tv Washington Week PBS February 12, 2011 6:30am-7:00am PST
foreign policy. at home, lawmakers prepare for a battle of their own over their budget, over government's role and over the 2012 presidential nomination. >> it's an all-important must-have for us is this -- making barack obama a one-term president. >> president obama has stood over the greatest job loss in modern american history and that is one inconvenient truth that will haunt this president throughout history. >> covering this remarkable week yochi dreazen, tom gjelten of the n.p.r. and dan balz of "the washington post." >> covering history as it
happens. live from our nation's capitol, this is "washington week" with gwen ifill, produced in association corporate journal. and funding provided by -- >> we know why we're here, to connect our forces when they need it. to help troops see danger before it sees them. >> to answer the call of the brave and bring them safely home. >> around the globe the people of boeing are working together to protect who serve. that's why we're here. >> a line is a powerful thing. it connects the global economy to your living room, cleaner air to stronger markets. factory floors to less crowded
roads. today's progress to tomorrow's promise. nor folk southern, one line, infinite possibilities. corporate funding is also provided by -- prudential financial. additional funding for "washington week" is provided by the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> once again live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. >> good evening, 18 days after it started the people of egypt pulled off a very modern sort of revolution today making full use of satellite television, facebook, twitter and the full throttle cries from tahrir
square. president mubarak was shown the exit. it became clear that none of that will be heard. with that the u.s. abandoned its middle ground giving mubarak a final push out the door. >> i am confident that the people of egypt can find the answers and do so peacefully, constructively and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks. for egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day. >> the president's tone was very different today than it had been in the past. when the u.s. finally realize, tom, that its relationship with mubarak has that has been sustained for 30 years was broken? >> it was undoubtedly when they decided that he was out of touch with reality and no longer really able to preside over that
government. but i think the larger question, the larger moment was when the united states realized that there was no longer a choice between promoting democracy and ensuring stability as long as there seem to be that choice, the u.s. interest in counter terrorism corporation in support for israel, in keeping the suez canal open, all these strategic interest were more important than promoting democracy in egypt. the administration realized that those days were over, that it was no longer a choice. even if it wanted to make this decision on the basis of vital u.s. strategic interest, it needed a strong democratic and modern ally and at that point it was clear that mubarak -- mubarak's relationship with the united states was over. >> that's what happened with the relationship with the u.s. but yochi, what happened in egypt, in the palace between the time he chyme out yesterday and
said i may go soon but not right now. and this morning he said, maybe right now. >> i'm going to give my power to sulieman. and there had been rumors that he was going to give up power. and then keep some power and give some power to the military. sulieman and mubarak were very close personally and very close professionally. mubarak wanted sulieman badly. what i think happened from conversations and the sequence of events was the military decided that it wasn't go to fly. if they went forward then there would be blood in the streets. as you know that was not a long
speech but sometime between the recording of it and the airing of it the military realized they had no choice or there would be literally blood flowing in the streets of cairo. >> you know, in those scenes you had 100,000 people absolutely jubilant, this pro democracy passion. what was it that sparked them? it was the report that the military was taking control of the government. >> they're happy. >> how ironic that that was to them a triumph. basically it's just one step short of a military coup, right? >> what does it mean that the military takes over now? what role will they exercise and how long can they do that with the will of the people? >> the u.s. military has a tight relationship with the egyptian military has had a lot of its training. >> that's true at the lower ranks. we have an egyptian military there's a generation split. you have the elders, ten, towi
who is running egypt. these are all people who were trained under the soviet union. they did military training there. since the peace treaty between israel and egypt, younger officers come to the u.s. they have this kind of soviet training and the young guards have the training with us. but it's going to be fascinating because yeah, i think this was a bloodless coup. >> it wasn't entirely blood ress. as they say there were martyrs in this. >> it's more of a switch from sulieman to this military council. >> let me step back and ask a question about the united states and its role. a lot of questions about shifting postures over the course of this drama. but to what degree did president obama and his advise ors commenting on events that they
were not controlling? >> yesterday, it seemed especially when we heard from the c.i.a. chief who seemed to be ahead of or behind the story at different times. >> the c.i.a. director saying that there was a strong likelihood that the president was going to step down. and the president said, we are witnessing history unfold. i think there is a really delicate balance here. on the one hand, they don't want to make it appear that they're behind the curve or out of touch or out of the loop. on the other hand, they don't want to appear that they are dictating events. in a way it will help them because it did show they were on the sidelines. they were not behind the scenes being the puppet master. >> the joke is that obama calls mubarak obviously before he stepped down. it's time to say good-bye to the egyptian people. and the egyptian -- mubarak
goes, where are they going? >> i was watching that bizarre speech, i mean, really strange -- >> but it's the punchline to the question that we're talking about that we, in fact, were controlling events behind the scenes or it just looked like we weren't given the fact that some of the statements that we made didn't come to pass. >> came to pass eventually. >> i think we have a tendency for unreasonable reasons that we often think that we in the u.s. have more control. much like with oslo or the israel and palestinians stood the deal on their own and then clinton did the handshake. this was not something the u.s. controlled at all. >> let's talk about the regional implications because there is another concerns about how these events are going to affect america's allies like israel and as well as its enemies like iran. >> i say to our iranian friends,
let your people march. let your people speak. release your people from jail. let them have a voice. [applause] >> it's a bankrupt system. >> something very interesting about what vice president biden was doing there because laettner the day we saw the president's press secretary robert gibbs at his final press release kind of stir the pot. >> the iranian government has been on the spot with these protests because the opposition movement, the green movement has really wanted to highlight its solidarity with the egyptian protestors. and on the one hand want tots embrace what's happening in egypt. they want to try and make sure it is not co-opted by the opposition movement. i think the iranian movement has
been clever about this and really try to or kess strait this to orchestrate it and they have done a fairly effective job. >> to what degree are israeli concerns justified that this change of government in egypt might overturn or interfere with the peace treaty? >> i think that the scenario as we understand it and again, it's changed so much so quickly that who knows what it will be by tomorrow. but the scenario of a military council headed by generals of israels is from the israeli point of view given the range of outcome probably the best case scenario. >> the egyptians like this treaty. >> that's opened the door to be the second best military in the middle east. >> if you look at specific issue which is very important to the israelis which is the border between egypt and gaza strip where hamas is in power. egyptian military has been to a
greater lesser extent enforcing the power there. that is probably something that regardless of how the political reforms take place in egypt, they will still be able to play and to play it to the satisfaction of the israelis. >> does this movement that we've now seen tunisia now egypt continue to spread and if so where might it go? >> there were reports that in yemen mass crowds had gathered in the capital moving to te egyptian embassy kind of waving the egyptian flag in celebration. the president sala yemen will not go quietly into the night. there were crowds of police and army coming towards the protestors and then the cell phone went dead. cell phone service to yemen has been out sense.
there's no e-mail traffic coming in and out of yemen. it may spread but it could lead to a putdown -- i think what it could have happened in egypt. >> saudi arabia, they were trying to keep mubarak in power. do they find themselves out of the loop in this whole episode? >> well, sure. i think that one of the things as yochi mentioned is one of the things that we can watch is an indicator how governments are reacting to this is how they deal with blackberries. this technology has been a very sensitive issue for a lot of these authoritarian governments. we ke see how quickly they move to started restricting wireless communication, will be a good sign of how nervous they are. >> do the people anymore the square ever go home? >> that question is the question
going forward. they have the scalp they wanted. they wanted the mubarak scalp. they got it. they wanted sulieman out. they got that. what was striking to me about the press is that right over his shoulder, the person i happen to know who it was was the main egyptian military spokesman standing directly in front of him. he gave the hostage style and was shuffled off to the side. >> and then that man made the statement, we are the military but we won't be in charge for long. >> but the critical thing is that the political reforms we're talking about now are going to take two or three months and you cannot keep the popular pressure on the government for two or three months. it's going require the support of the united states to make sure this movement continues in that direction. >> i have to move on. the drama, domestic politics, which is that. can't help but pail in
comparison. but it became clear that lawmakers are girding for battles of their own. the key to that is a fundamental disagreement of government priorities and presidential ambitions. the face of the budget argument is republican john -- john boehner. >> it's time for america to get serious and that's exactly what america expects of us. >> also testing the waters for 2010. >> we simply need to remind each other what made this country great and restore america's greatness by restoring american common sense. [applause] >> we need more common sense and less obama nonsense. >> we get a valentine's present next week which the president and the white house releases the
budget. how is this going to sort itself out? >> when the president plays out its budget. we've had republicans coming up with a proposal to fund the government for the rest of the year and proposing $100 billion in cuts at least their describing it that way. democrats say if you look at reductions it's less than that. you're going to have a battlefield in washington. there are going be some things that the republicans and the white house are going to reach a resolution and there are some things that are going to be punted in the future. >> are republicans fighting themselves or the democrats? it seems to me it's as much external as it is internal. >> absolutely. you've got a divide between the republican party, between the energy and the fervor between the new members, the tea party
members, and they're trying to figure out how they can get some things done, get some things accomplished. you already saw the tea party members successfully resisting the budget cuts. now they've gone back and laid out today another round of cuts. now that's the budget field where will the democrats are going to engage. that's the domestic discretionary cuts. the president has taken a strategy like bill clinton done with republicans when newt gingrich was the speaker. bill clinton came out, the question is not whether we're going to balance the budget it's how fast we're going to balance the budget. >> president obama says -- said the question aren't cuts that damage the ability our future. the question of tax increases and health care are likely to comb punted in the next two years. >> does that play out in the
presidential field? we're relatively late for people to decide whether we're going to run especially against an incumbent president. do you see these same arguments or is it different? >> you see most of the same arguments but the dynamic that exists in the presidential nominating battle is one that pushes the candidates more to appease the tea party side of the party as opposed to tea party leadership here in washington. i was in iowa talking to a lot of different people and one person who was a local activist volunteered the idea. we do not want our people back in washington cooperating with president obama. that's not what this election was about. if they find common ground with obama i wl feel that they have failed in what we sent them to do. >> and the problem for
republicans in that attitude which is widespread among many of those people is that ultimately if your goal is to make the independent voters in our equivalent of tahrir square jube lent and exhilarated you've got to get something done. we've got to show that we're going to work across party lines. so he made a tax cut deal that included some stimulus to a payroll tax cut. he's worked on trade deals. >> he went to the chamber of commerce. >> he wanted to try to expand exports and reform the tax system and get that corporate cash off the sidelines. that's the posture the president is doing. unlike the first two years when he needed major legislation when he had to weedle and bargain and lobby, he doesn't need to do as much of that now. >> you used the word "cragmatic"
to describe the republicans. are they -- is there a pragmatic view of the 2012 elections? what kind of candidacy actually makes most sense? >> well, yes and no. i mean, one of the things that people who are going to be picking the nominee, the average voter in the republican party, primary caucus attendant dee wants somebody who they think can win. a lot o them realize that to find somebody like that energizes the base and can reach out to the middle. at the same time the candidates themselves are working as hard as they can to disspell the idea that president obama has begun to move, that he's moved toward
the center. they are making the argument that this is all phony. so in a sense they are undercutting some of the deal-making that may go on at least rhetorically. >> john mccain was not the most conservative republican in the field even though he ran to the right. >> ron paul may run again this time. >> we may see sop of that dynamic -- some of that dynamic play out. >> mitt romney in other circumstances might be seen as a frontrunner. you played some of the snappy lines at cpac. those are better than saying barack obama stole my note plan. >> that didn't come up, somehow. he's got to distance himself and everybody who is running for president on the campaign trail is running fazz far as way from barack obama as they can. >> there is always been that cliche that they're in lock
step. john mccain 2008, so they get the nomination. what happened that this year you've got rick santorum who is out of office. donald trump talking about running. even if they shake out, but why is there no orderly process. >> we've covered these cpac conventions. they come early. they seldom ends up with the nominee. it's for people to set their outer limited. >> they have to do their best. for some it's a matter of getting with their integrity intact. for others is to genuinely play to the crowd. >> sarah palin wasn't there. >> nor was mike huckabee but donald trump was. that tells you something about that nature of that. but romney is in some way the closest equivalent to what you're talking, a person who had run before, comes out of the
establishment. but because of the health care issue because of questions about the way he ran in 2008 and what he really stands for and is he authentic, he's in no way the kind of frontrunner we've seen in the past or the sort of senior vice president as some republicans have described their process. >> some of that is because you have the bush administration that was discredited with an older vice president who was not in a position to run new a subsequent election. if you had a much younger and a more politically healthy vice president from the bush administration, you might have a different alignment of this field. but it also has to do with the reason than barack obama was able to come out from nowhere and run past hilly clinton. there's been a demock tiesing element with the use of the internet to raise money and the brushfire politics have changed the game.
>> we will all be digging through the budget which is a reality of politics and having scintillating fights about the debt ceiling. >> we didn't get that. >> darn. thank you all very much. it's always good to begin the weekend with you and especially with such amazing stories. we have to leave it there for now but the conversation will continue online. we'll pick up where we left off on our "washington week" extra. keep track on the pbs news hour with margaret still in egypt. see you again next week on "washington week." good night. >> download our weekly podcast and take us with you. it's the "washington week" podcast at pbs.org.
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