star. There was 150 people, young conservatives, under 40 that got in that room to talk about how to change this. And I've got to say I've seen more black Republicans in that room than I've ever seen in my life. They are hungry for change and we've got to reach out to them. BRODY; But remember in the GOP primary, Brian? I mean, Tavis Smiley (ph) had this big event. And who showed? Mike Huckabee was there, that was about it. Giuliani was there. McCain, I don't believe, was there.

DEBOSE: No.

BRODY: Romney, I mean, you just go down the list. That's a huge problem.

DEBOSE: That's the problem we've been talking about for a long time. I think one issue that really can energize American voters is school choice.

BRODY: Right.

CARPENTER: Yes.

DEBOSE: In the black community in Washington, D.C., where I'm from, New York, Chicago, school choice is working. It's certainly working in Houston. It's working a little bit in Cleveland.

BRODY: Don't tell that to Harry Reid and the Democrats.

DEBOSE: Yes, but it is working. Parents need to feel as if they have options to send their children when the school in their district is simply a bad school. And more often than not in the inner city, the bad school is right around the corner. And there's some good school some where. All you have to do is be able to go to it.

BRODY: Quickly, John.

FEEHERY: When George Bush said he wasn't going to go the NAACP at the beginning of his term, it was idiotic. And when Republicans decided that they didn't want to go with Tavis Smiley, it was stupid. We have to have smart politicians who go after every vote every where they can.

BRODY: John, Amanda, Brian, I love it. I feel like I could jump across the table at me. Goodness gracious. I was running for the hills. Thanks guys. I appreciate it.

All right, up next, the progressives are back for our last call. And I believe, if I'm not mistaken, Donna's footsteps are somewhere behind me, which means I'm going over to John because oh, goodness.

BRAZILE: I bet $2. I want your seat.

BRODY: It's not for sale. No, no.

BRAZILE: It's worth $2.

BRODY: All right, it's Illinois.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TIME STAMP: 1850:11

BRAZILE: It's time for last call. I'm Donna Brazile. Joining me is Chris Hayes of "The Nation's Magazine".

BRODY: And I'm David Brody here with Brian Debose of "The Washington Times."

BRAZILE: Brian, clearly, President Bush is going to consider giving the auto industry a lifeline. Will you reverse your opposition to the mustang of cadillacs?

DEBOSE: It is not a lifeline, it's a death line. Like I said, 1980, 1979, 1983, Chrysler had $1.2 billion bailout. They laid off 62,000 people. The bailout's supposed to save jobs. They give these companies a bailout, they're going fire just as many, if not more.

BRAZILE: Brian, but this is a family. This is a house, this is a mortgage payment, this is policy...

DEBOSE: The money is not...

BRAZILE: These are people who...

DEBOSE: ...going to help them.

BRAZILE: ...support the lifeblood of our economy.

DEBOSE: The money is not going to help them. It's not going to help them.

HAYES: Look, I think the best argument to be made against the bailout is the argument that you're making, OK, that it's not going to work. But what I cannot abide is this growing economic nihilism that we're seeing from the Republicans, which is basically saying let it all burn. Let it all burn. And...

DEBOSE: Not going to burn. And you know what? It didn't work. We gave them $25 billion. They came back within a month. They're going to come back again, they're going to come back again.

HAYES: But what is the alternative? What is the alternative?

DEBOSE: Bankruptcy. Chapter 11.

HAYES: Bankruptcy? Do you think...

BRAZILE: But you didn't let the auto - I mean, you didn't let the banking industry go...

DEBOSE: They should have. I didn't support that either.

BRAZILE: You are dreadful. Wait, no.

DEBOSE: Can you borrow more money now with the bank bailout? No. BRODY: Right.

DEBOSE: Are you going to save jobs with the auto bailout? No. Let the market handle the market.

BRODY: Well, you know, the Democrats are conflicted on this.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Yes. I'm conflicted for the reason of efficacy, right? But what I'm not conflicted about is the principle guiding things which is that, we just cannot let things implode around us...

DEBOSE: Show me...

HAYES: ...in deference to the market.

DEBOSE: Show me a bailout that has never yielded.

HAYES: The market was working for the last eight years.

BRAZILE: But you know, given the fact that we've lost 500,000 jobs over the last two months, why...

DEBOSE: Not in the auto industry.

BRAZILE: Yes, but we are losing jobs in the auto industry. We're losing jobs across every sector.

HAYES: The other thing is that there have been bailouts at work. Chrysler made money. Conrail. This is something Conrail was taken over by the government because they couldn't let the northeastern railroad network fail. It was put into essentially receivership was by the government for almost 15 years.

BRAZILE: Yes. HAYES: So back on the private market. And it basically rescued the American transportation system from going under.

DEBOSE: Chrysler did not make money.

BRAZILE: I'll support...

DEBOSE: Chrysler paid the loan off early, which negated any money it could have made.

BRAZILE: President bush is considering using the TARP program. On this, I support President Bush.

BRODY: OK, and that leads us into the next topic, because is President Bush a conservative? You know, there are a lot of conservatives, Chris, who would say he's absolutely not anywhere near, or he hasn't acted like a conservative.

HAYES: You know, the author Rick Perlstein once said conservatism never fails. It has always failed. And that's what we're seeing. That's what we're seeing with George Bush.

And all of a sudden, conservatives -- let's rember the paeans that were written to George Bush by every conservative you can name in the first four years when he was riding sky high in popularity. Suddenly the man's at 20% approval rating. And all of a sudden, he's not a conservative? No, he is the apotheosis of what conservatism has been for the last 30 years, which is essentially, empowering the most powerful in society.

BRAZILE: And Brian, you can't disown President Bush right now.

DEBOSE: I can't disown him?

BRODY: Watch. Here, go for it.

DEBOSE: He is neither - he's a religious conservative, to be sure. He is neither a political conservative or a fiscal conservative. He hasn't cut a single thing. Every budget that's come across his desk, every spending measure that's come across his desk...

BRODY: Did Reagan?

DEBOSE: ...he's passed.

BRODY: What about Reagan?

DEBOSE: Wait a minute, let me finish. He's also not a political conservative. No conservative would voluntarily go and change the Constitution for any reason that was not a national emergency. Gay marriage is not a national emergency. There was no need to go to the Constitution. It was a stupid plan. It was ridiculous. These are not conservative principles.

BRODY: OK, no child left behind, Medicare, I mean, limited government?

HAYES: Limited government, that's always -- that's...

BRODY: Homeland security.

DEBOSE: The largest government...

HAYES: I know, but limited government is only the cover story, OK? But let's look at Reagan. Let's look at the great hero of conservatism, OK? The military industrial complex grew by enormous amounts. The budget grew. The deficit grew. So is Reagan not a conservative either? My understanding is that he is a great patron saint of conservatives.

BRAZILE I am clearly the holiday spirit. I am going to back my president and giving the lifeline to the auto industry. Please save the Mustang, Brian.

HAYES: Your president, that's right.

BRAZILE: Less than 40 more days. DEBOSE: Reaction to Reagan is always Ronald Reagan. And you hear Republicans say Ronald Reagan.

HAYES: Right.

DEBOSE: And you hear some conservatives say Ronald Reagan. The problem is before that you got Richard Nixon.

HAYES: Right.

DEBOSE: Before that you got Dwight Eisenhower, who to many conservatives for some reason is not sexy. I'm an Eisenhower guy. Before that, you've got Hoover. Nothing there. So I mean, that's what the issue is.

BRAZILE: He has declared himself today...

HAYES: No, well, but that's - it's funny you bring up Hoover, because the quote from Dick Cheney walking into the Republican caucus yesterday, when he tried to get them this bill was, we cannot be Herbert Hoover. And there is - I am sorry, but there's a resurgence of Hooverism stalking the capital right now, coming from the Republican party.

DEBOSE: It's not Hooverism, it's wisdom. We've done this. It didn't work. Why would we do it again?

BRODY: Well, listen, is there one topic we can all agree on is Barack Hussein Obama? Let him say his full name.

HAYES: Yes.

BRODY: All we all in agreement on that.

DEBOSE: Lightning.

HAYES: Amen.

BRODY: You have no problem.

BRAZILE: What's your middle name?

DEBOSE: Abraham.

BRAZILE: Oh.

BRODY: Talk about conservative.

BRAZILE: Your middle name?

BRODY: Phillip.

BRAZILE: Phillip.

BRODY: I don't know...

HAYES: Old testament.

BRODY: It's old, new, whatever. It can be new testament deal. All right, listen, we have to move on. After the break, Donna and I look ahead to what you can expect next week. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TIME STAMP: 1858:36

BRODY: All right. Donna and I, back on the AFTER PARTY, with a look ahead to next week. Donna, I got to tell you, there is going to be Hillary Clinton back in Chicago with Barack Obama. Jim Jones will be there as well, talking about policy as it relates to national security. And then of course, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers talking about economic policy. And Barack Obama's going to have a few press conferences about this. So that will be interesting to see how they form, or at least formulate policy.

Also, I'm very curious, because Barack Obama had said we're going to find out in the next few days about whether or not - or who's associated in his campaign with Blegojevich. I'd liked to see those name coming out.

BRAZILE: Well, I think the president-elect has promised to give a detailed analysis of what happened, what contacts. And I'm sure it's going to be very thorough. But I think next week, President-elect Obama will add to his list of heavyweights by naming the green team. Carol Brown as the Climate czar. She's a veteran of the Clinton-Gore administration. Steven Chu, a Nobel prize winning scientist, and Lisa Jackson, who's currently the chief of staff to Governor Corzine to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. So next week, we're going to have a fantastic list of heavyweights.

BRODY: All right, that's all the time we have. Thanks for watching. I'm David Brody.

BRAZILE: And I'm Donna Brazile. We'll see you next time on THE AFTER PARTY.