'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, April 13th, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
April 13, 2014
Guest: Sandra Fluke, Molly Ball, Eleanor Clift, Celinda Lake, Beth Fouhy,
Sarah Kliff, Chris Pearson, Irin Carmon, Mark McKinnon, Rich Sommer
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: The gender gap on equal pay.
On Wednesday, Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act from coming to
a vote in the Senate. It`s a bill that`s aimed at providing more
protections from pay discrimination for workers, but it fell six votes
short the supermajority needed to actually bring it to the Senate floor for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI, (D) MARYLAND: This fog of filibuster, we can`t even
get to a majority vote on how to make sure women get equal pay for equal
work. No wonder people are fed up with us. You know one way to help the
economy is for people to make more money. You know what`s one of the best
ways to make more money? Pay women for equal pay for equal work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Right now, it`s legal for companies to punish employees for even
talking with each other about their pay. Paycheck Fairness Act would
change that. For women to file suit for pay discrimination, they have to
know what their colleagues are making. And proponents of the law point to
the story of Dawn Souto-Coons, she was a sales woman at a Jared jewelry
store in Florida. And while doing paperwork one day, she came across
documents about a new salesman. He had no experience selling jewelry, but
was making significantly more than the store`s top seller. Which was a
woman. So Dawn Souto-Coons reviewed more records and almost all of the
men, it turned out, were making more than the women. So she is now one of
12 women from across the country who are part of a suit against the parent
company of Jared jewelers, Sterling Jewelers. If Souto-Coons hadn`t come
across those records, she wouldn`t have even known that her male
counterparts were getting paid more. Sterling Jewelers for its part says
the accusations are not true. Also remember Lilly Ledbetter, she is the
namesake of the first bill that President Obama signed into law when he
came into office in 2009. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. She worked as
a supervisor at a Goodyear plant in Alabama. She lost $200,000 in pay over
the course of her career due to gender discrimination. She was making
significantly less than her male co-workers with the same job. She didn`t
even know she was being discriminated against, though, until she received
an anonymous tip because company policy banned the sharing of salary
The Paycheck Fairness Act is a bill that Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa
DeLauro has introduced to every Congress since 1997, but this week
practically every Democrat from the White House down made the bill and the
broader issue of pay equity a major point of emphasis. And here`s a hint.
It has to do with politics, because this is an issue that Democrats believe
or at least hope will grab the attention of a key part of their base in a
midterm election that right now isn`t shaping up all that well for them.
President Obama signed two executive orders on Tuesday to increase pay
transparency among federal contractors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think about my
single mom working hard, going to school, trying to raise two kids, all at
the same time. And I think about my grandmother trying to work her way up
through her career, and then hitting the glass ceiling. And I`ve seen how
hard they`ve worked. And I`ve seen how they`ve sucked it up. But at a
certain point, we have the power to do something about it for the next
generation. And this is a good place to start.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The Paycheck Fairness Act Democrats hope will activate everyone,
Democrats, independents, African-Americans, Latinos, and of course, women.
Single women in particular. Many of the groups that they want mobilized
this November that they need mobilized this November. In 2012, Obama lost
men by seven points, but he won among women by 11 points and therefore was
re-elected president. These are the politics behind the Paycheck Fairness
Act. Democrats knew that Republicans were going to vote against it, but
they wanted to get them on the record blocking an equal pay bill. But it
wasn`t all smooth sailing for Democrats this week, because when they
repeatedly touted the line that a woman working full-time makes on average
77 percent of what a man makes, fact-checkers took issue. And it`s true
that the typical woman earns 77 percent of what a typical man earns. And
pay discrimination is part of it. But it`s also the result of other
factors that put women at a disadvantage in the workplace. Women take more
time out of the workforce to care for children and family members. Men
have more jobs at the top of the corporate ladder. They work at different
occupations that pay differently. A more accurate measure probably comes
from some Cornell University economists who tried to do an apples to apples
comparison. Men and women doing the same job, working the same hours.
They found that women in that situation make 91 percent of what their male
counterparts make. They conclude, "So you could accurately say in that
Obama ad that women get paid 91 cents on the dollar for doing the same work
as men." There was some contention over the numbers Democrats used this
week and Republicans did their best to make hay out of it. Still, the
Democrats did achieve their goal of getting conservatives on the record on
their views on equal pay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL KRISTOL: The notion that the war on women or pay discrimination
against women is in the top 20 of problems in the United States is frankly
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R ) TEXAS: This has nothing to do with actually improving
the situation for women in the workplace. This has everything to do with a
political show vote for the Democrats.
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS TALK SHOW HOST: We really don`t have a gender
salary discrepancy in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And to talk about it, I want to bring in politics writer Molly
Ball from the Atlantic. Eleanor Clift, Washington correspondent at "The
Daily Beast." Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. She`s the president of
Lake Research Partners and in Los Angeles at this very early hour out
there, I want to bring in Sandra Fluke, a Democratic candidate for the
state senate in the Golden State. And Sandra, we`ll start with you since
you`ve got up the earliest for this. At least I think you did.
SANDRA FLUKE: Thank you.
KORNACKI: So, you know, we run those numbers there -- and I should maybe
put this up on the screen. There was, you know, Hannah Rosin at "Slate"
had a widely circulated article this week called "The Gender Wage Gap Lie."
And she`s basically saying the 77 cents on the dollar line that democrats
keep using, you know, it really comes closer to that 91 cents that those
Cornell University economists are talking about and it really involves a
lot of factors that maybe are beyond the control of government. I just
wonder what your response to that is. From the standpoint of the
government, what is it that the government can be doing to get true pay
equity? Is this something that the government should be doing? Because
their interpretation says that the Paycheck Fairness Act doesn`t get you
SANDRA FLUKE, (D) CALIF. STATE SEN. CANDIDATE: Well, just because the
Paycheck Fairness Act doesn`t get you there doesn`t mean that government
stops at that point. The Paycheck Fairness Act is a big part of this,
because we`re arguing about the size of discrimination, not the fact of
discrimination. So let`s enact the Paycheck Fairness Act and then let`s do
more. Let`s talk about the fact that women are disproportionately the ones
making minimum wage. So we need to increase the minimum wage nationally.
The way that we have in California and the way that I`ve supported a living
wage for hotel workers, disproportionately women as well. But then let`s
also do things like address paid family leave and sick time. Some of the
other factors that decrease women`s pay because we`re more likely to be the
caregivers in our family. Again, legislation that I`ve committed to
introducing in California to protect jobs if someone takes paid family
KORNACKI: So what do you -- I think it was Bill Kristol in that montage we
were just playing there saying, you know, this wouldn`t rank in the top 20
issues if you put it in front of voters. What are you -- I mean, you`re a
candidate for office in California right now. I know the Democratic Party
is putting a particular emphasis on trying to drive up turnout among women,
particularly single women. Where does this issue fall with voters you`re
talking to, with women you`re talking to?
FLUKE: Well, I think if you ask voters anywhere in the country, they`re
going to say that economic issues are one of their top priorities, and for
women, this is part of economic issues. The wage gap costs women on
average over $10,000 a year. So it does hit people in their pocketbooks.
It is important as an economic issue, absolutely.
KORNACKI: I want to open it up more to the panel here. Celinda, you know,
pollster, you work with the numbers all the time. And one thing that
sticks out at me, I put this up on the screen. This is from 2012. This is
the women`s vote in the presidential election by marital status. We know
Obama won women overall. But this is really the story here, because
married women actually went for Romney by seven points. Single women went
for Obama by 36 points. Seems to me that when you start talking about the
mechanics of turnouts for Democrats, and especially in the year like 2014,
this is where the game is. This is a single women getting them motivated,
getting them to go to the polls. Do you see this push on pay equity as
being -- will it help in that regard? How does that work?
CELINDA LAKE, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTEE: Well, now, I tell you, in 2013, we had
an even better example, which is Terry McAuliffe, the governor of Virginia,
precisely because of the single woman`s vote. He won the single woman`s
vote by 42 points. He lost married women. So absolutely critical that we
get unmarried women out to vote. Single women on their own. This is a
huge issue for them. Nine cents every hour, or 23 cents every hour. And
actually, if you`re a single mom, your wage is down to 56 cents an hour
compared to your right male married counterparts. So, this is the huge
issue, and even the single most motivating issue for single women. In
terms of something that they can - could actually really make it ...
KORNACKI: You say pay equity is the single best issue.
LAKE: Absolutely equal pay. Tough enforcement of equal pay laws is the
single biggest motivator for unmarried women. Followed by minimum wage.
So, if we want to get on married women out, we emphasize these two issues
because this is something that has real tangible consequences every single
hour that they work.
KORNACKI: What are you -- just following the politics of it, what do you
make of the strategy here? Celinda saying this is the single biggest
motivating factor. We can talk about all the factors that are working
against Democrats in the midterm climb in 2014. We`re always talking about
their coalition shows up in the presidential year. We haven`t yet seen it
show up in the midterm year. What do you think when you see the push
they`re making on this issue? Is this something that could tangibly boost
them at the polls, do you think?
MOLLY BALL, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I do think that Democrats have suffered a
bit for the fact that this is so transparently political. That everybody
knows this was a messaging bill that had no chance of passing, and I wonder
- Celinda would know this better than I do, but I wonder if there`s a
little bit of fatigue among this cohort of voters who heard throughout the
2012 election Obama touting the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. And maybe
think, why do we need another bite of the Apple? Why is Congress trying to
attack this problem again? Didn`t they tell us that they did something
about this? Can you tout something as an accomplishment one day and then
sort of go back to the well again? I think, you know, some of the staff
with the White House pay gap, which Jay Carney was challenged on
aggressively and fairly in my view. If you`re going to cite that 77 cents
figure that includes, you know, different occupations, then it`s fair to
look at the White House where women are in different occupations, but do
make less than men overall, and so, you know, I think there was a little
bit of blowback for this - for the Democrats this week, when you have even
a liberal columnist like Ruth Marcus calling this demagoguery. I don`t
think the messaging rollout was as smoothly as they planned and it is still
an uphill battle to get Democratic voters out.
KORNACKI: Eleanor, that struck me, too. We just put the chart up on the
screen that Molly was alluding to. Women in the -- female staffers in the
White House making on average 88 percent of what males the average making.
The White House saying, well, there`s different experience levels there.
You know, saying there`s a reason for it. Which you`re hearing some of the
pushback to that 77 percent line. And then Ruth Marcus, as Molly was
saying, she wrote this week, this is how she concluded. "As I said, I vote
yes in the bill" (meaning the Paycheck Fairness Act). "But I can
understand the concerns of those who worry about floods of litigation and
business decisions second-guessed by federal judges. There`s a difference
between opposing the Paycheck Fairness Act and opposing paycheck fairness.
Politicians who choose to confuse the two may score a cheap political
point, but it`s not a fair one."
That issue that Molly is saying, is there a risk here for Democrats in
almost going to the well too much on this issue?
ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST: No, I don`t think so. There`s no risk at
all. Equal pay for equal work is a slogan that goes back to the early
suffragists. Every female voter out there has a sense that they`re not
doing as well in this economy for lots of reasons. And I think women
understand it`s because they do child rearing. They take time off to care
for parents and so forth. They take a lot of time-outs. But hey, if there
were childcare, if the gender rules were set up more equitably, maybe that
wouldn`t happen. So I do think there`s a sense of unfairness and we use
the courts as how we sort these things out. And if you pass the paycheck
fairness bill, women might have more access to the courts. But since when
are people worried about access to the courts? We`re a very litigious
society. And I think women should have the right to do that, and you
started this segment pointing to the women at the jewelry store. This
isn`t some little mom and pop store. This is a huge chain of jewelry
stores, and this apparently or allegedly has been going on. So I think
there is still some examples of blatant discrimination. But it`s more
complicated. But politics is simple. Assessing what the pay gap is in
every state and locale is a complicated exercise. The White House was a
little embarrassed. But, you know, politics simplifies things. And I
think this is - as Celinda`s polling shows, women get this.
KORNACKI: Let me just -- before we have to take a break here, I want to get
Sandra one more question quickly, though. It`s the question sort of that
Molly raised. We`ve heard from Democrats since 2009, the big sort of
signature achievement of President Obama on this issue was the Lilly
Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Why do you need the Paycheck Fairness Act? What
specifically does that do that the Lilly Ledbetter Act didn`t do?
FLUKE: Thank you so much for asking, because I really want to clarify this.
The Lilly Ledbetter Act fixed a loophole that the Supreme Court opened up
in a very damaging decision. It was not actually a step forward on
ratifying -- on rectifying this concern. It was fixing a problem the
Supreme Court created. The Paycheck Fairness Act, on the other hand, would
be the first legislation in decades, in like 40 to 50 years to actually
move us forward. And it does that by making sure that women`s access to
the courts is very similar to folks who are discriminated against on the
basis of race in their pay. This is not some sort of new radical
litigation that women would be able to bring in the courts. This is the
type of litigation and protection against discrimination that other groups
have enjoyed for a long time and that builds on the work from 40 or 50
KORNACKI: OK, I want to thank Sandra Fluke. She is the Democratic
candidate for state senate in California. Thank you for getting up so
early and joining us this morning. I know Molly wanted to get in and she
will as soon as we come back from this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKULSKI: We`re leading an American revolution just like Abigail Adams
encouraged us. If they forget the ladies, we`re here to fight. So I say
square your shoulders, put your lipstick on, and let`s fight another day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: It is Senator Barbara Mikulski on Wednesday after the Paycheck
Fairness Act failed to reach a vote in the Senate, that is the second
Barbara Mikulski clip we`ve shown on the show, which might be a record.
KORNACKI: On this show.
KORNACKI: Molly, I know you wanted to say something before the break - go
BALL: Oh, I just wanted to point out -- I think the problem for Republicans
is they don`t have a good answer on this. So even if, you know, there are
a lot of problematic aspects of what the Democrats are saying here, you
just played a bunch of clips of middle-aged white men basically telling all
the ladies that this isn`t a problem. And women feel this very viscerally.
And so to tell them that they`re exaggerating, right, or that it`s all in
their head does not go over well. That sort of classic mansplaining. So I
think Republicans have a lot of messaging work to do themselves and that is
KORNACKI: Yeah, they did -- I mean so - I know they were concerned about
what you`re talking about, and they made more of a concerted effort, like
Cathy McMorris Rodgers giving the State of the Union response this year, in
terms of putting more female faces out there. But that really hasn`t
turned into much so far, has it?
BALL: Well, they do that, but it`s still going to be the case that the
majority of Republican politicians who are men are going to get this
question and are going to have to answer it, and they need to find a way to
answer it in a way that isn`t oh, this isn`t as much of a problem as the
Democrats are saying, don`t worry your pretty little head about it.
LAKE: Well, when he said it`s not the number one problem, I thought yeah,
but it`s as sure as heck the number one frustration. When you`re sitting
there every day getting paid less than men are.
KORNACKI: Well, Celinda, there was also -- there was a Democratic retreat,
House Democrats had their annual retreat. I think this was back in
February. And Rosa DeLauro, who`s been introducing this bill every year
for about 20 years now, she gave a presentation, and you should note she`s
actually married to a top democratic pollster.
LAKE: She is.
KORNACKI: Probably some of his data was part of this presentation, but the
presentation was titled "Unmarried Women: They Will Elect You If You Get It
KORNACKI: You know, I showed that graphic at the start of the show, that
huge disparity between married women who actually vote Republican and
unmarried women who are hugely Democratic in how they vote. Where did that
come from? What is feeding that -- How long has that been a reality in
LAKE: So, it`s a huge sea change in the last ten to 20 years. And now
today, half of America is unmarried. So 20 years ago, when we were talking
about the gender gap, it was all about everyone was married. Not so
anymore, half of women, half of American households are unmarried today.
The other dramatic data is the increase in unmarried moms. In 1980, 18
percent of births were to unmarried moms. Today it`s 42 percent of births
are to unmarried moms. So our society is dramatically changing and I think
this is where Molly has a good point. These white married for the most
part Republicans men just seem completely out of touch with modern America.
The other thing I think that`s extremely important is that men support
equal pay. We just did focus groups a couple of weeks ago, and one of the
guys said -- maybe not the most liberated language. If the little lady
doesn`t make a fair salary, I have to work overtime, and I can`t get
overtime. So the little lady and her husband are pretty upset about this
lack of equal pay in this economy.
CLIFT: It used to be married women in the suburbs decided elections, and
that is the cohort that the Republicans did very well with. But now the
crown jewel of the electorate is women, and we have so many single women,
for whatever reason, throughout life. And they are - just -- they rely
more on government. So the pro-government appeal works with these women.
The anti-government rhetoric of the Republicans really falls flat.
KORNACKI: And so that becomes the question for the year like 2014 when you
look at, you know, just will those voters show up. And you can ask the
same question about any of these -- the coalition of the ascendance. The
term is used to describe the sort of Obama Democratic ...
CLIFT: Rising America.
KORNACKI: The Rising America of whatever it is. I mean is there any reason
to think that unlike 2010, single women, for instance, are going to show up
in measurable numbers in 2014?
CLIFT: I think in 2010, the White House really took their eye off the ball
and you had the whole antigovernment Tea Party rhetoric arose. And I don`t
think anybody was really paying attention. I don`t remember any setup of
issues comparable to this. So, there`s a whole panoply of issues under the
heading of, you know, what the Democratic Party can do for you, basically.
And, you know, we are -- I think Democrats are hoping it will work, and the
counter is Obamacare. And if we`re going to talk about show votes. One
show vote on paycheck fairness versus, what, 50?
KORNACKI: Do you think, though, but is there an issue in mind - do you
think it`s -- if single women and any other voting group for that matter
are really engaged day-to-day in following politics, then presumably they
would see this and have the response Democrats are hoping. But are they
watching? Because that seems to be the issue when we talk about the Obama
coalition. It seems to be a coalition that tunes in in the presidential
year. And I`m not sure it`s necessarily tuned in in 2014 to even hear
what`s going on right now.
BALL: I mean, every little bit probably helps for the Democrats. I don`t
see any evidence, you know, in the current polling or the current match-
ups, which let`s not forget are state by state and district by district.
That there`s some great sea change in, you know, sort of long-term turnout
trends. There`s some interesting work done by another Democratic pollster,
it`s Democratic pollster -- Margie Romero, pointing out that like the
falloff among women or among single women in midterms is not any greater
than every other group. Everybody falls off in the midterms, and so let`s
not blame women. Let`s not -- the problem is the people who come out for
midterms don`t vote for Democrats. And so there`s a persuasion that has to
be done here of the people that are going to come out and vote as well as
there`s a turnout equation, but that turnout -- that turnout hill, so to
speak, is a steep hill to climb for Democrats, and there`s a lot of talk
about, you know, sophisticated campaign techniques, all these data tricks
and sort of magic that they`re going to do. I would be surprised if we see
a huge departure from what usually happens.
LAKE: I think the war - I mean this can be -- the war on women in 2012 was
the gift that kept on giving. I mean, if you had said we`re going to win
the elections by redefining rape, banning abortions, banning Planned
Parenthood, I would have said, Steve, stop drinking on the job.
LAKE: Now they`re starting all over again. They`re saying that women,
you`ve made this up, this isn`t that big a problem. If this kind of war on
women continues, then you`re going to see fired up turnout.
KORNACKI: Well, yeah.
LAKE: Irritation and frustration are more motivating than satisfaction.
KORNACKI: And I think especially if one of these primaries ends up
nominating a Todd Akin equivalent.
KORNACKI: And they could put face on it, I think that will be a pretty
powerful thing. We`ll see what happens in primary season. My thanks to
Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. It`s her birthday. Happy birthday.
LAKE: Thank you! Eleanor Clift from "The Daily Beast", good to see you
In the next hour, coming up next, though, the White House had a chance to
take another victory lap on health reform this week and decided to do the
exact opposite. We`re still trying to figure out why.
But first, the latest on the hunt for that missing Malaysia Airlines
passenger jet. For the fifth straight day no new signals in the underwater
search for the plane`s black boxes. That means the batteries may have
finally died. They usually only last about 30 days. And Flight 370 has
been missing for more than a month now. Once officials are confident the
batteries really are gone, then underwater submersibles will be sent down
to look for the black boxes. Investigators also expanded the search zone
today. They are now scanning more than 22,000 miles of surface of the
Indian Ocean for signs of possible wreckage. Up to 12 planes and 14 ships
are taking part in today`s search. We`ll have more information as it
becomes available and we`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: For a while on Thursday, it seemed like Kathleen Sebelius was
having a good day. On Capitol Hill, the secretary of health and human
services announced that 7.5 million people have signed up for health
coverage through the state exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.
400,000 additional Americans on top of the 7.1 million that President Obama
announced at the beginning of the month. The new figure taking into
account the last-minute surge of enrollments that came in just under the
deadline at the end of the month. The announcement seemed like a perfect
opportunity for the Obama administration to take another loop around the
track in a victory lap, touting the successful enrollment of its signature
legislative achievement. But later that same afternoon, this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is stepping down tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sebelius has been under fire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Over the disastrous launch of the health care law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The not so grand opening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The very rollout - the botched rollout.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Horrible rollout.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Full of problems.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is her legacy. That will absolutely define her for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was the takeaway on Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday. Instead
of talking about the nearly half a million more people added to the list of
Americans who now have insurance because of health reform, the media was
once again focusing on the shaky rollout of implementing the Affordable
Care Act, not how it performed down the stretch and exceeded its enrollment
goals. And it was all the result of the White House stepping on its own
message. President Obama choosing this week to accept the secretary`s
resignation and announced he`s nominating budget director Silvia Matthews
Burwell to replace her.
Last fall, the president was under fire for standing behind Sebelius, back
when the website was, to put it kindly, glitchy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, HOST, DAILY SHOW: We`re going to do a challenge. I`m going
to try and download every movie ever made, and you`re going to try and sign
up for Obamacare, and we`ll see which happens first.
SEBELIUS: Okay. Okay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So why now? Why is Kathleen Sebelius resigning six months later
when the news about the Affordable Care Act is suddenly worth crowing
about? Is she really getting the chance to go out on a high note, or is her
very departure reminding everyone of the law`s shaky start? And why does
the White House seem unwilling to celebrate a hard won success?
Here to talk with me about that we still have Molly Ball with the Atlantic,
and joining the table is Beth Fouhy, senior editor at msnbc.com, and Sarah
Kliff, senior editor at the new website Vox.
So this Sebelius departure this week -- look, she issued an e-mail I think
to the HHS Department. She spelled her successor`s name wrong. She was at
the press conference. Turned out she had forgotten a page and had to stop
her speech awkwardly. Some people said this was a very fitting reminder of
her tenure. But I can`t help but look at this and say, look, if you were
going to fire her, if you thought she was incompetent, if you thought she
was screwing things up, it would have made perfect sense to do it last
October, last November. But the story now is hey, they all turned it
around, they all got it right. Presumably that means Kathleen Sebelius
turned it around and got it right. So Beth, I`m just stumped. Why this
sudden need for her to leave?
BETH FOUHY, MSNBC.COM: You`re right. I think this president is very
resistant to sort of having people walk the plank. Last October when the
glitchy rollout happened, it was like calls from Republicans and Democrats,
for Sebelius`s head. She screwed this one up. He tends to really resist
that kind of thing. Think about the other cabinet official who he sticks
with through thick and thin, Eric Holder, who`s been around forever.
Sebelius, he was not going to clip her off then. He let her continue on.
The website obviously improved. Enrollment surged. It actually really
turned out to be a success.
He probably had it in his back pocket that she was going to have to leave
at some point because of what happened. And he did sort of let her go out
on a high note. But let`s face it, they really did have success toward the
end of this rollout.
But you`re right. It was a bit of stepping on the message. It was
reminding people of the glitches. And then there was all these anonymous
sniping in a lot of news organizations by Obama`s aides saying well, you
know, we were really mad about the way that she kind of screwed things up.
That was a bit unseemly. The woman was in the job for five years. It`s an
incredibly, ridiculously unwieldy place to run anyway. And then to manage
the rollout of the biggest social program in 50 years, there were going to
be some bumps. And ultimately, it went okay. The timing`s a little odd,
but she is going out on a high note.
KORNACKI: See, that`s what I kind of wonder about. It`s designed to let
her go out on a high note. They can say it`s in the context of 7.5 million
enrollments and all that. We played the clips from Fox News from
conservatives who have been calling for her head for a long time. They
don`t care there`s a six-month delay. They think they got what they have
been demanding all along. It`s another sign the law is collapsing, that`s
how it`s being interpreted over there. Again, Sarah, the question comes to
me, why did she have to go? I mean, if she screwed up in October and
November, and we can all say that, but then she got it right and they
exceeded the number that was their goal and things are more or less working
now. If you give somebody a second chance and they take advantage of it
and they do a good job, why do they still have to go?
SARAH KLIFF, VOX: I totally agree with what Beth said, that there were
those calls months ago. You know, that Sebelius should step down and Obama
was very resistant to having someone walk the plank. I think the view --
and this is what I heard from some administration officials, was that by
early March, Sebelius felt things had taken a turn for the better, and it
was the right time to hand off the leadership. She`s become -- and I think
this would have been true of any HHS head during this time. She`s become a
very polarizing figure. She`s essentially the public face of Obamacare,
and that comes with, you know, just being very polarizing at this moment.
So I think the expectation was once we got through open enrollment that
things were going to be on a little bit more solid footing, that she could
make an exit. I didn`t expect it would be so quickly after the end of open
enrollment. Like you said, this is about a week after people could start
signing up. But it seems like the view within the White House is that
things are on solid footing. It would have looked much worse to have her
step down in October when things were going terribly. Now that things have
rebounded a little bit, they can make this transition a little bit easier.
KORNACKI: So what do we know about going forward now, Sylvia Burwell is
taking her place. Is that a statement about -- is the White House
confident now that fine, we survived under Sebelius, but now we`ve got
somebody who`s really more capable of handling the enrollment and handling
the next phase of that? Is that part of what they`re trying to say here?
BALL: What you heard in the Rose Garden presentation of Burwell is Obama
made sure to mention that she was confirmed for OMB on a unanimous vote,
sort of reminding Republicans they`re going to have to come up with
something new if they want to object to her now, which they will. We
already have Republicans foreshadowing that this is going to be their new
chance to relitigate Obamacare, that they`re going to get her on the stand
and they are going to call her out for all the things that have already
happened, get her to talk about what has happened to date.
The other thing that he mentioned and that she mentioned is that she is
someone who`s passionate about health care. She was in a budget job, but
she has spent her career looking at health care issues, working with health
care issues. So I think the idea is to position her as sort of a capable
bureaucrat, a technocrat, someone who has come up through the bureaucracy
instead of being a politician. I think a lot of people in the White House
were surprised that Kathleen Sebelius wasn`t a more skilled politician in
that job. She had been the governor of a very Republican state, who was
very well-regarded, a popular governor of Kansas, and yet when she got to
the cabinet, she seemed completely unable to manage the politics of this,
and there were questions about, you know, her management style within the
bureaucracy. Not to pile on someone who`s out the door, but that`s sort of
been the rap on Sebelius, that maybe she didn`t -- in a position that as
Sarah said, was going to be tough no matter what, she didn`t necessarily
KORNACKI: I wonder, too, some of the timing here since the fall over the
last six months, the rules in the Senate changed as well in terms of
executive branch nominations and confirmations. Republicans can put up a
fight over the new HHS secretary, but no longer can they kill that
nomination with 60 votes. I wonder if that played into it at all.
Anyway, could Vermont and single payer be a game changer when it comes to
America`s health care system? We`re going to talk about a very interesting
experiment taking place up there after this.
KORNACKI: When the long battle to get a health reform bill through
Congress was playing out in Washington, one possibility that was never
seriously considered by congressional leaders in the White House was a
single payer plan. A single payer system, a universal plan for all
Americans, government operating the system has a lot of leverage in
negotiating what it`s willing to pay for procedures with private hospitals
and doctors who provide them. Can be a lot cheaper, could be a lot
In comparison, the law that President Obama signed four years ago last
month, the Affordable Care Act, is pretty complex. Everything is run
through the states via exchanges, and the private insurance industry is
maintained -- it`s really actually strengthened when you look at it. A
myriad of plans, all different, meaning what you`re offered and how many
plans you are offered and how good the plans that are offered are, it
really depends entirely on where you live, with one constant, single payer
is off the table.
That is unless you happen to live in the state of Vermont. In Vermont,
they passed a law in 2010 that requires that statewide -- the statewide
single payer health care program be in place by 2017. It`s a law the
state`s Democratic governor, Peter Shumlin, campaigned on in 2010, and that
he said is confident can be implemented just three years from now. As
Sarah Kliff reported this week on Vox, if Vermont pulls it off, it could
provide a model for other states.
But there are also huge challenges to getting this off the ground in
Vermont. For instance, the state`s budget is about $2.7 billion. This
program alone would cost two billion. So where`s that money going to come
from? That`s just one of the concerns. But joining the conversation to
talk about this, we have Vermont State Representative Chris Pearson. He`s
a leader of the Progressive Party there. His party was responsible for
pushing Vermont and its governor and the single payer health care system.
And Chris, we should point out, different states have parties that kind of
sprout up. The Progressive Party is a separate party in the state of
Vermont. You have a couple of members of the legislature. You`re one of
So you have been behind the push for this single payer law in Vermont. Two
obstacles that come to mind right away are, as we said, the cost. $2
billion price tag on this. Second, that you guys would need a waiver from
Washington, D.C. in order for your state to do this. Can you answer those
two questions? Where does the money come from and how on earth are you
going to get a waiver from Washington to set single payer up?
STATE REP. CHRIS PEARSON, VERMONT PROGRESSIVE PARTY: Well, if I could just
answer those right now, Steve, I guess we`d be done already. They`re big
questions. Particularly, how do you raise the $2 billion? The waiver is in
a sense for other people to figure out. And to the extent that leaders in
Washington and folks in the Obama administration are interested in seeing
if a state can pull this off. You know, we`re told that they`re watching
closely, and the Affordable Care Act has involved many pieces where states
have been given permission and in fact money to experiment, so we`re
hopeful they`ll continue that trend as they look at our waiver.
KORNACKI: So make your case then, to taxpayers in Vermont, to people
watching in Washington, why does Vermont need a single payer health care
system and what would it look like?
PEARSON: Well, first of all, we have about 620,000 people in the entire
state of Vermont, and if you ran a company and you had about 600,000
employees, you would be insane not to self-insure. You would immediately
go that direction; all of your economic advisers would tell you to do that.
In essence, that`s what we want to do in Vermont.
We have a small community. We are very community-minded. And we
understand that you can cover everybody and save money if you go to a
The politics of doing that is difficult, but we have enormous grassroots
pressure. You have people like me, progressives and others, you have
Bernie Sanders, who have been pushing for this for going on 30 years in
Vermont. And a strong grassroots network that has propped that up. So the
politics, those dynamics are favorable, I think, in Vermont.
The real trick is we already have a lot of Vermonters who are insured.
We`re up in the 90 percents of coverage. I think 94 percent, before the
Affordable Care Act really kicked into gear. So it`s -- what it means is
that we don`t have an enormous problem with the uninsured. We, like most
states, have a lot of underinsured people, and so it`s very financially
difficult for them. They have insurance, but God help you if you get sick
is the idea that I think we`re all familiar with.
So the question is what`s the transition going to look like for people as
we shift to a new, slightly exotic sounding universal single payer system?
I think we can pull that off. But the politics of that is delicate, and
when you throw in a big tax bill, it`s difficult. I`ve got to remind you,
though, Steve, we`re spending well over $2 billion in premiums today in
Vermont, so when we talk about raising $2 billion in taxes, it`s important
to point out that we`re going to save more than 2 billion when we take away
KORNACKI: Sarah, you are the health care policy expert at the table. This
is what you write about. Can you try to put what`s happening in Vermont in
the context nationally? Because Peter Shumlin, the governor has been quoted
as basically saying look, this is a test. This is like if we can pull this
off, other states, the rest of the country will notice this and single
payer nationally might have a chance. If we botch it, single payer
nationally is probably dead for a long time. Is the country looking at
this? Is this something that is feasible, what they`re trying to do?
KLIFF: I think so. I think Vermont`s is in a really interesting place.
They are a very small state where the politics do align behind this, which
is very unique. There have been other governors who have talked about this
idea, but no one`s actually gotten it this far. Peter Shumlin was the
first statewide candidate Democrat to run on a single payer platform. I
remember talking, when I was out in Montpelier, some of the activists there
were shocked that someone used single payer and they weren`t attacking it
in an ad, they were saying this was a thing we want to do.
If you look at neighboring Massachusetts, their experiment in 2006 with
universal coverage, that`s what led to Obamacare. If Vermont does succeed
at single payer, I don`t think it would be as quickly - I don`t think it
would be -- if the Massachusetts timeline held five years later, single
payer country. I don`t think that`s happening. But I think Vermont is a
bit of a litmus test. If it can happen there, it opens some doors in other
states. If it can`t happen in a really deeply progressive, very liberal
state, it`s going to be very hard for any other state to try and do this.
So I really think they`re being watched, and this part about finding the $2
billion, that is the hardest part. Vermont is a small state, as you
mentioned. Their budget is about $2.7 billion. So telling people -- it is
true, they are paying more in premiums now, but saying we`re nearly going
to double the revenue we`re taking from our citizens, even in Vermont,
that`s a pretty tough sell. That`s going to be a big lift for the
KORNACKI: We`ve got to squeeze a break in here, but look, the idea of
single payer health care, this has been something on the dream list of a
lot of progressives for a long time. I imagine a lot of them look at
what`s happening in Vermont and say maybe this is part of the process that
gets us there. So I want to look at it from that national perspective and
again, find out a little bit more, because single payer can mean a lot of
things. Find out what that would exactly mean and look like in Vermont.
We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: So, Chris, our Vermont state legislator, I want to start by
going back to you. Look, Sarah was talking about in Vermont, the politics
are one of the more liberal states in the country. Maybe a little more
friendly to this. But when you look nationally, you raise the idea of
single payer health care, people start talking about Canada. People start
talking about wait times. Oh, my God, it took me 18 months to go in and
get some routine procedure done. I mean, that`s what you`re sort of up
I know there are different models here. Canada`s single payer looks
different than the United Kingdom`s single payer. What would it look like
in Vermont? Do you have a particular model in mind, from around the world,
and how do you answer that concern that always gets raised about it`s going
to mean more wait times and a lot more bureaucracy for me as a health care
PEARSON: Yeah, well, a couple of things. There`s a lot of myths out
there, particularly about the Canadian system. And since we`re so close to
the border, we hear a lot of them. But we also meet a lot of Canadians,
and they love their health care system and think ours is insane.
Exactly what ours is going to look like is difficult to imagine. We have
pegged it as a sort of a floor for what gets covered, and that would be the
basic services that are in the exchange plans. But a lot of the details
really are going to depend on exactly how we finance it. So is there going
to be a $5 co-pay or a $20 co-pay or no co-pay. That is hard to answer
without understanding exactly which taxes we`re raising and from whom.
The basic idea is that if you live in Vermont, you get health coverage, by
right of citizenship. And also that the docs and the hospitals don`t have
to think of you as a Vermonter with Cigna or a Vermonter with Blue Cross.
They think of you as a Vermonter with strep throat, and they give you the
treatment that they think is best, and then some back end office figures
out exactly how the bill is paid.
Another challenge we have frankly is folding in Medicare. Folding in
Tricare and federal insurance programs that Vermont doesn`t regulate.
We`re not going to just say, don`t worry about that, we`re going to pay the
bill. Obviously those are big bills. So we`re going to have to
incorporate them into our system. Which is a challenge, but it`s not
KORNACKI: Just quickly, before -- one question to Beth about the national
politics of this. Because, you know, when the Affordable Care Act was
passed, a lot of Democrats were sort of disappointed that it didn`t go
farther, that it kept the private insurance industry alive. Now Democrats
are sort of saying we`ve got this in place and it seems to be working
pretty well. Do you think there`s still a thirst there nationally for
Democrats to use the Affordable Care Act as almost like a steppingstone to
single payer eventually, or do you think that the appetite for health care
reform in the Democratic side has been satisfied with what`s been done?
FOUHY: I think there`s an appetite for single payer. At least for a
public option. But you know, Steve, I was really thinking about this
during the argument around Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court case about
whether or not employers need to provide contraceptive coverage. And it
struck me as really showing the fallacy of this employer-based health care.
Really, why are employers getting involved in somebody`s birth control
decision? I mean, it`s a very strange kind of intimate place for your
employer to be. And so to take the employer out of it, to make it a place
where everybody can go, regardless of what they need, and get the health
care without somebody sort of judging what they should and could be able to
purchase in that employer`s insurance. It`s really - it is fundamental to
our health care system, but it`s really a shaky kind of ground. I think
this experiment in Vermont could give the opportunity for people to say
look, there is another way to do it. If not single payer, at least a
public option for people to consider.
KORNACKI: We`ll be watching. The law says by 2017. Might take a little
longer. We`re going to keep our eyes on Vermont to see how it plays out.
I want to thank Chris Pearson, of the Vermont Progressive Party for joining
us this morning. Sarah Kliff, at Vox.com, and MSNBC.com`s Beth Fouhy,
thank you for coming in.
Who`s ready to see another Bush in the White House? Is the Republican
Party? Is America? Is his own mother? We`ll try to answer all those
KORNACKI: Just this week, Jenna Bush Hager, Jeb Bush`s niece, was asked
whether she`d like to see another Bush in the White House, and she answered
"not any time soon." So we know where certain members of the Bush family
stand on the question of a Jeb Bush 2016 run, but where does Jeb stand with
everyone else? We`ll try to tackle that next.
KORNACKI: Republican mega donor Ken Langone is in the news this weekend
for suggesting that the quote, baggage of the Bush name would hinder former
Florida Governor Jeb Bush in a 2016 bid for the White House. In the same
interview, Langone touted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as a better
candidate, although he added that if Christie ends up being connected in
any way to the George Washington bridge scandal, quote, "I`d be off him
because he engaged in something utterly stupid, and if he`s that stupid, he
can`t be president of the United States." Other top Republicans may not
even be that patient with Christie as these scandals wear on. Whereas
Christie was supposedly going to be his party`s establishment favorite for
2016, it`s now Jeb who seems to be getting an audition for that role. Of
course, there are other issues with Jeb, too. In a column titled "why Jeb
Bush is a terrible candidate," Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed,
wrote this week that one of the biggest marks against him is being out of
touch with the party`s key constituencies on immigration. Smith cited this
comment, which Jeb made a week ago today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: The way I look at this is someone
who comes to our country because they couldn`t come legally, they come to
our country because their family -- a dad who loved their children was
worried that their children didn`t have food on the table. And they wanted
to make sure their family was intact. And they crossed the border because
they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family.
Yes, they broke the law. But it`s not a felony. It`s kind of -- it`s an
act of love. It`s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think
that that is a different kind of crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And as you probably heard, those comments sparked a bit of a
fire storm, with conservatives voicing outrage over Bush`s framing of the
issue. With many on the left end of the spectrum who don`t usually have
much nice to say about Jeb Bush, pronouncing themselves surprised and
delighted by his words. In another speech on Thursday night, Bush stood by
his remarks. If you are a long time follower of national politics and Bush
family politics in particular, maybe this episode has a familiar ring to
it, because it should. Calls to mind a key moment in the rise of Jeb`s
brother, George W., to the Republican nomination and to the presidency
nearly 15 years ago.
Back in September 1999, when then Texas Governor George W. Bush, who was
then the frontrunner for his party`s presidential nomination, criticized
the budget plan of the Republican House majority. This was the same GOP
majority that had miscalculated badly in its drive to impeach Bill Clinton,
that had suffered a shocking loss of seats in the 1998 midterms, and that
under Newt Gingrich`s leadership had racked up poisonous poll numbers.
This is part of the story of Bill Clinton`s presidency. Republicans seized
power in Congress in an anti-Clinton backlash in 1994, then they proceeded
to turn off broad swaths of the country with their far-right ideology and
Politically, those House Republicans were in a way the best thing that ever
happened to Bill Clinton. They gave him something to run against.
Something to tell Americans he was protecting them from. And these are the
conditions out of which the George W. Bush campaign arose. The Republican
establishment was sick of its party coming across as heartless and extreme
compared to Clinton, and Bush offered them a solution. He would run as a
compassionate conservative. Do you remember that term? So Bush would be
the Republican who could win back the voters who had been turned off by the
GOP Congress and he would carry the party back to a White House victory
after eight years in the dark. That was the promise of the Bush campaign,
and that budget plan that House Republicans were offering in the fall of
1999 became his chance to show the political world what he meant. The
House GOP had proposed delaying tax breaks for low-income families, and
Bush issued a surprising public rebuke of the plan, saying, quote, "I don`t
think they ought to balance their budget on the backs of the poor."
There were plenty of conservatives who blasted Bush for saying that, who
branded him a traitor to their cause, just as there were plenty of
Democrats who found themselves singing his praises. Senate Democrats like
Dick Durbin and Tom Harkin even quoted him on the Senate floor back then.
It ended up being a key moment for Bush, one that sent a signal to the
press and to those outside the core Republican base that he was a different
kind of Republican than what the country had been seeing on Capitol Hill,
that he was a Republican who knew how to win a national election.
Reaction included praise from the media, good poll numbers, with all
voters, not just Republicans, and it helped to separate Bush from the
impeachment hysteria that had designed the Gingrich era GOP. And by the
end, even commentators like Rush Limbaugh were onboard, too. Limbaugh made
his displeasure with Bush`s comments known, but when the primaries rolled
around, Bush had no bigger booster than Limbaugh, and then really the
entire conservative opinion shaping class. Bush won them over by passing
most of their litmus tests, but picking just a few moments to tell the rest
of the country that he was a different kind of Republican. That experience
may have been on Rush Limbaugh`s mind this week when he offered a more
clinical assessment of Jeb Bush`s immigration comment than most of his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH: I think what Jeb`s doing in preparation for maybe running,
Jeb is saying things to get this conservative backlash to him out of the
way. I really think when he says hey, people come in here as an act of
love, that`s designed to tick us all of, or tick the Tea Party people off
now. Get it done with and over with and then out of the way, and move on.
KORNACKI: The question is whether that same George W. playbook from 2000
will work in the Republican Party of 2016. It`s also the question of
whether Hillary Clinton runs, something we can`t be entirely sure of at
this point, especially given the thoughts she expressed earlier this week
in San Francisco.
HILLARY CLINTON: I would be - you know, I would be the first to say we`re
having a political period of frankly dysfunction. I saw it from afar when
I was secretary, and it was disheartening, and even embarrassing to see
people arguing about letting us default on our debt. I mean, really. And
things that were just so beyond the pale. And you had to ask yourself,
what kind of country do they really want?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And everyone`s analyzing every word that Hillary says about
2016, and you could read those words either way. Is she hinting that she`s
so frustrated with where American politics are today that she may not want
to endure another four or eight years of what she and her husband
experienced in the `90s? Or is she starting to lay out the justification
for a candidacy, diagnosing an ailment for which she will eventually offer
herself as the cure? If Hillary does run, will it make Republicans more
likely to turn to someone like Jeb Bush, someone who might tick the base
off now and then in the name of winning what could be a very difficult
general election for the GOP? And if Hillary doesn`t run and the White
House suddenly looks much less difficult for them to take, might it
embolden Republicans to spurn the Jeb Bushes of their party and pick an
ideologue like Rand Paul instead? That`s what we`ve been hearing about the
Republican Party forever, it seems. That they`re finally ready to pick a
true believer. But it keeps not happening. Romney, McCain, Bush Jr.,
Dole, Bush Sr. And now here`s Jeb with a sudden opening thanks to Chris
Christie`s troubles, taking a page from his brother`s book and reaping the
same headlines, the same media buzz and the same rebukes on the right.
Yes, Jeb Bush hasn`t run in an election since 2002. You can argue that
he`s been out of the arena too long. He`s just not in step with today`s
GOP. But you could also argue that for all the talk, mush of it completely
valid about how far to the right the GOP has moved, Jeb Bush is still
exactly the kind of candidate his party always ends up going with. Here to
discuss all this is Molly Ball with "The Atlantic." She`s still with us.
Mark McKinnon, he is a former adviser to president George W. Bush. Also
co-founder of the bipartisan group No Labels. Democratic pollster Celinda
Lake is back at the table.
So we do a long setup there about the Bushes, and we obviously have to turn
to our resident Bush expert here Mark McKinnon to talk about that. I`m
just wondering as a veteran of George Bush`s campaign, you can remember
2000 very well. When you look at what Jeb Bush was doing this week, did
you see shades of what George W. Bush was doing at the end of the Clinton
MARK MCKINNON, FMR. ADVISOR, PRES., GEORGE W. BUSH: Absolutely. In fact,
the comparison goes back even further. 20 years to the mid90s, when you
think about what happened with Gingrich on the Contract with America.
(INAUDIBLE) what the Tea Party is doing over the last few years. Then in
1996 you have the government shutdown, Monica and all of that. And the
Republican Party paid the consequences for that. And at that time, where I
was a leaning conservative Democrat independent kind of growing more
conservative, there was this governor of Texas named George W. Bush talking
about two issues, immigration reform and education reform. And that was
the kind of thing that really got my attention and drew a lot of
conservative Democrats and independents across the bridge to join the
Republican Party and support George W. Bush. So, yes, I think the
Republican Party has changed, but I don`t think America has changed. And
so I think it`s these kind of issues that Jeb Bush is speaking out on that
require real leadership. And I love the idea that it`s an act of love.
And he went into the propellers on that, but I gave him great credit for
speaking his heart. That moment reminds me a lot of George W. Bush,
speaking their heart on these tough issues that require leadership in the
party. Now, obviously, if he decides to run, it`s going to be a very
It`s a different kind of primary.
KORNACKI: That`s the question, though, I guess here. You`re saying the
country is still the same, but the party is different.
KORNACKI: So could a Republican like Jeb Bush get away with what George W.
Bush did in terms of distancing himself on the questions like that? Could
he get away with that?
MCKINNON: The answers will be very difficult. More difficult than it used
to be. He`ll have to endure a lot of pain in the early primaries. But if
you look at the primary calendar, he may have difficulty in Iowa, New
Hampshire, maybe even South Carolina. But after that, the primary calendar
actually gets really good for him where you have Florida, Michigan,
Wisconsin, Minnesota, Super Tuesday. So if he can grind it out and he says
he wants to be a joyful candidate, it`s going to be hard. But if he can, I
mean he`ll raise a ton of money, he`ll have the establishment behind him.
And if he can motor through, he can win a general election. And the irony
is that, you know, the Bush baggage, this is a race that he can run because
he`s running against a Clinton.
KORNACKI: Well, let`s give you a sense of what this comment set off on the
Republican side, what this comment would look like in the context of a
Republican primary. This was Rand Paul on Friday, he was reacting to Jeb
Bush`s act of love comments. And he said, I think it wasn`t the most
artful way of saying something, but I think he was well-intentioned. If I
were to make the same point, I would say the people who seek the American
dream are not bad people, but that doesn`t mean you can invite the whole
world to come." So I mean again, Molly, we`ve seen how immigration, the
question of immigration, when George W. Bush was president kind of ripped
the Republican Party apart. We`ve seen how the few Republican senators got
behind the reform idea last year. House Republicans are basically saying
absolutely not. This is still an issue, the party basically, that`s hard,
refuses to budge on. In that context, what do you make of what Jeb Bush
said this week?
BALL: Well, a couple of things. I think, first of all, Jeb Bush is
clearly testing the waters. And he`s also sending a signal whether it`s to
the donors and the establishment class or to the base that he`s not going
to run away from the positions that he`s always held. That if he is going
to run, he is going to do it by forcefully defending the things that he
believes in. And he knows what he`s doing. He know where is the party is
now. But he also knows that the party really wants to win. You know, I
was in New Hampshire yesterday, and Rand Paul was on the program, Ted Cruz
was on the program, Mike Huckabee was on the program, Donald Trump was on
the program. And he took a shot at Jeb Bush, saying this isn`t love. What
are you talking about - that`s out there? Boos and hisses from the
audience. Multiple speakers also mentioning that common core educational
standards, which Jeb Bush and his foundation have been very forceful
backers of. That is also a pretty big deal on the right. The question is
how many of them are there and are they going to be split between a bunch
of candidates in the Republican primary, the way they were in 2012 so that
the establishment candidate ends up being the one that the most -- who
becomes the consensus candidate, especially when he has the money. I think
there`s still a realistic shot for that.
KORNACKI: Yeah. When people say look, the party has changed so much, the
establishment candidate for lack of a better term can`t win, I say well,
just look at the path that Mitt Romney took in 2012. It wasn`t necessarily
pretty. You know, some states that he just couldn`t win, but in the end,
there were enough Illinoises, there were enough, you know, Michigans, there
were enough Floridas, whatever it was, that he could pull it out. But I
wonder, Celinda, as a Democrat, looking at what`s going on in the
Republican side right now, I mean we were hearing for a long time, you
know, Chris Christie, this would be the most formidable Republican
candidate. I happened to believe it. I don`t know if you did. But I
thought that Chris Christie before all this would be the most formidable
Republican candidate. If Chris Christie is not a candidate or is just
permanently reduced because of this, do you look at Jeb Bush and say this
is the next most formidable obstacle to Democrats holding on to the White
House in 2016?
LAKE: I do and I don`t. I mean on the one hand, certainly these positions
that are such a problem in the primary are very popular with the general
electorate. I mean, the general electorate believes enough. The system is
broken. People move here. People move all over the country for the same
reason that they move into the country. This is a very powerful dialogue
that he uttered. And his education proposals are very popular with the
public. That said, when you get this beat up in a Republican primary and
you get shaken around, you limp out of that primary with a part of your
base demoralized and hard to turn out, and you have a number of
opportunities to make mistakes and take wrong positions. I think the other
thing that`s interesting is it`s not like the Bush record is remembered
that fondly by the voters. The Clinton record is remembered quite fondly.
But take women, for example. 59 percent of women have a favorable view of
Hillary Clinton. 31 percent of women today in the general election have a
favorable view of Jeb Bush.
KORNACKI: So, that`s -- - I want to pick that up in the next segment,
because there is that idea of hey, if the Republicans are going to bring
back a Bush, Democrats seem likely at this point to bring back a Clinton.
And that contrast between Bush and Clinton. We`ll look at the Hillary side
of it too when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON: I am obviously flattered and, you know, deeply honored to
have people ask me and people encourage me, and I am thinking about it, but
I am going to continue to think about it for a while.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking at one of
her many events this week on the plans for 2016. So, Mark, in the last
segment, Celinda was talking about there`s, you know, sort of this Clinton
nostalgia that have played up over the last few years. Both Bill and
Hillary, their numbers have reached levels. They really hadn`t reached
before in their public lives. And it`s why Hillary Clinton is so
formidable on the Democratic side right now. The thing I want to ask you
about is the Bush name. Because this is what Ken Langone, we talked about
this - the big Republican donor. We talked about this in the opening, he
said yesterday in an interview that Jeb Bush would have baggage. He
elaborated on this and this is what he said. He said, "you`ve got to take
into account the Bush name. His mother said it. We`ve had enough Bushes
for a while. His brother did not leave with the highest level of
popularity and that comes with a burden. I can imagine Hillary running
against Jeb, what a field day the media guys would have. Ready for another
Bush. Ready for another Afghanistan. Ready for another Iraq. Ready for
another collapse of the banking system. That`s a lot of baggage. We`ve
been only eight years since George W. Bush left office in 2016. I mean you
talk about the reasons Jeb Bush would be a strong general election
candidate, but how much is he weighted down by this?
MCKINNON: Well, I think to the extent there`s way it`s offset by the fact
that he`s running against a Clinton. Second of all, President Bush as
George W. Bush`s popularity has really come back surprisingly. In fact, in
recent polls, he`s more popular than President Obama. So, and he`s very
popular with Republicans. And the other thing is I`d say Jeb Bush is a
very different guy than his brother. And in tone and substance and style.
He`s just very different. I think that people will get that. And I think
that, you know, he`ll say I love my brother, but I`m a different candidate,
I`m a different guy and I think people will recognize that. But I think
there`s also a great deal of good will about George H. W. Bush and
basically the Bush family name. I think that people are very fond of the
KORNACKI: Well, a lot of people say that the good will towards George H.
W. is because of the mistakes that George W. Made.
MCKINNON: Listen, I think generally, there`s a great deal of good will
toward both the Bushes and the Clintons, surprisingly, given all that we`ve
been through. And that`s why I say in my column in "Daily Beast" today,
there`s a reflex when you talk to people and say, you know, this next
election could be Clinton versus Bush. And at first they kind of recoil
and go oh, my god, not again. We don`t need more dynastic politics. But
then they think about it for a beat and go, you know what, that would be a
pretty great race. Very high level, both very substantive, both respectful
of each other. Kind of a post-partisan hew to it, which I like is in all
labels -- the debates would be fantastic. Represent broadly the middle of
KORNACKI: Well, you know, it`s interesting, too, because that was always -
- you`ve got to go away back 20 years, just sort of an obscure political
history story, but it was George W. Bush and Jeb Bush were on the ballot
the same night for governor in 1994, Florida and Texas. There`s always a
talk in the Bush family Jeb was supposed to be the one with the national
future, not George W. And it`s sort of this accident of history that the
Governor of Florida Lawton Chiles was able to survive, beat Jeb Bush and
Anne Richards could not beat George W. and their roles kind of got reversed
and here`s Jeb 20 years later. Still kind of waiting for this moment. But
to take it back to this -- the Hillary angle, because this is something we
raised in the opening as well. I`m kind of wondering, the Republican Party
looking at Hillary Clinton right now, looking at how formidable she`d be.
And then there`s just this huge gap. I mean we saw a poll this week, I
think it might have been Iowa. It`s like among Democrats. Hillary
Clinton, 65 percent. It was like Elizabeth Warren 12, Joe Biden 10. I
mean it`s Hillary and then a gap of like 50 points and then whoever else
comes next. Do you think that affects the Republican thinking at all?
Strategically on who they`re going to nominate. If it`s Hillary, are they
more serious about getting a candidate who can win. If Hillary`s not
running, do they start to think a little more creatively?
BALL: Well, look, the problem I think people have with dynasties is that
these aren`t regular people. Right? These are people from the political
class. These are people who were sort of born into it, or at least who
have already had, you know, a career in it, and in the case of the
Clintons, but that`s the point. So, if you have someone like Hillary
Clinton who is running - who`s not a regular person, who`s a mega
celebrity, who`s one of the most famous people in the world, you`ve got to
put someone up against her who isn`t a regular person either. You`ve got
to put somebody up against her who has - who brings something, some sort of
special something to the table. And so I do think that she is going to
make Republicans think a lot more seriously about the electability
argument, even people who are far to the right of Jeb Bush on some issues
are going to say kind of like the Democrats did in 2004 with John Kerry.
Maybe our hearts are with Howard Dean, but we need someone who looks good
on paper. So, I think ...
KORNACKI: And then they found out how well that works.
BALL: But I do think - but I do think that, you know, Republicans, having
lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections are
feeling very concerned with electability in 2016. They really want someone
who`s going to be able to appeal to a general electorate. You have a lot
of Republican candidates making their electability arguments now. Rand
Paul saying he can assemble a new coalition and the base is going to want
to hear that. On top of having someone right on their issues.
KORNACKI: And Celinda, I just wonder -- I don`t know if concern is the
right word, but on the Democratic side, I mean your party clearly has a
strong candidate in position if she decides to run. I would argue no
candidate would be better positioned, not incumbent in modern history than
Hillary Clinton if she runs. But if Hillary Clinton doesn`t run, is there
any concern on the Democratic side that we don`t have much of adventure
here. We`re not quite prepared for this scenario? When you see these gaps
in these polling numbers I see the sitting vice president running 60 points
behinds her, it makes me wonder, is there anybody else -- Democrats even
are excited about?
LAKE: Oh, yeah, I think it would be easy to have lots of other Democratic
candidates. I think that right now, no one can get any oxygen because of
the real enthusiasm among Democrats and the real enthusiasm among women in
this country for Hillary Clinton. But we have a lot - you know, if you
asked not in contrast to Hillary, but just in contrast to George W. Bush,
or Jeb Bush, for example, I think a lot of people would be -- fare very
well. We have a lot of good candidates. I think one of the things that`s
interesting, to go to Molly`s point is 2016 is going to be the first
election where the majority of the electorate is the new electorate, the
rising American electorate. And so you have to ask yourself, who`s going
to appeal? On the one hand, you can argue it could be a younger, more
modern candidate like Rand Paul coming outside the box, having some youth
appeal. On the other hand, when Jeb Bush takes positions like a modern
position, if you will, a current position on immigration and education,
then maybe he`s more appealing. But the Republicans have a brand-new
electorate in 2016 that they`re going to have to face that they`ve never
KORNACKI: And brand-new electorate, brand-new world. I mean, Bush vs.
Clinton could be --
KORNACKI: For 30 years of that. Anyway, thanks to Democratic pollster
Celinda Lake, Molly Ball of "The Atlantic". When we come back, what`s next
for Don Draper and all of his friends? We`re going to party like it is
1969 with one of the actors from "Mad Men." Premiere tonight, our
discussion is straight ahead.
KORNACKI: Coming up next, the 1960s is a period of political polarization,
and it`s the setting of the best series on television today. "Mad Men`s"
big premier is straight ahead.
But first, I want to give you the latest on the hunt for that missing
Malaysia Airlines passenger jet. For the fifth straight day no new signals
in the underwater search for the plane`s black boxes. It means the
batteries may have finally died. They usually only last for 30 days. And
Flight 370 has been missing now for more than a month. Once officials are
confident that the batteries really are gone, underwater submersibles will
be sent down to look for the black boxes. Investigators also expanded the
search zone today. They`re scanning more than 22,000 miles of the surface
of the Indian Ocean for signs of possible wreckage. 12 planes and 14 ships
are taking part in today`s search. More information as it becomes
available. And we will be right back with one of the actors from "Mad
Men." Stay with us.
KORNACKI: The long awaited new season of the acclaimed series "Mad Men"
begins tonight. You can pop your popcorn or set your DVR or whatever it is
you do. I`m a big fan of the show personally, and I think one of the best
things about the program is how it offers a very accurate time capsule of
the 1960s, a very obviously tumultuous decade. One of the things I liked
most is peering into the politics of that time period. Like in the first
season, when the ad execs at Sterling Cooper were working pro bono on
Richard Nixon`s first presidential race against John F. Kennedy. The
politics of the `60s came full circle last year when the season closed with
Nixon winning the White House finally in 1968. We watched Don Draper and
his wife Megan reacting to the violence at that 1968 Democratic convention
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you watching this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. It`s hard to believe no one got killed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that the only measure? Can you imagine a policeman
cracking your skull? That would change your whole life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honey, they`re throwing rocks. They`re prepared for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: As viewers, we`ve experienced the `60s as each character has
navigated through a decade that`s seen the country divided over civil
rights, over race relations, feminism, the war in Vietnam. Don Draper
first appears as the literal man in the gray flannel suit and he could be
viewed as one of the silent majority who helped elect Nixon president in
1968. His ex-wife Betty probably never read Betty Friedan`s book "The
Feminine Mystique," but we find her in the exact role that Friedan
described and railed against in her revolutionary book. After divorcing
Don, she marries Henry Francis, who served as an aide to Nelson
Rockefeller, the governor of New York, before joining up with New York
Mayor John Lindsay, a liberal Republican who ended up running for the
Democratic presidential nomination in 1972. So her husband is one of those
old northeast Republicans we mainly read about in history books these days.
But it`s not hard to see both Betty and her husband following the party
line and voting Nixon in the general election. I`m guessing Nixon`s law
and order message had particular appeal to a `60s suburbanite like Betty.
And secretary turned copy chief Peggy Olson represents the feminist
struggle for equal rights in the workplace. Her character provides a
contrast to her colleague, Joan Harris, who has to use her sexuality in
order to win advancement at the office. The show might not exactly adhere
to social consciousness or present a commentary on the pressing issues of
the day -- it`s too well written and too subtle for that. As it enters its
seventh season, set in the year 1969, it`s entering the period where this
nation began dividing itself between blue America and red America. Quoting
from Rick Pearlstein`s book "Nixonland," "what Richard Nixon left behind
was the very terms of our national self-image. A notion that there are two
kinds of Americans. On the one side, that silent majority, the middle
class, middle Americans, suburban, exurban and rural coalition who call
themselves now values voters, people of faith, patriots, or even simply
Republicans. On the other side are the liberals, the cosmopolitans, the
intellectuals, the professionals, Democrats." Same divide is very much
alive today and the subsequent culture war is still raging. So how will
"Mad Men" hand the turmoil of America at this critical time, the year that
was ripe with Woodstock, with Neil Armstrong taking his first steps on the
moon, with protesters demanding an end to the Vietnam War, the Stonewall
riots, which marked the start of the modern gay riots movement? I`m
anxious to see where "Mad Men" is going to take us this season.
And we are lucky enough to have with us the actor who plays Harry Crane on
that show, Rich Sommer. Rich joins us now. Rich, appreciate you getting
up and taking part in the show this morning. I guess -- look, you guys
like to keep the sort of state secrets here about what`s going to happen.
And as a viewer, I don`t want to know too much. But is there any kind of
juicy hints you could drop to fans of the show as season seven starts? We
know I guess it starts in California. Anything you can tell us about this
RICH SOMMER, ACTOR, "MAD MEN": I can tell you that -- I can`t tell you
anything story-wise, obviously. But I can tell you that as far as pacing
goes, it`s sort of a different feeling season. You know, split into two
halves for the first time. So the first seven episodes are going to air
starting tonight, and the second seven will air spring of next year. And I
think that they move at a faster clip. So we kind of hit the ground
running tonight, and it kind of carries all the way through.
KORNACKI: It`s interesting. So I wonder, we talk about the sort of the
history that this show has sort of existed through so far in its universe.
You`ve gone through the 1960s, a show that started with sort of the hope
that was embodied by John F. Kennedy at the start of the `60s. The firm
was working for Richard Nixon. But now you`re at a point in 1969 where
there`s this real fracturing going on in America. I just wonder as an
actor on the show, have you seen your character and the other characters of
the show sort of shaped and changed by the sort of tumult in the country
around them? Have there been changes that you`ve noticed in your character
and other characters because of that?
SOMMER: Harry in particular sort of goes where the wind blows. I think
he`s -- his shaping is based mainly on what can make the most money at any
given time. But certainly, you see that resonance throughout the office of
how the climate of the time is affecting everyone, especially I think
embodied in Peggy, who clearly has benefited somewhat from a slight
loosening of the strictures on women, very slight loosening that began sort
of around that time. And that kind of reverberates throughout. But yes,
absolutely, every character -- whether it`s Roger, who`s sort of railing
against the changes that are happening, or Peggy and Joan, who are
beginning to just barely benefit from them. Yeah, it`s prevalent.
KORNACKI: It`s interesting, as you were talking there, we were just
showing some of the pictures of your character through the previous
seasons, and you can see the kind of radical changes in your wardrobe and
the way you dress based on what part of the `60s you`re in there. But I`ll
bring it to the panel here. One of the things that I sort of find
interesting about "Mad Men," just thinking about sort of the politics of
it, is just sort of like the characters in it representing certain types of
people, types of voters who not only shape the politics of the period of
the 1960s, but these are people who lived for another generation or two, in
some cases would still be alive today, and their experiences in the 1960s
really shaped how they voted and how people like them voted. I know,
Eleanor, you wrote an interesting piece for "Newsweek" where you went to
the set of "Mad Men," you interviewed the actors, the actresses. You met
with the actress who plays Peggy Olson, and you told her you started out as
a secretary at "Newsweek" in the `60s and she said, I am you.
CLIFT: She said to me, "I am you." Exactly. I had never watched the show
before I was given this assignment, so I did a crash course and I went out
there and I interviewed these people. I thought, why do I have to watch
the show? I lived this life. I starred as a secretary in an ad agency in
New York at a time when white men were the gods of the earth. Even when I
started at "Newsweek," the male writers, there were no women writers, and
you were supposed to do everything, from make sure their pencils were
sharpened to taking their dry cleaning to the office. And it took a while
before women began to question that. And so it`s so fascinating to watch
this show, because you see the evolution. The men are kind of surprised at
the changes that are happening around them, caught off guard. The women
are asserting themselves, and lo and behold, they prove to be very
competent. And Peggy is the epitome of that. If Peggy were alive today,
I`m sure she`d be in the Hillary Clinton camp. And she wouldn`t be an out,
active feminist at the barricades, but she`d be cheering everybody on.
KORNACKI: It`s interesting. I`m glad to know I`m not alone. Because I
play this game sometimes, I watch the show, I try to imagine, if they`re
alive today, what would their politics be? I kind of wonder -- by the way,
Irin Carmon, MSNBC.com, also joining the panel right now. I forgot to read
the little TelPrompTer thing. But welcome. I know you`ve written a little
bit about this show. Two other female characters in the show that kind of
interested me, too. There`s Joan, who also works at Sterling Cooper, and
she got a piece of ownership through a very difficult sort of moral
decision that she had to make, and then, of course, you have Don`s ex-wife,
who now we talked about in the intro who now lives in suburbia. I think of
Don`s ex-wife as sort of the quintessential Nixon Republican. I think of
Joan as somebody who would have gone on to be more of sort of a part of the
Democratic base. How do you think about those two characters and the
experiences that they went through in this show?
IRIN CARMON, MSNBC.COM: I think they also have different marital status.
Joan is divorced. Betty is divorced and remarried. And Peggy is always
kind of single or in a relationship, and that kind of forms different
political affinities, as we`ve seen across the board. But one of the
things that`s really interesting too is how you see that politics is about
more than who you vote for. It`s about -- it`s used in these everyday
relationships and how they get a stake in the power game. So Joan comes
from a time where your sexuality is basically your best bet at getting a
place, or being completely sort of asexual and buttoned up. And the
relationship they have with each other, where there is this feeling that
there`s only room for one woman, for example. The ways in which African-
Americans are in the office, but kind of invisible. Politics is their
everyday life. I mean, there are major events happening in the background.
They are upset about assassinations. They`re watching the DNC, and so on.
But ultimately, the politics is about their relationships with each other
and the power and the hierarchy. And how sometimes that bubbles up to the
surface and other times it`s hidden behind these very formal rituals.
KORNACKI: And Mark, another character I kind of think a lot about
obviously is Don Draper, one of the main characters in this. And he is
somebody who lives -- I mean, he is cheating, rampantly cheating on his
wife or girlfriend of the moment. Does not seem -- in a lot of ways,
defies the character of what we think of today maybe as a Republican family
values type person. But you see those comments like we played, like he`s
watching the Chicago convention in `68. I get a sense Don Draper would
have been a Nixon guy in `68.
MCKINNON: He would have been for sure, but I think today he`d be a
libertarian, I think he`d be a libertarian Republican. Maybe a Rand Paul
guy. Roger Sterling would probably be the Ted Cruz Tea Party. But
hardcore Republicans, for sure.
KORNACKI: Yes. Roger Sterling had a moment in the show too I think where
he was in a meeting that they asked him, what do you think of Nixon, he
said Dick Nixon is a patriot. So he was sort of hardcore.
CARMON: Don Draper says Nixon is president, that`s what Jesus wants,
before he punches the minister. So there`s this idea of like we`re
restoring the order. I think they would be on the side of what would make
the money and what would restore kind of formal order to the world.
KORNACKI: That they feel may otherwise be slipping away from them.
Anyway, we`ll squeeze a break in. We`ll have more "Mad Men." Rich Sommer
is going to stick with us. We have more with him, more with the panel
right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night was disgusting. Seeing those long-haired
fools shame this country. You think Richard Nixon is going to fix that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he`s a patriot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dutch Reagan is a patriot. Nixon is an opportunist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: A clip from last season`s "Mad Men," which returns for its final
season. You`re seeing already there in that room of basically all
Republicans the fracturing of the Republican Party, the Nixon versus Reagan
thing. We have Rich Sommer still joining us from L.A. Rich, to me, the
show rings true historically, at least based on what I know of the 1960s.
More importantly, when I talk about people who remember it firsthand, they
say the same things. I wonder if you can tell us a little bit about the
process that you guys go through, that your writers go through, that your
researchers go through, that you go through as actors to make sure you get
that kind of accuracy?
SOMMER: I mean, from what I understand of the writers room, which I`ve
physically been in maybe six times in my life because they`re very
clandestine in there, they begin each season sort of looking at a
timeframe, and I think they come at it from two directions. They come at
it from a story direction and from a history direction. And they lay out -
- they know about where they want to start. And they say what major
historical events do we have that we can sort of parallel stories to. And
to find some sort of a resonance, something that may have happened
historically that they can then have reverberate throughout a story, that
can personally motivate a character to carry on the actual fiction part of
the show. And the way that they have married those two things I think has
been pretty -- for my money, unique in period shows. They really have made
it feel fairly honest, I think.
KORNACKI: And Eleanor, again, you -- you`ve been writing about your own
experience kind of living in that world. It -
CLIFT: But going out there, Matthew Weiner is the creator of the show.
And he explained his creative process. He said he paces around, walks for
hours, talks. He said it looks psychotic, and it looks like stream of
consciousness, but it isn`t. He says it`s all very thought out. And all
of those musings, ramblings, whatever, go to the writing room, and then
they assemble various story lines, and then they come back to him and he
says he takes it from there. And then the historical accuracy, when I was
out there, the costume department was trying to find rubber pants for the
then youngest child of Don`s ex-wife, his youngest child, actually. And
apparently, they don`t make these rubber pants anymore because they`re
toxic. So they go through great lengths. And apparently in this coming
series, there`s a lot about travel. I mean, travel to the West Coast was
just beginning to get more common, and the travel experience was a big
deal. People got dressed up, and of course, the rooms -- the seats were a
lot more roomy, so we`re going to look at it today and be very envious of
the travel experience back then. So accuracy. And everything, the
cigarette smoking. It`s hard for me to remember, but we all lived in a
cloud of smoke then. Smoking was healthy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Used to smoke on planes.
CLIFT: That`s right, exactly.
KORNACKI: You were making a point too in the break about this is set in an
advertising agency, and the idea of sort of the myth making that comes out
of ad agencies, and just sort of the myth making that is sort that sort of
part of the American tradition about how we tell our own stories. How
politicians tell their stories. You have the exchange about Dutch Reagan
and Dick Nixon. And they both had very carefully cultivated images that
were maybe different than who they actually were.
CARMON: Every time Don Draper, the character, has been in a pinch, he
reaches back for some sort of hazy biographical dream. So in the finale of
the last season, he`s pitching to Hershey and he says, my dad would buy me
a Hershey chocolate bar, and then finally he can`t deal with it anymore
because it`s a lie, and he goes up and he says I was raised in a
whorehouse. Matthew Weiner has said that the show is about whiteness, it`s
about becoming, going from being an outsider of some kind to becoming an
insider. He said Don Draper was modeled on stories like Sam Walton or Lee
Iacocca, even Bill Clinton. This idea of a dream of what America was that
was based on a sale. These guys are the ones who are sort of the center of
selling that bill of goods. But just as this kind of you, faux consensus
that was happening in the early 60s is falling apart, people like Don are
standing up and saying actually, it was all built on a fiction that
everything was going to be OK, and actually it was much more broken. And
at the end of the episode, he shows up, he takes his kids back to the house
where he grew up, and at that point you can see that it`s a product of
white flight, and there is a young black child standing there, and it`s
kind of foregrounding the fact that there is also this racial change
KORNACKI: Rich, I want to end it with you, because you know, again, not
asking to give anything away here, but I have always kind of wonder as I
said, what ends up happening to all these characters. Can we expect this
is the kind of show that is going to end with in 1982, Don Draper passed
away. In 1988, these two got married. Are we going to find out what, past
1970, what happened to all these characters and what became of them?
SOMMER: The good news for me is we haven`t shot the final episode yet. So
I honestly don`t know. But I can tell you that that my vibe is that
strikes me as unlikely, that we`ll get to know anything that satisfying. I
think Matt Weiner seems to be pretty good at leaving the viewer with an
image at the end of an episode. The only hint I can give you about the
finale, again, not having read it. Is that each of the first four seasons,
the finales of those seasons were written not knowing if there would be
another season after them. We knew after five and six there was going to
be another season. But after one, two, three and four, we didn`t. However
you felt at the end of those episodes that may be a feeling you may be left
with after the finale of this season.
KORNACKI: Just having, now you`ve done this character for so long now, I
imagine you know him very well, what sort of -- kind of life would you have
liked him to have gone and lived live past 1969? Past 1970?
SOMMER: I root for Harry. Other than Matt and the writers, I think I know
him better than anyone. And so I would like to see him be successful. But
I think of him probably the same thing that many people think of, which is
he can be a bit of a douchebag. It would be -- it`s hard to root for
someone like that all the time. I hope for Harry to find some social
footing, to maybe learn how to be a normal human being, and also find some
KORNACKI: All right, probably a different word, I hope that one did not
get out, because of a different word you used there, but we take the point.
I want to thank "Mad Men`s" Rich Sommer for getting up this morning. The
first half of the final season returns tonight on AMC. We`ll be right
KORNACKI: We are out of time. I want to thank my guests, Eleanor Clift,
Irin Carmon and Mark McKinnon for getting up this morning and thank all of
you at home for getting up. We`ll see you next weekend, Saturday and
Sunday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time. Everyone stay here right now. Up next
is Melissa Harris-Perry. New York magazine writer Jonathan Chait will join
Melissa for a frank discuss about race, politics and the Obama presidency.
You do not want to miss that. Stick around. MHP is next.
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