Meet the Press   |  April 21, 2013

Boston bombing: The political implications

A Meet the Press panel of experts discusses the political response to the Boston marathon tragedy and how such an incident tends to alter the national political dialogue.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the world will return to this great american city to run ha harder than ever and to cheer even louder for the 118th boston marathon .

>> the president speaking at the memorial certificaservice in boston so movingly this week. tom brokaw , washington is going to step up here. the president is going to be speaking to the country about terrorism, about securing the country. questions about interrogating the suspect, whether he should be an enemy combatant or not, how we track home grown terror and, indeed, even our debates over guns and immigration potentially affected. what do you see?

>> well, what i see is an opportunity for the american citizens to get involved in trying to do something about the culture of violence that has become such a large part of our lives, whether it's guns or this kind of an attack or whatever it is we are living with it. we're living with the violent video games , for example, that we see. i to think this is an opportunity to say i want to be part of that debate and i think that the president could help ignite that in a meaningful way and pull the country together. however you decide your voice ought to be heard in that debate. this is the time to have that debate. here we are in the 21st septembcentury, the most vabsed nation in the world, we have third-world vulnerables almost everywhere we go. our kids are growing up in a way that none of us could have ever anticipated around this table when we were younger about what kind of a card they have to wear to get into school, the fear they may go into a classroom and get shot up by somebody or a movie theater . that's outrageous for an advanced country like the united states without having some kind of a national dialogue about it and putting it at the head of the agenda in my judgment.

>> and yet this week as this was going on, as the investigation was going on, the senate defeats the background check bill for guns. so we are confronting this violence but still very divided about how we react to it and try to solve it.

>> yeah, i think the essential problem is that americans at this point don't trust their government so much to do the right thing. they are skeptical of all bills on things that they care about to lower the conversation a little bit, get it down to mere politics, i guess. i think there is a problem when you've got 90% of the american people wanting something like background checks and a president who is just re-elected and riding a wave, can't make anything move that way. i think there is a problem there, and i think he is having, as somebody said, a problem with the levers of power.

>> maybe the problem is also the structure of the senate. at the turn of the 20th century when public sentiment wanted a lot of things done to deal with industrialization and the problem of the slums, the senate was impossible it to move because it was millionaires in there. they finally realized they have to have direct election of senators . they used to be elected by the state legislators and were susceptible to special interest . maybe that's the problem given the 60 votes needed, given who they listen to, the power of special interest , public sent is imt cannot pen trade. we've seen it for the last decade. it's not just the senate, the congress.

>> majority leader harry reid follow the president? it's not working there.

>> but in those states in which the senators vote d against the background checks , it's not even close to 90% in terms of wanting it. it's probably down in single digits in montana and arkansas and alaska and north dakota , the states that block it are democrats, so you have to take that into consideration.

>> newtown, 90% move it. small, discreet parts of a bill, push it through.

>> kill the filibuster bill.

>> definitely.