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Notes from the November 21, 2010 broadcast of Meet The Press

November 21, 2010

Today’s show began with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defending the New START treaty. “This treaty is in the national security interests of the United States.” David Gregory asks, can you get 2/3 of the US Senate to vote in favor? “I think we can,” responds Clinton adding, “This should be non-partisan, not just bi-partisan.”

Clinton is still in Lisbon as part of the NATO summit. She said NATO leadership agrees that the transition to Afghan security in Afghanistan should begin in 2011 and will be done in 2014.

Later, Gregory asked Secretary Clinton if the TSA airport procedures were now too intrusive. She expressed support for her colleagues in the administration who say these searches are necessary but added, “And I am absolutely confident that our security experts are gonna keep trying to get it better and less intrusive and more precise.” Read more of what she said on this topic here.

When asked about the Ahmed Ghailani terrorism conviction in a civilian court, Clinton said, “Most terrorists in American jails are there because they were convicted in a US civilian court.” Gregory picked up an old favorite question of his about how we could continue holding alleged terrorists even if they are acquitted by a civilian court. Clinton said that the scenario seems unlikely but that, yes, we would keep holding them.

Next up was Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. When asked if the TSA screenings were excessive, Jindal said, “Absolutely.” (It is interesting here that Clinton and the president have given support to the TSA procedures, but Republicans and conservative columnists are being openly critical of the TSA. This seems like a losing path for Democrats.)

Gregory was tough on Jindal’s criticism of President Obama’s “therapeutic foreign policy.” Jindal is very forceful about saying the war on terror is about fighting people who hate our way of life.

Gregory asks, was the administration incompetent in dealing with the Gulf oil spill? Jindal, “Absolutely.” There was a lot of back and forth, “he said, she said,” on who to blame in the spill response. I can’t tell who is right, but Jindal is nothing if not tenacious.

Jindal repeated that he does not want to be president in 2012. “My only political aspiration is to be re-elected governor of Louisiana,” he said.

He agrees with Karl Rove that the Republican Party is “on probation” with the American people. “Four years ago we blew it because we defended earmarks and spending we should never accept.”

In the roundtable today, Representative-elect Allen West (R-FL) was quite an impressive figure. I have never heard of this guy before, but he came across very well on the program. He is a retired military commander with a number of service honors… but also a controversial issue circling around how he treated a civilian prisoner in Iraq. (Read more here.) I am sure that Republican political operatives are already thinking about how they can make use of West on a national stage.

On the TSA searches, West recommended we take advice from the Israelis on how to do better screenings. Paul Gigot said the danger in these intrusive screenings is that the public will revolt and you will lose public support for the war on terror.

The roundtable concluded with discussion of this morning’s New York Times Magazine cover story on Sarah Palin. The author, Robert Draper was a guest. Richard Wolffe said Palin’s approval rating among independents in 35%, and that will be hard to overcome.

Draper said the current organization around Palin is not set up to run a presidential campaign, and Palin recognizes this. The key to bringing in the right people to run the campaign will be trust. But Draper said, “Trust is a huge issue with the Palins. They feel like they were burned in 2008.”

Today’s Meet The Press transcript will be here.

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