'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
January 22, 2013
Guests: Donald McEachin, Frank Rich, Nancy Keenan
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: That`s "THE ED SHOW." I`m Ed
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. It was really fun to cover
the inauguration in Washington with you, my friend.
SCHULTZ: Yes, it was. But my legs were getting sore sitting there
for five hours.
MADDOW: I didn`t put my microphone on my belt like I normally do. At
the end of six hours, I was kind of a mess. I had to crawl out of the
SCHULTZ: I needed assistance myself.
MADDOW: It was a lot of fun, Ed. Thanks a lot.
SCHULTZ: Yes, it was. Great job.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for this hour.
They are actually still dancing in Washington, D.C. -- the party for
President Obama`s second inauguration is still on. After a day of speeches
yesterday and poetry and a parade and three separate presidential dances
with the first lady at two different inaugural balls serenaded by Jennifer
Hudson -- hey, there she is again -- after all of that, the Obamas it
turned out kept dancing. They danced until 3:00 a.m. at the White House, a
big separate party with a bunch of friends.
I try to imagine George Bush and Usher in a Gangnam Style dance-off.
I try. I cannot quite get there in my mind. Maybe it happened.
And then today, the president and Mrs. Obama surprised, greeted
visitors at the White House. Not dignitaries, but visitor visitors, people
who were on the tour of the White House who got an unexpected chance while
they were there not just to see the White House itself, but to shake hands
with the people who live there, with the president and the first lady.
Hey, surprise, your tour includes us.
If you watch all the footage of this, actually, you can see that
people also got to meet the first dog, Bo, who was wearing his Portuguese
water dog tuxedo for the occasion, as you can see.
And actually, if you really watch all the footage that they posted on
the White House Web site, you will notice that the first dog Bo creeps out
from behind the Obamas for his own hellos with the people who were touring
the White House, because hey, there are dos of people coming through, and
maybe they will want to pet you, which is nice if you`re Bo.
After all that, the president still has one more inaugural ball, which
is tonight. It is the staff inaugural ball, like the White House staff.
You think of it as an office Christmas party if your office was the kind of
office that could book Lady Gaga to entertain the guests.
The inauguration of a president, any president -- whether you voted
for him or not -- is a big deal for our country. It`s a big occasion.
There were hundreds of thousands of people in the crowd yesterday for
President Obama`s inauguration, maybe a million, according to the inaugural
Most of these people who showed up for the inauguration were just
regular folks that made the trip from how ever far away to come stand on
the National Mall to see history.
One of the people who made the trek from Virginia, from the state
capitol in Virginia was Henry Marsh, a 79-year-old Democratic state senator
from Virginia. In his official biography, Senator Marsh talks about
walking miles to a one-room school in coastal Virginia when he was growing
up, and the yellow school bus filled with white school children passing him
on the way to their new building.
Henry Marsh grew up to be an influential civil rights lawyer. He
worked for the integration of Virginia schools in 1960s. Way back in 1977,
he became the first African-American mayor of Richmond, Virginia. He has
served in the Virginia state Senate since 1992. Only two active senators
have served in that chamber longer than he has.
Senator Marsh wanted to see the inauguration of this president on
Martin Luther King Day. Mr. Marsh is 79 years old. It seems unlikely that
there will be an inauguration quite like this again any time soon.
So, for a day, Henry Marsh left behind the Virginia state Senate. The
Virginia state Senate I should tell you stands at an even 20-20. The
Virginia Senate is equally divided, half Republicans and half Democrats --
20 on one side, 20 on the other.
And while Senator Marsh was away on this within day while he was at
the inauguration, the Republicans in the Senate decided to do this --
surprise! We`re going to redraw Virginia`s state Senate districts with no
warning, while you were out, we`re going to do this. Tada!
"The Associated Press" says, quote, "State Senate Republicans have
muscled a surreptitious redraft of Virginia`s 40 districts to passage over
bitter objections from Democrats who were blindsided by the surprise move."
They passed this surprise redistricting plan by a vote of 20-19 while,
remember, one senator on the 19 side of that vote, Henry Marsh, was absent.
The new gerrymandered map in Virginia takes away one Democratic seat
entirely. Democrats in Virginia tell us they think they could be left with
only 16 winnable seats, maybe less. Sixteen winnable seats out of a total
In other words, Democrats will never have a chance at the Senate
structurally, no matter how blue Virginia gets.
Republicans there yesterday passed these new maps to give themselves
essentially permanent control of the Virginia Senate from here on out. And
they did it with such stealth that the news was broken by a local
Democratic blogger, Ben Tribbett (ph), who was the first one to tweet the
news when nobody was paying attention to the state legislature in Virginia,
when the crowds were still thick on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Virginia Republicans justified this sudden zeal for redistricting all
of the sudden when Henry Marsh was out of town by saying, hey, at least we
created another majority black district. And they did do that, that`s how
gerrymandering works sometimes. They did hit the time by carving off part
of Henry Marsh`s own district while he was away at the inauguration.
If Republicans had left this urgent need for redistricting to a normal
day, it would have ended in a 20-20 tie. That tie would have then gone to
the state`s Republican lieutenant governor, whose office says he has grave
concerns about this bill and does not support it. So, he wouldn`t have
voted for it and it wouldn`t have passed.
But yesterday wasn`t a normal day. It was the inauguration. Henry
marsh was away at the inauguration. So when they took that vote, it wasn`t
20-20. It was 20-19. It was not a tie. It did not go to the lieutenant
governor, and they got it passed.
The reporters today asked Republican Governor Bob McDonnell whether he
would sign the bill if it reaches his desk. He said he was as surprised as
anybody by these new maps.
The governor told reporters, quote, "I certainly don`t think that`s a
good way to do business." And while still not saying whether he would sign
the bill, the governor directed everybody to please instead pay attention
to his new transportation plan. He would rather talk about that.
This is a Bob McDonnell patented method, right? This method where he
says he is disgusted with his own party`s legislating, but he doesn`t
actually reject their legislation.
I don`t want to be considered part of that, but I will sign it into
law. That is exactly the way that Governor Bob McDonnell played it a year
ago when Virginia Republicans got themselves nationally famous with their
bill forcing unwanted and medically unnecessary ultrasounds on Virginia
Bob McDonnell did the same deal back then. He expressed surprise.
What is this you are doing in the legislature, fellow Republicans? I
certainly did not expect this. This is not my priority. Don`t associate
me with this.
And then, of course, he signed it, thus earning himself the national
nickname ever more of "governor ultrasound".
Same deal, right? What is this? What are you doing there? I
definitely don`t want to be famous for that.
Democrats in the Virginia capital tell us that if the surprised
gerrymandering bill passes and the governor does sign it, they will ask the
courts to declare it unconstitutional.
But, meanwhile, Virginia Republicans are also pushing a bill that
would also change the state`s rules for electing a president based on the
congressional maps that Virginia Republicans gerrymandered back in 2012.
So, the same maps they have created to give themselves permanent
majority, permanent victories in non-statewide elections, they would also
use those maps now to allocate Virginia`s electoral votes for president of
the United States, essentially, rigging the presidential vote in Virginia,
using the exact same means that they have already used to rig the state
level votes for Republicans in Virginia.
We are hearing talk about Republican plans to change the rules and
thus rig the presidential in a bunch of states now. Now, these are all
states that tend to support Democrats for president, but where Republicans
now control the state House, and the governorship. And they think they
might be able to use that local Republican control to change the rules by
which those states contribute electoral votes for the presidency.
This has very quietly and very quickly become one of the most
important political stories in the country.
Republicans are not in power in Washington. They control the House,
but that`s it. Republicans didn`t win the last presidential election.
They don`t control the Senate. President Obama is going to serve second
That is the message this week in Washington, right? At the
inauguration and the parade and the fancy dress dances and the Obamas
showing off at the White House with the dog.
But away from Washington, outside the Beltway, Republicans are working
fast right now to use their power in the states to make it so that
Democrats structurally cannot win no matter what.
Joining us now is Donald McEachin. He`s Virginia state senator. He`s
chairman of the state`s Democratic Caucus.
Senator McEachin, thank you very much for your time. It`s nice to
have you here.
STATE SEN. DONALD MCEACHIN (D), VIRGINIA: Thanks for having me,
MADDOW: Were you surprised by how quickly Republicans in your state
passed these new maps? Did you know this was coming?
MCEACHIN: Absolutely not, Rachel. You know, we asked for a heads up
back in November if they were going to do this. And we were sure we would
be given the heads-up.
But, you know, Rachel, in a span of literally 40 minutes -- because
they limited debate, we couldn`t have full debate on this -- literally in
40 minutes, they rewrote 40 Senate districts without any input from the
public, without any input from my side of the aisle.
They just rammed it down our throats. Even though it was daylight
outside, it was done in the dark.
MADDOW: The other chamber, the Virginia House, has not yet approved
the new districts that the Senate just pushed through. What do -- what do
you make of the map`s chance there`s? That`s obviously a Republican-
controlled chamber as well.
Do you think these changes are ultimately going to become law?
MCEACHIN: Well, I hope not, Rachel. You know, this plan has a huge
germaneness problem when it comes back to the House of Delegates.
And I wouldn`t hazard a guess as to how the speaker rule. But there
is a germaneness problem. There is a constitutional problem as well.
It`s our hope that the system will correct itself, that cooler heads
will prevail, and that if the bill finds its way to the governor`s desk,
that he`ll take the opportunity to veto it and restore a bipartisan
atmosphere to the Virginia legislature.
MADDOW: We have been covering this sort of story at the national
level, this fast emerging strategy by Republicans in states that picked
President Obama this time around, but are under Republican control at the
state level -- in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, we are
hearing talk about Republicans trying to change the rules how they pick a
president, so electoral votes get awarded based on these gerrymandered
districts that favor Republicans so much at the state level.
Your state, I know, has a bill like that too in Virginia. For your
Democratic Party in Virginia and in these other states, should we be seeing
this as sort of a wake-up call for a Republican strategy that we didn`t
know was going to happen until it started happening?
MCEACHIN: Absolutely, it`s a wake-up call. I call them the "sore
loser bills", because the Republicans could not believe that they would
lose twice in a row to this president, that Virginia would vote twice in a
row for this president, given the demographics, given the polling, given
the economy. They just knew they had won it.
And when they found out that they lost the election, they decided to
change the rules. And now they what they would do is take the president
who carried Virginia and give him four electoral votes and give Mitt Romney
nine electoral votes under this plan. Even though the president carried
Virginia -- it is a war on Virginia voters. We have moved from the war on
women to the war on voters.
MADDOW: Do you think you can stop it if that goes forward any further
than it has?
MCEACHIN: Well, we`re going to need a lot of help in stopping it, you
know? We`re going to need folks to write in, to call their legislators --
Democrats, Republicans and independents and say, look, fair is fair. And
the plans that you all have cooked up to interest Virginia voter, they`re
just not fair.
It`s truly beneath the dignity of this commonwealth.
MADDOW: Virginia State Senator Donald McEachin, thank you very much,
sir. I appreciate your time. I have a feeling we`ll be talking about this
with you as time goes on, as this continues to unfold. Thank you.
MCEACHIN: And thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I appreciate it.
All right. We`ve got Frank Rich coming up tonight, and a lot still to
come on tonight`s show.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: In his first official State of the Union Address in 2010,
President Obama said something that prompted the second best visual image
of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito that we have ever had as a country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With all due deference
to separation of powers, last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of
law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests,
including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When the president said that, when the president criticized
the Supreme Court in that State of the Union Address, we all got treated to
the sight of Samuel Alito licking his gums and then exaggeratedly mouthing
the words "not true" -- at President Obama. Not true.
That was the second weirdest visual we`ve ever had as a nation of
Samuel Alito. The first weirdest visual we`ve ever had of Samuel Alito was
yesterday. Nice shades, Mr. Justice. That was on the official inaugural
platform during the swearing in of the president.
But while the justice was dreaming of snowboarding and looking on at
President Obama`s second inaugural yesterday, did the president do the same
thing again, the same thing that so upset Justice Alito back in 2010? Was
President Obama yesterday again shouting at the Supreme Court, except this
time doing it ahead of an expected controversial Supreme Court decision
rather than waiting until after?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: 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 forbearers through Seneca Falls and Selma and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And Stonewall?
Joining us for the interview is Frank Rich, editor at large for "New
Mr. Rich, thank you for being here tonight.
FRANK RICH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: What do you think of my little theory?
RICH: I think you`re exactly right. I think he was nudging this
forward. It was very interesting. As you said, it`s a decision that
hasn`t been made yet about same-sex marriage. And it`s a very important
And I think by taking Stonewall and linking it to the greater history
of American civil rights and it really was taking a very strong position --
first of all, very moving to hear the president of the United States do
this, particularly when it had been somewhat laggard on this issue.
But also, I think he is appealing particularly to John Roberts because
I was baffled, I think, as many were by Roberts, sort of, from the rights
point of view caving on so-called Obamacare. And I`ve always felt as I
think many observers do that he has, like the president, an eye on history
and his role on it and his stature within it.
And everyone thinks that the same-sex marriage decision is going to
come down to Anthony Kennedy, a swing justice, who has a good record on gay
civil rights issues. But I wonder if Roberts couldn`t be pushed a bit.
Does he really want to be on the wrong side of history? And by framing it
as history, putting it as gay civil rights as part of the big American
historical narrative, it`s a little bit of an elbow or whatever in the
And I wonder, really, whether Roberts might not be won over since
clearly in the case of Obamacare, it wasn`t just about the law, because his
legal argument really barely made sense -- even if you`re in favor as I was
of Obamacare being upheld.
MADDOW: So meaning that you think that Justice Roberts had an eye on
the historical impact of the decision, more than the legal particularities
of it and he might have in the same have that --
RICH: Right. And in some ways -- here he didn`t want to look --
look, it`s my speculation. Who knows? But he didn`t want to look like
someone exercising a partisan point of view in an election year against
So, he sort of seemed to find a rationale for something that he didn`t
quite really believe in. This is in some ways a much bigger thing, because
this gets to the Bill of Rights and the very definition of America more
than health care does, as important as that may be. And I think by framing
it this way, Obama laid down quite a challenge to him, and to the court, in
MADDOW: And it was a two-part mention. We only played the part where
he put Stonewall in the context of Selma and Seneca Falls, putting the
struggle for gay rights alongside the struggle for civil rights, and along
this side for struggle for civil rights.
In that case what he is talking about is an American story. The
second part of his story on the subject is not just about how this fits
into history, and essentially elevating it to be equal with those other
more widely recognized movements, more widely recognized struggles, and in
some cases more successful struggles -- he also made the case just bluntly
that equality ought to be agreed upon, that equality of love as he
described it ought to be seen as a basic American value.
That sort of fit more into the rest of the speech, talking about what
have been seen as progressive causes, progressive values, as centrist
American old ideas.
What do you make of that as an argument from him?
RICH: Well, I think it`s a great argument. I also think it has
another historical resonance because it brings up the loving decision that
ended the strictures on interracial marriage not that long ago --
RICH: -- you know, 100 years after the Civil War.
And I think it`s a very strong argument. And, again, it takes it to
me out of the area of sort of partisan politics. It gets to the most
fundamental identity of the country and goodwill, what -- yes, what love
means or what marriage means. But also this sense of fairness and
equality, which is, you know, is along with freedom central to the American
MADDOW: It`s core.
The president talked about election reform, climate change at length,
equal pay, gun violence, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, immigration,
ending the idea of perpetual war.
This was a liberal speech from a president who has not always seemed
like a liberal to liberals. Conservatives have always thought he was
liberal or worse. Liberals have not necessarily always recognized him as
liberal, and I would include myself in that.
Have we just not been listening closely enough to other liberal things
he has said, or was this really something new?
RICH: Well, people like you and me have been tough on him, and
sometimes he says things that are -- not that he says things that aren`t
liberal or progressive, but he has failed to say things. Sometimes, often
what he doesn`t say or what seemed to be his inability to fight for some
issues that are near and dear to liberals.
Now, he`s just, you know, very straight forward about it. He seems
liberated. It doesn`t mean that all this is going to happen. Of course, a
lot of it won`t happen. But some of it may happen.
And I feel, in general, it`s part of him just stepping up to the plate
all together. I think at the end, the very end of his first term since the
election, him facing down the Republicans about tax raises and getting them
whatever they want to call it, a postponement, a retreat on holding the
debt ceiling hostage, those are real changes from the sort of kumbaya Obama
that we saw a lot of at this time this time early in his first term.
So I think it`s all good, and I think that he may be emboldened. His
views, he is essentially a liberal centrist. I don`t think anyone can
really ever doubt that. But he hasn`t always stood up for it. And
sometimes it seems he is so eager to find some kind of nonexistent
bipartisan compromise to the party of no, that he sort of shirked from it.
MADDOW: I think he has stopped -- he went -- moved from saying we can
find something between us that we can agree to move together on, that was
sort of what he started off saying. And now, he is saying we can agree to
do it my way. My way, actually, is widely agreed upon.
And it is the way that we can move forward, and I think we ought to.
It`s a bolder stance.
RICH: It`s a bolder stance. And by the way, he won the election.
MADDOW: Yes, exactly. And that`s why he`s free to say it.
RICH: This doesn`t stop them from calling him a socialist, radical,
et cetera, et cetera.
MADDOW: Oh, no, there would be no fun if they stopped that.
MADDOW: Frank Rich, editor-in-large for "New York Magazine" -- thank
you for being here tonight. It`s always great to have you here, Frank.
RICH: Great to see you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: OK. We`ve got lots more to come tonight, including the
singular importance of this particular moment at the inauguration
yesterday. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: On something like a million people gathered on the National
Mall yesterday to see President Obama sworn in for a second term, that
number was down from the 1.8 million who gathered to see him sworn in for
the first time. That crowd in 2009 was not only the largest number of
people to gather for a presidential inauguration ever, in 2009, that was
the largest single gathering in Washington, D.C. for any purpose ever in
the history of that city.
Still, a million people turning out yesterday is a lot of people. It
is more than what was expected. For the record, it is more people than
turned out for both of George W. Bush`s inaugurations combined.
Although inaugurations are explicitly about putting elections behind
us, about accepting the results of the election and agreeing mutually that
we will proceed with this new government now which we have chosen as a
group, it is hard on days like that not to look back, at least a little, to
appreciate how different Inauguration Day would have been had the election
gone the other way. Particularly for an inauguration that took place on
the eve of the 40th anniversary of Roe versus Wade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope to appoint
justices to the Supreme Court that will follow the law and the
Constitution. And it would be my preference that they reverse Roe v. Wade.
In my view, the right course for Roe v. Wade is to have it overturned.
I would love the Supreme Court say, let`s send this back to the states
rather than having a federal mandate through Roe v. Wade, let the states
again consider this issue state by state.
My view is that the right next step in the fight to preserve the
sanctity of life is to see Roe v. Wade overturned.
Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade? Yes, I
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: It used to be that Republicans were a little more subtle
about this question. They would talk about there not being a litmus test,
or how they respected Supreme Court precedent and thought every case should
be assessed on its merits.
But with this Republican ticket this year, there was not subtlety
about this issue at all. They were very clear that had Mitt Romney become
president yesterday instead of Barack Obama being sworn in again yesterday,
the Romney/Ryan administration would have done everything they could to
overturn Roe versus Wade. And that means that if there were a vacancy on
the Supreme Court, any Romney nominee to the Supreme Court realistically
could be expected to be a surefire bet to vote to overturn that 40-year-old
When President Obama leaned over to hug the rather fierce but rather
small figure of 79-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
yesterday at the Capitol luncheon that was filled with all the Washington
VIPs, and President Obama had that moment with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, that
physical contact, that hug between that particular justice and this
particular president was a very real manifestation of the consequences of
this election we just had.
Today, outside the Supreme Court, as they do every year on the
anniversary of Roe, anti-abortion groups protested, expressing their view
that it should be illegal to get an abortion in this country.
There were also counter protests -- people and groups supporting the
decision defending abortion rights. The anniversary of the Roe v. decision
at the Supreme Court is one of those rare places where you actually see
scenes like this where you have demonstrators who are against abortion
rights, right alongside demonstrators who are for abortion rights. And
they`re all showing up together on this day at the same place with their
dueling messages. You rarely see that.
But you see that today at the Supreme Court. And for both sides,
their audience is the court. But it is also each other.
This year on the occasion of this big 40th anniversary of that Supreme
Court case, but also in the midst of the Republican Party`s renewed
aggression at rolling back abortion rights wherever they can, and it does
not seem to be abating much in the states, since the efforts spiked after
the 2010 elections, we`re still seeing record levels of new anti-abortion
laws passed in the states -- this year, on the midst of that, on the
occasion of the 40-year anniversary of the Supreme Court`s ruling on
abortion rights, we sent producers from this show, Anthony Terrell (ph) and
Rebekah Dryden to go to the four states that are only served by one
We visited the only remaining abortion provider in North Dakota, and
in South Dakota and Mississippi and Arkansas -- where the doctor we spoke
to Arkansas asked us to conduct the interview in silhouette to protect his
identity for his safety.
We asked that Arkansas doctor, given the obstacles that he`s practice
faces, given the personal risks he is taking by doing this work, why does
he choose to do it? Why does he decide every day to be the only abortion
provider in Arkansas?
His answer was that it is a needed thing. Somebody has to do it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOCTOR, ARKANSAS ABORTION PROVIDER: Prior to Roe v. Wade, the number
one killer of women of child bearing age was complications associated with
abortion. And now it`s not in the top 100 causes of death in women of this
age group. I think that something that has been forgotten by a younger
group of medical providers, they just haven`t seen the consequences, and
the American people have forgotten as a general rule what things were like
prior to the legalization of abortion.
And limiting access to abortion doesn`t keep people from getting
abortion. It just makes it less safe and increases the incidents of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In other words, as he sees it, the big change ushered in by
Roe versus Wade is safety. The big change is not now there is abortion in
America. There was always abortion in America.
The big change since Roe is that women can go to a doctor for
abortions, which is why they don`t die from them, because it can now be a
legal procedure. Women are not trying to hack this cure themselves.
They`re able to go to a trained, licensed physician and a licensed medical
facility to get modern, expert, trained care. And that means that the
procedure does not kill them.
We do not actually know the precise death rate due to illegal abortion
in the days before Roe versus Wade because, hey, it was illegal. But
illegal abortion is rather definitively considered to be a leading cause of
death for women of child bearing age before Roe.
And today, death from abortion complications is almost nonexistent.
Today, you are far less likely to die from complications related to an
abortion than you are to die from complications related to childbirth. And
that`s because abortion is legal. It`s because you can go to a doctor to
But today, women`s access to legal care by trained professionals in
legal medical facilities that they can go to for an abortion is something
that the anti-abortion movement and anti-abortion lawmakers in the states
have been able to change, even with the constitutional protection that is
supposedly afforded by Roe. If the landmark practical change in the lives
of American women that was brought about by Roe 40 years ago is that a
leading killer of women of child bearing age stopped killing women of child
bearing age because women could get them by doctors in real clinics, it is
worth recognizing now that as a practical matter we are heading back toward
a situation where many American women can`t get to a doctor and a legal
licensed medical facility to have an abortion without taking on
increasingly extreme hardship to do so. Watch.
SARAH STOESZ, PLANNED PARENTHOOD MN-ND-SD: First of all, imagine how
large South Dakota is. It`s -- the entire Eastern Seaboard could fit into
our state. It`s huge. It`s sparsely populated. Women live hours and
hours from Sioux Falls.
TAMMI KROMENAKER, RED RIVER WOMEN`S CLINIC: Because we don`t have any
local physicians, the patients come only one day a week. We`re not here
every day. So that makes it sometimes difficult for women who have day
care work issues that they have to deal with.
BETTY THOMPSON, JACKSON WOMEN`S HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Before, they
drive in the parking lot. They are accosted by the people outside with
pamphlets and bombarded with information that is not true before they ever
get inside the clinic.
When they do come inside of the clinic, they have a 24-hour waiting
period. They have lots of paperwork to do. They have to make choices
about their ultrasound and whether they want to hear the heartbeat or see
the monitor, et cetera, et cetera.
CLINIC DIRECTOR, ARKANSAS ABORTION PROVIDER: A patient must call and
make an appointment. At least a day prior to their appointment, they have
to have phone counseling with one of our trained staff where they review
some state-mandated information with them.
STOESZ: Very shortly, we`ll be implementing the 72-hour mandatory
delay. Under those circumstances, with a woman will have to drive in 72
hours in advance of her procedure, have this conversation with the doctor,
and then leave and wait 72 hours.
So she may have to drive back another four or five hours, arrange
child care again, endure all of these expense, take time off work, so on
and so forth.
When she comes back, she is required to have a sonogram. The doctor
has to read to her the results of the sonogram and record her reaction to
his or her description of the sonogram in her permanent medical record.
KROMENAKER: We have to hang posters that the state provides. We have
to provide mandated counseling to the patients that the state provides.
STOESZ: She also has to be told that she is at life-long risk of
suicide and depression. These are things for which there is no medical
evidence whatsoever. This is complete fiction. It`s not based on any
And yet, our doctors have to say it to her, and she has to hear it.
And she also is told that she has a relationship with a unique living
separate being that she is about to sever.
KROMENAKER: We have to tell a woman that North Dakota law says --
defines abortion as terminating the life of a whole separate unique living
human being. It`s ideological language that is difficult for -- you know,
it`s not something I believe. And so, I have to tell a woman something I
DOCTOR, ARKANSAS ABORTION PROVIDER: You`ll have parental notification
move to parental consent. Or you`ll have a new list of things you have to
tell the patient before the patient can come into the clinic. Or you`ll
have new regulations regarding the construction of the clinic that have
nothing to do really with patient care or the well-being of the patient,
but the legislature passes them and then the board of health enforces them.
So over time, it becomes more and more difficult to obtain care and
more and more expensive to meet those requirements. That`s the kind of
legislation that just keeps piling up and making just a little at a time,
making access more difficult and making it less desirable for physicians to
MADDOW: Access to doctors to get this procedure done legally by
trained professionals is why the Roe decision 40 years ago was important to
American women in practical terms. The legacy of Roe is not that there
became a country named America in which there was abortion, and there
hadn`t been abortion before. The legacy of Roe is that women very, very,
very, very rarely die from abortion in this country anymore, and they used
to die from it a lot.
So what does that mean that that legacy, women`s access to real
doctors who do this procedure safely is being so successfully eroded by
anti-abortion lawmakers in the states and the activists who are threatening
providers? What does it mean for your 41 of this constitutionally
protected right in America and beyond?
Joining us now is the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Nancy
Nancy, thanks very much for your time. It`s nice to have you here.
NANCY KEENAN, NARAL PRO-CHOICE AMERICA: Great to be back, Rachel.
MADDOW: Is it more difficult for American women to access abortion
today than it was in the `70s after Roe v. Wade was decided?
KEENAN: I think so. And I think it`s no longer about the legality,
which was the battle of Roe, making abortion legal in this country.
It has now become a debate and a fight around access. As you heard
from the wonderful folks providing the care, how difficult it is for women
to travel great distances, to be read a script by the government, to be
told to have a procedure like a mandatory ultrasound that is neither
medically needed nor does she want it.
This is the most extreme pressure on women that the ultimate decision
is not with her. It is with a politician here in Washington, D.C. or in
the case out there in the states, in those state Capitols, where these
folks are cruel, they are intimidating women, and their ultimate goal is to
deny that care to women across this country.
MADDOW: How good is the pro-choice movement, your side of the
movement? How good is your side at fighting fights in the states versus
fighting fights nationally? I think nationally we in broad terms still
tend to think of the abortion fight as the Roe fight, as a Supreme Court
But as you`re saying, the rubber hits the road in the states. And
that`s where most of the politics happens.
KEENAN: Well, we`ve had some wins. And when you think about the
personhood amendment in Mississippi, that the people, the people, when they
had that vote at the ballot box, they rejected that extreme measure.
In South Dakota, there were two times that we fought bans on --
outright bans on abortion. And the people said no, when they had the
chance to talk across the fence and down at the school and in their own
When they had a chance to talk about it and say no, this is too
extreme and we reject it -- we have won those battles.
Where we have not won the battles are when legislators are elected.
It`s kind of the bait and switch. They don`t run on this issue. They run
on jobs or the economy.
And then once they get there, we see this war on women. And we see
that their whole intent is to deny women this care and letting women, their
doctors, their families make the decision.
It is unbelievable that we have so many anti-choice legislators. And
I think what the American public has to do is when they show up at your
door, ask them: do they protect freedom and privacy in letting women make
the decision, or do they want politicians to make it?
And that`s the million dollar question. Who gets to decide --
politicians or women and her family?
MADDOW: We`ve talked a number of time, you and I, Nancy, on this show
about overall strategy, about the connection of this -- the issue politics
of this as an issue and how it relates to electoral politics between the
two parties. I know you are stepping down from NARAL very soon. Your
successor has already been named.
What would you tell the movement that you have been a part of? What
would you tell the abortion rights movement in this country as a sort of
exit interview? What do you think is the most important strategic thing
for the movement to focus on moving forward?
KEENAN: That we have an enormous opportunity in this next generation.
They share our pro-choice values. They`re the millennials. They are 76
million strong in this country. And by 2020, they`re going to be 40
percent of the voting population. They will have enormous political power,
either running themselves or helping candidates run.
And the fact is we have to connect and they have to connect eventually
the personal pro-choice values with political action. And I think for the
next -- for my predecessor, Ilyse Hogue, who is going to be fantastic, she
has the opportunity now to be that next generation and the face of that
generation, to make sure that we secure this right and maybe actually roll
back some of the horrible legislation that has denied women access to this
MADDOW: Nancy Keenan, outgoing president of NARAL Pro-Choice America,
to be succeed by Ilyse Hogue, which has just been announced.
Congratulations on managing that transition. I know that was a big,
important part of why you decided to leave. And we`re looking forward to
welcoming you back after you have had time to go fishing and take some time
KEENAN: Thanks, Rachel. Talk to you soon.
KEENAN: All right. Congress, now that the inauguration is over,
you`ve got one big thing on your plate right now. You can do it, you
really can, right now. That`s next.
MADDOW: Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Last night on
this show, the presidential historian Michael Beschloss put a cold, hard
number on all of the promise represented by the inauguration ceremonies
that kicked off President Obama`s second term yesterday -- a cold, hard
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: When a president comes in
for a second term, he usually has about six to eight months to get things
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Six to eight months? That is it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BESCHLOSS: He usually has about six to eight months to get things
through Congress. It may seem small, but even LBJ in `65, with 61 percent
presidential landslide, more Democrats in Congress than at any other time
in the 20th century except for Roosevelt, he knew enough about the Senate
and House, he said, I`ve got six months because I`m going to be asking some
Democrats and Republicans to cast some risky votes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Six months, six months, maybe eight? Historically speaking,
that`s the time frame that a president has at the start of the second term
to get er done.
If that`s true, then tick tock, right? No time to waste, not with an
agenda as big as this president laid out yesterday in his inaugural
address. But late today, some news broke out on that front, on the pace of
what happens next, when we get an ultimatum, and a unilateral action, with
specific number of hours attached to it from somebody very important in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I hope within the next 24 to
36 hours we can get something we can agree on. If not, we`re going to move
forward on what I think needs to be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Twenty-four to 36 hours, and then it is over, we`re moving,
I`m going ahead myself.
What`s that about? That`s next.
MADDOW: There are a few things the Constitution agrees that we can do
as a country but it should not be easy.
Like impeachment -- yes, you can impeach a president or justice, but
it is hard, it takes a super majority, you need two thirds votes in the
Senate for that.
Same goes for the Congress kicking out one of its members, you can do
it, but it`s hard. You need a super majority.
Also, overriding a presidential veto, that takes a super majority.
Ratifying a treaty. Treaty should not be entered into lightly, so no
mere majority can ratify. It has to be a super majority.
Also, amending the Constitution. We don`t do that willy-nilly, right?
You need a super majority to that.
But that`s what the Constitution spells out. Those huge deals, like
changing the Constitution, that`s the stuff for which you need more than
the majority vote, stuff like re-naming a post office, regular Senate
business does not rise to that level.
Except now it does. Since the Republicans went into the minority in
the Senate, they have finagled a way to use the rules there to force a
super majority of senators on votes of pretty much everything. The Senate
is supposed to be a majority-vote kind of body, except in extreme cases.
But they have made it into a case where you always need a super majority
even for the littlest things.
This is not the way the government was designed. And this un-debated
change, change is a fundamental and structural thing about how our
Now, we keep saying that the Democrats have just one shot to change
those rules on the first day of this Congress when the rules are set by
majority vote. We keep saying that we can fix this problem, and that is
But Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid keeps changing the definition
of what counts as the first day of Congress. We thought it would be
January 3rd, which is the day they were sworn in. Then, we were told they
were extending the first day until today.
Now, it seems that the first legislative day is going to stretch on
yet further, because nothing happened yet today. Apparently, no final
decision has been made yet about whether Democrats are going to change the
rules or not, or how they`re going to change the rules if they do.
Our latest reporting indicates that Democrats might be able to pass a
more aggressive reform of the filibuster if they just allow a majority vote
on the floor, rather than Harry Reid trying to work out some deal with
Mitch McConnell. Senator Reid has reportedly now issued a 36-hour deadline
to come up with some kind of deal before the Democrats just go ahead and do
it on their own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REID: I hope within the next 24 to 36 hours, we can get something
that we agree on. If not, we`re going to move forward on what I think
needs to be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A threat -- neat.
But bottom line, as yet, no action. If you have been wondering
whether this big change in our government was going to be allowed to stand
or whether it might be fixed by filibuster reform on day one of the Senate,
the news today is that it is apparently still day one of the new Senate.
It has been weeks now, Democrats could still do it, but they have not
yet. Tick tock.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Have a great night.
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