tv PBS News Hour PBS December 11, 2009 6:00pm-6:44pm EST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening, i'm jim lehrer. there was congressional and administration action today aimed at reforming the ways of financial regulation and corporate salaries. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, a report on the proposed regulations for wall street. plus an interview with kenneth feinberg, the government's pay czar. >> lehrer: ray suarez wraps our series on the recession, from a small tourist town in the pacific northwest.
>> the speculators are in the town like the romans, you know. >> lehrer: that's patchwork nation: tonight, in lincoln city, oregon. >> woodruff: then, from europe, margaret warner's latest dispatch on attitudes toward afghanistan. >> germany has the third largest contingent ofo troops in afghanistan but so far has resisted on sending more. i will explore way in a special report from berlin. >> lehrer: and mark shields and david brooks analyze the week's news. that's coming, on tonight's pbs newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour is provided by:
and by toyota. and the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> lehrer: the u.s. house today approved the most sweeping overhaul of financial regulation since the great depression. and pay limits were extended deeper into executive ranks at companies the government rescued. newshour congressional correspondent kwame holman begins our coverage. >> holman: the vote had been in the works for many months, since the crisis that shook the financial industry last fall, and rapidly engulfed the rest of the economy. lawmakers labored into the night thursday, before finishing a bill that ran nearly 1,300 pages. this afternoon, it passed 223 to 202, with every republican
voting "no", and all but 27 democrats voting "yes". >> all of us recognize there are shortcomings in our financial regulatory system but i do believe that the overreach by my democrat colleagues on this bill is really beyond imagination. >> the american people, we're told, have said no more expansion of government, not in the area certainly of financial regulations, their view that the american people want no more restraints on wall street is wrong. >> holman: for the first time, hundreds of trillions of dollars in derivatives would be regulated including stock futures and credit default swaps. but a number of businesses were exempted from the restrictions. the bill also sets up a new process to let the government dismantle huge failing institutions before the damage can spread. at the same time, the bill,
written largely by democrats, would make it harder for states to pre-empt federal consumer laws, even when the state rules are tougher. the central provision, creation of a new consumer financial protection agency, survived attempts to kill it. texas republican jeb hensarling insisted it would only make matters worse. >> the democratic bill fundamentally assaults the economic liberty of the american citizen, it says now you have to go on bended knee to washington before you can put a credit card in your wallet or get a mortgage for your home. >> holman: democratic leader steny hoyer argued the new agency would prove its worth if it helps prevent another meltdown. >> let's say there is a significant cost, lets say its a couple of billion dollars, you say $4 billion, lets just say, for the sake of argument a couple billion dollars, pales into insignificance in the one point five trillion dollars we have borrowed to get this country out of the deep, deep, deep hole cause by the failure
to regulate properly. >> holman: democrats tried and failed to let federal bankruptcy judges rewrite mortgages to lower monthly payments. georgia democrat jim marshall was a co-sponsor of the proposal. >> since this is only applicable to existing mortgages, it will have no effect on the cost of future mortgages, the beauty of it is we'll have fewer all of those folks will be helped by this without putting a single dime of taxpayer dollars in the deal, it seems to me that's a complete justification for doing this, we should've done it long ago. >> holman: but republicans, like virginia's bob goodlatte, rejected that argument. the gentleman may claim that it wont affect future borrowers but the fact of the matter is, if this can be done now for this purpose,he advocates for this legislation would like to see this made in the future a permanent provision in our bankruptcy laws and it will have the effect of causing interest rates to go up and credit to be less available.
>> holman: the measure now goes to the senate, which is not expected to act until next year. while the house was winding up its work, the obama administration's so-called "pay czar" kenneth feinberg, was taking action of his own. he announced additional caps on salaries at bailed-out companies, following earlier curbs on top executives. under the new announcement, mid-level executives will have their pay limited to $500,000. the caps would apply to american international group, citigroup, general motors, and gm's financial arm, gmac. they would not apply to chrysler and chrysler financial, because executives there made less than $500,000. bank of america was exempt after it repaid the $45 billion it owed the government. the company is an underwriter of the "newshour". and goldman sachs has repaid its rescue loans. but it said thursday its top 30 executives would not receive a cash bonus this year, despite
record profits. >> -- they objected the feinberg plan will cause a brain drain. >> those employees who feel they are worth more or the market feel these are worth more could end up leaving the company where the caps are impressed weakening the company which imposes more risk, not less and in the end could hurt the ability of those companies to restore themselves and help the market. >> holman: bonuses have also been an issue in europe this week. french president nicolas sarkozy said thursday his country would follow the lead of britain. which announced a tax on bonuses awarded to bankers between now and april. >> woodruff: the public anger over pay and bonuses remains a major issue. and that topic is likely to come up when president obama meets with bank executives at the white house on monday. we take a look now at today's action on pay, and the larger picture, with kenneth feinberg, the treasury department's special master for executive compensation.
where did you arrive at this $500,000 cap, how did you get to that number? >> well, we examined all of the data. we heard the arguments of various companies. we talked to our outside experts. and we concluded that a presumptive amount limit of 500,000 which could be exempted or could be increased in particular exceptional cases was the appropriate and the best way to go balancing all of the interests. >> woodruff: and again to whom do these rule as ply? this is just four companies and it's the 26th to the 100th ranking person by salary, is that right? >> that's right. >> woodruff: so a few hundred people. >> that's right, 450 people by statute. bank of america is out. they repaid the american taxpayer $45 billion two or three days ago. chrysler and chrysler financial are out because
they don't have 26 to 100 officials that meet that $500,000 limitation so, it is really these four other companies. >> woodruff: and there is no cap on bonuses though, is that right? >> well, there is not a hard cap on bonuses. but all bonus incentive compensation must come from a pool of money that will be determined by each company separately with the advice and review of the special masters office. >> woodruff: how much of an affect does this really have when are you just talking about four companies and 450 people? >> well, that's the big question. we're hoping that the principals that -- the principless that we announced today and that we announced a few months ago will be used as a precedent that other companies in the united states will voluntarily recognize the wisdom of these principless. goldman yesterday and today basically adopted some of the key principless that we announced today, no cash
bonuses, long-term incentive pay based on stock that has to be held for five years before it's redeemed. as the deputy secretary of the treasury neil woland said, it's a small step what goldman is doing but they're following the advice of the federal government and the treasury. >> woodruff: now the argument being made on the other side and we heard a little bit of that in kwame holman's piece is you have some people saying there may be a brain drain from these companies. if there is a limit, real talent may walk out the door. in fact some have already done that. >> that is a concern. under the statute i must take into account the necessity of keeping people on the job, helping these companies thrive so that they can do what bank of america did, repay the taxpayer. the secretary of the treasury has said that is the primary objective here and it is working. it is working. but i must be cognizant of the dantion danger that we not lose people that are essential to these companies. >> woodruff: still, what is
the main message you want to have. because the public looks at this, unemployment is at 10%. and they're saying wait a minute, these people are still going to be earning up to $500,000 and these are just the middle tier people at these banks. >> the message here must be first the taxpayer has a right to get every dime back from the companies that were in such distress financially that they needed the help of the taxpayer in the form of loans. my primary objective is to get that money back to the people who lent the money to these companies. secondly, i am hoping that the printss that we've developed, limited cash-based salaries, stock that will be redeemed over a period of years so that the individuals compensation is tied to the future financial success of the company, those are principless that we hope will be adopted voluntarily by companies outside of my jurisdiction.
>> woodruff: still you know that over time people expect the stock market is going to come back. people are still going to be able to earn significant salary. do you really believe that rules like these can prevent another financial collapse? >> oh i don't think these rules alone will prevent another financial collapse. i think that what happened today in the congress, with the regulator its are doing, the other initiatives promoted by this administration, i think if you look at the entire package, as well as what foreign governments are doing. the secretary of the treasury and the g-20 urging foreign governments to do these things, i think if you look at the whole panapoly of reforms together as a package, there is a real attempt by the federal government to rein in excessive risk-taking on the part of 9 financial services industry. >> woodruff: what about what some of these countries have done, in the u.k., in britain, in france they are
taxing these bonuses at what, 50% tax. is that something that would fly in this country do you think? >> i, again, i defer to others. i have enough problems dealing with my own statute. but i will say this, although these other countries may try various alternative creative measures, what i find particularly interesting is that as a result of the secretary of the treasury's work with the g-20, every country seems to be intrigued and interested in this notion of reign reining in excessive pay. and i think that's to the good. >> woodruff: can you comment on what has come out of the house of representatives today, the financial regulatory reform package? >> no, that's beyond my jurisdiction, beyond my role here in, when it comes to executive calm. >> woodruff: let me ask you more. you said a minute ago you hope that what you are doing will be an example solid across the country, broadly by corporate america. how can you make that happen.
how do you push that in the direction of reality? >> i think that we hope and believe that the principless i've announced, that companies around the country will recognize the validity and the wisdom of these principless like goldman has, at least it appears that goldman has. the president on monday plans to have a chat with these banks. and i think that the effort must be to convince wall street that what we are doing with this limited group of financial institutions and other companies like gm and gmac, can have a positive impact. and hopefully these companies will recognize politically and substantively that they would be well advised to follow these prescriptions the way that goldman has begun to do so. >> woodruff: kenneth feinberg, special master for the department of treasury, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: good to have you with us.
>> thanks. >> lehrer: now, to hari sreenivasan in our newsroom for the other news of the day. hari. >> sreenivasan: defense secretary robert gates sought to reassure u.s. troops in iraq today amid the new focus on afghanistan. at a town hall meeting at the kirkuk air base, he told soldiers and airmen their mission remains critical. he also said what happened in iraq could be a model for the u.s. surge in afghanistan. >> it is going to be a tough fight particularly in the next -- in the next 12 to 18 months. frankly i think it will look a lot like the surge here in the first six or eight months. and the first six or eight months of 2007 were pretty tough here. but then i think in the longer term, it is going to get a lot better >> sreenivasan: president obama also had more to say about setting a timetable of july 2011 for starting a troop drawdown in
afghanistan. he told the cbs program "60 minutes", he wants afghans to realize they are not "a permanent protectorate" of the u.s.. a u.s. drone aircraft attack apparently killed a senior al qaeda operative in pakistan this week. a number of news organizations reported the strike today. cbs news cited local pakistani media, as saying the victim was the number three official in al-qaeda. there's word the blackwater security firm helped the cia to seize suspected insurgents in iraq and afghanistan. "the washington post" and "the new york times" reported today the private guards were involved in snatch and grab raids from 2004 to 2006. it was unclear if that involvement would have been strictly legal. but a spokesman for the company now called xe services denied the allegations. a draft agreement was unveiled today at a u.n. climate change summit in copenhagen, denmark. it came as street protests began, and police rounded up dozens of demonstrators. we have a report from julian rush of independent television news. >> reporter: the arrests
>> reporter: this was the first confrontation between police and demonstrators. the danes have stepped up security at their borders and are expecting more to arrive next week when the world's leaders come here. the talks themselves though made a step forward, with the release of a draft for the agreement those leaders are expecting to sign next week. but it is far from complete: on the two key issues of emissions cuts by rich countries and financial help for the poor, there's either blank spaces or options left to be decided later. >> it is very urgent and we keep our eyes on the prize which is the -- and proper finance for developing countries and a proper verification leading to illegal treaty. >> reporter: the choices in the draft mean a final agreement could be ambitious or very weak. so it says the world should reduce global emissions by anything from a weaker 50% to an ambitious 95% by 2050. developed countries' share of that, anything from 75% to over
95%. with a wide range of interim targets for 2020. but there are huge gaps too: on the crucial issue of money for poor countries, nothing. with gaps like that, it means there's still a lot to be played for, before there's something for world leaders to sign here next week. european leaders though, did reach agreement in brussels on how much money they'll give towards a $10 billion fast-start fund for immediate help for poor countries. the draft agreement and the money have revived hopes a deal is possible in copenhagen, but time is melting away with little sign anyone's prepared to compromise yet. >> sreenivasan: the u.s. envoy to the talks called the draft a "constructive text". in economic news, retail sales were up more than expected last month. the commerce department announced an increase of well over 1% for november. and wall street was mostly higher, in response. the dow jones industrial average
gained more than 65 points to close at 10471. but the nasdaq lost half a point to close at 2190. for the week, the dow gained nearly 1%. the nasdaq was down a fraction. also today, oil prices finished below $70 a barrel for the first time in 2 months. actor gene barry has died at a rest home in los angeles. his family gave no cause of death. his career included a number of roles on broadway and in hollywood. but he gained fame on tv as "bat masterson" in the 1950's western program. later, he starred in other tv series "burke's law" and "the name of the game". gene barry was 90 years old. those are some of the day's main stories. i'll be back at the end of the broadcast with a look at what you'll find tonight on our website. but for now, back to jim. >> lehrer: and still to come on the newshour, german views on afghanistan and shields and brooks. that's after the final report in our "patchwork nation" series, an on-air and online collaboration with the christian science monitor.
ray suarez has been reporting this week on how the recession has affected different kinds of communities. tonight, a town that depends on seasonal economic activity: lincoln city, oregon. >> suarez: seven miles of beaches, surrounded by piney hills lure tourists to lincoln city, a picturesque town on oregon's northern coast. and if fishing and surf aren't your things... there's a fresh water lake for sailing... a culinary academy designed for amateur chefs... and a foundry where visitors can learn to blow glass. but behind the picture postcard scenes, there are workers who serve food in the restaurants, take bets in the casino, work the registers in the shops. and their livelihoods are dependent on whether tourists come during the high season. for 30 years, steve lamb's kite
business rode out recessions, but nothing was ever this bad. >> we had strong summer weeks, about six weeks when we would like to have 12. >> suarez: so what does that mean to your bottom line to have a high season that's half as long? >> it means that you didn't get well from the previous year. and so everybody's kind of hanging on at this point. >> suarez: in the good years, lamb employed some 70 workers with benefits in nine retail stores, a wholesale business and a factory. he's down to one store and two employees. lincoln city has a lot going for it. but any place that needs to go from 7,500 year round residents to 30,000 in the high season to keep everybody working, leaves itself vulnerable to the whims of things beyond its control: weather and the wider economy. the little town must maintain all the necessities of a much bigger one says lori hollingsworth, a massage therapist and the mayor of
lincoln city. >> the biggest complication really is being able to build out the infrastructure for 30,000 in the summer. the water, the sewer, all the needs that people have; the transportation. >> suarez: the money to maintain public services comes from building permits and motel taxes and both are down. lincoln city is one of patchwork nation's "service worker centers." during the early part of this decade, when people had money to burn on vacation homes and the like, the place was thriving. but. when the national economy took a nose dive last year, people here felt the effects almost immediately. kip ward owns a bed and breakfast. >> you know the speculators invaded this town like the romans, you know. >> suarez: well tell me, tell me what, what were the manifestations of that? >> there's no inventory left and as, as some of us live here for
decades, you know these mortgages are 400, 500, $300,000. who's going to pay those mortgages around here? no one here can pay those mortgages. >> 752 on the central oregon coast >> suarez: roger robertson hosts a local talk radio program. he also sells advertising on the station, giving him a front row seat for the boom years. for him, those years felt like the new normal. >> things were robust; things were building; things were growing; things were prospering; there was no reason to believe that it was going to be anything else, but what we were experiencing. suddenly the real world crept in and came back and woke us all up. >> suarez: lincoln city and communities like it were among the first hit by the great recession and they may be among the last to feel the recovery, says dante chinni, director of the patchwork nation project. >> these places kind of feel the pain first, because the discretionary spending stops here first.
i think they also get the benefit of any recovery later. because the discretionary spending is going to come later. and i think this last recession was so deep, even when things turn around people are saving money like they haven't before, and they just feel just more insecure as a whole and that means this place feels that insecurity you know in very harsh terms. >> suarez: small business owners like kip ward, say in this new economy they are forced to sink or swim. >> the customer is definitely in the driver's seat. we had rooms to rent for $69, $79. they're $39 now. so you know the market is what it is. and you either have to adjust to it and go with it or go broke. >> suarez: ward owns the historic anchor inn, once a vagrant's flophouse, now an eclectic bed & breakfast. its a cozy gathering spot for visitors and locals alike. we sat down with a group of local business people who've all been hit by the economic
downturn. again and again they returned to the shock of finding their little town buffeted by forces far away. rick brisette had to file for bankruptcy to keep his antique dealership open. >> while i was busy during better times and not paying attention to what was going on, on the national scene, there were people making decisions and investments in new york city or on the east coast, that when it failed for them was when it ripped my world apart. >> suarez: you didn't have a sense of that before? >> i had no sense of that whatsoever. i didn't, i've never even heard the word derivative before and didn't understand the implications of that. i have a much better understanding. as a small business owner, i'm a little bitter and a little angry that those individuals have been bailed out and their interests have been protected. and yet, mine have not or my peers here.
>> i don't feel recovery in this economy as we knew it several years ago for years. >> suarez: barbara jenkins gibson owns a christmas specialty shop. she actually had a good year. she says people cling to tradition even during hard times and they can spend less than $10 and walk out of the store with a nice gift. >> it's a good opportunity to get better at what we do. when its really good, on a constant basis you don't take the time, you don't have the time, to really fine tune a lot of your systems. >> suarez: holding on by a thread, steve lamb is optimistic a recovery will blow through lincoln city, giving his products a lift, hopefully in time for next summer's tourist season. >> i think that we're going to weather this recession, myself and our community.
people after a winter of being boxed in will just rush to the beach. it's an explosion of people. and i think it's the same way with a bad economy. when it suddenly starts getting back to normal, people are going to be so ready for that that here they come. >> suarez: what we found in lincoln city is a strong sense of how vulnerable tourist towns really are. whatever they do for themselves, when or whether things get better really depends on cars bringing tourists and their money ray, did you come away from this reporting with an overriding point or story that fits in all these five stories you did? >> suarez: i came back more convinced than ever that america is a patchwork. and while it's significant, let's say that the unemployment rate is 10% nationwide, that doesn't really tell you that much
about what is going on on the ground and how different communities have experienced this recession. >> lehrer: is there a relationship -- is there the relationship between the unemployment and the location, the overriding thing or is it the kind of place it is or what -- what is the distinguishing overriding factor? >> suarez: how they make a living in good times and bad. the fact that philadelphia is a highly diversified economy, even ones that's had some rough decades recently. it has allowed them to withstand the force of this recession in a better way than many other economies around the country. the farmers of sioux center iowa never would have bought three house its, one to live in and two to sell. they're conservatism, their attitudes towards money meant that was no real estate bubble in places like sioux center, so when the bubble burst, they weren't
going to be collateral damage the way a place like eagle, colorado, could end up being with many unsold houses standing and waiting for buyers, buyers who may move there some day and may have trouble borrowing the money to do so. >> lehrer: one of your pieces, somebody said well, we've got some problems, but they didn't appear to feel they had an option to pick up and go. did you hear that from -- in these various locations where people had hard times? >> suarez: the cliche about americans that they are ready to go all the time, that opportunity is waiting somewhere over the horizon. but the people i spoke to during the week whether it is the partners at zingerman's deli in ann arbor or the farmers in iowa or the storekeepers in lincoln city, oregon, they had a very strong connection to the place where they lived, where they had done business, where they had a sense of community. so there wasn't this feeling oh, boy, if i could just kick off the dust of this town and go somewhere else. people are really rooted in the places where they live.
>> lehrer: now speaking of traveling, you are about to do some more. you are off to copenhagen to the climate conference. you will be reporting were from there next week. what is going to be the focus of your reporting? >>. >> suarez: well, they have a draft document now. and that's created a tremendous upsurge in interest in the deliberations next week when a lot of heads of state are going to be coming to copenhagen to put the finishing touches on some sort of document that they want to end the conference with. originally when we had planned to goback brahm -- barack obama was going to be there this week and not next week when the other heads of nations were going to be there. now he's going the friday of next week. and the president's presence there is creating some movement on the ground, some increased interest. it will be really interesting to see, even though they have made a tremendous amount of progress where others thought it might not be possible, they are still sniping between the delegations. the poorest country saying that the richer ones don't care about them.
the newly industrialized economies saying that the old industrial economies don't understand their needs. a lot of work has to get done in the next week. >> lehrer: we look forward to your reporting. happy reporting, happy traveling. thank you, ray. >> suarez: thanks, jim. >> woodruff: next, the war in afghanistan as seen by a country with its own troubled connection to war. margaret warner, who's reported all week from europe, sent this from berlin. >> warner: it's the christmas season in germany. and berliners are deep into the festivities at one of this city's traditional christmas markets among the crowd three soldiers home between tours of duty in afghanistan with their medical regiment company. the two young sergeants, both paramedics, and their captain feel the work their company does helping the locals in northern afghanistan is vitally important. so you like going on international missions? why?
>> to bring, to help the peoples in other nations, to help for better future for children in other nations. >> german citizens, they support us. >> warner: germany has 4,300 troops in afghanistan now, the 3rd largest contingent after the u.s. and britain. under restrictions imposed by the german parliament, they were sent as peacekeepers in charge of the relatively tranquil north. after 8 years, they've lost 34 soldiers. the british, who are seeing fierce combat, have just twice as many troops, yet seven times more casualties than the germans. but the german public's feelings about their mission are as chilly as december in berlin. a recent poll showed nearly 70% want their forces to leave. i think its a senseless war. i think it's good to feel responsible even for other countries and other cultures, but i think it's not right to do it this way, to send troops and
>> ( translated ): when soldiers kill, it's murder. there is no good reason to fight wars, for germans or anybody else. of course for germans to do it it's even worse. >> warner: constanze steizenmueller, a senior fellow at the german marshall fund, says the reason for these feelings is clear. >> it's the legacy of a profoundly pacifist culture created by the guilt and the knowledge of our guilt in perpetuating two world wars and a holocaust. it's that simple. >> warner: that national guilt is on display in this sea of grey slabs marking one of those dark chapters. the key to understanding why germany is so wary about any offensive military mission that could kill civilians lies here. the germans were so intent that succeeding generations would never forget the horrors of aggression, that they built this memorial to the victims of the holocaust, right in the heart of berlin. >> it's a site full of historical interest.
>> warner: berlin tour guide martin ostrowski took us to some stops on his historical third reich tour. which -- which administrated the concentration camps. there you can see the -- one of the top nazis. >> warner: what do you think germans take from that history, that affects their thinking about the afghanistan conflict, and germanys role in it? >> what history just tells us that war was leading us into a catastrophe, into such a catastrophe, that we don't like to be connected again so much to a war. >> warner: we went to a café next to checkpoint charlie, a remnant of the 50 year division of berlin. he recalled his own family's bitter experience with war. >> i think there is no good reason for any war.
the best reason is how to avoid a war and instead of making conflicts, how to find a solution of cooperating. >> warner: but whether germans like it or not, their mission in afghanistan is moving in the other direction. in the last six months, the taliban have stepped attacks in north, drawing german soldiers into combat. retired gen. harald kujat, chief of staff of the german armed forces, says german troops were caught off guard, outmanned and outgunned. >> the germans were more and more in a defensive role, and my personal assessment is they are no longer in the situation to provide a secure environment in the north because they have to defend themselves >> warner: that was brought home by a bloody september 4 incident near kunduz, when a german colonel called in a nato airstrike on two taliban- hijacked fuel tankers, killing more than 140, including dozens
of civilians. since then, three top government officials have resigned amid charges they withheld information about the civilian deaths. >> the idea that civilians might be killed recklessly in an act perpetuated by a german officer is deeply disturbing to the german public. by calling in an airstrike germans found that they had done something that they had been lecturing the americans for doing all the time. >> warner: the kunduz incident, which is still causing political reverberations, also made it crystal-clear to the german public that their soldiers are indeed engaged in combat. that's been unsettling to a nation that saw its disgraced nazi era army dismantled after world war ii. and street protests against remilitarization at the creation of the new army in the 1950s. for 35 years, that cold war-era force was restricted by law to defending the home front against a possible soviet invasion.
>> the german armed forces, the budeswehr, have been in combat in the north of afghanistan since the early spring. that is something that it took the germans a long time to take on board but now that they have, they are very uncomfortable with it. >> warner: yet that discomfort hasn't led to big street protests this time. and some germans agree with what president obama said yesterday in his nobel peace prize acceptance speech that the horrors perpetrated by nazi germany teach there's a duty to intervene against evil. advertising copywriter matthias wernicke says germanys past shouldn't restrict its military operations within nato. >> that's 60 years ago, and yeah it was terrible, but today germany is not the 3rd reich anymore, it a modern democracy, and so it has a responsibility to the world. >> warner: still, its politically risky for the german
government to step up to mr. obama's call for nato countries to send more troops to afghanistan. german chancellor angela merkel has said germany will decide after an international afghanistan conference in late january. peter altmaier, parliamentary whip for merkels party, was non- committal on what germany will do. >> i cannot tell you today what concrete measures would be adopted, but we are aware of the challenge and we will certainly respond to it. this government led by angela merkel has been a reliable partner for the last four years, and i'm 100% convinced we will remain and continue to be a reliable partner for the future. gen. kujat says germany needs to beef up its forces for its missions own protection on the ground. we don't have time. we need to act. so as germans revel in the magic of the season they know they
have a big decision ahead. >> lehrer: and finally tonight, the analysis of shields and brooks. syndicated columnist mark shields and "new york times" columnist david brooks. mark, the president's nobel speech that margaret referred to, what did you think of the speech. >> the first thing that hit me, jim, listening to that speech was upon leaving office every president writes an autobiography. and people buy the book because of whose's writing it, rather than what is in it. this is the only president in our history who became independently wealthy by writing a book before. and then wrote a speech, nobody other than william jennings bryant ever launched a national political career from a convention speech. so i guess i should not be surprised by his ability to master the language to take complex ideas and put them
into coherent structure and compelling structure. >> lehrer: you would expect him to make a good speech, accepting the nobel peace prize in oslo. >> no -- this was a difficult speech for him. just in the circumstances of it because nothing became his accepting of this nobel peace prize, 80% of his fellow citizens according to polls thought he did not deserve, nothing became it like the speech subpoena accepting it. i mean it was a sense that he was receiving the award not for who he was but for who he wasn't in large part. and he wasn't george w. bush. he had to change the policies. he believes in national company raise and he went in there and --. >> lehrer: what about the speech. >> i thought the speech was -- i thought the speech being remembered -- i thought the
moment at which obama defined himself internationally, he answered problems that he had -- being apologetic about the united states. it was an aggressively unapologetic speech of being a world citizen it was an aggressively national speech in the true sense of the word. and you know, i am amazed that to this moment i can't find anybody who has criticized the speech. i have never heard anybody give a speech of that complexity on that big a stage and go uncriticized. >> lehrer: go ahead. >> i can't, i thought it was great. >> lehrer: okay. >> i thought it was eloquent, smart, subtle and deep. a couple of years ago i told this story a couple times. but a couple years ago i'm interviewing oa and i'm running out of questions. i'm get nothing where with the guy, he's cranky, it is the end of the day. and out of the blue i say have you ever met a guy named -- a 1950s theolgin,
he gives me a summary of a book he wrote called the irony of american history which is how you must use power while knowing that it will corrupt you. this speech is straight out of that book. and straight out of postwar 1950s liberalism. there is evil in the world. we hate war. war is folly. nonetheless we have to use force. and what is interesting about the speech is that another person greatly influenced by nieber was martin luther king. so martin luther king took nieb, er and moved in a pass fist direction, and obama, not trying to raise himself to the level of king, says no, these truths about evil means that i as commander in chief have to use military force, so it was a defense from a liberal perspective of force, of war on behalf of idealistic means. so you i thought on that ground as loan, let alone the political surroundings, i thought quite a subtle and sophisticated and really substantive speech. >> lehrer: but from the liberal point of view, many conservatives, many of your fellow and sister conservatives are praising
his speech as well, why. >> well, nieber is like george orwell, everybody likes it. >> lehrer: not everyone like os bama though. >> right, but this is about projecting american power. one of its things i really admired about the speech is he admitted he didn't deserve the prize which is very persuasive about. but b, that prize was given to drive a wedge between -- to drive a wedge between americans. it was given for political reasons. he went the other way, he said this is what america stands for. and frankly this is why the american people are a little different than the european people. because we actually do by and large believe in the use of force. we do believe in the projection of american power. and we do believe that over history this projection of military force has done a lot of good for the world. and he mentioned kosovo, he mentioned world war ii. >> lehrer: were were people that looked straight, did not applaud.