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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, May 21, 2012

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Guest Host: Martin Bashir

Guests: E.J. Dionne, Karen Finney, Krystal Ball, Steve Kornacki, Scott Helman, Rep. John Lewis, Anthea Butler


MARTIN BASHIR, GUEST HOST: The president has said it. The Bain game
is on.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My view of private
equity? It is set up to maximize profits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Obama campaign is launching a new attack on
Mitt Romney`s career at Bain Capital.

OBAMA: He`s not going out there touting his experience in
Massachusetts.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: It is central to the debate.

OBAMA: This issue is not a, quote, "distraction".

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Such attacks aren`t sitting well.

MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: I`m not about to sit here
and indict private equity.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Along comes Cory Booker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cory Booker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cory Booker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cory Booker.

MATTHEWS: Supposedly a surrogate for President Obama.

BOOKER: This kind of staff is nauseating to me.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Cory Booker slammed the campaign`s attack.

BOOKER: I`m very uncomfortable.

HALL: On Mitt Romney`s record at Bain Capital.

MATTHEWS: An act of sabotage.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: How angry is the White House?

MATTHEWS: I`ve never seen anything quite like this.

TODD: They are furious.

HALL: Is he now an ineffective sewer rat?

BOOKER: This kind of stuff is nauseating.

MATTHEWS: He found Obama`s ads nauseating

BOOKER: Nauseating.

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: In this particular instance, he was
just wrong.

BOOKER: I got this. I got this.

TODD: Booker suddenly decided he`d have to take to YouTube to
clarify.

BOOKER: Let me be clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hostage video.

BOOKER: It is reasonable to examine that record.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the definition of a hostage video.

OBAMA: When you`re president, your job is not just to maximize
profits.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: He made the distinction between creating
jobs and creating wealth.

OBAMA: Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a
fair shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The issue is not private equity, it`s Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney has a credibility problem.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not familiar precisely
what exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over and over and over again.

ROMNEY: I stand by what I said, whatever it was. I`m not concerned
about the very poor. We have a safety net there. Whatever it was.

Corporations are people my friends.

Whatever it was.

Ten thousand bucks?

I`m not familiar precisely what exactly what I said, but I stand by
what I said, whatever it was.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASHIR: Good evening.

Today, the president`s reelection campaign made its strongest case yet
against Mitt Romney`s argument that his experience as chief executive of
Bain Capital shows that he can create jobs as president of the United
States, and the argument was presented by their top campaigner, the
president himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: My view of private equity is that it is set up to maximize
profits. That`s not always going to be good for communities or businesses
or workers. And when you are president, as opposed to the head of the
private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your
job is to figure how everybody in the country has a fair shot.

If your main argument for how to grow the economy is, I knew how to
make a lot of money for investors, then you are missing what this job is
about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: The president also articulated why Mitt Romney`s record at
Bain Capital is now fair game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The reason this is relevant to the campaign is because my
opponent, Governor Romney, his main calling card for why he thinks he
should be president is his business experience.

If the main basis for him suggesting he can do a better job is his
track record, as the head of the private equity firm, then both the upsides
and the downsides are worth examining.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: The president made those remarks today in response to a
reporter`s question on what Newark Mayor Cory Booker said on Sunday`s "Meet
the Press".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOOKER: From a very personal level, I`m not about to sit here and
indict private equity. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital`s
record, they`ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And
this to me, I`m very uncomfortable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: The president, it seems, does not share his campaign
surrogate`s discomfort.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This is not a distraction. This is what this campaign is
going to be about is: what is a strategy for us to move this country
forward in a way where everybody can succeed. And that means I have got to
think about those workers in that video just as much as I am thinking about
folks who have been much more successful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: Cory Booker has just spoken to my colleague, Rachel Maddow,
to explain his comments. We get to that in a moment.

But joining us now is former DNC communications director and current
MSNBC political analyst, Karen Finney; "Washington Post" opinion writer and
MSNBC political analyst, E.J. Dionne; and co-author of "The Real Romney"
and staff writer for the "Boston Globe" magazine, Scott Helman.

Good evening to all of you.

Karen, can you give us some insight into how the White House must have
been taken aback by Cory Booker`s comments, particularly after the mayor
seemed to be overwhelmed with delirium finding himself on "Meet on Press"
and then proceeded to lose his mind?

KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, yes. I am sure that the
phones started ringing about the second the cameras were turned off. You
could see that from the Twitter response and clearly they didn`t think that
was sufficient. So, I think that`s why we saw the YouTube video, because
they wanted new video out there so there were pictures and sound of him
trying to reframe this conversation.

I think what I`ve heard that was that the most upsetting, in addition
to the fact that he went way off the reservation, was trying to equate this
idea, the false equivalency between bringing up Jeremiah Wright and talking
about private equity and/or Mitt Romney`s record during the 15 years that
he ran Bain Capital. So, I think tonight`s latest interview was yet
another example that they want him to keep cleaning up the mess on aisle 9.

BASHIR: Indeed.

E.J., Mitt Romney has valiantly tried to divert attention away from
Bain Capital, suggesting this is a personal character attack. But isn`t it
essential that we scrutinize Romney`s career at Bain given that it was a
whole host of individuals working in private equity, derivatives and hedge
funds, that brought the global economy to its knees, what, just three years
ago?

E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Well, it`s a totally legitimate issue
because Mitt Romney made it an issue, their very claim as the president
said in his speech, his whole claim to why he`d be a good president in a
downturn, it is because of his business person. His business experience
was in private equity.

So, we have to look, as a matter of character, look at how he did that
and look at what private equity does that might be attributed to job
creation and what it does to get in its way. How much of it is efficiency
and how much of it vulture capitalism.

Bust to go back to Cory Booker if I may for a second, you know, one of
the things about those chat shows is that people often reveal something
about themselves when they don`t necessarily intend to. And he said, you
know, at a very personal level, he made the point that he wanted to defend
private equity.

I think at that moment, it showed that defending private equity was
very important to Cory Booker. But the interview with Rachel Maddow shows
that he so wants to get rid of this that soon he will be volunteering to do
the voice-over on a 30-second Obama ad about Bain Capital. That is how
much he seems to want to run away with it.

BASHIR: I`m sure that`s true.

Scott, if Mitt Romney wants us to focus on something other than his
career at Bain Capital, why won`t he point to his career as a public
servant when he was governor of Massachusetts. And if he won`t do that,
what else can we use to vet this man aside from his career at Bain Capital?

SCOTT HELMAN, CO-AUTHOR, "THE REAL ROMNEY": My sense is he will talk
more about his career in Massachusetts in a general election. That was
very unpopular in the primary. You don`t really utter the word
Massachusetts if you can help it at all in a Republican primary.

And let`s remember his biggest achievement as everybody knows was
health care, the big universal health care plan, which of course was hugely
controversial among the GOP electorate. So I do think you will see him
talk a little bit more about that now. But look, they made the decision
this year that he was going be Mr. Economy. He was going to run on his
business background.

And for all the attacks on Bain and all the stuff we are hearing from
the Obama campaign, you can`t deny that Mitt Romney has some economic
fluency. We can argue about sort of his role in private equity and all
that, but he certainly has some experience in that. So, they look at this
and they said this is what this guy knows more than anything, and this is
what we`re going to run on.

BASHIR: And this is what they`re going to sell.

Karen, switching to the president for a moment. The president came
out and forcefully asserted that it`s Mitt Romney who has introduced Bain
Capital as his sole claim to fame. He can`t talk about being governor
because he lost jobs. He won`t talk about his personal narrative because
he was a very unfortunate child of a rich and powerful father and that
won`t help him connect to ordinary Americans.

Isn`t the real problem here, Karen, that Romney doesn`t have anything
else to offer the voters aside from Bain Capital?

FINNEY: Well, I think that`s exactly right, Martin. And, look as you
say, it was Mitt Romney himself forward as judge me by my 15 years and
remember that when he talks about this, he also levees a personal attack on
President Obama, because he say, well, if he had ever worked in business,
he`d understand how it works.

So, we focus on this part, but the problem for the Romney campaign has
been they really surprisingly have not figure out a way to really talk
about this, because they should recognized that it was an easy hit to go
back and look at what happened in those instances that he likes to see
where it, quote, "didn`t work out" and see what the impact was.

They should have had a better answer because sometimes, you know, it
works. And you should be prepared for the fact that your opponent will
tell that full story.

(CROSSTALK)

HELMAN: Martin, this how he`s been his entire political career. I
mean, he lost his 1994 Senate race in large part because they did not
handle the attacks on Bain. Interestingly, when you ran for governor in
2002 --

BASHIR: He was successful.

HELMAN: It didn`t have the same effect. He had run the Olympics, he
had been in the news. And now, we are seeing it resurface again and
obviously, it`s going to be the issue.

So, I mean, to Karen`s point, it`s a big question in my mind how well-
prepared they are for this.

BASHIR: E.J., I wonder if I could play you something that Rush
Limbaugh said today as he sought to defend Bain Capital -- yes, indeed Rush
Limbaugh -- against the attacks with regard to the Kansas City steel mill
that eventually went bankrupt. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Bain Capital is private equity.
They went in and they did what they did. By the way, they elongated the
life of this company by eight years, and they took a risk with their own
money and therefore if they gain, fine. If they lose, it`s their problem.
Here is Obama out ripping it, because somebody lost him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: E.J., that`s a very seductive way of describing investment
banking, but as I understand it, it`s never the individual who invest his
own money, it`s the huge borrowings that have lumped on the company that
the investment bank chooses to buy. Is that not right?

DIONNE: That is true in many of these deals. And I think that that
the Bain argument is part of a larger argument about what kind of
capitalism do they want to have in our country, because in a lot of the
deals, Bain came in, sucks the money out of the company. The company went
bust and people still made a lot of money and those are the kinds of cases
that the Obama campaign is going to want to talk about and the Romney
campaign won`t.

BASHIR: Indeed.

E.J. Dionne, Karen Finney and Scott Helman -- thank you so much for
joining us tonight.

DIONNE: Thank you.

HELMAN: Thank you.

BASHIR: Coming up, with friends like Cory Booker, who needs enemies.
Booker has just explained his comments to Rachel Maddow, that`s next.

As states across America changed voter ID laws, one man who was at the
forefront of America`s civil rights movement joins me to talk about what he
calls the unique hostility of these times.

And speaking of hostility, yet another pastor is calling for the
physical abuse of gays and lesbians. That`s coming up. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BASHIR: Cory Booker has just explained to Rachel Maddow what he was
thinking. I love to know, will his words will turn into an indictment of
the president`s campaign. Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball join me next.

And finally, Mitt Romney actually articulates a vision for America.
It`s a policy for the United States circa 1984. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BASHIR: Cory Booker`s friendly fire provoked nothing more than a
passing reference from the president today. At a new conference, the
president chose not to correct his campaign surrogate correctly, but to
compliment his other performance in his other job as Newark`s mayor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think Cory Booker is an outstanding
mayor. He is doing great work in Newark and obviously helping to turn that
city around. I think it`s important to recognize that this issue is not a,
quote, "distraction".

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: But the tone towards Booker from the Obama campaign today was
equal parts compliment and condemnation. David Axelrod delivered that
message to my colleague Andrea Mitchell this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: I love Cory Booker. He`s a great
mayor. If I were -- if my house was on fire, I`d hope he was my next door
neighbor.

But on this he was -- you know, I agree with what he said later. I
think this is a legitimate area for discussion. In this particular
instance, he was just wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: Reaction from the Romney campaign was swift and predictable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: Have you had enough of President Obama`s attacks on free
enterprise? His own key supporters have, Democrat Mayor Cory Booker of New
Jersey.

BOOKER: I have to say from a personal level, I`m not about to sit
here and indict private equity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: The Republican Party has also launched an online petition, "I
stand with Cory," vowing to stay on their feet, signatories also pledge to
stand up for America, stand up for job creators.

As for the embattled mayor, he talked just a few minutes ago with our
Rachel Maddow and spoke directly to that slogan, "I stand with Cory."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOOKER: Anybody who watched the entire "Meet the Press" saw that not
only was I defending Obama`s positions on numerous issues, but I also
talked about super PAC money and my outrage and really my frustration was
about the cynical, negative campaigning, the manipulating of the truth, and
that slogan is really what had me and basically my entire staff really fit
to be tied.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: Joining me now is MSNBC contributor and Democratic strategist
Krystal Ball, along with senior political writer for the Salon.com and
MSNBC contributor, Steve Kornacki.

Krystal, I have to start with you. Is Mayor Booker`s repentance
enough?

KRYSTAL BALL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I don`t think so. Here is why.
You know, he gave such comfort to the other side with his words and there`s
no taking that back. A sincere apology where he accepted some personal
responsibility and didn`t try to misdirect to gay marriage and whatever
else he tried to talk about, that would have been enough to start his
rehabilitation.

But I think he tried to pivot, he tried to obfuscate rather than
actually addressing it and saying that I didn`t speak correctly. I
apologize for the remarks. I didn`t mean that. He tried to move aside.

And here`s the other thing, you know, in Democratic circles, Mayor
Booker has had such a halo. You know, he saved the woman from a burning
building.

BASHIR: Remarkably.

BALL: He could do no wrong. And I think people will never look at
him quite the same way. Now he has become just another politician. And I
think that`s the way that people will view this interview.

BASHIR: Steve, Rachel Maddow also Cory Booker if he was told by the
campaign that he had to clarify his remarks, here`s what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOOKER: The reality is that the Barack Obama team, in the White House
and their political team, have been good to me for many, many years. They
have never pressured me to do anything. They`ve done nothing but
encourage. In this case in particular, I certainly did talk with campaign
officials. But they didn`t force me to do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: Steve, you know this man from a long period of reporting in
New Jersey. You laugh about it. It was obviously somewhat painful.

But here`s the question: was this an example of Cory Booker`s ambition
bleeding through his self-control?

STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Absolutely. But I also think it`s
ambition that has worked out very well for him, because the truth about
Cory Booker that was true, long before he went on "Meet the Press"
yesterday was that Cory Booker has basically lived in two worlds, to sort
of the United States and all the fans he developed nationally, he`s the
mayor of Newark, he`s the bright, young idealists, all of these things.

But in the world of politics, he is one of the most prodigious
fundraisers when it comes to cultivating, you know, financial -- people on
Wall Street, sort of investment class.

BASHIR: We`ve been trying to confirm the amounts that he`s raised and
it`s been difficult today to get beyond that $31,000. Do you think it`s
more?

KORNACKI: Well, whether it was Bain specifically or as I would say,
the investor class in general -- you know, you find this -- I found this
early covering Cory Booker because I have been covering him for 10 years.
In 2002, when he first ran for mayor of Newark, I was there and I thought
this guy is the feature. This guy is really impressive and in a lot of
ways he is, he really is impressive.

But the thing you find about Cory Booker after a while is, his biggest
fans, the people that swear by him, the people that are most impressed by
him do not live in the city of Newark. I think this --

BASHIR: That`s interesting.

KORNACKI: This illustrates that tension right now. Cory Booker ran
for reelection of mayor -- as mayor two years ago in Newark. He ran
against a guy who is now in jail, in corruption charges. It was a nominal
trivial campaign. Cory got less than 60 percent of the vote, despite
having millions of dollars in that race, despite all the national
celebrity.

He is not beloved in Newark. He is beloved figure among wealthy
donors, especially in Manhattan. That`s who he was speaking to.

BASHIR: And, Krystal, he is now a beloved figure for FOX News.

Here is a comment by Eric Bolling earlier today. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC BOLLING, FOX NEWS: It feels like the Democrats are starting to
get splintered. The Democrats who believe in pro-growth, you know, pro-
business, are splintering from the far left who says, don`t bother with
them. Let`s just do more stimulus, distribution of people`s money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: Can you translate that for me please? I don`t understand
what he`s talking about.

BALL: That is not a possible task. I`m sure it made sense in his
head, but obviously that`s not what is going on here.

You know, going back to how critical this economic model we are going
to have as a country. I don`t see how you can look at the landscape and
think that talking about Mitt Romney`s record at Bain Capital is not
relevant. I don`t understand how you cannot see that and be in touch with
the real problems in this country.

Going back to what Steve said, you know, now that you have this new
frame for Cory Booker, seeing that ambition, seeing that self-serving
nature, it calls into question all sorts of actions in the past. He`s got
1.1 million followers and he has to put in there when he`s shoveling the
snow. You know, he does not have to handle that on Twitter, but it`s the
self promotion way for people to feel like he`s out there in the community.

BASHIR: Steve, I hate to place upon you of the burden of being our
resident psychiatrist. But I have to say that in watching this man on
"Meet the Press," there was almost the sense that he was overcome with
delirium on the thought that he was actually on "Meet the Press."

KORNACKI: Right. Well, there were two things you saw at work. One
is sort of cultivating that elite donor base that I talked about. But the
other thing is he sort of made part of his shtick to be the guy who stakes
out what he sees as sort of the centrist, third way position, while you got
the Democrats over here and they`re acting crazy. And you`ve got the
Republicans over here acting crazy, and I`m going to talk sense.

And this is the guy who I think -- on this issue, he isn`t anymore, he
never will be again, but he went on that show fundamentally tone-deaf on
this issue. He didn`t realize how much the meltdown in 2008 change America
and change the Democratic Party. And partly that`s because he has been
cultivating this donor world for more than a decade.

It is at the heart of his rise in politics and this is a guy whose
ambition to go statewide and probably nationally, and it was at the heart
of that plan to go forward. That`s where you get the money, and he`s used
to talking to those people. It`s sort of the world that he is most
comfortable in.

BALL: Right, and this false equivalency narrative, equating Jeremiah
Wright attacks with legitimate questions about the central element that
Mitt Romney is running on. I mean, how can you conflate those two?

BASHIR: To be fair to Booker, in the Rachel Maddow interview, he did
apologize for that and he said he was wrong to conflate.

BALL: That I didn`t mean to. But it`s so obvious in what he said. I
mean, that`s precisely what he said. It could have been misunderstood.

As Steve was talking to, it`s not like he just said that thing, he
made a point of praising Bain, of going there. He didn`t have to go there.
Steve got the quote I think.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: I would love to him engaged with this. "To me, we`re just
getting to a ridiculous point in America, especially that I did know, I
live in a state where pension funds, unions, and other people invest in
companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital`s
record, they`ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses."

He talked about how uncomfortable he was with going after Bain Capital
specifically.

BALL: There is no walking that back and there is no taking that
weapon away from the right. If he didn`t know that those words were going
be used against the president, I just can`t believe that he is that
politically naive.

BASHIR: Maybe he is.

Krystal Ball and Steve Kornacki, thank you so much for joining us
tonight.

Coming up, another state looks to suppress votes with voter ID laws.
Congressman John Lewis, who just shut down an attempt to defund enforcement
of the Voting Rights Act, joins us.

And next, one year after a tornado destroyed the town of Joplin,
Missouri, the class of 2012 graduates with a special commencement speaker.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: As I look out at this class, and across the city, what`s clear
is that you`re the source of inspiration today -- to me, to this state, to
this country and the people all over the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BASHIR: The presidential election is just six months away, but don`t
get too excited about voting. That`s because several states have decided
this is a good moment to begin revising their voting laws. On Friday,
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed into law new restrictions that
opponents call voter suppression efforts that they believe will have a
significant impact upon minorities and the poor.

On the federal level, Georgia Congressman Paul Broun has introduced an
amendment to the historic 1965 Civil Rights Act that would have cut funding
to Section Five, which prevents racial discrimination.

But fellow Georgia Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis
could not allow the blood that was given for the right to vote to be
ignored by Mr. Broun.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: It is hard and difficult and almost up
believable that any member, but especially a member from the state of
Georgia, will come and offer such amendment. Just think, before the Voting
Rights Act of 1965, it was almost impossible for many people in the state
of Georgia, in Alabama, in Texas, to register to vote, to participate in
the democratic process.

It`s shameful that you would come here tonight and say to the
Department of Justice that you must not use one penny, one cent, one dime,
one dollar to carry out the mandate of Section Five of the Voting Rights
Act. We should be opened up to political process and let all of our
citizens come in and participate.

People died for the right to vote, friends of mine, colleagues of
mine. I speak out against this amendment.

REP. PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA: I apologize to my dear friend from
Georgia if he has gotten angry with this amendment. It`s never my intent
to do so. I`m going to ask unanimous consent to withdraw the amendment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: Joining me now is one of the last living leaders of the Civil
Rights Movement, freedom rider Congressman John Lewis, author of the new
book "Across That Bridge, Life Lessons and A Vision for Change."

Sir, it is a great honor to have you with us this evening. You wrote
in your book the Voting Rights Act is under attack. Now I have to ask you,
why would so many elected officials want to inhibit the process of voting
if not intentionally to undermine those who might consider voting for the
current president?

LEWIS: Thank you so much for having me on tonight. There is a
deliberate and systematic effort on the part of so many elected officials
and so many states, state elected officials, to deny, to keep people from
participating in the democratic process. This little book of mine is based
on the persistence, that fight, the struggle to get the vote.

BASHIR: The loss of life.

LEWIS: People died. I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma.

BASHIR: So I have to ask you, sir, why aside from the fact that they
don`t want people to vote for this current president?

LEWIS: People trying to keep other people from getting elected.
They`re not just minority. They`re seniors, young people, students.
They`re trying to steel this election before it even takes place.

BASHIR: You support voter -- the Voter Empowerment Act. What would
that actually do in practice?

LEWIS: That act would restate the fact that the vote is precious,
almost sacred, that it is the most powerful non-violent instrument that we
have in a democratic society. And we must make it simple and convenient
for all of our citizens to be able to participate in the democratic
process.

BASHIR: Congressman, you say in this book, and I`m quoting you, "even
I who has looked down the barrel of a gun with only my faith to defend me
would say that there is a unique hostility in these times that almost seems
worse to me than what we experienced in the 1960s. Today it seems there is
no moral basis for anything we do as a society."

Explain what you mean. That`s a profound and shocking statement, if
you really believe that.

LEWIS: I do believe that, that something is wrong in our land. And I
don`t know why. I don`t know whether it`s because of what we drink or what
we eat, the air we breathe. I don`t think it`s part of our make up. It`s
not part of our DNA.

But it`s just meanness, to get somebody. We keep hearing over and
over again, we want to take our country back, that the president is not one
of us. That is -- it`s not the America that I want to live in. That`s not
our America. We need to be bringing people together.

And I think with faith and hope and love, non-violence,
reconciliation, that we can move to that sense of community, that we are
one family, that we`re one house. And we must learn to live together, as
Dr. King said, or we will perish as fools.

BASHIR: To that point, and I repeat the quote, "today it seems there
is no moral basis for anything that we do as a society."

Does this not also apply to the Republican budget bill that passed two
weeks ago in the House, that would cut child care and related assistance
for four million children? It would cut meals on wheels and other home
based services for 1.7 million, that would cut transportation and respite
care for a million disabled Americans?

I mean, if all we are people involved in a social Darwinistic
experiment, social and economic Darwinism, and if it`s only the survival of
the fittest that counts, then I guess what`s the point of having any
commitment to anybody else?

LEWIS: Well, there is the sense -- I truly believe when you read the
Republican budget and analyze that budget, that each and every person for
him or herself. You have a group of people really who do not believe in
government. You have a group of people who love the world, but they do not
like people.

We do not share the same values. That`s why there must be a
revolution of values, a revolution of ideas. And we must find a way to
humanize our institution, humanize the government, humanize business.

BASHIR: The president tonight, as you just heard, was speaking to the
class of 2012 in Joplin. He said, "here in Joplin, you have also learned
that we have the power to grow from these experiences. We can define our
own lives not by what happens to us but by how we respond."

How can you communicate that message to the broader society when you
have a Republican party that votes through a budget bill like that, that
appears to discard the disabled and the poor and the elderly and the
infirm, as if they are frankly irrelevant?

LEWIS: I think it`s important for all of us to continue to organize
the unorganized, to mobilize those that need to be mobilized, and teach
people to find a way to get in the way. I think to some degree, we have
been too quiet. My generation, we didn`t have a website. We never heard
of the Internet.

We didn`t have an iPod, iPod, Facebook. But we used our bodies,
following the teaching of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and others to
bring about a non-violence revolution, a revolution of values, a revolution
of ideas. We put our bodies on the line.

And another generation of young people and people not so young must be
able to get out there and willing to push and pull and say, we going to
make this society better.

BASHIR: Congressman John Lewis, thank you for your service to this
country and the way that you have led. Congressman John Lewis, author of
the book "Across That Bridge, Life Lessons and a Vision For Change," thank
you for joining me.

LEWIS: Thank you very much.

BASHIR: Coming up, in the competition to be North Carolina`s most
offensive Christian pastor, we have a new winner.

And later, how Mitt Romney is trying to bring back the Cold War. Stay
with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BASHIR: For the past three weeks, three different churches in North
Carolina have not distinguished themselves by the public statements of
their senior pastors about the issue of marriage equality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PASTOR RON BAITY, NORTH CAROLINA PASTOR: For 300 years we had laws
that would prosecute that lifestyle. We are not smarter5 in the last few
years than we have been in 300 years. We`ve gone down the wrong path.

PASTOR TIM RABON, NORTH CAROLINA PASTOR: What is stopping them from
refining marriage is between a person and a beast? We`re not far from
that.

PASTOR SEAN HARRIS, NORTH CAROLINA PASTOR: Can I make it any clearer?
Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over
there and crack that wrist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: Just when you didn`t think it could get any worse, Pastor
Charles Worley decided his congregation at Providence Road Baptist Church
in Maiden, North Carolina, also needed a good dose of hell fire and hatred.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PASTOR CHARLES WORLEY, NORTH CAROLINA PASTOR: I figured a way out, a
way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers. But I couldn`t get it past
the Congress. Build a great big large fence, 150 or 100 mile long. Put
all the lesbians in there.

Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and
the homosexuals. And have that fence electrified so they can`t get out.
Feed them. And you know what? In a few years, they will die out.

Do you know why? They can`t reproduce. If a man ever has a young`
un, praise God, it will be the first one. All of these -- you just as well
amen. I`m going to preach the hell out of all of them.

Hey, I tell you right now, somebody said who you going vote for? I
ain`t going to vote for a baby killer and a homosexual lover. You said,
did you mean to say that? You better believe I did!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: We wanted to know if Pastor Worley stands by those remarks.
So we repeatedly called the Providence Road Baptist Church Today. There
was no answer.

Joining me now is Anthea Butler, associate professor of religious
studies and graduate chair at the University of Pennsylvania. Good
evening.

ANTHEA BUTLER, ASSOC. PROF. RELIGIOUS STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF
PENNSYLVANIA: Good evening, Martin. How are you?

BASHIR: I am well. We must be careful not to judge nor mock those
who honestly and honorably hold differing views on this issue. But what
possible justification is there for this kind of relentless and offensive
treatment of others?

BUTLER: There is no justification, Martin. None at all. There is no
-- even no place in scripture that says anything like this. I think what
is happening is we are starting to see what their true Christianity is
like. I think about Frederick Douglas when he talked about what slave
holding Christianity was like.

Well, this is the Christianity of the 21st century in America, is this
Christianity that it is OK to vilify anyone who you think isn`t like you.
And that`s just wrong.

BASHIR: Given that Jesus upturned almost every social convention of
his time, from treating the outcast with respect, to forgiving a
prostitute, does this pastor really believe that the Jesus of scripture
would provide a fenced enclosure for lesbians? And why are congregations
so docile, when they should surely be challenging this kind of preaching?

BUTLER: Well, you are absolutely correct. Let me go to your last
point first. Of course they should be challenging it. But unfortunately,
in some of these congregations, the pastors hold a tremendous amount of
sway. These people don`t even pick up scripture for themselves. They rely
on the pastor to tell them what to believe and what to think on Sundays.

So they`re very docile. And they`re very comfortable in these
congregations.

And second of all, Jesus didn`t say anything like this. What it
always strikes me is that this Jesus that they claim to purport and love so
much would never treat anyone like this. He would not fence anyone in. He
would not drop food down on somebody like this. It is just -- it is
absolutely heinous, I have to say.

BASHIR: What do you say to those theologians, both Catholic and
Protestant, who are not hateful of homosexuality, but believe that there
are Biblical reasons for why they cannot accept same sex relationships or
gay marriage?

BUTLER: I would say to them we need to sit down and look at some
scriptures together. Because just as much as they say that there is not a
Biblical justification for it, people on the other side can make a
justification from it, from scripture.

I think the problem about this is that they are conflating two issues.
One issue is about what is a civil right. The other issue is about what is
their religious right. And everybody interprets scripture a different way.
There`s lots of denominations that don`t agree with them.

So I think what we have to do is stop allowing people to come on TV
and quote scriptures all the time and say, that`s it, God settles it.
Because if they don`t know the different between what inherent, literal and
infallible means, in terms of looking at scripture, they shouldn`t be
talking about it.

BASHIR: So is it your view, therefore, that we need to consider
culture at the same time as we consider these absolutes of scripture?

BUTLER: Well, I think culture is important. But what I think is more
important is that there are laws of the land. What really was interesting
to me about what happened with President Obama saying that he was for same
sex marriage is that all of these pastors immediately went berserk,
thinking that that meant the end.

Somehow we have conflated what the Constitutions says, what our civil
rights law say up against what scripture says. We are not a country that
is run by the Bible. We are run by our Constitution. I think what the
problem is that these people have conflated the two.

BASHIR: Anthea Butler, associate professor religious studies and
graduate chair at the University of Pennsylvania, thank you so much for
joining us.

BUTLER: Thank you, Martin.

BASHIR: Still to come tonight, Bain isn`t the only problem for Mitt
Romney. He is behind the times when it comes to foreign policy as well.
The world that Mitt Romney lives in, Cold War, Three Stooges and all, is
next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I was an independent during the time of Reagan/Bush. I`m not
trying to return to Reagan/Bush.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: That was Mitt Romney when he was running for the United
States Senate against Ted Kennedy. Eighteen years later, having taken
nearly every position on almost every policy, Mitt Romney is going back to
Reagan/Bush.

We already knew that Romney`s world view is still very much centered
in the Cold War.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: This is to Russia. This is, without question, our number one
geopolitical political foe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: Now to say that Russia is this country`s number one
geopolitical foe is indicative of how Mitt Romney is really made for the
last century and not this one.

In an opinion piece in the "Chicago Tribune" over the weekend, Mitt
Romney writes "I will not allow runaway entitlement spending to swallow the
defense budget, as has happened in Europe and as President Obama is now
allowing here."

This is a remarkable statement. Not only does he cast dispersions on
NATO, even as the president hosts members of the G-8, he is also completely
out of touch with what world leaders are focused on, as the president
explained.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: As all the leaders here today agreed, growth and jobs must be
our top priority. A stable, growing European economy is in everybody`s
best interests, including America`s.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: So while Romney talks up military spending, the rest of the
world is trying to work on economic growth. While Romney tries to
relitigate a conflict with Russia, the rest of the world is trying to move
forward. The real key, of course, to Mitt Romney`s backward facing foreign
policy is that most of it has been written by advisors to a previous
president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I`m not trying to return to Reagan/Bush.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: No one has made it more difficult to follow Mitt Romney`s
positions than the candidate himself. Mitt Romney`s own words summed up
the dilemma last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I`m not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I
stand by what I said, whatever it was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: But while most of us have left the last century, Mitt Romney
is still stuck there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I used to watch Laurel and Hardy, the Three Stooges, even the
Keystone Cops. I watched "I Love Lucy." I watched "The Honeymooners."

I think he compared that to -- was it to Pearl Harbor? I think it`s
more like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory.

This combines a couple of things I like best, cars and sport.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASHIR: Thank so much for watching. You can have THE LAST WORD
online at this show`s blog, TheLastWord.MSNBC.com. You can catch my own
show at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, every day here on MSNBC. "THE ED SHOW" is up
next. Good night.

END

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