'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, August 17th, 2013
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
August 17, 2013
Guests: Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, Steve Clemons, Rebecca Abou-Chedid, Marc Ginsberg, Nia-Malika Henderson, Rick Wilson, Krystal Ball, Sam Seder,
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Egypt`s latest political turmoil erupted
this week into some of the bloodiest violence the country has seen in
years. With at least 638 people, the vast majority of them, protesters
dying in clashes with the military, that was in just one day on Wednesday,
according to the Egyptian ministry of health.
And just minutes ago, the health ministry also reported that 173 people
died in violence across the country yesterday, including 95 in Central
Cairo where a demonstration billed by the Muslim Brotherhood as a day of
rage against Wednesday`s massacre descended into violence. Demonstrators
have been amassing in Cairo and across the country in support of former
Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, who`s the first democratically-elected
president in Egypt`s history and who was deposed by the military in July.
The brutality prompted President Obama to cancel joint military exercises
with Egypt that had been planned for next month. That was a rebuke of
Egypt`s military leaders, but he also had a stern warning for Egypt`s
interim government speaking from Martha`s Vineyard on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Given the depths of our
partnership with Egypt, our national security interests in this pivotal
part of the world and our belief that engagement can support a transition
back to a democratically-elected civilian government, we`ve sustained our
commitment to Egypt and its people.
But while we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional
cooperation cannot continue, as usual, when civilians are being killed in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: For the latest on the situation now, we go to NBC News foreign
correspondent, Ayman Mohyeldin, who is live in Cairo.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Steve. A
tense situation is unfolding here in Cairo in that Ramsey Square area. A
mosque where dozens of supporters of the ousted president have been
barricaded in all night long seems right now to be developing. And in that
situation, as we`ve been able to understand from multiple sources, a
gunfight has broken out outside the mosque. Tear gas has been fired inside
the mosque to try and get those supporters out.
Now, throughout the course of the early morning, we headed down to that
mosque and negotiations to try and get the people inside to leave, but it
seems they did not trust the environment outside. They did not trust their
safety or their security into the hands of both the police and the military
that were outside.
Also men with sticks were seen circumventing the mosque. And so, it was
tense atmosphere to some extent. And no doubt about it, there were people
there who are worried that if they did come out of is the mosque, they were
going to be arrested. But it seems police are now trying to get those
people out with the use of force. There were also reports that the police
came under fire from an individual inside the mosque who appeared to be
firing in their direction.
So, a very tense situation that is unfolding in the last couple of hours
here in Cairo, but it comes also on the heels of yet another very violent
day, as you mentioned, and one that has the Muslim Brotherhood undeterred.
They insist they will continue with their street protests despite the fact
that even the son of the group`s leader was killed yesterday and the fact
that many of their leaders are still being rounded up by officials here.
There is now discussion among the cabinet to possibly dissolve the Muslim
Brotherhood legally. So, that is now another consideration, and certainly
one, that complicates the political and security landscape here in the
KORNACKI: All right. I want to thank NBC`s Ayman Mohyeldin live for us in
And I want to bring in now Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, host at "Huff Post Live" and
a former host for Al Jazeera English, former U.S. ambassador of Morocco,
Marc Ginsberg, worked on the Camp David Accords under President Jimmy
Carter, Steve Clemons, Washington editor at large for "The Atlantic,"
magazine and Rebecca Abou-Chedid, a fellow at the Truman National Security
Project, which trains progressive leaders on national security issues.
And Ahmed, I guess, I`ll just start with you. We had Ayman, you know,
mentioning at the end there the idea now sort of being circulated that
maybe the military leaders would try to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood. I
guess, the question is, what would that mean, practically speaking? I
mean, Muslim Brotherhood has been around for 80 something years. Can you
really just dissolve something like that?
AHMED SHIHAB-ELDIN, HUFFPOSTLIVE.COM: No, you can`t, and that`s why it`s
kind of laughable that they`re taking that strategy. You know, I don`t
want to poke fun at what the military is doing. It`s obviously a very
serious matter, but what you have is a military that slaughtered hundreds
of its people. Obviously, blame should be on both sides, but this is all
the products of political failures.
It started with the revolutionaries. They weren`t able to mobilize into a
political group, then Morsi and his many political failures, and now,
again, an interim cabinet that was appointed by the military that is
completely failed to protect Egyptians and keep Egyptians secure. So, when
we talk about, you know, cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood, whatever
verb you want to use, dissolving them.
I mean, this is 2013. Sure, for decades, they were, you know,
marginalized. They were pushed underground, but it`s 2013. You know, the
world is watching, just like we were in 2011. I just don`t understand why
the general, you know, Gen. al-Sisi chose to adopt this policy even though
every single person who knows Egypt well, whether from the west or inside
Egypt knew that this would happen. And now, the chances of political
reconciliation are near nonexistent.
KORNACKI: I want to pick that up. And Steve, I want to ask you. There
were two stories this morning that caught my eye, and one was in the
"Washington Post" that said the United States and European leaders a few
weeks ago had been close maybe to brokering a deal, brokering an accord
where the street protests would end, where they would be a pledge from the
military leaders of non-violence.
And that the generals, ultimately, were the ones who said, no, we can`t go
along with that. The second report that caught my eyes is in "The New York
Times" this morning.
It basically said that the -- this was -- the attacks and the encampments
on Wednesday were basically an attempt by the military leaders to provoke a
response from the Muslim Brotherhood so that they can say they`re fighting
terrorism and that they can sort of try to push the Muslim Brotherhood
aground. Do you see sort of a -- do you buy into the idea that maybe
provocation was sort of the idea at the root of this?
STEVE CLEMONS, THE ATLANTIC: I think from the moment that the army sent
the signal 48 hours before they deposed Morsi that they were going to move,
that they made the calculation that they were going to go to war against
the Muslim Brotherhood, I think this was calculated in advance. I think
they saw their own equities in Egyptian society as failing under the
And I agree with Ahmed that for the army to basically say we`re going to
liquidate the Muslim Brotherhood is kind of like the Muslim Brotherhood
saying we`re going to get rid of the arm ay. These are two features of the
environment that are going to continue to be there.
And while Facebook and Twitter and the social networks have been a very
important feature of the Arab spring, another part of the democracy
movement essentially throughout the Middle East and North Africa region has
been the rights of political Islam.
And so, to send the signal to these young, we talk about the youth bulge,
but young, Arab, mostly men, but also women, but people who come in and
they`re worried about what their aspirations are, these -- sending these
folks back underground is what the military is going to do. Promises that
we`re going to see instability not only in Egypt, but throughout the
So, I think that the brotherhood, much like China. You know, a lot of
people -- you know, talk about Tiananmen (ph). But, this is very much like
Tiananmen (ph), but that time, the protesters in China didn`t have the
social networks. And there`s going to be a lot more resilience across the
sort of young, Islamic crowd than there used to be.
We were looking at those in Tahrir Square who were pro-democracy and maybe
not necessarily part of the Muslim Brotherhood crowd. But the Muslim
Brotherhood crowd is using the same techniques.
KORNACKI: Are we in a point here, Rebecca, where, you know, we talk about
political reconciliation that sort of been the goal everybody`s had in mind
for this. Now, you have OK -- you`ve had the democratically-elected
president which termed out of office. Now, you have hundreds being killed
who are protesting him being turn of office. Is it even possible that
there could be a political reconciliation in the foreseeable future?
REBECCA ABOU-CHEDID, TRUMAN NATIONAL SECURITY PROJECT: I mean, the biggest
concern that I have, really, when I look at this is that separate from the
political issues is if you look on Facebook and Twitter and if you have
Egyptian friend, there`s an almost complete dehumanization of the other
going on. And this is going on on both sides.
I mean, you hear people saying the people -- the Brotherhood protesters are
not really Egyptian. I don`t know what they`re supposed to be, perhaps,
Martian. I mean, you know, people saying they`re Palestinians or Syrian
(ph) or something, but just saying that they`re -- or that they`re
terrorists. Meaning, it`s OK to kind of go in and use violence to kill
And then on the other side, you have supporters of Morsi who have said that
this is a war against Islam and that the Coptic Church was behind the coup.
And so, you see throughout Egypt, particularly, in Upper Egypt, churches on
fire. And Christian schools and a real siege of the very important
historic Coptic community in Egypt.
And so, before you could even get to national reconciliation, people have
to stop dehumanizing each other as --
KORNACKI: Can we talk to -- one thing I`ve been trying to figure out,
Ahmed, maybe you can speak to this, what the split looks like in Egypt
among the population, because we talk about the military leaders being
afraid of political Islam, but there`s also an interesting story I read
I think, again, this was in "The Times" talking about -- which were working
class neighborhood in Cairo who talked to a teacher, talked to an auto
mechanic who said they`re afraid of political Islam and they`re supportive
of what the military is trying to do now. But what -- can you just give a
sense what the split looks like in Egyptian society?
SHIHAB-ELDIN: I mean, this narrative of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood
versus the military and the seculars or the Christians or what have you has
to be eliminated, has to be deconstructed, because, you know, there are a
lot of people who are at the sit-ins especially yesterday when we saw again
dozens and dozens being slaughtered in Ramsey Square. A lot of them
weren`t Muslim Brotherhood supporters. A lot of them just are concerned at
the military`s brutality.
We saw it after Mubarak was ousted. They put 12,000 people on military
trial. You know, they killed many, many people. So, you`re seeing that
this narrative in the media that`s being perpetuated. This notion that the
Muslim Brotherhood are terrorist. They actually write this in English on
state TV, on private networks, and then you see, you know, the opposite
true amongst the Islamist, TV stations, which is why they were shut down.
You know, which is why you see Al Jazeera Mubasher (ph). Just as Al
Jazeera is about to launch here in America, you see the Egyptian government
shutting it down because it is propaganda to a certain extent.
So, I mean, there are so many different factions and groups within each
group that I think it`s too difficult for anyone to come up with a clear
policy if they`re using this narrative of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood
are, you know, rubbing for the ballot box because they`re Democrats and
they want their democratic aspirations to be realized, and that the
military is the brutal oppressor.
KORNACKI: So, ambassador, looking at that from the standpoint of the
United States and how to respond to something like this given the realities
that Ahmed just sort of outlined for us. And, you know, the goal here for
the United States, at least, it`s articulated by the president, by the
administration is that we want to get back to democracy.
We want to have a peaceful reconciliation here. What practically can and
should the United States be doing in a situation like this?
MARC GINSBERG, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MOROCCO: Well, let`s get down to
practicalities, because we can sit here and stand up for our principles and
I believe that in the end we could have suspended the pipeline of aid
instead of just talking about a military exercise that the Egyptians,
themselves, probably would have canceled on their own. So, let`s be
practical about what actually is going on here.
The aid -- there`s aid in the pipeline. I`m not in favor of completely
suspending the aid. In the end, let`s also understand that we need the
Egyptian military more than the Egyptian military needs the United States.
The Egyptian military is going to get whatever money it needs from the Gulf
States if the United States cuts off military aid. However, in the long
run, the military pipeline and I`ve spent a lot of time over the years
understanding this pipeline.
The Egyptian military, it`s not so much the money that`s the issue here,
it`s the training. It`s the equipment. It`s the spare parts, but we also
need the Egyptian military to help police the Sinai Peninsula. They`ve
been very effective in the end as a strong component of U.S. foreign policy
in the Middle East. At that same time, the Egyptian military needs the
political leadership of Egypt to help create the facade that they`re going
to have a provisional transition.
When Mr. el-Baradei resigned as the vice president, he was roundly
criticized by his cohorts in the political leadership for resigning.
Notice, very few other political leaders outside the Muslim Brotherhood
sphere resigned from this provisional government. Why? Because there`s
significant popular support in Egypt for this crackdown.
You know, we`re sitting around the table making this out to be somehow one
of the Muslim Brotherhood enjoys widespread popular support in Egypt. It
is an essential component of Egyptian society, but it does not have the
deep, popular support right now that we would think it has just based on
the pictures that we`re seeing.
KORNACKI: I want to pick that up in a second. An interesting point you
made there, too, about what the United States needs from its relationship
with Egypt with the military. What we get from that and what kind of
leverage we have. You mention the aid. I want to talk a little bit more
about that after this.
KORNACKI: So we had a statement, actually, yesterday from John McCain and
Lindsey Graham, and it actually had just been over in Egypt. The statement
said that "We urge the Obama administration to suspend U.S. assistance to
Egypt and make clear to the current leadership of the country what steps we
believe are necessary to halt Egypt`s decent into civil conflict and
ultimately to restore our assistance relationship, which has historically
served U.S. national security interests."
So, Steve, you know, we`re talking about this, you know, $1.3 billion. I
think it actually comes out to be like 19 percent or something of the total
like development aid that the Egypt receives from countries around the
world. So, I wonder, it sounds like a lot of money to us, but are we
overstating what leverage we really have when you look at all the other
money that -- s
CLEMONS: We`re distracted by the wrong element of leverage. It`s not
really financial leverage that matters. That`s a symbolic move, in my
view. We suspended the F-16 fighter delivery. We`ve suspended military
exercises. The money, I think, we should have suspended the day that Morsi
was deposed. The real leverage, you know, I think has is that we almost --
we know everybody in Egypt`s command staff.
The officer core inside Egypt all gone through the national defense
university, through exchange programs, through joint programs. There is a
very deep, human connection between the U.S. military and intelligence
services on our side and on the Egyptian side. We should be using every
element of those human relationships to both communicate how far they`ve
gone over the line.
And, in my view, if we were taking a strategy on how to get out of this, I
don`t see a reconciliation strategy that involves the Muslim Brotherhood
which you have to do that includes Gen. al-Sisi.
If someone has to be blamed for the horrors that have been unleashed in
this last week and you have to find factions within the Egyptian military,
it can be very hard, but there are sensible people inside Egypt and
sensible people inside the military who need to begin to differentiate
between who led them down this course and who not.
That`s the only way I think, the only conceivable way we`ll get out of
there. So, we spent too much time talking about the aid. We should be
suspended, but that`s not the real issue. The issue where the deep, human
GINSBERG: But at the same time -- I`m sorry -- but at the same time,
Steve, the fact of the matter is is that the Egyptian military sent us
packing. They sent John McCain and Lindsey Graham packing home. They
didn`t want us involved and it also, despite the fact that the military has
all these ties to United States, the vast majority of the Egyptian public
supports what the military has done, although, they don`t probably support
what they`re seeing on the streets.
And also, let`s be real here. Between the secularists who have already
resented the fact that the United States did not support them against the
Muslim Brotherhood since the Mubarak was overthrown. Remember, Hillary
Clinton went to Tahrir Square and was, in effect, almost railroaded out of
Tahrir Square by those secularists.
There`s an enormous anger and resentment towards the United States
throughout all aspects, every aspect of Egyptian society right now.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: the reason that there is this, you know, rise in anti-
American sentiment amongst all camps, and it`s very clear, appearing (ph)
on social media, also in the streets if you look at the protests is because
America for now, 2 1/2 years, quite frankly, has been teetering and
waffling when it comes to its policy in Egypt, and this has been very
I mean, if you look at how they reacted. You know, we`re talking about
military aid. Should it be suspended? What happened? People were
slaughtered. The American government, quite frankly, over the past several
decades made the Egyptian military not just because they go to America to
train but through the military aid, through this biennial training exercise
that was based in Camp David.
But, Obama, essentially, in his response canceled the play date. He
canceled the training play date. And he said, I`m going to ask my staff to
reassess what`s happening in Egypt. We don`t need the Obama administration
once again to reassess what`s happening in Egypt. They`ve been reassessing
it for ages. We need a reaction that`s clear. I agree that Egypt is
indifferent to America.
KORNACKI: But it seems like -- so, from this "Washington Post" story this
morning that says a reconciliation was actually near, you know, two weeks
ago and you had the military leaders apparently being the ones who said,
no, we`re not going to go forward. We`ve gone as far as we can. Rebecca,
CLEMONS: They were not sincere.
KORNACKI: Do they believe they can just -- they can now rule Egypt without
elections, period. They can just -- elections can be a thing of the past?
CLEMONS: They will create elections that are a facade --
KORNACKI: The old Mubarak elections.
CLEMONS: -- and they will create a camouflage over the fact that they`re
controlling all the leverage of society. They control most of the economy.
They will protect their equities. Egypt will continue to be a failed place
for aspiring young people, men and women, who want a different Egypt. They
will block all of that.
KORNACKI: Is that -- can they -- I mean, we look at the 1980s and 1990s,
you know, before social media. We`re talking about revolutions in social
media. Is it possible for the military to rule Egypt the way Mubarak did a
generation ago in the year 2013 and beyond?
ABOU-CHEDID: These revolutions were about the relationship between citizen
and state everywhere and they are (ph) being completely broken. And part
of the reason that the brotherhood failed isn`t just because they did a bad
job as Morsi did a bad job as president. They accepted the status quo.
They accepted the exact same state that Mubarak ruled, and they just took
power of -- they just took charge of the leverage of power.
There was really never a revolution in terms of the relationship between
governed and governorers. The military is still able to try civilians.
All of the things that people were protesting against fundamentally in
Egypt are still there. And with regard to the United States, it`s also
very easy to kind of blow off the United States because we`re deeply
unpopular, but part of that unpopularity is because our relationship
remains, one, with either an Arab autocrat.
I mean, a lot of the criticism of Ambassador Patterson was that her
relationship was with Morsi, particularly, and not trying to make a
relationship with the Egyptian people. The reason the 2009 Cairo speech of
President Obama was so popular was because it was telling Arab citizens, I,
as the president of the United States, see you and you matter, as a
citizen, as people.
That we want to build a relationship with people and we hear what your
aspirations are. And then our policy didn`t address any of those issues.
KORNACKI: All right. Well, Ahmed wants to get in here. We will keep this
going one more segment and we`ll get in (ph) right after this.
KORNACKI: OK. Ahmed, you`re about to say.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: Well, you know, I was just going to agree with her that at
the end of the day, this is about dignity. And we have to look at this
from a macro perspective and the context of what`s happening in the Middle
East and the greater Middle East. You have Saudi Arabia. You have Kuwait.
You have the UAE. You have all these gulf countries now pledging billions
and billions of dollars of aid to Egypt.
Even if the U.S., which is what we`re discussing here, were to suspend this
aid permanently, $1.3 billion, that doesn`t mean that Egypt can`t then use
that money to buy weapons from all these companies that they`re currently
buying weapons from like Lockheed Martin, so on and so forth, unless, the
U.S. government were to even take that extra step.
But I also wanted to make the point and agree with you that, you know,
what`s happening in Egypt today is political failure. I cannot emphasize
that enough. It started back with the revolutionaries. Now, to the Muslim
Brotherhood, you have an interim cabinet that was appointed by the military
that is adopting the military`s line that this is a fight against brutal
A brutal terrorist plot that these terrorists elements are foreign entities
and that foreign people are bringing this into Egypt. This is the most
common refrain we`ve heard time and time again from all these Arab tyrant
that, you know -- tyrants that`s almost like there`s a manual.
GINSBERG: But at the same time, we have to understand that Mr. Morsi who
is still imprisoned or wherever he is being held, he set the stage for what
essentially is the failure of the brotherhood. There was a significant
anger and resentment among many of the brotherhood (ph) in Egypt towards
his rule because they felt he was blowing it.
GINSBERG: And the fact of the matter is, the fact of the matter is is that
his failures is what drove 20 million Egyptians into the streets. And so,
let`s understand that, also, that if there`s anyone who ultimately is to
blame for this failure of where we are today, it is because of his
autocracy and this failure to deal with the issues that Egypt`s government
CLEMONS: I just want to point that that may very well be the case. I
would shade it a bit differently. I would call 14 million instead of 20
million, but you know, we can say --
CLEMONS: At the end of the day, the Mohammed Morsi was, was struggling
with other institutions, struggling with the legacy hold over from Mubarak,
struggling with a complicated situation.
CLEMONS: I`m not going to defend him, but I`m going to say if a guy is
failing in that system, let him go to the polls and fail. For us to sit
back and say it was right for the military to come in and kill a thousand
people and injured many, many more. I`m basically saying that --
CLEMONS: -- because you robbed the loss that they would have -- they would
have learned -- what is so important for political Islamic groups is to
understand the burdens of shouldering power, of the burdens of keeping
utilities working, of the burdens of negotiating across the aisle.
CLEMONS: But many is failing. But then for the tanks to come in and for
us to act we asked about (ph) and say, look, he was failing, he set this
up, let the electoral --
CLEMONS: That is what has been robbed by this coup. It was a coup. And
the White House --
KORNACKI: If Morsi had been deposed, let`s say through an election instead
of by the military, would the response be -- do you think that his
supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood, would take that as a legitimate
response and, OK, we`re fine with it or would be seeing similar protests?
ABOU-CHEDID: That`s the problem because we`re reacting to it from an
American perspective where you actually have checks and balances built into
the system so that if a leader is going -- I mean, he put himself above the
constitution last November. He did that, by the way, on American
And I was in Egypt the day that happened, and he did it three days after
the Gaza ceasefire and not a single Egyptian that I talked to said, see, he
played you guys for fools. So, I mean, the average Egyptian as they were
failing felt that there was no way, how do I depose this president? This
president is overstepping. I don`t have a way to get rid of him. There
are no checks and balances.
GINSBERG: The failure of the system to have adequate checks and balances
is what`s led to this, because remember, sequencing of where Morsi wound up
generating that anger and opposition was when he rejected the Supreme
Court`s decisions and basically said I`m no longer going to -- let me just
finish. We are no longer going to abide by the system itself that is in
place that elected me.
That`s what got a lot of, what I would call, the silent majority of
Egyptians out into the streets as well as his failure to focus on the
economic issues. Now, that does not justify what the military did. I
agree with Steve on that. But let`s also understand here, the brotherhood
is as much at fault here as anyone.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: Yes, that may be true. The brotherhood is as much at fault
as anyone, but what Morsi did ultimately is he put himself above the
interests of the Egyptian people, above the interest of the national
identity of Egypt. He was putting political Islam or his Islamist
ideologist on the regional level above the interest of the Egyptian people.
You know, the constitutional decree, of course, he put himself above the
We can blame Morsi. We can blame the Muslim Brotherhood. We can blame the
terrorist elements if we want to use that terminology, the armed elements.
But you -- there`s a system and power now that is in power because they
ousted Morsi. His supporters were being slaughtered are not part of the
Morsi camp or decision-making team.
You can`t slaughter that many citizens in this day and age and be taken
seriously, especially when the interim cabinet is endorsing this policy and
this position. They`re saying -- I mean, can you imagine this. You have
an interim cabinet that doesn`t have a single representative from the
Muslim Brotherhood essentially saying, yes, we adopt this policy.
GINSBERG: The administration has not gone as far as it should have. We
should be standing up for our principles on this very issue.
KORNACKI: Please, Steve, we --
CLEMONS: Real quickly, I think it`s very, very important that, one,
despite the fact that we need to punish the military in my view, we have to
realize we can`t abandon Egypt. Egypt is too important. It`s like China
for us in the Middle East. It`s a key relation. The second thing is,
there`s such a nightmare inside Egypt that we need to be prepared for this,
because like Morsi was failing, the military is going to fail.
What happens when that happens? Governments try to distract by moving
outside. Israel is our key relationship in the region and I suspect that
once we get past this dust, they will begin trying to distract and rally
Egyptian citizens with other issues that are outside their territories and
that`s very scary for us.
KORNACKI: OK. My thanks to Ahmed Shihab-Eldin at "Huff Post Live," former
U.S. ambassador, Marc Ginsberg, Steve Clemons of "The Atlantic" magazine,
Rebecca Abou-Chedid of Truman National Security Project.
Government shutdown, that is nothing compared with the newest threat
gaining steam on the right, coming up.
KORNACKI: Tea Party activists are storming town hall across the country,
demanding that Republicans fight Obamacare by shutting down the government.
And John McCain was their latest target this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think if Obamacare is such a disaster, then you
guys should be willing to defund it and get rid of it.
KORNACKI: That was far from the only time that McCain was put on the spot
in his town hall. We`ll have video you haven`t seen of some more questions
that made him squirm and that provoke some surprising answers, coming up.
KORNACKI: There are some signs that Republicans may be backing away from
threats to shut down the federal government in order to defund President
Obama`s health care law. There are also signs they might be moving in a
more dangerous direction, instead. Senate minority leader, Mitch
McConnell, admitted in a local interview in Kentucky on Tuesday that a
government shutdown would not achieve what conservatives want.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) MINORITY LEADER: A bill that would shut down
the government wouldn`t shut down Obamacare. Most of it is permanent law
and not affected by that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But, when McConnell`s office was asked if this means he`s
against actually going through with the shutdown, his answer was, well,
he`s not taking sides on that question. On that same day, "National
Review`s" Robert Costa reported on what could be the next major
confrontation in a Washington.
According to Costa, quote, "The House GOP will probably avoid using shut
down as leverage and instead use the debt limit and sequester fights as
areas for potential legislative trades. Negotiations over increasing the
debt limit have frequently been used to wring concessions out of the
administration, so there may be movement in that direction. Delay
Obamacare in exchange for an increase debt limit."
So, to summarize, party leaders have been trying to coax the Tea Party
crowd out of staging a shutdown fight because it would be too politically
risky and economically calamitous. So, now, the Tea Party crowd is talking
up forcing a debt ceiling fight, instead, which would be even more risky
I would like to bring in Krystal Ball. She is my former co-host on MSNBC`s
"The Cycle," Rick Wilson, a Republican media strategist and a contributor
to the conservative online forum, Ricochet.com, Sam Seder, host of the
online radio show "The Majority Report, and Nia-Malika Henderson, a
political reporter for "The Washington Post."
And Nia, I`ll start with you because I have been just wildly going back and
forth for a few weeks now like, well, there`s momentum on the Republican
side to do a shut down. Wait, no, they`ve tainted down. Wait, no, it`s
back. The latest news, I think, this was yesterday. This group, the
Senate Conservatives Fund which Jim DeMint when he was in the Senate
It encourages, it bank rolls primary challenges even against Republican
incumbents. And they basically said if Mitch McConnell doesn`t sign on
with this, we`re going to go, you know, start running ads against him in
Kentucky. So, it`s got me thinking maybe the threat is coming back. Where
do you think it stands?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. I mean, that`s possible
and you have this very vocal caucus in the Senate. It`s not many people,
but they`re very vocal. You`re talking about Ted Cruz and you`re talking
about Rand Paul. Mitch McConnell, obviously, very afraid of a primary
challenge in any appearance of that he`s not, you know, align with Rand
Paul in this sort of more vocal, more conservative parts of his party.
But I think you ultimately don`t have the votes in the Senate. You don`t
have the votes, I don`t think, in the House for that. And, I think at some
point, you`re going to see the business community come to bear on this and
the way they did with the fiscal cliff, because it would just be calamitous
for them to sort of play footsie with the idea of not extending the debt
But I think from Boehner, you`ve seen him try to go and cool the
temperature in the room with the sort of hell no caucus and he`s had some
success with that. But, again, I think you make the point that now this
might even be worse with, you know, negotiating the debt ceiling.
KORNACKI: Yes. One theory that I heard that that makes sense to me and
maybe Rick, you can be our translator --
KORNACKI: Maybe you can tell me if this is -- if I`m on the right track
here, but OK, republican leadership, by and large, does not want to
actually have this shut down. Fine, OK. They`ve got to talk sort of the
true believers out of it. So, maybe they`re sort of dangling the prospect
of hey, if you put the fight off on the shutdown, we`ll get them on the
debt ceiling a month later. So, they`re sort of buying themselves a
month`s time here.
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you know, I think it`s two-fold.
I do think there`s a little bit of a delaying tactic because the
leadership, the leadership`s issue with this is very simple. They don`t
philosophically have any -- there`s no daylight on killing Obamacare.
They want to shut down Obamacare, however, they`re worried that just
shutting down the government is a one-day tactic and then you have to fight
it out for months on end and that gives Barack Obama, drags Barack Obama
personally into the fight and it`s not as steady a ground to fight on.
They would much rather do something with the debt ceiling and the sequester
because Barack Obama lost a huge amount of credibility by running around
saying, you know, dogs and cats will be living in sin together if there`s a
sequester. Meteors will fall from the sky, and everyone will be killed if
there`s a sequester. Well, the sequester didn`t really affect normal
people. So, they feel like --
KORNACKI: It`s one of those things -- I feel people feel it and they don`t
know they`re feeling it.
WILSON: If you look at the apocalyptic language that used --
WILSON: -- in the descriptions of it, it was -- you know, it was mad max
(ph), you know, post-apocalyptic waste land if we go for one day of the
KORNACKI: Here`s my follow up then as a Republican here. What is it that
Republicans realistically want out of any of these --
KORNACKI: OK. I said the key word here is realistic.
KORNACKI: What do you guys want? What are you trying to get out of this?
WILSON: Here`s the thing, we want to make sure that all the stresses that
are already hurting Obamacare. And look, Barack Obama keeps signaling
weaknesses by delaying and deferring and unilaterally extra legally
changing how we`re going to deploy and implement Obamacare.
So, as he signals those weaknesses, we know that this thing is incredibly
rickety contraption. And it`s going to fall apart if enough pressure gets
put on that.
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC`S "THE CYCLE": Here`s my thing, though. If you
believe that, which I believe that you do. If you believe that Obamacare
is so terrible the whole thing is going to fall apart, costs are going to
skyrocket, and doctors are going to leave the profession, seniors are going
to be executed on death penalties.
Why not let it be implemented and fail and then the American people will
reject it and then you actually could repeal it? I think the actual fear
is that when it really is implemented, enough Americans --
BALL: -- enough Americans are going to say, this helps me. This helps my
family. That they are never going to --
BALL: That`s the real republican fear.
SAM SEDER, MAJORITY.FM: -- that he has here. I mean, because, look, the
reality is is that Obamacare is not going to be defunded. It is not
rickety. It is an incredibly, you know, as much as I have issues with it
from the left, frankly, it is a program that is already bringing benefits
to the American public. The Republicans are very nervous about that.
What`s going on here has more to do with Mitch McConnell worried about a
primary challenge in Kentucky. Punting is always what you do when you`re
in a position of weakness. If they can make this, if they can just leap
frog the issue of shutting down the government on the budget, then they`ll
have one battle to fight and this battle they`re fighting is internal.
This is the fight they`re having. The leadership is not in the same
position. They were, last time, go around. The business community --
Mitch McConnell, all of a sudden, is not going to -- now, we`re talking
about his own personal future here. And so, he can`t be as responsive. He
is fighting a fight on the right and --
KORNACKI: That`s a great segue -- I want to make sure to get this in
because this is crazy to me. This is heritage action. OK. This is Jim
DeMint left the Senate to run Heritage and they put out what they claim was
a poll this week that was encouraging Republicans, hey, it`s OK, go ahead,
shut down the government, because they polled districts that they didn`t
say is on average voted for Mitt Romney with nearly 60 percent of the vote.
And this is the poll question that they ask voters and say this was about
shutting down the government. This is how they framed it. In order to get
President Obama to agree with at least have a, quote, "time out" on
implementing the health care law and its full effects, would your approve
or disapprove of a temporary slowdown in nonessential federal government
operations, which still left all essential government services running?
KORNACKI: I mean, nobody -- if we actually set down the government, nobody
is going to interpret it as this. Do republicans actually believe this?
WILSON: Listen, I`m going to take a contrarian view from my Republican
colleagues. That poll would have made -- I mean, I would have run for the
Hills when I saw the question wording on that alone. That is just not how
you assess the actual impact of this and the same of the ten -- districts,
You have to do a more in-depth instrument. There are some other
instruments that are out there that say it`s not the apocalypse, but it
also has -- there`s a certain amount of risk in it and as a consultant, you
know, I`m going to be accused of being a squishy rhino now. As a
consultant who wants my guys to win, I don`t want to go on a --
SEDER: -- if you`re concerned about being a squishy rhino, if you actually
approach this as looking for real data.
SEDER: -- that that poll was written in such a way to get that result.
But you got to remember, the Heritage Foundation is writing that poll in
that way to get that result. So, this is where the battle lines are.
KORNACKI: It seems like -- I remember 1995 and 1996 when there was a shut
down and when Newt Gingrich and the Republican congress paid a big price.
I hear Ted Cruz talked about 1995 and 1996. Now, I hear Newt Gingrich who
lived through it talk about it now and it`s like they didn`t see what I
HENDERSON: Yes, yes. And I mean, but I think many Republicans did see
what you saw and they --
HENDERSON: John Boehner saw it and lots of Senate Republicans. John
McCain saw it. He is very much counseling against a government shutdown.
The conservative Intel, a ginsy (ph), a folks like Charles Krauthammer,
they don`t want to see this. I think Republicans play right now is death
by a thousand cuts to Obamacare, right?
I mean, they feel like they can peel away even maybe some House Democrats
who aren`t necessarily happy with some of the things that we see from
Obamacare. Some even Senate Democrats. You see them talking about it.
This is the -- rhe reality is, though, right, Obamacare is already here.
I mean, that`s what Republicans are sort of, oh, the British are coming. I
mean, the British are sort of already here in terms of Obamacare. For 85
percent of us, this is the reality that we`re living.
KORNACKI: That`s the rhetoric -- the British system. The British are
KORNACKI: Anyway, are Republicans just shouting at the wind? One of their
leading presidential candidates thinks so. That`s next.
KORNACKI: It has been five months since the Republican National Committee
released its autopsy report. This is a surprisingly self-critical document
that faulted the party`s failure to appeal to Latinos, to women, to young
voters, into LGBT voters. And it doesn`t necessarily see that much has
changed since then.
At an RNC meeting in Boston this week, that was the first formal gathering
of the party since that autopsy, the RNC voted to ban all primary debates
in 2016 from NBC and CNN, which also means that the debates on Telemundo
which like this network is owned by NBC, NBC Universal, and CNN Espanol,
these are two of the biggest Spanish language outlets, are also banned as
Immigration reform which the autopsy specifically recommended that
Republicans champion and embrace appears to be dying a slow death at the
hands of House conservatives. The story in "Politico" on Friday said that,
quote, "It is almost impossible to find an establishment Republican in
town, that`s D.C., who`s not downright morose about the 2013 that has been
and is about to be."
So, the RNC is holding these meetings up in Boston, probably a good time
maybe to take stock of has anything changed for the Republican Party since
the election, since the autopsy. Krystal, you`re a Democrat. Do you look
at the Republican Party now say, they got their act together?
BALL: No, not so much. I think that they have slipped back into a lot of
old habits and the "Politico" piece points out and one of the most critical
things, I think, has been the response to the Supreme Court decision on the
Voting Rights Act. You know, immediately states went forward with
restrictive voter I.D. and laws that frankly would have likely been
overturned under the previous Voting Rights Act.
So, I think that has further alienated them from minorities. Now, what I
would say and what`s interesting about the RNC and what`s happening this
week and the way that they`re floating like Rush Limbaugh as a debate
moderator is they need to be focused on reforming their primary process so
that they can have a candidate who could appeal to a general electorate.
I think Chris Christie is a very strong candidate. I think if he could
make it through a Republican primary, he would be someone to be reckon with
in a general election and very tough even for someone as good as Hillary
Clinton. But the way that they`re structuring the primary process, the way
they`re approaching it and viewing it already, someone like him couldn`t
survive. So, they`re going to end up with someone on the far right who had
all the same problems that they --
KORNACKI: And isn`t there a bigger issue, this whole question of the
debates and banning debates from CNN and NBC. There`s a whole question,
too, about whether that will actually mean anything because state parties
can hold debates and they don`t need the RNC`s, you know, (INAUDIBLE) them.
But that aside, it just seems like there`s an embrace here of a bubble
And it is a party sort of saying we want to have our own media environment.
We want to have our own -- we don`t care what`s happening in the outside.
We`re OK with winning the House because the way the country sort of caught
up, they can win the House. But they`re almost saying, let`s live where we
win the House and not the White House.
SEDER: I actually -- I have a contrary, I think, position on this whole
debate thing. I actually think it`s a very smart thing for them to do
because Rush Limbaugh is not going to moderate that debate. They`re going
to get some hack. They`ll ultimately get some hack that will moderate that
But what`s that hack is going to do? The hack is going to stay away from
questions that are going to show what a freak show the Republican nominees
are because they have to play to the base. The issue is the Republican
base here. And the RNC is taking a step, I think, to inoculate these
debates from playing to that base.
KORNACKI: -- but wasn`t playing to the base what got these debates such
attention in 2011 that, you know, caused all those moments.
SEDER: Exactly. And they don`t want that to happen and they want to be
able to control the questions that are asked of these primary candidates.
So, there are questions that they`re not going to get them in trouble.
Look, you can have a Republican base complaining like, that debate, they
didn`t ask the questions that I wanted to hear. But at the end of the day,
it`s better than them answering those questions.
KORNACKI: I see a Republican base right now at the town hall meeting
saying why don`t you shut down the government over Obamacare. Those are
the questions at the debate. That`s going to get them in trouble. Rick,
WILSON: Here`s the thing, the experience of 2012, in particular, when you
had Candy Controly and Martha Raddatz putting their thumb on the scale so
hard on these debates, it was absurd.
WILSON: George Stephanopoulos driving and driving and asking, that no
candidate ever proposed to, quote, "ban birth control" and Stephanopoulos
asking which one of you wants to ban contraception? These debates became a
clown show of --
BALL: Are you talking about the primary or the general election here?
WILSON: Here`s the thing, in the primary debates, why are you going to
invite people? You don`t take the serpent into your house. Why are you
going to invite people who are going to be deliberately go --
KORNACKI: That famous question or infamous question where the Republican
candidates were all asked, you know, 10-1 deal.
KORNACKI: Bret Baier on Fox News and they all incredibly weakened that
moment. That came back --
SEDER: That`s not so much an issue for them. I mean, the fact is, it is a
legitimate question to ask Republican nominee about birth control because
it is out there.
SEDER: Would it be a problem for the Democratic nominees to ask that
question? The fact is --
SEDER: -- Republicans are very afraid of answering that question and they
know that a Sean Hannity, whoever, will not ask that question. And that`s
HENDERSON: I do think Sean Hannity would ask questions to figure out
who`s, you know, on his team in terms of being from the far right or
KORNACKI: OK. Wait, we have just set the new uprecord for cross talking
KORNACKI: Progressives across the country are setting their sights on one
candidate in one election that is now less than a month away and we`re
going to talk to him next.
KORNACKI: The Democratic race for mayor of New York has been about as
topsy-turvy as last year`s GOP presidential primaries and there may now be
a new frontrunner.
His name is Bill De Blasio. He`s the city`s public advocate and the newest
poll has him tied at 24 percent. The city council speaker Christine Quinn,
she entered the race as the favorite. This comes after another poll
earlier in the week, this one from Quinnipiac, put De Blasio in first place
with 30 percent. It`s the most that any candidate has garnered in that
poll since early April.
De Blasio`s surge has come as he`s collected endorsements from a host of
nationally prominent progressive voices like the "Nation" magazine, former
Vermont governor Howard Dean, singer and activity Harry Belafonte and the
city`s biggest union, SCIU 1199 among others.
It has, though, however, been 24 years since New York City actually elected
a Democratic mayor.
Here to talk about De Blasio`s chances in the primary and maybe in the
general election is Bill De Blasio.
Thank you for joining us.
BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Totally objective.
KORNACKI: The -- so the big issue this week, besides we have the polls
that we put out there. Your surge has sort of coincided with the stop-and-
frisk being in the news. And we had the ruling from Judge Scheindlin
earlier this week that did not put an end to stop-and-frisk, but it said
that the racial profiling aspect of it needs to be addressed, and the
monitor needs to be implemented to deal with that.
My question to you is, what -- how does that work practically? Because you
have been a critic of stop-and-frisk and you said you want to get beyond
and end the stop-and-frisk era.
DE BLASIO: Yes.
KORNACKI: You have not, however, said you wanted to end stop-and-frisk.
So realistically speaking what is it going to look like on the streets
under Bill De Blasio to have stop-and-frisk and not to have the racial
profiling aspect of it? What`s that going to look like every day?
DE BLASIO: It`s going to look like appropriate policing and constitutional
mindful policing. I`m the only Democratic candidate who said we need a
package of reforms to actually achieve change at NYPD. These are some
long-standing problems and what I called for courses of new police
commissioner who is ready to bring new police back together and make these
Something I know Ray Kelly is not ready to do. He`s the architect of the
overuse of stop-and-frisk. We need an independent, I emphasize independent
inspector general. Not one named by the police commissioner to oversee the
process. And we need a racial profiling ban as part of the laws of New
So what the judge did, I think, was right and I as mayor would not appeal
that decision, by the way. I think the judge -- his decision was fair and
balanced and needs to be carried through. The judge took some short-term
steps including a federal monitor. But the big change has to be a new
commissioner, plus those additional pieces of legislation to reset the
police department for the future, and then think about this, stops only
when they are constitutionally appropriate.
Only when, for example, there`s a suspect description and people fit that
description. They should be stopped as part of normal policing. But on
top of that an NYPD that focuses on community relations, that focuses on
developing communication with the community, getting leads from community
residents on where criminals and weapons are, that plus the technology we
have, plus the sheer manpower, 34,000 plus officers, that will keep us safe
but in a way that actually respects people`s rights.
KORNACKI: How do you -- we mentioned in the -- at the outset here, it`s
been 24 years since New York City elected a Democrat?
DE BLASIO: I was there that night.
KORNACKI: I think Gorbachev was still -- was still in power in the Soviet
DE BLASIO: Yes. Power in the Soviet Union.
KORNACKI: When that happened, and there have been five consecutive
Democrats in that time who have run and they have all been defeated by non-
Democrats. Republicans or non-Democrats in 2009 with Michael Bloomberg.
What is it that voters in this city, this very Democratic city have been
rejecting when for five straight elections they`ve given a choice between a
Democrat and non-Democrat. They`ve said we`re not going to turn the city
over a Democrat? What is it that they have been rejecting?
DE BLASIO: You know, Steve, it`s such a complicated question. I lived
through all of that. I was there the night 24 years ago where this -- when
the mayor was first elected and I was on his campaign team and I was on his
campaign team when we lost to 1993.
I do think in 1993 it was about a combination of some really complicated,
unforeseen events like what happened in Crown Heights and some missteps by
the Dinkins administration and, bluntly, a very negative racial appeal by
In the New York City of 1993, that was just enough to get Giuliani the
votes he needed. This is not the New York City of 1993 anymore. This is a
much more progressive and united city. Thank God.
KORNACKI: But it`s also a city where the crime rate has dropped
dramatically in the last 20 years, from 1993, and in that time I read, my
reading of the results from 1993 on has been that people have had
complicated feelings about Giuliani and they have complicated feelings
about Bloomberg, but overall they say we are really happy that the crime
rate has continued to drop and that the city is a lot safer, it`s a lot
better to live in than it was 20 years ago.
And we talk about this question of stop and frisk. I recognize that in the
Democratic primary, if you poll this question, it`s very unpopular in your
position and it`s very popular. There was a "New York Times" poll that
came out yesterday that asked about stop and frisk among all general
election voters. They said that actually 50 percent of them favor -- 50 to
47 percent favor, and I wonder, I look at you and look at your message on
this, I look at you talking about you represent a clean break from
And I wonder if those same voters who have been so happy with the decline
in crime and have continued to elect non-Democrats for 20 years in a
general election are going to look at that and say, I don`t want to turn
the city back to what we had 20 years ago.
DE BLASIO: First of all, I would love to have that particular challenge of
explaining to the voters in the general election why we can make this work.
I`d be honored to be the Democratic nominee and do that. But here`s what I
think, first, we have a great tradition across several mayors and a number
of police commissioners and driving crime down. And I think we can very
clearly show to people how we can continue that tradition while fixing the
relationship between police and community in the process.
And here`s the thing that I think a lot of people understand. When police
and community have a respectful communicative relationship, that is the
best pathway towards long-term safety and security. But the second point
is, this election is going to be about economics. Not about public safety.
Public safety matters to everyone, of course. But what people are really
going through is what I call the tale of two cities.
They`re going through intense economic challenges and economic insecurity,
and they want to hear what the city government will do to --
KORNACKI: Can I -- I`ve got to ask you about that tale of two cities.
DE BLASIO: Yes.
KORNACKI: Because I`m talking about these Democrats who failed to win the
city, and that was the slogan -- that Freddy Ferrer, is where he talked
about two New Yorks. This theme has come up over and over again. Why does
it work now?
DE BLASIO: Fred Ferrer used that slogan in 2001 and won the Democratic
primary. Of course, that was in the context also of the post-9/11 dynamics
which were, you know, tragic and complicated.
KORNACKI: And he ran in 2005 and was blown out by Bloomberg.
DE BLASIO: He won the Democratic primary, but, again, Bloomberg was an
incumbent. This is an open seat. So I think -- it`s good to look at the
history but the history doesn`t tell us enough because what`s happened
since these last four, five years of economic crisis the dumbing down of
wages and benefits. All of the pressures in the city, the huge increase in
This is a different city and I think one of the things, all of us who have
been in public life for a while, it`s natural to fight yesterday`s war.
But let`s talk about today in New York City where the issue is economic.
Where people are struggling to get by. A stunning New York City government
report two months ago, 46 percent of New Yorkers at or near the poverty
level at 150 percent of the poverty level or below, 46 percent.
You never would have imagined that 10 years ago. That`s New York City
today and that`s what has to be addressed in this mayoral election. I
think that will be equally true in the general election.
KRYSTAL BALL, MNSBC`S "THE CYCLE": And Bill, I wanted to ask you a little
of a personal question. By the way, I appreciate that your focus on stop
and frisk is on stop and frisk sort of a symptom of a problem, not as the
root cause and looking at the complete problem. But, you know, I ran for
Congress in 2010 and I made the decision to include my daughter who was
very young at the time in my campaign and in my ads, and your son Dante was
featured very prominently in your ad. Him and his fabulous hair.
I just wondered what was your decision making process around including him
in such a prominent role and what the response has been to that ad.
DE BLASIO: Well, first I have to say in my family, I am the third most
famous person after Dante and Dante`s hair.
BALL: Dante`s hair. Yes.
DE BLASIO: But the two separate categories, I come in a distant third.
Look, I think the important thing to me was portraying who I am. And my
family and I have been in this together. You know, my wife and I met in
city hall working for Mayor Dinkins. We have been devoted to a life of
public service. We share values. We always had a sense of our family as
part of a community.
And then when I started running for office, local school boards an unpaid
position. You know, the first time I was campaigning was with my daughter,
she was 4 and we were outside her school giving out leaflets. This is very
natural to us.
And I think the family as an idea is powerful in New York City today where
we had a mayor who has not been responsive to the needs of parents, for
example, public school parents. I happen to be a public school parent.
DE BLASIO: And that`s a very important -- very important part of what I`m
trying to say. It is important to have a mayor to listen to public school
parents. I think this was very natural for us and the response has been
warm and positive and I think people like seeing a loving family together.
KORNACKI: I want to get -- Rick, I want to make sure to get you in here
because there are Republicans in New York City and Rick actually has some
history in New York Republican politics, he worked for Rudy Giuliani a
number of years ago.
Rick, I wonder if you can speak to this, and we get maybe Bill to respond.
But what I hear when I talk to actual Republicans in New York City is they
have a candidate -- they actually have two candidates running a primary,
but they have a candidate that they think is potentially electable and they
say -- they say Bill De Blasio is the candidate they want to run against.
Is that -- is that correct and why?
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think, I think, Bill, with all
due respect, you are a guy who -- you`ve been around -- you`ve been in the
political atmosphere of New York. You just said it yourself. This is what
-- this is what you do. This is your life. And the question really is, in
my head, the last two mayors in the 24 years were largely a product not of
some racial appeal, but because David Dinkins ran the government in that
sort of balkanized Democratic Party way, where it was all these Democratic
factions that were divvying up, and the unions, and everybody is for
divvying up the city amongst themselves.
And basically the quality of life for everybody else went downhill. And
these -- the two mayors since then that have been very successful with New
Yorkers have been because they took quality of life as the first step. So
when you`re a mayor, or if you`re mayor or if you`re a nominee, the
question really for most New Yorkers isn`t, are you progressive enough for
me? It`s, are you managerially competent to handle the most complex city
government in the world probably?
And are you managerially strong enough to resist all the forces inside your
own party that are going to be driving you after 24 years of suppressed,
pent up demand, all the -- all the people that never got the appointments,
never got the goodies of power, are going to be pushing you in directions
that aren`t responsible.
I mean, the teacher`s union is going to push you so hard that, you know,
you listen to parents but at the end of the day, if those people, if you
owe those people, they are going to be pushing you in a direction that is
only serving their needs.
KORNACKI: That`s -- if you are a Democratic nominee, that`s what you`re
going to be hearing from your Republican opponent and how are you going to
DE BLASIO: I think those days are over. I think we`re in a different
world now. First of all, fiscal responsibility is a given to me and I
think the whole generation of people came up after the fiscal crisis of the
`70s. It`s not negotiable. We have to balance our budget by June 30th
every year, period.
And I think on top of that, I think you make a valid point. The politics
of thinking through one organization or one constituency narrowly is the
politics of the past. We need a government to actually respond to the
needs of the people in general and that`s why my message, when I talk about
a tale of two cities, it`s acknowledging what people on the ground are
WILSON: So you`re going to tell SCIU they`re going to have to take a hair
cut on pension and benefits?
DE BLASIO: Again, let me finish what I`m saying. I`m talking about what
people are going through on the ground. I`m talking about the role of
government in trying to help address their problems which right now is not
happening with Michael Bloomberg. And I just think it`s not healthy
honestly to put it through the prism of what happened 20 years ago we`re an
entirely different reality today and I live in today`s reality.
WILSON: You should pray people don`t remember 20 years -- 25 years ago
because the Dinkins era, people -- most people around this table weren`t
politically active then. And we`re the old guys here.
DE BLASIO: I`m offended.
KORNACKI: That is going to be, that is going to be --
WILSON: This is a serious issue that people have forgotten that chaos and
the filth and the crime and the disruption and that the quality of life had
diminished in New York City.
DE BLASIO: You know respectfully --
WILSON: No, look. The early -- the late `80s and early `90s were not a
pretty time for New York. This was a city that had massive structural
problems that were because the government was run by a guy --
KORNACKI: And this will -- this will be the Republican message this fall.
That`s what it was and that`s what you don`t want to go back to.
WILSON: You want amnesia.
DE BLASIO: It`s fear-mongering.
WILSON: I understand you want --
DE BLASIO: And your fear-mongering is just as good as Michael Bloomberg`s
and Howard Wolfson`s. That`s a compliment.
The fact is the challenge facing New York City today is economic. 46
percent of the people by the city`s own statistics struggling to get by.
We have not passed expansive living wage legislation. We have passed a
paid sick days bill that only goes part of the way. We are not using the
resources of government to help people get employment and get training for
the jobs that actually exist in this economy. That is what this election
is going to be about.
KORNACKI: All right. And I want to give you credit for one thing before
we leave here. I know you`re originally from Cambridge, Massachusetts, I`m
from not far from there and you still admit, as a New York politician, that
you`re a Red Sox fan. I think that takes courage.
KORNACKI: And I wish more politicians --
DE BLASIO: Courage.
KORNACKI: I can`t stand politicians who move somewhere and pretend they
cheer for the local team their whole life. So I give you -- I really
I want to thank New York City Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill De
Blasio for joining us.
DE BLASIO: He`s turning it into a positive.
KORNACKI: In Cambridge you`re going to be very electable now. I know
There`s been a lot of buzz about Hillary Clinton`s possible presidential
bid but a crack in a different glass ceiling may be just months away.
KORNACKI: And February 25th, 1870 Hiram Revels of Mississippi became the
first ever African-American sworn into the United States Senate. Revels
was elected by the Mississippi state legislature, the Reconstruction era
Mississippi legislature, and was only given his seat after a heated debate
Here`s "New York Times" story from that day. It said -- the headline was,
"The Colored Member Admitted to His Seat in the Senate." And here`s how
the "Times" described the scene in the Senate chamber that day.
Quote, "The ceremony was short. Mr. Revels showed no embarrassment or
whatever. And his demeanor was as dignified as could be expected under the
circumstances. The abuse, which had been poured upon him and on his race
during the last two days might have shaken the nerves of anyone. The vast
throng in the gallery showed no signs of feeling one way or the other and
left very quietly."
Now contrast that with the scene in Newark this past Tuesday night when
Cory Booker move closer to joining the Senate with a blowout victory in New
Jersey`s Democratic primary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORY BOOKER, DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE, NEW JERSEY SENATE: It is such an honor to
be your nominee, to be your Democratic nominee, for the United States
Senate. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But here`s the thing. Between Hiram Revels swearing in and Cory
Booker`s campaign it has been 143 years. In that time, the grand total of
African-Americans to serve in the United States Senate is eight. And of
those eight, only three have actually been elected by popular vote. Ed
Brook from Massachusetts, Carol Moseley Braun from Illinois, someone named
Barack Obama. The others were appointed and served briefly.
When it comes to governors, it`s the same story. Just four African-
Americans ever have served as state governors and only two of them, Doug
Wilder from Virginia and Deval Patrick in Massachusetts, were popularly
This is what one writer has called the other glass ceiling in politics.
Barack Obama broke a massive barrier when he won the presidency and dozens
of African-Americans currently serve in the House of Representatives, but
when it comes to statewide office, the feeder system for national office.
Cory Booker`s story remains the exception.
Want to try to understand why this is and what could change it, we`re
joined now by New York Democratic Congress Charlie Rangel. He`s a 42-year
veteran of the House and a founding member of the Congressional Black
And Congressman, thanks for joining us. I wonder when we just -- we talk
about the history and those statistics that first black senator, 143 years
ago, and in all that time, only three African-Americans have actually been
elected to the Senate, only two as governor. What do you think the reason
for that is?
REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: America would like to believe that the
question of color is not an issue and that racism is dead. And I think
there`s other ways besides talk about it on your program. We are going to
have to do to have people recognize. Until we recognize the depth of
racism in this country, we`re going to have to have the problem. You`ve
got to look at it, you`ve got to deal with it.
But, as you relate it to becoming a senator, white or black, it is so
difficult. But when you throw that race into it, you can almost make it
impossible. First of all, you have to wait six, 12, 18 years for a
vacancy. And if the spouse happens to be attractive and there`s an early
death or something, the way things are changing and because of the cost of
being elected, spouses somehow can get appointed.
And then once you`re appointed, that`s half, 50 percent of the problem,
getting re-elected. The other thing is the costs of running. It is now
pretty well accepted that you have to start off being a millionaire. And
no matter how much of trying to avoid the impediment of color in terms of
becoming a millionaire, I think statistics would show black folks just have
not been able to get the fairest start. They are the reasons but I want
you to ask the next question.
KORNACKI: Well, yes -- one of the other -- one of the other reason I ask
Your career maybe could speak to this a little bit because you came to the
House in 1970. At that time, there was sort of a wave, relatively
speaking, of black candidates who won. You brought the total number in the
House to 12. And now it`s like four times that amount of African-Americans
who serve in the House.
But in terms of getting from the House to the Senate, it`s been -- there`s
sort of been a ceiling there and one of the reasons that`s suggested is the
good thing that the Voting Rights Act did was it created all sorts of
opportunities on the map that weren`t there before for nonwhite candidates
but it put them in districts that were a lot poorer than sort of white
majority districts and therefore to serve the interest of your district,
almost necessarily you were going to rack up a more -- a much more liberal
You`re going to have constituents that didn`t have a lot of money to donate
to campaigns and that those create impediments that take black members of
the House and make it much more difficult for them to run statewide than,
say, somebody from the wealthier suburbs would.
RANGEL: Even if we didn`t have that complicated political problem that you
described, the difference between the House and the Senate is totally
unbelievable. In terms of the structure in which you have to win a
primary. And if you -- in this country and so many Americans are totally
unaware of it, they enjoy being independents, and they`ll tell the world
that they are cleaner than driven snow because they`re not attached to any
But they denied the opportunity to vote in a primary and many times the
person running in a primary is guaranteed the election. And so the Voting
Rights Act allowed a lot of people to express themselves on political
subdivisions so that they can get to the Congress. It didn`t do it a darn
thing in making it possible to get to the Senate. Entirely different
formula that you have to have.
You need more money now than you did long before the Voting Rights Act to
even be considered and Booker`s really exciting triumph that we have here
is that he was a gigantic fish in the little pond of Newark.
KORNACKI: That`s right. He built a base.
RANGEL: That`s right.
KORNACKI: A much bigger base outside the city of Newark than inside the
city of Newark. I wonder from your own experience in politics, looking
back at your career. Did you at one point in your career, were you
thinking in terms of, I want to run for governor of New York, I`d like to
be a senator? Did you ever have a moment where you thought about it and
then said well, for reason X, I`m not going to? Or did you come to the
House and decide, no, I`m going to climb the ladder in the House and get a
RANGEL: You won`t believe that nobody has ever asked me that question.
BALL: Well, that`s been the problem, right?
RANGEL: That is one of the problems but when the issue did come up, I have
never said no. And the reason I haven`t said no is because politicians
like to be considered for higher office. But, quite frankly, being a judge
or being a mayor or being a member of this Senate has never been on my
agenda because I enjoy being a big fish in a smaller pond. I really do.
And the fact is that you have more opportunity to express yourself when
your constituents are solidly behind you than if you have to deal with a
If you`re talking about a state of New York, boy, you`ve got the north, the
south. I mean, you got it in New York state. And that would mean that I
would have to short change my total belief in order to accommodate what
other people would be entitled to and that is for me to hear their
different position and to support it in part, if I could.
And I think what shattered, I haven`t even thought about this. But what
really shattered my idea of running statewide is when I was campaigning for
Hugh Carrie who was my buddy in the House of Representatives.
KORNACKI: The governor of New York in that race.
RANGEL: And I was very close to him. The campaign and I went upstate and
I was in farm areas and I spent overnight and one morning one of the
Democratic leaders said, you know, you`re a fine young man and you are to
think about running for a statewide office or president. He says, I watch
"Jeffersons" every night and I never saw a colored like you personally, you
RANGEL: And you can come to my house any time you want. We need more of
RANGEL: The people understand where you are. And I never look for
trouble, but whenever I got outside the city of New York, I say, watch
this. You know? And people are honest. They love you, but they don`t
want you that close to them and they prefer being with what they call their
own. A black person has to overcome a lot in this country.
KORNACKI: What do you make of the success of Cory Booker? There was a
joke in New Jersey when he ran for mayor of Newark in 2002. He ran against
Sharp James who is the longtime incumbent and he lost. He lost -- Cory
Booker lost that election and the joke was that Cory Booker had lost Newark
but won the entire state of New Jersey, because there was no politician in
the state of New Jersey who was more popular in Cory Booker everywhere but
What do you make of how he`s been able to build such popularity outside of
the city that he actually represents?
RANGEL: Television. Next question.
BALL: Well, I wanted to ask you, I mean, you said you`ve never gotten
asked that question. And I wonder if there is a problem also within the
Democratic Party. Because I`m a native Virginian and we have Congressman
Bobby Scott there who is an excellent representative, who`s most senior
member of Congress from Virginia.
And whenever a seat comes open in the Senate, no one even thinks of him.
No one even floats him as a contender.
RANGEL: In Virginia.
BALL: So -- in Virginia. So I wonder if there`s also a problem within the
Democratic Party where they have sort of a legacy thinking of no African-
American could get elected to the Senate and that that`s part of the issue
in addition to the problems that you`ve outlined.
RANGEL: Everybody, no matter who the candidate want to be would be, party
officials will determine their ability to win.
RANGEL: That`s what you hear. The governor of New Jersey is saying is
pretty rough to hear it, but it`s true. You have to win if you truly
believe that you can govern. You have to win first. If you believe that
being a woman, being an immigrant or being black is a strike against you,
so be it. Because there`s other things that like Scott, Bobby Scott has,
that would give him advantage over the white guy or white gal.
But the formula is based on who you think could win. And we could do it
around this table and your sex is going to be a consideration, well, we
would mumble something, well, it`s not me, but the census shows or the
polls are showing and then you`re black and then you`re pretty and, you
know, by the time you get finished, he won -- who the hell was she, what
she thought we sat down with friends.
BALL: Right. They`ll say things like --
KORNACKI: Very quickly. I want you to get in very quickly because -- I
just want to get --
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: How helpful, Representative
Rangel, do you think Obama has been symbolically or substantively or has he
been helpful at all?
RANGEL: There`s no question with young kids. I could never tell the
American story. You read your books and you work hard and you could become
president of the United States. I would say, do I have to really say that
to this kid? And now I can say it. Now I can see that a form of being
what it was, if you can find an unusual individual. And when I talk about
unusual, it is not just the color of his skin. He is a remarkable person.
RANGEL: And to find that combination in the United States is difficult.
But I tell you, what he and especially his wife has done in terms of the
image, and I`m moved by Brown versus the United States with Dr. Kenneth
Brown, did the psychological test with the black doll and the white doll
with the black kid. It`s still that way. It`s still that way.
And I think, I know that Obama has changed that. If you were to say which
president would you like the best? The black kid is going to pick the
darker doll and I think that`s great seeing where a Catholic or a Jewish
person would make, you know, what`s closer to them.
KORNACKI: All right, as a good note to end it on.
I want to thank Congressman Charlie Rangel for joining us.
Well, about Cory Booker and that New Jersey Senate race. We actually took
a field trip out there this week. It involves a mall, a game show and some
washed-up celebrities. We`re going to show you after this.
KORNACKI: So it`s primary day in New Jersey on Tuesday and turnout was,
well, not as awful as people had feared but it was still pretty low. Not
many people really paid attention to the race, not that you can blame them
because Cory Booker was 40 points ahead the whole time. So it wasn`t much
of a race.
Anyway, to commemorate the primary, I actually took a little trip to a
shopping mall in Edison, New Jersey, on Tuesday and I asked shoppers to
play a game called "Is this a New Jersey Senate candidate?" Take a look.
KORNACKI (on camera): Today is the primary election. It`s not gotten a
lot of attention. We got eight pictures here. Some of them are
candidates, some of them aren`t. Was going to ask you each one, is it a
candidate or not, and then bonus points if you can tell me who it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring it on. Come on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be ugly.
KORNACKI: First one. Is this a New Jersey Senate candidate?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn`t look familiar to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know his name but I`ve seen his commercial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no clue.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could be, there`s usually an elderly guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sotomayor?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sotomayor? That`s her, right?
KORNACKI: Sheila Oliver. State assembly speaker.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve never heard of the name.
KORNACKI: Candidate, not a candidate?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
KORNACKI: She is a candidate?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
KORNACKI: She is not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?
KORNACKI: She went platinum in the United States in 1975.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s go with yes.
KORNACKI: Actually she`s not. She`s Canadian pop icon Ann Murray.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pop icon?
KORNACKI: Who do you think that is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ann Murray.
KORNACKI: First one to get in Murray.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ann Murray?
KORNACKI: One more hit, could I have this dance for the rest of my life?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
KORNACKI: Is this a New Jersey Senate candidate?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
KORNACKI: I`m sorry, he is not a New Jersey Senate candidate. He`s the
star of the 1992 movie "Beethoven," Charles Grodin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Come on now. `92?
KORNACKI: Ever seen "Beethoven," the dog?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know -- yes, the dog. The big dog. Yes.
KORNACKI: The Saint Bernard. Had some kind of special skill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you thinking of like --
KORNACKI: Rescue people?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m thinking of that "Airbud."
KORNACKI: "Airbud" played basketball.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And soccer and football.
KORNACKI: Football. In "Airbud 2: Golden Receiver."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Yes, you know this.
KORNACKI: Is this a New Jersey Senate candidate?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Cory Booker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is Cory Booker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s Cory Booker.
KORNACKI: Do you like Cory Booker? What do you think of him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like his tweets.
KORNACKI: Who do you think that is?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cory Booker.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He follows me on Twitter. You know, it`s something
about potholes in New Jersey, or something like that.
KORNACKI: And you -- you like complained about a pothole?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I tweeted about it and then like two days later
he had followed me.
KORNACKI: What do you think of Cory Booker?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he`s a lot of show.
KORNACKI: Is this a New Jersey Senate --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it is. Sheila Oliver. Rust Holt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s Cory Booker. Pallone.
KORNACKI: That`s right? You follow politics very closely, I guess.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I just live in New Jersey.
KORNACKI: We are still waiting on the final count of how many write-ins
Ann Murray got. We`ll keep you posted on that.
Town hall video you haven`t seen. Politicians put on the spot and it`s not
what you might think. That`s coming up.
KORNACKI: They call August Congress` summer recess but facing constituents
armed with complaints, criticisms, and question isn`t necessary a vacation
for members of Congress which helps explain why as the "New York Times"
reported this week congressmen and senators are increasingly pulling the
plug on what has traditionally been an August recess staple. The town hall
The set of the unscripted questions and ever present camera phones that
have turned town halls into potentially career-threatening events, members
of Congress are opting instead for strictly controlled and boring phone
conferences and e-mail correspondence.
The town hall isn`t dead yet so we decided we would look closely at one
that took place just this week to show you what makes these things so scary
for the average member of Congress and to see exactly what we`ll be losing
if town halls really do go extinct.
Our subject is John McCain who held an open meeting in Tucson this week.
We showed you a clip earlier of an animated conservative urging him to shut
down the government over Obamacare. That`s the clip that made the news.
But we want to look at some other exchanges that McCain probably didn`t see
coming either and that provoked some interesting answers. Here`s one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I work at Casa De La Luz Hospice. We were affected
by sequestration. We are using about $25,000 a month. What is the budget?
What`s going to happen October 1st? If we have a government shutdown, we
lose all our funding and we have 300 patients that are dying in homes all
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I do believe we`re not going to shut down
the government. So what I think is going to happen is some way we`re going
to keep you in business and sequestration is not the answer. In -- in the
interest of full disclosure, I voted for it. Dumbest vote I`ve made while
I`ve been in the Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, you know, we see a little bit of the old McCain there.
Right? Hey, I voted for sequestration. Big mistake. But I guess what
strikes me about that is that question force -- would force, you know, the
average member of Congress to be at a least a little bit human. Now here`s
somebody who has been directly affected by sequestration. She works at a
hospice. She is telling her story.
She is talking about what a shutdown of the government could additionally
do and here`s John McCain actually saying, hey, I don`t want to shut down
the government. I shouldn`t have voted for sequestration. I want to help
you. And if that sounds basic, it seems a sad commentary of Congress that
there are a lot of congressmen who do not want to be caught on tape saying
anything even like that.
HENDERSON: That`s right. And I think we have just generally seen the
decline of the town hall. If you think about Obama and Romney, they didn`t
have many town halls either because they`re just so unpredictable. They
can become YouTube moments.
John McCain has always been the master of the town hall. I mean, when he
ran it was -- he was like looking forward to these town halls.
SAM SEDER, MAJORITY.FM: Right. Sure.
BALL: Then it didn`t go that well.
HENDERSON: Exactly. In those campaigns. But, again, I think people are
afraid. I mean, you have people who show up at the town halls who are from
the far wings of the party, whether it`s, you know, the left or the right.
And they are there, not even so much, I think, for conversation often, but
And that`s something that I think -- I think elected officials don`t want
to see. I think it`s a shame because this is what democracy is, right?
They shouldn`t be there --
BALL: Although a lot of times it`s not just the people who organically are
constituents and they have an issue and they want to show up. A lot of
times they`re organized by --
HENDERSON: Yes, it`s like professional town hallers.
BALL: Yes, they show up and give them a hard time.
HENDERSON: Yes. Exactly.
BALL: So I can understand from these members of Congress` perspective that
they don`t want to be put in that position. I get that. Something like
that can go viral in an instant. But to your point of the other side of
the coin of what we`re seeing now, I think there is also a fear that
increasingly they`re going to get pushback about Obamacare from people who
HENDERSON: That`s right.
BALL: -- loved ones whose lives could have been saved or would be saved
with Obamacare. And how do you answer those questions?
KORNACKI: And how do you tell somebody -- I know we talked about this
earlier in the show and I know you don`t think sequestration has been all
that we were warned about but there are stories like this all over the
country, of vital sort of social service agencies and groups that have lost
funding because of this and people are like this are going to start showing
up at these meetings and telling their stories.
WILSON: Here`s one thing that I believe very strongly. We live in a less
mediated society than we used to live. And we live in a society where
accountability is a desirable characteristic no matter what party or
ideology you are.
I want Republicans to go into these town hall meetings and I want them to
get in and interact with their constituents, even if it`s questions that
the OFA guys throwing at them about Obamacare. Even if it`s sequester
questions. I want them to go in there and tune up and be in the fight.
I want them to go in there and show that they`ve got -- you know, and pass
the -- pass the proverbial manhood test of listen to somebody who doesn`t
like you yell at you, and respond to them in kind and get involved with
them. That interaction and accountability is a vital thing for these
Not only in fulfilling their constitutional duties to be a representative,
but also in the political side, it helps them become a better politician.
It helps them become a better advocate. Republican or Democrat.
SEDER: Let`s not kid ourselves, though. The concern for Republican
Congress people going back to their district right now is not a question
from the OFA. The question is, why are you going to defund Obamacare?
That is what they`re afraid of because they have created this Frankenstein
in their base. They have ginned up this base by voting to defund
Obamacare, 40, 67 times, however you measure it.
And they have created an expectation and now they`ve got to tap those
expectations down because they are running into a train wreck. I mean,
this is part of the same concept --
SEDER: They`re the same thing why Mitch McConnell is trying to punt down
the road. He is facing this in his own personal election in the same way
that these Republicans are afraid to get that out there.
KORNACKI: We`ll pick this up in a second because I do -- I want to show
another exchange that actually was a tearful exchange, again, involving
John McCain. We`re going to show that when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It kills me every time I hear senators, especially
Republicans, talk about those takers. Those takes. They`re just taking.
The takers. I paid -- I paid taxes for over 30 years and I have a rare
illness and now I`m disabled. The state of Arizona raised the eligibility
for a program that was paying $100 a month for my Medicaid to 3.4 percent.
Consequently, I was cut off. $100 a month, which meant I could no longer
go to physical therapy. They do it intentionally to cut as many people as
they can for as long as they can from benefits that are desperately needed
and it`s just not right. Because we`re the takers.
MCCAIN: I thank you. You`re not a taker. You`re not a taker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was --
HENDERSON: That was moving.
KORNACKI: That`s amazing to watch because it -- to me what I thought I was
watching there was sort of somebody -- we talked earlier about sort of the
media bubbles, the media bubble on the conservative side where that
rhetoric of makers versus takers. You know, Paul Ryan talked about it,
Mitt Romney had the 47 percent tape that came out last year.
That, to me, is somebody who has heard that and doesn`t live in that bubble
and sort of looked at themselves and had a very sort of powerful emotional
reaction. And then here`s a Republican office holder who`s confronted with
that, and what any human being is going to do? They walk over and say, no,
ma`am, you`re not a taker.
SEDER: Well, I mean, just think about the concept of McCain having to walk
over to her and say, you`re not a taker, you`re not a taker. It`s just
absurd. I mean, it really has gotten to the point of absurdity when the
Republicans actually have to justify to say to a person like that, you`re
not a taker.
I mean, and this is still going on. Again, this is the same problem that
the Republicans have and this is why I think ultimately they so desperately
want the Democrats to cut Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare down
the road because they don`t want to have to own this. I mean, just last
week FOX News had a two-hour special on how people on food stamps are
takers. I mean, this is, this is --
WILSON: Yes, the young kid who was -- who spends his life surfing because
SEDER: Yes. I`m absolutely sure there is one guy who --
WILSON: The power of the anecdotal runs both ways. OK?
SEDER: Well, I understand. But the reality is that guy who is getting
$200, if that`s going to be the leverage point to deny this woman the
benefits to get physical therapy, the Republicans are going to have a
WILSON: Well --
BALL: Yes, I --
SEDER: And they are feeling this. They are feeling this.
WILSON: And a more -- and a more considered thing, though, Social Security
disability has exploded because people have learned how to play the game.
There are tragic, horrible stories and many, many, many millions of people
who deserve it, but there are also people who exploit every social system -
SEDER: No, because there`s a lot of reasons why that is happening, and
it`s not because people are gaming the system.
KORNACKI: But I think -- but I think --
WILSON: There are. So the anecdotal cuts both ways.
KORNACKI: But the bigger point we want to make here, though, is that to
have a veteran United States senator, a powerful United States senator, a
situation that forces.
KORNACKI: A member of one party to confront and to be confronted by
somebody like that. This s a real shame to the extent that these town
halls are going away. Because it really -- if you`re -- you can send e-
WILSON: I agree with that.
KORNACKI: You send an e-mail to an office and you get an automated
KORNACKI: You send a letter you get -- this is one of the last chances
people have to have real conversations.
WILSON: I agree with that.
BALL: That`s absolutely right. And the thing here, it`s easy to talk
about, you know, the numbers and put it in this big context, where you`re
not seeing the those human faces. And I think that interaction that you
just played is the Republican Party problem in the nutshell. When people
actually hear the rhetoric and it occurs to them, they`re not talking about
some faceless other. They`re talking about me. They are never going to
vote for a party that sees them as a bunch of mooching takers.
KORNACKI: All right. Nia, quickly?
HENDERSON: Yes. And I think you saw the same thing with Romney. And he
would have these town halls and people would talk about, you know, I`m
having problems paying my bills, I`m having problems with my prescription
HENDERSON: And he would say, well, we have to cut taxes. I mean, there
was just sort of --
BALL: There was no connection there.
HENDERSON: There was no connection.
KORNACKI: And I think it was a town hall when that answer from him came
out about if you want to start a business, borrow money from your parents.
KORNACKI: It came back -- an unscripted moment, that`s what they`re all
Anyway, what do we know now that we didn`t know last week? That`s next.
KORNACKI: All right. Time to find out what our guests know that they
didn`t know when the week began.
We`re going to start with you, Krystal.
BALL: Big, big news this week. Area 51 is real.
We actually sort of already knew, but the government actually confirmed
KORNACKI: But no news about any extraterrestrials there so there`s still a
BALL: There are still many unanswered questions.
KORNACKI: There`s still a massive, massive cover-up.
BALL: Let`s be clear.
KORNACKI: Anyway. Rick.
WILSON: We know this week that "The New York Times" isn`t completely in
the tank for Hillary Clinton with a remarkable examination by -- sorry, of
the Hillary Clinton -- or the Hillary and Bill Clinton Foundation and a lot
of the barnacles that are underneath the Clinton ship of state.
KORNACKI: All right. Sam?
SEDER: We know, despite President Obama`s assurances from a couple of
weeks ago, that two stories in "The Washington Post" this week outline that
there`s been thousands of violations by the NSA of the surveillance laws,
just last year, and that the FISA court chief judge, he doesn`t think that
they have the ability to monitor those type of violations. So we`re going
to see, I think, a new round of hearings from Senator Leahy.
KORNACKI: All right. And Nia?
HENDERSON: We now know that the movie "The Butler" is a movie worth
seeing. It came out yesterday, starring, of course, Forest Whitaker, as a
butler who -- based on the real life of a butler who served eight
administrations. Oprah Winfrey`s in it, Lenny Kravitz, I think I`m going
to go see it later today.
KORNACKI: It`s actually on my list, but my list goes back about three
years. The last time I saw a movie.
My thanks to MSNBC`s Krystal Ball, Republican strategist Rick Wilson, Sam
Seder of the online radio show "The Majority Report," and Nia-Malika
Henderson of "The Washington Post."
Thank you all for getting up and thank you for joining us today for UP.
Join us tomorrow, Sunday morning at 8:00. We`ll have Congressman Hakim
Jeffries and the politics of crime.
And coming up next, Melissa Harris-Perry with Joy Reid sitting in on
today`s "MHP". New York City beings its pushback against the judge`s
ruling about stop and frisk. The 25-year anniversary sheds light on the
state of police today. Why Ice Cube is just as relevant as ever. That`s
Melissa Harris-Perry with Joy Reid sitting in. She`s coming up next and
we`ll see you right here tomorrow at 8:00. Thanks for getting UP.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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