Sunday, November 14, 2010

Senator John McCain (R) AZ on MEET THE PRESS - 11/14/10

Meet the Press has been the Sunday "Talking head" show of record for over 50 years. the other networks are fine, no real slight to them but MEET THE PRESS is still the leader when it comes to the show of record.

Today was no exception. The show started with David Axelrod, POTUS' chief rah-rah guy trying vainly to defend the last few weeks of chicanery we have seen from the White House....He was literally "tap dancing in the minefield" and he looked as nervous as a fat turkey just before Thanksgiving.

That was followed up by Senator John McCain who had just gotten back from AFGHN after being there with the troops.The difference between Axelrod's "Nervous Nelly" routine and the confidence exhibited by Senator McCain was palpable....Axelrod is a shyster and McCain is the real on and see why my money will always be with the learned Gentleman and battle-tested warrior from Arizona over the feckless idjits who were put into the White House for the last two years.


November 14, 2010

David Gergory - Moderator

Senator John McCain (R) Arizona

MR. GREGORY: Now the view from the other side of the aisle, Republican Senator John McCain.

Welcome back to MEET THE PRESS. Welcome back to the country. You were, as I said, in Iraq and Afghanistan. You just heard David Axelrod say any withdrawal will be conditions based. Is that not enough to satisfy you?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): Well, I'd like to see the president say that it's only condition based. According to Mr. Woodward's book, his problem is the political--the left base of the Democrat Party. You don't fight and conduct wars that way. You win and then you leave. And that's what we've done in Iraq. And the fact is, the perception is, amongst friends and enemies alike, that we've--we may be leaving, And that has caused them to make certain accommodations because they can't leave. I mean, it's just a fact.

MR. GREGORY: Well, Hamid Karzai...

SEN. McCAIN: Down to the, down to the governor level.


SEN. McCAIN: Down to the police chief level they say, yes, the Taliban are telling us we're leaving and they're going to cut off our heads. Famous captive, Taliban captive, said to his American interrogator, "You've got the watches, we've got the time."

MR. GREGORY: Well, but Hamid Karzai, who you met with, says in The Washington Post this morning that it's time for the U.S. to reduce the intrusiveness into daily Afghan life, that they ought to get boots that are on the ground off the ground, out of the country.

SEN. McCAIN: Yes, and Hamid Karzai is reflecting his desire to survive, also a degree of paranoia. There's three big problems in Afghanistan right now, and let me tell you one of them that isn't, and that is the military aspect of it. Our Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force are doing a magnificent job. They are penetrating into areas that they haven't been before. The hometown of Mullah Omar is now under our control. So that's--they've done a magnificent job under the leadership of General Petraeus and others.

The other side, though, is that there's corruption at very high levels. The attorney general of, of Afghanistan is corrupt. It's just a fact. And also, we have, unfortunately, a situation in Pakistan where the enemy and ISI, Pakistani military intelligence, is working with and harboring al-Haqqani network and other elements of Taliban. You can't defeat the enemy if they have sanctuary. We also went to Pakistan and had a, a very candid meeting with General Kayani on this issue. But it boils down to that the ISI, Kayani, the Pakistani leadership, the Afghan leadership, India's leadership, all are not convinced that the United States is going to stay the course.

MR. GREGORY: Let me, let me talk to you about another military matter back home and a priority for this administration; that's whether the ban on gays and lesbians in the military is going to be rescinded.

SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

MR. GREGORY: Are you going to stand in the way, you personally, in the way of this ban being lifted?

SEN. McCAIN: I will stand that I want a thorough and complete study of the effect on morale and battle effectiveness of the United States military. I will listen, as I've said for years, to our military leaders and not a, not a study that is leaked--as we know this town's pretty good at that.

MR. GREGORY: That said, seven in 10 members of the military think it would be just fine to have it lifted.

SEN. McCAIN: Yeah. You and I have not seen that study. And this study was directed at how to implement the repeal, not whether the repeal should take place or not. But, very importantly, we have people like the commandant of the Marine Corps, the three other--all four service chiefs are saying we need a thorough and complete study of the effects--not how to implement a repeal, but the effects on morale and battle effectiveness. That's what I want. And once we get this study, we need to have hearings, and we need to examine it, and we need to look at whether it's the kind of study that we wanted. It isn't, in my view, because I wanted a study to determine the effects of the repeal on battle effectiveness and morale. What this study is, is designed to do is, is to find out how the repeal could be implemented. Those are two very different aspects of this issue.

MR. GREGORY: In a lot of households, this is a subject of debate, including your own, apparently.

SEN. McCAIN: That's right.

MR. GREGORY: Your wife, Cindy McCain, has, has cut an ad, a public service announcement with NOH8, a group that promotes gay, lesbian, transgender rights. And this is a portion of it. Let me, let me play it.

(Videotape from NOH8 public service announcement)

MS. CINDY McCAIN: Our political and religious leaders tell LGBT youth that they have no future.

MR. DAVE NAVARRO: They can't get married.

MR. STEPH JONES: They can't donate blood.

MS. McCAIN: They can't serve our country openly.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: Referring to "don't ask, don't tell." She did clarify this on her Twitter page. I--you're both so active on Twitter. She said this. She said, "I fully support the NOH8 campaign and all it stands for and am proud to be part of it. But I stand by my husband's stance on `don't ask, don't' tell.'"

SEN. McCAIN: Which is a complete and thorough study and review of the effect on battle readiness and...


SEN. McCAIN: ...and morale. And by the way, I respect the First Amendment rights of every member of my family.

MR. GREGORY: But, but, you know, what's interesting about this, I mean, a debate in families, is...

SEN. McCAIN: Sure.

MR. GREGORY: ...there is kind of--you, you talk about waiting for the--there is an appeal to honor, I mean to your honor. You had the chairman of the Joint Chiefs saying, "Look, it's just not right to have, to have people lying about who they are just to be able to protect fellow citizens." It has been an appeal...

SEN. McCAIN: Yeah. And you have the, you have the commandant of the Marine Corps who says...


SEN. McCAIN: ...whose, whose people he's directly responsible for, is saying this could hurt our ability to win. This, this is about...

MR. GREGORY: Do you believe that?

SEN. McCAIN: This is about...

MR. GREGORY: I mean, you say you wait for the study. What do you believe?

SEN. McCAIN: I'm paying attention to the commandant of the Marine Corps.


SEN. McCAIN: I'm paying attention to the chief of staff of the Air Force, the Army and...

MR. GREGORY: But you're so close to the military, Senator. You know these people. You know the issue. I mean, do you have a sense of it in your gut about what should happen?

SEN. McCAIN: I, I have a sense that I respect and admire these four service chiefs who have expressed either outright opposition or deep reservation about the repeal. They're the ones who are in charge. Now, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I agree, the president and the secretary of Defense have all come out for repeal. But I really would--I was in, I was in an outpost near Kandahar. Army master sergeant, 19 years in, fifth deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan, says to me, "Senator McCain, we live, eat, sleep, and fight together in close proximity. I'm concerned about the repeal. I'd like to know more about it." That's, that's the view that I got from chief petty officers and sergeants all over Afghanistan.

MR. GREGORY: The ban's not going to be lifted in the lame duck session, is that fair to say?

SEN. McCAIN: I think that we should at least--I, I don't think it should be, because I think once this study comes out in the beginning of December, we should at least have a chance to review it and maybe have hearings on it.

MR. GREGORY: I just want to spend a couple of minutes on taxes and spending.

SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

MR. GREGORY: This is your 59th appearance on MEET THE PRESS. You know what that means. We have so much tape. So if we--if you go back to 2004, I know your, your...

SEN. McCAIN: Yeah.

MR. GREGORY: ...position on the Bush tax cuts...

SEN. McCAIN: Yeah.

MR. GREGORY: ...did change and you've talked about that before. But I do want to play something you said from an interview in 2004 and ask you about it.

(Videotape, April 11, 2004)

SEN. McCAIN: I voted against the tax cuts because of the disproportional amount that went to the wealthiest Americans. I would clearly support not extending those tax cuts in order to help address the, the deficit. But the middle income tax credits, the families, the child tax credits, the marriage tax credit, all those I would keep.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: That's exactly...

SEN. McCAIN: Yes, sir.

MR. GREGORY: ...what President Obama says.

SEN. McCAIN: Is there a statute of limitations? The economic situation is vastly different today. We are in the midst of the greatest recession in the history of this country since the Great Depression. It is not the time to raise anyone's taxes. And by the way, also along that statement, I said we have to restrain spending, and spending was way out of control at that time. I said otherwise we're facing massive deficits, and that's what happened.

MR. GREGORY: Should tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans only be extended for a temporary period and only if there are corresponding spending cuts?

SEN. McCAIN: I think they should be extended until we're out of this recession. At such time then we could look at, at other tax hikes. But when we're in a serious recession, I cannot believe that raising taxes is a good thing on anybody.

MR. GREGORY: Is the debt commission a nonstarter or a good start or something else?

SEN. McCAIN: I hope it's a starter. I hope that even if they don't get the 14 members, as you mentioned earlier when you were talking with David Axelrod, that I hope that this is a wake-up call to America. It gives us an idea of the breadth of this problem, that we are going to have to make significant changes, we're going to have to challenge some of the very, very tough areas such as entitlements if we're ever going to dig out of this hole.

MR. GREGORY: Everything should be on the table?

SEN. McCAIN: Everything should be on the table.

MR. GREGORY: Raising the retirement age?

SEN. McCAIN: Everything should be on the table. And if it's not, then, obviously, I don't think we're going to make progress. And again, I'd like to applaud Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles because at least Americans--I think the lesson of this last election, the message was, "Stop the spending, do things differently. We're worried about our children and our grandchildren and we can't keep on going like we are." And so maybe the environment has changed enough that Americans will respect us making some tough decisions.

MR. GREGORY: Just about a minute left.

SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

MR. GREGORY: President Bush's memoir is out, "Decision Points." He talks about you in a couple of places. And he talks about your decision not to have him campaign with you.

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SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

MR. GREGORY: And he writes this: "I thought it looked defensive for John to distance himself from me. I was confident I could have helped him make the case." Any regrets that you kept him on the sidelines?

SEN. McCAIN: No. That--it was a decision made at the time of the campaign. I respect and admire President Bush. At the time, it's just was the realities of the political situation. As you know, then--President Obama, at the time, was doing everything he could to tie me to President Bush. I admire and respect and I believe I called President Bush a friend. And it was just a decision we made and I hope he respects it.

MR. GREGORY: There was a meeting--he talks about September of '08, the height of the financial collapse. You suspend your campaign, call for a meeting in the White House. Here's a picture of it. You're there--actually, you're next to Boehner there. And, and then-Senator Obama there as well. And he writes that he was surprised that you actually--you, you had called this meeting, you didn't really add that much substantively, didn't have a question, suggesting that you were unprepared for the meeting. Is that fair?

SEN. McCAIN: I was prepared for the meeting. I wasn't prepared for the onslaught that came, took place from all of the Democrats in the room. My reason for being there was to make sure that Republicans were heard, people like Boehner, Mitch McConnell and others. That was the reason why I was there. I didn't think I was going to make any headway with some of the Democrats who were in the room. But I didn't ask for that meeting. But the fact is that I thought it was best, at that time, to say, "I want Republicans to be heard." Until that time, they had been shut out of the process.

MR. GREGORY: We'll leave it there until your 60th appearance. Senator, thank you, as always.

SEN. McCAIN: Thanks for having me on.

MR. GREGORY: Appreciate it

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