Charlie Rose attempts to referee two heavyweight champions as they duke it out for legend and legacy. Protesters march on stage. Quotable moments galore.
The fists were flying tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City as James "the Ragin' Cajun" Carville and Karl "I serve as Bush's brain" Rove battled each other in front of a crowd of thousands.
Charlie Rose tried to manage the chaos but about 10 minutes in realized he would just let these two broncos go at it.
Carville began by pointing out how much better the country feels about itself with Obama at the helm. Carville then went on the attack. The Republicans, said Carville, "have excuses for everything and answers for nothing."
Charlie Rose to Rove: "Is Colin Powell a good Republican?"
Rove: "He is a Republican" (ahhs from the audience).
When pressed by Carville, Rove then says, "Yes, he is a good Republican." Carville: "If you had to choose between Limbaugh and Powell, which would it be?" Rove: "I don't have to choose -- I can take them both."
Carville and Rove weighed in on the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the high bench.
Carville: "As someone who grew up in the south in the '50s and '60's, to imagine an African-American President appointing a Hispanic to the Supreme Court...you just have to sit back....you could not have imagined this. This tells you that we will be okay....that our country will come out of this [distressed period]."
Rove: "She is competent and will be confirmed....She has an interesting and compelling life story..."
Charlie: "She is very smart."
Rove "Not necessarily."
Charlie: "What do you mean? She went to Princeton where she graduating with honors and then went on to Yale Law School...."
Rove: "I know lots of stupid people who went to ivy league schools." The crowd applauds.
Charlie then delves into Rove's own schooling which includes a spate of colleges but no degree.
Charlie: "And look how far you got..."
Rove: "Message to the kids out there -- don't do what I did -- I am the last of a generation."
On the Pelosi/CIA affair:
Rove: "It is unconscionable for her to leave to China having just called 30,000 intelligence officers liars...it is not acceptable. All the documents of that meeting should be handed over...we should get to the bottom of this one way or the other."
Carville: "This was a meeting that happened seven years ago...does this really matter?"
Surprisingly, Carville did not go after Rove for his own run-in with CIA issues -- the Plame affair. Was there some line that Carville would not cross?
Charlie asked Rove what he thought of Obama's performance so far on the economy.
"He is doing a reasonably good job in the financial sector, " responded Rove, with policies developed initially by Paulson and Geithner.
"But," continued Rove, "he is doing a a bad job on autos. Obama is giving preference to the unsecured creditors over secured creditors. He is giving the union, the UAW, 55 percent of the restructured Chrysler when the current bondholders are being given much less." Rove seemed to lose that portion of the audience who did not know what an unsecured creditor is vs. a secured one.
In the middle of the debate, various protesters got up and tried to disrupt the proceedings. first a group in the orchestra stood up and unfurled a banner with an incoherent message.
Then suddenly a woman appeared on stage with handcuffs with the intent to arrest Karl Rove.
A woman sitting next to me then turned to her husband and said, "I feel like I am back in the sixties."
Charlie asked about the 2008 election: "How much was Iraq how much was domestic issues?"
Carville pointed out that "2005 was the worst year for Republicans -- Katrina, Schiavo and social security" all in one year. Carville believes that the Republicans lost the 2008 election in 2005.
Carville continued to say that the Republicans "are in danger of becoming a regional party."
Rove felt that it was "less the Democrats, more Obama" as the cause for the Democratic win in 2008.
Carville offered unusual praise for Rove -- "If I would have never been born Bill Clinton would still have been president. If Karl Rove were not born, Bush would NOT have won in 2004."
Rove then responded that "without James, Paul and George, Bill Clinton would not have won -- he was too undisciplined."
The Katrina issue sent Carville into hysterics. "Bush just sat there, " Carville screamed, "he asked no questions -- he went to San Diego to see John McCain!"
"Rumsfeld was insubordinate," Carville continued, "he refused to send troops -- Bush should have fired Rumsfeld on the spot." The audience roared in agreement.
Charlie asked Rove about Clinton's legacy.
Rove roused a huge negative reaction from the audience when he responded with "Clinton will be a footnote in history."
Carville responded with, "One thing is for sure, Bush will NOT be a footnote in history...he turned eight years of peace and prosperity into a disaster."
Carville said that Bill Clinton will be remembered "as a man who governed this country competently."
Rove stated that "welfare reform and Nafta -- that might be a legacy" for Clinton even though both programs were proposed by a Republican Congress.
Carville: "I know what it's like for Karl -- he's got to defend Bush -- out there with Cheney. I have to defend eight bad minutes, he has to defend eight bad years."
Carville returned to his theme of owning up to mistakes: "Take responsibility," he screamed, "it's bad for the children to see this."
Charlie then brought the roustabout to a close to the applause of all.