Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Jon Meacham on the evolution of Abraham Lincoln's moral principles and political leadership -- and what the era of Lincoln can teach us about the state of our democracy today.
Guest Host: Melissa Ross
An FBI dive team is searching a lake for evidence in the San Bernardino shootings. The agency says the couple responsible for the attack may have been in the area that day. The House is expected to follow the Senate in passing a stopgap measure to keep the federal government open. Donald Trump says he has enough support to run as an independent as leading Republicans prepare for the possibility of a brokered convention. The president signs a new national education law that shifts power back to the states. And protesters in Chicago continue to demand Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation.
- Jamelle Bouie Chief political correspondent, Slate
- Lisa Lerer National politics reporter, The Associated Press
- Stephen Dinan Political editor, The Washington Times
The Government's Latest Round Of 'Security Theater'
Trump Is 'Surprisingly, Pretty Good At Running For President'
Can Ted Cruz Continue To Pick Up Voters In The Republican Race?
MS. MELISSA ROSSThanks for joining us. I'm Melissa Ross of WJCT in Jacksonville, Florida, sitting in for Diane Rehm today. She'll be back on Monday. An update on the FBI's investigation of the San Bernardino shooting. Congress works to prevent a government shutdown and a new poll finds American's fear of another terrorist attack is at its highest since 9/11. Joining me for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Jamelle Bouie of "Slate" magazine, Lisa Lerer of The Associated Press and Stephen Dinan of The Washington Times.
MS. MELISSA ROSSWe'll be taking your comments and questions throughout the hour. Call us at 1-800-433-8850. Send us your email to email@example.com. Join us on Facebook or Twitter. And because it's Friday, we're doing a live video stream of this hour. You can watch the show at drshow.org. Lisa Lerer, let's begin with you. The shooting San Bernardino last week catching authorities very much by surprise. Neither of the two shooters were on law enforcement's radar. What's the latest in this investigation?
MS. LISA LERERSo the big thing we learned this week was that we know it was a married couple. We know authorities were investigating as an act of terrorism. And the big thing we learned was that they were radicalized for years. This was something this couple, they were each radicalized before they even started dating online. They were talking about jihad with each other while they were dating, before they got married in Saudi Arabia.
MS. LISA LERERThe wife came in on a marriage visa. They were doing target practices at ranges in the LA metro area within days of the events. But, you know, and there was a neighbor involved. We have to mention the neighbor. The guns were purchased legally by the neighbor who was a close friend of the shooter and they may have been planning some kind of attack in 2012, but gotten spooked by nearby arrests of other self-radicalized militants in Riverside, California.
MS. LISA LERERThey had a bunch of pipe bombs in their house. So what's been fascinating about this is how little the authorities knew about it. There were no warnings or intel that people jumped on beforehand. They really had no idea that these people were planning any of this stuff. And it's also pretty unusual. They're not natural targets. They're a couple and they're a couple with a young baby. Parents traditionally, especially parent with young kids, don't plan these kinds of attacks.
MS. LISA LERERIt's why the Islamic State militants actually urge their fighters not to have children and pay them not to have children because parents are less likely to do these kinds of attacks. So it's pretty interesting and it's pretty unusual and it really highlights how hard it is for authorities to find and prevent these kinds of attacks in this era of self-radicalized lone wolf kind of terrorism.
ROSSJamelle Bouie, FBI director James Comey telling a Senate hearing that the agency had found online discussions about jihad between Farook and others from late 2013, between Farook and his wife, before they actually began dating. But when it comes to self-radicalization, how difficult is it for law enforcement to get their arms around these types of lone wolf attacks.
MR. JAMELLE BOUIEI think it is so difficult and what it would take to be able to predict them, to find people would be so intrusive and so I think unpalatable to a lot of Americans who don't want that kind of government intrusion into their everyday activity, that it's one of those things that it's you can monitor discussion forums, you can keep an eye out, but at a certain point, much, much as with, I guess, traditional mass shootings, mass shootings with no particular ideology involved, it's kind of difficult to prevent them.
MR. JAMELLE BOUIEThe immediate analogy I draw with San Bernardino is not an act of terrorism, but it's the Charleston church shooting, which has a similar kind of self-radicalization. In this case, white supremacist radicalization and a similar sort of arch to it. The shooter, you know, got a gun legally and went out to do what he believed his ideology said he should do. And it's basically impossible to prevent those things in any systematic sense.
ROSSStephen Dinan, let's talk about the former neighbor and friend of the shooter, Enrique Marquez, and his role in this. He purchased the weapons used in last week's attack.
MR. STEPHEN DINANThat's right. Two AR-15s and, you know, he is, apparently, talking to investigators, but the latest is that investigators aren't exactly sure what to make of his testimony or of his conversations, his interviews. They're essentially not sure about his state of mind and what the information is that he's giving them. So the other thing is, yesterday, the police were, I guess, dredging the bottom of a nearby lake where the shooters had -- I guess they'd been earlier that morning.
MR. STEPHEN DINANThere were reports they were there hours before the shooting. Look, going back to something Jamelle talked about, there's a reason -- the difficulty of spotting this is why you're seeing Congress and the president sort of scrambling to try and figure out how to deal with this and you're seeing all these proposals about immigration and about guns coming up because it's, you know, sort of impossible to, well, as Jamelle said, to figure out beforehand who's the likely person to do this.
MR. STEPHEN DINANThink about the target here. The other lone wolf attacks we've seen have been on recruiting centers and things like this. This, you know, this looks like workplace violence and we all immediately thought it was workplace violence until the details started coming out. So Congress and the president are struggling to try and figure out ways to keep lethal weapons out of the hands of people who would radicalize and then potentially to keep radicals from getting to the U.S. through the immigration system and there are no good answers there. That's why you see the clash on Capitol Hill.
ROSSSure. And we'll discuss that in a little more detail as we continue. Meanwhile, Lisa Lerer, a new poll out just this week by the New York Times and CBS indicates American's fear of terrorism is as high right now as just after the September 11 attacks.
LERERRight. That's exactly right. You know, a large percentage of people anticipate that there'll be another attack in the next few months. There's a lot of anxiety, you know, in the electorate about what's gonna come, about terrorism, about what the appropriate policies are on national security both at home and abroad. And you see that reshaping the presidential race.
LERERI mean, on the Republican side, it's fascinating to me because when we entered this race, what, a year ago, maybe more for us who cover this so intensely, now hopefully your listeners who had other things to think about two years ago, but when we first started thinking about this presidential race, there was a big conversation about where the Republican party would go and would it embrace more hawkish policies or was it turning away from that kind of traditional Republican position to more, you know, less interventionist approach, like Rand Paul had been advocating for?
LERERAnd now, it really feels like a contest to see which Republican can outdo themselves to be the toughest, terror-fighting commander-in-chief. And it's fascinating. And it's particularly fascinating when you start thinking about the general. It looks like Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. I mean, you never know, but it looks pretty good for her these days. She, of course, has a pretty strong record on those kinds of things, but it's a record that's pretty closely tied to the president who has very low approval ratings on foreign policy.
LERERSo these dynamics could be really interesting, particularly when we get into the general and it's also part of what many people believe is fueling Trump's rise, this sense of freeform anxiety in the American public, not only about physical safety, but also about their economic security. So it's something that will be reshaping the presidential race and already has been.
ROSSAbsolutely. Jamelle Bouie, in that context, we see lawmakers and government officials pushing tough new anti-terror measures this week. The Department of Homeland Security says it's going to rework the nation's threat warning system. Is that going to be helpful?
BOUIEYou know, I tend to think that these sorts of measures all ultimately cosmetic. Again, law makers are not sure how to respond to these kind of threats. It's not clear that they can and no one wants to say to the public, listen. The thing that you would want to -- if you were being honest, you would say, listen. This is very scary. There's not that much we can do about it. You know, we're just gonna have to live with it.
BOUIEBut no one wants to say that. No one wants to be the politician who goes to their constituents or who goes on national television and says, for as scary as this is and for as terrifying as this is, at a certain point, unless you want to live in a police state, there's nothing we can do about it. And so you get things like changing the threat warnings, which I can't imagine a way in which that's measurably helpful to anyone.
BOUIEBut it feels -- it's sort of security theater. It feels good and so -- it feels good and it's easy and so they're gonna do it.
ROSSWe have, Stephen Dinan, this color-coded threat level system that was much derided, put in place after 9/11, then that was replaced by another system that had never actually been used. Now, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security saying we need a new system that can publicize warnings or other information, even if we don’t know the concrete details of a coming attack.
DINANYeah, you know, this all requires a public willing to buy into those sorts of systems and willing to sort of sort through exactly what the government is telling you without getting overly excited, but not getting under-excited as well. Look, FBI Director Comey sort of summed this up well in his testimony in Capitol Hill this week. This still all comes down to essentially Janet Napolitano's if you see something, say something.
DINANIt turns out, you know, we sort of mock that, but that really is the best defense when you're talking about self-radicalization, lone wolf attacks. You know, just if you see something out of the ordinary, say something. And you do get this sort of worrisome issue of at what level do you actually -- at what level does that backpack on the ground mean you do call somebody or, you know, do you just sort of say, yeah, you know, I'm in a place where there are a lot of people.
DINANSo the challenge there, Jamelle captured it perfectly, the challenge there is really difficult for them and a lot of it is cosmetic. One of the other things that, you know, we still don't know entirely whether there are signs that could have been caught here. As Lisa mentioned, you know, we know that the radicalization did happen certainly before the wife came to the U.S. Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the State Department are going through trying to see whether there are any flags that they did miss.
DINANAs of right now, they don't know that they're -- they don't know of any. But they're still not entirely sure. They're going back through legacy data to see whether there's something they could've missed. But if it turns out that there was nothing that they could've spotted, you know, we really are left with if you see something, say something and there is a certain amount of risk in the world.
LERERBut I also think, you know, one thing with see something, say something, like yes, it's about seeing a backpack in the subway, of course. But it's also about people in Muslim communities saying, like, we are worried -- in the U.S. saying perhaps this person is getting radicalized. Perhaps there's some problematic rhetoric here. Like, in this case, the family and friends said they had no idea. They didn't see this coming. But I think that's part of why Trump's problematic statements are so problematic.
ROSSAnd coming up, more of the Friday News Roundup. You can see all of our guests on our live video stream at drshow.org. We'll be right back.
ROSSWelcome back. I'm Melissa Ross of WJCT in Jacksonville, Fla., sitting in for Diane Rehm today. It's our Friday News Roundup with Jamelle Bouie, chief political correspondent for Slate, Lisa Lerer, national politics reporter for The Associate Press, and Steven Dinan, political editor at The Washington Times. If you're just joining us, you can also watch live video of the show at drshow.org. Reverberations from Donald Trump's call for a total ban on allowing Muslims into the U.S., Stephen Dinan, Trump evoking outrage from across the political spectrum.
DINANEverybody except for Republican primary voters.
DINANWe saw two polls put the level of support for his call at about 65 percent.
DINANYou know, it's a stunning number, that absolutely captures the dynamics that are going on both, you know, within the Republican Party and then the, you know, the support more broadly for that when you take the country as a whole, not just Republican voters, obviously, way less than a majority. So that division there really gets at, you know, a lot of the dynamic there. But, look, you know, the -- well, we can sort of capture just how weird all of this was with the incident this week where The New York Times reported that Ted Cruz told a fundraiser -- a small group meeting -- that he questioned Donald Trump's and Ben Carson's judgment over this.
DINANAnd afraid of angering some of those primary voters who are flowing towards Trump, he -- Cruz actually issued a statement distancing himself and clarifying that report and saying, no, no, no, I'm not questioning their judgment. And voters can do that if they want, but, you know, as he said, we now learn from The New York Times report, he was going to hug and Carson and Trump as closely as possible on this.
ROSSJamelle Bouie, a GOP consultant, Frank Luntz, ran a focus group this week with voters who like Donald Trump. And they not only approve of his comments, the more negative information Luntz presented about Donald Trump, the more they liked Donald Trump.
BOUIERight. Trump's support -- so the interesting thing about Trump's support is it's not especially ideological, it's not especially tied to Republican partisan identity. I think it's very much about Donald Trump himself and very much about what Donald Trump represents to these voters. And so, of course, if the support is heavily tied to his personality, telling people that -- telling people negative information about him is not going to budge them. The only -- it's interesting, the only thing that budged support from Trump in that focus group was when they told participants that Donald Trump's ideas or Donald Trump himself was responsible for people losing jobs.
BOUIEAs soon as something hit into their economic interests or challenged their perception of who Trump was on a fundamental level, that's when support budged. But otherwise, I think, he has a surprisingly durable level of support and it could be...
ROSSAt the same time, Lisa Lerer, nearly 6 in 10 Americans say the U.S. should not temporarily bar Muslims from other countries entering the U.S. Two-thirds say such a ban would go against the founding principles of this country, according to a new CBS News poll.
LERERThe problem for Republicans, of course, is that the people who are in that other 40 percent are Republican -- probably Republican primary voters, right? And the issue here is not even so much this split in the party, where you saw, as Steve pointed out, the establishment figures distancing themselves from Trump's statements, while conservative radio hosts and primary voters embraced it. It's also that by -- every time Trump says one of these things, it forces every other Republican candidate to answer the question and to be on the record, engaging with something, figuring out how to maneuver with something that they don't really want to be on the record about, particularly if they become the general election nominee.
LERERBut, look, I think we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that this is a really clever campaign strategy by Donald Trump. We see it again and again. His numbers begin to dip. He says something outrageous. The media jumps on it. Everyone's talking about it -- people like us, here, now.
LERERHis numbers bounce back up from all the free airtime. And it's pretty smart. He's -- it turns out Donald Trump, surprisingly, is pretty good at running for president.
ROSSStephen Dinan, Donald Trump is also talking about floating the idea of an Independent presidential bid. Your thoughts?
DINANAnd there are -- his supporters seem generally supportive of that -- would essentially follow him to that Independent bid. Look, I think you can sum up Donald Trump -- Jamelle talked about, you know, the fact that these folks, no matter what they hear, they're generally with Trump. It's not even so much what they're hearing from Trump. Trump supporters -- you can look at them -- it's sort of the enemy of my enemy is my candidate in this case. It's the people who dislike Donald Trump that Trump's voters dislike. And therefore are going to Trump because they don't like the people who are attacking Donald Trump.
DINANSo, in that sense, it almost doesn't matter what Trump says. They're going to, you know, essentially, that, in some ways is a definition of a leader, maybe. You know, what he says, they're going to follow and become -- and embrace because of the backlash that he's getting.
DINANBut, you know, it's a real problem for the...
ROSSNow, Jamelle Boulie and Lisa Lerer, with Donald Trump still leading this splintered field, we learn this week that top GOP officials are keeping open the possibility of a brokered convention. That's a situation in which no one candidate has a sufficient number of nominating delegates to become the nominee. Your thoughts about an actual brokered convention. We haven't seen that on the Republican side since Thomas Dewey in 1948. For the Democrats it was Adlai Stevenson in 1952. Is that a realistic possibility for the Republicans?
BOUIEI mean, the fact that our last examples of a brokered convention are from when the primary system was entirely different, I think, should key us to the extent to which this is just not a realistic prospect. What Republican leaders are obviously worried about -- and this, you know, when you think about it just for a moment, it's a little funny -- they're worried that they might have a frontrunner, an actual voting frontrunner, whom is almost untethered from the Republican Party itself. And so, in that scenario, what do you do? Do you reconcile yourself to the fact that that person is a frontrunner? Or do you find some way to dislodge him or find some way to build support around someone else?
BOUIEAnd that's the question they're grappling with. And it is a difficult one to answer.
LERERAnd I think the larger question that everyone in the political world is grappling with is how do you -- Trump has clearly tapped into something, right? It's not -- it is partially a cult of personality, as both the panelists pointed out. But it's also a sentiment, a sense of insecurity in the electorate and everything from their finances to terrorism. So I think the entire political world right now is trying to figure out what he's tapped into and how to tap into that themselves in a way that can help them win the election.
LERERI can tell you, as someone who spends most of her time covering Hillary Clinton, certainly Clinton's people are denouncing everything, all of Trump's positions. And they believe that it probably would not be so bad for them to be running against him in the general election. But they are trying to get a handle on this sentiment -- this, you know, sort of public sentiment that he's found a way to tap.
ROSSLet's talk about Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail saying she would issue a number of executive orders on immigration, on guns, on what are known as corporate inversions, Lisa Lerer, Stephen Dinan. How does that square with her promise to work with Republicans if she's elected?
LERERWell, I mean, she's in a Democratic primary. So she wants to show that, you know, Democrats still have strong feelings, they feel very strongly, they support the president, they want to continue his agenda. So she wants to show that not only will she continue his agenda, she'll go further. It's a little bit awkward for the White House. There's a lot of staff that have previously worked for the president who are now working for Hillary Clinton. So of course the implicit criticism here is by saying that she would take executive actions on things he has expressed a lot of concern about, like gun control. It raises the question why he hasn't taken those steps himself.
LERERThe White House says that they don't know whether the things she's proposing are quite 100 percent legal. They don't feel that they could go there -- also political reasons. Maybe they couldn't -- they say they couldn't go there. But it has caused a little bit of friction between the two camps.
ROSSStephen Dinan, Mrs. Clinton is saying she would try to rewrite firearms regulations so more sellers are required to conduct background checks on potential gun buyers. When it comes to the issue of corporate taxation, far to the left of the Obama White House.
DINANYes. And talking about a number of different possible steps to handle inversions and imposing new rules. Absolutely. You know, let's go back to immigration though, in particular, where a number of the candidates -- all of the candidates have said they would use executive action to go beyond the president. There's currently a court case on this where the president's current executive actions have been blocked -- first by a district court, now by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. It's on appeal to the Supreme Court. But, you know, so far, every court to actually have gotten to the merits of this issue -- not just dealt with standing, but gotten to the merits of this issue -- has found the president overstepped himself.
DINANYou know, right now, it's not at a Constitutional issue, it's at a legal issue of that he has violated the Immigration Nationality Act. But the president has been -- has tried a number of executive actions on environmental issues and on immigration. He is running into problems in the courts. This is very good politics for Mrs. Clinton, obviously, to say, hey, I'm going to be President Obama-plus on these executive actions, especially given that Democratic voters are obviously fed up with the Republican Congress. No surprise there. None of this is a surprise. I agree with Lisa, though, this is very much a primary sort of push.
DINANThe real question will be, if and when she's the nominee, how hard does she actually focus on these versus working with Congress. And, you know, the one thing that we've seen from President Obama is an inability to work with Congress. Well, we may end up talking about this later, but the trade deal that he managed to get the fast-track powers for though to Congress -- the trade deal that he wrote with that is now in trouble in Congress because he can't actually, you know, he doesn't know how to work Congress and didn't know how to work them in terms of writing the actual details of that deal. So she's going to face a very rough time trying to match pledges with executive action with a need to be bipartisan in the general election.
BOUIEI think this actually illustrates the extent to which bipartisanship in either case is -- whether a Republican president in 2017 or a Democratic one -- is sort of a pipe dream. I mean we are sort of living in an era of hyper partisanship and hyper polarization. And so, for as much, for example, as Barack Obama has had trouble working with the Republican Congress, it's also the case that the Republican Congress, beginning with his administration in 2009, has had very little interest in working with him, for partly partisan reasons and for totally fair ideological reasons. Even a conservative Democrat is going to be substantially more liberal than the most liberal Republican.
BOUIEAnd so Hillary Clinton is in this odd place where we -- what we demand from presidential candidates is basic boilerplate about working with Congress. But what our actual politics show is that that kind of cross -- partisan and cross-ideological cooperation just isn't possible anymore.
ROSSSenator Ted Cruz is positioning himself meanwhile as the most conservative candidate in the GOP field and coming on strong in Iowa, maximizing support among blue collar voters there, culturally conservative voters. He is surpassing Donald Trump as the top pick for the Party's nomination among Iowa Republicans, according to a new Monmouth University Poll. Stephen Dinan, Ted Cruz, seen by members of his own party often, as extremely ideological. What are your thoughts about the recent numbers for Senator Cruz?
DINANWell, and we've certainly seen this developing for a while. He's been, you know -- he's been positioning himself to pick up voters as Ben Carson has faded. And, you know, we saw that coming as well and Cruz was there to get those voters. As he said in this New York Times article, you know, he's going to bear hug both of them. And his plan is -- both of them meaning Carson and Trump -- and his plan is, as they do drop, if they drop, hoping that their voters flow to him. And all of his positioning has been about that. You know, with a field this big, it's not a bad strategy. There's a certain level of voters on the far right and the medium far right. And, you know, in Iowa, that happens to be a very sizeable percentage of the voting population.
DINANAnd so it's a good way to make a good showing in Iowa. You know, whether that transfers to New Hampshire, you're likely to see -- you've seen Marco Rubio be that number two choice or rise as that number two choice in New Hampshire. And then, you know, we can talk about the calendar going forward. But it's -- Cruz is absolutely very well positioned to pick up voters as some of those other conservative candidates lose them.
ROSSAnd it's our Friday News Roundup with Jamelle Bouie of Slate, Lisa Lerer of The Associate Press and Stephen Dinan of The Washington Times. I'm Melissa Ross of WJCT Jacksonville sitting in for Diane Rehm. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We'll be taking your comments and questions throughout the hour. Let's go to the phones right now. Frank in Charlotte, N.C. Hi, Frank. Good morning. You're on the air.
FRANKHi. I'd like to make a question. I have a question and a comment. Our governor, Pat McCrory, said somewhat the same thing that Donald Trump said. But I don't hear the GOP attacking him. And I'm a Bernie Sanders supporter. Okay? So it has nothing to do with. But anyways, my comment is that, you know, are these people, are they so scared that they're not willing to help a baby that's drowning in the ocean and pull him out? Or are they just bigots?
ROSSAnd are you talking about the baby that's -- was seen leaving Syria?
FRANKI'm talking, yeah. The -- yeah.
ROSSThe child that drowned fleeing Syria?
FRANKYeah, in Syria -- yeah, because they don't want Syrians to come over here. But, you know, we're having people over there being raped, women, starving, children dying. And we're not willing to help these people. So I'm wondering, are they not willing to help them because they are scared? Or are they just bigots?
ROSSThat's Frank in Charlotte, N.C. Jamelle Bouie.
BOUIESo the United States has a very long history of deep anxiety around people coming from abroad and specifically people who they believe might be, you know, highly ideological. So in the early 20th century, there is lots of panic about the potential of Italian anarchists sneaking in through the waves of Italian immigration during the 1920s. There is real fear that Jewish immigration would bring quote, "Bolshevism" to the United States. And so I see all of this as part of a similar pattern and sort of a similar heritage of anxieties around people who are -- who seem sort of fundamentally foreign to the American experience and what they might bring and how they might change American society.
ROSSWe're seeing, Lisa Lerer, as well, not only this pledge to rework the threat warning system but also moves to tighten the nation's Visa Waiver Program and also a measure to require social media companies to report any online terrorist activity. What are the chances of passage of that? And what are your thoughts about his call as well?
LERERRight. I mean, that was one of the big ironies, I thought, is there was a lot of political anxiety and fear in talk about 10,000 Syrian refugees coming in. And far less, until this week, talk about this Visa Waiver Program, which basically allows travelers from 38 countries that we consider friendly -- mainly European countries -- to come into the country without interviews, without having background checks, without really screening, you know, that you would require to get a visa.
LERERThe White House took steps to tighten that program. The House passed a bill to tighten that program, to bar people coming from Iraq, Syria, Iran and the Sudan, or those -- or people who have visited those countries in the last five years from traveling to the U.S. without a visa. The reason this is important is that the attackers in Paris all had European passports. They had French citizenship or Belgian citizenship. So they could have come into the U.S., had they wanted to do that, with very little screening. But it was pretty interesting that that was something that we weren't hearing about much on the campaign trail and we're hearing an awful lot about refugees until this week.
DINANSpecifically to the -- the caller asked about fear. And one of the reasons why there is fear about the refugees is because there is this report -- and we haven't seen a lot of new details on it -- but there was this report that one of the Paris attackers had entered Europe as a refugee, in a group of Syrian refugees through Greece. And so that obviously set that issue of refugees -- essentially lit it on fire here in U.S. politics. Now, having said that, of course, the refugee situation in Europe is very different than the refugee situation here in the U.S. In Europe, there really are boatloads of people arriving on the shores. Here, they don't get here until they've gone through an initial -- well, a very thorough screening.
ROSSAnd coming up, your calls and questions. It's our Friday News Roundup. Stay with us.
ROSSWelcome back, I'm Melissa Ross, host of First Coast Connect in WJCT Jacksonville, sitting in for Diane Rehm today as our Friday news roundup continues with Jamelle Bouie of Slate, Lisa Lerer of the Associated Press and Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times. Stephen, the Senate has passed a five-day stop-gap to keep the government open. The House will follow suit today. How close to a deal are they, and how significant is this?
DINANWell, close to a deal, they're actually not particularly close to a deal. This is one of those situations where nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to, and there are a lot of moving parts. One of those moving parts is whether they add in what amounts to a $700 or $800 billion tax cut package, which would be a permanent of some tax cuts that they renew every year, things like the child tax credit, the -- some college expense tax credits, research and development tax credit for businesses.
DINANSo there are a lot of moving parts there. The main sticking points, though, on the spending deal are the so-called riders. Do Republicans manage to attach something to stem the flow of those refugees we were just talking about? Do they manage to attach things to roll back environmental regulations? Do they manage to attach something to roll back some of the Dodd Frank regulations? And Democrats actually added a new wrinkle yesterday when they said they wanted their own rider to undo what's actually been a rider for years and years and years, preventing the government from spending any money on gun violence research. So the gun issue and the refugee issue, all of these terrorism concerns we've been talking about, also playing a role in that spending bill.
DINANSo it's -- you know, there are a lot of moving parts. It's possible that they just throw up their hands and say, you know, forget it, we're just going to pass current spending for a full year, and we'll see and hear basically by middle of next week.
ROSSYeah, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi saying she would insist this bill include a provision lifting a ban on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research of gun violence. Is that a deal-breaker?
DINANWell, I interpret it more as her saying hey, if you Republicans want to insist on your riders, we've got a few riders we want to insist on. This one happens to very timely right now and probably good politics for Democrats. So that's why they're saying it. No, I don't think she ends up insisting on it. Having said that ,you know, Congress for the last five, six years has been the sort of least-common-denominator Congress. They get done only the very bare minimum that everybody can agree to.
DINANThere's a possibility here that they end up doing things where they accept things they don't want in order to get things they do want. So Pelosi could get her way if Republicans get their way on a number of riders. I think it more likely that none of them get their way.
ROSSAnd let's move on to what's happening on the streets of Chicago, Jamelle Bouie, massive protests blocking the streets this week, embattled Mayor Rahm Emanuel facing calls to resign after police officer Jason Van Dyke captured on video shooting Laquan McDonald, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The mayor has apologized for this controversy. There's been the forced resignation of the city's police chief and multiple investigations, including one from the Justice Department. Can Rahm Emanuel survive this?
BOUIEI'm not sure that he can because he's stuck in the middle of basically a storm that's been brewing for a very long time in Chicago, to say nothing of his own conduct with regard to the possibility of a cover-up of the video of the shooting of McDonald and also his sort of missteps with the city power, kind of the city power structure. But the broader story here is that Chicago has long had deep controversy and discontent with its police force, especially among African-Americans. And in the past couple years, there have been sort of blockbuster stories of deep-seeded abuse and corruption within the Chicago Police Department.
BOUIEAnd so the McDonald video in a lot of ways is a spark that has set the entire thing ablaze, and I am myself skeptical that Rahm, given his challenges in the city, given his role in the McDonald affair, is going to survive this. At least count, his approval rating has dropped about 18 percent. That is not the approval rating of someone who stays in office.
ROSSSure, he's underwater, and Lisa Lerer, an Illinois state legislator rep La Shawn Ford has introduced a measure that would allow Rahm Emanuel to be recalled.
LERERYeah, I'm also not sure he's going to survive this. There's some polling that shows that 51 percent of Chicagoans believe he should step down. He's handled this in a way that's felt very reactive, very defensive, notwithstanding what his role was in the cover-up here. And there's an also an issue with him where he doesn't really -- he's had a very turbulent term as mayor. He faced a difficult runoff election. He was sort of seen, even though he did things like pass full-day kindergarten and raise the minimum wage, he was seen as a corporate democrat. He didn't -- a lot of liberals in the city weren't very keen on him.
LERERHe prompted a major teacher strike. So he doesn't have a reservoir of goodwill in Chicago. The interesting thing here, and someone I'm watching, is of course Hillary Clinton. She has a long history with him. She has called for a federal investigation of the shooting, which is now happening, but she has not called on him to step down. Bernie Sanders has. So it'll be interesting to see, as the heat gets turned up on Mayor Emanuel, what Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Democratic establishment here in Washington do.
ROSSAnd let's go to your calls and comments, to Jason in New Braunfels, Texas. Hi Jason, good morning.
JASONHey, how are you all doing?
JASONI always love this show on Friday. Listen I'm not trying to be a wise guy. I'm asking this question as somebody, I'm just going to be honest, who made the decision that during the Texas primary I'm going to cast my vote for Mr. Trump, it was between him and Mr. Cruz, because of what he said about the ban. And I wanted to ask the panel how many more San Bernardino-style attacks would it take before you would agree with him on a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States of America.
DINANYou know, there's absolutely, as we see from the polling, there are a lot of voters out there in the Republican primary who feel that exact same way. He's tapped into something. Look, you know, more than anything, what we see from the polling is that those voters are responding to Trump taking a hard stand on something, saying controversial things but saying them very forthrightly, and that's what they're responding to.
DINANThere was -- maybe it was a Clinton phrase, but it was, you know, better to be wrong and strong than right and weak, and I'm not saying Mr. Trump is right or wrong, but the strong is certainly what's resonating with them.
ROSSAnd by the way, I think you're absolutely right. Every call on hold is about this topic. We're trying to discuss all the news of the week. But guess what? This is what all of the callers want to talk about. Ben in -- at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, hello, Ben, good morning to you.
BENYeah, good morning. Yeah, I'm an American Muslim. I'm also a former U.S. airman. And frankly, I think, like, these -- like this worry about terrorism is unfounded. It's an ideological issue. I think imams need to speak up. I think imams need to do more to, you know, be clear to the American people as a whole, we're Americans, too. You know what I mean? We just go to a mosque. That's the difference. And we don’t support terrorism. People shouldn't be scared of us. People -- we need to bridge the gap. That's the way that I would best say it.
BENAnd it's -- if these people were radicalized through the Internet, that's something that Hillary Clinton brought up, and I'm not going to vote her in the primaries, but it's something that she brought up that really resonated with me that it's -- if people are being radicalized on the Internet, that's where it needs to be fought. You know, there are initiatives out there that's full of speaking out and saying, look, this extremism isn't Islam, isn't Islam. You know what I mean? It's wrong.
BENAnd the Quran, it preaches that if you save a life, you're saving all of mankind, and if you take a life, you're killing all of mankind. You know what I mean? And I think that the American people being fearful of an entire group of people, more than a billion people on the planet, is just -- it's speaking to our basic nature. You know what I mean?
ROSSThat's Ben in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Jamelle Bouie, imams around the country have denounced these attacks. They have tried to root out radicalization in their mosques. At the same time, we saw the spectacle of the address from President Obama telling Muslims that they must confront this issue. Some Muslims responded by saying that they are being held to an unfair standard. What are your thoughts?
BOUIEMy thoughts is that, you know, when you look at the landscape of American Islam, you do see a mainstream consensus that's very much against groups like ISIS, that is preaching and calling out radicalization. And I'm honestly not sure what more the American Muslim community can do. I think as President Obama said, as Secretary Clinton said, as others have said, it is also incumbent upon the broad American public to not view American Muslims as threats, which does -- it does isolate people. It does make it more likely that the most disaffected community members turn to radicalization.
BOUIEAnd real quickly for a previous caller, about how many San Bernardino-style attacks it would take, it is important to note that the -- that both people responsible for San Bernardino had been in the country for a long time. One of them was a citizen who was born in the United States. So if the question is how American citizens have to kill people for us to do something, I would say I don't know. I mean, plenty have killed people in mass shootings, and we have yet to do anything, and it does not seem to me that this requires, you know, a drastic approach like closing our borders.
ROSSLisa, some Muslims have spoken out, saying that they're held to a different standard than, say, the Planned Parenthood shooter. Your thoughts about that?
LERERWell, I think it's also important to note, like with many Trump proposals, it's entirely unclear how this would work. Would there be a religious test? Who would administer the religious test? Who would write the religious test? Would Donald Trump -- is he an Islamic scholar who could -- I mean, it's just not clear how you -- couldn't someone like? I mean, how this ban would even, like many of his proposals, like his immigration proposal, where he would basically kick 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the country and allow the good ones back in, it's very heavy on rhetoric and very low and facts and actionable policy.
LERERAnd what really I think throws us in unchartered political waters in some ways with Trump is that people don't -- don't seem to really care. His plans are not actionable in most cases. He's a millionaire who's running as an everyman. He's switched on a variety of positions. I mean, he praised President Obama and Secretary Clinton, which are typically, like, no-gos in Republican primaries. In no other cycle could we see a candidate getting away with that kind of thing. And, you know, he doesn't seem to suffer any consequences.
ROSSTo Mike in Cincinnati. Hi Mike, good morning.
MIKEHi, I just had thoughts or comments. The first is I think you're really -- the media in general has been ignoring or missing one of the main reasons that I think he's so popular, and that's the fact that he's not taking corporate money. And we all know that campaign finance has been a huge issue and, you know, basically produces politicians who have to pay back favors and focus on that when they get in office. And he won't have to do that. So I think that's a huge attraction.
MIKEAnd the second thing is I was wondering about what the guests thought about Trump's positions on supporting the veterans, Medicare, Social Security and focusing on jobs.
ROSSThanks, Mike. Stephen Dinan, is Trump's perceived independence from corporate paymasters part of his appeal?
DINANTo some extent, and I think you can go back to when the battle, many months ago, was seen as a Trump versus Jeb Bush, and that was one of his devastating attacks on Jeb Bush in those early debates, was hey, you know, every single guy up here has campaign contributors they have to respond to. I'm going to be able to say no to anybody because I don't have any contributors. No, that absolutely resonates to some extent, though I think at this point the Republican conversation is -- has moved elsewhere that, you know, that sort of was in a moment we had earlier.
ROSSAnd let's make note of a few other news and notes from the week. Let's talk for a minute about Justice Antonin Scalia coming under fire for comments he made during oral arguments at the Supreme Court this week about an affirmative action case involving the University of Texas. The Congressional Black Caucus, civil rights lawyers and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid denounced Scalia for what they said were racist and insulting comments, in which he suggested some black students might be better off in a slower-track school rather than at a more competitive university. I'm Melissa Ross, and you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show.
ROSSJamelle Bouie, what did Justice Scalia say exactly?
BOUIEI don't have his exact words in my mind, but the short of it was that Justice Scalia said that perhaps the reason what -- first it was that most -- he said most scientists do not come from universities like University of Texas, that they come from other universities, and he suggested that perhaps that was because African-American students did better at sort of lower-tier, slower schools.
BOUIEThis is kind of restatement of what's called mismatch theory, the theory that affirmative action mismatches students at elite schools. The research on this suggests that Scalia, Justice Scalia has it backwards, that the higher a school's graduation rate, the more likely students at the school are to graduate and that African-American students, even if they were academically marginal, which should be said most students admitted under -- affirmative action students -- affirmative action programs are not academically marginal. But those that are are more likely to graduate from elite universities than they are at quote-unquote slower universities.
BOUIEAnd as an aside, Scalia's comment that most scientists do not come -- black students do not come from schools like University of Texas is sort of true and not true. They come from schools like Howard University, which are academically rigorous schools and have been doing things to promote black students in STEM fields for a very long and much more successfully than schools like Texas.
DINANYeah, so this is actually what Scalia said. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they are being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them. I'm just not impressed by the fact that the University of Texas may have fewer. Maybe it ought to have fewer, and maybe some, you know, when you take more, the number of blacks, really competent blacks admitted to lesser schools turns out to be less. And I don't think it stands to reason that it's a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.
DINANAnd so, you know, he's doing two different things there. First he's going into the research, but the other point he's making, and you can agree or disagree with it, and Jamelle just got at some of the issue there, he's saying that if University of Texas is taking these very high-qualified black students, then fewer of them are going to those other schools. He's essentially saying there's a particular pool of qualified black students for these top schools, and is it really important that you have them at a particular school rather than just going to good schools, whatever those schools, such as Howard.
DINANYou know, as you said, this has prompted a huge backlash, a huge debate, particularly now in the Twitter world, you know, a giant 140-character back-and-forth.
ROSSAnd very quickly, Lisa Lerer, while Scalia's getting a lot of attention, it's almost certain that Justice Kennedy will be the deciding factor in this affirmative action ruling, right?
LERERRight, and one thing that was a little funny to people about Scalia's comments is the plaintiff in this case actually didn't meet the academic standards to get into University of Texas. You were supposed to be in the top seven percent of your class, and if you're not, they're allowed to consider other factors to decide -- the school can consider a holistic, is the legal term that they use, consideration of a variety of factors, including race. That's what the plaintiff was disputing. But she was not in that top seven percent.
LERERIt's -- the court seems unlikely to overthrow including race as a factor at all, but they may decide that it needs to be more narrowly tailored, and that could prompt lawsuits at schools across the country.
ROSSJamelle Bouie, quickly, you agree?
BOUIEYeah, I think that's -- I think that's right. This is -- it appears to me that Kennedy is very much interested in limiting or even ending race-based affirmative action but doesn't quite want to use this case as a vehicle for doing so. And so we'll see what happens when the court decides.
ROSSThank you all so much. Jamelle Bouie, chief political correspondent for Slate, Lisa Lerer, national politics reporter for The Associated Press and Stephen Dinan, political editor at The Washington Times. I'm Melissa Ross, host of First Coast Connect, WJCT Jacksonville, Florida, sitting in for Diane Rehm today. Thanks for listening.
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