Congress expert Norman Ornstein on what the debate over the debt limit says about dysfunction in Congress, and his ideas for how to fix it.
The deficit supercommittee talks stalled over taxes as the November 23 deadline loomed; Gov. Rick Perry stumbled in the GOP candidates’ debate on Wednesday; and the president and head football coach at Penn State were both fired for their role in a child sex abuse scandal. Diane will discuss the week’s top national news stories with Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times, Reid Wilson of National Journal and Susan Page of USA Today.
- Sheryl Gay Stolberg Washington correspondent, The New York Times.
- Reid Wilson Editor-in-chief of National Journal Hotline.
- Susan Page Washington bureau chief for USA Today.
Friday News Roundup Video
The panelists discuss GOP presidential hopeful and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s gafee in a debate earlier this week during which he could not remember the name of a government agency he wished to abolish:
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. The Obama administration will review the route of a proposed Canada-U.S. pipeline, fallout from alleged child molestation charges against a former Penn State football coach continues, and a new poll indicates Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich are tied in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
MS. DIANE REHMJoining me to talk about this week's national news stories, Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times, Reid Wilson of National Journal Hotline and Susan Page of USA Today. We look forward to hearing your calls, questions. 800-433-8850. Send us your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send us a tweet or join us on Facebook. Good morning, everybody.
MS. SHERYL GAY STOLBERGGood morning.
MR. REID WILSONGood morning.
MS. SUSAN PAGEGood morning.
REHMLet's talk about the progress the super committee is making. I understand that tax hikes are finally on the table, Susan.
PAGEWell, you know, you're always -- you're usually safe betting against progress when it comes to deficit reduction talks. We should start with that. But there -- I actually think something has happened on both sides that gives the seed of encouragement that the super committee might actually come up with something. One is that Democrats offered cuts in Medicare and Social Security, $400 billion, something they don't wanna do.
PAGEAnd the Republicans came forward with a plan that included some new tax revenue, some increases in tax revenues, which is obviously one of the kind of lines in the sand that some Republicans have drawn in the past. Now, Democrats criticize it is not nearly enough, and it comes tied to a reduction in the tax rate for the most affluent Americans. Still, it's possible, it seems to me, that both sides wanna reach a deal. And the clock is really ticking. The deadline is Nov. 23.
REHMBut is that deadline hard or soft, Reid Wilson?
WILSON(laugh) It's not exactly a firm deadline. There is a chance that they could tinker a little bit with the rules, sort of, for the super committee and push back some of those requirements. One of the other possibilities is that they strike a deal on some smaller package, something that they can agree on in terms of four to $600 billion in cuts, which would reduce the cuts that would fall across the board on every other agency. So they can take a little bit of pressure out of it by coming to the agreements that everybody agrees on sooner, but before the deadline on the 23rd.
REHMSheryl, is what's happening in Europe putting pressure on this super committee?
STOLBERGAbsolutely. I mean, we're seeing this morning Italy passing austerity measures, deficit reduction. We're hearing on Capitol Hill members of the super committee like Sen. John Kerry saying they're looking toward Europe because Europe is trying to wrestle with its own problem, and it's creating a sense of urgency here on this side of the Atlantic that we, too, need to deal with this.
STOLBERGAnd I think there's a real danger for both sides if they let this drag on too long because we've seen this movie before in Washington with the debate over the Bush tax cuts, with the debate over the debt ceiling, with the debate over the government shutdown. All of these things went down to the wire and created a lot of anger among the public -- the idea that Washington cannot do its job.
STOLBERGAnd in fact, this committee, the super committee grows out of the debt ceiling fight. And so if they let it drag on, if they do it at midnight on Nov. 22 or if the deadline, you know, breaks down, I think that there will be political repercussions on both sides.
REHMOf course, the CBO wants it done a lot sooner than that, doesn't it, Reid?
WILSONYeah, the CBO needs time to score it, time to figure out whether or not the cuts are actually real. One point that Sheryl brings up that is real important is that there is sort of this growing pessimism that a deal won't come to pass, and as a matter of fact, they're already using it. The members of Congress are already using it to fire political shots at each other. Twice this week, Mitch McConnell has said that he doesn't believe the White House actually want the super committee to succeed, and there's a logical argument there.
WILSONFor the White House, they're trying to make the case that they are sort of the grownups in the broken Washington room, that they can stand apart from a broken Congress. So if Congress fails again, that plays right into their argument, and it probably helps the president in terms of his re-election fight.
REHMSo in the meantime, the president goes off to his Asia trip. Is there anything -- is there any role that the president could play in regard to the super committee to get the deal going, Susan?
PAGEYou know, I think this White House has chosen not to get engaged in this because they see it as a no win for them. If a different president, a Lyndon Johnson kind of president who had all those ties into Capitol Hill, maybe a different president would play a role in something like this. But I don't think this president at this time is playing that. And when you think about the -- Sheryl mentioned the impact of the economic turmoil we see in Europe.
PAGEI think the real impact is the context of an economy that could slide back into a recession. And we saw the European Commission yesterday downgrade its expectations for growth in Europe that could have real consequences for the United States. And if we don't seem to be getting our own fiscal house in order, that is not reassuring to markets. That doesn't help with the confidence that we need to have if we're gonna stay in at least a fragile state of recovery.
REHMWhat about the president's jobs package for vets that finally got approval? Is that a big win him for him? Is that something that every veteran hoped for and finally got?
STOLBERGI guess I would say it's a win for him, but in the broader context of his jobs package, which has been really been having trouble on Capitol Hill, I don't feel like he can really go around waving the flag saying, I've gotten this big victory, because he's had a huge fight with the broader issue, with Republicans on Capitol Hill. So I don't know. I defer to my colleagues here.
WILSONI think Sheryl is exactly right. This is not something that is gonna play a prominent role in his pitch for re-election next year. It's a...
STOLBERGOn the other hand, what a good thing to do...
STOLBERG...on Veterans Day, yes, of course.
REHMOn Veterans Day, indeed, for all those who serve and have served our country. Let's turn to the question of Solyndra and what we have learned from the emails that were released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee that's investigating Solyndra. Sheryl.
STOLBERGWell, the committee is investigating Solyndra, and this week, it released a package of emails. The Republicans on the committee are trying to show that an Obama donor, George Kaiser, tried to pull strings to get the loan that -- loan guarantees that went to Solyndra. Now...
STOLBERGRight. Now, Republicans on the committee say that these emails, which show some correspondence about this, prove that Kaiser was, in fact, pulling strings. Democrats say the emails don't show the whole story. They say that, in fact, George Kaiser sat next to Obama during a lengthy dinner in Las Vegas and the subject of these loans never even came up. So I guess what, you know, it depends on where you sit, you know, what it proved.
REHMBut is this...
STOLBERGI will see next week. Steven Chu will testify...
REHMSteven Chu, yeah.
STOLBERG...on this. So there'll be more to come.
PAGEYou know, if you read the emails in their entirety -- and, of course, you had competing sets of emails being dumped by Republicans and Democrats -- it looks like Mr. Kaiser strategized with some of his associates about how they could get Department of Energy contracts and loans. But it looks like he was pretty careful about not lobbying President Obama, about not overstepping, in fact, cautioned some of his associates about the limits of what they could and also the possible blowback if they stepped out too far.
WILSONThis is a story that started in the sort of right-leaning radio sphere and online. It has now, though, sort of seeped into the national conversation. I mean, it's in newspaper after newspaper all over the country. The coverage level is growing, which I think is important because something like this can sort of undermine President Obama's pledge for good, clean, open government.
PAGEAnd it goes to one of the things that has been most damaging for his standing, which is the sense that stimulus money got wasted, that it didn't get the results that the administration and Americans wanted and why was that.
STOLBERGIn fact, Susan took the words right out of my mouth. I think there are two reasons why this is a problem for the president no matter what the emails show. One is exactly as Susan said. It feeds the perception that stimulus money was wasted. Two, it -- president promised, you know, a clean government, as Reid said, no ties with lobbyists. And this sort of plants the seed that, you know, maybe he was not living up to those promises.
REHMAll right. And other promises kept or not kept, let's turn to the Keystone pipeline decision. The Obama administration has now decided to postpone that decision until after next year's election. Reid Wilson.
WILSONThis is an effort to sort of delay making one side really angry. You've got the business interests who wanna -- who want this pipeline to start bringing oil from the tar sands up in Canada down to refineries in Oklahoma and Texas. On the other hand, you've got environmentalists who don't want this pipeline going through a section of Nebraska that's an aquifer that feeds water everywhere out West, in Colorado, Wyoming, West Texas. It's sort of the fascinating politics of water in the West.
WILSONEvery political issue in the West seems to somehow come back to water and who gets it first. The Republican governor of Nebraska is on President Obama's side on this one. He wants a new route that doesn't -- that might not affect that particular aquifer. But it's also an example of sort of playing to base politics. I mean, this -- the environmentalists are a significant portion of the Democratic base. They haven't gotten a lot of what they wanted out of this administration.
WILSONBy the way, they're not just a significant voting portion. They also have a lot of money, and they contribute it to political campaigns. So this is a big win for the environmental community, and it comes right at a time when the president is gonna need them to open their checkbooks.
REHMAnd I think it's important to point that it was the State Department that actually made this decision. They say that the president did not make that decision for them. We're gonna take a short break here. And we should tell you that this hour of the Friday News Roundup is being videotaped and will be up on the Web in about an hour. Short break and right back.
REHMIf you just joined us, it's the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup this week with Reid Wilson, he's editor-in-chief of National Journal Hotline, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today, and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Washington correspondent for The New York Times. We had a rather momentous Republican debate this week and an oops moment on the part of Kerry (sic), now, see, that's my oops moment -- Perry's gaffe when he could not remember the third department that he wanted to eliminate. I must say, I felt for the guy. Susan.
PAGEWell, certainly, we've all been there. Of course, on the one hand, we're not running for president. And, secondly, it is not just that he made this gaffe. He made this gaffe at a time when he really needed to get -- to regain some traction in his presidential campaign. He has had a string of bad debates. He, in fact, had -- his campaign had suggested maybe he wouldn't participate in this and the other debates coming up next.
PAGEHe discovered he really politically had to demonstrate that he can show sure-footedness in the debate setting. And I'm gonna say, I've covered nine presidential campaigns. I have never seen a moment like the one we saw there.
WILSONIt was incredible. As a matter of fact, while he sitting there stumbling over the debate, you could here somebody else say into a live mic, oh, God, like they realized they were watching the destruction of a presidential campaign. And this is -- this matters because the real question in the Republican primary debate -- we just saw a new poll out this morning that has Mitt Romney at 15 percent along with Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain.
WILSONThe real question is, who's gonna be the anti-Romney. Who's going to attract the voters who really don't want Mitt Romney to be the nominee and can that person coalesce enough voters behind them to actually take Romney on? Rick Perry is no longer the answer to that question. If he had wanted to be, this just demonstrates that he's sort of not ready for primetime. The number one question that he was trying to answer was whether he'll be able to go toe-to-toe with President Obama in a debate next November. That question was answered pretty starkly the other day.
STOLBERGAnd I think, you know, it's more about just -- it's more than just his ability to debate. He said, well, I'm not a very good debater. But the fact is, this was a core element of his platform. If you're running for president, you have to know your own policies. You have to know them inside and out. This was not even like asking John McCain, how many houses do you have? And he sort of couldn't quite remember. This goes to the very core of his ability to occupy the Oval Office.
REHMI thought the postscript to that was he pulled out a piece of paper to remind himself of his three goals.
STOLBERGBut that he needed to pull out a piece of paper to remind himself is just more evidence that this is a problem for him. His response the next day was, well, I really stepped in it. That's not really a good or satisfying explanation.
PAGENow, I would just say that there are times we've counted candidates out in the past and they recovered. Bill Clinton in 1992, John McCain just four years ago. Kerry was counted out at one point when he managed to win the nomination in 2004. And one reason, I think, we don't yet count him completely out is because there's antipathy to Romney, so someone will emerge as the alternative, and because he raised $17 million in the last quarter, which gives him some financial wherewithal to continue a campaign. But I'd have to say he's been pretty greatly wounded.
STOLBERGI think that's right. You know, look, he could win Iowa and we could all be sitting here saying, oops, you know, with one mistake we made. But it'll be interesting to see how much money he raises now and whether the fundraising drive drops off.
REHMAll right. And let's talk about Herman Cain, whose hired lawyer who warned other women who might be considering coming forward with reports of harassment against Herman Cain to "think twice."
STOLBERGYou know, I have to say this is a real risk for Herman Cain. I mean, he has likened this whole situation of sexual harassment allegations against him to the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill debate, the so-called high-tech lynching. I think a lot of women sympathize with Anita Hill and a lot of women remember how Anita Hill was characterized as, quote, "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty."
STOLBERGAnd what we saw with the lawyer issuing warnings to women and with the Cain campaign coming back at the women who are his accusers and trying to discredit them, I think will not sit well with many American women. And, indeed, already we're seeing polling showing that he is losing support among women. The CBS poll, I think out this morning, shows that Cain is on top of, you know, above Romney and Gingrich in the polls, but his support for women is just 15 percent now. And as opposed to late October, he led among women with 28 percent.
REHMAll right. But here's the question. You had some of those women who were alleging that they had been harassed, willing to come forward, willing to have a press conference, five of them. And then, after the statements by his lawyer, two of them remained and said they would not go public unless all five did. Now, what do you make of that?
WILSONI -- look, I think there's a feeling among Republican primary voters that they very much want -- they very much believe that the media is coming after them and is trying to discredit them in some way.
REHMHow did the media get blamed for this?
WILSONWell, because conservatives' first reaction in a lot of cases like this is to blame the media. There are a lot of folks who have -- who started going down that path. And then once a couple of accusers came out and some of these claims looked a little more real than they might have, you've seen that sort of back off a little bit. There's an important AP piece today by Tom Beaumont out in Iowa that suggests that in the internal campaign polls, the polls that these -- that the campaigns pay for themselves, his -- Herman Cain's support is cratering.
WILSONSo there's a difference, I think, between saying that you support the guy and that you feel bad for him and that there may be some concerted effort to get him out of the race and actually voting for him. And I don't think that anybody is actually going to vote for him at this point, or at least not the folks who would've a few months ago. The bottom line, though, is that Herman Cain was never going to win this nomination.
WILSONThere didn't need to be a concerted effort to go after him to trump up these charges because he simply wasn't doing the work necessary to win in states like Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina.
REHMYou know, in addition to the presidential race, however, I find myself wondering what this whole episode is doing to women who believe that they have been sexually harassed in the workplace. Is this setting some kind of new level that they feel they cannot rise above?
PAGEWell, you look at what's happened to the two women whose names have been publicized and they both been -- their backgrounds have been investigated. Their private lives have been detailed. It's got to make women in that situation do exactly what Herman Cain's lawyer wanted them to do, which is think twice before you speak.
REHMAnd be afraid. Be afraid. I thought Mr. Cain's use of the phrase Princess Nancy was more than a little insulting.
STOLBERGI thought Dana Perino, George Bush's press secretary, had it absolutely right. She sent out a quick a post on Twitter saying, ay, ay, ay. She said, you know, the former speaker of the House earned that title. And we may disagree with the policies, but we ought to have respect for our officeholders. And I think that it was a dismissive comment, one that Mr. Cain apologized for.
PAGEWell, he didn't exactly apologize.
STOLBERGWell, he said...
PAGEHe says he wish she hadn't said it.
STOLBERGThat is true. That is true. And you know what we're seeing?
REHMThat's not an apology.
STOLBERGPart of his charm, you know, early on was this sort of flip ability to make jokes and to be jovial. And that was also, I think, when people weren't frankly really taking him very seriously. I think what we're seeing now is as he is being taken more seriously, rising in the polls, he's also being vetted more thoroughly. And his comments are being scrutinized.
WILSONAnd this is the problem with Herman Cain is that everything that has gotten him in the headlines in the first place, when he was just a 1 percent candidate, was about how he would never appoint a Muslim to his cabinet or about how he would, you know, the Princess Nancy comment. All these things, they're sort of -- they're things he backtracks on later. Oh, he was just kidding, oh, he was just joking.
WILSONEven the other day in this -- on Saturday, I think it was, when he had a long debate, a one-on-one debate with Newt Gingrich, he was asked a very specific question about Medicare and about the levels of funding. And he paused for a moment, and then he said, Newt, I'll let you go first. It was clear that he didn't know -- he didn't understand what was being asked of him. So there are -- and there was another example just a few weeks ago. He said China was pursuing a nuclear weapon. They've had a nuclear -- they've had nuclear weapon since the mid-'60s.
REHMAnd then there was the Pakistan, -istan, whatever. I don't know the presidents of these countries.
PAGEI have to say the I'll-let-you-go-first is a device I've used on this program when I don't know what I'm being asked about. And I would also say that while we're dismissing Herman Cain's chances, he leads in the CBS poll...
PAGE...out just now. The USA Today-Gallup poll, which was taken after the sexual harassment charges were leveled, showed him tied in the lead with Mitt Romney. The very things that have caused controversy are the things that are the core of his appeal to part of the Republican electorate, that he is not a politician, that he is not politically correct, that he seems to say what he wants and believe what he says, whether you agree with it or not.
STOLBERGOK. Who here really thinks that Americans, Republicans will make him the nominee and Americans will elect him president? I would venture to say that his appeal -- he is very charming. He's a great motivational speaker, always has been. He's refreshing. I do feel that at the end of the day, given all these gaffes and the sexual harassment allegations against him, that it would be difficult for him to rise to the level of becoming a nominee.
REHMAll right. And...
STOLBERGI'm willing to stick my neck out on that one. I may be sorry.
REHMAnd at the end of the day, day before yesterday, the board of Penn State, the board of trustees, came to the decision to fire both the president, Graham Spanier, and the head football coach, Joe Paterno. Now, there were riots. The kids just erupted. And somehow the issue of these young boys who, I'm sure, are hiding somewhere, their lives changed forever.
PAGEI was so distressed by those demonstrations on Wednesday night that were on behalf of the coach and not on behalf of the children who were raped by a person in a position of authority in his program.
REHMAnd trust. Authority and trust. Sheryl.
STOLBERGAnd not only that. Diane, we had a situation where people in authority were witness to rape, to the rape of a child, and didn't speak out, didn't go to the police, remained silent about it all the way up the line. Now we're seeing this assistant coach who actually testified before the grand jury that he witnessed Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant coach, raping a young boy in the shower is not going to be at the game tomorrow because there are death threats against him. So we do know that there is a wellspring of anger against that kind of behavior, against what many have called a conspiracy of silence.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." What are we learning about this Penn State scandal spreading to Texas, Reid?
WILSONThat's an interesting part of this. There may be -- from what I gather, there may have been another incident at -- I wanna speak carefully here 'cause I think there are a lot of sort of rumors flying around. There are people saying things on the radio that they don't necessarily have a lot of substantiation for. A couple of radio hosts in Pennsylvania are talking about some other allegations, including the possibility that one of these incidences -- instances happened at a ballgame in Texas, the last ballgame that Jerry Sandusky coached as he was -- when he was at Penn State.
WILSONSo there could be a lot more of this, and it's troubling -- I think it's troubling, too, because these are not the first time these allegations have come out. There was a -- one of the local papers ran a story about the investigation into Jerry Sandusky in April, and we're only now sort of being outraged by it. So that was -- Jerry Sandusky, in the meantime, was allowed to continue to be on campus, to run his foundation. So we don't know whether or not others were still at risk while this investigation was going on.
STOLBERGI think, more broadly, this sort of calls into question the culture of college sports, of college football...
STOLBERG...of the pass, in a way, that is often given to football players, of the institutional sort of impetus to protect college teams. I wouldn't be surprised if university presidents around the country are thinking twice, are looking at the behavior of their coaches, are thinking about what they can do to make sure that nothing of this sort happens in their universities.
REHMOne sports columnist said that college football programs are, quote, "totally disconnected from the academic experience, insulated kingdoms with their own rules and reigns of terror because of the money they make trading in illegal recruiting and illegal gifts and favors, and now, thanks to Penn State, sexual abuse of children by a former coach who must have assumed he would always be protected." What a sad story, and it makes you wonder how all this could affect that institution.
WILSONYeah. As a matter of fact, institution is the right word. At this moment, Americans are so angry at all of their institutions that even sports are not immune. We've seen earlier this year, charges of incredible gifts that a booster gave to a number of players at the University of Miami. Beyond that, we've, I mean, this horrifying incident at Penn State, all around the country. And by the way, we've just had a near-lockout in the NFL season. The NBA season is in the middle of a lockout as negotiations continue. So what is sacred these days?
REHMWell, the question is if, God forbid, you had been raped as a young boy and you are now an adult, would you come forward? One mother has said that her child would hide in a basement to avoid seeing Sandusky.
PAGEWe have a story on the front page of today's USA Today interviewing the mother of the boy called victim number one and his psychiatrist. And they make the point, how brave of him to come forward at a time when adults who knew what was going on did not come forward.
REHMWhat did the mother say?
PAGEShe said she was proud of him, and she said she regretted that she didn't hear about it earlier. He was acting out. He finally went and was willing to talk about it to someone at his school. They called her, and that really started the ball rolling.
REHMSusan Page of USA Today. We will take a short break. I know many of you want to talk about that story and others. I look forward to hearing from you.
REHMWelcome back to the domestic hour of our Friday News Roundup. Let's open the phones, going first to Indianapolis. Good morning, Bill. Thanks for joining us.
BILLThank you, Diane. Former collegian athlete, now a physician in Indianapolis. And went to my office yesterday morning, had an image on my computer of an 87-year-old former president, Jimmy Carter, and his 84-year-old wife Rosalynn Carter building homes for earthquake victims in Haiti, and it was very inspirational. Unfortunately, about 20 minutes later, my secretary came in with a copy of the indictment of Coach Sandusky with tears in her eyes and said, what would you have done?
BILLI can't tell you how brutal this indictment is to read. But I can tell you, as a collegian athlete, back then, what I would have done was I would have gotten a quarter, maybe even a dime out of my pocket, went to the payphone, called the police and filed a report. As a physician, if I didn't contact law enforcement if my secretary had informed me of this or I have seen something, I would not have a practice today.
REHMYou know, Bill, during the break, that's exactly what our three reporters today had said, that rather than simply going to a supervisor, they would have gone straight to the telephone. No excuses here, Susan.
PAGEAnd it's possible that some of these officials involved who saw things or heard things fulfilled their legal responsibility by telling their supervisor, but it is hard to argue that they fulfilled their moral responsibility.
REHMExactly. Thanks for calling, Bill. To Cincinnati, Ohio. Good morning, Janelle.
JANELLEGood morning, and thanks for taking my call.
JANELLEI'm calling to comment on politicians in general having gaffes during a debate. I, for one, was brought up in school to believe our system was of the people, by the people, for the people. And to me, a real person that would represent me is someone who may need to have a notepad to remind themselves of what they're up there for, rather than taking something a speechwriter has prepared that they need to memorize.
JANELLEAnd I think that the gaffe that he made makes him more personable to me and someone I would trust more to be in a position of power because he represents more of the people who have those blonde moments, as it were.
REHMAs we all do, Reid.
WILSONI understand the point. The problem, though, is that this gaffe was a moment that was supposed to be sort of prescribed, you know, prewritten. He couldn't remember a key part of his own platform. Whether or not that makes him, you know, a more human person aside, the -- I think the political fact is it was so horribly damaging and embarrassing to his campaign that even some of Perry's biggest fans are saying that his campaign is, you know, the question is now, as Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post put it this morning, how he gets out of the race.
REHMSusan in Silver Spring, Md., wants to follow up on that. She says, "Perry's biggest gaffe at the debate was saying he wants to abolish the Department of Commerce. Does he know what DOC does? He wants to get rid of the Small Business Administration, the National Weather Service, the people who chart the nation's harbors and shipping lines. How is that going to help the economy?" she asks.
PAGE(laugh) And, of course, we're not discussing the substance of his answer at all or the policy that he only half remembered but just him -- his forgetting it. And, of course, you had Ron Paul standing next to him saying...
PAGE... (unintelligible) five. Let's abolish five.
STOLBERGAnd he had someone throwing out EPA. Let's get rid of EPA.
WILSONThat was actually an interesting moment. When he was sort of searching for that third thing that he wanted to cut, that third thing he wanted to eliminate, as everybody was offering opinions, the person whose opinion he took was Mitt Romney's.
WILSONHe said, sure. Let's go with the EPA.
REHMLet's go to Annapolis, Md. Good morning, Nelson.
NELSONHi, Diane. I just wanted to comment on the Solyndra situation because I think it is -- it epitomizes some of the advertising that goes on. I mean, someone must have picked out these words for the Republican Party, choosing winners and losers. I mean, we all agree, I think, or almost everybody agrees that we need to have renewable energy. And the subsidies for these solar companies are because they're still expensive to install solar panels and so on.
NELSONAnd if we're going to switch to renewable energy, we need to encourage these companies to do more research and to try to lower the price. And that's what it's all about.
REHMAll right, Nelson. Thanks for calling.
PAGEIt's certainly true. And, of course, Rick Perry has his own history on this with wind power. Both Rick Perry and his predecessor as governor of Texas, George W. Bush, invested heavily in trying to promote and encourage the development of wind energy in Texas. And now it is the leading state in the nation when it comes to wind power. And of course, when you have these kind of new industries, some of them end up failing. Not all of them end up succeeding.
REHMTo Mishawaka, Ind. Good morning, Dave.
DAVEI got a couple of points to make on the Excel pipeline.
DAVEAnd -- on the pipeline itself and on tar sands oil also. On a -- one of your panelists said that it was a -- environmentalists consider it as a victory for Obama to delay the decision. But I'm an environmentalist. I don't think it was a victory 'cause if Obama loses in 2012, I mean, it's a foregone conclusion that whatever Republican wins, he's gonna OK that. And that'd be a disaster, I think. And as far as the tar sands oil itself, I don't think people are educated on what's going on in Alberta, Canada.
DAVEI mean, what they're doing up there is horrific. It's just evil. I mean, they are literally bulldozing hundreds and hundreds of thousands of acres of pristine, old-growth, virgin forests, killing and displacing millions of animals. And if that's not bad enough, I mean, the toxic byproduct that they are -- that's the result of this taking the tar sands oil out of the ground, they're putting in sludge ponds, and it's contaminating the water. And the native communities downstream are experiencing a 30 percent increase in their cancer rates.
REHMAll right, Dave. Thanks for your call. Sheryl.
STOLBERGWell, I think the caller obviously raises a good point, which is that we don't know who's gonna be in the Oval Office in January of 2013. So from that perspective, this is not maybe necessarily a victory for environmentalists if President Obama loses. You know, this pipeline will go through as the oil industry wants it to.
WILSONOn the other hand, there's no guarantee that President Obama is going to decide for environmentalists at the end of this. So it could be that he decides, well, let's change the route a little bit to go around this aquifer. But at the end of the day, the pipeline is still gonna exist. So there's, you know, this is a temporary delay, and I think that's how -- what environmentalists see as a victory.
REHMAll right. To St. Louis, Mo. Hi there, Teri.
TERIGood morning. I just wanted to comment on this football story. There's plenty of blame to go around here, but I think that as long as the public continues to support pro sports and college sports with their money, it's not gonna stop. These people behave badly and they pay no price for it.
PAGEWell, of course, in this case...
REHMThey will pay a price.
PAGE...perhaps delayed, they will pay a price. That's right. And in fact the program at Penn State is gonna pay a price.
STOLBERGAnd the university itself -- and certainly the coach has now lost his job and the university president, I think, a very powerful signal that the president of the university lost his job in this.
REHMTo Fenton, Mich. Hi, Mike.
MIKEHi, from Felton, Mich.?
MIKEYeah. OK. Hi, Diane.
MIKEI love your show. The way you -- you don't, like, give your opinion. You always ask the questions. And I just have so much respect for you, Diane.
MIKEI really appreciate you.
MIKEOK. I wanted to talk about the Republican candidates. I don't really see any of these Republican candidates being presidential, or I don't think I'm not -- I wouldn't vote for any of them. I don't see how any of these candidates could beat Obama. They're not presidential.
PAGEYou know, I interviewed President Clinton last week, who, of course, has some considerable political experience, and he cautioned Democrats not to take exactly the view that Mike took. That this field is so -- the Republican field is so weak and flawed.
PAGEThat it's -- even if Obama has problems, he's gonna win reelection. President Clinton noted, how many times have you seen candidates grow or at least seem to grow to be more presidential figures once they start winning elections, winning the Iowa caucuses, winning the New Hampshire primary, standing up in a debate side by side with the incumbent president. You know, we've got a whole year to go before the actual voting. And it's -- I also...
WILSONAnd it strikes me that there was one particular candidate who might have embodied that, and that may be the person that you interviewed last week.
PAGEBill Clinton. But also we should not underestimate the fervor that Republicans generally have to unseat President Obama. So I think that once Republicans settle on their nominee -- and there has been a lot of churning and dissatisfaction with the candidates, but once they settle on a nominee, they will pull behind that nominee. And there is a real fever out there among Republicans to win this election.
WILSONWe're gonna see a lot of stories over the last next couple of months about Republican voters not being happy with their own candidates, about the Democratic base not being terribly happy with President Obama and what he's done in the first term. But at the end of the day, the Republicans will turn out and vote for their guy en masse, and the Democrats will turn out and vote for their guy en masse. There -- the base, you know, problem with the base story is always overplayed.
REHMAll right. Here's an email from Jeff, who says, "Could you address the apparent bumping of polls of Newt Gingrich? I would imagine that as others fall by the wayside, people being polled are left with Newt."
PAGEWell, you know, this is -- we've definitely seen this in several polls, in the CBS poll out this morning and in the Gallup poll earlier this week, where we've seen this group that doesn't wanna vote for Mitt Romney, wants a more conservative, a more Tea Party person, maybe somebody with stronger credentials on social issues, and that's been several people. It's been Michele Bachmann and then it was a Rick Perry and now it's Herman Cain.
PAGEAnd Newt Gingrich stands as someone who's done pretty well in the debates, seems to know what he's talking about. He has a million ideas. He hasn’t run the best campaign and his campaign imploded a couple of months ago, you may remember, when a lot of the people associated with it, especially the fundraisers, quit. But he's definitely have -- having a bit of renaissance right now.
REHMHere's an email from Lauren, who says, "Can anyone tell us why Ron Paul is 99 percent ignored by all of the media, including you?" Well, I did have Ron Paul here in this studio for an hour. What do you all think about Ron Paul? Reid.
WILSONThis is the constant, sort of, email that I'm sure you get on a daily basis. And we all get it nonstop whenever we write a presidential story that talks about any candidate other than Ron Paul, frankly. The problem is -- and actually, to his credit, nobody has changed the debate more than Ron Paul has in the last four years. People were talking about a Republican presidential field that is universally against any form of bailout, even bailing out the car companies in Detroit, which, for the most part, seems to have actually worked and saved a couple hundred thousand jobs.
WILSONThe, you know, against TARP, against some of the - these are Ron Paul's positions from four years ago. So he has, in fact, moved the debate that way. The problem is, he's not the right messenger for it. And from a practical political standpoint, he's got a very hard ceiling and he's never gonna get more than 10 or 12 or 15 percent at any primary state poll because Republican presidential voters simply won't vote for him.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Here's a message posted on Facebook from Mike. "What would happen if the children assaulted had been girls? If a graduate assistant had walked in on a sexual assault against a 10-year-old girl, would there have been any reluctance or hesitation about calling police immediately? Why is a sex crime against a boy different?"
STOLBERGWell, that's really interesting.
PAGEI don't think it is different. I mean, I don't see why it would be different, we're talking about a child.
STOLBERGI don't see -- I agree with that, but you almost wonder if there was a certain amount of somehow pause that this was even, in some crazy way, more taboo. I don't think it should have provoked a different response. I personally think that if a witness to that kind of crime needs to just go in there and bust it up and say, hey, what are you doing? And rescue that child.
REHMAnd here's another one from Tom, who says "ESPN reported Thursday night, that in 1998, four years before the incident witnessed by Mike McQuary and reported to Coach Paterno the day after, Jerry Sandusky was interviewed by a state investigator and Penn State detective, and he agreed not to shower with children again. So the police knew about the alleged abuse, four years prior to the earliest record that Coach Paterno knew about it." Reid.
WILSONThere an interesting side note to this, and it's sort of how some outlets are covering it. I mean, sports journalists aren't necessarily used to covering crime stories. And ESPN came under a significant amount of heat earlier this week when they suggested that this whole scandal would have a big impact on Penn State's ability to recruit football players for next year. So everybody's sort of tiptoeing around this. And it's not a -- it's not an easy story to cover.
REHMThat's an understatement. And one final email from Trisha, who says, "What is so wrong with Mitt Romney, again?" I love finishing with this.
STOLBERGYou know, honestly, I think Mitt Romney, in some ways, is kind of the John Kerry of 2012. He's the candidate who seems destined to become the nominee. He's, kind of, wooden and a little bit, you know, hard to relate to on the campaign trail. He's sometimes seems a little socially awkward. He's, kind of, perfect. He's handsome. He's got that beautiful family.
REHMSo why don't they like him?
STOLBERGRepublicans just -- they just can't seem to fall in love with him.
PAGEWell, and also there are questions about whether he says what he believes.
STOLBERGAnd the flip-flopping. The flip-flopping is a big issue for him.
PAGEThe Mitt Romney who won the race to be governor of Massachusetts is different in some significant ways from the Mitt Romney now seeking Republican presidential nomination.
STOLBERGRight. His health care bill, he's reversed his position on abortion. People do have...
WILSONOn gay rights (unintelligible).
STOLBERG...right. People are uneasy with him. And that, again, is akin to John Kerry. He was for it before he was against it.
REHMSheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times, Reid Wilson of National Journal Hotline, Susan Page of USA Today, have a great weekend everybody.
STOLBERGHappy Veterans Day.
REHMThanks for listening, all. And thank you to all the veterans who have served us. I'm Diane Rehm.
ANNOUNCER"The Diane Rehm Show" is produced by Sandra Pinkard, Nancy Robertson, Denise Couture, Monique Nazareth, Nikki Jecks, Susan Nabors and Lisa Dunn. And the engineer is Tobey Schreiner. A.C. Valdez answers the phones. Visit drshow.org for audio archives, transcripts, podcasts and CD sales.
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