Pulitzer Prize winning author Anthony Doerr talks about his new novel, "Cloud Cuckoo Land," and why he says his job as a writer is to reveal our interconnections as people, and as a planet.
Guest Host: Susan Page
In a big win for President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court upholds federal healthcare subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. Following the decision, Obama says the law is “here to stay.” In more good news for the President, Congress clears the way for the Trans-Pacific trade deal. Funerals begin in Charleston for the victims of last week’s church shooting, as calls to take down Confederate symbols grow louder across the country. And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal adds his name to the field of Republican candidates running for president. Guest host Susan Page and a panel of reporters discuss the week in news.
- Jackie Calmes National correspondent, The New York Times.
- Domenico Montanaro Lead political editor, NPR.
- Susan Glasser Editor, Politico.
Video: What Will SCOTUS Decisions Mean For Republicans In 2016?
Even if the GOP’s 2016 candidates don’t agree with this week’s Supreme Court decisions on the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality, the rulings make the long debates “non-issues” — clearing the way for candidates to focus on other, less socially divisive topics, The New York Times’ Jackie Calmes said.
Video: The Evolution Of Marriage Equality
“It’s hard to look at another issue and see this quick of a shift in public opinion,” NPR’s Domenico Montanaro told us on the June 26 roundup.
He takes a quick look at how public, SCOTUS attitudes have changed over the past decade.
Is The ACA Here To Stay?
A decision this week from the Supreme Court protects nationwide tax subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. It’s the second major challenge the legislation has survived. Will it be the last? Our panel weighs in.
Video: How Far Will The Fight To Remove The Confederate Flag Go?
Politicians are uniting behind a movement to remove the Confederate flag from public grounds. But will it move for a call to remove the flag from other places, or, to remove Confederate leaders’ names from buildings and schools? Our panel weighs in.
MS. SUSAN PAGEThanks for joining us. I'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm. She'll be back on Monday. This just in, the Supreme Court has recognized a constitutional right for gay couples to marry in all 50 states. Yesterday, another big Supreme Court decision ruling in favor of the Affordable Care Act. President Obama travels to Charleston today to deliver the eulogy for Pastor Clementa Pinckney. And Congress clears the way to consider the transpacific trade deal.
MS. SUSAN PAGEHere to discuss this week's top national stories are our Friday News Roundup, Jackie Calmes of The New York Times, Domenico Montanaro of NPR and Susan Glasser of Politico. Welcome to "The Diane Rehm Show."
MS. JACKIE CALMESThank you.
MR. DOMENICO MONTANAROThank you very much.
MS. SUSAN GLASSERGood to see you.
PAGEWe invite our listeners to join our conversation, too. You can call our toll-free number 1-800-433-8850. Send us an email to email@example.com. Find us on Facebook or Twitter. And you can watch the live stream of our show on drshow.org. So let's start with the decision just released moments ago from the Supreme Court recognizing a constitutional right to gay marriage. Susan Glasser, how important is this?
GLASSERWell, I think it's pretty important. This is one of those landmark decisions that we'll be talking about a looking back on 50 years from now. I think it represents a real civil rights moment in the United States, especially in the context of -- just as with African American civil rights being recognized by the court at a time when the political world wasn't in the same place as the court. I think what you see here with gay rights is something that was really, truly unthinkable, in a way, that it's hard for us even to remember just a few years ago.
GLASSERSomebody was just noting that it was only in 2004 when 62 percent of people in Ohio voted against recognizing a right to legalize same-sex marriage. Now, we're talking in all 50 states in the country. This is a close decision, by the way. It's 5-4. It wasn't as big of a majority as the 6-3 decision yesterday to uphold Obamacare and so I think you're going to see a lot of questions about, okay, well, this represents a civil rights breakthrough for the United States, but it's still a divided country and that speaks to that as well.
GLASSEREvery single one of those justices who dissented, all four of them, including Chief Justice John Roberts, are reading out loud now their dissent. Every single one of them wrote their own opinion, dissenting.
PAGEThat shows you something, how splintered the court is. And, of course, we haven't had a chance to look at the decisions themselves. But, in fact, Domenico, this was not a surprise. This is the direction that we thought the court was headed.
MONTANAROWe did think the court was heading this direction, but I think what was surprising is how broad it went. I think we thought there might be a 50/50 chance they'd go broad or they might say something a bit more narrow. But in doing this, it's really remarkable when you look at how this issue has changed over the last 10 years. To some of the points that Susan was making, if you think about President George W. Bush putting forward a constitutional ban, federal ban, on same-sex marriage back when he was running for reelection and now you've had a complete change in public opinion with 57, 60 percent nearly supporting same-sex marriage, it's hard to look at any other issue and see this quick of a shift in public opinion.
PAGEThe parties, the political parties, are divided on this issue, Jackie. I'm sure Democrats who have increasing supported a right to same-sex marriage are cheering the decision. What do you expect to hear from Republicans?
CALMESWell, the Republicans -- this is, for the second day in a row, a decision that the Republicans will condemn en mass, but they, you know, party leaders are privately very much relieved. Yesterday's ruling supporting the Affordable Care Act and today's on gay marriage, they can say that both they disagree strongly, that these are going to be big issues in the 2016 presidential election, but really, they'd rather have the issue than have to be on the defensive and defending, well, what are you going to do now about all those millions of people that don't have insurance and what are you going to do now about all the millions of people who are gay and who want to be married to the person they love?
CALMESNow, they can just have the issue with their constituents. But as much as they say they want to make it an issue in the 2016 presidential election, I think that this decision, which, as Susan said, is going to be a major, historic, landmark decision that we'll talk about for years for basic civil rights, it's not going to be a divisive one, I think, for the long term, like, say, Brown versus Board of Education in 1954 or Roe versus Wade. Some of the conservatives in the Republican party have said that if the court upheld gay marriage, it would be the new Roe versus Wade.
CALMESI just don't see that, just for the very reason that we've seen in such few years how the society has accepted it. And just one point on that, remember, this president, President Obama, when he came to office, wasn't even for gay marriage and now it's virtually seen as one of the victories of his administration.
GLASSERYeah, Jackie, I'm so glad you pointed that out. I was struck in a number of stories that I read yesterday previewing this decision that people were talking about, you know, this is part of the positive Obama legacy, when, in fact, you know, even the president himself has moved on the issue. Remember, in 2012, that it was Joe Biden, you know, and there was a big question, was it a gaffe, did he force the president's hand, did he -- and this was just a few years ago.
GLASSERSo number one, it suggests a change. Number two, I think Jackie's point is excellent when it comes to the question of this legacy and will this be an ongoing controversy around gay marriage or not. It's important to note that there is a significant difference, which is, of course, that there are gay people, there are lesbians across all racial lines in the United States, across class lines, so this is something that affects Republican families, too.
GLASSERRemember, Dick Cheney has a daughter who is very proudly out as a lesbian and really, clearly influenced his family's views. And I think that Jackie's right to say that there will be, on the one hand, political acceptance across a broad spectrum. On the other hand, we may well see that this plays to the worst instincts of our increasing fragmented political system in that, you know, there's a lot of demagoguery that one can envision out of both this and the Obamacare decision.
GLASSERBut my basic takeaway is that a year from now, in 2016, we're not going to be hearing a lot on the presidential campaign trail either about gay marriage or about Obamacare. I think there will be a different set of issues that we're talking about.
PAGEOne thing to remember is we see a big age divide on the issue of gay marriage where younger people are much more accepting of a right for same-sex couples to wed, even a majority of Republicans who are under 30 support the idea. So that's one thing that indicates that over the long haul, this is a decision that is likely to meet with acceptance. Well, let's talk about the other monumental Supreme Court decision we got just yesterday. Dom, a huge relief for the White House.
MONTANAROAbsolutely a relief. I mean, you saw Jen Saki, who is one of the White House spokespeople saying there were happy dances in the hallways yesterday, which I was a little surprised by, that they would actually admit to that. But there's no question that this would've been a giant mess had the subsidies been stripped out and you would've had people, up to 6.4 million, 8 million people thereabouts who could've been affected, losing subsidies.
MONTANARONow, that would've put -- that would've not only been a potential crushing blow to the Affordable Care Act, to Obamacare, but it would've also put congressional Republicans in a major bind because they would've had to figure out with something as popular as these subsidies, what do they do? And they had not been united around a plan, whatsoever. So congressional Republicans who were also oddly, ironically sighing -- had a breath of relief as well.
PAGESo just to back up, is that what the court decided was that the -- if you buy your insurance on a federal exchange because your state decided not to set up an exchange, you're still eligible for a federal subsidy. More than 6 million Americans are doing that right now. So Jackie, does this mean that the Affordable Care Act has a clear run now? Are there other serious challenges? 'Cause this is the second big challenge we've seen in the courts that it has survived?
CALMESIt does have challenges, but I think it's not a -- you're not going out on a limb to say, this is now a law that has entered the fabric of our country, as the president said, and it's, you know, I think, going to be around in some form for a long time. Now, you know, we've all covered big legislation in the past and whether you go back to the 1986 tax reform law or the many big deficit reduction packages, it was always a standard procedure that you would have what was called a technical corrections bill and we would make -- the members of Congress, both parties, would make changes.
CALMESIn our polarized Congress, that's not been able to happen with this bill and so there are things that even Democrats would like to have done, but to have legislation would open the door to these repeal efforts and such. I think maybe it'll probably have to wait until 2017, but you'll start to see, you know, legislation that will correct some of the things that people don't like about this bill, some of the things that are just glitches, like the language that was at the heart of this case yesterday and that it will be done on a somewhat bipartisan basis.
MONTANAROWell, here's a big question. Does the next president, if it's a Republican, really want to go through with a full repeal? We went -- our team at NPR went and counted up all of the statements from Republican candidates yesterday. Every single one of them used the word repeal in their statements. Do they really want to do that, is the question because then their entire presidency, like this president, is going to be defined by healthcare and all of the complications that come with that, increase premiums, everything else that winds up happening.
MONTANAROYou have an opposition party that won't help them a single inch on this. Sounds like President Obama, right? Are they really going to want to do that completely or are they going to keep in place a solid foundation of what President Obama's put in place, maybe make a few tweaks like getting rid of the mandate, which then, in turn, Democrats would argue would increase costs and premiums and then that Republican president would own that.
MONTANAROSo it's going to be a very complicated thing. On the campaign trail, it's very clear cut, but in governance, whether or not they'll actually do that.
PAGEWe're going to take a short break and when we come back, we'll talk about another big victory for President Obama this week, that one on trade. We're going to take your calls and questions. You can call our toll-free lines. Our lines are open, 1-800-433-8850. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Find us on Facebook or Twitter. Stay with us.
PAGEWelcome back. I'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm. It's the first hour, the domestic hour of our Friday News Roundup. And joining me in the studio, Susan Glasser, the editor of Politico, Domenico Montanaro, he's the lead political editor at NPR, and Jackie Calmes, she's national correspondent at The New York Times. Big switch this week on trade. We were talking just a week or so ago about a stinging defeat for President Obama on his push to facilitate consideration of that big Pacific trade deal. That turned around this week. Jackie tell us how the White House and the Republican leaders of Congress -- kind of an unusual coalition...
PAGE...managed to turn defeat into victory.
CALMESWell, some of the initial coverage, I think, was a -- went a bit too far in declaring, you know, this the obit of not only the trade bill but of the Obama administration, because there were all these procedural things that they could do to resurrect it. We've seen it happen before on other things. The problem was -- the big question mark was, doing those procedural tricks required trust on both sides, which there's not a lot of. So there had to be the thought, you know, so they set up these votes in the Senate and then -- to send back to the House that would split off these issues of trade and the provisions that provide assistance to workers who are displaced by trade agreements, who lose their jobs.
CALMESAnd so those issues had, in the past, had to be together because otherwise Democrats -- enough Democrats wouldn't vote for trade. By separating them, they could -- knew they could get the votes for the trade bill in a Republican-led Congress. But then Democrats wouldn't want to vote against, it hoped and that's what happened -- wouldn't want to vote against the worker assistance. So now, then you put them both together on the president's desk. So you get both in two separate bills.
PAGESo now this doesn't mean that the Trans-Pacific Pact passes. It's not even negotiated yet, Susan Glasser. But it does make it easier to envision getting to a conclusion on negotiations and getting it through Congress.
GLASSERWell, that's right. Actually, you know, the thing about a multi-country, complicated, regional trade pact is that this fast-track authority in effect is the beginning or one of the early stages, not the end stage, of the conversation. It is the crucial prerequisite for the president to be able to bypass what would be otherwise absolutely impossible barriers to getting this kind of a complicated treaty done. And remember also that Obama is trying both to negotiate this agreement in the Pacific and also a potentially as significant trade deal with Europe as well at the same time. That's slightly behind where the Pacific agreement is.
GLASSERBut both of these together would constitute basically a major restructuring of the international economy in a way that would really have enormous consequences really over the next number of decades. So that's how sort of a long game it's playing. So some of that won't conclude until the next president, whether it's, you know, she or he takes office, regardless of party. And I do think, the one other thing I'd spotlight, is not only Jackie's point that, you know, the up-and-down nature of this fight over trade has been interesting to watch. Obama's dead. He's alive. He's dead again.
GLASSERHis key ally really here was Paul Ryan, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who remember was actually on the ticket against President Obama in 2012. And actually it was that alliance between the two of them that yielded this very major victory for Obama's -- really the top of his international economic agenda. We have a great sort of backstage tick-tock on Politico today by Jake Sherman and Manu Raju. And what is really interesting is, on the one hand, the rift with Democrats who have been among the most faithful allies of Obama. So this is really, as a political story, it's a terrific story.
GLASSERNancy Pelosi, Nita Lowey, they're on the record in this saying to their colleagues in backstage meetings, "We feel angry. We feel betrayed by President Obama. He didn't treat us fairly." On the other hand, you have Paul Ryan basically going and offering political advice backstage to President Obama for months and saying, for example, "Don't say," as he did in the State of the Union Address, "Congress, give me this authority. Because basically, we're going to have to do it despite President Obama and not because of you." I just -- it's a fascinating political story.
MONTANAROWell, here's the thing. The Republicans have always been in favor of free trade. And so this was the obvious place where President Obama was going to have to be able to use some of that political, you know, clout with them on an issue that they wanted. The problem for Republicans, too, though was trying to keep some of their Tea Party members in line, when they tried to pass TAA, the Trade Adjustment Assistance, in the first place, which is what got derailed a couple weeks ago. Now, what's really interesting to me though here is that labor has really taken a -- they took a big shot at this president and at this policy and they lost big time.
MONTANAROAnd I don't know how many things labor can really point to and say that they've gotten accomplished here. And when they want to see their influence increase with whoever that next president is going to be or whoever the Democratic nominee in this case could be -- and we've seen Hillary Clinton sort of walk the line on trade and not be very forthright about it, you know -- how much play -- how influential is labor anymore? And their decline has been something over the past generation.
PAGEAnd so, Jackie, talk about what position this puts Hillary Clinton in. We think she's likely to be the Democratic nominee for president. She said this trade deal was the gold standard but that was when she was Secretary of State, it wasn't when she was running for president herself.
CALMESRight. She -- I mean, her positioning on this or change of positioning on this really underscored, you know, just sort of a parallel with what the Republicans face on their side of trying to play to the, you know, the constituencies of the party base and for the nomination and yet, you know, have a general, a more centrist position for the general election. She, you know, as you can see, with the pressure she's under, we saw polls this week in from The Wall Street Journal and NBC and others that show that Bernie Sanders is actually gaining on her in Iowa and New Hampshire. And he is a very full-throated opponent of free trade -- these trade agreements. And so she's trying to have it both ways.
GLASSERWell, just a quick point on the Bernie-mentum, as it's being called. You know, I think it's a very interesting development on the one hand. On the other hand, it does reflect more or less Sanders consolidating the sort of non-rubber-stamp Hillary vote that was already out there. So what...
GLASSER...it really reflects is that this probably isn't going to be Martin O'Malley's moment and that Sanders has emerged as the sort of quirky, left, standard bearer. Almost -- sort of like the...
GLASSER...the Ron Paul of the left in this particular campaign.
PAGEBernie Sanders would object to that characterization.
PAGEYeah, Ron Paul.
GLASSERBut I'm not the first to make it though.
MONTANAROYeah. And we -- I think that it's clear that with the type of following that he has that it's -- it had seemed similar to that. A CNN poll out yesterday, New Hampshire showed Bernie Sanders down eight points to Hillary Clinton, 43-35. Now, I don't know that we should be all that shocked that an anti-Hillary has emerged. Because a lot of the reporting that we've had is -- even people at Hillary Clinton's kick-off event had said that, well -- and then wearing a Hillary Clinton t-shirt -- said, "Well, I think I'll support Bernie in the primary because, you know, I know Hillary will get through and then we'll support her then."
MONTANAROIt's a little bit of a protest vote. But it's also reflective of how Hillary Clinton is just not firing up that Democratic base. She's not an inspirer. She's seen as more of a manager. And there's a little bit of a disaffection and probably a bit of a comedown for a lot of Democrats who wanted to be inspired. They were wrapped into the momentum of the 2008 Obama run. And now, this time, it's seen as, you know, she's more of a manager rather than someone who can really inspire and fire them up.
PAGEWell, let's go to the phones and let some of our listeners join our conversation. We'll start with Nathan. He's calling us from Miami. Nathan, welcome.
NATHANYes. Thank you for taking my call. I just wanted to say that actually I recently graduated from law school at the University of Miami. And in my Constitutional Civil Liberties course, I played the part, during a course dramatization of this case -- of actually the opponents of the position that the Supreme Court took. I don't personally hold that position. I think that the Supreme Court is absolutely right. But I want to say that, after reading the opinion very briefly here, just before calling in, I have to point out that the protections that the court has afforded to gay marriage are beyond anything virtually that anyone in our court -- in our course even anticipated.
NATHANThey are the most broad, sweeping language of privacy rights for gay couples, citing cases like, Eisenstadt v. Baird, Roe v. Wade, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, Olmstead v. United States. I mean, this is not just strict scrutiny or some narrow affirmative action. This is the -- I mean, overwhelming recognition of the equal rights of gay couples based in basic bedrock privacy rights.
PAGENathan, thanks so much for your call and congratulations on your graduation from law school. Susan Glasser, we've been also trying to look to get a -- just an early look at what the court has said. Tell us about this.
GLASSERWell, I think, you know, Nathan, our caller is right, that, you know, this is a pretty sweeping language and recognition of a broad right as opposed to a narrow one. I was struck by this quote from Justice Kennedy's opinion for the majority. He wrote the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy. That is a very broad frame. It echoes, of course, Roe versus Wade. It echoes really an expansive definition of what it is that the constitution covers in a way that one could imagine that framework and that legal language being applied to things even other than marriage.
PAGELet's go to Allison. She's calling us from Washington, D.C. Allison, you're on "The Diane Rehm Show."
ALLISONThank you and good morning. I just wanted to comment on the panelists' characterization of the defeat that labor experienced in the TPA, TAA vote. I actually think that we, in the organized -- in the labor movement -- can point to the fact that this is a very, you know, it's an issue that the president relied on Republicans who have typically opposed every initiative of his. And it's very striking about the Democrats -- the Democratic base that opposed the president. And the votes reflect that.
PAGEWell, what do you -- what do you think is...
ALLISONSo we have another...
PAGEWhat do you think the reaction is going to be. I mean, it sounds like you're, yourself, a supporter of organized labor?
ALLISONYes. Mm-hmm. And -- and...
PAGEAnd so what do you think the reaction is going to be to this?
ALLISONI think we are going to continue the campaign. This is -- this, you know, all the labor organizations, the Progressive Allies, we have the faith community, the environmental community. This is a bad deal for American workers. And the groups that have been, you know, campaigning to try to educate the public about, that these trade deals harm the American worker and state governments. You know, this deal has a lot of things in it that is going to be very bad for all of us. And...
PAGEAllison, thank you so much for your call. You know, I just wonder, the president succeeded with an alliance with Paul Ryan and other Republicans. They, as Allison's saying, they’ve not been his friends in the past on issues. Are there consequences for President Obama with the people who have been his friends and allies, Jackie, do you think?
CALMESThere are consequences. And I mean, I think we see that in that his, you know, his overall job approval is held down. And part of that is not just conservative opposition, it's just the very, very liberal Americans are telling pollsters that they're unhappy with him. But, you know, he is -- he's the lame-duck president now. And I think the attention is shifting to Hillary Clinton. So she's really the one that -- that they are looking.
PAGEYou know, this victory though this week only sets the rules for consideration of the trade pact. It's not approval of the trade pact itself. Do you think the way is now clear, Susan?
GLASSERWell, I think that's actually the very important point. It's interesting to hear the caller expressing such definitive opinions about a deal that's not finalized. And, you know, what all the experts -- and I'm certainly not an expert on trade -- say is that, in fact, actually, it is those details that matter. And that is where, by the way, Hillary Clinton has tried to walk this fine line. If you look at what she's actually said, she's said is, "Well, I supported, you know NAFTA, which was negotiated under my husband. A lot of people have second-guessing criticism of that."
GLASSER"And that really, it's going to be a question of what is built into it around issues like worker protection and stuff, which is not a final statement." So the timing of that final version of the pact may well determine whether it's seen politically as a negative or not for Democrats.
PAGEAllison, thanks so much for your call. I'm Susan Page and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We're taking your calls, 1-800-433-8850. Well, in Charleston, the funerals have begun for victims of that terrible church shooting. President Obama will deliver a eulogy today. This has prompted some considerable momentum to remove Confederate symbols from public places. Dom, has this been a surprise to you?
MONTANAROWell, it moved very quickly when it came to the Confederate flag, in particular. I mean, in South Carolina, the fight has been happening for so long. I mean, it was 15 years ago when Democrats and Republicans in the state came with that compromise to take the flag off the dome. So to see it move this quickly, when Republican candidates, frankly, were not exactly stepping forward to say, "Let's do this." Until Nikki Haley took the steps, the governor of South Carolina, to do it -- Lindsey Graham was there, so was Tim Scott, the first African-American Senator from South Carolina -- then all of sudden there was a flood of support to get that moving.
MONTANARONow, here's the question, though, going forward. How far does this go? Does this mean removing names from -- of Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis Highway, you know, across the Potomac in Virginia. Are you going to be removing the names of Robert E. Lee from elementary schools and other places, something that David Brooks wrote about today in The New York Times, arguing that he thinks they should.
CALMESWell, I -- it has been so interesting this week because you had, at the beginning of the week, the Republican leaders and -- were saying, every time there was some suggestion from the left or from Democrats that there, something like, you know, "Take down the flag." Or from just the people in Charleston, S.C. They were saying, "Don't -- you're politicizing the murders of these people. Can't you at least wait till the funerals are over?" And then, you know, Senator Tim Scott, the first African-American U.S. Senator from South Carolina since reconstruction said that he was not going to speak to this until after the funerals were over.
CALMESBut then Nikki Haley came out. And one thing that doesn't get enough attention about this is the impact of business pressure on this. I mean, South Carolina has come a long way. I was there just recently and talking to business people. It used to be a very protectionist, inward-looking state. And it is now the site of major multi-national corporations and a lot of new businesses. And those people do not want this state to be seen as backward and racist.
GLASSERI think, in many ways, there's a fascinating comparison, right, between the fast flip-flop on public opinion on gay marriage and what happened this week with extraordinary alacrity that the political class in South Carolina turned against the flag that they had long supported flying. Remember, it was padlocked to the top of the flagpole. That's how serious of an issue it was. This wasn't moving anywhere. It was literally padlocked there. And I think business is a commonality to both. Remember, earlier this year, we had the debate about boycotting Indiana because of the perception that there was anti-gay measures...
GLASSER...taking place. And so I think the analogy is very striking to me. What it shows, number one, is that it -- we should look. There's a generational shift in American politics. There are changing attitudes. They are not showing up in what were perceived to be long-stagnant political fights. On the Confederate flag, remember this is something that had actually haunted our politics, like, pretty regularly. It was like every couple of years somebody would bring it up. And there was an element of sort of "Groundhog Day" to the politics of it. It seemed frozen. And then, boom, in one week, it came unfrozen for a very tragic reason, we should say.
PAGEYou know, I saw an interesting essay in Slate by Jessica Winter that said that -- we were -- we're talking about bringing about bringing down the Confederate flag in reaction to the shooting, because we are unable to talk about controlling guns. That's a debate that continues to be pretty much frozen in American politics. I thought that was an interesting point. Well, we're going to take another short break. And when we come back, we'll talk about yet another person in the Republican presidential field this week. And we'll take your calls and questions. We'll read some of your emails. Stay with us.
PAGEWelcome back. I'm Susan Page of USA Today sitting in for Diane Rehm. Man, what a week we've had with news on the domestic scene. We're joined to discuss it this hour by Domenico Montanaro, the lead Political Editor at NPR, by Susan Glasser, the Editor of Politico and by Jackie Calmes, national correspondent for the New York Times. Well, here's an email from Dan who writes us from Sacramento. He writes, it seems every time President Obama is counted out, he pulls through.
PAGEUnemployment, the economy, Obamacare, gay marriage, you know, even the TPP, that would be the trade deal. Will he or won't he, historically, be one of the most successful American Presidents? Jackie, what do you think?
CALMESWell, the email goes to the President's own point and his aides about himself, that he's a fourth quarter player and, you know, and it's been sort of a point of frustration, even to his supporters, that sometimes he only comes alive when his back is up against the wall. And we've seen that here on a number of issues. I think, you know, there's no question he'll be seen as a consequential president. You know, those are judgments for historians to make. I mean, you only have to look at Harry Truman to see, in his own time, was not seen as much of a President.
CALMESAnd is now seen as quite, quite a good, and if not great one. But just for the ACA, just for the Affordable Care Act, that is going to be huge. But there's a lot that remains to be seen and, you know, bringing us back from the recession and near depression. I think he actually doesn't get enough credit for that, working with the Federal Reserve. But, you know, he has tried a lot and done a lot and the second term is turning out to be consequential, despite the resistance he's faced from Republicans.
PAGESusan, what do you think?
GLASSERWell, I think Jackie's points are excellent. You know, especially when it comes to, sort, of his domestic political record. I'm thinking back right now to Obama's second term inauguration speech, when we were all struck by, at the time, what was clear was a sort of pronounced left turn, a liberal Obama, somewhat unleashed, one who talked about rights, about history, about legacy in a way that we hadn't heard very much from first term Obama. Many of those issues are now resonating and circling back.
GLASSERI was struck again, this has been such a crazy week, we haven't even talked a lot about the very interesting things. Remember, this is also a President who, of course, is our first African American President. He has chosen, in the last week, to speak extraordinarily frankly about race in an interview, in ways that, over the last few months, we have seen him increasingly becoming more comfortable embracing that part of his identity. Trying to lead, understanding that the wounds of both inequality, class inequality and racial inequality are still fueling a lot of unfinished business here in the United States.
GLASSERAnd I think that is something that is sort of not quantifiable in the same way that a trade deal is, in the same way that, remember, what's happening today, which is that John Kerry is flying back to Vienna to embark on the final round of what could be an historic deal with Iran over its nuclear program and consequent lifting of sanctions. So, you know, the game isn't over. It's in the fourth quarter, but I'm struck by the fact that, you know, Obama is pretty consciously playing right now for that place in the history books.
MONTANAROHere's the thing. Process is always messy. And reporters in Washington, we cover the process, we've watched this White House make some missteps. They don't act with the most grace when it comes to working with Capitol Hill and trying to get a lot of that work done. But remember, in 2008, President Obama, you know, offended Bill Clinton by saying he wanted to be a transformational president, unlike the last few Presidents. He said, like Ronald Reagan. I think it's hard to see that President Obama hasn't been at least in the mix while the country has gone through some major transformations.
MONTANAROYou know, when you think about gay marriage, when you think about some other issues that we talked about. You know, the recession and everything else. Healthcare being able to go through. This is, I think, a time period when you have whites in the country dropping from highs in the 80s and 70s, you know, more minorities in the country, and you've got the first black president. Kind of at that intersection and trying to be a transformational president.
PAGELet's go back to the phones. Let's talk to Tony. He's calling us from Cleveland. Tony, you're on the air.
TONYGood morning, panel.
TONYMy question is regarding the investigation of the Charleston shooting. I'm wondering if the shooting is classified a terrorist event or a state murder or a hate crime. Does that dilute the level of investigation that it deserves? What I'm saying is that if there was others complicit in the planning, cause it seemed like he had some intelligence. He knew when the senator would be at the church and so forth. So, he discussed with others, they're equally culpable.
TONYSo is that important for America to know and again, would the NSA get involved with their surveillance program to just bring this type of information out? Is that important for this, for America to know?
PAGETony, thank you so much for your call. You know, there has been a debate over whether this shooting should be called an act of terrorism. Does it make a difference, in terms of the investigation, Dom?
MONTANAROWell, I'm not sure it makes a difference, in terms of the investigation. I mean, aside from the harshness of penalties and whether or not it's called a hate crime or not. But I was more fascinated early on, before we saw the manifesto on the website linked to the alleged shooter about some of his racist views. Where we saw the debate going was, whether or not it should be gun control or we should be talking about mental health. And there wasn't a lot of talk about race.
MONTANAROAnd that's something that Jim Clybourne heard say that this isn't about the confederate flag, either. He feels that that's something that papers over the deeper issue, and I think that's going to be something to listen for going forward.
PAGEWe saw Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal enter the crowded field of Republican Presidential hopefuls this week. Not a surprise. Susan, we figured he was going to run.
GLASSERWell, that's right. I mean, you know, we're now looking at, really, the most crowded Republican field that anyone can remember in recent memory. Bobby Jindal, at this point, is registering at under one percent in the polls. And I think the question people are probably increasingly going to be discussing is what is the theory of the case of what appeared to be a very, very large group of (word?). Next week, we have Chris Christie, who's planning to announce his presidential campaign.
GLASSERThe Governor of New Jersey, whose stock was once high, but has been battered by a variety of allegations. And, you know, again, what's the theory of the case? I don't think there's not a lot of scenarios in which a candidate like Bobby Jindal is going to not only win, but even play a significant role in shaping the debate. It was unclear to me, even after following his announcement, what's really going on here. But I do think, you know, what it speaks to is a fact that there's, unlike on the Democratic side, there's a perception of a lack of an established front runner.
GLASSERThere's a sense that the old system has fragmented and splintered apart in a way that gives the opportunity for enormous exposure and because of the way the campaign finance rules are, if you can find a way to get financing, if you can find a deep pocketed sugar daddy, you can probably stay in the race a lot longer than would have been possible in previous election cycles.
PAGEWe think Chris Christie will announce on Tuesday. Scott Walker is likely to follow next month. We think John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio, is also looking at the race in a serious way. So, it's a big field, but it's a really impressive field, in terms of kind of the electoral experience. I mean, it's a much heavier weight field for the Republicans than the big field they had last time.
MONTANAROYeah, well, in a few ways, it's interesting. I mean, you have all these Governors who are getting in the race, you have all these former Governors. No surprise, by the way, that the former Governors have all announced already, because the current Governors are all dealing with legislative battles and low approval ratings. Except for John Kasich, who wound up switching on some of his positions to be slightly more moderate and seeing his approval rating bounce back up. But, and another way, what's interesting, it's a huge field, but you've got more minority candidates than ever before running.
MONTANAROJindal, for example, the first Indian American who's ever sought the Presidency. And interestingly, there's been a backlash from a lot of Indian Americans toward Jindal. If you look at Twitter and you look at Facebook, on Jindal getting in, a lot of things talking about how he hasn't talked about being Indian American and about his heritage. And I think that we're going to wind up having a conversation about race in a little bit of a different way than we have about President Obama.
MONTANAROAnd when you look at those first early states, 99, 99, 98 percent white, you know, how do these candidates wind up talking about race and can they in the, you know, when they're running to win over that kind of constituency.
PAGESo, at a time when Republicans are really struggling to appeal to diverse voters, you have an Indian American, an African American, a woman, two Hispanics in the field, the most diverse field either party has had in history. And does that, you think, make a difference in appealing to minority voters?
GLASSERWell, number one, there's a very open question as to whether they're ever going to get all those candidates up on the stage, because there are so many, too many candidates, all the people who are hosting debates.
MONTANAROYeah, Donald Trump will probably edge out Bobby Jindal.
GLASSERThat's right. I mean, there, what is the objective measure by which you can put candidates on the stage? The first debate is going to be happening in early August. They've already said it will be based in some way on the polls. And guess what, Bobby Jindal, you know, doesn't have as much of a constituency, so number one, I think pulling back from this, optics are optics, but the reality is that the Republican party, in recent elections, has basically become the party of southern white males. And that is a rock solid core base for the party.
GLASSERAnd it is not sufficient to win national elections, but it gets them close. Of course, the demographic trends just are in the opposite direction. And the Republican party had a pretty interesting, very anguished self-analysis of its troubles after the 2012 election. What you haven't seen is a major movement in the positions of most of these candidates, who have real likelihood of winning the campaign.
PAGEBut, you know, one thing that struck me. I mean, it's certainly true that we haven't seen the Republicans actually do better among minority voters, but you look at the response to the shootings in Charleston, and you saw that the Indian American Republican female Governor of South Carolina kind of led the effort to have a response that showed the whole party a way out. Standing next to her, the African American Republican Senator from South Carolina. And you saw Ben Carson, the African American Republican candidate for President also calling to task other Republican Presidential candidates for suggesting this wasn't a racially motivated attack.
PAGEFor calling it an accident or for saying it was an assault on Christianity. And I wonder if that indicates the impact of having some senior Republicans who are -- do have demographic differences when it comes to the party trying to find its way. Jackie.
CALMESWell, there's no question, and this is what the value of diversity is, to, you know, force those conversations. And, I think more broadly though, that you know, for years, we've heard Republicans say that they are begrudged the fact that they saw blacks, in particular, but also Latinos, and to a lesser extent women, just being more supportive Democrats in a knee jerk way. And that they really should look at the Republicans from positions on things, cause they would find themselves with some affinity.
CALMESBut the fact is it isn't knee jerk. This will sort of show -- is showing that, that, you know, the fact that they cannot get support reflects the fact that just because say, you mention the Hispanic Presidential candidates, Ted Cruz is one of them. Cuban American. His positions on the issues that Latinos care about are not in sync with them, and in particular, on immigration. He's very, you know, adamantly opposed to any overhaul, liberalization of the immigration laws that would recognize the people who have been here for a long time.
CALMESAnd that is not, you know, it doesn't matter that his last name is Cruz or that he's Hispanic to many of those voters. He will get as few, perhaps, as Romney did, if he holds to that position, if he were to get the nomination.
GLASSERYeah, I think that's absolutely right, which is why Marco Rubio, perhaps, is a more interesting candidate in his ability to break through. But I would spotlight, actually, Rand Paul. We don't talk about him as much anymore, but I think he's a sort of cautionary tale on -- it's a lot easier to intellectually recognize the challenge that the Republican Party has to say. As Rand Paul has, listen, we've got to change, I'm going to have outreach to African Americans. I'm going to be a different kind of Republican. But he's had an enormous struggle, and when it comes to his actual policy positions, he's walked back on some of them.
GLASSEROr he's not been as far out there in changing as you would have expected, based on his rhetoric.
PAGEI'm Susan Page and you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. Don't forget, you can see all of our guests on our live video stream at drshow.org. Well, there was a massive cyber breach into the US government with a dimension that had not initially been revealed. Jackie, tell us what has happened here.
CALMESWell, initially, we learned, and belatedly, that there had been a breach of the Office of Personnel Management Records that was -- had accessed the very personal, medical financial records of about four million, 4.1 million federal workers. And then it -- you know, as this news keeps playing out, we find that a lot of people that those folks mentioned on various applications or job interviews were also drawn into this, to the point where it's now, by some estimates, 19 million people may have had their records accessed.
PAGE19 million Americans?
PAGEMay have had personal records accessed.
CALMESAnd what we know is that it came from group or groups in China. Whether it was sponsored by the Chinese government, our government hasn't said, including this week at a three day, two day conference of Senior US and Chinese officials. The Strategic and Economic dialogue. This controversy hung over all of it, but still, the American officials only will say publicly that China sponsors hacking against private companies. Not, they haven't gone so far as to accuse them of complicity in the hacking of these federal records.
GLASSERWell, what was interesting is that yesterday, you did see Jim Clapper, the head of -- the Director of National Intelligence sort of came out with the strongest statement yet, attributing the attack to the Chinese. And I was struck by the fact that, actually, internally, there seem to be some real concern in the administration that reflects their long standing tension internally about how much is it useful when it's hard to pin down exactly what the Chinese are doing? To go out there publicly, as Clapper did this week, and basically pin it on them without the detailed evidence.
GLASSERWe just had this strategic dialogue with the Chinese here in town. Over and over again, I think we're going to face this new era where when it comes to relationships with China and when it comes to relations with Russia, who are both out in front on using this tactic against American targets, whether they're companies or the government, does it make sense to get in a public finger pointing exercise or not? We have not seen that it's been a constructive effort so far to stop this hacking, which is escalating in the orders of magnitude that those who know a lot more about it than I do say is truly terrifying.
PAGEAnd what would the Chinese do with this information?
MONTANAROWell, they could do anything with it, right? I mean, they could be able to look at, I mean, any kind of movie world scenario where we're looking at power grids or whatever else, but they're able to take information, intelligence, and figure out how to strategically maneuver against the United States. And I think that in 20 years, we're going to be looking back on this moment and just being amazed at how little we actually understand the issue of cyber security. This is like the new Cold War, or the new covert war, rather.
MONTANAROAnd you've got sides that don't agree or won't say publicly what they're actually doing. But behind the scenes, only a few people who really understand how to read code and look at this information, you know, are actually being able to see it. I mean, think about reporting on this stuff, you know, you have to trust all these different sources, and it's almost impossible to independently, publicly verify any of it.
PAGEThe new Cold War, that's quite a way to look at it. Well, I want to thank our panel for being with us this hour. Domenico Montanaro from NPR, Susan Glasser from Politico, Jackie Calmes from the New York Times. Thanks so much for being with us.
CALMESThank you, Susan.
PAGEWe started the hour with the news just in that the Supreme Court had recognized a Constitutional right to same sex marriage in all 50 states. We're now waiting for him to make it -- for President Obama to make an announcement from an announcement from the White House. He sent out a tweet saying, today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else, #LoveWins. I'm Susan Page of USA Today, sitting in for Diane Rehm. She'll be back on Monday. Thanks for listening.
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