tv Mc Laughlin Group PBS August 23, 2013 8:30pm-9:01pm PDT
from washington, "the mclaughlin group," the american original. for over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk. >> issue one. dream on. 50 years ago this month a baptist minister named martin luther king delivered what many believe to be the most inspirational speech in american oratory. dr. king's 1963 address came against the backdrop of the birmingham, alabama march against anti-black racism.
that toxic combination of legal segregation and second-class status for african-american citizens. the brilliance offing king's nonviolent protest movement was his combination of lofty, almost utopia ideals matched to concrete political goals. king supporters marched for the right to sit at a lunch counter, to swim in a de- segregated municipal pool, to pick any seat on a bus, or to attend an integrated school. that was then. this is now. reverend king would be amazed by the transformation over the past 50 years. today america has its first black president. >> i barack hussein obama do solemnly swear -- >> and african americans do routinely hold top posts like secretary of state, attorney general, national security advisor. top corporations like merck,
american express, mcdonald's and xerox have had or have now black ceo's. oprah winfrey is america's second black billionaire, following in the footsteps of publishing mogul robert l johnson. african americans are among the country's top sports stars and celebrities in fields one restricted by racing, swelling the ranks of black millionaires. yet in other ways america is far from king's dream. racial divides persist in income, educational achievement, and poverty. question, are we less conscious of race today than in 1963, more conscious of race today, or are things about the same? pat buchanan. >> i think we're probably more conscious right now, john, but i was at the march on washington. i was up there in the lincoln
memorial when dr. king gave that address. and it was a moment really when the cresting of the civil rights movement, it was right within the same year after oxford, mississippi, they had the violence down there to keep black students out. george wallace stood in the schoolhouse door. king was a march for jobs and freedom but that didn't produce the civil rights accident. what produced it, john, was the death of john f. kennedy a couple months later when he was assassinated and linden johnson's presidency and building on that movement to pass the civil rights act, and then selma produced the voting rights act. but let me say this john. there was a downside in that decade, too. snick was no longer led by john lewis but h rap brown and stokley carmichael. you had the riots in watts in '65. dr. king was shot, a hundred cities burned, including washington, d.c. i was in
nixon's campaign. the whole issue was law and order in america, and at one point nixon and wallace together had almost 70% of the national vote. >> eleanor. >> well, that was quite a trip through history, thank you. but nixon and wallace together culminate in the southern strategy where you take political exploitation of the plight, if you will, of blacks in the south, and when lyndon johnson signed the civil rights bill he said democrats have lost the south for generations, probably more than one generation. so i think we look back, some of the egregious violations against african americans in this country have been resolved. but there are lots more, maybe more subtle inequality that continues. and that initial march, i think it was for jobs and freedom, it was also for jobs and justice. and jobs and justice are the two areas where the most disparity exists between whites
and blacks. and when we recreate the march next week in washington you will have three presidents there, all democrats. i'm sorry president bush, one of at the present time bushes isn't going to be on that stage because this really shouldn't be a democrat versus republican issue. it's an issue for all americans. >> the question was are we less conscious of race today than in 1963, more conscious of race, or are things about the same. so we're talking about race, not just talking about blacks and lights. so if you're measuring by race as an indication, we're more race conscious today. in 1960 the census bureau measured four races plus other. in 2010 it measured 14 categories plus others. so race consciousness -- >> in many ways we're less race conscious. we have to be because more people have diverse backgrounds. >> right. >> we've got more intermarriage, and i think most people celebrate that diversity. >> what do you think?
is it a result of diversity of population, race conscious sentence. >> i think we have learned to live together a lot better than we were doing at that point. i also happened to be there, and it was an inspiring moment. >> was it virtue on our part? >> i think it's that more and more americans understand what america is about, a land of equal opportunity, and it's dramatically improved since those days so i think it is a huge step forward frankly. i feel there is much more mobility in this society, upward mobility in this society, much more acceptance of people of different ethnic backgrounds, different racial backgrounds. i think it's all to the good. i'm not saying it's perfect. we still have a ways to go but i think we've made great progress knew. the census measures irish american, italian-american, african-american, et cetera, et cetera. does that dilute the overconsciousness of black versus white? >> it doesn't dilute it.
talking to me, as an african- american what i will tell you, the census saying african- american or irish american or scottish american, whatever, it doesn't matter. when i walk down the street and someone sees me the first thing they are going to see is a black woman. if they look automatic or you, they're not going to say, there's a jewish american, there's an irish american. you see race and we identify with it. and quite frankly, the election of barack obama i think was one of the greatest political events i will ever see in my lifetime but the country has become more race conscious in terms of color, and in terms of ethnicity since he was elected. the national debate on race in light of the jury verdict in the trayvon martin case absolutely demonstrated it. our discussions about immigration refinancial and the place of hispanics in american culture absolutely non straight that when it comes to race, when it comes to ethnicity and people of color we have a long way to go. are black men lynched every day
like they were in 1963 -- in the 1960's and 1950s? no. is alabama still bomb nothing no. so many of us, myself included, still beef in america's promise but we've got a promise. >> are you a gentleman may can american -- jamaican american? >> i consider myself an african- american. >> i'm an irish american. >> john you're confusing. >> german irish american. >> you are confusing ethnicity and race. >> oh, i am? >> whether irish or polish, danish, race is a cat gear. >> what's ethnicity? >> ethnicity is irish or german. >> she's a gentleman may couldn american. >> she's black. or asian or hispanics, basically whites and blacks, i'm inclined to agree, there is greater and greater awareness of the issue of race and
greater and greater contentiousness because quite frankly whites are no longer 90% of the population, the deem inapt group. so there's tremendous amounts of competition and conflict. it's risen up increasingly since the trayvon martin thing, i agree with you. unfortunately as we are all minorities i don't think it's going to -- >> but the contentiousness is really among a rather small group, i think of white americans who feel like their position in the society is being threatened. the younger people, younger white americans do not look at it that way. they look at this as a multicolored world that they've been born into, and they're okay with it. >> the older americans were once younger. >> but older americans have a shorter trajectory, sorry to pell you, pat. >> which two groups does gal lop survey rank at the bottom in terms of relations? >> i would say blacks and hispanics is one of those two groups. >> 68% say the relationship is very or somewhat good.
a full 19% below how the same poll respondents rate the relationship between whites and asians. >> look, if we've gotten to a point in time which we saw in the last election, more recently we're states like texas and north carolina doing everything they can to suppress the vote of african americans and hispanics we've got a race problem. obviously if you look at that poll it's telling what you say we already know. there are people in power, particularly in the south, in the red states that feel that people of color are taking something from them that they believe inherently belongs to them. >> people don't -- people don't give up power easily. >> do you think college admission should be based on diversity? >> yeah, i mean, i think lots of factors go into diversity. race can be one of them. >> you are in the minority. only 28%. >> should be based on excellence, john. >> the supreme court agrees with me. >> just like the nfl. whoever is the best player plays. and whoever does best
academically should be advanced. >> the question i have, one of the things i always say, because i think you can measure diversity in a lot of ways but i think there's an argument to be said the greatest affirmative action program in the country is being born white. there is a natural assumption when you are applying 20 in stie tiewtionz of higher education that you are excellent or you are more superb or more brilliant. >> wait until you hear this. >> the only group made against legally in america. >> wait until you hear this piercing question. ready? >> i'm ready. >> exit question. are attitudes lagging behind the social reality when it comes to the transformation of american society since reverend king's speech? >> things are far, far better in terms of everybody's economic uplift. all boats have risen. but what michelle said is correct. there's a real recognition and a growing intensity and contentiousness i think of feelings between the races in
the last five years. >> and you are right to the extent but those feelings of intensity are really a very small group of people who feel that they somehow have lost that the advance of minorities in this country is somehow caused them to lose something. most people do in the feel that way. >> more progress has been made than people realize, yes or no? >> i'd go for yes, sure, why not. >> yes, absolutely. >> the president of the united states of america is a black man. so the answer is absolutely yes. >> the answer is yes. issue two. obama and the nsa overhaul. >> i wanted to ask you about your evolution on the surveillance issues, even as recently as june you said that these -- the process was such that people should be comfortable with it, and now you are saying -- you are making these reforms and people should be comfortable with those. so why should the public trust you on this issue and why did you change your position multiple times? >> well, i think it's important
to say -- i haven't ainvolved in my assessment of the actual programs. in light of thing changed environment where a whole set of questions have been raised, some in the most sensationalized manner possible, where these leaks are released drip by drip, one a week, to kind of maximize attention, and see if they can catch us at some imprecision on something. in light of that, it makes sense for us to go ahead, lay out what exactly we're doing, have a discussion with congress, have a discussion with industry, which is also impacted by this have a discussion with the civil libertarians and see, can we do this bert. >> that was president obama
facing skeptical questions about his four-point reforms he announced regarding the national security agency. and his domestic surveillance program. edward snowden the nsa ex- insider revealed much about how the nsa conducts its espionage. so president obama has offered these four reforms. one, the 2001 patriot act, mainly section 215 of the act which the nsa interprets as giving it its power to monitor internet and phone records of americans. work with congress for improved oversight of section 215 and the patriot, a debating and discussing it. two, foreign intelligence surveillance act. revise the act to require that a civil liberties advocate
participate in court proceedings when a secret surveillance warrant is issued. three, intelligence agency transparency. the nsa and agencies like it should be more candid with the public about ongoing domestic surveillance. four, outside expert review. a panel of experts currently in power to review the impact of technology on security, on privacy, and on foreign policy, then issue its interim report on this technology by october and a final report by december. question, how would you describe president obama's change of position since june when he said, quote unquote, the right balance was struck between privacy and security and his new reform. balance them both out r. the president's views regarding privacy evolving, or is this a
massive presidential about turn, a flip-flop? ellen. >> i don't think president obama wanted to be the democratic president that expanded the national security state, and the various disclosures that have come out since he made those initial statements in june saying he was okay with the balance has indicated that the, you know, spying, if you will, on americans is more widespread than we all initially thought. and so i think he's open to reigning this in. those are all reasonable steps you outlined. i imagine congress is looking at a way. but i still think he's not going to back away from basically continuing the programs that his predecessor put in place because of the times we live in and that national security brief he gets every morning. >> is it possible that he didn't know the extent of the reach of the nsa and that, you know, not to be uncharitable to him, he was not particularly interested in it until it
became this full-fledged issue. >> i would venture to guess that he absolutely knew the full reach and extent of everything that was happening. >> you think so? >> i think. so on a lot of foreign policy matters, which i do not disagree with by the way, i don't think there's much difference between president obama and george bush. i think in this sense what we've seen in terms of his reforms and his openness to transparency is probably something that is political. there's a usa today pew poll that showed that people underage 29 are absolutely appalled by what happened, and let's figure it, midterm elections coming up, a presidential election in 2016, and democrats need young people to vote for them, and youngsters do not like what happened. they think it was appalling. >> the big flip-flop. this is what president obama said two months ago on june 7th. this was prior to his nsa reform announcement. >> in the abstract you can complain about big brother and how this is a potential program
run amuck but when you actually look at the details, then i think we've struck the right balance knew. now, given what we know about surveillance and the nsa's behavior, do you think the right balance between privacy and security has been struck? >> yes, i certainly do. i actually happen to be in favor of this kind of a program because i think of what would happen to this country if we had a half a dozen terrorist attacks every year, and that seems to me -- >> you think obama knew all the details of what they do? >> by and large, yes. well, maybe not everything but i think he knew, based on the reports that he must have been getting, just exactly the number of cases -- >> i don't think so, john. >> just a minute. they had estimated that something like 54 different terrorist attacks were, in fact, interdicted by the knowledge they obtained. >> you don't think that snowden was the catalyst?
>> he was the catalyst. >> absolutely. >> the president said before snowden appeared. >> john -- >> and he obviously knew all the circumstances. would he have said -- >> there was a rationale. your president of the united states, one of the things you are responsible for is the security of the country. and if you find that 50-odd terrorist attacks were somehow rather stopped by in the's a perfectly natural response to say i think that program makes accepts. >> some of the revelations that have fleed, are you dismayed by them? >> i am dismayed, but i think there are reforms -- >> john, look, what happened here, i don't think barack obama was -- i think he knew about to general public. >> he was disinterested. >> he's a by starned president. he was not deeply engaged in it. and what happened is, when all this stuff started breaking, the young people and other people all of a sudden it looked like almost a majority are saying, hey, the government has gone too fan, and barack obama is politically inclined
so he's moving and moving. he's been moving away from it. he is going to keep the basic program, as eleanor said. >> maybe he didn't want to know about it. >> he doesn't care. >> just a moment, just a moment. >> he doesn't care about a lot of things in-depth. he didn't know about benghazi, he didn't know about the irs. he didn't know about any of it. >> the president of the united states, i think he has been as strong's can be. he has carried on a lot of the bush administration policies in terms of foreign policy, and young people, this is where we agree, in terms of policy, this is not changed, we can believe it, we don't like this so he moved with these changes but the four changes are meaningless. >> youngsters, because they don't like the government -- >> they use the technology, and they're afraid of the extent to which the nsa can go trolling through what they put on their computers. >> they're libertarians. >> civil libertarians, but
they're young. >> there's a great misunderstanding. when people think there's reading of their private e- mails, it's not happening. nobody cares about their e- mails. >> the three mature men who left the security operation precisely for the same reason that snowden did, they get no recognition. >> they didn't rat everybody out. >> do you have to rat out in order to get -- >> they shouldn't have. they behaved honorably, and this kid didn't. >> but we have confirmation of what snowden said through the mouths of these three people who have since talked to usa today. >> when you look into it, there's not this great crisis that some people are trying to make it into. there were 2700 different kind of violations of which only 900 out of 240 million were the ones -- >> a lot of people are upset that chelsea man hag gotten the number of years in jail that she's apparently getting. >> issue three, egypt. no middle ground? >> my committee handles foreign
aid. we will hold back money unless there is a showing that they are taking steps very positive, very direct steps to restore democracy. >> president obama declared last week that while he's not ready to suspend the 1.5 billion in foreign aid to egypt, he is prepared to do so if circumstances warrant it. well, leading senate democrats may do it before he does. senator patrick leahy chairs the committee through which u.s. funds for egypt must flow. unless mr. obama can convince the senate otherwise aid to egypt will halt. that threatens the strategic partnership in effect since the historic 1979 camp david peace accord. before last week's crackdown the obama administration urged
egypt's military to allow the pro-morsi street protests to continue. this alarmed allies like saudi arabia, the united arab emirates and jordan. they sent emmasarys. their reasoning is this. the struggle in egypt is a battle between islamic radicalism and secularism. and only one side can win. our regional allies believe president obama has been searching for a nonexistent middle ground between the muslim brotherhood and egypt's secularists. after the crackdown which left hundreds dead and thousands
injured, threats to cut off aid have come from the european union and the united states. but saudi arabia and the gulf state, notably qatar, and the united arab emirates, have pledged an outlay of 12 billion, nearly 0 times america's military aid to egypt to support the interim government. question. is the u.s.-egyptian relationship at an historic turning point? and if so what should president obama do? mort zuckerman. >> i think the president should not cut the support for the military in egypt. they are our most important ally, and it's the most important country in the middle east, and we will lose the support of a lot of our other friends if we walk away from egypt. they have done a tremendous amount of work with and for the united states. this is dramatically in our interest, even though we disagree with what they're doing. but comparing the military to the muslim brotherhood we're coming out way ahead in terms of our interest and the quality
of government. >> there's another angle there. remember what eisenhower said? beware the military industrial complex. he's talking about the complex over here. we make all the munitions that that billion and a quarter is buying, correct? >> correct. >> so this affects american business. does that give another turn to this wheel of decision making that obama is operating? >> you can look at that way but egypt has been our most important ally and they are our most important friend to our other allies like saudi arabia, like the arab emrats who basically are going to say if we can't rely on the united states, we can't rely on anybody. >> our most important ally sis real. >> not in the arab world. >> john -- >> you're specifying in the arab world. >> what about the saudis? >> the saudis are amazingly upset about the possibility that we might do this. not only the saudis, all of the
arab emrats, all of the arab countries -- i'm talking about. that i can tell you for sure. >> has no relationship with the egyptians. forget the democracy, excuse me. this is a showdown between the muslim brotherhood and the army. one or the other is going to prevail. they're both, if youl dicta storm. they bottle up the gaze in are the only protection if any of the christians. you've got to pick these guys and stick with them. now, leahy says we cut off the aid. pretty soon we're going to have to renew the aid. >> predictions pat. >> in the wake of two black on white murders this week immigration tensions. >> mort. >> the weak economy in terms of employment and employment is going to continue to be the dominant issue for the rest of the year. >> michelle. >> school choice is going to be the education issue of the 21st
century, the most important issue. >> russia's demographic demise will soon be seen as a total falsification. 23 years ago the birth rate was 1.2. today it is 1.7. midway between western europe's 1.5 and america's 1.9. no wonder putin seems a little cocky. russia has more babies than western europe. bye-bye!