Guest Host: Elise Labott

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel prepares to testify before the House Armed Services Committee about the ongoing threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during a hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill September 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. At the request of President Barack Obama, the House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday that authorizes the training and arming of Syrian rebels to confront ISIL.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel prepares to testify before the House Armed Services Committee about the ongoing threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during a hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill September 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. At the request of President Barack Obama, the House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday that authorizes the training and arming of Syrian rebels to confront ISIL.

Congress approves President Barack Obama’s funding request for Syrian rebels battling ISIS. The votes in both houses featured rare, bipartisan agreement ahead of midterm elections. Federal prosecutors indict a New York man on charges he tried to provide material support to the Islamic State. A new government report finds security flaws at the website that could jeopardize consumers’ personal data. The Kansas Supreme Court orders a Democrat off the ballot, which may affect control of the Senate in the fall elections. And a fourth player is suspended by the NFL over family violence. Guest host Elise Labott and guests discuss the week’s top domestic news stories.


  • Jeff Mason White House correspondent, Reuters.
  • Margaret Talev White House correspondent, Bloomberg.
  • Jonathan Weisman Congressional reporter, The New York Times.

Watch A Featured Clip

In light of the NFL’s handling of domestic abuse allegations among several of its players, a caller asks whether corporal punishment is a cultural norm in the South. Jeff Mason of Reuters said the accusations have opened a national dialogue about “what is and is not OK” when it comes to discipline. Jonathan Weisman of The New York Times defended the region, saying that as someone who grew up in the South, there’s no acceptable norm on physical discipline.

Watch The Full Broadcast


  • 10:06:54

    MS. ELISE LABOTTThanks for joining us. I'm Elise Labott sitting in for Diane Rehm. Diane will be back on Monday. Congress approves President Obama's plan to arm Syrian rebels for the fight against ISIS. New concerns surface over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and a fourth NFL player is suspended for domestic violence.

  • 10:07:12

    MS. ELISE LABOTTHere to discuss this week's top national stories on the Friday News Roundup, Jeff Mason of Reuter's, Margaret Talev of Bloomberg, Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times. We'll be taking your comments, questions throughout the hour. We want to hear from you. Call us on 1-800-433-8850. Send us an email at Join us on Facebook and Twitter. And since it's Friday, you can watch a live stream of this program on our website, Welcome to all of you.

  • 10:07:45

    MR. JEFF MASONThank you.

  • 10:07:45

    MR. JONATHAN WEISMANGood to be with you.

  • 10:07:46

    MS. MARGARET TALEVThank you very much.

  • 10:07:47

    LABOTTLet's start with the Congress approved President Obama's request, Jeff, to allow the American military to arm and train Syrian rebels. It was really a rare bipartisan show of support.

  • 10:07:58

    MASONIt was a rare bipartisan show of support and it was just what the White House wanted to see. The Senate, last night, voted 78 to 22 in favor and then the president came out shortly thereafter and said, this is a sign that when terrorists kill two Americans, as they have, and do what's been done so far in Iraq and Syria that Americans come together and that we, as in Americans in this case, are not divided.

  • 10:08:25

    MASONSo he was certainly very happy about that vote. It was a good show of support for White House that not very frequently gets the Senate and the House to give it what it wants.

  • 10:08:34

    LABOTTThat's right. Margaret, I thought that the politics were interesting here because Democrats, who are more, you know, don't want to support a lot of military action, had to support the president and those Republicans who love to beat up on him and want more robust military power had to support him.

  • 10:08:49

    TALEVThat's right. I mean, I hate to be the cynic. No, I don't. I'll be the cynic. But it was sort of bipartisan in kind of the worst way as well as the best way. Everybody's calculations were spinning all week and everyone has had to switch gears. The Republicans who were looking for a reason to criticize him have had to find a new way to criticize him.

  • 10:09:06

    TALEVLike, we'll support this, but it's not gonna be enough. There was more opposition from the Democratic side than there was, actually, from the Republican side. You see these antiwar Democrats, some of whom had been around back in the votes to authorize the action in Iraq, many of whom hadn't been. I mean, a huge number, as Jonathan knows, right, of lawmakers, three-quarters of them or two-thirds of them had not been around in the House at the time of the authorization to invade Iraq.

  • 10:09:36

    TALEVAnd so what you really see is enough support for Obama to go forward, but within that support, all sorts of splintering and factualization that's gonna spin off now.

  • 10:09:45

    WEISMANYeah. These votes were really deceptive. I mean, there was a lot of concern. I mean, a lot -- first of all, a lot of the Republicans and Democrats voted yes, but they didn't really believe it was going to work. They don't believe that arming the rebels, these Syrian rebels is actually going to be enough or is just not going to be effective. There is a lot -- watching the House debate was really interesting because there are now, as Margaret says, only about 30 percent of the members of the House of Representatives who voted this week were there in 2002 for the authorization of force to invade Iraq.

  • 10:10:21

    TALEVWell, and they put off that thorny question of authorization. They kicked that down the can.

  • 10:10:27

    WEISMANIn fact, what they approved this week is a lot less than meets the eye. What they approved was an authorization to arm and equip Syrian rebels, vetted Syrian rebels, that ends December 11. On December 11, just, you know, two months from now, they have to figure out what to do from there because this really was a very short term thing. In fact, for a Congress that has, for two years, punted all the big questions, this really is just the punt of all punts.

  • 10:10:58

    LABOTTGo ahead, Margaret.

  • 10:10:58

    TALEVI'm not sure it's true. I think they just authorized it more. I mean, the AUMF from 2001 is still in effect. Until that gets repealed, it will be the predicate for anything President Obama wants to do, unless Congress steps in and stops him.

  • 10:11:10

    WEISMANWell, that's right. They didn't need to authorize the war. The war is already going.

  • 10:11:13

    LABOTTWell, they're gonna certainly -- a lot of Congress want to ask for a broader authorization to go against specifically ISIS whereas that 2001 authorization was just for al-Qaida. Jeff, polls continue to show broad support for acting against ISIS, but not so much about confidence in President Obama. What is it that they don't like, his handling of this or is it in the messaging here, that he's not communicating what he's trying to do here?

  • 10:11:40

    MASONI think President Obama is just deeply unpopular in this country, period, right now. I think Americans, as you say, supporting taking action against ISIS. Those videos were so brutal and so public that it created a ground swell of support for that. But it doesn't change the fact that President Obama's policies are unpopular, that his leadership ratings are low and this could give him a boost if we start seeing some success with the strategy, but some of his mis-statements, first saying he didn't have a strategy and then coming around and announcing one, those types of things stay in the memory of Americans and that's being reflected in the polls.

  • 10:12:24

    LABOTTAnd I think that there's a legacy issue here, Margaret, isn't there, because this is a president that campaigned on ending wars, you know, less U.S. military involvement and this is a man now who's starting a way that’s certainly going to go past his presidency. I mean, I wonder what the 2007 Obama would say to the 2014 Obama.

  • 10:12:45

    TALEVHe would say, man, you look old. In so many ways, this is a continuation of this narrative where he fought against things that President Bush was doing and now he understands them better. I think this is a different choice than invading Iraq, clearly, and it is on a different scope and, of course, there's a murkiness what boots on the ground means and all that sort of stuff. But he is not authorizing a full-on combat anything and he's been careful to say so.

  • 10:13:12

    TALEVEven so, it is so hard to know what you're getting into when you get into it and he has started something new.

  • 10:13:18

    MASONWell, look how hard he's tried to make that point about no boots on the ground. I mean, you had the testimony of Dempsey earlier this week, which we'll probably talk about later.

  • 10:13:25

    LABOTTYeah, we're gonna talk about that in the second hour.

  • 10:13:28

    MASONThat's super important to his legacy to make sure of that.

  • 10:13:30

    LABOTTYeah, we're gonna talk a lot more about ISIS in the second hour. But just quickly, Jonathan, what do we know, anything, about these charges brought by the Justice Department about this man in New York that was supporting ISIS?

  • 10:13:40

    WEISMANWell, this is the biggest fear. You know, ISIS has had the success of recruiting Westerners to the battlefield. And the biggest fear of the intelligence community is that there are people with Western passports, American passports, now in Syria becoming battle-hardened, becoming more radicalized and that they could be used for terrorist attacks in the United States. Remarkably, I mean, we've learned that Americans have been killed on the battlefield fighting for ISIS in Syria.

  • 10:14:14

    WEISMANIt seems like a crazy use of an American to just throw them into combat. And, in fact, I think we should feel some relief, but now we're starting to see that, you know, that the intelligence community is really keying in on these Americans that are being recruited into the Syrian battle space. It's frightening because it is so much easier to get into the United States when you have a U.S. passport.

  • 10:14:40

    LABOTTOr that they just stay here and they might continue a plot -- attacks. Let's move on to Obamacare, Jeff. We learned last month that the online portal of the federal insurance exchange help there, dot gov, has hacked. Now, we learn of more vulnerabilities. What does this latest report tell us?

  • 10:14:57

    MASONWell, there was a GAO report, Government Accountability Office, that said that the site,, has security and privacy protection vulnerabilities that follows the hacking that you refer to in August. They talked about risks of unauthorized access, disclosure or modification of information. And some of the problems that they identified were disagreements between government agencies and the contractors that are involved in dealing with these problems.

  • 10:15:27

    MASONSo it raised a whole other reason, and a justifiable one, for Republicans and opponents of healthcare reform to say, look, this site wasn’t ready. Americans care about their privacy and a lot of Americans have signed up for healthcare on this site and so...

  • 10:15:44

    LABOTTShould they be concerned? How big of a problem is this with the data?

  • 10:15:48

    MASONWell, the GAO said that there are vulnerabilities so I think when you have a non-partisan group like that identifying these problems, yeah, they should be concerned. I think that they're going to be addressed. Certainly it's something that the administration is taking very seriously. But the last thing they want are more reports from respectable audiences, from respectable outfits like the GAO, saying, look, these issues are still there.

  • 10:16:13

    LABOTTMargaret, the White House said half a million people could lose coverage under the Affordable Care Act because of issues with citizenship verification. What's going on here?

  • 10:16:22

    TALEVYeah. I mean, it's really interesting. The progress for the White House, even just this week on Obamacare, it seems to be, like, two or three steps forward, one step back. You see the latest wave of numbers, 4 million new people insured just in the first quarter. The experts think it could be between 10 and 17 million people though the end of the year. So to that extent, this really is kind of cementing Obamacare as the law of the land, making it increasingly hard to repeal it or to take away from it.

  • 10:16:49

    TALEVOn the other hand you see maybe about 150,000 people who haven't verified their citizenship, their residency, their right to be part of this and another 300,000 or so people who have not yet verified their income because to get subsidies or tax breaks or whatever depends on your income thresholds. If those people don't get in their paperwork, which many of them are not going to, they will either lose their coverage or the prices will go up and that is a political problem for President Obama.

  • 10:17:20

    TALEVBut when you take it as percentage of the total number of people who are getting insurance through this, it may not be a huge political problem. Could be a political problem with Hispanic voters, Latino voters, however and that's something to think about.

  • 10:17:32

    WEISMANYeah, and remember, go back to 2009 when President Obama addressed that joint session of Congress and the Congressman from South Carolina shouted, you lie, that was over when Obama said that he would not cover illegal immigrants and here they are trying to kick illegal immigrants off the rolls and now he's gonna have problems on the other side.

  • 10:17:53

    LABOTTWell, and it was supposed to be this big midterm election issue, but it doesn't seem to be shaping up to be, though, Margaret.

  • 10:18:00

    TALEVIt has. It's kind of weirdly fizzled. And it's hard to totally understand why. You look at the polls and it's still really unpopular, but when Republicans poll this, it's not been as big a deal as the economy or ISIS.

  • 10:18:10

    LABOTTWe're gonna take a short break. We'll be taking your comments, questions throughout the hour. Call us on 1-800-433-8850. Send us your email at (sic) Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

  • 10:19:52

    LABOTTWelcome back. I'm Elise Labott sitting in for Diane Rehm. Joining me in the studio for the Friday Domestic News Roundup, Jeff Mason, White House correspondent of Reuters, Margaret Talev, White House correspondent of Bloomberg and Jonathan Weisman, congressional reporter for the New York Times. Don't forget it's Friday so we're streaming our show at

  • 10:20:14

    LABOTTAnd we talked a little bit before the break. about the midterm elections. How close, Jeff, are the Democrats to holding the Senate?

  • 10:20:25

    MASONWell, that's a good question. The Republicans have to pick up six seats in order to take control And there are -- it's commonly understood that they'll get at least three. And so the other three that they have to pick up, there are a handful of races, about eight races where they can -- where they have a reasonably good chance of picking up those seats. So it's tight but we're still six weeks, a couple months out and the races are changing in each of those states. Some of them are getting closer to advantage Democrats. Some of them are getting closer to advantage Republicans.

  • 10:20:57

    WEISMANYeah, let's be honest, we have no idea. We do not know. I mean, there were polls that came out this week...

  • 10:21:02

    TALEVI know, the map keeps changing.

  • 10:21:02

    WEISMAN...that showed Cory Gardner, the congressman from Colorado up by eight points on Mark Udall. But those polls don't jive with other polls. The Iowa race goes back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. We don't have any good polling in Alaska. Now we have -- we'll probably talk about it later -- this wildcard in Kansas. Let's be honest, we don't know who's going to be controlling the Senate next year.

  • 10:21:26

    LABOTTI love the Iowa race. I think it's really interesting, Margaret. Tell us a little bit about how, you know, it looks like the Senate suite may be switching hands.

  • 10:21:35

    TALEVRight. Well, so Tom Harkin has been the Senator forever. He is the, you know, Mr. Steak Fry, everybody, you know, kisses the ring when they go through. And he is moving on to greener pastures. And so you've got this race between Bruce Braley the Democrat and Joni Ernst the Republican. And she's quite a character. I mean, she -- you remember she busted onto the scene as this farm girl turned veteran who castrated pigs as a younger woman. And it just grabs your attention from the get go.

  • 10:22:06

    TALEVBraley stumbles early on giving the speech by a bar cart to travelers out of town. And so early on, it became evident that this race was not going to go as smoothly for Democrats as they may have hoped. And now they really have bolstered to roll up their sleeves. She's trying to reinvent herself as less of a kind of iconic Tea Party character and more of a mainstream person.

  • 10:22:30

    LABOTTBut Jeff, I think what's really interesting to me is that Iowa is what launched President Obama's career, in effect...

  • 10:22:38


  • 10:22:38

    LABOTT...and launched his presidency. And now what does it say about the fact that in some ways his approval rating is not helping the Democratic candidate there. And that could help them lose the Senate?

  • 10:22:49

    MASONHis approval rating isn't helping Democratic candidates anywhere. And in Iowa, you're absolutely right, it's especially painful. And to see Harkin go and to see the Democrats struggling to take over that seat is hard. But the race is shifting and there -- it's interesting what Margaret said about the Republican changing her image a little bit. Some of those women's issues, econ issues that are core parts of the message of President Obama are resonating in Iowa. And that may end up helping the Democrat in the end.

  • 10:23:20

    WEISMANYeah, I remember I talked to a Republican operative who's working on that race and they said, look, Democrats want this race to be about issues. Republicans want it to be about personality. If it's about personality we win, if it's about issues they win. I mean this is not -- Joni Ernst is probably too conservative for that state but Bruce Braley has run one of the worst campaigns of this cycle. So, you know, this -- it shows that campaigns matter.

  • 10:23:47

    LABOTTMargaret, let's talk about Kansas, the great ballot fiasco finally been settled in Kansas. Tell us what's going on.

  • 10:23:53

    TALEVIt's so interesting. I mean, so in Kansas you've got Pat Roberts. He's been the Senator forever. He's Republican, has also not run a stellar campaign and has said things sort of casually or self effacingly to the effect of, I'm never in town or, you know. And so what you've got in this race is a Democrat and Independent and the Republican incumbent, and the Democrat saying, never mind, I'm out. And the Democrats thinking, you know what, we can use this Independent to knock Roberts out. Independents...

  • 10:24:23

    LABOTTBecause he's Democratic-minded, right?

  • 10:24:25

    TALEVI mean, he's more Democratic-minded than Pat Roberts is. And so what you've got now is a battle that's gone all the way up to the top corner of the state where they've said, you know what, the Democrat can get out and we can take the Democrat's name off the ballot. The Republican secretary of state has made an error in saying, you can't do that. There's still some maneuvering where the Republican secretary of state is trying to tell Democrats they've got to put someone's name on the ballot.

  • 10:24:47

    WEISMANSomebody's -- I said they'll put Daffy Duck on there.

  • 10:24:50

    LABOTTWell, Aaron on our website sent us a comment, "Is this transparent political manipulation by the secretary of state to take this guy off and give the Democrats slash Independents an edge?"

  • 10:25:01

    WEISMANYes, absolutely. I will say that. It is. I mean, if you think about it, if the Republicans are saying, well okay, if the court rules that you can take this Democrat off the ballot but you need to put a Democrat on the ballot, what they're basically saying is, you need to fool Republican voters -- I mean, Democratic voters in Kansas to vote for a Democrat. I mean, they're not -- they do not -- what they do not want is a race between Greg Ormon the Independent and Pat Roberts the Republican. They don't want a straight field.

  • 10:25:32

    MASONBottom line though is that's what you have. And that's bad for Roberts because it was a three-way race and that was helping him. And if it's a two-way race now, which it -- which because of that court ruling it will be, that's bad for the Republicans.

  • 10:25:43

    LABOTTAnd Margaret, Kansas isn't just a red state. It's a deep red state. I mean, I was reading that there hasn't been -- there hasn't been not a Republican Senator there in 75 years. I mean, this would really be groundbreaking.

  • 10:25:55

    TALEVIt is, but don't forget there's an interesting, again, Obama strain running through Kansas too. His mother's from Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, the former governor who was HHS secretary, not that that's going to help anybody but...

  • 10:26:06

    MASONNot particularly popular HHS secretary.

  • 10:26:07

    WEISMANIt's all about Sam Brownback. This is not about -- this is not about national politics. You know, all these campaigns have local components and Sam Brownback, the Republican governor who came in there, slashed taxes and ran up this huge deficit and now they're really wrestling with it. Sam Brownback is very unpopular and he's running for reelection too. So -- and he's in big trouble. This is an issue -- Kansas is wrestling with a lot of things locally that are having big national impact.

  • 10:26:37

    TALEVI think that's a great point and this is also a thread of narrative that you see in Georgia as well where the Republican governor is unpopular. It's giving enough of a window to Jimmy Carter's grandson that he's making a very viable run for governor. If that were to go anywhere and voters -- Democratic voters were to become inspired it would boost the chances of the Democratic Senate candidate in that state.

  • 10:26:58

    TALEVWhat happens in states does matter. And the Republicans were on offense for so long. I think they're still probably on offense, but it's -- the ground is shifting a little bit.

  • 10:27:06

    WEISMANThey are. It's so -- I mean, you know, especially off-year elections, they run on Zeitgeist and the Zeitgeist right now is misery and unhappiness and it's all about the economy. So you have these states with Republican governors, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan. All of those Republican governors are struggling for reelection for the same reason that Democrats are struggling. There's a sense that incumbency is against you right now because people are unhappy. And they feel like the people in power have not helped them.

  • 10:27:37

    LABOTTJeff, I want to move on to the NFL scandal. I mean, this has really been an important story this week. Bad week for the NFL. Bring us up to speed. You have a half dozen NFL players across the country facing domestic violence charges.

  • 10:27:50

    MASONAll right. Let's just look at the list. You've got Jonathan Dwyer of the Arizona Cardinals, you've got Minnesota Vikings placing Adrian Peterson on the exempt list. Obviously the Ray Rice video, which sort of got all of this started. Greg Hardy from the Carolina Panthers, it just feeds into what is more than a narrative now. It is a reality that there's a problem in the NFL dealing with domestic abuse.

  • 10:28:15

    MASONAnd it's thrown the NFL, which is so popular in this country, into a crisis as well because of how they've handled it and whether they've been fast enough to discipline these players and whether or not they've been strict enough with that discipline.

  • 10:28:28

    LABOTTI'm going to go to a caller. We have Adam. Adam, you're on the air.

  • 10:28:36

    ADAMHey, good morning.

  • 10:28:37

    LABOTTGood morning. Thanks for joining us. What's your question?

  • 10:28:40

    ADAMWell, I was making a comment about the issue with the NFL domestic violence issue. I was a soldier for over ten years and then a police officer after that. Within those two separate communities, domestic violence was not only ostracized but it was dealt with very, very swiftly.

  • 10:28:58

    ADAMI just happened to be at the Falcons' game last night with some former Falcons players and had them discussing it as well. And the fact that for whatever reason the minor amount of celebrity that these people might have it's causing them to get away with something that in my former career fields would've put me in jail.

  • 10:29:17

    LABOTTOkay. Well, that's a good point. Margaret, why do you think the NFL isn't taking a stand here? You saw the player's union standing behind Ray Rice after that horrible video of him punching his girlfriend. They're still saying this was an unfair suspension. What's...

  • 10:29:32

    TALEVThe NFL, like most professional sports leagues, their first instinct was, stop the story, turn the narrative around, make this go away. Once that video came out it did absolutely change the dynamic. It's taken them awhile to come around. There are a couple of threads that work here and one is time. I think in a month or two we'll know whether there really are -- have been enough fundamental pressures to change behavior of the NFL and other leagues in terms of have a deal with this and the training that they do on the front end.

  • 10:30:03

    TALEVI mean, there is training and discussions and stuff for players but obviously not at enough of a level to fundamentally change cultural behavior and patterns for young guys coming into a league with a ton of money, a ton of pressure, all this sort of stuff. You know, there are the themes of what does it mean to be a man, sort of macho behavior. These are aggressive sports where you have to be strong, ideas of strength.

  • 10:30:28

    TALEVThere are so many themes at work here, but for the NFL, the problems are deeper. It's about brain injuries, Alzheimer's disease. You know, there are -- the Redskin scandal. The NFL has had a lot of political problems. And I think they're first instinct was, make everyone stop piling on us. And now there's a recognition they need to deal with.

  • 10:30:47

    LABOTTWell, Jonathan, I mean, conversation is moving to whether the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should lose his job. Fifty-six players under his watch arrested, many of them charged with domestic abuse.

  • 10:30:59

    WEISMANThis goes so far back. The thing that Margaret didn't mention is money. I mean, some of these people -- Adrian Peterson, you cannot understate the celebrity of Adrian Peterson. This is one -- he's now being charged with child abuse for beating his child with a switch. This man is gold for the NFL. He is truly a superstar, one of the greatest running backs that we've seen in a long, long time. They don't want Adrian Peterson out of the league.

  • 10:31:27

    LABOTTI'm Elise Labott of CNN and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." If you'd like to join us, give us a call at 1-800-433-8850. Send us an email to, find us on Facebook, send us a tweet. And don't forget, it's Friday. We're streaming at Margaret, sponsorship is an important issue here. Do you think that that will cause a change in the league as a result?

  • 10:31:54

    TALEVIt may, and what I'm particularly interested in is what is causing a change in the minds of sponsors. And I think there is a thread here, an element here in terms of the rise of women as a political force and in terms of women's buying power, women's role in consumer decisions, what brands of products do they buy? What brands of products do they buy for their families? I would be really curious if there was some way to get inside the heads of sponsors and see how they feel -- how they would've responded to this issue ten years ago or twenty years ago versus now.

  • 10:32:29

    WEISMANWell, I'm going to be the cynic here. Let's go back to Ray Lewis. Ray Lewis was a superstar linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. He was present at the murder of somebody in an Atlanta nightclub. He threw away his white suit. He threw away a knife and he was convicted of obstruction of justice. They could not convict him of murder and they wanted to. He was suspended from the league for a very short amount of time.

  • 10:33:02

    WEISMANBy the time he retired on the Super Bowl year that the Ravens had, he was being hailed as, you know, a venerable citizen of the NFL. Nobody cared. I mean, they just let it go because Ray Lewis was Ray Lewis.

  • 10:33:18

    MASONBut if you look at the trend in the last couple weeks, sponsors are not only saying things, they're doing things. I mean, Radisson suspended its Vikings' sponsorship. Nike -- Nike which is the big sports -- big, big, big sports sponsor suspended its contract with Peterson. So we've seen some comments from folks like Anheuser-Busch being critical. But when you start seeing these people, these companies walking away from the athletes then you know the money is really talking.

  • 10:33:49

    LABOTTLet's go to Michael in Charlotte, N.C. Michael, you're on the air.

  • 10:33:54

    MICHAELYes, good morning. I've been following the NFL for the players that are being -- committing assault on their wives and their girlfriends and their children. And I'm wondering, most of them are -- I believe, came from the south. And I'm wondering -- and they've stated in the past that they were raised the same way. I'm wondering if this is a cultural thing with these type of NFL players?

  • 10:34:31

    LABOTTThat's a really good question. Margaret, a lot of people say, look, I was whipped as a kid. And some of these NFL players, my parents whipped me and look at me today. I'm in the NFL. There's this kind of culture that particularly in the case of Adrian Peterson, this is just disciplining your child.

  • 10:34:46

    TALEVWell, and this is a parallel story but you saw sort of on a parallel note some of this played out in the case of Michael Vick with the dog fighting earlier. In this country, everywhere in this country there has been huge transformation of cultural norm spanking your children. Do you spank your children? The role of women, how do you raise your daughters versus how do you raise your sons?

  • 10:35:07

    TALEVAnd these move at a different pace in different segments of society, economically, culturally, racially, demographically. Some of this is certainly a play and not something that the NFL is particularly -- who would want to tackle that? It's like no employer wants to deal with. It's like -- it's even like when you send your kids to school, there's the debate about, shouldn't you just concentrate on math and reading versus shouldn't you talk about how to be a good citizen?

  • 10:35:29

    TALEVWhen the NFL signs a player to play, they want the player to do well so their team can win so they can make money. All this other stuff is the baggage that comes with players. And now these leagues are having to deal with the baggage that their players who are human beings, who are young men, who probably in most cases come from nowhere near the sort of financial opportunity and sort of pressure and spotlight and when you thrust them into this completely different situation, how they hide what they do.

  • 10:35:59

    LABOTTBut also if you look at what happened with the NBA and the Clippers and all this racist, you know, speak, I mean, I think that there's -- you know, in society there's, you know, a backlash that says, listen, we're putting you up as role models and you're getting hundreds of millions of dollars to do so. Start acting like it, Jeff.

  • 10:36:18

    MASONYeah, and I think also if anything good can come from these terrible abuse accusations, allegations and actions, it's to show what is and what is not okay. And the -- what's his name, Adrian Peterson, sorry, was -- who is being accused of whipping his son said, exactly what Jonathan said, that this is -- he was whipped as a kid. Well, that doesn't make it okay to create these bruises all over your child's body.

  • 10:36:50

    MASONAnd so the fact that that is getting this kind of attention, you know, to go back to what the caller asked about, may raise that issue as something that needs to be looked at more closely.

  • 10:37:00

    WEISMANBut as somebody who grew up in the south, I'm going to defend my region. I do not think that there is some kind of acceptable cultural norm on that one.

  • 10:37:12

    LABOTTComing up, your calls and questions for our panel. Come back. Stay tuned.

  • 10:39:53

    LABOTTWelcome back. I'm Elise Labott of CNN sitting in for Diane Rehm. With me in the studio, Jeff Mason of Reuters, Margaret Talev of Bloomberg and Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times. We're going to open up the phones again. We have a lot of calls about the Affordable Care Act. Let's go to Chris. Chris, you're on the air.

  • 10:40:13

    CHRISHey, good morning.

  • 10:40:13

    LABOTTGood morning.

  • 10:40:15

    CHRISCan you hear me?

  • 10:40:16

    LABOTTI can. Thanks for joining us.

  • 10:40:17

    CHRISYeah, yes, glad to be here. Listen, my -- I've got just one comment about the Affordable Care. It's always amazing to me that every single thing seems to wind up back being the president's problem, the president's fault. What your guy said this morning, clearly said that there's a personal responsibility associated with this process, and the fact that some folks don't get their papers in, make their first payments and all that, that has nothing to do with the president. But your pundits I think made it clear that they felt like that was a problem for the president when in fact it really is a personality responsibility, as opposed...

  • 10:40:51

    LABOTTRight. Jonathan, what do you say to that?

  • 10:40:53

    WEISMANI actually agree with him. These guys, these people who signed up for, you know, for this way back, way back when, almost a year ago, if they haven't had a chance yet to send in their first check or to prove that they are in fact legal residents of the United States, they've had plenty of time. This isn't a question of being rushed to get your paperwork to make some kind of deadline. And we weren't, I don’t think we were saying that it was Obama's fault that they didn't get -- that these people didn't get their paperwork done.

  • 10:41:26

    WEISMANIt's just that, I mean, it's ironic of course because the Republicans had pushed very hard at the -- as the Affordable Care Act was being considered in Congress to make sure that illegal immigrants didn't get it, and Republicans who are looking to it to keep up the attack on Obamacare will look at this number, 5,000 people, 500,000 people being dropped off of the rolls, but they won't probably talk about why they're being dropped off the rolls. So what we're saying is that it becomes a political problem for the president not because it's his fault but because it becomes part of the message wars.

  • 10:42:01

    LABOTTJeff, do you think Obamacare has, you know, met expectations here?

  • 10:42:08

    MASONWell, I mean, I would jump off of what Jonathan said and said -- and the caller is right that certainly there's a lot of personal responsibility involved in signing up for health insurance and turning in the documentation that you need. But in the end, it all comes down, politically at least in this town and on the national scale, for how successful the program is. And certainly, to answer your question, the White House is pleased with how many people ended up signing up, but we're going to have another enrollment period coming up starting in November, and so the cycle starts again. And these little issues that come up in the meantime continue keeping some of the questions and the criticisms about the overall program in -- on people's antennas.

  • 10:42:49

    LABOTTAll right, let's take another call from Ed in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Hi Ed.

  • 10:42:53

    EDHi, yeah, I just wanted to know, well Obamacare, is that even a major issue in the Senate campaigns? The Republicans don't seem to be offering an alternative to Obamacare. They just want to criticize it. They don't have a constructive alternative. And I know that the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity were very early putting all their eggs in, you know, the anti-Obamacare basket and doing all these ads about Obamacare. Is that really going to be an issue? And do the Republicans have an alternative, you know, like a comprehensive alternative health care alternative to Obamacare? I just don't hear one.

  • 10:43:40

    LABOTTAll right, well that's a good question. Margaret, what do you think? it hasn't really been a big issue in this midterm.

  • 10:43:44

    TALEVHi Ed. Yeah, you know, the -- it started out over the summer, if you monitor ad spending, that Republicans were putting quite a bit of money, a percentage of their issue ads, into criticizing senators in tight races who could be affiliated with support for Obamacare. And by August we began to see these numbers pare back quite a bit. When you kind of overlay current events over it, you see that the situation with ISIS was really ticking up at the time.

  • 10:44:17

    TALEVAnd so what that seems to say is that you only have so much money to go around. If it's more effective to criticize someone for being weak on national security or being tied to a president who they think is being weak on national security, then, you know, maybe ration your resources and do it that way. It is true that the Republicans are not so much putting forth an alternative to Obamacare as continuing to criticize the Affordable Care Act, and we heard Senator Rob Portman earlier this week say basically if the Republicans take over the Senate, we're going to see at least a test vote to repeal Obamacare so that people can go on the board as a statement.

  • 10:44:52

    TALEVYou've seen the House either repeal or dial back Obamacare in a series of more than 50 votes, you know, over the last several months, but it won't happen in the Senate. And even if Republicans take over the Senate, Democrats will still hold enough seats to prevent sort of that 60-vote threshold that you need. So no one's repealing Obamacare. It's not going to happen. You may see some chipping away at it, on some tax issues or medical devices or whatever, but this is the law of the land now.

  • 10:45:20

    WEISMANBut Ed in Kalamazoo, you saw it firsthand. Remember the Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity, went in early to go after Gary Peters, who's running for the Senate, with these Obamacare ads they had, featured a woman who said that because of Obamacare she couldn't get coverage for her cancer treatment, and it's a big brouhaha. And guess what? The Americans for Prosperity pulled out of Michigan. They've decided that they can't win that Senate race, and they're going to use their resources elsewhere. It obviously did not get traction in your state.

  • 10:45:51

    LABOTTJeff, do you think Republicans realize this is, you know, not a winner here?

  • 10:45:57

    MASONI think they realize that there are other things that the public really cares about, as well. I mean, certainly it's a big issue, it will remain a big issue, but the economy is equally as big or bigger. Some of the women's issues that we talked about in Iowa and in specific races have resonance when voters go to the polls. Health care will continue to be a big one, but it's not the only one.

  • 10:46:18

    LABOTTAll right, let's take another call from Sue in Rochester. Hi Sue.

  • 10:46:23

    SUEHi. I would like a comment on why the Republicans didn't raise the issue of paying for funds, recently voted for military action in Syria and Iraq.

  • 10:46:37

    LABOTTMargaret, what do you think?

  • 10:46:38

    TALEVSue, I'm sorry, do you mean how the government will pay for it or sort of a budget austerity issue?

  • 10:46:43

    SUEYeah. Why didn't they -- they raise the issue every time there's a new proposal for spending money. Why didn't they raise it in this particular issue?

  • 10:46:52

    TALEVI mean, I think it's a really interesting question, and I don't want to give you an oversimplified answer, but it might be. I think on the one hand, it's a lot easier for Republicans to raise fiscal austerity issues when it is a domestic policy initiative than when it's a foreign policy initiative and much less a national security initiative.

  • 10:47:10

    SUEOr when the military is involved.

  • 10:47:12

    MASONWell, can I explain, there's -- during the Bush years, President Bush never budgeted for war. And then he would have to come up to Congress with a separate budget for the war, and they'd say oops, we forgot about this. Give us a few billion dollars for this, for the war effort.

  • 10:47:26

    SUEThat was off the books.

  • 10:47:28

    MASONBut exactly, but President Obama, under President Obama, there is this war fund. It's called OCO, Overseas Contingency Operations. And that pot of money is plenty of money, at least for now, for what the president wants. So that money was already there. They just didn't need to talk about it because it's there. They didn't have -- the president never requested more money for what he wants to do against ISIS.

  • 10:47:53

    TALEVBut if it was politically in their interest, certainly they would have talked about it. There would be, you know, delays of votes and amendments and, you know, these sort of endless displays on the House and Senate floor and speeches and such. The calculation politically, by the Republicans in both chambers, was this is a national security imperative. We wish we could stick it to Obama somehow, but it's more important to get onboard with this vote now, and we'll find a way to stick it to him later.

  • 10:48:17

    WEISMANAnd if anything, they want more. I mean, they want the president to be doing more, many of the Republicans do.

  • 10:48:20

    LABOTTWell, I think how politics obviously fits into this, Rand Paul seems to be really interesting because last week he was saying ISIS needs to be destroyed and at all costs. And this week, yesterday, he was on the Senate floor saying that there's too much war, and there's not, you know, we shouldn't going there. It's a little bit schizophrenic here.

  • 10:48:40

    MASONWhich throws it forward a little bit to how this issue will play in the presidential campaign.

  • 10:48:42

    WEISMANYes, I think all, we watched very carefully what the 2016 hopefuls did yesterday, and obviously they know that this is a real issue. They know what the vote for -- to authorize war in Iraq did for Hillary Clinton, and they know what it did for John Kerry, and they were very, very conscious of how yesterday's vote will play in just a few months when the presidential campaign starts getting underway.

  • 10:49:09

    MASONBut they're also watching the polls, and as we discussed earlier, there is support for doing something, and that doesn't go away just because people are starting to think about White House ambitions.

  • 10:49:21

    TALEVWell, and the dynamics inside a prospective Republican primary are kind of the mirror image of the dynamics inside a Democratic presidential primary. I mean, opposing -- supporting the action in Iraq hurt Hillary tremendously and paved the way for Obama to rise up through the Democratic ranks, but if you're a Republican, and you oppose this action, where does that leave you when you're competing for a primary?

  • 10:49:44

    TALEVBut if you're -- but if you've been branded an isolationist early on, like Rand Paul was, you need to try to find some space for yourself without appearing to have changed your mind so much that you can't walk your way back out of it.

  • 10:49:55

    MASONBut it was really interesting because we saw this factionalism yesterday. We saw Rand Paul go to the floor and actually re-adopt that libertarianism, that isolationism. So he has made the calculation that this is base. I was surprised. He went, and he gave a very, you know, let's-not-get-involved speech. Then you have Ted Cruz, who opposed it because he just hates, you know, he opposes anything that President Obama wants. He's trying to corner that part of the Republican Party.

  • 10:50:24

    MASONAnd then you saw Marco Rubio, senator from Florida, he went down and gave a very hawkish speech and said look, it's not perfect, but life is not perfect, and I'm going to embrace it. He's embracing kind of the John McCain way...

  • 10:50:38

    TALEVStraight up the middle, Republican style.

  • 10:50:40


  • 10:50:40

    LABOTTOkay, we have a lot of calls and tweets and such on the NFL issue, and we have a tweet from Stacy. Could the panel please discuss the tax-exempt status of the NFL? Do they think that the Congress would do anything to eliminate it, Jeff?

  • 10:50:54

    MASONWell, I think that's a great question, and I think it raises the issue of how the NFL story has now become a very political one, as well. And you have Nancy Pelosi speaking about it and raising that issue that your tweeter or caller just raised. It all comes down to money again. NFL, the NFL is still very popular. It seems like it would be a real push to get a change happening in Congress. But when people at the highest echelons of power, like Nancy Pelosi, are beginning to raise it, then the NFL certainly has to be worried. And that's one reason I think that they are trying, at lease from a perception angle, to take this crisis even more seriously.

  • 10:51:33

    WEISMANWell ironically, Maria Cantwell, senator from Washington, introduced legislation last night to end the NFL's tax exemption, but it was over the Redskins' name. So there are so many controversies with the NFL right now.

  • 10:51:45

    LABOTTJonathan Weisman of the New York Times, I'm Elise Labott, and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Obviously this NFL issue is very important. Let's go to Leonard in North Carolina. Leonard, you're on the air.

  • 10:52:02

    LEONARDHow are you doing today?

  • 10:52:05

    LABOTTThanks, thanks for calling. We're doing great.

  • 10:52:07

    LEONARDWell here's my problem. The gentleman on your panel that just stated out of his own mouth that Republicans are about personality, and Democrats are about issue, is clueless. First of all, Republicans are more about the issue and are normally a more informed voter. When you go out, and I asked people at the 2008 election why are you voting for Obama, not one person in an entire evening gave me a reason that had anything to do with anything either hating Republicans or the fact that he's another black president.

  • 10:52:47

    LEONARDAnd that doesn't mean that there aren't people with legitimate reasons to vote for the man, but not one of them could voice that opinion in about four hours at the polls. First of all, as far as issues are concerned, we do have to do something about ISIS, and it's the first time I've seen something come out of Obama that I actually support because you cannot allow this. As a veteran and a United States Army veteran, going back is not a problem. We'll put boots on the sand, we'll kick their ass and make it happen.

  • 10:53:16

    LABOTTOkay. Jonathan?

  • 10:53:18

    WEISMANI will defend myself here. I was quoting a Republican campaign operative who was working on the Iowa campaign, and I was talking about something very specific, a race in Iowa between Joni Ernst, who is very conservative in a state that is kind of very purple, against Bruce Braley, who was -- emerged on the scene as a more moderate Democrat but has run a campaign that has really been fumbling and bumbling over personality issues like his wife, you know, taking the neighbor to court over a chicken coming onto their lawn.

  • 10:53:58

    WEISMANThe question is not whether, writ large, Republicans care about issues or not. The question is in this particular Senate race, do issues versus -- how are issues versus personality playing. So I'm going to defend myself. And I will grant you that of course Republicans care very much about issues and are informed about issues.

  • 10:54:20


  • 10:54:20

    MASONYeah, I think both sides are informed about issues and care about issues. And I think it was interesting, though, to me what the caller said in terms of him being someone who doesn't normally support Obama but is finding reasons to support him now because of the action he wants to take against ISIS. So it'll be interesting to see whether maybe the low polls that we talked about that are affecting the president do turn around if you start getting some support, even from those voters who are normally inclined not to support the president.

  • 10:54:48

    LABOTTAll right, Leonard, thanks for your call. Let's go to Dave in Miami, Florida. Hi Dave.

  • 10:54:52

    DAVEHello, good morning.

  • 10:54:54

    LABOTTGood morning.

  • 10:54:54

    DAVEThank you for taking my call.

  • 10:54:55

    LABOTTThanks for joining us.

  • 10:54:59

    DAVEAnd I have waited, and I'd like to make two comments now. The first of course goes back to the Obama situation with regards to health care. And it is my opinion that we as a nation have really not addressed the health care problems that we have, especially with the number of new Americans coming in to America from different places. And it's a burden in that regard. And I think that there should be something done about this Obama health care that will address this issue of new individuals coming in to America, as well as our citizens.

  • 10:55:41

    LABOTTVery good question. Margaret?

  • 10:55:43

    TALEVThat's absolutely true. And when you -- you know, part of this debate about the escalating cost of health care is that people who don't have any kind of health safety net end up at the emergency room and, you know, of course have to be taken care of. It's a humanitarian issue, and it costs money. But Obamacare was a political solution to a national political problem and doesn't solve or address anything, and the political boundaries that had to be installed on it in order to get it to pass involved this promise that this would be for people who were allowed to be here and for citizens.

  • 10:56:18

    TALEVAnd at least the -- you know, to the extent that it's a subsidized program, that there are subsidies. There are these broader issues to work out, but until this, until the Affordable Care Act, as it exists now, is kind of ironed out, until it goes through year two, until we see kind of where the enrollment stops, if there were 40 million people who needed insurance, and 20 million get insurance, that'll go a huge way towards addressing both some of the potential cost issues but also some of the societal issues about disease management, health of the American workforce, how people's children are cared for.

  • 10:56:56

    TALEVThese other issues, this next wave, is so tied into the immigration issue, which is being punted and postponed until after the midterm elections.

  • 10:57:03

    LABOTTI'm Elise Labott, sitting in for Diane Rehm. I want to thank our guests, Jeff Mason or Reuters, Margaret Talev of Bloomberg and Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times. Thanks for listening, everybody. Have a good weekend.

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