Good morning one and all and welcome once again to another late summer edition of your Sunday Morning liveblog, where I watch a bunch of awful political shows so you do not have to. My name is Jason. Today, the Sunday shows (for the most part, anyway) celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. So there won't be as much poisoning of the country's future going on as much as there is going to be a general fumbling with our country's history. This is the show where George Stephanopoulos comes into your home and picks up your family's most precious heirloom and starts waving it around, all while you wonder if he's going to break it, while I wonder why you let the nimrod into your house in the first place.
Meet The Press, is going to re-air a show from fifty years ago today, or something, but they are also, sadly, going to air a brand new show right before it, so they are doing that thing they do where they set up an unfavorable comparison but aren't going to worry too much about it, because the inferior product is the lead-in and no one is going to stick around and watch the rebroadcast, anyway.
I am going to stare into the dark heart of all of this, while you hopefully find a fonder way to remember the March on Washington. In the meanwhile, please feel free to converse in the comments, drop me a line if you feel the need, follow me on Twitter if you are a fan of antic nonsense, and check out my Rebel Mouse page for some fun and informative Sunday Reads.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Well, it looks like FNS is going to do "current events" today and not "let's gauzily remember American history" and talk about how soon we'll have a fun new war in Syria. It's a bad day for bookers, I guess, because here to talk about that is Senator Bob Corker and Representative Eliot Engel. (Who does have the dopest mustache in Congress.) Then, for some reason, they have gotten Oklahoma's governor and district attorney on the show to talk about a local crime story that's already been solved.
Oh, and then they are going to gauzily remember history, with their usual panel of affluent boobs.
But first, Syria with Corker and Stasche. Because the Assad regime just resolutely keeps on being the Assad regime, only now with fun new brutal twists that supersede the very polite way he oppressed his countrymen and ruined their lives, which we could simply wink and nod at, we are scrambling Navy ships and contemplating some vague military thing, inspired by the Kosovo bombing, according to what I've read.
If there's good news, it's that President Obama doesn't want to "jump into stuff," but rather, "act deliberately," probably because we are already fighting a bunch of wars and, you know, military men and women don't actually grow on trees, plus the last time I checked, Washington's media was overrun with shrill, shrieking seagulls that bleated, "WHATTABOUTTHEDEBT?" over and over again.
Corker, for his part, has watched all the "social media coming out of Syria" and "his sense is that this has happened" -- "this" is the chemical gas attack -- and that "we will respond in a surgical way." And if you've ever seen cruise missiles do "surgery" well, you are in for a treat. They really are the thing to use when you need to do an everything-ectomy. Corker says that "as soon as they get back to Washington" Congress will arrange some sort of authorization to do something vaguely "surgical" and "proportionate."
Corker goes on to say that "covert training" is going on right now, only it's no longer "covert" because Corker just went on the teevee to talk about it. He hopes that we move to some "industrial strength training on the ground" that "tilts the balance on the ground." So, we are going to have "boots on the ground" but don't worry because they will be industrial strength, like an antihistamine.
Chris Wallace is all, "Dude, you are the fourth season of LOST, in that you have raised more questions than you have answered." Like, if it's so important, why do we have to wait for Congress to come back in a couple of weeks? And what does surgical mean? Airstrikes? Drones? Missiles?
Corker says that there is "numbers of things" we can do. Like, some stuff. And now he's saying that we will NOT have "boots on the ground," despite the fact that two minutes ago, he was talking about getting with the ground, making love to the ground, taking his intimacy with the ground to a whole new level.
Corker says that "Congress has had a pass on these activities for a long time" and now it's time for them to "step up and take responsibility." This doesn't explain why Congress is going to continue taking their leisurely vacation, but it is pretty hilarious to hear Corker discuss Congress' historic and tragic abdication of war-declaration responsibilities in this way. "Hey, you know, we have been a gaggle of chickenshit wretches for several decades now, but I think if you give us a chance to knuckle under a couple more times, we'll really impress you."
Corker says that he guesses that Congress will come back early. He's been talking to Congress and they have been giving him indications. All this while he is talking as if "Congress" was this thing he was not actually a part of.
Representative Engel says that whatever our effort is, it has to happen quickly. Also, we should respond in the way we did in Libya. Keep in mind, always: FOUR U.S. CASUALTIES IN THE WAR WE DECIDED TO FIGHT IN LIBYA TURNED WASHINGTON DC INTO A SPASTIC MESS OF MANIC SCANDALMONGERING. That basically leaves no room for error in Syria. We are now living in an age where if Americans actually die in a war that they are sent right to the middle of, everyone becomes a freaked out zombie in Washington.
Engel says that this situation is "analogous to Kosovo" in that there is an endangered population, that needed to be bombed into freedom, and also maybe some Chinese stuff could get hit by accident? Anyway, there is a ton of stuff that Engel wants to destroy in Syria, like "airports" and "munitions" and "fuel." And we have to "move quickly."
Meanwhile, Egypt is still causing American press flacks problems with semantics, because if we refer to what happened in Egypt as a "coup" then it touches off a series of unremitting legal requirements that the U.S. wants to avoid for the time being. And so, we have deputy press secretaries saying things like, "we have determined that it is in the best interests of the United States to not make a determination." Reporters basically sit there and develop Newspeak-related aneurysms. Foreign policy! It basically sucks, y'all.
"Is it time to choose a side?" asks Wallace. Team Edward or team Jacob? Corker says that "at the end of the day" we have a great relationship with the Egyptian military, and they rely on our help, so that's who we are throwing in our lot with -- and that's why we aren't calling it a coup. Corker says, "I'm beginning to see things take shape in a way that makes sense." Okay!
Engel says that he supports the military, only because they are not the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, while he doesn't "like" it when the Egyptian military "kills people," he is glad that they grant the United States overflight rights, so that we can kill people.
Moving on to the NSA -- by the way, if you've dated someone in the NSA, that person has basically surveilled you, according to the Washington Post. I am glad that the story of out unaccountable surveillance state has at least finally hit the "Treatment for an untitled Zooey Deschanel movie" stage.
Corker has asked for the NSA head to come to Congress and explain himself, and he seems fairly interested in learning more -- and give ALL of Congress a "top to bottom" review of what programs are underway and what oversight is in place. He suspects that there are probably members of the Intelligence Committee that don't know as much as they think they do. Engel voted against Amash-Cornyn on the grounds that it didn't provide an adequate alternative, but he says he's nevertheless concerned with the lack of institutional awareness and oversight in Congress, and wants more sunlight. "I'm troubled by it...and I think we need to revamp the program."
Now we are going to talk about the Christopher Lane murder, which is a sad and terrible thing that happened in a country where a lot of sad and terrible things happened. The good news is that the case was nearly immediately solves and the sociopathic perpetrators were almost immediately arrested. Now, I gather that what is going to become a huge thorn in the side of the professional prosecutors is the way certain political pimps are going to want to make this a photonegative version of the Trayvon Martin case, in order to prove...I don't even know, because there are other parts of my brain besides my amygdala that continue to function.
But Tom Scocca said what needed to be said, the best. Here's an excerpt:
Here's what happened in Oklahoma: a young man was shot to death. The police investigated it as a crime, arrested suspects, and charged them with murder.
No one is on the other side of this case. No one is disputing the principle that people who murder other people should be arrested and tried for it. There may eventually be some disagreement about the application of adult law to juveniles—a genuine point of disagreement in this country at this time—but everyone agrees that the killing of Christopher Lane was a terrible crime and that the perpetrators should be punished.
The reason the killing of Trayvon Martin became a national scandal was that even though an unarmed young man was shot to death, the local authorities decided not to treat it as a crime. That was why it was a major news story. It was not the fact that a person of one particular race killed a person of another particular race; it was how the police and the justice system decided to handle that killing after it happened.
Afterward, when George Zimmerman was finally arrested and put on trial, the white victimology professionals took the opportunity to dust off their old arguments about black-on-black crime and black-on-white crime and why racial profiling is worthwhile. But all of this was in service of making the case that Trayvon Martin deserved to have been shot.
This seems to be confusing people, so let's repeat it: No one is making the case that Christopher Lane deserved to be shot!
Yeah, a huge distinction between the Lane case and the Martin case is that the three teenagers who killed Lane weren't allowed to just chill for a bunch of weeks while police figured out what they were supposed to do in the case of a dead person's body laying there and another dude with a smoking gun standing nearby. And it was decided pretty early on that these three teenagers aren't actually going to be considered the heroic poster children of "Standing Your Ground." That's the only thing about the Martin case that informed this murder in Oklahoma -- from now on, we'll have to wait and find out if murderers in America were or were not inside their magical, floating "stand your ground" forcefield.
The district attorney investigating the case says that they have a "very strong case" and expect to win. That's really all you need to know.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin got up early and made sure her stylist was on hand to make her as camera-ready as possible to exploit the national attention that this corpse of an Australian man is bringing her, also made sure that she was lit very well, because what a great moment for her. SHe spends time lamenting the way Australians have reacted to Lane's murder -- the former Deputy Prime Minister is advising tourists to stay the hell away from the United States because we are all so effing gun-crazy.
Wallace, for some reason, is mad that the White House hasn't issued a lot of super high-falutin' opinions on this case where murderers were caught quickly and will likely be punished. Fallin says that "it would be nice if our nation would express our condolences" about this thing. She thinks that it "would be a nice gesture" for the White House to comment.
Fallin makes no mention of and offers no condolences for the woman who was brutally beaten to death in Enid, Oklahoma yesterday. Fallin makes no mention of and offers no condolences to the man who was robbed and murdered in Oklahoma City four days ago. Fallin makes no mention of and offers no condolences for the four people (including a baby) who were murdered in Oklahoma City ten days ago. Fallin makes no mention of and offers no condolences for the woman who was shot by her own son in Sand Springs last week, either.
That's too bad, because it would have been a "nice gesture." There are, I guess, only some murders worth getting kitted up for on a Sunday morning of free publicity!
Panel time! And hanging out today to offer limp lumps of blather on the Civil Rights movement and other matters are Scott Brown, Kirsten Powers, David Webb, and Juan Williams.
Williams says that the civil rights movement has come a long way, with some outstanding improvement and "tremendous change." But still, he thinks that "you've got to talk about family breakdown...dropout rates," and also...apparently, the number of times that Jay-Z uses the n-word on "Magna Carta Holy Grail." One of those things is not like the others! And frankly, I think our national discussions on race should be less centered on "Magna Carta Holy Grail" and more on "Run The Jewels," am I right?
Webb says that "we have to tackle new challenges" specifically "moral decay," specifically...cities are terrible, or something, and education stuff.
Should affirmative action end at some point? Powers says yeah, sure, and then dovetails off, talking about some polls that show that not everyone thinks we've achieved racial equality. Wallace resets the question of "government putting the thumb on the scale" for racial minorities for Scott Brown and I swear to God, everytime Dim Scott opens his mouth, it is like a creamy mascarpone layer of deep, deep twittery.
BROWN: I think we are getting close. I certainly agree with all the comments from the panel. We've made huge strides. There are certain pockets still where there is inequality. There are disadvantages that need to be addressed. Uhhh. But do we do that through government intervention, or do we do that by job creation, educating our kids, our youth, getting a culture of family, the black on black violence, 90% plus percent, we have to step back from glorifying a movement, the hip-hop movement and other types of movements that glorify violence so there are certain pockets, I think, but I think we are getting very close to just letting Americans, black, white, all races, colors and creeds move forth with their own qualifications and stand on their merits.
Oh, man, you could just get lost for hours in that sweet, nougaty derp right there! I want to just run my hands through Scott Brown's hair and hold him and rock him and say, "Shhhh, pretty baby, shhhh. You are so stupid but my God, you are adorable I never want you to stop talking, ever."
Anyway, Wallace asks Williams if he "agrees" with Brown and I'm like, how do you agree with a series of words strung together incoherently. "I agree with the way Senator Brown continues to use air and the vibrations of his vocal chords to make noises."
More panel. Is the GOP in pretty bad shape for 2014? There's been a lot of commentary, lately to that effect. Brown says that all parties in Washington are terrible and then he equates himself with Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and I can't stop laughing because the average Paul/Cruz supporter would DEVOUR this guy.
Jonathan Chait does a pretty good job explaining how the rumors of the GOP's 2014 demise have been overstated.
John Boehner is going to try to avert a government shutdown in the immediate offing by suggesting to the lycanthropes in his caucus that they can stage a pretty little shit-fit over the debt ceiling later. This is bad, for America, because if you had to choose between the temporary inconvenience of a government shutdown and a collapse of the global economy through a suicidal default debt ceiling crisis, you would pick the government shutdown. Boehner is simply running out of catastrophic toys to promise his toddlers.
Powers says that while she disagrees with the leading vanguard of GOP bath-salts tweakers who have essentially ruined Boehner's life, she nevertheless admires them for standing up for what they believe in, and wonders where the Democrats who would similarly challenge their own party, have gone. For my part, I wonder where and when and under what circumstances did Powers decide, "Hey, you know, I could go on being a real live serious human being, or I could become some other strange thing and see where that takes me." I have to admit, she has gotten pretty far as a non-serious multi-cellular organism, so I guess this is a legit option for all of you who weary of "making sense" and "relating to a human reality."
David Webb hates Washington and government and thinks that they should "find solutions incrementally." He perhaps doesn't understand that there is nothing in the world that's more "Washington" than timid incrementalism.
Williams real-keeps on Obamacare, pointing out that it is just a fact of life that rolling out any big program comes with bumps in the road, but that's to be expected. It's funny to me to hear all of the concern of the rollout of Obamacare, because it seems like not long ago, we rolled out huge government programs that were massive, costly failures, and our solution was to double down and keep at it, despite how dysfunctional it was. I am referring, of course, to the "War in Afghanistan" and the "War in Iraq."
Scott Brown says "when I became the 41st Senator" and I black out for a few minutes. When I come to, this is on:
THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
Oh, hello, it's going to be Martha Raddatz instead of George Stephanopoulos and she is going to be doing the show from Cairo, so there's a chance that this show could be interesting.
"Good morning, George is off today," says Raddatz, which is, as always the one line you almost often hear when you tune in to this show.
Raddatz says the U.S. warships are slowly sidling up to where they can launch "limited military operations" on Syria. By the way, the conventional definition of a "limited military operation" is "a full blown military operation without limits."
Jonathan Karl is also here, for some reason, and he says that the White House is asking military officials to "draw up military options" and there is "strong suspicion" that the "Syrian government" may be behind all these people who suddenly became very dead after taking up arms against the Syrian government.
"We'll have more from Washington in a few moments," says Karl, "but now let's go back to Martha." The "more from Washington" is going to be idiot-pundit roundtable blather, so perhaps he should promise "less from Washington." Or, "Do not get your hopes up too high about the stuff we are going to be doing, from Washington."
Raddatz is going to talk with Colonel Steve Ganyard, who works for a consulting firm called Avascent International but also has had some experience in military policy before he became an international elite consultant for corporations and financial institutions. He says that we could launch cruise missile from ships at sea, or from submarines, and they are super exciting and fun to use, but limited in the amount of cool shebang destruction they could do.
Fighter jets could also engage in the conflict but probably not fly over Syrian airspace or too near the Assad regime's "dome of sanctuary," because Obama wants this to be a "low risk" mission for the U.S. military. Like I said, the need for this to be a "low risk" mission is plainly obvious when you remember how the last war we got into ended up with four people being killed in Benghazi. Now, it used to be the case that when you fought a huge war with another country and only four of your guys died, you said, "What, only four of our guys died? Holy crap that is amazing, we are so lucky!" But now, when four of our own guys die in a huge war, we say, "WHAT SCANDAL IMPEACH" and then we throw our own feces around the room.
Anyway, Obama does not want our planes to enter the dome, because if four people die, he will be probably be put to death.
Ganyard points out that we can't just bomb chemical weapons, because when you blow up a bunch of chemical weapons you spread them everywhere, and risk them falling into the hands of terrorists. Keep in mind, when we "arm the rebels in Syria," we are LITERALLY allowing lethal weapons to fall into the hands of terrorists. That's because many of the people who are full-time "Syrian rebels" are "murdering American" hobbyists.
Now, Raddatz is joined by a very dapper man named Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister and former head of the Arab League. He says that he is concerned about whether or not the region can stand another hot war, and would like the UN Security Council to consider the matter first. Raddatz points out that the UN Security Council is unlikely to do much, because Russia is onthe Security Council and is unlikely to back any aggression in the region. Moussa believes that the chemical weapons attacks are compelling enough reason for the Russians to rethink the matter. To be fair, that is probably some magical thinking.
Raddatz presses on whether limited cruise missile strikes would be a trigger that plunges the region into a new level of chaos. Moussa insists again that chemical weapons are bad and that "chemical weapons are not there to be used on people" but hey, I sort of think that this is exactly what chemical weapons were invented to do -- kill people in especially sadistic ways. He goes on to insist that the UN should be the authority to govern whether or not there are airstrikes.
Now Raddatz is joined my the Wall Street Journal's Matt Bradley, the Washington Post's Abigail Hauslohner, and Time Magazine's Ashraf Khalil.
Bradley says that U.S. policymakers need to think about the way the Syrian conflict has already become internationalized. "The implications for a metastacizing conflict are already there," he says, noting that the idea that a region-wide Sunni-vs.-Shia conflict is not far-fetched at this point. "A military intervention," he says, could make it "much, much worse."
Meanwhile, in Egypt, Khalil says that Egypt remains a pivot point for the region -- as it goes, so goes everyone else. He says that as the first hopes for Egyptian democracy start to falter, "it can't help but have disturbing implications" for the rest of the region.
Raddatz, earlier this week, sppke to Egypt's appointed Prime Minister, Hazem El Beblawi, and he told her that "by and large the police forces are bound by rules, but there have been exceptions," which have led to brutality. Raddatz asks Hauslohner if that squares with her experience, and Hauslohner says that while this is what government officials have been letting out, there's just no denying that the military has been particularly brutal to the pro-Morsi contingents. She's witnessed all of this firsthand, and says that the military definitely turned these demonstrations into "war zones."
"I ended up being pinned down in an alley with civilians," she says, in a reminder that I have things pretty easy.
Bradley says that the military nevertheless enjoys widespread support. "The military in Egypt has always enjoyed a lot of support. We have to remember, the military, unlike any institution in egypt touches every single family. There's obligatory conscription, and it's considered the heart and soul, and really the center of Egyptian life. It's the symbol of the sovereign nation. So when the military asks for the public, when the general asks for the public to go down and protest to show him support, they will do this. And you will see this really -- and what we've seen in the last couple weeks, an incredible outpouring of unquestionable support."
Hauslohner says that the future is bleak. "You have to keep in mind, this was a coup, but it was also a widely popularly-supported coup. It was sort of interesting in Egypt, there's a mass popular support for essentially a return to an authoritarian or military-led regime. A lot of people are really cheering on this crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood."
Khalil agrees: "I think one of the big 'what ifs' for modern Egypt is what if the crowd that came out on June 30th to demand an early end to Morsi's presidency, what if they drew a line and said we don't want military involvement? If they had kept it up for a week, we might have seen major concessions and a total retreat by the Brotherhood in the face of this. When the people not only allowed, but welcomed the military back, I think that really broke the country."
That was a very excellent segment! Sadly, it's time for some "Powerhouse Roundtable" grab-ass.
Today we'll contend with George Will and Donna Brazile and Dan Balz and Cokie Roberts. And they will contend with Syria. Will says that it is not a done deal that Syria has crossed the "red line" because Will cannot account for what "a whole bunch of" refers to when Obama says that we'll have to get involved if Syria starts using "a whole bunch of" chemical weapons.
Brazile says that we need an "Obama Doctrine" for the Middle East. I would have said, a long time ago, that the "Obama Doctrine" is basically "kill a lot of terrorists in the regions to which we have already committed ourselves to that task" and "take a light touch everywhere else and ignore the protestations of heavy-handed neo-con intervention-fans as well as the heavy-handed intervention-fans from my own party." But then we did this whole crazy thing in Libya that was totally out of step with EVERYTHING that came before it, and which naturally opened the door to "let's also do some stuff in Syria, too."
I like that Aaron David Miller has taken his best stab at revising the Obama Doctrine in the post-Libyan intervention era, so go take a look at that.
Roberts says that we can't be uninvolved in the region, because what if people think we've abandoned them? It becomes a "breeding ground for terrorists." So, let's get involved, so that the people in the region resent our involvement and it breeds terrorists.
Like I said! Foreign policy! It sucks! In 2013, your best option, vis a vis the Middle East, is to be a second-rate country that nobody expects or wants or demands to get involved in the Middle East. You know who is winning the meltdown in the Middle East? Whoever runs Denmark. Denmark is doing great right now! Canada is doing pretty great, too. I was there and everyone was walking around all jaunty and happy. You could walk up to Canadians and sneer, "You guys are a second rate country!" and they'd todd back their head and say, "LOL, yeah, isn't it GREAT." And then they all go to really cool brewpubs. "How's your free health care?" they ask each other. "Duh, it's awesome," they respond.
The panel has been talking all this while as I've mused on moving to Copenhagen, but you haven't missed much. When I pick up the conversation, Karl is asking Roberts if the "drip-drip-drip" of NSA stories will force Congress' hands on the NSA, and she doesn't think so, because only silly "libertarian" types believe that there should be accountability in the surveillance state. Then Donna Brazile, who is here serving in an ostensibly journalistic capacity, urges the President to do more to ensure that journalists no longer have sources for these NSA stories.
Will does his best for the sake of nuance: "The FISA Court to which Donna referred is not a court in the normal sense in that there's not an adversarial process because only the Executive Branch is represented in this court. And what happened this week, two things, the FISA Court said that three times in less than three years it has been misled by the NSA. On the other hand Bob Mueller leaving after 12 years as Director of the FBI, and the longest serving director since J. Edgar Hoover said, if we had had the NSA system we now have, then when Khalid al-Midhar made a phone call, one of the 9/11 hijackers, made a phone call from San Diego to a safe house in Yemen, we might have found it and we might have unraveled the conspiracy."
See, it sounds to me like an NSA that had a lot of accountability, as opposed to NONE ACCOUNTABILITY, work work pretty great!
Balz says that while public opinion hasn't hit a tipping point on the matter, is nonetheless shifting as more and more people wonder, "What are they getting from me."
Now they are talking about the recent Nixon tapes. I am going to refill my coffee.
There is a segment, finally, on the March on Washington, with Representative John Lewis, who fifty years ago was one of the organizers and speakers of the March. He tells ABC News, "When I stepped to the podium, I saw hundreds, hundreds of young people. And I said to myself, this is it." Lewis, who was 23 at the time -- and yeah, I feel like I pretty much fell short as a 23-year old, believe me -- says, "When you have been sitting on a lunch counter stool and someone walk up and spit on you or pour hot water or hot coffee on you and you say you're committed to non-violence. You have to grow up. To go on the Freedom Rides in 1961, the same year that President Barack Obama was born? And to be beaten. You had to grow up. So by the time of the March on Washington, I was 23, but I was an older person."
Lewis says that the "I have a dream" section of Martin Luther King's oration was literally a moment when "The [Holy Spirit] told him to lay that paper down and just go for it." Now, he says that the spot from where King delivered that speech is "almost sacred." "Dr. King," he says, "must be looked upon as one of the founding fathers of the new America." I can get behind that.
The roundtable concurs. Will says, "Martin Luther King said rightly, he appropriated American rhetoric saying, I'm not trying to change America, I'm trying to reconnect with the American past. And in that sense he did a wonderful job."
Roberts: "Well you know the whole idea of forming a more perfect union. And over the centuries we have tried to perfect this union. And this was a moment of really trying to perfect it, mightily. But there was tremendous fear. I remember it very well. My father was Majority Whip of the Congress at the time, a deep southerner, very close with President Kennedy. And the fear of violence that was palpable and the fear that it would ruin the cause of civil rights. That was the real terror."
Brazile: "But it was also for a little girl, I was not yet four when I watched it at home with my grandmother who was with us. And to hear those words, 'Free at last, free at last' and to believe that at some point life would be better. That things would change. And to have witnessed the amount of change I've seen in my 50 plus years, it's amazing, it's incredible. And yet if Dr. King were alive, he would still be marching today. To raise the minimum wage, to ensure that workers could organize. He would be marching for the same values that he marched for 50 years ago."
Byron Pitts: "In 1963, there were only 365,000 blacks who had a college degree. Today there are 5.1 million. In 1963 you all could have treated us like dogs, Donna and I, and it would have been OK. Nothing would have happened to you. Well that's changed in America."
Balz: "You know, we remember that day for the speech and the size of the crowds and the peacefulness of it. We forget that this was a march for jobs and justice. When "Life" magazine did its cover after this, they didn't put Martin Luther King on the cover, they put Randolph and Bayard Rustin on the cover. And if you, there has been tremendous progress, there's no question about that, in all the ways we are talking about. But the persistence of the gap between white wealth and black wealth, white income, black income, it's something that has stayed almost constant for the last two decades."
Now we are back in Egypt for a news montage about whether or not the legacy of the Tahrir Square protests are destined to last or doomed to fade and I guess the answer is "doomed to fade." I think another "what if" to contend with is whether or not democracy would have survived a full Morsi term, or whether Morsi would have used the power granted to him by that democracy to bottle it up again.
MEET THE PRESS
Ahh now for the "Special Meet The Press" on "The American Dream." Featuring Representative John Lewis and Mayor Cory Booker and Governor Bobby Jindal and Representative Raul Labrador and reporter Sheryl WuDunn and the Reverend Al Sharpton and Doris Kearns Goodwin and David Brooks and David Gregory and AMERICA.
My American Dream is getting this over with, I guess?
We'll start with John Lewis, who is the only guy on this show that I am genuinely interested in.
Gregory asks Lewis about whether or not he gets a little freaked out everytime he hears someone say, "We need to take our country back," and duh, of course he is:
DAVID GREGORY: The president will speak on Wednesday in the same spot. He'll make 50 years since the "I Have a Dream" speech. We've talked over the years and you told me about a year and a half in your view, a lot of people can't get comfortable with the idea of an African American president, even though what a testament to the progress and the dream that Dr. King had. And you ever said during your speech yesterday, there are forces, there are people who want to take us back. What specifically are you talking about?
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN LEWIS: Well, I hear people over and over again saying they want to take our country back. Take it back where? Where are we going? We need to go forward. We make so much progress. When I was growing up, I saw those signs that said, "White Men," "Colored Men," "White Women," "Colored Women," "White Waiting," "Colored Waiting." Those signs are gone. When I first came to Washington 1961, the same year that President Barack Obama was born, to go on the freedom rides, black people and white people couldn't be seated on a bus or a train together to travel through the south. So when our children grew up and their children grew up, they would night see those signs. The only places they would see those signs would be in a book, in a museum, or on a video.
He goes on to say that the "forces that want to create this sense of fear" are basically against the country "moving too fast" or "getting more progressive." "In a short time," he says, "the majority will become the minority."
Gregory points out that advancements in social equality haven't consistently translated into a narrowing of the gap in economic equality. Lewis says, "We have a lot of work to do, the dream is not yet fulfilled." Gregory angles after who Lewis "blames" for this," and Lewis says "Well, this president, Barack Obama, has been trying to get the Congress to move in a dramatic way to create jobs, to put people back to work."
GREGORY: Final question. The president will speak in the very spot that Dr. King spoke 50 years to the day. One of his critics, Tavis Smiley, African American who's criticized the president consistently. He talked about his hope that the president would be King-like, but not King-like. He doesn't want him to just echo the words, but wants a specific set of proposals. What do you expect from the president?
LEWIS: Well, the president is the president. He's not a civil rights leader. There's a difference. President Johnson, President Kennedy, it was said to us from time to time, when I met with President Kennedy and later with President Johnson, part of the so-called "Big Six," they would say, "Make me do it. Make me say, 'Yes' when I may have a desire to say, 'No.' Create the climate, create the environment. It is left up to the civil rights community to get out there and push and pull."
Okay, so much for the part of this show I was genuinely interested in!
I guess it's roundtable blather from here on out. Sharpton notes that the gutting of the Voting Rights Act represents new work for civil rights leaders -- the new generation needs to confront Congress on that regression, in addition to fighting for a lessening of income inequality across the board, for all Americans.
Goodwin says that there is a "straight line from King, back to Lincoln, back to the founders," who weren't perfect, but foresaw a movement toward a more perfect union. "Lincoln moved us further through the Civil War, ending slavery. Martin Luther King, 100 years later, got us even further to that ideal. What was so special about that march when I was a college student, I remember the day, I remember the singing, I remember the worry beforehand about whether there'd be violence. But most of all I remember the exhilaration, a feeling I was part of something larger than myself. We were helping to make the country a better place. And despite the fact that the '60s degenerated into riots later, assassinations, a Vietnam War, there was something about that hopefulness in the early '60s, it stayed with me my whole life. And that's what you have to recreate today. The idea we can change the country, nonviolent movement, leadership, did it then, Civil War did it in an earlier time, the framers did it in the beginning, we have a generation that can do it now."
Brooks praises March organizers Bayard Rustin and Philip Randolph for their belief in the principles of non-violence, saying that it "forced the racists to display their own evil" while allowing the civil rights movement to brandish their "superior dignity" as a weapon.
WuDunn notes the global impact of King: "A Chinese student leader actually invoked Martin Luther King as his role model during the Tiananmen Square movement. But most kids, they would say something like, and I remember one student telling me, 'Democracy, yes, I don't know much about it, but I know we need more of it.'"
"Marches are not set to solve a problem," Sharpton says, "they show the problem, and force people to solve it."
Now Cory Booker is here, to talk about this stuff. He says some nice things. The people have power, the younger generations are supposed to work in a way that follows on their forbears, the March On Washington was more about income inequality than it was about putting people into office.
Gregory briefly gets shirty, saying, "Oh, ha you talk about income inequality but Newark has a high unemployment rate." Booker responds by saying blah blah, you know, man...POLITICS, I dunno. We got TOO MUCH DIVISION, dude. Me and Chris Christie don't agree on much but we CAME TOGETHER and "created the largest economic development period in Newark in over a generation," and also he got with the Manhattan Institute on incarceration reform, and that's swell too. So there's really no answer to the question of Newark's actual unemployment rate, but a sated Gregory can go back to not caring about it.
Booker goes on to note that Washington's biggest problem is that everything is zero-sum, and if Obama is "winning" then the GOP is "getting defeated," and in that set of circumstances, there can't be dealmaking. There is a "spirit that needs to be rekindled," and I guess that Booker will do that, when he comes to Washington. Rekindle some stuff. Barring that, he good just burn everything down to the gutters. Either way, I'm satisfied.
Okay, so what's next? This, apparently:
"As part of NBC's Dream Day," says Gregory, "we've asked various thought leaders, politicians, and celebrities to finish the phrase that Dr. King made famous, 'I have a dream that...' We're going to hear some of those, including Snoop Dog and Mitt Romney."
I can confirm that this is an actual thing that NBC News put on the teevee today.
Here is a list of people that I want to hear do similar segments for NBC News:
2. Guy Fieri
3. MC Skat Cat
5. The Knick City Dancers
6. Kenneth Bianchi (aka one of the "Hillside Stranglers")
7. The actual members of The Stranglers, for that matter
8. The out-of-breath jogger from 1982.
9. Daenerys Targaryen
10. Snoop and Mitt again, because that was really, really hard to believe.
Now we are going to talk about the state of the American Dream. Brooks says that it is much harder, because of the interplay between economic stresses and emotional stresses. Brooks says we need to talk more about "love" in Washington.
WuDunn says that the American Dream is still available, provided that you are affluent. Basically, the dream of cake is still available for people who are born, surrounded by cake.
This is maybe the most Meet The Press has ever talked about income inequality, and it's being done with vaseline on the lens. Still, I'll take what I can get! Doris Kearns Goodwin telling everyone that upward mobility is dead in America! That's awesome! Gregory saying that even a commitment to "the middle class" comes with a blind spot where the poor and working class Americans reside. Sharpton suggesting that more people of different backgrounds align themselves together as a force for economic equality. I'm cool with all of this.
Raul Labrador says that he is "saddened to hear some of the things that he is hearing," and then sort of prattles on and on without addressing whether or not those things that sadden him are things that he is particularly interested in doing anything about. I gather not -- his basic conclusion is "everything totally worked out for me, therefore everything has worked out for everyone."
He says, "What I've been hearing from your panelists is not a message of hope. It's a message of despair. And I think we need our leadership to actually be more hopeful."
Ha, clap for Tinkerbell louder is definitely a great policy perscriptive!
WuDunn keeps making Labrador sad with objective reality on income mobility: "The chances of an American moving up is worse. It's one out of 12, versus in Britain, it's one out of eight. So what does that mean? That means as Washington dithers, America burns."
Labrador basically says that having "hope" is a plan, and saying that America is awesome over and over again is also a really good plan. Sharpton says, "we are not hopeless...but hope needs legs to it, and that means action."
There's still show left? What are we doing with this? I am pretty sure that this show peaked when Snoop Lion and Mitt Romney played Martin Luther King MadLibs a moment ago. But for some reason, we are going to talk to Bobby Jindal. At the moment, the big news concerning Jindal is the fact that he is, in terms of popularity and approval, in perilous decline. So this is another superb booking by the MEET THE PRESS geniuses, and ending the show with this guy is just a fantastic decision by this show's amazing producers.
Jindal says that the disagrees with the president. But he likes education. He thinks education is totally important. (This from a guy who tried to do away with his state's income tax. For f--k's sake.) He's pretty sure charter schools figure into the equation prominently. It's possible that public schools in NOLA were epic turds but the continuing reality is that nationwide they are no better and no worse at educating kids. He doesn't think that Colin Powell is right when Powell says that there is a "dark vein of intolerance within the GOP," but he is willing to say, of the idea that Obama should be impeached, "I reject that kind of talk."
I mean, that's good because you sort of have to commit a crime to be impeached. It's not actually a thing you do when you really don't like a guy who a sizable majority of Americans keep electing. The framers of the Constitution did not say, "Oh, hey guys, if the president ever just really makes your poor little taint hurt, totally impeach him, okay?"
I'm sorry was I supposed to throw Jindal a cookie and ice cream party for clearing that super low bar as a political "thought leader?" Sorry, sorry, tell Louisiana that they can come pick up a Carvel gift card from me this week.
Anyway, Jindal hates Obamacare and is of two minds on the matter of shutting down the government: "I think this is a false threat from the other side. I don't think you have to shut down the government to repeal and replace Obamacare. But I don't think Republicans should be taking options off the table. I think we should be fighting to defund it. The reality is -- is that let's have that debate. I don't think Republicans should be negotiating with ourselves and saying, 'We're not going to do this, we're not going to do that.' Let's look at every option and get rid of Obamacare."
Jindal doesn't think the GOP should debate itself, because all sides of the debate sound great to him. The man is a genius, with decision making. "Do whatever! But do it really hard!"
David Gregory tells Jindal that he "appreciates" him for being here today but there is no evidence that Jindal was ever really there -- let alone that he did something appreciable.
Okay, that is the way the Sunday celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the March On Washington ends, with a whimper. But everyone will be back to bang on and on again, including me, in seven days time. In the meantime, I hope all of you have a lovely last week of August. See you next week!
[The Sunday Morning Liveblog returns on September 1, 2013. Until then, check out my Rebel Mouse page, which I periodically update with great reads from around the web.]