This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Sept. 13, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Earlier today, Alan Colmes, co-host, sat down with Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean.
COLMES: Governor Dean, welcome. Thank you for being with us.
HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN: Thanks for having me back on.
COLMES: As a former governor, and you see what's happened in New Orleans, in the aftermath of Katrina, what's your assessment — and there's a lot of finger-pointing going on. How do you assess the situation?
DEAN: Well, the situation has obviously been awful for the people of Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama. You know, one thing Bill Clinton did really, really well was to have a strong Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Bush administration just went back to turning it into a dumping ground for people who evidently didn't have anything else to do, and it's really too bad because now people have paid for that with their lives.
COLMES: The president did say today, he said, "I take personal responsibility."
DEAN: Well, I think that's one thing but there's a lot of people dead and there's a lot of people without their homes. Those people needed help on time. They didn't need help and somebody to take responsibility two weeks after the fact.
COLMES: Is it the governor's responsibility on — as you divide the responsibility ...
DEAN: Here is how it works. I had nine of these, I think — I can't remember whether it was seven or nine of these when I was governor, although, of course, nothing to this extent. The way it works is the governor nationalizes the National Guard — federalizes — excuse me, takes over the National Guard responsibilities first and then asks for help from FEMA. Especially in something of this sort.
There was a big squabble over who was going to have control. The thing that's so disturbing is that the Congressional Research Service today, which is totally non-partisan, came out today and said that Governor Blanco did everything she could. Which means obviously they thought that the real screw-ups were at the federal level, and they were.
I mean FEMA used to be incompetent when George Bush's father was in there. Clinton really cleaned them up and put James Lee Witt in charge, who was by far the best FEMA director of any administration and now the president has, you know, messed them up again.
It's unfair to American citizens because people need their help when they need their help.
COLMES: We had Bill Frist on our show last night and I played for him what you had said about him prioritizing the death tax, getting rid of the death tax, $750 billion, and you said it's a moral choice, how do we spend that money if we have that amount of money to spend ...
COLMES: ... and he said it's really not a choice. That we're putting all this money into reconstruction. And so he kind of pooh-poohed the idea that there is a moral choice to be making.
DEAN: Well, that's three things you can do. You can run the biggest deficits in the history of the country, which we're doing right now. You can rebuild New Orleans. You can get rid of the estate tax.
Now, the Republicans, including Senator Frist, chose to get rid of the estate tax and evidently they say they're going to build New Orleans, which means we're going to have twice as high a deficit. When is this going to stop?
These people are completely irresponsible financially. We need to balance a budget someday in this country and to spend $750 billion giving a tax break to 20,000 American families as opposed to the rest of the other 300 — 380 million of them I think is morally wrong.
We did have moral choices to make. We've made the wrong choices again and again and again, and we're paying for this very dearly. Moral choices, not just in terms of favoring getting rid of the estate tax over dealing with the deficit, but moral choices in terms of downgrading FEMA, not putting the money into the levee reconstruction, this is the wrong moral choice.
COLMES: You've said that President Bush doesn't care about all the American people and you said something similar about Judge Roberts, that he may love the law, but doesn't necessarily love the American people.
COLMES: Do you ever — concerned about rhetoric that you may put out like that, that may be more divisive than uniting?
DEAN: I think it's true. I think it's time somebody told the truth.
The president said he was a uniter, turned out to be the most divisive president, probably, in our history except perhaps before the Civil War.
This is a divisive president, and he got there by not telling the truth. The truth is that there are a lot of people it turns out who got — through no fault of their own — really got hammered in this and they didn't get any help from the federal government.
There are a lot of women, for example, who couldn't participate in sports. My wife didn't have equal access to sports. My daughter did.
Judge Roberts wants to undo that, according to his writings. I think though, the things that I say are true, and therefore they need to be said.
You can't fix something if you're not willing to point your finger at it.
COLMES: Barack Obama the other day talked about active racism versus kind of a passive, more innocent kind of negligence. Are they both equally racism and then both equally reprehensible, whether it's active hostility or just a lack of ...
DEAN: I think, Alan, you have a mixture of both. I do not think President Bush is a racist. He doesn't — you know, I know him personally.
I have never heard him say anything like that. I don't think he's a homophobe, either. But the effect of what he does does hurt poor people disproportionately, and poor people are members of minority communities.
The effect of what he does does harm gay people disproportionately.
So the argument that I would make with both the president and John Roberts is they may not be overtly racist, but their actions contribute to harm for vulnerable people. And that includes women, it includes members of minority groups, including Hispanics and African Americans. It includes anybody that doesn't look like them, and I think that's a problem.
COLMES: Today, though, he did talk about the Civil Rights Act and how, of course, he believes in the 1965 act. And he talked about the right to privacy. And he did amend some of the things he had written back in 1981 and seemed to say the kinds of things you would thing Democrats would want to hear, stare decisis, the idea of established law as applied to Roe v. Wade, for example, and the Casey case.
Is that enough to say, look, maybe we should really look at this person and he might be the appropriate choice?
DEAN: Alan, I didn't hear any answers today. I heard a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo and a lot of dancing around. He is an accomplished attorney, there is no question about that. The question is does he have the interests of the American people in their hearts — in his heart?
Let me answer — let me tell you what I mean by that. This is a guy who's very bright. Nobody can argue with that. This is a guy who's accomplished. But if you don't have compassion, then how can you really be a leader of the American people?
COLMES: Do you believe he's a racist?
DEAN: No. I don't think there's any evidence of being an overt racist, but I think his decisions have had the effect of harming, disproportionately, woman, African Americans and Hispanics.
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