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tv   Fareed Zakaria GPS  CNN  December 19, 2021 10:00am-11:00am PST

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but playing small. of course, i have concern about us not keeping our promises. >> congresswoman ayanna pressley, thank you very much for joining us. we want to wish you and your family a very merry season. stay staef this holiday season. fareed zakaria starts right now. this is gps the global public square. welcome to all of you in the united states and around the world. i'm fareed zakaria. we'll start this program with the 2016 democratic nominee for president, hillary rodham clinton. i'll ask her about the political battles in america -- >> our democracy is under continuing assault. >> -- and the possibility that russia may go to war. all of that and much more. then, bombshells from israel. former top officials now revealing they think getting out of the iran deal was a major mistake.
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why now? i'll talk with israeli journalist anshel pfeffer. also, george iii was the monarch who lost the british colonies in a bloody war. but andrews tells us the king was much misunderstood, not mad or tyrannical. but first here's "my take." i have to confess i find joe biden's unpopularity puzzling. he's rounding out the first year in the white house with the lowest end-of-first-year approval ratings than any elected president in modern times with the exception of donald trump. why is it? biden is a genial, likable person. many of his policies are possible, even some with republican support. the country is doing reasonably well, economically with measures like unemployment declining, stock market rising and interest
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rates demonstrate. so why did the latest cnn average of the polls have him at just 45%? one has to remember that biden is something of an accidental president. he got elected for two reasons, neither of which has much to do with his personal popularity. first, barack obama chose him as vice president, which instantly elevated him in the democratic field. second, donald trump. had these two factors not been present, it's difficult to imagine biden in the white house. to put this another way, the previous two times biden ran for president, he did not do well. his first attempt in 1987 ended after 3 1/2 months with an abrupt withdrawal but even before that, he was polling well behind in the democratic field. in the second run he stayed in longer but his poll numbers were abysmal. a poll released about a month before he dropped out in january
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2008 had him about 4% of the registered democrats and his showing in the iowa caucuses were under 1%. successful democratic presidents usually fit one of two patterns. either they're charismatic outsiders who energize the country like john f. kennedy or barack obama, or they're southerners who manage to bridge the divide between north and south and all of that represents, like lyndon johnson and jimmy carter. bill clinton combined both, which might explain his success, achieving the highest average approval ratings for a democrat since john kennedy. clinton is technically tied with johnson, whose rating in his first few years after kennedy's assassination was sky high but plummeted in the latter part of his tenure. biden fits neither of these models and doesn't have enormous reserves of popularity and political capital. perhaps for that reason he
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struggled to inspire or unite the party and the country. now, to be fair, it's much harder for any president to do that in today's polarized environment. no democrat and no republican can expect to get much more than half the country's approval, a different world from one not so long ago in which obama and george h.w. bush both gained stratospheric numbers for a time. perhaps biden's drop from 46% from 64% is from the weight in capital. but the timing of his slide of popularity, summer of 2020, coincided with the withdrawal of afghanistan, rise of delta and onset of inflation. it's difficult to parse which was most important, but they seem to collectively have had the effect of telling americans that life was not back to normal. in a recent "new york times"
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article, nate cohn explains the flaws behind the assumption that if biden's programs are popular, so should be the president. such thinking is predicated on the existence of an electorate that is carefully studying the various proposals out there, weighing the evidence about each one, choosing carefully and supporting the politician who backs their favorite bills. this may be how some people who make political judgment, specifically those who catch cable news, follow opinion column, vote in primaries and are active on twitter. but all of those people represent a small minority of voters. as cohn notes, voters, by which he means general voters, seem to reward presidents for presiding over peace and prosperity. in a word, normalcy. to the extent that things do seem to be generally going well, voters tend to look favorably on the president. to the except they don't, they tend to be disillusioned with the white house. now, the best summary of the
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current situation would be it's complicated. the world is largely at peace but americans can see the country is no longer the sole superpower. the afghanistan withdrawal was an ugly reminder of that fact. growth is coming back fast, but restarting the global economy after a long period of induced paralysis has caused huge logjams and hiccups for a variety of reasons, some of which can be blamed on biden, we are seeing more inflation than in decades, and that has often weighed on presidential approval rating. violent crime was up nationwide in 2020. and the pandemic has not ended with a bang but rather continues to wax and wane, causing new anxieties just when you thought it was safe to get back to normal life. presidents often get rewarded for being around in good times, whether they caused them or not.
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in joe biden's case, he has mostly handled his job with intelligence and decency, but he's paying the price for the complicated time we are living through. go to for a link to my "washington post" column this week. and let's get started. ♪ let's get right into it with hillary rodham clinton. in addition to being a former presidential candidate, former senator and former secretary of state, she's now a published novelist. her book written with louise penny is "state of terror." welcome, madam secretary. >> thank you, fareed. it's always good to be with you. >> we're going to get to the book and the word, but i have to ask you, since we have you here, you follow these things very closely, and i think people would want to know, what lesson did you take from the recent elections that took place in virginia and in new jersey?
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both people you campaigned for, terry mcauliffe you have known for years and years. it seemed that those -- the republicans in both cases were able to get a lot of people to vote for them who had voted for joe biden over donald trump. >> you know, fareed, there's a lot of frustration in the country right now. in fact, i read the opinion piece that you recently wrote about why is joe biden not more popular since he's actually accomplished quite a bit. and i think in it you outlined some of the reasons, the return of covid, the inflationary pressures that people are feeling, the kind of just discontent about getting back to normalcy. when can we have our lives back? and i think in both virginia and the new jersey cases, because,
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look at what phil murphy had accomplished as governor. he had an incredibly effective agenda that he got through the legislature. he ran the covid response really well. terry had an excellent record when he was governor before, but people are just in a mood of being unsettled and uncertain. there were specific issues in both states that i think provided an opportunity to mobilize against the incumbents because, in effect, terry was viewed as an incumbent as well. so i think there are lessons to be taken from it. but the larger issue, which you addressed in your op-ed piece, is one that the whole country should be paying attention to. you know, people are really frustrated and they're tired. look, i feel the same way. how much longer will this go on? of course, if we had done more earlier and if we would do more now to deal with the threat that the virus continues to pose,
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we've got 1,200 people dying a day, if we would do more, but people are divided over that. so i think there are lessons but i think the mood is national, not just limited to two states. >> but the core issue in some ways is should the party be more -- appealing more to the centrist voters? there's lots of people, you know -- i talk to democrats who feel that the party is moving too far left, that the voters you're trying to get are in the center. how would you address that challenge? >> i think you need to meet people where they are. and i don't know that you can label that. but if you have been a mom at home with kids since the start of this pandemic and school's been canceled and they've been trying to learn remotely and then you get them back to school and then it gets canceled again and they're too young to get vaccines and all of a sudden
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they are -- just going through the day-to-day decision making -- i focus on women, because women are the swing voters primarily in elections. it's been a really tough time. if you lost your job, if your hours were cut back, if you can't afford to go back because you don't have childcare or childcare is too expensive. everything joe biden is trying to address goes to the heart of the challenges people are facing rather than characterizing them left, right or center. it's just real life, real life kitchen table, get up in the morning and try to figure out how you're going to make decisions politics. and i really wish that my party, our party, would do a better job of really zeroing in on these day-to-day concerns. first of all, acknowledge them. we can't talk our way out of the fact that people were really disappointed this omicron virus
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is back. talk our way out of inflation is real, the fed is about to address it. kind of deal with people with where they are and say we know there are challenges. we've addressed a lot of people. we've gotten a lot of people vaccinated, we've dealt with income, the bill and infrastructure support and things we know that will make life better but level with people and deal with where they are right now. next on "gps," bill clinton faced a political backlash early in his first term, as did barack obama, and now joe biden. is this a trend for democrats? i'll ask former secretary of state hillary clinton. slash... and this is the basement slash panic room. maybe what your family needs is a vacation home slash vacation home. find yours on the vrbo app. i brought in ensure max protein, with thirty grams of protein. those who tried me felt more energy in just two weeks!
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do you think terry mcauliffe should have not gotten into the discussion about critical race theory and should have stayed on the kind of issues you're talking about? eric adams did just that, stayed focus on the core economic and law-and-order issues and core issues? >> as you well know, fareed, eric adams was not considered a left candidate. he was considered certainly by new york city's standards, a centrist candidate, as was katherine garcia who finished second. they did exactly what i'm talking about, if people are all of a sudden worried because the pandemic created so much uncertainty, and, yes, we've got crime in some places and lost
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jobs and businesses closing, we have all of this going on, i thought eric adams did a really good job staying focused on that. i think eric gives people a chance to see what works, even in a very liberal city like new york. the millions of people who live here get up every day facing a lot of the same challenges that people face anywhere in our country, and i think they want leaders that pay attention and deliver for them. i will say this, the right, far right, trump right, whatever you want to call it, they do a really good job scaring people and making people afraid. they don't deliver for people, except, i guess, in an emotional way when people are frustrated, they feed conspiracy theories, they make up stuff, but they don't deliver for people. they don't take care of people. look at what's happening now, all of these republicans who voted against the infrastructure bill, voted against the american recovery bill that president biden got done, all of a sudden they're claiming credit. i was smiling at one of the republican governors saying we
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still hate the bill but we're sure going to take the money. let's hold them up to the standards of hypocrisy and unperformance that they should be held to and do a better job drawing those contrasts. >> you know, i wonder, is there a pattern here in terms of democratic presidents and the backlash? so i look at president clinton, he comes into office, passes the assault weapons ban, tries to pass your health care reform package, big backlash. house goes to republicans. with obama, obamacare, big backlash, house goes to the republicans. what lesson do you take from that? just you might as well do the big thing you're trying to do? i'm imagining president biden wondering about this right now, just better to push for the big thing, get these bills passed, get the next one passed and just deal with the backlash? or is there a way to not trigger
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that backlash? >> look, i would hope there is a way not to trigger the backlash, but the two examples you gave are good ones because, you know, after getting an incredible legislative agenda through in his first two years, my husband was re-elected four years later, and the same with president obama. he pushed through stimulus, pushed through, and tried for more, got the affordable care act. and in both cases, as you said, the midterm elections they both suffered politically but they came back and won. bill became the first democratic president to be elected to two terms since franklin roosevelt. and obviously, president obama equally had a big positive reaction when he ran again. so, yes, our two last democratic presidents got things done. maybe they could have done a
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better job, and i think both of them would acknowledge this, in trying to explain what they were doing. but the effects of both of their big reforms, in bill's case dealing with deficit reduction, raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, something we haven't seen recently, obviously the assault weapons ban, with president obama we know, welcome effects and all, the effects were not seen as quickly as the opposition could marshal really exaggerated claims against both of them. it's a matter of substance. get the substance done. i would certainly urge the president -- i don't think he needs urging -- to keep working on what he's trying to accomplish with the social safety net, with voting rights. and then try to figure out how to do a better job to give a narrative to people so they're not confused and, frankly, you know, affected by the propaganda coming from the political opposition. >> stay with us, secretary
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we are back here on "gps" talking to the former secretary of state, former senator, former presidential candidate hillary clinton. madam secretary, when you look at the situation between russia and ukraine, how worried are you, and more importantly, what can president biden do to deter russia? >> i think that, you know, putin is following the old adage from
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lenin, you take the bayonet and you push through skin and muscle until you hit bone. and i think what he is doing, having taken over two parts of georgia, having taken crimea from ukraine earlier, is seeing how far he can get. i think what not only the united states under president biden but our nato allies and others are making very clear to putin is that would be not only incredibly dangerous for him, but that it would trigger more and more military aid to ukraine. we are now selling much more military equipment, more advanced weaponry to ukraine so they can try to match and try to help defend themselves. we are also putting forth the threat -- which i think is real -- of incredibly -- not
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just incredibly strict sanctions, because people now wonder, well, sanctions, what does that mean? the kind of sanctions that i think the administration and our allies in europe are thinking about, are not only state sanctions but personal sanctions. we know a lot about putin and his oligarchs. and i think the administration understands that they have to make it very clear to vladimir putin that there will be not just a cost for russia, but a cost for him and the people who basically prop him up and the financial, you know, programs that he benefits from. but this is a -- it's kind of a game of chicken right now, fareed. i know putin is looking for the united states and nato to say we will never, ever, ever give ukraine the chance to be in the european union, to be in nato. that's -- that's a bridge too far. if we believe in sovereignty and
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democracy and people being able to chart their own futures, i think that would be giving away a lot. so this is going to be high-stakes diplomacy. i do think there are a number of retaliatory measures in addition to credible threats that the administration can and is making right now. >> let's talk about the other great power in the room as it were, china. the administration has announced a diplomatic boycott of the beijing olympics. i'm wondering -- what i'm struck by is there are few countries who joined in, australia, canada, uk. but the vast majority have not. i wonder what you think of this, because it does politicize the olympics in a way that even during the cold war, the u.s. and soviet union went to each other's olympics. is it worth it?
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how should one think about it? >> well, back in 1980, as you remember, president carter pulled the entire american olympic team out of the olympics that were to be held in the then-soviet union, and it was -- it was a real blow to all of our athletes who have practiced and prepared for those events. so what the biden administration is doing is saying a diplomatic boycott so you will not see pictures of the president or vice president or secretary of state sitting in the stands next to chinese officials, you know, cheering. you won't get that kind of image. remember, the last time the olympics were in china, so we all know it's symbolic but at least it's something of a reputational hit on the chinese. obviously, what we have to do
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with china is so much bigger than any kind of diplomatic boycott of their hosting the olympics. we need a bigger political strategic understanding of what china is up to. i know the people inside the biden administration are trying to do that because trump's very narrow trade and tariff kind of approach was just missing the picture of what's happening in the south china sea, what's happening throughout central and south asia, what's happening across africa and latin america. that's what the united states needs to be paying attention to. >> i got to ask you about your book, madam secretary, before i let you go. what i want to ask you is this, it's gotten a lot of good reviews, but a lot of people say it is a thinly veiled attack on president trump. the one word that recurs in
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review after review is it's payback time for hillary clinton. do you feel that that's fair and do you feel the criticism you can't let go of the 2016 election is fair as manifested in this book? >> well, fareed, i do think our democracy is under continuing assault by the former president who masterminded a coup in the attack on our capitol, has continued to promote the false accusation that the election of 2020 was somehow rigged against him. i think he poses a real clear and present danger to the united states. and having lived through that presidency, when it came time to write a political thriller with my friend and collaborator louise penny, of course, i would draw from the reality we all have experience. it's a good thriller. i have loved the reviews.
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i have loved even more readers telling me about "state of terror" and what they loved about it, because the protagonist, which is kind of unusual for a thriller, are two women of a certain age, the secretary of state and her best friend. but it does involve afghanistan, and the last time i was with you was i think april 30th. we were talking about what was going to happen in afghanistan, and i said, i feared that it would possibly become a staging ground for attacks again. the book posits that. the book also talks about an internal coup attempt against the president who succeeded the former guy. so this is fiction. the characters are fictional. but i would be remiss if i were not basing it in reality. so i don't see it as anything other than a really good thriller with a great plot but also a cautionary tale about
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what we need to do to protect our democracy against those from within and without, who would try to literally take it away from us. >> i think viewers there sourced a little bit of your legendary preparation. i think the only interview i've ever done where you could remember and refer back to the substance of our last interview. hillary rodham clinton, pleasure to have you on. >> thanks so much, fareed. happy holidays! happy new year to everybody! >> thank you. next on "gps," important israelis are coming out of the woodwork to criticize bibi netanyahu for urging trump to pull out of the nuclear deal with iran. one called it a tragedy, another the worst strategic mistake in israel's history. why were they quiet and what's going on over there? when we come back. don't forget if you miss a show go to for a link to my itunes podcast. reen ♪
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i have read some remarkable quotes recently in a great "washington post" column by max boot. a former major general in the israeli defense forces told a journalist, netanyahu's efforts to persuade the administration to quit the nuclear agreement have turned out to be the worst strategic mistake in israel's history. a former head of mossad agreed, saying it was a mistake and strategy. a former foreign minister told my next guest looking at the policy in iran in the last decade, the main mistake was the withdrawal from the agreement. what exactly is happening in israel? joining me now is top israeli journalist anshel pfeffer, who
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writes for haaretz and "the economist." take us back through what was going on when bibi netanyahu was ferociously opposed to the iran deal, both in the obama presidency and then with trump when he urged him to get the americans to pull out. i think we all thought israel's security establishment was lockstep with him and seemingly bibi netanyahu seemed to present as such. what was the reality? >> well, netanyahu was israel's elected leader until six months ago, therefore, his position was israel's official position and whatever the thoughts and opinions there of the intelligence committee there had to fall behind him and be in step with his views. but we knew back in 2016 when
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the original iran deal was presented and votes done and finally signed, there were significant voices in the military establishment who i wouldn't say were crazy about the deal -- nobody thought it was a great deal. everybody saw it as a deal with netanyahu but didn't necessarily see it as terrible, historically as netanyahu defined. i think the defining view of the general and chiefs at the time was this isn't a great deal but at least it gives israel a moment, perhaps a bit more than that, to focus on other security challenges facing israel. the ten years in which iran would be under strict control -- wasn't focused. other places to change the move of the offense, and so on. so they didn't see it as such a
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bad thing at this point. >> so now you're hearing people saying that they thought the deal was -- that pulling out of the deals with a big mistake. why are they saying it now? >> first of all, those who were in uniform or other posts six years ago and now civilians, so they can speak out and say that, you know, they can voice their opinions without having to -- without having to resign or be fired for doing so. that's one reason. the other reason is i think with time even those who were in line with netanyahu's views in may 2018 when donald trump withdrew from the iran deal, i think a lot of them at that point thought that wasn't a good thing. even if they haven't been in favor of the deal originally. i think even those who are quite skeptical in 2015, by 2018, they saw the leader stumping was
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keeping iran in check militarily to the main parts of eastern development. and the moment trump withdrew from that, there was no plan b. the people would say, okay, you didn't like the iran deal but now there's no iran deal and there's chaos. there's nothing which can control iran and the alternative with trump we are seeing with netanyahu back presented in maximum sanctions wasn't seen by many at the time, certainly not now, a sufficient alternative to the various safeguards that were in the deal. >> if things were as they are now, with no bid, no return to the deal, is israel seriously considering military options against iran's nuclear program? >> the real question is does israel currently have a military option? ten years ago before the deal was achieved and when there was
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no -- no significant diplomacy even taking place, israel was preparing various military options to attack and even destroy or significantly degrade iran's nuclear instillation, that was at the time a very real option. but in recent years mr. netanyahu focused on closing the iran deal and imposing the maximum sanctions that the trump administration applied and the military option has not really been -- the resources, the planning haven't really been in place and in those things, and iran significantly widened its own nuclear network, underground, so the military option, if it even exists now is much less certain if it ever was -- it never was a certain option.
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it was always just a risk. and even ten years ago they were saying we can never take them out. we can only push them back two, three years. that option may not be there right now. so whether it's considered or not, i'm not sure it even exists in israel's arsenal. >> anshel, always a pleasure to have you on. thank you so much. >> thank you, fareed. next on "gps," america's last king, george iii, is widely ridiculed on stage and screen and on the page. but was he really a bad king, lunatic, a tyrant? one prominent historian says no when we come back. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ now, get new lower auto rates with allstate. because better protection costs a whole lot less. you're in good hands with allstate.
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a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! king george iii may be best known to most people these days as the man who said the wonderful line known from "hamilton". ♪ i will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love ♪ >> what we commonly hear about george is he was a tyrannical madman, unfit to be king. but our great friend the british historian andrew roberts has dug deeply into the documents and found many surprises. the resulting book is "the last
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king of america:the misunderstood reign of george iii" welcome. >> thank you. >> tell me first, why do you think we have this impression of george iii? it's not just hamilton. there was a movie i'm talking popular culture, the madness of king george. this is kind of a popular conception? >> very much, yes. exactly. and there isn't a day that goes by in america that some newspaper or website doesn't call him a dictator or tyrannical ruler. i think it comes primarily, of course, from the declaration of independence in which it said he was unfit to be the ruler of the free people. which i see very much as a brilliant and beautifully written shakespearean sublime two-thirds and the next third contains charges against the king, only two of which he was guilty of. >> you're right.
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one is surprised the first time, most of it is this litany of charges against him. what do you think are the most egregiously wrong charges? >> he's accused of things that happened after the revolution took place. there are a lot of things he's accused of that have been around for 150 years since the founding of the american colonies. there are some things like the bit about him taking people across the oceans for punishment, and when nobody was taken across any ocean at all. no american was taken across any ocean at all for punishment. so that's lot of padding. lawyer's padding. it's a propaganda document from a wartime. it's understandable by jefferson is trying to do that. however, the two key ones, the 17th charge about taxation and 22nd about parliament's veto rights over american legislation
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do justify the american revolution. >> so you think ultimately the revolution is justified? >> it was the right move for america in the 1770s. you had a burgeoning economy, as many book shops in philadelphia as in any other city in the empire and no outside french threat after the treaty of paris. so yes, it was the right time. but that doesn't mean that george iii was a tyrant. you know? that was not true. >> it's not just that he isn't a tyrant. he to you as an extraordinary -- >> her majesty the queen has put george's papers online now. the papers project. in it you find extraordinary things. when he was prince of wales, he was opposed to slavery. he writes us e says saying it
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needs to be held in exkrags. he never bought or sold a slave or owned a slave or invested in the companies that did that. and of course, he signed the legislation that abolished the slave trade and yet, he's constantly being seen as a lower moral plane. perhaps because of his mental illness, than the founding fathers. >> talk about the mental illness. >> well, that's a misunderstanding of the last 50 years. in fact, all the recent medical evidence pushes one to the conclusion, and i go into this in my preface, that it was, in fact, bipolar disorder type effective one, a form of manic depression. >> what do you think were his greatest achievements? >> i think possibly the monarchy. when you look at the queen today, you see somebody who like george iii was -- is financially
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prudent and personally frugal. and driven by a sense of duty and immensely hardworking. those come, i think, as much from george iii as from his granddaughter. >> do you think he was the beginning of the constitutional mon monarchy? >> yes. absolutely. he never vetoed parliamentary bill. he was a -- he revered the glorious revolution and the limited monarchy, and, of course, he only on one occasion ever installed a government that didn't have the majority supporting house of commons. >> what do you think of "hamilton" the play? >> i loved it. it's wonderful and historically incorrect. >> it's always a pleasure. come back soon. >> thank you. you're so kind. >> thank you for being part of our program this week. i'll see you next week.
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hi, everyone. thank you for joining me. we begin this hour with two major developing storying. first, a new warning today the highly transmissible omicron variant will take over this winter. dr. fauci telling cnn the country needs to brace for a tough few weeks to months ahead. president biden is set to address the nation on the increase in cases on tuesday. we're also following a major setback for the