PoliticsNation, Friday, January 11th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Friday show
January 11, 2013
Guests: Patrick Murphy; Nia-Malika Henderson, Bob Shrum, Cynthia Tucker, Toure, Abby Huntsman
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you
for tuning in.
Tonight`s lead, here comes the freak out. The president and vice
president are building a plan of action on guns. It`s going to be big. It
will have the full force of the Obama White House behind it and it`s coming
as soon as Tuesday. The right wing knows what they`re heading into. They
know they have a fight on their hands, which is why we`re now hearing this
kind of garbage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE WALSH, FORMER ILLINOIS REPRESENTATIVE: To preserve and keep this
great Republican republic, we may have to shed blood every couple hundred
years. We may have to shed blood every couple hundred years to preserve
our basic freedoms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Wow. Shed blood to stop gun safety. I don`t think so.
We`re not going to let the forces of violence and extremism get in the way
of this debate. Not this time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES YEAGER, CEO, TACTICAL RESPONSE: I`m telling you, if that
happens, it`s going to spark a civil war and I`ll be glad to fire the first
shot. I am not letting this country be ruled by a dictator. I`m not
letting anybody take my guns. If it goes one inch further, I`m going to
start killing people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Start killing people? I mean, this is foul. This is ugly
stuff. They are in full freak out mode. But, we are serious, people,
wanting real change. The tricks, the threats, it`s all behind us now.
People from Newtown, Connecticut to Chicago, Illinois are standing up and
saying no more. This time it`s different. This time we won`t back down.
This time, we`re not going to let the threats stand in the way of progress
and protecting our kids.
With me now, E.J. Dionne, a Washington Post columnist and MSNBC
contributor. This week, he wrote about the need for Republicans to get on
board with gun control. And Melissa Harris-Perry host of "Melissa Harris-
Perry" here on MSNBC.
Thank you both for joining me tonight.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW:
E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you and
SHARPTON: E.J., what are you hearing about what the administration is
looking to pass here? We`re getting different reports.
DIONNE: Well, what I understand, first of all, I think the folks
freaking out are freaking out for a reason which is there really is
momentum now and they are starting to pick up support. What I understand
is there is a lot of support for universal background checks, where, right
now, 40-50 percent of gun sales are through private dealers, unlicensed
dealers, gun shows. Closing that loophole seems to have a lot of support
So also, does the ban on the high capacity magazines. That idea seems
to have grabbed the imagination of a lot of people including, I am told,
Republicans. What they`re worried about is the assault weapons ban. I
mean, vice president Biden, he is going to propose it. They are going to
push for it. But --
SHARPTON: He is going to propose the weapons ban.
DIONNE: He is going to propose it. But that`s where they`re getting
more pushback. Apparently, some from Democrats. And so, on the one hand,
the good news is I think there`s a really good shot we`re going to get some
action, which is amazing, if you think of where we were four months ago. I
think there`s going to have to be a lot of struggle and organizing to get
the assault weapons ban because that`s where the support in congress as I
understand it is the weakest right now.
SHARPTON: Now, the assault weapons ban, Melissa, even some pushback
from some Democrats, why would Democrats push back on an assault weapons
ban. And can we get enough of the other things that would really make a
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, I want to say two things. One, I think we
ought to be really careful about saying this is a fundamental Democrat-
Republican issue and the pain reason is, because whenever we do that, we do
it or they do it or it`s framed that way, we already know how that`s going
to go down. Republicans will not give even an inch, right?
This is a fundamental issue about the civic duty that American have
along with their civil rights. So, there is a second amendment that does
provides for Americans to have the right to bear arms. And, at the same
time, it requires within that same language that the right to bear arms
comes along with a specific set of duties and those duties mean that we
have to have responsible, reasonable law who doesn`t mean all people can
own all kinds of guns.
So why do you get the pushback from Democrats? I think it`s the
simplest, easiest answer. Because there is a lot of money in assault
weapons. And that money carries with it enormous lobbyist power in
Washington. And those lobbyists show up in democratic offices and
Republican offices. The pressure to allow gun manufactures, gun dealers,
and those putting guns on the streets to continue to make the profit that
they want to make is an enormous pressure on Democrats and Republicans
alike and will only change when the American people`s pressure is stronger
than the pressure of those lobbyists.
SHARPTON: Well E.J., let me ask you this, though. Because in your
article, on Melissa`s point, you point out house Republicans, that in
certain stage, 12 member in New Jersey and New York, 13 in Pennsylvania, 44
more from the Midwest, 20 from the west coast. They may be the ones that
really make this point that is not Republican or Democrat. But they`re
inclined to vote for gun control and side with what is the civil and right
thing to do.
DIONNE: Yes. No, I think Melissa makes a very important point. This
has never been a purely Republican and Democratic issue. Thirty eight
Republicans back in `94, when the assault weapons ban was originally
passed, it`s since expired, 38 Republicans voted for it.
Now this is a different Republican party. There were few are
moderates. But I think a lot of those Republicans from the northeast,
particularly from New York and Pennsylvania, from the west coast, a lot of
these Republicans know that there`s a problem for them and a problem for
their party. If the entire tone of the party is set by the most right wing
members, many of them from one party districts in the south.
And so, we`ll never get anything done on this unless there is
significant support from Republicans. And there does seem to be developing
support from them particularly for the ban on the big ban magazines and
universal background checks. And you like to see pressure continue on the
assault weapons because --
SHARPTON: So that would be a big development because if they are
talking about supporting and really going against the grain of these more
right wingers, whether they would be Republicans or Democrats, that means
that we may have enough votes to really get something significantly done?
DIONNE: I absolutely think that`s what`s going on right now. Again,
that`s why the freak out that you showed at the beginning of the show is
happening. And I think the NRA - and I guess Rachel Maddow made this point
the other night. The NRA has had -- it`s been so long since they`ve had to
argue this issue, that they are kind of shocked and how much support once
this issue is framed the way it is now which is let`s take some reasonable
steps to prevent something like Newtown from happening again. Again, a lot
of people including gun owners are on that side.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I think the freak out also helped to make the point
for the other side. When you see someone speaking straight to camera and
say if I don`t get what I want, I`m going to start killing people. I mean,
your first reaction as a person is whoa. I wouldn`t want that person to
have a gun, right? It almost as though, they gone so far in trying to make
a point that they made out the other point.
SHARPTON: That`s why I wanted to show people when you have freak
outs, you usually look freaky in doing them.
DIONNE: It`s a good rule then.
SHARPTON: The NRA had Wane LaPierre said in December that school
should employ armed officers. Listen to this, both of you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION:
The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
We need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a
protection program proven to work. And, by that, I mean armed security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is to take
the gun from him in the first place. And then he`s an unarmed bad guy. I
mean, there`s not even logic to that. But the fact is that I think this
kind of rhetoric has really united Americans across party lines and
geographic and regional lines because people are saying, wait a minute.
When you look at Virginia Tech, they had their own police force on campus
and look what happened.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, I think there are two fallacies there. One, is
the assumption that most of the gun violence that we experience is a bad
guy with a gun who comes into a certain chance of unarmed people. And as
you and I both know, as important as Newtown is, that there were shooting
and galvanizing our attention, that is not what most gun violence is and
most people are dying from guns. In circumstance where everybody in the
situation, in fact, is armed.
The second piece assumes we know who the good guys are. And look --
SHARPTON: Or the bad guys.
HARRIS-PERRY: Or the bad guys. I mean, I`m a supporter of teachers,
you know, but we took corporal punishment out of schools because we made a
decision largely as a country that we didn`t even want teachers beating our
kids with, you know, with belts. And now we want them to be armed, yes.
SHARPTON: Well, let me ask you this, E.J. also, the money in this,
when gun makers are looking at the fact they made a lot of money and
they`ve given a lot of money to the NRA, gun industry donations in the last
six years at NRA, up to an estimated $39 million and has paid off. "The
Huffington Post" reported the industry is profiting to the tune of $12
billion. So, let`s not talk about there`s not a profit motive involved in
a lot of this.
DIONNE: Well, I think this is really important reporting. I always
have thought that the NRA is representing gun manufacturer. And I think
the more people realize this, that it`s really about manufacturers and not
the average gun owner in America. The more people who own guns are going
to say wait a minute, does NRA represent my interest or is it representing
the interest to the manufacturers? And what you`d like to see is more
reasonable people take over the NRA or start new organizations.
When I was a kid, the NRA was mostly about teaching gun safety. It
wasn`t this hard-lying political organization. And I think all of this
data about money from gun manufacturers really makes a point that a gun
owner needs a different organization.
SHARPTON: E.J., Dionne and Melissa Harris-Perry, thank you both for
your time this evening.
And don`t forget to tune in to "Melissa Harris-Perry" Saturdays and
Sundays at 10:00 a.m. here on MSNBC.
Coming up, President Obama`s big step toward demolishing the mess that
Bush created leading with Afghanistan`s president and making a big
Plus, remember when Todd "legitimate rape" Akin sent the Republican
Party scrambling into embarrassment mode? Well today, a sitting
congressman said Akin was partly right. What are these people thinking? I
guess they`re not.
And should President Obama be on mount Rushmore? It`s a provocative
question getting a lot of debate today. That debate is coming up.
You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will.
Today, our facebook fans were all weighing in on whether President
Obama should be added to mount Rushmore.
Angela a says I welcome it. Right next to Lincoln would be perfect.
Denise says he deserves it. He`s done so much for this country.
Samantha says leave Rushmore as is. Obama deserves his own monument.
We`ve got more on the Rushmore debate coming up in the show.
But, first, we want to hear from you. Tell us what you think. Please
head over to facebook and search "Politics Nation" and like us to join the
conversation that keeps going long after the show ends.
SHARPTON: Today, a big step toward putting an end to this eight-year
mess that was George w Bush`s foreign policy. At the White House,
President Obama met with Afghanistan`s president and he made a big
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We achieved our central
goal which is or have come very close to achieving our central goal, which
is to de-capacitate al-Qaeda, to dismantle them, to make sure that they
can`t attack us again.
By the end of next year, 2014, the transition will be complete.
Afghans will have full responsibility for their security. And this war
will come to a responsible end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Yes, a reduced role for U.S. troops will start this spring.
After more than 4,000 days of combat, it is past time for this to be over.
We are now one step closer to undoing the reckless foreign policy that
Bush-Cheney left us. No more that idea that diplomacy is for weak land.
No more of the arrogant attack first neo-con fantasy. It`s why the
nomination of Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense matters. That s why
The president is taking the Bush doctrine and kicking it out the door.
A historic stamp. President Obama is putting on American foreign policy.
Joining me now is former Congressman Patrick Murphy, Democrat from
Pennsylvania. He`s the first Iraq war veteran elected to congress. And
Nia-Malika Henderson, political reporter for "the Washington Post."
First, let me thank you both for being here tonight.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST:
PATRICK MURPHY (D), FORMER REPRESENTATIVE, PENNSYLVANIA: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Congressman, you`ve been long for a pullout as I have even
disagree with the administration, we should have never extended it. What`s
your reaction to the president`s announcement of speeding up the withdrawal
of U.S. troops?
MURPHY: Reverend, today is a great day for the troops -- American
troops, but also to our country. Because today is very significant. The
fact that the president`s been very clear, we`re now accelerating the fact
that we`re bringing our troops home.
Thank goodness. We are shifting from a counter insurgency doctrine to
now a counterterrorism doctrine. We are bringing our troops home because,
Rev, they did their job. They took out bin Laden. They gave Afghanistan a
chance to stand up for their own people. The longest war in American
history, over ten years off, it is now about time to bring our troops home.
And I tell you what, I gave President Obama a lot of credit because he
had the guts to do the right thing. Because we all know, we are going to
be hearing from the far-right wing. But President Obama did the right
thing for American security and American troops.
SHARPTON: Now, that is absolutely right. We are going to hear from
the right-wing and many of us that was opposed to this war and wish that
they would have never gone this far have to give him credit.
And when you look, Nia-Malika, at the fact that the numbers behind the
Afghanistan war is astounding. They are 11.3 years, the cost of the war,
$557.3 billion. Dead, 2,174, wounded, 17,674 and, still, 66,000 troops
there today to start getting out of this early makes financial sense and it
saves American lives. And as the congressman just said, if we win in the
calls of al-Qaeda and bin Laden, bin Laden is no longer among the living.
HENDERSON: Yes, that whole argument around cost was the argument that
candidate Obama made around the Iraq war. He, of course, campaign saying
that that was the damn war. Afghanistan was the smart war.
But here, we face a situation where you listed the costs there in
blood and treasure. And here is the president who is looking at having to
a shrink the defense budget. That budget is about $600 billion a year in
looking at his insulation of Hagel and Kerry at state. They are going to
have to preside over a foreign policy that is much different over what we
have seen over these last decades.
You mentioned, for instance, that there will probably be some
(INAUDIBLE) from the foreign right. But in some ways, I think, the
Republican doctrine of foreign policy which was about neo-conservatism,
which was sort of Bush doctrine. There`s a lot of disagreement, even among
Republicans about the cost of war, about whether or not, that`s where
Americans should be spending time. I think you have, with Obama, this
idea, now, that there should be nation building at home. And that`s why
this is very much historic day, I think, in laying out and sort of
underscoring what`s going to be the Obama doctrine, a foreign policy going
SHARPTON: Isn`t that the key, Congressman that we are looking at the
emergence of Obama doctrine? The undoing of the Bush doctrine?
MURPHY: We are, reverend. And Nia is right. It is a historic day.
And you know, Rev. Less than one percent of the Americans that served
in Iraq or Afghanistan, most Americans don`t have skin in the game. And we
all know the troops. But most Americans don`t know, in the past year, just
the past year alone in Afghanistan, there have been 60 of our troops who
have been killed on green, on blue violence, murdered basically by Afghan
MURPHY: Now is the time to bring these troops home. We are going to
keep this very dirty very small footprint to help out training out -
continue to train the Afghan forces and we ride some counterterrorism.
But, the days of nation or after 11 years are now finally over. It is time
to nation build here at home.
SHARPTON: And that`s the - and I`ve been saying this a long time. I
oppose a war a long time. And I think I`m all for nation building. Let`s
start with one called the United States.
But, whether we think that when we look at the Bush doctrine, it
adhered to the neoconservative agenda, launch preemptive war, attack
countries that harbor terrorists, spread democracy to combat terrorism,
unilaterally pursue U.S. military interest. And when you in the contest
that Bush doctrine, see that Chuck Hagel who first supported the Iraqi
emission and then turned around in good conscious and said no, that he
would not. And he made this statement in his book.
He says I made myself a promise that if I ever get out of that place,
he was talking about Vietnam, if I ever get out of that place and was ever
in a position to do something about war, So horrible, so filled with
suffering, I would do whatever I could to stop it. I have never forgotten
that promise. This is Chuck Hagel in his book talking about his
experiences in Vietnam and led him to come out in opposition as a
Republican to the Iraqi war.
Don`t you think, Nia-Malika, that a lot of this opposition to Hagel by
some of the far right is that they`re still angry at him that he came out
against the Iraqi war, after that started and he has formally support it?
HENDERSON: I think there is certainly some truth to that. But what`s
interesting about that is, I think, in many ways, Hagel`s position, back in
the war, back in funding the war initially and then having sort of
questions about him, criticizing it, really mirrors on how the American
people have also evolved on this war.
Most polls show that folks think these wars were a mistake and are
certainly much too costly to continue to engage in given the financial
situation that most folks are facing now. And so, you have a president
who, again, is turning to the economy here and looking to wind down these
wars. We had two very large ground wars going on with this president,
first gun talk and by 2014, there will be a very, very limited foot print
there in Afghanistan.
SHARPTON: I pray that it all works without a hitch because we need to
be in that position.
Former Congressman Patrick Murphy and Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you
for your time tonight. And both of you have a great weekend.
HENDERSON: You too.
MURPHY: You too, Reverend. Thanks so much.
SHARPTON: Coming up, here they go again. Republicans threatening to
block money to people hurt by hurricane Sandy. What are they thinking?
That`s the congressman is talking about legitimate rape? Yes,
SHARPTON: We are just ten days away from President Obama`s second
inauguration. The first term saw history made. A health care law,
financial reform, the end of don`t ask, don`t tell. And he says the best
is yet to come.
So does he belong on mount Rushmore? That debate is heating up and is
SHARPTON: Since Republicans flopped in the election, they`ve been
getting all kinds of advice about how to fix the party. And today, Peggy
Noonan, the conservative columnist for The Wall Street Journal wrote an
article called it`s pirate time for the GOP. Pirate time.
She says, "Now the time to put a dagger between their teeth, wave a
sword, grab a rope and swing to the enemy`s galleon. The president`s
issues take them -- steam them. They never belonged to him. They`re
yours." Well, shiver me timbers. Peggy Noonan has gone pirate. And she
walks the GOP to go pirate to -- the democratic position are taxes,
In other words, become more like President Obama. Ahoi, there,
maties. That`s a swash buckling idea. But, unfortunately, the GOP is
going the other way. Political says, Republicans are vowing to pillage
next week`s Sandy aid bill by cutting funds or demanding offsets. These
black hearted roves include Congressman Hal Rogers, Mick Mulvaney and Tom
McClintock. Give them all an eye patch. That`s just awful. And the party
is not getting any better on women`s issues either. Today, a republican
lawmaker had this to say about Mr. Legitimate rape, Todd Akin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: He went on and said that you know, in
a situation of a rape, a legitimate rape, a woman`s body has a way of
shutting down so that pregnancy would not occur. He`s partly right on
that. I`m an OB-GYN doctor, I`ve delivered lots of babies and I know about
these things. It is true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That terrible. Give him an eye patch, too. Folks, these
Tea Party pirates are forcing Republicans to walk the plank. This
(INAUDIBLE) and this ship -- is sinking fast.
Joining me now is a swash buckle in his own right, Bob Shrum, NYU
professor and former senior advisor to the Gore and Kerry campaign. He
just wrote a Daily Beast column saying, quote, "What we have in Washington
is not a functioning Congress, but a one-ring circus on the far right."
And, also with me, Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer Prize winning syndicated
columnist and now visiting professor of journalism at the University of
Georgia. She`s giving out a few black eyes in the time -- Texas.
Thank you both for joining me.
BOB SHRUM, NYU PROFESSOR: Glad to be here.
SHARPTON: Bob, are there any reasonable Republicans left to put the
ship back on course?
SHRUM: Well, I don`t agree with some of the analysis that Peggy
Noonan gives. But her recommendations are reasonable and sensible. And if
you talk to Republicans` strategy just privately, they`ll all say they want
to do this. What Noonan wants is a party that`s more like Ronald Reagan
who made a deal on immigration with Ted Kennedy.
A deal on Social Security with Tip O`Neill and deals with Democrats on
taxes. But today`s Republicans, these folks in the house, these people you
just talked about, they`re Reaganites in name only. They`re the real
Ryanites in the Republican Party. They`re not going to give an inch. And
it`s going to make a very, very difficult to get anything done. I think
we`re going to see self inflicted crisis after self-inflicted crisis. It`s
good for the Democrats by the way, but it`s bad for America.
SHARPTON: Very bad for America. Cynthia, when you look at there`s a
Web site called days without a GOP rape mentioned dot com. That`s the name
of it. Days without a GOP rape mentioned dot com. It`s inspired by
Stephen Colbert. They had to reset their clock to zero after this new
legitimate rape comment from Congressman Phil Gingrey. I mean, why are the
Republicans still talking about rape, Cynthia.
CYNTHIA TUCKER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: You know, Rev, a few months
ago, I told my mother who still lives in Alabama in a tiny little town that
I grew up in. I said mother, you know what? Alabama no longer has the
craziest members of congress. Georgia has that distinction now. We have
the craziest members of Congress. So, Phil Gingrey gets up there when the
GOP was hoping we finally got all of that madness about rape behind us.
What does he do for no good reason but resurrect it?
And the reason he did so is because he really believes that
foolishness. These are people who really believed the strange things that
they say. Paul Brown though, another republican from Georgia said several
months ago that evolution and the big bang theory that the earth is
billions of years old, these are ideas straight from the fires of hell.
SHARPTON: He was on the Science committee, by the way.
TUCKER: Exactly. So, the Republican Party is going to have a very
difficult time remaking its image as long as these are the people that they
have in Congress.
SHARPTON: Now, when you look at the fact that they`re at a historic
level of unpopularity, the 2012 average approval rating was 15 percent for
them. The lowest in the 38-year history of Gallup, they had the lowest.
And you wrote, Bob, that the GOP is the party that won`t compromise. The
party that threatens economic chaos. The anti-Medicare, anti-Social
Security, anti-women, anti-Hispanic, anti-gay, anti-young party, there is
no future in that?
SHRUM: Well, there is no future in that for them, politically. I
mean, you have a bunch of people who come, and I think Cynthia is
absolutely right about that. Georgia is a Congressional delegation. They
come from gerrymandered districts that are very safe where they only worry
about a challenge from the far right. So they keep moving far to the
right. And you get people like Gingrich who was a disgraced as a doctor.
I don`t know where he went to medical school.
And he clearly a disgraced as a congressman. But what this does is
make the Republican Party the face of an increasingly small, increasingly
isolated, demographically limited group of people in America. And, you
know, maybe they can keep their house seats. But they`re never going to
win the presidency if they go down this road. And you may notice what
they`re doing right now is they`re all beginning to attack Chris Christie
because he actually went on television and look -- he`s very conservative.
He`s not my favorite guy, but he`s a very interesting personality.
SHARPTON: They make him look good, I disagree with a lot of Christie
but he has more at least more political strategic sense than they do.
SHRUM: Well, he said the word compromise and they got mad at him. I
mean, the truth is you can`t make the United States of America the greatest
democracy in the world work if you`re going to take the government and
render it totally dysfunctional. These people don`t want to run the
government, they don`t want to strengthen the government, they hate the
government, they want to destroy it.
SHARPTON: Now, Cynthia, Senate democratic leaders wrote a letter to
President Obama about what to do at the GOP bulks on a debt limit. And it
reads, "We believe you must be willing to take any lawful steps to ensure
America does not break its promises and trigger a global, economic crisis
without Congressional approval, if necessary." It`s a very bold statement.
TUCKER: It was a very bold statement. But it is required in this
time of absolute republican recklessness. The president cannot allow the
House Republicans to take the economy to the brink of the abyss as they did
in 2011. He has already made it absolutely clear that he does not have any
intention of negotiating with them on the debt limit. This is money that
has already been spent.
We just need to pay back the people who have lent us this money.
TUCKER: And the economy, worldwide, would be hurt if they didn`t
raise the debt limit. So I think it gives him even more negotiating room
and maneuvering room when Republicans know that Democrats in the Senate
stand behind him endorsing whatever plan he feels is necessary to get
SHARPTON: Bob Shrum and Cynthia Tucker, I`m going to have to leave it
there. Thanks for your time tonight.
SHRUM: Thank you both.
SHARPTON: Coming up, who is more deserving of Mount Rushmore. Barack
Obama or Ronald Reagan. It`s hot and it`s next. And, oh, no, from the
Muppets to Kermit to Sponge Bob to the Lorax. The right wingers at FOX
have a new conspiracy in what`s advancing a liberal agenda. Be afraid,
America. Be very afraid.
SHARPTON: Up next, we`ve long heard Republicans say, Ronald Reagan
deserves to be on Mount Rushmore. But does President Obama deserve a spot?
It`s a question giving a lot of attention today. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Every president wants a chance to have their legacy
cemented into American history. Literally. Over 70 years ago, sculptors
finished carving the faces of four American presidents into Mount Rushmore
in South Dakota. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt
and Abraham Lincoln etched in stone forever. But is there room for
Conservatives have long argued their idol President Ronald Reagan is
worthy of the honor. But what about this? Does President Obama deserve to
be up there with the others? It`s a provocative question being raised in
an article in the "National Journal" today and it has everyone talking and
Joining me now is Toure, host of "THE CYCLE," here on MSNBC and Abby
Huntsman, host and producer of HuffPost Live. Thank you both for your
TOURE, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Thank you.
SHARPTON: Toure, what about those who say Obama isn`t ready? Reagan
should go there first. What do you say?
TOURE: I`m not ready to put Reagan on Mount Rushmore at all. I mean,
we`re only talking figuratively, right? They`re literally going to bring
out a sculptor perhaps from other sculptor from the KKK like the guy who`ve
made that. Now, Rushmore -- literally going to cost --
SHARPTON: You`re on POLITICS NATION. We have chisels, hammers here.
TOURE: That`s what we`re going to do, you and I?
OK. All right.
SHARPTON: Reagan or Obama?
ABBY HUNTSMAN, HUFFPOST LIVE: I`ll put up Reagan, you can put up
Obama. We`ll chisel together.
TOURE: I`m not putting up Reagan at all. I`m not ready to put up
Obama, right? I think he had a very strong first term, saving Detroit,
ending two wars, ACA, changed Americans fundamentally, especially as much
he could from the dump that Bush left us with, OK. But I need to see a
little bit more. I want to see, what are you going to do on gun control?
What are you going to be able to do on immigration? Right? What are going
to be able to do in terms of gay rights? So, we can fundamentally change
America pre-larger group of Americans. When we see health care
implemented, then we will see America change.
SHARPTON: All right. Abby, surprising, Toure says, he`s not ready
HUNTSMAN: That is really shocking actually. This is very premature
celebration. A lot like the Nobel Peace Prize that Obama won because it --
SHARPTON: We`re having a discussion. Nobody celebrated it yet.
HUNTSMAN: But even talking about, I think it`s premature because it
takes time. I mean, the difference between politics and history is time.
And I think the best way -- history is really the best way to judge
presidents. And it takes time, as you said, to know if the policies that
President Obama is putting in place right now, how it`s going to affect the
American people down the road --
TOURE: And by that math, then clearly we`re not putting Reagan --
SHARPTON: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Because the national
journal when they raise it today, that`s a very good point. How much will
it affect the future of the country? Then how did Teddy Roosevelt get up
there? What did he do that affected the future of the country?
HUNTSMAN: I mean, you look at the four presidents that are up there.
SHARPTON: No, no, no, I said one. Tell me how speak softly and carry
a big stick affected the rest of the country.
HUNTSMAN: I mean, these guys are, you know, part of what made our
country what it is today. You know, the founding fathers, I mean, you look
at Lincoln who ended slavery.
SHARPTON: I didn`t say Lincoln. Teddy Roosevelt.
HUNTSMAN: Well, I didn`t put Teddy Roosevelt on there.
SHARPTON: But he`s up there.
HUNTSMAN: He is there because he is a republican icon for a lot of
reason. He represents what our party should be today.
SHARPTON: Oh, he`s a republican icon. I get it. I mean, what I`m
saying really is, how do we determine the qualifications of those that are
already there before we say that President Obama -- Ronald Reagan are not
qualified. What are the qualifications?
TOURE: I mean, I would like to know. You raise the segment, so what
are the qualifications for getting up there? Look, I don`t know if we`re
ready to put, I mean, Obama or Clinton -- I don`t know why he`s not part of
this -- you need another great American president -- I don`t know if we`re
ready to put them up there. But I think, given a little time, we will see
they will be seen as great president.
HUNTSMAN: But you look at Reagan, he ended the cold war. I mean, I
think they have to have a legacy this change this country. And what Obama
-- I mean, he was the first black president. That`s in itself is such
accomplishment that he will always be remembered.
SHARPTON: And he stopped two wars and the whole question of finance
reform on Wall Street and health care. I mean, he has done some concrete
things. I can, again, the reason I raised Teddy Roosevelt is that a lot of
people could say that Teddy Roosevelt was more of a character than a
transformative president. I can name, literally, things that President
Obama has done now. I`m trying to say if Teddy Roosevelt is the measure, I
think it strengthens the case for President Obama.
HUNTSMAN: Well, Reverend, I`d love to ask you, if you had to pick one
republican, who would it be?
SHARPTON: We only have another nine minutes. I need time to think
HUNTSMAN: I think Eisenhower is another good example. Someone that
really created the highway system, you know, really changed our country.
But if you would to ask Obama if he would rather have his face on a
mountain or be remembered in the hearts and minds of Americans, I`m pretty
sure he would take the latter. I mean, we don`t really live in a society
where we want to put our face on a mountain.
SHARPTON: I think one of the things in all seriousness is that
President Obama always from all reports thought of himself in a big way and
aspired to be thought of in a big way.
Jodi Kantor says about how, you know, he said, his sights high. I`m
reading from Jodi Kantor in the New York Times, he says, "Just two years
after arriving in the Senate, he spoke unabashedly about becoming one of
the greatest presidents, a transformative figure like Abraham Lincoln, Dr.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, who would heal the country`s divisions, address his
most critical problems and turn Americans into a hopeful, new direction."
That is a noble thing to aspire to.
TOURE: Of course it`s a noble thing to aspire to. And he was clearly
-- person throughout his life when we read about him at Harvard. He was
clearly trying to do those sorts of things healing division. That`s the
sort of person that he is. Being the first black president, being a
liberal president or a moderate president at this point in time, he`s had
republican attacking him and abstracting him in his way that division he`s
trying to heal, they`re like, we`re going to run the other way. We`re
going to make sure you don`t get another term, these sorts of things. So,
he is trying to find that common ground that we hope that he would find,
that he is being noble for looking for it. And they`re like, no, we just
refuse to give it to you. Take our bowl and go home.
SHARPTON: Well, but Abby Lincoln had to face a lot -- nothing like
Obama but I don`t think --
TOURE: Nobody`s had obstruction like Obama.
SHARPTON: Nobody`s had it like him but I don`t think --
HUNTSMAN: That`s what you really think.
SHARPTON: But I think the reaction deals with whether one achieves
greatness or not. And I think that the president has done great things and
I think he aspires --
HUNTSMAN: Right. And I think the next four years -- the next four
years, he`s going to be challenged as we know it. I mean, he has a lot
coming up the next two months. And if he can overcome this, if he can come
out looking like a leader, I think that will say a lot. And like I said in
the beginning, it`s all about time, we look back and say, he got us through
these really difficult times but only --
TOURE: He looks like a leader to me already. John Boehner can`t even
lead his own caucus --
SHARPTON: -- Mount Rushmore. Let me say, Abby, you`re a good sport to
show up tonight. And call me in about a week. I`d really tried to think -
HUNTSMAN: Yes, I would do that.
TOURE: You might be log in in a week.
SHARPTON: And you tell Chris Matthews next time, take me with them to
Mountain Rushmore because he can break down anyhow. I`d love to see those
pictures of Chris walking around Mount Rushmore. He never took me nor
Abby Huntsman and Toure, thanks for your time tonight. Have a great
TOURE: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Up next, first right wingers had a problem with Sponge Bob
square pants. But you won`t believe who they`re accusing of a liberal
agenda this time. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Finally tonight, more child`s play over at FOX News. For
months, they`ve been obsessed with Hollywood`s so called liberal agenda.
And no one has escaped criticism. Not even creatures who live in
pineapples under the sea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Sponge Bob is talking about global warming and
he`s only looking at it from one point of view.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Clearly, nickelodeon is pushing a global warming
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Oh, yes, clearly, that sponge has an agenda. The truth is
the rights uncovered a liberal agenda in just about every movie. Cals 2
(ph) was pushing anti-oil hog wars. Monsters versus aliens, had a hidden
anti-torture agenda. Even the poor penguin in Happy Feet, he was a
Marxist. And, now, they`ve uncovered another liberal agenda. Math home
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Even worse is the subtle way, some textbooks are
pushing the liberal agenda. Check out the wording of this algebra lesson.
Distribute the wealth of a lovely rich girl with a big ole bag of money
handling some money out. It starts in third grade, distribute a wealth.
And guess what happened, through their whole educational experience, they
continually get indoctrinated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But it`s not just the numbers that are cooked, it`s the
history books, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Read the history books, the reason I said a couple
of years ago, my son`s history book, and actually we`re addressing the war
in Iraq. They were very, very liberally biased saying, you know, when
George Bush went in there because he heard there were weapons of mass
destruction. We never find, it was a very liberal bias.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Huh? Huh? Maybe our friends over at FOX need to go back
to school. Because that`s exactly what happened in Iraq. It`s not a
liberal conspiracy. It`s history. These guys can blame Sponge Bob and
math homework they want with their thinking just doesn`t add up.
Thanks for watching, I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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