PoliticsNation, Monday, January 21st, 2013
Read the transcript from the Monday show
January 21, 2013
Guests: Barney Frank; Sherrod Brown, Frederica Wilson, Ed Rendell, Nia-Malika Henderson, Liza Mundy
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you
for tuning in.
We`re covering this amazing, historic day in Washington, the
inauguration of Barack Obama as our president. Right now, the president
and the vice president are watching the inaugural parade with groups from
all over the country going by the view and standing in front of the White
Just moments ago, the float of Tuskegee airmen passed by and got a
standing ovation as they passed. Earlier today, the president gave his
second inaugural address, a stirring, passionate call for equality and
fairness. Forging a more perfect union and helping the country live up to
the meaning of its creed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We, the people, declare
today that the most evident of truths, that all of us are created equal.
Is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our fore bearers
through Seneca falls and Selma and Stonewall, just as it guided all of
those men and women, sung and unsung, who left foot prints along this great
mall to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone. To hear a king
proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom
of every soul on earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Working together to fulfill the progressive promise of
America, expanding its greatness to all of us. It was the dream of Dr.
Martin Luther King. And late this afternoon, President Obama paused before
the bust of Martin Luther King in the capitol rotunda, a historic president
paying tribute to the man who made that history possible. Fifty years
after the march on Washington, 150 years after the emancipation
proclamation, President Obama begins his second term, recommitting the
nation to our founding ideas with liberty and justice for all.
Joining me now is former congressman Barney Frank, Democrat from
Massachusetts and Melissa Harris-Perry, host of "the Melissa Harris-Perry
show" here on MSNBC.
First, thanks to both of you for joining me on this historic day.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR, MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY SHOW:
BARNEY FRANK (D), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS CONGRESSMAN: It`s an honor.
SHARPTON: Chairman Frank, I mean, this was an amazing day. And the
inaugural parade is still going on. The president is watching from his
viewing stand. And when you look at his speech today, I sat there and
listened. A lot of people were surprised at how he took on some issues and
really raised a new page in American history in terms of where he felt the
future of this country should go, Chairman Frank?
FRANK: I think it was an entirely legitimate victory lap. That is we
had a very tough election, in which fundamental issues were debated, the
rights of gay and lesbian people, the right to vote because of the assault
on the fundamental right to vote that took place in so many states, climate
change, a continuation of our commitment to think Medicare and Social
Security and the notion that inequality is not a necessary component of the
economy. And we want to believe all of those issues.
And I think what the president was saying, was, look, we have
elections. And when you have a full debate in an election and the outcome
is pretty clear cut, then it`s his obligation and his right to move forward
on all of those issues.
SHARPTON: And as we are watching the Navajo nation just went by,
their float, one of the things I saw today, Melissa, is the whole changing
of the demographics of America was reflected at the inauguration, as we
look at native Americans float goes by, as we heard a president for the
first time refer in an inaugural address to same-sex marriage and to gay
rights and talking about gender rights. And he was sworn in on Martin
Luther King`s bible, had those of us in lead civil rights organizations,
their labor organizations. They`re on the platform. I mean, not in a
guest seat somewhere else, right there only the platform and Martin Luther
King`s son. I mean, I think that he was saying America has changed. And
we`ve got to deal with the change and let`s start celebrating the change.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I think he did two things. One, I would agree with
you. He said that America is -- has achieved a certain kind of difference
that it is different now. But he didn`t say I changed it, right? It`s
that line. Seneca falls, Selma and Stonewall, right? It is him naming
each of the turning point watershed moments in American history in terms of
how that change begins to occur.
But then he does the thing, of course, that King did in the "I have a
dream" speech. He goes all the way back to the initial social contract.
He goes back to the declaration of independence.
HARRIS-PERRY: And he says that the basis of this, certainly, is in
the election, in his right to claim the victory as a progressive president.
But, he is actually, the real basis for this goes back even further. Even
into a space with people who, themselves, were slave owners and, yet, wrote
a document that was not in the moment a slave holding document. It was a
document that said that it is self evident that all persons are created
equal. And that we have been, as the president said throughout his term,
we have been working to perfect that union.
SHARPTON: Chairman Frank?
FRANK: Yes. I think you`re giving some of those guys a little bit
too much credit because the constitution was explicitly a slave holding
document. But, basically, I think, look, that`s absolutely right.
One of the best ways to look at our constitution or our political
history is spelling out in real terms the promises that were made that
didn`t hold. I mean, right, when they first vote those things in the 18th
century, they basically meant fairly well off white, Christian men. And
there has been a series --
SHARPTON: When they said all men, they were not talking about all
FRANK: But, it is just an important thing - but it is important for
this week and that is why I mentioned the (INAUDIBLE). We have the right
wing trying to despair that. And in fact, what the president was able to
say today to our great party is this isn`t America, these are the voters
speaking out. This is not some imposition on you. It was like judicial
activism today has become as we know, through the right wing.
The other ones who stoop down campaign financial form, they`re the
ones who tried to strike down health care. The other ones were trying to
cripple the financial reform we felt. It is interesting that the American
public is speaking out in a way that it`s forcing their hand.
SHARPTON: Well, not only have they done what you just said, they`re
right now just listening to the oral arguments on affirmative action.
They`re getting ready to listen to the arguments on the voting rights.
One of the things that the president did address that I jumped out and
I see I know the protocol or not, and it was when he said we don`t need
Americans standing on line for hours to vote, Melissa. And that was
hitting right on the head a contemporary issue from the last election as
chairman Frank talks to us.
HARRIS-PERRY: It was pretty amazing that he, as much as what the big
inaugural speech, there was a little built of the state of the union in
there, too. There was the issue fundamentally about where health care
reform can go next. There was an issue about protection of so called
entitlements. There was an issue of global climate change and the need of
America to leave that. And then there was the issue about voting fairness.
FRANK: And crucially, it was an invitation to mainstream conservative
Republicans to repudiate their right wing, let me use the technical term,
the crazies, as they were going with us.
Look. We`ve had debates. We have debates, Democrats and Republicans.
But things like voting rights, things like sensible environmental policies
have not been so positive. And we are beginning to see, I think, a number
of responsible parties now confronting this. And I think that is supposed
to points of (INAUDIBLE). The president has made very clear, if you move
ahead on immigration in a sensible and fair way for a country that was
built on immigration. He has move on climate change. He`s going to defend
voting rights act. And this is now a challenge to the mainstream
Republican. Will they stay with us? Will they came in to that crazies.
SHARPTON: And, again, you`re looking at live pictures of the
president in his viewing stand at the White House still watching the
parade. The inaugural parade that`s still going on down Pennsylvania
Melissa, the Republicans seem to not, for the most part, take a
negative view today. In fact, President George H. W. Bush congratulated
the president saying Barbara and I send president and Mrs. Obama and their
wonderful girls our best wishes and prayers on this historic day. May all
mighty God bless them and our country over the years.
Eric Cantor said, congratulations, Mr. President. John Boehner -- it
seems like it was John Boehner said honor to present president and vice
president with the flags that flew over the capital during the inaugural
And it seems like even some of the post inaugural address interviews,
they did not give a hundred percent embrace. But they seem to feel the
president was magnanimous and there was not the bipartisan -- the partisan
bickering, at least not today now. Well, tomorrow is another day.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. We`ll see when they start governing. But it
not -- the transition of power does matter. It is what makes a democracy
stable. The fact that we transition in this way that people are -- I mean,
my favorite two shot, so far, my favorite image, is that that included
Beyonce standing near Paul Ryan and there was like this vision of Jay-Z and
Geithner together. And I was like, you know, this is fun, right? This is
kind of American politics and culture, you know, crossing these lines. And
will it hold? Perhaps not. But for a moment, it is a recognition that we
don`t have violent military coups in this country. We have a peaceful
transition of power.
SHARPTON: But, you also saw there, Chairman Frank, as the reference
in terms of his speech where he talked about the struggles that had gone
from Selma to Stonewall and all. On the program, Myrlie Evers, the widow
of Medgar Evers, on the program, Sonia Sotomayor, justice, the honorable
swearing in the vice president. First time, a Latino, showing the change
that we`re talking about.
FRANK: No question. And in a way, it says, look. When Hispanics,
when gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgender people, when people who
have been excluded come forward, it is not at the expense of the people who
believe in talk, but it`s important for everybody. And that is his theme.
It is a better America. It is a more prosperous America. When you fully
employ the talents of everybody. By the way, we saw that. Before World
War II, white men dominated the manufacturing in America. And then,
because so many guys had to go overseas to defend freedom, which they
little have to do, all of that opened up. (INAUDIBLE).
So for the first time, African Americans and women were important.
That didn`t cost white guys their jobs. That expanded America`s base.
America was able to be the great arsenal with democracy and beat this
terribly evil source. Because it is for the - more than ever before, so
many important to all of these people. And that`s an important sentiment.
And I have to say, that phrase, you know, as a guy who talks for a
living, Seneca Falls to Stonewall or Selma, that`s the chance of political
rhetoric. That`s, I think, got a resident and a meaning some people will
now know what Seneca Falls was for the women`s movement. That was an
extraordinarily good phrase and a meaningful one.
SHARPTON: And it connected struggles.
I`m going to have to leaf it there. We`re going to continue watching
the inaugural parade that is still being reviewed by the president and the
fist family in the viewing stands in front of the White House.
Congressman Frank, Melissa Harris-Perry, thanks to both of you. Enjoy
the rest of the inauguration day.
We`ll be right back with our continuing coverage of President Obama`s
inaugural parade. This is a special edition of "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.
A historic day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the
marginalized, the victims of prejudice, not out of mere charity, but
because peace in our time requires the constant advance that our common
pre-describes, tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We`re back with live pictures from the inaugural parade in
Washington, D.C. The president and vice president on the viewing stand in
front of the White House as history was made today, our facebook fans were
sharing their thoughts.
Liz says, what a wonderful experience to celebrate Martin Luther King,
Jr., day and witness the swearing in of our president, Barack Obama.
Patti says, being a former Miss Stonewall, I was elated to hear him
acknowledge where it all started for us.
Some shared their hopes for a second term.
Diane wants to see the president take on jobs, voters` suppression,
immigration and gun safety.
We`ll talk more about the president`s second term agenda coming up.
But, first, we want to hear 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Now, more than ever, we must do these things together as one
nation and one people. America`s possibilities are limitless for we
possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands. My
fellow Americans, we are made for this moment and we will seize it so long
as we seize it together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Seize it together. President Obama calling on Americans to
come together in his speech today. And welcome back to the continuing
coverage of President Obama`s inaugural parade. These are live pictures.
You`re looking at the president in great spirits. And so far, we`ve seen
Dr. King`s throne in Tuskegee airman with President Obama.
But earlier, it was that speech. And he defied expectations again.
There were specifics on voting, on gay rights, on women`s rights, on
climate change, on immigration, on gun control. And he defended the big
Joining me now is Democratic senator from Ohio, Sherrod Brown.
Senator, thanks for coming on the show tonight.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: You bet. Thanks, Reverend Sharpton.
SHARPTON: What a speech. I mean, wow, how surprised were you at the
tone and the specifics in this speech?
BROWN: I wasn`t surprised. I mean, we had very high expectations for
him. He delivered. I loved the line as Barney Frank and others mentioned
from Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall, I think that says a couple things.
It says, one, how we`ve moved forward as a nation and we should acknowledge
that at the inauguration.
And, second, it underscores how none of those were easy. I mean, you
know, everything about civil rights and what happens with women`s rights
and what happens with gay rights. It`s always a battle tomorrow that
starts. And the president, I mean, I like how he is engaged with
organizing for action. And I like how he knows that the country is behind
him but needs to remind the Congress that it`s behind him every day. You
know the old FDR story, he gathered people together, progressive groups and
they said we want you to do this and he said I`m with you, but go make me
do it. And that`s what the president, I think, in a historic way, was
SHARPTON: It is very ambitious, though. What can he get done, in
your opinion? You`re in the Senate. You know the climate and Congress.
What can he get done?
BROWN: Well, starts with jobs. None of this happens in the way we
wanted until we grow this economy more. And I think the public gets that.
I think the deal at the end of the year, the budget deal, was, in many
ways, the agreement was an acknowledgment affirmation by both parties of
both houses. The trickledown economics doesn`t work. Tax cuts for the
rich. It doesn`t trickledown and help the middle class. And those who
aspire the middle class that you focus on the middle class and working
families and you grow the economy out from there.
That`s what that agreement was about three weeks ago. And I think
that`s where the president focuses. He focuses on immigration. I think
that he works on gun safety. I think all of this is climate change is very
possible because the public ratified that, affirmed that in the election.
And I think the public wants him to move forward.
SHARPTON: Harnessing the power of his reelection campaign, how
important will it be for the people`s support to be rallied to achieve his
BROWN: I think ten years ago, even in the beginning of the Obama
administration, I think once he was elected, we all thought progressive
president, good things are going to happen. Then, Mitch McConnell and John
Boehner came and said stop. It was -- I think people just thought that
will happen because we elected him. We learned that. The president
learned it. I think people in MSNBC learned it. And I think that Congress
and the public most importantly learned it. That this just doesn`t happen
because of an election. It happens because of an election and then it
means going online, it means doing rallies, it means knocking on the doors,
it means educating your neighbors at church and the workplace and in
school. And I think that`s what the president has taught us in what we
need to learn better than we have.
SHARPTON: Now, you`re using the word takers in this speech, I mean
going right after the right and a reminder of people what the election was
about. I looked right across at Paul Ryan when he said it. I mean, given
the Republicans parties and their positions right now, can he get this
BROWN: I think Republicans sometimes look to the next election, too.
And when they think about how the demographics are changing, how the
philosophy of young people is changing, I think they understand that when
you`re talking about this 47 percent, the takers, it`s veterans and people
who paid the Medicare and realize it`s workers that aren`t making much
money, that are making $11, $12 an hour. And if Republicans don`t listen,
they pay a price in successful elections. And they recognized the changes
of this country and that`s why I`m of the optimistic that we can reach some
agreement on some of these really important proposals.
SHARPTON: Do you think that Republicans are getting that the country
has changed, the demographics has changed, 1950, Andy Griffith, Mayberry
America no longer exists other than re-runs?
BROWN: I think they are. My wife gave me for Christmas of what
called strum pyramids America. And it talked about the change in this
country and how, you know, in those days and even since how Republicans
have appealed to race in a way that you know, has undercut so much of the
social fabric. And I think people are ready to put that behind them and
move forward and progressive proposals. I really do think this is a
watershed in our country to move forward now. This election and the
activism was so many people to push the government in a more progressive
SHARPTON: We`re looking at a tribe, Native American tribe from North
Dakota on the parade route as the president and vice president continue to
watch and clap and it`s been a long day, but they`re buoyant and it`s got
to be a very happy time.
But, senator, you and I know that tomorrow is another day and the day
after and the fighting in terms of what we`re going to do to create those
jobs and create the things that you`re talking about. We`re going to have
to get down into the trenches and really work as well as the citizens.
BROWN: Yes. Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall didn`t happen
without a struggle.
BROWN: Every single one of them, you know, it is struggle in the
streets. It doesn`t have to be violent.
SHARPTON: It came from the bottom up.
BROWN: It came from the bottom up. It`s people speaking out and
caring about this country and pushing their Congress and that`s how we`ve
gotten so much in this country. We have got minimum wage, we got workers`
compensation and clean air laws and civil right and worker rights and an
FDA and all of those things because from the bottom up, people demanded it
in their workplaces, in their coal mines, in their churches and ethnic
organizations and their schools.
SHARPTON: Well, Senator Sherrod Brown, let me congratulate you and
your election. They spent $20,000 trying to defeat you and you`re still
BROWN: Thank you. Thank you.
SHARPTON: Thanks for your time tonight.
You`re watching a special edition of "Politics Nation" on MSNBC on a
historic day, President Obama`s inauguration. This is the place for
SHARPTON: What a day. America`s first black president sworn into
office for a second time on Martin Luther King Day. The president took the
oath with our hand on Dr. King`s bible. A congressional source tells NBC
news the King family asked the president and chief justice Roberts to sign
the King family bible.
After lunch, the president stopped in the capitol rotunda to look at
the MLK bust. There`s a reason this photo shopped picture is making the
rounds today. That`s coming up. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: We`re back with our live coverage of the inaugural parade
wrapping up right now outside of the White House. This is the Virginia
Military Institute from Virginia. A lot has changed in four years.
Perhaps none more than our President himself has changed. The man who took
the oath of office today has been hardened by war and conflict.
He`s presided over monumental change during a time when this country
has faced unique adversity. He`s no longer facing a series of firsts.
Today marked a last. This was his last inauguration. And, as president,
he left the steps of the capitol today. It was clear he wanted that moment
to last just a little longer.
The President lingered there for a while looking out on the hundreds
of thousands gathered in the mall. Older, wiser, but just as determined as
ever to make this country a better place.
Joining me now is Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, democrat from
Florida and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, now an NBC analyst.
Thank you both for being here tonight.
CONGRESSWOMAN FREDERICA WILSON (D), FLORIDA: Thank you.
FMR. GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Reverend.
SHARPTON: Congresswoman, thanks for coming on the show tonight. How
has his time in office shaped this president?
WILSON: I`ve seen him become wiser. I`ve seen him become stronger.
I`ve seen him sharpen his wit and I am so proud of how he has faced the
Republicans and how he is now saying he will not wheel and deal with the
debt ceiling. How he is putting his foot down and moving forward, all of
the issues that we want to see changed. I think this is the time. Because
we have a new president.
And there`s a song that says, what are they doing in heaven today?
And I`m sure Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., today was cheering the watch
SHARPTON: Yes. The President, as we`re speaking, you`re seeing the
President is leaving the viewing stand, the parade is over. And he is
leaving the viewing stand. That`s a live shot of the President and the
Vice President. Leaving the viewing stand and shortly we`ll go in and get
prepared for the inaugural balls tonight. There will be two of them that
the president has publicly announced.
He will attend the military ball and the regular presidential ball.
Governor Rendell, you`ve watched and worked with presidents as governor, as
the chair of the DNC. Tell us from your vantage point the difference
between President Obama in 2009, in his first inaugural and the President
Obama we saw today?
RENDELL: Well, the answer is experience, Reverend. He`s experienced
as an executive now. He`s experienced as president. He came to Washington
I think a little bit naive. Thinking that because he was talking about the
things that were right and just and everyone would flock to his banner. He
didn`t know that as he was taking his inaugural ball, there were 15 people
plotting to destroy his presidency. He wasn`t aware that those type of
things happened. He`s learned about Washington. He`s experienced. And I
think he`s going to be far more effective, I thought he had a very good
first term. But I think he has the potential of having a great second
SHARPTON: And you`re seeing the President live as he`s leaving the
viewings box at the White House. This is his last inaugural parade that he
has just watched and he`s shaking hands and going -- leaving the stand and
the Vice President Biden, there, as well. And we suspect that they`re
going to get prepared for the inaugural balls tonight. And they will be
their last inaugural balls, as president and vice president of the United
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Hey, thank you, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: A lot of service members, as you can see, a lot of them
people in uniform that defend and stand for the country. They are all in
the box that the President is now leaving and have spent the day with him
as he viewed and he walked, he`s been -- it`s been a long day. You know,
he started in church this morning, some of us with church at 8:00 this
morning. And then the inaugural ceremony, the inaugural address, the
parade, and, as I said, the First Lady and he walked are part of the parade
route and he`s still got several hours to go.
But I`m sure he savors this day. The last day he will have as in
terms of inauguration. We`re watching them walking to the White House.
These are live shots, the president and vice president. They`ve now left
the viewing stand and are walking into the White House formally at the end
of the inaugural parade. It looks like Congresswoman Wilson has a little
coffee in his hand. Get a little caffeine, I don`t know.
But he`s talking and looks energetic and boy, he seem update all day
and he doesn`t seem tired yet. Let me say this, he stress the importance
of America`s acting together. Why was this such a focal point of him
WILSON: Because the people have spoken. And they`re on his side,
Reverend. It is so clear that out of the election, especially in Florida
and we`re never going to have people standing in line. I was so happy with
what he said today.
WILSON: And because he knows that the people are on his side and it`s
so clear to all of us, we will not have -- we will not have those kinds of
issues again. And I am so proud of him. I just -- I never thought that I
would live to see this day. And to have this on Martin Luther King`s
birthday when the children are out of school, so they can actually watch
this and know what is happening, this is wonderful.
SHARPTON: Yes. And you just saw the President going into the White
House. And we probably, more than likely, won`t see him again until the
inaugural balls tonight in public. Governor Rendell, when the
congresswoman said, that a lady said to me going into the church this
morning with the president, she never thought she would not only see an
African American president, she never thought she`d see a Martin Luther
King federal holiday.
She was an older lady. Do you think Americans understand how in a
period of time how much this country has changed? And can use that to
continue to change that we need because we still have such a long way to
RENDELL: Sure, but the country has matured significantly. I think in
2008, we elected the first African-American president. In 2012, we
reelected a president.
RENDELL: I think there were very few voters who went to the polls in
2012 and said, should we elect an African-American president. They judged
him on his record, they judged him on what he wanted to do for the country.
And that`s a big thing. Don`t worry about him getting tired Rev., you fed
off the crowd.
SHARPTON: That`s right.
RENDELL: You fed off the crowd.
SHARPTON: No, problem. Well, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and
Governor Ed Rendell, thanks for your time tonight.
And Congresswoman, I was trying to get this picture of the -- of one
of the judges. Scalia had on a judicial hat. But you won the hat contest.
No doubt about that.
Look at Scalia? That`s Scalia`s hat. How could he think that could
win the hat you`re with? Scalia lost. Hands down. That was a bipartisan
vote. Frederica Wilson won the hat contest for the platform today. Thank
you, Congresswoman, thank you.
SHARPTON: We`re coming right back with more on the inaugural parade.
You`re watching a special edition of POLITICS NATION on the place for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute to
spectacle for politics, retreat name calling as reason debate. We must
act. We must act knowing that our work will be un-perfect. We must act
knowing that today`s victories will be only partial and it will be up to
those who stand here in four years and 40 years and 400 years hence to
advance the timeless spirit once conveyed to us in a spare Philadelphia
SHARPTON: You`re looking at a live shot of the White House where the
President and First Lady are getting ready for the two inaugural balls this
evening. It`s been an incredible day. And there has been one person along
with him every step of the way. The First Lady. We`ll talk about her next
four years, next.
OBAMA: Let us each of us now embrace with solemn duty an awesome joy
what is our lasting birthright? With common effort and common purpose,
with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history and carry
into an uncertain future of that precious light of freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: By the President`s side all day was his wife, Michelle, the
First Lady. Who is becoming a political force in Washington. President
Obama calls First Lady Michelle Obama his reality check, his moral voice
and his best friend. Over the past four years, she`s been a trusted
advisor and she`s found her own voice dedicating herself to a Let`s Move
campaign to fight childhood obesity and honoring the men and women who
served this country in her joining forces initiative. But her most visible
role came on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: Even if you don`t start out with
much, you know, if you work hard and do what you`re supposed to do, then
you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better
life for your kids and your grandkids.
We believe in an America where we all understand that none of us gets
where we are on our own. None of us. That there is -- there`s always a
community of people lifting us up where we treat everyone, everyone with
dignity and respect from the teachers who inspire us to the janitors who
keep our schools clean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So with his wife`s support, President Obama gets a second
term and so does the First Lady. What can she do in the next four? This
will be fun to watch.
Joining me now is Nia-Malika Henderson, political reporter for "The
Washington Post" and Liza Mundy, author of "Michelle Obama: A Biography of
the First Lady," she`s on the phone.
Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s great to be here.
LIZA MUNDY, AUTHOR, "MICHELLE": Thank you.
SHARPTON: Nia, you`ve covered the First Lady for two years now? How
have you seen her evolve?
HENDERSON: Well, I think she has gone from being a little unsteady in
the role to being absolutely uncomfortable in the role. A power house
first lady, in many ways. She is very highly identified with all of her
initiatives around childhood obesity, around "Let`s Move," around military
families. And that`s what you want to be as a first lady. You want to try
to leave a legacy eight years after you leave, 80 years after you leave.
And I think that`s what she`ll try to do more of coming up in this
next term. I interviewed in 2010 going into 2011, asked her what she
wanted to do going into that next year and she said more. And I think
that`s what we`re going to see this year, more of the first lady.
SHARPTON: Liza, you`ve written a book on the First Lady. Do you
expect her role to be more aggressive? Evolve even more of the president?
Everyone is saying has grown. What have we seen that indicates the role of
the First Lady will play in the next four years, in your opinion?
MUNDY: Yes, well, I think, you know, she has the freedom now in the
second term to be a little bit more unplugged, if she wants to be. She
also has, you know, very high favorability ratings. Her favorability has
been, you know, higher than that of the president`s. And she has an
enormous amount of the goodwill and capital built up. So, yes, I guess it
will be interesting to see whether or not she fits with these few issues
that Nia identified or whether she, you know, for something that`s well to
cement her legacy.
SHARPTON: Now, Nia, she was instrumental in the grassroots outreach
during the campaign. Do you expect to see more of that from her? Will she
get involved just on pushing issues? Or will you start seeing her used to
help candidates around the country?
HENDERSON: I think we`ll have to look to 2014 to see how -- she is
there. In 2010, Democrats will have her champing at the bit to hop her out
on the campaign trail, all because part of the President`s legacy is going
to be what the returns are from these midterms and even in 2016, if a
democratic president is re-elected. I think everything is going to do,
everything is going to be connected to how the President does.
Her agenda has always dovetailed very nicely with what the President
does. All around health, for instance, that was his big domestic push.
This time, it looks like he`s going to try to do gun control, try to look
at immigration. So, I think her success is really going to be based on how
successful the President is typically first ladies step out of the box.
HENDERSON: You saw Laura Bush travel to 67 countries in her second
term. She had a press conference. So she was much more out there. And I
think we`ll see those same thing from the First Lady politically.
SHARPTON: Liza, the First Lady said, she was uncomfortable when she
moved into the White House. Has she overcome that discomfort in your
MUNDY: Yes, I mean, she seemed to have achieved a balance in terms
of, you know, raising her girls, and having family time and we do know,
too, that she`s had to sort of make some concessions. There was a good
piece by Jody Cancer (ph) showing that she`s learned, you know, some of her
initiatives like mentoring young girls, she`s had to kind of dull that back
a little bit. So she`s probably more realistic now about what she can
SHARPTON: Do you think, Nia-Malika, other than, you know, the fact
she`s the first African-American first lady that she`s also distinguished
herself in other ways from predecessors as first ladies?
HENDERSON: I think she has owned the role of first lady. So many
questions going in to her tenure, who would she be more like? Like Laura
Bush, Hillary Clinton, Eleanor Roosevelt? I think she has shaped this in
the way that fits her personality. There was a lot of, you know, kind of
back and forth about whether or not she was too traditional, too much of a
mom and chief. But she has owned it. And that`s the message that she
always has for young girls and other women. And that is be true to who you
SHARPTON: Absolutely. Nia-Malika Henderson and Liza Mundy, thank
you both for your time tonight.
MUNDY: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Ahead, our first black president sworn in on Martin Luther
King Day. Why this historic day will be remembered forever. Next. You`re
watching a special edition of politics nation. President Barack Obama`s
second inauguration. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I know that former President Carter, President Clinton, they
understand the irony of the presidential office which is the longer you`re
there, the more humble you become.
SHARPTON: Finally, tonight, the cross roads of history. Today`s
inauguration comes 150 years after the emancipation proclamation. Fifty
years after the march on Washington. And on the very day dedicated to the
reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We could feel that history today when
the President took the oath of office with his hand on the bibles that
belong to President Lincoln and Dr. King.
After the inaugural luncheon in the capitol building, President Obama
took a moment to reflect at a statue of Dr. King. Soon, a statue of Rosa
Parks will join that tribute of Dr. King inside the capitol. We`ve seen
the President reflects on her legacy to civil rights and the civil rights
movement. The president explicitly evokes their sacrifices in his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths,
that all us are created equal, is the star that guides us still, just as it
guided our fore bearers through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall, just
as it guided all of those men and women, sung and unsung who left
footprints along this great mall to hear a preacher say that we could not
walk alone, to hear a king proclaim that our individual freedom is
inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul owner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The freedom of every soul. The heart of the civil rights
movement. Earlier today, civil rights leader in Georgia Congressman John
Lewis talked about this historic day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: As Lyndon Johnson would say, it`s like
history and fate coming together for this president, this African-American
to be inaugurated for a second time on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it says
something by the distance we`ve come, the progress we`ve made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The distance we`ve come. The progress we`ve made. These
are words. Dr. King would be proud to hear. But the struggle continues.
That is why the president has, as guest today, those that are still
continuing to fight today. I was honored to be among three civil rights
leaders that he invited as I was there, ahead of National Action Network,
ahead of the NAACP and urban league, labor leaders from three
organizations, showing that it is not a struggle that has yet won.
We must continue to fight. It took the Dr. Kings, the Rosa Parks, to
make it possible for us to have an open America. It took those that fought
for gender equality and gay and lesbian rights and labor rights to open up
America, it takes those of us now to continue to fight. We have gone
through a turbulent time, we`ve gone through turbulent history. But we`ve
not arrived yet. When you fly, you don`t get off the plane when you get
out of turbulence, you get off once you`ve reached your destination.
Until we get to the destination of this country, this nation living up
to its creed, it will not be time for us to dislodge those that do what is
necessary to keep this nation moving forward, both in office and those that
are out of office and in the streets of this nation raising issues. That`s
what King Day is about. That`s what the victory of Barack Obama is about.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. A special live edition of
"HARDBALL" starts right now.
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