THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
July 22, 2013
Guests: Dorian Warren, Khary Lazarre-White, William Barber, Joe Gerth>
ARI MELBER, GUEST HOST: The right wing had to wait until today to
hear what they should think about the president`s speech from their
fearless leader, Rush Limbaugh.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Another way of saying
that is Trayvon Martin could have been me.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: OK. So that happened on Friday
afternoon when I was in a sauna.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now reaction to President Obama`s speech
about race in America.
LIMBAUGH: There was no white racism involved here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unbelievable reaction to the president`s speech.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Reaction to the president, somewhat mixed.
LIMBAUGH: I came close to losing it.
OBAMA: Trayvon Martin could have been me.
LIMBAUGH: It didn`t happen to Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s individuals speaking about a subject they
know nothing about.
LIMBAUGH: White guilt is one of the dominating factors in American
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s individuals speaking about a subject they
know nothing about.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Where does the country go from here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not just the Trayvon Martin verdict.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The leadership of this Republican supermajority,
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today marks the 12th straight week of Moral Monday
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In North Carolina, it`s Moral Monday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Outside North Carolina`s state capitol in Raleigh
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This photo ID is very harsh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The focus will be a harsh new voter ID bill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s one of the harshest photo ID measures that
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Moral Monday movement is actually more
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can`t solve this problem in a day or a week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to find them every day we can.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s going to take a very, very long time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First, we want to go to London.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: We continue to follow the breaking news
out of London.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The eyes of the world are fixed --
MITCHELL: As anticipation mounts for the arrival of the royal baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See the baby. Again with the baby.
WAGNER: These are live pictures. Who knew that a closed door could
be so captivating?
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Duchess Catherine gave birth to a baby boy.
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC ANCHOR: Parents of a healthy baby boy, who is
now the third in line to the British throne.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fasten your seat belts. We`re going to see the
MELBER: I`m Ari Melber, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.
The Republican congressional leadership has been strategically silent
about President Obama`s Friday speech on Trayvon Martin and criminal
justice. But today, we did hear from one of the anti-establishment
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: A little history lesson for you. If any race of people
should not have guilt about slavery, it`s Caucasians. The white race has
probably had fewer slaves and for a briefer period of time than any other
in the history of the world. No other race has ever fought a war for the
purpose of ending slavery, which we did. Nearly 600,000 people killed in
the Civil War. It`s preposterous that Caucasians are blamed for slavery
when they`ve done more to end it than any other race, and within the bounds
of the Constitution to boot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Oh, boy. Rush Limbaugh says he first learned about the
president`s speech on Friday evening. He was at a country club party,
naturally. And a woman in his social circle suggested the president might
be on to something.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: The woman said, "Yes, and you know, he had a point. It
could have been Obama 34 years ago." And I -- folks, I came close to
losing it. I realized I was a guest, and I dialed it back, somewhat. And
I said, "Yes, but it didn`t."
What is all of this could have, would have, might have? It didn`t
happen to him. What happened to Trayvon Martin did not happen to him.
Probably because he never did what Trayvon Martin did! It didn`t happen to
Making a point to go to the White House press room. Pointing out it
could have been him 35 years ago.
I don`t know. That`s the kind of -- I just think that`s utterly
irresponsible. It is certainly not healing. It`s not even emotionally
honest. But it is exactly who I`ve always thought Obama is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining me now, Dorian Warren, associate professor of
political science and public affairs at Columbia University, Khary Lazarre-
white, executive director and co-founder of the Brotherhood/Sister Sol.
And MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor.
Goldie, I want to come right to you and get your emotionally honest
response to Rush.
GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: My emotionally honest response?
He`s a carnival barker.
You know, Rush Limbaugh is not the first in history to take advantage
of waves of populism. This happens to be a more extended wave, something I
think brought on by the election of an African-American president.
But the real answer here, Rush Limbaugh is pimping his audience. He
is taking advantage, fanning the flames of fear for his own personal gain.
And that`s really the story here. He really does need a history lesson.
The civil war was not fought over the question of slavery. It was
follow the over nullification and states` rights. Lincoln said famously,
"If I could keep the Union together and not free a single slave, I would do
So I think Rush Limbaugh not only needs a history lesson, he needs a
gut check. At the end of the day, I think some people find him comical.
Other people find him sort of, you know, innocuous. I think he`s
dangerous, because he fans the flames of division in this country at a time
when we need it the least.
MELBER: All right. Dorian, you were nodding your head at that
DORIAN WARREN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: He wrote the Confederacy totally
out of his analysis of the civil war, when he represents the Confederacy,
right? He would have been on that side that went to war around the
question of slavery.
So, the notion that somehow we came to some agreement through the
constitutional process around the most fundamental divide in our country
historically is absolutely wrong.
And in terms of fanning racial flames, I will never forget the first
two years of the Obama administration when we were debating health care
reform, he kept calling Obamacare reparations for black people. So he`s
the one that`s racializing when there`s no race there. He sees race in
this peculiar way, even though he accuses us and civil rights leaders of
progressives of seeing race everywhere.
MELBER: Well, you make an important point on that language because
it`s not Rush Limbaugh, though Goldie makes an important point about the
limits of the substance of his remarks, but you know, Justice Scalia
talking about voting as some sort of racial benefit. This language is
moving around a lot, Khary.
Now, how do you contrast what we heard from Rush Limbaugh to what I
think is a rather remarkable silence from congressional Republicans who,
for those of us who cover the Hill, you know, you get a statement on naming
a post office, you get a press release on their response to a response to
Obamacare and a repeal. Nothing from most of them, so far.
KHARY LAZARRE-WHITE, THE BROTHERHOOD/SISTER SOL: I mean, there`s a
vacuum of commentary that`s productive from the extreme right of the
Republican Party and even from some moderate Republicans.
I think we look at the speech President Obama gave last week. What we
see is a speech that at least is touching on foundational issues that are
important to this country. So, when Rush Limbaugh talks about the civil
war, you know, this historic reality of race and war that created this
country, today we have other structural issues we`re looking at -- the
criminal justice system, disconnected young people, educational
opportunity, jobs. These are foundational issues.
And what we need to people who are adding to the future of America,
who are talking about a positive way for this country to develop. So when
you hear those kind of comments, that`s the comment of someone who is not a
part of that conversation. Not somebody who`s contributing to a vision of
how we build a strong America that lives up to its true creed. That`s not
the language of somebody who`s contributing. That`s the language of
somebody who`s seeking to destroy.
MELBER: And that`s the challenge for policymakers, whether that`s
from the president, who referred to a few broad ideas, or wherever the
conversation goes in Congress.
I want to put something up from Shelby Steele, who`s a conservative
that is not altogether popular in these conversations, but I want to bring
in one of the arguments raised here that says basically, "The purpose of
today`s civil rights establishment is not to seek justice but to seek power
for blacks in American life based on the presumption that they are still in
1,000 subtle ways victimized by white racism."
Dorian, I offer that if not as an endorsement of the underlying
critique, a problem for the president and the people doing civil rights
organizing, right? If even in this moment, anytime we talk about, well,
maybe we should look at profiling or maybe we should do patrolling of local
police what you hear back is -- well, you`re just concerned about, quote,
"white racism", you don`t want to do anything.
WARREN: Well, the numbers don`t lie. Gallup poll released today, one
in four black men ages 18 to 34, I believe, experience some interaction
with the criminal justice system last month. Right?
This is a pattern. There are facts. There is evidence here.
Whatever Shelby Steele says, he would have been the main protagonist
against Dr. King in the `60s. There are always opponents to racial justice
and social justice in this country. So I don`t take what he has to say
It is, however, you`re right. The context is it`s a challenge for the
president to have to deal with those kind of arguments that are not based
in fact or evidence of people`s experiences. And that`s what -- that was
the brilliance of the president`s speech. He was saying, look, this is an
experience that shapes people`s world views. This is why blacks and whites
see the world differently.
And I`ve had that experience too, and I`m telling you and hoping that
you have compassion and empathy for that true experience.
LAZARRE-WHITE: I also think it`s a very dangerous line that you often
hear from the conservative side, that Shelby Steele is propagating, which
is that somehow those of us who are involved in talking about this issue
are not also seeking to deal with issues within the black community of
violence. I run an organization that for 18 years has dealt with trying to
reduce violence, has dealt with conflict resolution, reducing gang
activity, redefining manhood in a way that will not result in the levels of
incarceration we`re talking about. We do that every day.
We`re also going to comment when we see a case that brings about the
issues of gun control and race. We can have both thoughts in our mind at
the same time. We can comment on both issues. For what they`re looking
at, there are many of us who work in both spaces.
MELBER: I want to bring Goldie in here. It is strange because on the
one hand we`ve just had a large gun debate where a lot of liberals and
black Americans have tried to talk about access to guns. It`s an issue in
Chicago. It`s an issue in this violence.
And on the other hand, what I took the president to be saying is black
America doesn`t need a lecture on black on black violence, thank you very
much. We`re talking about --
TAYLOR: Thank you.
MELBER: -- a different piece here.
Goldie, I want to give you the last word on what you just heard.
TAYLOR: Well, I think at the end of the day, we don`t need a lecture
on black on black crime. At the end of the day, people kill one another
who know one another. So white on white crime, black on black crime, we
tend to kill people who are familiar to us.
But in terms of Rush Limbaugh and this entire sort of trope around
blaming African-Americans wholesale for their plight in this country I
think is absolutely ludicrous. I think there is a politics of personal
responsibility that ought to be put forth. I mean, I practice that in my
own community, my own neighborhood. You know I`m from East St. Louis. So
that is a huge thing for us.
But there are also social policies that sort of created this mess that
we`re now in and perpetrate it. So, to make those people responsible for
all that is happening to them I think is a ludicrous notion.
MELBER: Well, I`m glad you mentioned that. We`re going to get to
some of that tonight.
Goldie Taylor, Dorian Warren, and Khary Lazarre-White, thank you all
for joining me.
Coming up, the grassroots activism that rounds up the civil rights
discussion. We`re going to talk about the protests known as Moral Mondays
in North Carolina where people are fighting to preserve voting and
reproductive rights. One of the organizers is going to join us live from
the site of those protests.
And yes, across the pond you know we had to do it. Millions of pounds
were bet on the question of boy or girl and the date of the arrival. And
if you picked boy on July 22nd, I have news for you in case you haven`t
heard. Well done. MSNBC`s Martin Bashir joins us to talk about the
excitement over that royal baby.
And also, you may have heard the criticism that President Obama`s
Friday address was just words. We are going to look at the record which
demolishes that argument.
Please stay with us.
MELBER: A Boeing 737`s nose gear collapsed on landing at New York`s
LaGuardia Airport early this evening. Ten people on board the Southwest
flight from Nashville were treated for minor injuries. The accident shut
down the airport, however, for several hours, and it`s still on the runway
right now. It is not known what caused the problem.
Now, up next the protests against the threat to voting rights in North
Carolina. We are live with one of the less the Moral Monday protests.
That`s up next.
MELBER: No person except a natural born citizen shall be eligible to
the office of the president, neither shall any person be eligible to that
office who shall not have attained to the age of 35 years and been 14 years
a resident within the U.S. That somewhat clunky language is Article 2,
Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. It is the section you may remember
that birthers used to dishonestly cite and attack President Obama with.
And now, right-wing birtherism is hitting the grassroots. That`s
because around the country, GOP legislatures are increasingly following the
birthers lead and they`re passing laws to add hurdles to vote, including
requirements for ID or even, yes, ordering a birth certificate to prove
In North Carolina, with just a few days left in the legislative
session Republicans are trying to pass a bill that would require photo ID.
It would also end early voting, Sunday voting and same-day registration.
Now, Republicans have passed a voter ID bill there in 2011, but it was veto
by the state`s Democratic governor. Now, North Carolina has a Republican
governor and this was the scene at the state legislative building today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTERS: Voting rights! Voting rights! Voting rights!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Protesters gathered outside the North Carolina state
legislative building. That was in downtown Raleigh for the 12th Moral
Monday rally against these Republican legislative majority efforts, this
whole agenda. And there were more than 800 people to date who have been
arrested since those protests began, and today`s rally was actually one of
So, I`m excited to say joining us now from the North Carolina state
general assembly is Reverend Dr. William Barber, president of the North
Carolina chapter of the NAACP and one of the main organizers of the Moral
Monday protests where we see many people out there behind you.
Thanks for joining us.
REV. DR. WILLIAM BARBER, PRESIDENT, NC NAACP: Thank you, Ari. I`m
glad to be with you and your audience tonight.
I want to ask you right out of the gate, what are you trying to
achieve with Moral Mondays? What is your message not only within North
Carolina but to the rest of the country that may be learning about these
BARBER: Well, Moral Monday is a brand new fusion movement. It is the
third reconstruction being birthed right in front of our faces. It`s black
and white and brown and labor and people of faith and gay and straight
coming together around an agenda that believes that we ought to have --
deal with poverty, we ought to have education equality, health care for
all, deal with disparities in the criminal justice system and protect
It`s going straight the old white Southern strategy that divides us by
race. It`s cutting cross the limited moral critique of the Christian
evangelicals that limits moral issues to certain things. We`re saying
moral issues are budgets, how you do health care, what you do for
education, protecting voting rights, and we`re going and challenging the
extremism and the immoral activities and the crimes against democracy that
we`re seeing carried out by this legislature.
MELBER: Reverend Barber, let`s talk about how that has played in
contrast to some of the Republican agenda, which I`m just going to put up
on the screen. The Republicans of North Carolina just here in 2013 to your
point have tried to push abortion restrictions, refuse a Medicaid
expansion. Of course, that`s funding for health care for some of the
poorest individuals in North Carolina, fingerprints for welfare recipients.
MELBER: Tax cut agenda. And an unemployment benefits cut that has
been more like a cancellation than a cut when you look at the way it`s
Tell us how that fits in the moral argument you`re making.
BARBER: What they`ve done is they`ve done what is constitutionally
inconsistent, morally indefensible, and economically insane.
They denied 500,000 people Medicaid. That`s immoral and extreme.
They cut 170,000 people`s unemployment. They`ve thrown 30,000 poor
children off preschool.
They`ve attacked teachers. They`ve decided that no longer will you
have tenure of teachers. They fired teaching assistants. They`ve pushed
fracking. They`ve gone after the LGBT community.
In every way they have fundamentally gone against our deepest moral
principle, which is love of your neighbor and doing justice and our deepest
constitutional principles, which is the common good, doing what is good for
the whole and establishing justice. What we have done is raised that
And since we have over 12 weeks, now Moral Monday is more popular than
the legislature. Less than 1 out of 5 North Carolinians agree with the
legislature. The governor`s numbers have dropped. We have exposed what
they`re doing. And North Carolinians in the South are saying we don`t want
-- and it is a phenomenon for the NAACP to be in the middle of this.
And yet you see working-class white people. We`ve had millionaires
arrested right beside unemployed workers. We`ve had doctors arrested right
beside people who have no health care, because we want to go forward
together and not one step back, and we`re resisting this extremism.
MELBER: So, Reverend, one final question. You mentioned
constitutional principles there. And, of course, this movement`s been
going on long before I think the political class in Washington was focused
on the Zimmerman case.
BARBER: Oh, yes.
MELBER: But now, we`re having a conversation about what the civil
rights agenda looks like -- 40 of North Carolina`s roughly 100 counties
have been covered by the Voting Rights Act. Now, that`s been undone.
What do you think the president should do in leadership on that? It`s
obviously a national issue that affects your state.
BARBER: Exactly. Well, we believe that number one, it was bad what
they`ve done. It`s tried to gut the voting rights act that one of our
legislators described it as a headache. We said he was racially and
historically insensitive because the voting rights act was won because
people like Medgar Evers was shot in the heart and people died for that
We believe the president should lead. We believe that the Congress
people should reset up section 4 and make sure places are covered. And it
gives us an opportunity to cover places that have never been covered.
But what we also have to do is if you`re going to change the country,
you got to change the South. You`re going to change the South, you`ve got
to change the state capitol because what we`re seeing in the state capitol,
we`re seeing them go all out.
Now that they`ve done all these extreme things, now they want to do
the ultimate crime against democracy. They`ve written race-based
redistricting plans. They want to roll back same-day registration, early
voting, and Sunday voting. They want to add voter ID that we don`t need.
And then they want to even block the formerly incarcerated from the
ability to vote. And one bill, Senate bill 666, even wants to charge
$2,500 to parents if their students vote when they`re in college as opposed
to at home.
This is wrong. It`s a crime against democracy. We`re going to fight
them legally. We`re going to fight them organizationally. And we`re going
to fight them at the ballot box. And we`re going to fight them together.
This is a new Southern movement. This is the third reconstruction
being birthed right in front of our eyes. And we will win.
The voting rights is a battle we must fight and we will win.
MELBER: Reverend Dr. William Barber, thank you for that. It`s great
to see some of your energy. There`s been a lot of talk about action. I
see you guys are acting and not only you but the community behind you and
even beyond that what we can`t see.
So, thanks for spending time with us.
Coming up, the U.S. and Great Britain as we know share a pretty
special relationship, and a serious obsession with that new royal baby. We
will have the pomp but also the substance with our resident Brit, MSNBC`s
Martin Bashir, staying up late with us to talk baby fever.
And later, as I mentioned, my editorial on the history that proves the
right is wrong to dismiss President Obama`s Friday address as just words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Like so many Americans, the
president and first lady and the entire first family, you know, wait with
anticipation for the birth of the duke and duchess`s child. And wish the
family and all of Great Britain well on this pending momentous occasion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: In the spotlight tonight, America`s guilty pleasure: the
royal baby watch.
After weeks of worldwide anticipation and just two hours after White
House Press Secretary Jay Carney gave that statement, Kensington Palace
announced that the duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton had, yes, finally
given birth to a baby boy. Still no word tonight on what the future king`s
name will be.
NBC`s Chris Jansing has more outside St. Mary`s Hospital in London
where the new family of -- the new family is said to be resting comfortably
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ari.
In what was a very modern decision by the royal family`s standards at
least, Prince William is spending the night tonight with Kate and their new
baby. It is a big boy, almost 8 1/2 pounds. He is the new prince of
Cambridge, the first in almost 200 years.
And I think the royal couple really reflected the feelings of a lot of
people when they issued a brief statement tonight saying, "We could not be
(voice-over): The cheers echoed across the grounds of Buckingham
CROWD: It`s a boy!
JANSING: A boy born at 4:24 p.m., eight pounds, six ounces.
The official word came from St. Mary`s Hospital, carried by car to
Buckingham Palace, where it was posted on an easel that once announced
Prince William`s birth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oye, oye!
JANSING: From town criers to towers, unique celebrations because what
had been dubbed the great Kate wait was finally over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations.
UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: Proud to be British. Absolutely. It`s amazing.
JANSING: Queen Elizabeth came home to Buckingham Palace from her
castle in Windsor and said in a statement tonight she was delighted, as
were other British leaders.
DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER: It is an important moment in the life
of our nation. But I suppose above all it`s a wonderful moment for a warm
and loving couple who got a brand new baby boy.
JANSING: New grandfather Prince Charles said he was overjoyed. After
a day in York, 200 miles north of London, where he got today`s and a
UNIDENTIFIED KID: It`s for the baby.
PRINCE CHARLES: Right. Well, I`ll see what I can do.
JANSING: Brits woke up this morning to find out that Kate had gone to
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you`re just waking up, really, really
JANSING: But William and Kate arrived so stealthily, none of the
scores of photographers who camped out for days got them going in the back
CAMILLA TOMIKEY: No one wants to be photographed mid contraction. So
I think they did it very, very cleverly there. She switched cars.
JANSING: The crowd of international media grew quickly, joined by
curious Brits. Dieba (INAUDIBLE) was so excited, she baked a cake and
traveled five hours to be here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a taxi. I got a coach. I got a train. I
got a tube.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really gives the whole country a bit of a
JANSING: When William was born in 1982 the obstetrician reported he
cried lustily. This time no additional details from the doctors after more
than ten hours of labor. Of course, it`s called labor for a reason. But
the Lindo wing definitely makes the best of it.
Georgie McGrath delivered Molly and Ollie there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a special menu. You can choose from
what you would like. You know, lobster to whatever and champagne.
JANSING: And what will the new prince be named?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George. The regal George very, very popular.
Several large, three, even a four-figure bet on that.
JANSING: It`s a very good bet that tonight many a Brit is raising a
pint to the future king.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: And tomorrow we could get our first look at the new king.
You might remember that in 1982 when prince William was first introduced to
the world from Charles and Diana on those very same steps behind me it all
happened just 21 hours after the birth -- Ari.
MELBER: Chris Jansing, thank you so much.
And joining us now, our resident royal expert, MSNBC`s Martin Bashir.
Nice to have you here.
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC: It`s a great pleasure, Ari. How are you?
MELBER: I`m doing great.
Let me ask you out the gate, how is this child`s life going to be
different from prince William`s?
BASHIR: Well, it`s interesting. Prince William was present for the
birth of his son. When prince Charles was born, his father, prince Philip,
was playing squash and was informed after four games that he had in fact
become a father. So, there`s a distinction.
I think the fact that this announcement was delayed, there was no
announcement for over four hours even though the child d been born, is
indicative of the kind of control that the royal family has re-taken over
their media operation.
Prince William does not like the media. And that`s obvious. His wife
has been extremely observant of all of the royal protocols in relation to
privacy, has not spoken to journalists, is not minded to leak stories --
MELBER: Martin, I was going to say, I`m surprised someone would
dislike the British media. I mean, that strikes me as unreasonable.
BASHIR: Really? There`s no need for you to be facetious. And I know
it`s late. The fact is that combination means that this child is actually
unlikely to be exposed to the public glare as much as William himself was.
BASHIR: And remember this. It was actually prince William`s phone
that provoked the original phone hacking inquiry in 2005 because it was a
text message about a knee injury that prince William had suffered that was
subsequently intercepted by the royal correspondent of the "News of the
So, I think for those three reasons people should enjoy what they see
tomorrow if indeed they do see this baby because they are not going to see
as much of this child as William was exposed to the press previously.
MELBER: That`s an interesting contrast.
You have also spoken about the unfinished legacy of princess Diana and
how that is a contrast from what some across the pond here in the U.S.
sometimes think of as something sort of superficial or only pomp. What is
the substance side of this?
BASHIR: I think America fell in love with princess Diana in part
because she was open about her vulnerabilities. But also she was open
about new passions. She cradled children, babies who were suffering with
aids. She went to Lesotho, where children had been maimed permanently by
land mines. And I think this went beyond the simple role of royalty in
terms of pageantry and status within the British system. And much more
linked her to acts of charity, compassion, concern, all things that in this
country are very highly regarded as well.
And so, I think when she died there was a huge amount of affection
that had been built up in relation to her. And the American public feel
that William is to some extent the inheritor of that. And that`s true.
Because William himself has sided with, for example, a charity in Lesotho
with his brother, which assists children who have been physically maimed by
He`s also aligned himself with homeless people in London. And indeed
has slept out overnight, sleeping rough under the arches by railway
stations. So, I think there is a sense in which William is the incarnation
of what his mother started.
MELBER: And is that above politics but ultimately carries some
political goal when you talk about a spending priority for the homeless or
whatever your --
BASHIR: Well of course, it`s interesting, isn`t it? Because we in
Britain have a monarchy and yet it`s distinctly separate from the functions
of parliament. But obviously, the royal family brings a huge amount of
attention to these issues. So for example, when Diana cradled these babies
that are suffering with aids, it suddenly raised such attention that those
charities actually were able to start really raising serious sums of money.
So I don`t think this is, as it were, a superficial exercise by any means.
MELBER: All right. Martin Bashir, I suspect you may talk about this
issue again in the coming days.
BASHIR: I`m not so sure. But thank you for your facetiousness
MELBER: I love you, man. You know that.
BASHIR: Do you?
MELBER: Yes. I do.
BASHIR: Sometimes it`s hard to tell. Your fiance told me it`s
MELBER: You know what? We`re going to leave it. As they say on some
channels, we`re going to leave it there.
BASHIR: Thank you.
MELBER: The next thing I want to talk to you about is something you
may have heard. The complaint that President Obama`s Friday address was
just words when we need action. In fact, I`ve heard that line from not
only conservatives but some of the non-partisan analysis out of Washington
as well. Next, I want to tell you why the record shows that argument is
lazy, inaccurate, and pretty counterproductive.
And moving from policy to some politics, there are signs that it`s not
just the Democrats in Kentucky that make Mitch McConnell nervous. Wait
until you hear who`s coming for him next.
MELBER: A federal judge has sided with a gay couple in Ohio saying
Ohio`s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage could violate the couple`s
rights. Last week John Arthur and Jim Ogrefield (ph) sued to ensure that
their marriage in Maryland would be recognized in Ohio. Arthur`s death
certificate is the issue, and that is critical because they basically want
to make sure that while he`s in the advanced stages of Lou Gehrig`s
disease, if he dies, his ongoing marriage would be recognized. Now, the
judge has issued a temporary restraining order to keep Ohio from refusing
to recognize that marriage.
Now, up next, why President Obama needs -- excuse me. Let me try that
again. Why what President Obama said on Friday needs to looked at as far
more than just words.
MELBER: Many people are still reflecting on President Obama`s
discussion of race and criminal justice on Friday. But one reflexive
criticism is already making the rounds. I bet you have heard some version
of it. That the president was just talking, not actually taking action.
One conservative Web site put it this way. So, the king`s speech is
more empty rhetoric. And that translated to talk like this in the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL SCHERER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR TIME: And since he`s
been president every time he speaks he becomes more divisive. He tends to
muddy the conversation.
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: And we do have a problem in
this country where everybody is dividing by many different things. They
are dividing by race. They are dividing by income. They are dividing by
age. That is going on throughout the country.
The president understood this when he ran in 2008. I thought the
president -- I thought he spoke very well about it. He hasn`t done very
much about it to bridge those divides. He gives a great speech. He hasn`t
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That is a simplistic and inaccurate view. It may appeal to
critics want to duck the hard issues while claiming to back some undefined
Well, let`s look at the president`s action for a moment. At his
policy agenda, because that was the context for Friday. And it`s a record
of leading on civil rights and economic opportunity, precisely the areas
where many critics have been MIA.
The Trayvon Martin case set off a firestorm because he was another
black human being killed at the intersection of profiling and unjust police
tactics. There are many names on that list. Danroy Henry, Sean Bell,
Jordan Davis, Amadou Diallo. And long before today state senator Barack
Obama was taking action to make racial profiling illegal.
As Kirk Dillard, Obama`s key Republican ally in the Illinois
legislature, recalled, then state senator Obama pushed a bill to ban racial
profiling by police.
Quote "Barack and I had many, many early morning, 7:00 a.m. meetings
with hundreds from law enforcement, helping us understand the difficult
profiling issues. Senator Obama made this difficult subject workable."
Illinois passed that bill into law. And when he came to Washington,
Obama continued taking action, co-sponsoring legislation to ban racial
profiling nationwide. That bill has proven harder to pass. The end racial
profiling act currently has 15 co-sponsor or take equal opportunity
The president ordered his lawyers to fight the attack on affirmative
action in the Supreme Court this year. He acted to defend it by arguing
that our government and our police are better when they`re open to
diversity. And that`s a contrast, by the way, from Mitt Romney, who
refused to even state a position on the issue last year.
And then there are the values embedded in spending. Something we`ve
been talking about tonight and that came up on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And this is a long-term
project. We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster
and reinforce our African-American boys? Is there more that we can do to
give them a sense that their country cares about them? And values them.
And is willing to invest in them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The president`s budget prioritizes that kind of investment on
cities, education, health care, and police. He has also pursued those
priorities through the tax code, investing more in the lowest fifth of
earners than any president in 30 years as the "Washington Post" reported.
And right now, more black Americans are indeed in that bottom fifth than
any other bracket. And this, by the way, is a classic example of what
judges call disparate or unequal racial impact. And the sequester may not
have been designed to hurt black defendants, but that is what it does,
cutting eight percent out of public defenders this year alone.
And I could go on. I could talk about restoring voting rights to ex-
felons. Then senator Obama co-sponsored the counter and revote act. And
he continues to back action on that policy while John McCain and Mitt
Romney have opposed it or the voting rights act. The president has been
pressing Congress to act and renew it.
But the point here is the president`s new and deeply thoughtful words
on racial justice on Friday were offered in the context of all of this
action and leadership throughout his career. I think that`s pretty obvious
to anyone who`s followed these issues or studied civil rights law. And
there is still a legitimate policy debate, of course, about how to push and
prioritize all these goals.
But few fair observers can doubt that we have a president who
diligently pursues respect and precision when engaging race. A president
who`s more likely to craft policies advancing economic justice and fair
policing than to just look for openings to talk about race. A president
who ran his last two elections taking a stand on these civil rights issues
while his opponents tended to duck and cover.
So, as the nation takes another look at our constitution`s original
sin, we have a president able to lead with both policy and words. And too
many critics who seem unable to offer either.
So, if you look past the "Avengers, Game of thrones," and "Orphan
Black Fans" at this past weekend`s comic-con, one of the largest meetings
of geeks and comic book fans in the world, you might see a graphic novel
about a non-supernatural hero, civil rights icon and Congressman John
Lewis was there to meet fans and talk about his brand new graphic
novel "March." The story details Lewis` early life, his involvement in the
civil rights movement, and of course how he met Martin Luther King before
they marched in Selma.
Now, the book will officially be released next month on the 50th
anniversary of the march on Washington. It is the first of three volumes.
Now, stay with us. Up next, Mitch McConnell needs to keep an eye on
his right. There`s a challenge coming.
MELBER: So it`s a boy for Will and Kate and a tea partier for Mitch
The Republican leader of the U.S. Senate will face a primary challenge
in 2014. 46-year-old Kentucky businessman Matt Bevin will announce his
candidacy Wednesday at the Kentucky state capitol. That`s according to a
press release issued by the Louisville tea party.
Bevin`s advisers have started talking a bit although anonymously and
one told "Politico," Matt has been speaking with grassroots activists
throughout Kentucky and has received a great amount of encouragement and
support. This will be a real campaign and we are ready for the inevitable
smear tactics that Mitch McConnell`s campaign machine is famous for.
In the words of Kirsten Dunst, bring it on. OK.
So, if Bevin is Kristen Dunst, I guess Mitch McConnell gets to be
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to make it right? Then when you go to
nationals bring it. Don`t slack off because you feel sorry for us. That
way when we beat you we`ll know it`s because we`re better.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ll bring it. Don`t worry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Don`t worry.
Joining me now, Nia-Malika Henderson, political reporter for the
"Washington Post," and Joe Gerth, a political reporter for the "Courier
Journal" who has covered Kentucky for 25 years.
Starting with you, Joe, should Mitch McConnell be worried?
JOE GERTH, POLITICAL REPORTER, COURIER JOURNAL: Well, it`s hard to
tell at this point. What we have got now is we have got an untested
candidate who`s obviously coming out on Wednesday to challenge McConnell.
We don`t know if he`s going to be able to raise money. We don`t know
exactly how good of a campaigner he`s going to be.
I`ve been to some tea party events. I`ve seen -- I`ve not seen him
speak at any of them. And so, he`s kind of a blank slate. That said,
McConnell always has to worry. He is not all that popular in Kentucky,
even though he has won elections for 30 years for the U.S. Senate here.
And he has got a very high disapproval rating. We did some polling back in
January that found that only 34 percent of Kentucky Republicans said that
they would vote for Mitch McConnell for re-election no matter what.
MELBER: You know, and that`s weird. I want to put up something from
political almanac that talks about what Mitch McConnell`s been doing to
make Kentucky even more red. They basically say much of the Republican
trend has been because of the work of senator Mitch McConnell. He helped
line up candidates who carried three formerly Democratic congressional
districts in `94 and `96. He provided key support for Senator Jim
Bunning`s narrow win in `98 and then helped orchestrate Bunning`s exit when
he looked to be a weak re-election prospect in 2010. And it goes on from
Nia, what is the deal? Is nothing enough?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well,
you know, that whole strategy didn`t quite work for him last go-round with
Rand Paul winning. And now I think you`re going to have Rand Paul really
running interference for Mitch McConnell in sort of a switch there. He is
going to go out and talk him up to tea party folks. You`ve already seen
that from Mitch McConnell. Him reaching out to tea party folks as well.
Mitch McConnell is like the Tasmanian devil of politics. He`s going
to run a real slash and burn candidacy there. I think he`s got about $10
million in the bank. You`ve already heard from his people talking about
this new primary challenger, calling him an east coast con man. There, I
think approach is going to be essentially that Bevin isn`t from around
here. He is not one of them.
MELBER: Well, you know, Nia, we were going with Gabrielle union, not
the Tasmanian devil as the analogy tonight. But you can mix it up.
Joe, what do you say to that? And tell us a little about the entire
Mitch McConnell strategy because he did get beat in his back yard by the
tea partiers and a man named Jesse Benton and now he`s hired them. Tell us
GERTH: Yes. Jesse Benton is actually Rand Paul`s nephew in-law. And
he ran Rand Paul`s election campaign. Now, he did not run the primary
campaign. That was run by a different campaign manager. Jesse only came
in after Rand Paul had beaten Mitch McConnell in that race, Trey Grayson.
But McConnell`s got a problem in that. He likes to go hard after his
opponents. And the risk that he runs here if he goes too hard after Matt
Bevin`s, if he attacks too much, then he`s going to turn off all these tea
partier -- all these tea party candidates that he is going to need to come
back and vote for him in November if he escapes Bevin`s in the primary.
MELBER: Joe, a lot of people think of this as a red state. We have
been calling it that tonight. But in fact, the registration numbers tell a
slightly different story, even if they may be antiquated. Unpack that for
us, that you have 1.6 million registered Democrats and only a million
registered Republicans. As they say on "Saturday Night Live," what`s up
GERTH: Well, the thing you`ve got to know about Kentucky is it`s a
very conservative state, and so our Democrats here are very conservative.
While Kentucky is a red state in federal elections, we have traditionally
been a blue state in state-wide elections. Right now, among our state-wide
office holders there is only one Republican in the bunch, but then almost
our entire congressional delegation is Republican.
MELBER: Nia, last question to you. Has Washington and specifically
the Washington Republican caucus noticed this challenge yet?
HENDERSON: You know, I think they have. And I think we`ll have a
similar situation that we have seen in Wyoming with all of the sort of
establishment Republicans closing ranks around Mitch McConnell. I mean, he
is obviously a very high-ranking Republican. And they worry that you would
have a similar situation where candidates have been knocked off and then a
tea party challenger will come in there and be not as strong in the
MELBER: And you know, that`s an interesting point because part of
what you have in Washington is this feeling that there`s always the fear of
these tea party challenges. Some have argued that`s overblown. There
seems to be little doubt, though, that if you are looking at a powerful
Republican in the Senate and he`s facing this and we`re hearing here from
Kentucky that could be real, maybe they`re not so fearful after all. Maybe
they have something to really be worried about.
I want to thank Nia-Malika Henderson and Joe Gerth, both, for joining
HENDERSON: Thank you, Ari.
GERTH: Thank you.
MELBER: That is "The Last Word."
I am Ari Melber, as you may have heard from tonight. We have Lawrence
O`Donnell back in the chair tomorrow. So make sure to come back and see
And if you want to catch more of me, if that`s something you`re
interested in, watch "the Cycle" weekdays at 3:00 p.m. eastern on MSNBC or
follow me on twitter @arimelber on the twitter machine.
Chris Hayes is up next. Thank you.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES: Good evening, from
New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Tonight on "All In," there are a few places in this world where when a
baby is born that child`s life path is all but predetermined. One of those
places was behind this door in London and another is in any of the dark
areas of this map. We`re going to talk about both of those places tonight.
Also coming up, if I gave you 435 guesses, I wonder if you could name
the Congress person being called the most effective U.S. representative.
That representative will be my guest.
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