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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  November 29, 2011 12:00am-12:30am PST

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tavis: good evening. i am tavis smiley. a conversation with former dnc chair howard dean on the collapse of the super committee and its impact. the failure sets up a clear-cut debate on the role of government between president obama and his eventual challenger. also ralph fiennes is here. out with a new film called "corialanus". more on the way come january. we're glad you joined us. howard dean and ralph fiennes coming up right now. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all
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know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. and by contributions to your pbs station by viewers like you. thank you. >> howard dean was a candidate himself for the presidency in 2000 for joining us tonight from burlington, vermont. always good to have you on this program. so much to talk about. is the failure of this super
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committee a good thing or bad thing? >> given where it was headed it is a good thing. it would have been nice if they made reasonable compromises but reasonable this is not in the great swing vocabulary. it is probably a good thing. you will see a lot of scoring in congress and i hope that -- the president makes good on his promise. tavis: loder bad for the president? >> it underlines the fact that the president is trying to get stuff done and congress is trying to stop him from doing it. mitch mcconnell reminds everyone every day he thinks his only job is to make sure the president is a one-term president. it strikes me as fairly partisan. i think he will win reelection. he has had a terribly rough four years because the republicans have shown themselves and confident. they are incompetent. if they cannot run congress to cannot trust them to run the country. tavis: for those of you who will
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see that, you made on youtube and suggest howard dean is another example of the instability in washington as the former chair of the dnc and former governor, calling members of congress and company, your response to that in advance the careers -- of the criticism? >> 91% agree. 9% of the favorability of congress. we have to get a new congress and get them out of their and get people who want to do good for the country. tavis: while you are being partisan -- how do you respond that they did not want to compromise? the democrats drew their line in the sand and if you want to resolve this issue, simpson polls give us a way out. no one wants to recommend -- follows the recommendation. follow theirt want to
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recommendations. why lay the blame at the democrats? >> what happened is the republicans in the committee put taxes on the table. which was the key to opening the door for democrats to do entitlement reform. that republican waupaca said now. they just said yes sir and that was the end of the deal. that is what happened. you can blame the democrats if you want to. i am sure they're not perfect. we know who has been holding up everything for two years and i believe the president will win a resounding victory as a result. you cannot trust republicans with your money. they ran up the deficits and they will not deal with them. tavis: the truth is we all know none of the leaders got involved. john boehner did not get involved, harry reid did not get involved. i suspect knowing how washington works they were involved in
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advising and consenting and doing play-by-play leaded night but they did not publicly get involved in these conversations. the white house stayed away for the leaders knowing how important this issue is to stay away from this work. was that a good thing, was that a smart choice? >> that is being little unfair. i had seen reports that they sat down and try to make this work. the president wants jobs. congress has done nothing about jobs. the republicans have no jobs planned. he is being the president and went to asia and spent 10 days with people who can help us create jobs by buying our stuff, that is the sensible thing to do. i reject that criticism. i do think the president is doing what he is supposed to do and john boehner and harry reid did what they could do. the problem is john boehner who i think has potential as a good speaker cannot control his caucus. he is afraid of the members of the tea party and that is the problem with the republican party is. it cannot allow people who are afraid of their own base.
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that is where the republicans are. tavis: you said three times the president will win. he will win in part because his campaign strategy as we know is going to be one of running against a do nothing congress. well that message sell? >> it worked for have read -- harry truman. people want change. this will be a choice. whoever the republicans nominate will have a record of running up enormous deficits. trying to blame obama for but the worst thing that will have to deal with is this side here. they thought it was more important for them to try to win the election and then it was to do something good for the country. the president will be effective in hammering home, he already has been. he has not been a great campaigner during his time. there have been plenty i disagree with that since the jobs bill, it is, we cannot wait and he is doing things he has the power to do and pass this bill. those things the american people
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understand. if you look at the polling, the president would win reelection. he went states like ohio and florida and that is tough. tavis: the president gave his no detour speech, he suggested the super committee has failed in a super way. that these automatic cuts that are supposed to kick in are going to kick in. he suggested there would be no detours, we will go by the letter of the lot. i raise that because the president more times and i can count has said he will not do this. i am not going to do this. i will not do this and get later on, he compromises and capitulates, he caves. why should i believe it this time? this is a lot of the same and he meant what he said, no detour is? >> if he sticks to his word, i agree he has not always done that as well as we like, the deficit is solved. the tax cuts expire of their
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around at the end of 2012. this would cut another $1.20 trillion at of the deficit and most of the problem would be solved. 60% of the deficit is caused by the bush tax cuts. they expire and this other thing goes into affect. the president's deficit problem is solved. i believe he is serious. it is true that he many times in the health-care bill he has drawn a line in the sand and then it got erased and he backed off. this has been going on for two or three months. he is in campaign mode. you have to stand up for you believe that he has done that with that job speech. >> i do not think i miss reading this. the flip side of standing by the no detours approach is that when these automatic cuts start to kick in, they do not kick in until 2013 so congress put this
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of or shortly. i do not want to sit wisely. in a manipulative way. cutting -- putting these cuts off till 2013. i suspect it will become a major issue they could not figure out something and the public starts to understand what happens when these cuts kick in. the president can say no detour is but when his base ends of being the ones most impacted by these cuts, are they going to stand behind him? >> that will not stand. 2% cuts across the board for medicaid, medical or -- medicare providers, it is not out of the benefit packages. that is tough. but it is not the democratic base. the other half of the cuts is coming from a defense cut. nobody has cut defense for a long time. defense has not been looked at for 25 years in a serious way.
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these cuts are tough. leon panetta said we cannot -- we can do this. this is doable? there are a bunch of weapon systems that bob gates wanted to get rid of and they are. we need to get out of afghanistan and we are on our way out of korea -- iraq. these are global and the president is right to stand by them. is this a better deal than the committee would have gotten? it is a better deal for the american people. tavis: looked me in the eye and tell me earnestly that you believe that defense is in fact after all is said and done, going to get cut. governor? >> it better. if it does not we're not doing our job. tavis: but will it? >> i do not know. if congress people have a way of weaseling out of stuff that the last minute the defense has not been looked at for a long time and there is a lot of fat that needs to get cut. the defense contracts are smart.
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there is defense jobs based in 430 at a 435 districts. these are automatic. if the president is tough, we will get these done and the president will go down as someone who made a difference. he -- if he caves in, we have not gain anything. this is up to the president. congress has made itself irrelevant. that might not be a bad thing. tavis: a tough question, maybe not. to ask you with 35 seconds to go, your assessment of what is happening at the moment. your sense of what is happening on the republican side with regard to who their nominee will be against mr. obama? >> it looks like it will be a two-person race. it looks like newt gingrich is the last person standing beside mitt romney. it will be a fascinating race. i do not know what will happen. the tea party will not have a
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big effect but it has on the primary -- republican primary. if i were to make a prediction it would not be any good for more than 24 hours. tavis: in 10 seconds, barney frank announcing he will retire. how does that hurt the democrats to have a major leaders to decide? >> it hurts because he is knowledgeable about the banking and finance industry. it is tough when someone who knows a lot leave congress. he has been a great leader for the whole country, not just for the democrats. tavis: always good to have you on this program. next, after -- actor ralph fiennes. pleased to welcome ralph fiennes. he has starred in some any notable projects. his latest is "corialanus". the movie opens in december in
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select cities. many more on the way in january. here are some scenes from "corialanus". >> corialanus. >> my lord and husband. >> you are a traitor to the people. >> cal me traitor? >> ♪ [heartbeat] >> i will fight against my country. tavis: you obviously believe in this, you directed and starred
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and produced it. what made you think that it would work cinematically? >> i was in a production 11 years ago. it wormed its way into me as an idea for a movie. it is a politically provocative play. it is against the backdrop of economic uncertainty as there is work, the people are unhappy. it is about the crisis of authority which i think we are witnessing everywhere. the dramatic stakes that shakespeare proposes with his confrontational protagonist, he is a warrior who has an over contempt for the people. he is a brave soldier. actually in the course of the story, you come to see he has been conditioned and set up by his mother. you have this political thriller leading to a mother-son of greek tragic moment. the umbilical moment. that is -- has always moved me
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profiled one i have seen it. it is at that moment his humanity cracks open. tavis: you started to answer this. what is it to your mind about shakespeare's work that still makes it so relevant now? that allows you to do something like this? >> every drama of shakespeare's, the human drama is as present as ever. the comedies and histories, mothers, fathers, sons, husbands, wives, fathers, daughters, brothers, lovers. he seems to have had this extraordinary understanding of the infinite complexities of human beings and could see them come meekly, tragically, -- comedically and tragedy. there is always this connection
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to what goes on. the big challenges, does his language work for us today? there is no question, the stories do. adapted this. the string -- screenwriter. he is a lover of six year. i pitched it to him, a contemporary version of "corialanus" set today. he -- the question was, do we keep the original dialogue, or do we we write it? we felt that we keep it. i have always loved in the theater, there have been modern dress productions where you have close like we're wearing an people speaking shakespeare's words, i love that. it is exciting.
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for some people, some people want to see their shakespeare in jacobean dress. i wanted our audience to connect immediately with the world in the film. tavis: how you contemporize "corialanus"? tavis: we talked about held those would -- where these events will happen. the air meeting, there is a meeting of unhappy citizens, we have to get rid of coriolanus. meeting secretly to see we have to take to the streets. one of the thrills of how you would adapt a film is -- the
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people are walking, protesting on the street. people carrying sticks, staves, bits of iron, in the original shakespeare, they're complaining about bread, not enough bread. they're going to the central grain depot. there are amazings silos. today -- if this was today, where would it be? tavis: for those not familiar, we are wrestling with you -- his humanity in which waves -- what way? >> you first meet him as extreme soldier. you first meet him as confronting the crowd with contempt. you see him in a war situation. i think he is defined by his
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military qualities and then you understand where he is from and to meet his mother, played by vanessa redgrave. tavis: out of a controlling mother. >> her controllingness kind of creeps up on you, i think. i think he is a man somehow emotionally stunted. he is fully himself on the field of battle. i also think of coriolanus feels most complete when he is fighting. in fact, the area of any kind of intimacy possible for him with a man he is fighting against which his enemy -- is his enemy. he looks down emotionally. at the end of the story, his mother confronts him. it is at that moment when his
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humanity comes out. he breaks down. i am giving it away. tavis: you have not. >> he is the enemy. to go back to your question, how to adapt it? there is rome and rome is at war. how do you set this up? shakespeare does not give you any set up, he says we're going to work. we tried to use news footage. there is a border conflict. jerry is the leader of a group on the borders of the roman territory. maybe they want to secede from roman rule. he is their leader. we talked about people like chair ibarra -- che guevara,
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seceding from controlling governments. these two men are locked in an enmity, this intense obsession with wanting to fight each other has a flip side to it where they actually have an attraction for each other. there's no question. there is a, erotic element in this relationship between the two. tavis: what do you think the audience is for this film? >> i would like to be a broad audience. i'm hoping this is a dynamic political thriller that has a familial situation at the heart of it. there must be an audience of shakespeare lovers who will come but i am hoping that the drama of it, the momentum of it
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will appeal to people. the reason the -- i wanted to make it, it is a story for today. a shows the continual this function in government all the time. we're tribes always at war, we are parties always at work, always maneuvering, a grouping into blocks of opposition. it is a pattern that continues. it doesakespeare's -- not have a great deal of hope in it, that is for sure. tavis: i am glad you went there. to my mind, i am not sure -- it is relevant in one sense, but i am not sure it gives us a way forward. i am not sure that there is much said to us about how to stop the cycle that you referenced that we're always on.
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>> you're right. i think for me it is a tragedy. he is a difficult, tragic protagonist, no question. but i think with the tragedy, you witnessed the demise of a person and it is the witnessing that is the thing that you are asked to do. tavis: sometimes the tragedy is -- >> there is not a message of hope. this is how we solved the world's problems. you reflect on it and the tragedy is -- the best responses i have had, people say, i did not know what to say. i have no words. i've seen a good try to performance, that is what i feel. i feel the pity of our condition. in shakespeare -- in his later
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work, he got where he was showing us the kind of the pain and pity of who we are. it is the case in king lear, to some extent in hamlet. definitely in trellis and cressida. he was showing us a wasteland. there were huge gestures of hope but not in this play. tavis: that is what has always turned me on the shirt -- personally. shakespeare challenges us with each of his works to coincide. you sit there, whoever told you afterward, that is what shakespeare does. you have to sit and marinate and wrestle internally. >> exactly. tavis: i look forward to seeing it. >> this play, the tempest on stage, and has a different ending. one of forgiveness and
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reckoning. but a different conclusion altogether. tavis: i look forward to seeing this on the big screen. check this out, i think you'll like it. it is called "corialanus". stars anddirected by and produced by ralph fiennes. i am sure he would like to know what you think. it is "corialanus". that is our show. see you next time. thanks for watching. and as always, keep the faith. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with the epa whistle-blower who paved the way for whistle-blower protection. that is next time. we will see you then. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or
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boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station by viewers like you. thank you. 
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