tv [untitled] CSPAN June 20, 2009 9:30pm-10:00pm EDT
ever done. when i grew up in indiana, if you wanted to get ahead, you were a democrat. in the 1970's, 1980's, we lost that. in the new orleans declaration, the seminal document of the d.l.c. and new democrat politics, we brought it back. we declared in clear and simple terms that the promise of america is equal opportunity. that the purpose of the democratic party is to expand opportunity, not government. and that economic growth and the private sector is the prerequisite for opportunity for all. but with opportunity comes responsibility. as we further declared in new orleans, we believe that american citizenship entails responsibilities as well as rights. we mean to ask our citizens to give something back to their communities and their country. i hope i have done that and i
intend to keep on giving. we've evoked a lot of memories tonight. we should enjoy and savor every one of them, but as we do, let us not forget that our work has just begun. that we still have so much more to do. opportunity and responsibility are the cornerstones of the poll stick -- politics of the future, not the past. finding new way to further them is a never-ending challenge, even as we look back we must look ahead. so let me leave you with this thought. as president clinton has often reminded us, when our memories outweigh our dreams we become old. and it is the destiny of america and of new democrats to remain forever young. it's up to all of you to make sure that that is always true.
president clinton and steny hoyer at a dinner for al from head of the democratic leadership council. >> tomorrow on "washington journal," a round table discussion with tony blank lee, "washington times" columnist and jon-christopher bua on iran, health care and politics. tom davis will talk about the republican party, virginia politics and issues like health care and kevin baker, contributing editor for "harper's" magazine discusses his cover story "barack "hoover" obama." >> every weekend, "book tv" has the latest nonfiction books and authors on c-span2.
on afterwords eduardo galeano recounts the creation of the world through a short story collection. "after words" also airs sunday night at 9:00 eastern. also sunday, books on the economy, former investment banker john talbot exposes myths about the recession and what it will take to recover and jay richards on why he thinks capitalism is the best way to ease problems. also this weekend, the end of overeating. david kessler talks about how americans, programmed by too much sugar, salt, and junk can control their eating habits. lots more coming up this weekend on book tv. our website has more information and great features including streaming video,
searching, and sharing your favorite programs. that's booktv.org. >> a discussion now on iran, general motors, health care and other political news with syndicated columnist george will. he was a guest on "washington journal" for about an hour. >> on this thursday morning we are pleased to welcome columnist, george will. >> glad to be here. >> there is so much and i talk about your column, on sundays and thursday, and the topic today is tobacco. and why did you choose it and what is your point? >> i have written it over the years, because we're trying to deal with a product that's legal and deadly if used as to be used. it's curious, we are regulating
so it raises all kinds of problems. it seems to me one of the great successes of government in the last 50 years is the fact that 50 years ago, half of all american population woke up in the morning and lit a cigarette. today, 25% smoke. that's tremendous good thing. arguably the most efficient thing government does in this middle class information acquiring country is regulate public health benefits. but what got my attention was the congress passes this bill empowering the federal drug administration, food and drug administration, to regulate tobacco and the president comes out in the rose garden and says, this is change. this is not real the way washington used to work. it's exactly the way washington used to work in two particulars. the bill was supported by philip morris, the largest tobacco company.
why? because by restricting advertising, it restricts the measures the advertising and promotions by which its market dominance could be challenged. so again, it's what used to be called regulatory capture, an industry delighted to be regulated, it freezes in its advantages. second the bill goes out of its way to say, the mere fact that the f.d.a. will have -- be regulating tobacco does not immunize the tobacco companies for libet done by their tobacco product. that's protecting another strong battalion here in washington, the trial lawyer. host: you say in your paragraph, ironies abound about the state children health program being supported by tobacco taxes. guest: all over the country, state governments are increasingly addicted, i use the word intentionally, to tobacco taxes. therefore they have a difficult problem. they have to price the pack of tobacco with -- most of which,
nowadays, the vast majority of which new uh n.o.w. is taxes. they have to price it so as to not discourage too much smoking. if they discourage too much smoninging, there goes their revenue source. you cannot lute the -- loot the tobacco companies unless the tobacco companies have loot to be looted. that's why in 1998, i believe it was, 46 states came to a compact with the tobacco companies to get, i think, $2406 -- $246 billion over 25 years. they have to make sure there's a continuing supply of smokers to keep the revenue flowing. the irony is, compounded with sclip the state children's health insurance program, being funded by smoking which is to say, in order to fund this supposed health care improvement we need to have continually health damaging habit of smoking flourishing in the country.
host: mr. will has much on his mind, we have many opportunities to see and hear from him, we want to open up phone lines. i'm sure you've seen, yesterday afternoon and in this morning's papers that two new polls out on the president's performance and popularity, cbs and also the nbc/"wall street journal" poll. both of them have similar results a popular president and his -- and strong marks for his leadership and communication style, rising concerns about the programmatic approaches to the financial crisis. you can either comment on the polls or tell people what you think. guest: first on the poll the polls reveal that the american people are sensible, which is to say the president is an engaging, attractive,
intelligent, thoughtful, bold, interesting man, fresh from winning an emphatic vote from the american people. and what he is doing boldly and intelligently is taking the country in a direction the country is squeezey about. enormous expansion of government into the private sector. in fact, erasing the distinction between public and private sectors. so the country's simply sensible about this. during the ray began presidency, democrats were driven mad by the fact that they po polled and said, what do you think of reagan on this, this, and this, and the country was always queasy about the policies, but liked reagan. host: our phones are ringing off the hook for you. let's begin with a call from wilmington, north carolina. this is t.i., is that correct? caller: that's right. host: you're on the air. you know, you're going to be
hearing an echo unless you hit the mite button on your tv. what's your question for george will. caller: george will, i'm one of your fans down here. guest: i appreciate that. caller: a few years ago you wrote an article about what you essentially thought of colin powell and you took him apart. it was so good to see that, it was everything he had done wrong, i'd like you to comment on that, please. guest: i don't frankly remember the particular column. i do remember having a distinct difference with mr. powell on the subject of israel and the middle east. colin powell just now is engaged in a robust argument about the future of the republican party and i think colin powell is someone obviously the republicans should have in their party. he's a man of enormous distinction and achievement and strong feelings. i'm much more conservative republican than he is. but i'm, i guess what they call
a big tent republican. you might say with regard to wilmington, wilmington before michael jordan became the most famous export from wilmington, the most famous one was my former colleague and much-missed friend david brinkley. host: also the city the government chose to test the digital transition. you wrote a very strong column about the president's speech in cairo. would you tell people what your concerns are with what you said? guest: the concern is that all presidents, but particularly this one, tend to think their personality is an irresistible force and there are a lot of immovable objects out there that won't find it irresistible. the president really occasionally echos a claim heard in this country in the
1930's, if we could just talk, just get to know one another, we could split the differences between us and harmony would break out. this is the old liberal belief that harmony is the natural condition of man. i tend to be more like hobbs, the natural condition of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short because people don't get along naturally. socializing people to get along is difficult. in the 1930's, when we finally got to know the empire of japan and the third reich, we knew we had what's called an irrepressible conflict on our hands. i thought his view was a, optimistic. i b, i thought the comparison of pal tin -- palestinians to slaves and therefore israelis to slave masters was absurd and unhistorical. host: do you applaud the effort or think he should not have made it? guest: i'm all for the effort, now in its 60th year, to get
the palestinians and israelis together. i think there's a danger when you get a peace process going, the process becomes an end in itself. we'll do almost anything to keep the process going, the process is supposed to be a means to an end. host: chicago, you're on the phone for george will. clip good morning, how are you doing this morning? host: we're fine. what's on your mind. caller: primarily, when i turned on the program on, you were talking about big tobacco, i see we've digressed to international issues. host: it's a fairly free-ranging discussion, he writes about so many topics, what's on your mind? caller: i was calling about the big tobacco issue and from my experience and in my -- from historically, not historically but seeing mr. will's position on big tobacco, it seems that,
ok, there seems to be a problem and the proposed regulations of tobacco by numerous agencies or an agency that the president has given dominance over the other agencies in the federal government too regulate big tobacco, i look at it as something has to be done in that area in order to curb the abuses, abuses being that the general american public suffers from this product and if mr. will does not believe that is a positive step, what proposals do you have? we know that this is an issue that's been -- that's adversely affecting -- a product that's adversely affecting the american public. it seems that in the united states, if there's a product that adversely affects the health 240e6 -- health of the general public, such as illegal drugs or marijuana or something of that nature, it's regulated.
there's an enforcement agency that steps in and does something about it. we know for years, the american public has been adversely affected by tobacco. host: thank you. guest: he used an interesting word, the abuse of this product. again, what makes it fascinating, tobacco policy, is that you don't have to abuse cigarettes to be injured by them. used as intended, they are unhealthy. now unquestionably, they have a big public health consequence for the country system of, arguably, do cheeseburgers. the question is, do we want the government regulating things and thereby regulating us, our choices, for our own good. there's a limit to which paternalism, the nanny state, ought to be unleashed. that's not to say that all regulation is wrong, i'm saying that flags ought to go up when
we talk about the problem of the government impinging on some of our libertarian sensibilities. host: our next question is from hagerstown, maryland. john, independent line. you're on. caller: good morning. my name is don, i'm from hagerstown, maryland. but i agree with you on the fact that mr. brinkley was a good man and i'm from north carolina and i read your articles every day, you know, when i'm getting "the washington post." president obama, i want to know what your take on him giving a good speech in cairo and then you know, the people critiquing him the way they do.
he is trying to set up a new type of relationship in the middle east and as we all know, the middle east is really controlled by the desired of god. i'd like to know your take on that. guest: what worries me about the president's approach to the israeli-palestinian dispute is it seems unhistorical and unworthy of the united states to try to position itself as so-called honest broker, above the fray, brokering the differences between israel, a nation, member nation of the united nations, and the forces, the hamas and all the rest, who want to destroy israel. because israel is salient of our values in a dangerous and inhospitable neighborhood, the united states is not merely a disinterested ar bitter, the
united states is an ally of israel and gets many rewards from its association with israel. host: as we're jumping around here, talking about polity in the -- policy in the middle east, what's your take on what's going on in iran and what the president is doing. guest: it's thrilling, what's going on in iran. what's telling about it is, running up to the election, tweetering -- i don't know what the verb is tweeting was important. when the ayatollah khomeini came back in 1979, he was using cassettes, simple audio cassettes were an instrument of revolution. the world moves. 30 years later, we have the internet, cell phone, satellite dishes, all of this. tyrannies have always depended on the modern age in sealing their populations off from outside influences,
socializing, nationalizing if you will, the cornsness of the people. it's impossible, nowadays. simply impossible. furthermore, the median age in iran is 25. half the country is under 25 years old. they are not going to be governed indefinitely bied me neevel -- medieval clerics, it's not going to happen. what we're seeing here is something akin to what happened in the philippines when marcos called an election under intense pressure from ronald reagan and his envoy paul axley, had the election, it was obviously fraudulent, people went in the streets and four days later, he was gone. this is going to take longer than that, but the fact that regime change is coming to iran, is, it seems to me, obvious. host: we had an interesting post with the woman who wrote
"reading lolita in tehran," a caller talked about how much chinese interest there were in iran and the the geopolitics of china's presence in iran. can you talk about that? >> sure. china being a permanent member of the security council, having close relations with iran, this is one reason why we're never going to get, in my judgment, meaningful saxes to prevent iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. the good news i've just given. regime change is coming to iran. the bad news, the regime will, in four or five years, have nuclear weapons. we've got to learn to deter iran until internal evolution of the society makes it a pacific kind of nation. no one would care if belgium got nuclear weapons because the belgians are happy, cheerful,
peaceful people. host: we're spending an hour with george will, and our conversation is akin to a baseball game, we're all throw, pitches at him, he's taking swings. let's get a call from kevin. caller: i'm pleased to be on, i'm very happy. i have a very quick comment. mr. will, i respect your opinion, i think you're one of the few intellectuals left in the journalism industry that comes with a quality perspective and empirical data with the things you say. here's my concern. i think we have kind of lost sight of governing our own country. in the bush administration, we were out promoting democracy with weapons, now we have an african american president in office, the rise of this underlying racial disparity in our country has man tested -- manifested itself.
i see a problem. i see not a di cotmy, but i guess hypocrisy there because the majority of the crimes that have taken our country down have been done by executives, executives being primarily white executives, who have not been indicted, yet we're still trying to promote democracies in other countries and not taking care of ourselves. do we need to take another look at how we're governing? i'll take the answer off the air. guest: the short answer is yes. we were guilty of overreach in foreign policy in the bush years. candidate bush ran for president wanting a peaceful foreign policy he disavowed nation building.
that phrase is an oxy moron, it's like orchid building. they don't get built, they grow as part of an organic evolution. it was a, flawed going in, and b, refuted by the experience we had trying to put iraq back on its feet. colin powell said, remember the pottery barn principle if you break it, you own it. we broke it and owned it if more, many -- for many, many years. host: what's the stakes in iraq? >> the kurds in iraq are basically an independent country. they have their own flag, passports, and their own oil.
will iraq forever tolerate the semisecession that's occurred there. once the united states is gone, will the bitterness that has prevailed there for generations continue to subside or will there be a resurgence of it? i don't know. host: cape coral, florida is our next question, bill, on the democrat line. caller: thank you for taking my call. mr. wills, i understand you do have a vast amount of knowledge of this world, but personally, i consider you one of the vanguards of the party of no. you have a lot of proposals, for the administration, all the time, but not to hurt you -- but i have not heard you seek a solution. just like the house yesterday and the senate came up with a
health bill, four pages long, and they were shaking it in front of -- front of the tv's. they came up with nothing they told us. they said, this is a proposal. but they didn't tell us anything. that's what i consider you. you tell us a lot of things, but there's no solutions. host: let's get a response. guest: i'd like to say something in defense of the solid word no. it appears in our constitution. for example, in the first amendment, the five most beautiful words in the english language, congress shall make no law. it goes on to say the thing thinks congress shall make no law about. the el bill of rights is a series of no. there are things the government ka can not do. unreasonable searches and seize you'res, no. no has a role in politics.
most new ideas are bad, most new ideas are false. the truth is less plural than all the errors in the world. say nothing is a perfectly respectable thing to do. beyond that, i'd like to think i have solutions to a lot of america's problems, not all of them, but i've certainly got ideas. they don't involve expanding the government. now, some people say if you're against expanding the goth, you're generally negative. that's not true. i'm for the market, i'm for individual initiative, i'm for initiating entrepreneurship, and health care, for example, which the caller mentioned. insuring the unsured, simplest thing in the world. give them money. give them vouchers, a debit card with a certain value. that's the simple part of it. that empowers individuals and does not make them as unafraid
of -- does not make them afraid of what the government will do. >> in your life, you've spent a great deal of it writing and teaching, did you consider a run for office? >> not seriously. i live in maryland and have lived there since the mid 19750's. about 1982, as i recall, some republicans wanted to know if i was interested in running for the senate, i said no, there are only two republicans in maryland as far as i can tell. i was one and jean kirkpatrick was the other. it's a very democratic state. frurtmore, i have a metabolic urge to write. if i can't write, i explode. and therefore, i would find the life of public office almost -- all those interminable hearings where you sit and listen to other people talk, would be tiresome.
host: philadelphia, next for george will, this is kent. independent line. caller: mr. will, you are one of my favorite commentator, you've got a couple of blind shots, global warm that type of thing. i want to go back to the original discussion about today's column about tobacco, i think it's very cogent and i think it's very, you know, something that -- it's really fascinating to me the di cotmy you're talking about here. there's a big solution here that nobody is -- well, not nobody. it's getting to be a bigger and bigger topic all the time. that is legalization of marijuana. that could replace all cigarette revenues in the state in about a week. surely you know enough of the history of this country to know who harry amsinger was, who william randolph hearst, two of the great megaloman yakes, th