Transcripts: Governor Howard Dean, Jan 23 2006

Thom and Governor Howard Dean talked about corruption in Washington D.C., campaign money, public financing of elections, the Abramoff case, warrantless wiretaps, pharmaceuticals, investigations, impeachment, privatization of the vote, and why you should vote for a Democrat.

Thom Hartmann interview with Governor Howard Dean on January 23 2006

[Thom Hartmann] We spoke with Howard Dean yesterday. Here's our interview with Governor Dean.

[Thom Hartmann] Hey, Governor Dean:

[Governor Dean] Yessir!

[Thom Hartmann] Great to have you on.

[Governor Dean] It's good to be on.

[Thom Hartmann] Thank you. With all the perception of corruption in Washington D.C., and certainly the Republican Abramoff corruption that's going on, the reality of it, at many levels, do you think it's now time to look at public financing?

[Governor Dean] Absolutely. That's why there's such corruption. It's mostly about campaign money, and then doing things as favors. If you got the money out it would be great and, you know, this is, the Republicans always attack this, because of course they get the most money out of the special interests. But the truth is, the public will do this. The public voted for clean elections in Arizona, which is not noted to be a liberal state. And its probably the best system in the country, and they have an incumbent governor that won on that system for the first term. So, public financing of campaigns is the right way to go. It'll get the dirty money out of politics and we desperately need to do it.

[Thom Hartmann] Great. Have any Democrats been involved with the Abramoff case and if not, why haven't other members of the Democratic Party been out in front in the media like you were a week or so ago with Wolf Blitzer saying over and over and over again that this is a Republican scandal?

[Governor Dean] Well, they're working on that. But you know, one of the problems in Washington is that people are not risk-takers; they're rapid adapters and so they tend not to get out in front. We need to do that. Not one dime of money, Jack Abramoff's money, has ever gone to a Democrat in this cycle of corruption, here. And not one, no evidence whatsoever that any money has ever been directed by Abramoff to go to a Democrat. So this isn't roping in Reid and Dorgan and all that stuff, it's just not true. There's no evidence they've been anything to do with Abramoff. And it's just, frankly, it's laziness on the part of the media. The RNC is spinning it that way, which you'd expect. But the media is really, they have no business printing that stuff because the fact is, there is nothing behind it.

[Thom Hartmann] Governor Dean, do you agree with Al Gore that Bush is, George W Bush's, President Bush's warrantless wiretaps are crimes, and if so, and the Democrats take power in 2006 in the House, the Senate, or both, would you push for impeachment?

[Governor Dean] Well, I think that impeachment stuff is a technical argument. And let me explain to you what I mean. First of all, of course, the Republicans aren't going to impeach anybody. But the question is, if we take power, I would be careful of this. I think the president has clearly broken the law. The question is,

(a) is it an impeachable offense? I think there probably are some impeachable offenses that he has committed; I'm not sure this is one of them. And

(b), what are the political ramifications of running impeachment? I know there are a lot of Democrats who would like to impeach the president because they are so angry with him, but let's not forget, when Bill Clinton was impeached, his numbers went up. So the American people has a very strong fairness quotient.

I think before we got to anything like that you'd have to build a tremendous public case for it, and I don't think we're there at this particular time. It's also a particularly hypothetical question. Let's win the majorities back first. Not so we can impeach the president, but so that we can have an honest government again and so we can make improvements in American lives again.

[Thom Hartmann] And perhaps some investigations?

[Governor Dean] Well, we certainly want to do that. I mean, one of the great attractions of winning back the House and the Senate is that Henry Waxman, who is one of the smartest people I know in Congress, will then be able to investigate all the wrongdoing that's going on. And there's been, as we know, an enormous amount of wrongdoing.

[Thom Hartmann] Governor Dean, in a democracy, democracy is all about the commons. And probably the most important part of the commons is our vote itself. I'm wondering why it has been allowed to have been privatized, and why more Democrats aren't speaking out against private corporations running our vote, you know, putting together ballot lists, voter lists, and telling us how we voted after we played with their machines?

[Governor Dean] I don't know why, what the answer to that is. But I think it's a terrible mistake. The election machines clearly have a significant problem with them. We were not served well when the public can't have confidence in their machines. And this is not some Internet theory that we all have to worry about the election machines. The General Accounting Office which is a non-partisan group, has said these election machines cannot be relied on. So, this is a huge issue. When people start losing confidence in the votes and whether they are counted, then American democracy is in real trouble. People do speak out about this, but I think they need to do it more firmly than we have so far.

[Thom Hartmann] Governor Dean, what in your mind is the most important message that you have for our listeners today?

[Governor Dean] I think the most important message is, if you want a real change, vote for a Democrat. And here's what you'll get:

(1) honesty and integrity back in government again,
(2) a strong national defense, which is based on telling the truth to our citizens and our soldiers and our allies,
(3) a health care system that works for everybody, just like 36 other countries have,
(4) American jobs that will stay in America, using energy independence as a new industry to create millions of jobs, and
(5) a strong public education so we can have opportunity and optimism again.

That's a pretty good thing to get and that's what we'll deliver. Certainly the president is incapable of such a thing.

[Thom Hartmann] That sounds marvelous. Governor Dean, you mentioned that you weren't sure that the wiretaps, the warrantless wiretaps, would rise to the level of being an impeachable crime. I'm wondering, but you said other things may. I'm wondering what those other things might be in your mind.

[Governor Dean] I think we're going to find that the president has engaged in worse things than this in some ways. I think that we know, for example, that the information that is used to determine whether certain drugs should come to the market or not has been corrupted by the White House. They've been told to find certain things when in fact they haven't, that the science doesn't indicate.

[Thom Hartmann] Are you talking about Plan B or are you talking about more general pharmaceuticals?

[Governor Dean] Plan B for one, but there's other things as well. We know, for example, that the administration lied to Congress about how the Medicare bill was going to work and how much it was going to cost. We know for a fact that the civil rights attorneys of the Justice Department were routinely overruled regarding civil rights issues and voting issues. So we find here that there really is a pattern of corruption in this administration which goes beyond simply the wiretapping, and I think we need, in order to really do a good job, I think we need to thoroughly investigate what the grounds might be.

[Thom Hartmann] OK. Governor Howard Dean, thank you so much for the time with us, I really appreciate it. You're doing a great job, sir.

[Governor Dean] My great pleasure. Thank you very much.

[Thom Hartmann] Thank you.

[Governor Dean] Bye bye.

[Thom Hartmann] Bye now.

[Thom Hartmann] Governor Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

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From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
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David C. Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World and Agenda for A New Economy
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