tv PBS News Hour PBS April 7, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: the trump administration takes on the government of syria, ordering air strikes in retaliation for chemical weapons attacks. we look at the decision and what could come next. then: >> we have made tremendous progress in our relationship with china. >> woodruff: president trump touts deepening relations with china after his first summit with the leader of the world's other economic powerhouse. then, with passover just around the corner, we join celebrated chef joan nathan in her kitchen to talk about her new cookbook exploring jewish food from around the world.
>> you can't mix milk and meat, you can't eat certain shellfish, so that, what happens is, jewish people think about their food a lot. >> woodruff: and, it's friday. mark shields and david brooks take on this week's news, including what a rule change in the senate means for the ability of the two parties to work together. all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: q1 ♪ ♪
moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
>> woodruff: the white house says president trump has sent a strong signal to the world with last night's cruise missile strike on syria. the attack drew widespread support today from american allies, and condemnation from the syrians and their allies. a flash of light and the roar of jet engines lit up the pre-dawn in the eastern mediterranean. two u.s. navy destroyers fired off 59 tomahawk cruise missiles. ( explosion ) amateur video-- broadcast on syrian state tv-- appeared to show the missiles striking home. the target: the syrian military's sharyat air base. u.s. officials say it was the launching pad for a chemical attack that killed more than 80 people in idlib province. saleh hawa, an opposition activist in idlib, spoke to us via skype. >> there is a kind of comfort that, at the end, after, of
maybe seven years of suffering and pain, that at the end, we've got a kind of ally. we've got a kind of protector, you can say. >> woodruff: news of the u.s. missile strike broke as president trump was meeting last night at his resort in florida with the president of china. >> it is in this vital national security interest of the united states to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. >> woodruff: both russia and syria claim rebel groups were responsible for tuesday's chemical attack, and the russians quickly condemned the u.s. missile strike. foreign minister sergei lavrov spoke in uzbekistan. >> ( translated ): of course this is an act of aggression, committed on an absolutely made- up pretext. i hope these provocations will not lead to some kind of irreversible consequences. >> woodruff: the russian defense
ministry announced that the u.s. attack caused only minimal damage to the syrian air base, and that most of the cruise missiles fell short. indeed, opposition activists reported seeing syrian jets take off from the base today, heading for rebel-held areas. but, white house press secretary sean spicer said all 59 missiles hit their targets, from fighter jets to radar sites. meanwhile, western allies backed the u.s. move. in a statement, nato secretary general jens stoltenberg said: "the syrian regime bears the full responsibility for this development." german chancellor angela merkel also defended the u.s. action, but urged caution. >> ( translated ): the attack of the united states is understandable, given the dimension of the war crimes. at the same time, and i underline: more and more, it remains important and right to focus all the attention on
political talks. >> woodruff: turkey's president recep tayyip erdogan said the missile strike was fully warranted-- but may not be enough. and, syrian rebel groups also called for even stronger action against the assad regime. again, saleh hawa: >> right now, things are different. i think, from now on, russian and bashir al-assad and iran and all those you know, naughty countries around the world, will understand that, look, this is america. america today is different from before. america is now ready to act. >> woodruff: the strike was in stark contrast to president obama's policy. he had warned of a red line against the use of chemical weapons, but backed away from military action after a chemical attack in august 2013 killed more than 1,000 syrians. during the campaign, mr. trump also advocated against military intervention in syria.
this week, he said the chemical attack changed his view of the syrian war, and of assad. mr. trump said nothing further today, but at a u.n. security council meeting, u.s. ambassador nikki haley did not rule out further action. >> the united states took a very measured step last night. we are prepared to do more, but we hope that will not be necessary. >> woodruff: on the diplomatic front, the issue is likely to top the agenda, as secretary of state rex tillerson visits moscow next wednesday. in congress, democrats urged the president to seek congressional approval for future moves, while republicans generally applauded his action. >> this was a response that was required in response to the commission of war crimes. i want to emphasize, this is the beginning, not the end. but the signal that was sent around the world is very important. >> the president has made a
180-degree pivot in one week on what the united states' role should be in syria. and i think that as a result, the united congress should be fully involved. >> woodruff: we'll get a deeper assessment of the u.s. strike, and its implications, after the news summary. in the day's other news, the long fight to fill the vacancy on the u.s. supreme court is over. the u.s. senate today confirmed president trump's nominee, neil gorsuch, by a vote of 54 to 45. he will fill the seat of the late justice antonin scalia. lisa desjardins has our report. >> the nomination of neil m. gorsuch of colorado to be an associate justice of the supreme court of the united states is confirmed. >> reporter: the final vote was almost anti-climactic, after republicans triggering the so-called "nuclear option" on thursday.
that cleared the way for a simple majority to break the democratic filibuster against gorsuch. senate majority leader mitch mcconnell: >> of course i wish that important aspects of this process had played out differently. it didn't have to be this way. but today is a new day. >> reporter: in the end, three democrats: joe manchin, heidi heitkamp and joe donnelly, joined republicans in supporting gorsuch. but most democrats, like dick durbin, lamented how it came to be. >> when the rule was changed, some senators were engaged in high fives, on the other side of aisle. i'm not sure why. i don't think it was a time for any winning celebration. i think it was an unfortunate moment, and the question is, where will we go from here? >> reporter: not all republicans were celebrating the rule revision. arizona's john mccain: >> i am very concerned about the future, which will then, with only 51-vote majority required,
will lead to polarization of the nominees as far as their philosophies are concerned. >> reporter: but minority leader chuck schumer promised to protect the 60-vote threshold for ending filibusters on legislation. >> i hope the republican leader and i can, in the coming months, find a way to build a firewall around the legislative filibuster, which is the most important distinction between the senate and the house. >> reporter: on that, at least, schumer and mcconnell agreed: >> this notion that this somehow bleeds over into the legislative filibuster is untrue. i'm opposed to it. >> reporter: as for judge gorsuch, his swearing-in as the 101st associate justice of the u.s. supreme court is set for monday. for the pbs newshour, i'm lisa desjardins. >> woodruff: president trump wound up his florida summit with chinese president xi jinping today. both men spoke highly of their first-ever meeting, despite tensions over trade and north korea. chinese reports said mr. trump will visit china later this
year. we'll have the full story, later in the program. in sweden, at least four people were killed today when a hijacked beer truck crashed into a department store in stockholm. 15 others were hurt. witnesses said the truck plowed into a crowd of people before smashing into the store. the swedish prime minister called it an act of terror. it was the latest such incident across europe. police said they are looking for the truck driver. more than 50,000 people marched in cities across south africa today to protest government corruption. they carried signs and shouted slogans demanding the removal of president jacob zuma, after he fired the country's anti- corruption finance minister. >> i am marching because i have a four-year-old daughter and i feel if i don't do something about the future of the country, nobody is going to anything. >> i'm here to fight, to show my support for this country, for the beauty and the future that this country has, instead of the
uprising of one greedy, corrupt man. >> woodruff: the ailing nobel peace laureate desmond tutu, now 85, also made a rare public appearance in support of the demonstrations. his foundation tweeted on his behalf: "we will pray for the downfall of a government that misrepresents us." back in this country, a federal judge approved the agreement between baltimore and the u.s. department of justice on reforming that city's police department. the judge said "it is in the public interest" to approve it, despite the justice department request for a delay. attorney general jeff sessions said he still has "grave concerns" about the agreement, and that it may hinder the fight against crime. the long-running drought in california is officially over. governor jerry brown today lifted emergency conservation for nearly all of the state. he acted after a series of major winter storms brought heavy snow and rain. u.s. job growth dropped sharply
in march, to its worst showing in nearly a year. the labor department reported that today in its monthly summary. it said u.s. employers added a net of 98,000 jobs, even though economists expected nearly twice that many. the unemployment rate fell to 4.5%-- that's the lowest in almost a decade. that jobs report, and the tensions over syria, dampened the mood on wall street. the dow jones industrial average lost about seven points to close at 20,656. the nasdaq fell one point, and the s&p 500 slipped two. for the week, all three indexes were down a fraction of one percent. still to come on the newshour: the road ahead following the u.s. strikes on syria; presidents trump and xi lay the groundwork for future negotiations; mark shields and david brooks weigh in on syria, the supreme court battle, and much more.
>> woodruff: we return now to our top story, the u.s. attack on a syrian air field. late today, administration officials said they'd seek new sanctions against the regime of bashar al-assad. for more on the airstrikes, and their effects, i'm joined by: retired general john allen, he was the top commander in afghanistan from 2011 to 2013, and in 2014, became the special presidential envoy for the global coalition against isis; sarah sewall served as undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights during the obama administration. she's now at johns hopkins university; and, retired army colonel andrew bacevich, professor emeritus of international relations and history at boston university. and we welcome all three of you to the program.
general allen, i'm going to start with you. was this a smart move by president trump, his administration? >> judy, i think it was. i think it was warranted. the crime of attacking innocent civilians with a nerve agent puts the assad regime in a position where this kind of an action is absolutely justified. i have been calling for this kind of an action for a long time, and i believe it was justified and it was not just a message to bashar al-assad, it's a message to his russian patrons that the united states is just not going to tolerate this kind of action from him any longer. >> woodruff: col. bacevich, what's your view? >> if indeed some people suggest this is a one-off event, i think in a week we won't be talking abut it. if this aye shows a more
assertive trump administration that somehow we're going to ratchet up the pressure on the assad regime, trying to produce regime chairntion then i would be very much interested in hearing more about how that is going to occur and beyond that, if assad is forced out, then what? what do we think the united states will inherited, and what will the united states do with that inheritance, recalling the situation after regime change in iraq and libya, you know, those seem to be reasonable questions. >> woodruff: sarah sewall, how do you gauge what happened? >> it's very difficult to know right now, judy. we don't know whether this will fall into a category of a symbolic pinprick strike that had no meaningful effect or whether this could be the beginning of something that gets us much more deeply embroiled, whether it's similar to the "no fly" zones that we created in southern and northern iraq after
the first desert storm war or whether it's like the kosovo campaign that was designed to produce a negotiated solution we thought would take days and instead took weeks, or whether it could be like the libya intervention where we were nominally protecting citizens but crated a bigger terrorist threat throughout the region. >> woodruff: and general allen, we don't know how effective this is do, we? we're waiting to find out. >> well, i'll say a couple of things, judy, to the other points that have been made. the administration is going to have to give us a sense of what their policy is. this is obviously a change from the previous administration and military action without political context is often just ineffectual, there's no purpose for it. it's a dangers road to get on, as the other commentators have indicated. so it would be very helpful for us to understand what policy changes have created this strategy within which military action like this can occur.
but i think it's been an important event because it's not just a very important signal to bashar al-assad and to president putin, there are others around the world who should have taken very significant attention or made significant points of paying attention to this strike. kim jong un, for example, the president just completed by all accounts a successful summit with president xi jinping of china, and we find ourselves in an environment where there's a similar relationship there, where there is a patron and there is a client, and i know it has not escaped the attention of president xi that the nuclear saber rattling of kim jong un has attracted the attention of president trump. and, so, having held bashar al-assad accountable for this, we need to pay attention to northeast asia about a more activist united states in this regard. >> woodruff: col. bacevich, this does send a signal to the rest of the world that this
president is prepared to act. >> well, i think it's important to reflect on how this decision came to be mairksd at least how we understand it came to be made. a week ago the president was largely indifferent to events in syria. it appears that, when he saw the videotapes of the aftermath of the syrian chemical weapons attack, he was outraged and then basically in about a 48-hour period, he went from being indifferent to deciding we had to attack syria, and i have to say that strikes me as not so much a change in policy but really a change in impulses. we have an impulsive president. we see little in our president that suggests that he acts after syria's reflection -- after serious reflection. so, yes, indeed, if somebody like kim jong un in north korea is reflecting on the implications of the syrian
attack, are the implications one that would cause kim jong un to be more prudent or does he say, holy cow, we got a crazy guy on the other end of this relationship? >> sarah sewall, how much does it matter whether this was a thought-through policy that went into this. >> it matters enormously because if they don't know what the end game is, if they don't know what their goals are, then they don't know what their next steps are. let's look at the situation from a couple of different angles. first of all, if all we're doing is a red line on chemical weapons, that's not material, but it's really not the point. the point is assad is a butcher and so the question becomes for the civilians do i care if i'm gassed or hit by barrel bombs, the problem is is there. the russian issue, we have a commingled battlefield with risk of higher escalation. do we want that? is that a smart move? what happens if something does escalate. third, look at the order of battle on the ground.
we talk about whether or not you can use force to get a political settlement. who are the biggest, most powerful actors among the rebels? al quaida and i.s.i.s. so even if we're willing to commit to try to use enough force to get a negotiated settlement, we're actually at risk of strengthening the hand of the rebels that we have nominally vowed to fight in the war on terror. >> woodruff: general john allen, wat sarah is saying sounds like a lot of the arguments president obama perhaps used in the decision not to go in and attack after that chemical incident in 2013. >> well, is a ray is right. it's good to see is a ray again. she was terrific at state while she was there. look, the environment was very different in 2013. i think we'd be in a very different world today if we had struck them. the russians weren't on the ground, the moderate syrian opposition could have made significant -- could have had significant value out of that strike, it would have changed bashar al-assad's calculus with
respect to what he could do, and it would have set, i think, the conditions for a more fruitful discussion about the political transition that would have removed him from power, and the obama administration and the trump administration, i believe, are not intent, ultimately, on regime collapse but simply the removal of bashar al-assad and remaining and having much of that regime remain in tact, which could, in fact, continue to govern in some manner. what we've got to be very careful about is looking for all the reasons why the united states shouldn't act, and there are plenty. we've heard them tonight. but at some point, the united states, i believe, has a moral obligation to act, and selling short the decision to make this attack, i think, in some respects, doesn't take into account some very, very serious strategic minds that are at work right now. we have a secretary of defense, we have a chairman of the joint chiefs and we have a national security advisor and a secretary
of state who are very serious thinkers and strategic leaders and i think that they are advising the president about this strike, but i think there's much more behind this in the context of a strategy that emerges ultimately from a policy, and i think we need to take a moment and look for that articulation by the white house of what our policy is going to be and what that strategy will be. >> woodruff: and as we wait for that, andrew bacevich, what do you see is the next step here whether this was the right or wrong move, what happens now? >> well, i think the point's been well made. we have not heard anything that remotely resembles a strategy from this h president or from this administration. we now have the president's response to the first crisis that he has faced, and the response is one to opt for military force, which, of
course, has become exceedingly routine in the way we approach the world, but this conversation, i think, reveals the difficulty. we don't know what is the context in which this decision was made, and i think we desperately need to hear that context, to hear some vision, to get a sense of strategy. i'm not particularly encouraged by the fact that three out of the four people that general allen just ticked off are generals. it strikes me that that is suggestive of a mindset that is likely to opt for force as the preferred response to almost any situation. >> woodruff: sarah sewall, i'm going to ask you to comment on that if you want to but also to share with us what do you think happens next? i mean, do we just wait and see whether assad attacks again with chemical weapons? we know that there was a report today that his jets took off and attacked a rebel base in homs
today. >> here's my concern, judy, that, in the absence of a clear world view and an articulated strategy, it's very easy for individual uses of force and for high-minded rhetoric to begin to just escalate within its own echo chairman. it's not comfortable to me this seems reflective than thought out and strategic. since i don't know what the goal, is i don't know where we're likely to go next. >> woodruff: in a few seconds, what about col. bacevich's point that this is mostly generals or retired generals advising the president? >> i think as a matter of foreign policy that civilian leadership and diplomats balance the advice from the military officials. >> generals know an awful lot about fighting, they also know a lot about the consequences of
war, and i know these generals and they're going to give the president their best advice, and they understand american power, and if we chose to use military force, it wasn't because former generals forced the president into that option. these are great strategic thinkers who understand all about american power, and they fully understand the consequences of the use of military force. so i would be careful about assuming because they are former generals that they immediately went to a reflex to use military force. >> woodruff: we're going to have to leave it there. general john allen, colonel andrew bacevich, sarah sewall, we thank you. >> thanks, judy. you. >> woodruff: these american strikes in syria came as president trump, as reported, was hosting the president of
china for their first summit. the chief issues: north korea's nuclear and missile programs, and trade between the world's top two economies. john yang reports. >> the relationship developed by president xi and myself, i think, is outstanding. >> reporter: after his first encounter with the man leading the nation he once criticized as a menace, president trump was full of praise. >> president xi and all of his representatives have been really interesting to be with. i think we have made tremendous progress in our relationship with china. >> reporter: white house officials said the goal of the seaside summit was to establish a basis for future relations. >> ( translated ): this bilateral meeting is a thoughtful and ingenious arrangement. it is an important and meaningful development in the u.s.-china relationship. i believe that with the passage of time, we will make efforts to bear our great historical responsibility for promoting the
development of sino-u.s. relations, to create prosperity for both countries and their people and to uphold global peace and stability. >> reporter: the plush setting of mr. trump's mar-a-lago resort didn't mask the urgency of their discussions-- especially the u.s. hope that china will exert more economic pressure on north korea to halt its nuclear and missile testing programs. pyongyang test-fired yet another missile this week. mr. trump told the "financial times:" "if china is not going to solve north korea, we will." that message may have been underscored by the u.s. missile attack on syria that mr. trump ordered just before dining with president xi. >> i suspect, frankly, that one of the reasons the president decided to strike syria was to put president xi and the chinese a little off balance. >> reporter: former u.s. envoy to china, max baucus, says the moment of truth on north korea is drawing near. >> that's going to put pressure on xi to find a solution himself. they haven't done a lot so far because they'd rather have stability on the peninsula than try to get him to stop doing what he's doing.
we as americans have no choice but to try to find a solution with china. we cannot do this unilaterally. >> reporter: trade is another flashpoint between the world's two largest economies. china accounted for almost 70% of last year's $500 billion u.s. trade deficit. mr. trump spoke on air force during the campaign, denunciations of china were a constant refrain in mr. trump's stump speeches. >> don't forget we're the piggy bank. we've rebuilt china. they've taken so much money out of our country. we can't continue to allow china to rape our country. and that's what they're doing. >> reporter: last week, the president signed a pair of executive orders aimed at combating foreign trade abuses, but he has yet to carry out his campaign promise to formally label china a "currency manipulator." in a february interview with reuters, he said: "i think they're grand champions at manipulation of currency. so i haven't held back. we'll see what happens."
democrats say the president's all talk and no action: >> one of the few hopes we had with president trump was that he'd finally stand up to china, but up to now, when it comes to china he looks like a 98-pound weakling. >> reporter: former ambassador baucus. how tough can the u.s. be on china on trade? >> you have to stand up to them. my view is we should stand up to them more than we have. precisely targeted, not big bludnerbuss, huge big tariff and all that. but rather, selected industries and sectors. >> reporter: today, mr. trump said he's looking forward to frequent meetings with president xi. >> we look forward to being together many times in the future, and i believe lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away. >> reporter: u.s. officials say mr. trump has accepted an invitation to visit china at a future date. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang.
>> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: ahead of passover, an exploration of jewish cooking from around the world; and a syrian american ponders what separates her from today's refugees. but first, to the analysis of shields and brooks. that's syndicated columnist mark shields, and "new york times" columnist david brooks, who joins us from new york. and welcome, gentlemen. >> judy. >> woodruff: so, mark, let's start out by talking about the attack launched against sir. i can't what do you make of it? >> well, first of all, the previous discussion is well worth listening to again and again, each of them made, i thought, incredibly perceptive points. the thing that as me is the
president's transformation, what moves this president. this president who had his united nations ambassador nikki haley as recently as last week say that this was no longer a priority, removing -- we're living with bashar al-assad in syria, and to have the secretary of state say it's up to the people of syria. is that the 5 million refugees to vote absentee to vote to remove him from office? and he's been unmoved by the unforgettable image of the little 5-year-old boy covered with dust and blood and debris after an aleppo bombing by the russians that killed his 10-year-old brother. >> woodruff: years of killing. unmoved by 3-year-old allen kurdy on the beach, drowned as a refugees. but he obviously was moved by
this or appeared to be, what seemed to be an epiphany of sorts. but i think colonel bacevich asked the penetrating question and that is what's next? is this just an impulse, a reaction although an altogether legitimate reaction? and is it part of a strategy? because military action, absent strategy, we've seen it, we have paid for it, the world has paid for it and human beings paid the ultimate sacrifice for it. >> woodruff: what is your take on the syria strike, david? >> the question what's next strikes me as a secondary question. the primary question is what are we going to do about chemical war fair. 100 years ago, world war i was going to on and people were being gassed in the trenches and the fact that the world community has tried to eliminate chemical weapons since that time strikes me as a great achievement and to go back on that would be a great step back
for civilization. does the this signal a grand change of strategy in the middle east? i doubt it. at least we set this peres sent on this this particular issue. i think it was probably totally impulsive of president trump to do this, h he's an impulsive person. but there are upsides to having an impulsive president because nobody in the world especially like north korea knows quite what's going to happen and there are advantages to that. >> i could not disagree. we had an impulsive president in george w. bush. the last time the congress of the united states, 15 years ago, recognized and accepted its constitutional responsibility, its sole authority to take the united states into war, the capacity and power to declare war and send americans. they did it on the eve of the election of 2002 when it was to their political advantage and not once sense, despite the best efforts of republican senator
jeff flake of arizona and tim kaine of virginia to step up to that responsibility, i'm sorry, we don't celebrate impulse, and it keeps other people off brans is not a strategy, it's not a rational process. >> woodruff: david? it's not my preferred strategy, i would rather have a strarnlings obviously, but i am just pointing out there is an upside to having someone who's a little unpredictable. to me, one of the questions is does this lead to a more norm trump administration, a more norm republican foreign policy administration where you have the u.s. saying we will guarantee some sort of world order. donald trump has been so far away from that any step in that direction will be welcome. we've seen the rise of general mattis, the rise of mcmaster and rex tillerson and possibly banishment of steve bannon. and if that's happening we are heading toward a more normal republican administration.
i think it's too throirl say that's happening. i think we have a president who is not strategically minded, doesn't have a long attention span and does react. in this particular case and i expect it's a one-off case as andy bacevich said we will have forgotten in a week but i think it's a one-off thing to do. >> woodruff: what about that, mark? we have had changes in the white house including steve bannon coming off the national security, and we're reading that bannon's cache may be dropping as the president's son-in-law, jared kushner and gary cohen who runs the economic council that their stock rises. >> yes, judy, one point david made, i agree completely with him, the military, the the defense, general mattis certainly as you can see his influence, and let's be very blunt about it. the only people in this cabinet who know what they're doing, who have any experience are the military people. they're the ones that
understand, and it's understandable that general mattis rejected and resisted and fought against the policy of barack obama and president obama. he did push for more military, so he is filling this void, and i think that that is -- that's a plus for the country. as far as what's going on in the white house, i can't believe this disawry in the white house or these tension because the the president told us it had been the most successful 13 weeks of my president in u.s. history and it seems a funny way the celebrate but it's a pretty good rule of thumb, judy, steve bannon is the only person who's had a worse week than bill o'reilly and it's a good rule of thumb when you start talking personnel changes in any administration whether jimmy carter in 1989 or jerry ford in 1975 getting rid of rockefeller or george w. bush getting rid of his chief of staff, good indication you're in trouble,
all three lost, and that's going on right now i think. steve bannon made an incredibly dumb move and that is you don't put the boss in the position of being forced to choose between your favorite child's spouse jared kushner and him, and it looks like that's what bannon has done and he's coming up short. >> woodruff: what about that, david? what's going on? >> from what we can tell, two things, one, they've had a series of failurs and i hope they recognize them as failures -- the healthcare, budget failures, a series of other things -- and second the poisonous atmosphere within the administration. if you talk to people working within the administration from outside or those from within, they all describe a scorpions in the bottle type atmosphere and that's something the president engineered himself by deciding who's going to be with him one second, who's not going to be with him one second, who he favors one second, who he disfavors another second, so he set an atmosphere primarily concerned to tear his staff
apart and he's hired people who are apt at that so the atmosphere is extremely unhappy so both those things are happening which a normal administration would recommend a change. it should be said still in the realm of rumor but the acidity of life in the white house seems to be pretty well established. >> woodruff: acidity? acidity is good. >> woodruff: as david said. yeah, every white house, judy, is ultimately a mirror reflection of the person at the top. the self-righteousness of jimmy carter, the detachment of barack obama, all reflects the person at the top. the chaos and civil war in the leper colony going on now reflects donald trump's style. >> woodruff: and i'm sure none of these presidents take what you said personally. >> no. >> woodruff: so, david, we have now a new supreme court justice to fill the antonin
scalia slot but, in the meantime, we've seen the republican leadership in the senate change the rules to get neil gorsuch over the line. there is a lot of talk right now about what does that mean for the future? we already have a very polarized country, house of representatives. the feeling was the senate maybe wasn't quite so polarized. what does this mean going forward that they now are going to make it so much easier for, it appears, for nominees from the far left or the far right to be confirmed? >> well, it's the 967th nail in the cove fin of bipartisanship. so it's a long process. it may get worse. democrats took a step in the lower judges. we can go back to the bork and a million different hearings, but the senate has become gradually to look more like the house. i think it's a sad day, a pretty inevitable day. if the democrats had won this election, they would have done
the same thing in a similar circumstance. the precedent was set. i think the sat part going forward is, used to be if you were president, you had some incentive to try to nominate a judge who could maybe get 60 votes, who could appeal to some people in the other party. now you have zero incentive as long as you can control the senate. so we will see even more partisan judges than we do now. the only thing i would say to mitigate which i think is a decline and degree redays and sadness -- degradation and sadness is i believe something is about to happen with the trump administration, a shift, something bad, a scandal or something and we're in sort of a pre-apocalypse phase. maybe that's putting it strongly, but history is about to change because i don't think the status quo can maintain. so if we have a administration that suffers an egregious blow, then washington culture rf an opportunity to change for the better but now it's a long, slow slide. >> woodruff: do i hear you forecasting an apocalypse?
>> that word came out. i probably should have stuck with acidic. but it doesn't feel like this administration can maintain the current state. something will happen and we will be in a different world with a possibility of bipartisanship and some senators like senator collins and koons and others are still hungering for that. >> woodruff: what do you see coming out of the senate? >> it's always darkest before everything goes black. i join david in commending susan collins of maine the republican and the democrat from delaware of trying to keep alive a sense of comedy and i.t.y. and reproachment and bipartisanship and they're sponsoring a resolution at 61 or at least a letter 61 senators signed that they will not have the nuclear option on just legislative
domestic legislation and that would keep at least some hope alive that there would be a chance of moving it across the aisle, working across the aisle. i think one of the saddest moments for me of the year 2016, judy, is when john mccain who had been the apostle of bipartisanship announced before the election that he would not vote for any supreme court nominee whom president hillary clinton nominated and that's contagious. >> woodruff: slings and arrows coming from both sides. we wish you both a wonderful weekend. mark shields, david brooks, thank you. >> woodruff: now, as we approach the jewish holiday of passover, we have a new addition to the newshour bookshelf-- a celebration of cooking and tradition. >> when i started the book, i decided i really wanted to go to india, because i knew there was a jewish community there.
and when i got to the synagogue in cochin, it said that jews had been coming from the time of king solomon. and i thought, "wow." >> woodruff: and with that, celebrated food authority joan nathan started her 11th cookbook, "king solomon's table: a culinary exploration of jewish cooking from around the world," with recipes handed down from generation to generation. >> woodruff: what you've done in this book is, you take us to different parts of the world, and of course, the middle east, and then you show us these incredible dishes. how in the world do you pull it all together? >> i went to a lot of places in the world so that i could find them, but these immigrants from azerbaijan and uzbekistan are in brooklyn, or iranian jews in l.a. but i found pockets here, and i found pockets like in el
salvador, in cuba, i found people in those places that told me about stories that i had never heard before. >> woodruff: how did you decide which foods to choose? >> you know, when i find really wonderful dish, then i go with it. for example, i went to an ethiopian jewish dinner in california. it was in san diego, and so i went to a shabbat dinner, so they had this dabbous, which is an ethiopian shabbat bread, adapted of course, from an ethiopian bread. it was so delicious, i thought"" i've got to put that in the book." >> woodruff: and the other thing that we're standing in front of, is this flour-less chocolate cake, which came out of someone who came from egypt. >> from egypt. and you know, flour-less chocolate cake is part of our seder. every year, you can't have wheat, or flour, in-- unless its specialty watch flour-- in your desserts. and i always liked having a flour-less chocolate cake, and i thought, maybe you would help me decorate it?
>> woodruff: i'm going to do a little of this while you're talking. >> that looks beautiful. i've been very lucky through the years, that people have opened up to me, all over the world. and for example, i wanted to get iraqi recipes but i couldn't go to iraq. but i was told that the best iraqi cooks live in london. so i went to london, and i got a wonderful passover macaroon and then, somebody told me about a recipe called shirvitsa. and it was a blueberry bun that people in toronto ate. and i learned that it came from southwest poland. and the woman that made it, if she hadn't come over very early, my guess is that that recipe would have been lost. in southwest poland, and when the nazis came in, the religious jews, they just took them out. so with this recipe, i saved a recipe for other people because most people we killed. i mean, these are stories that are quite amazing. >> woodruff: and you kept them
alive. >> well, i've tried to keep them alive. i've often thought, "what's the difference between jewish cooking and other cooking?" you know, this can be any immigrant food in many ways. but, it's jewish immigrants, i think, for three reasons. one is because of the dietary laws. you know, you can't mix milk and meat, you can't eat certain shellfish. so that what happens is, jewish people think about their food a lot. and they like to eat, they're obsessed about it. and most food is connected to a holiday. so that's one point. the second is that jews have always been merchants, since the time of king solomon, going out looking for the new. and the third is that jews have been expelled from so many places, like so many people today. and they keep-- wherever you go, you have to adapt to new food. >> woodruff: so joan, now we are at a table set for seder, which of course is all around the
jewish observance of the passover. this is one of those transitions where food is of enormous importance. >> right. this is the seder plate, so the first thing is the shank bone. this is symbolic of the destruction of the first and second temple. as is the egg, which is also symbolic of rebirth and of just general sorrow. parsley is the spring, but you dip it in salt water to remember your enemies even when you've conquered them-- because they've suffered. the other two are the matzah and the bitter herbs. >> woodruff: it goes back to abraham. >> right, it goes back to abraham, but these three symbols, the bitter herbs, the lamb, and the matzah were mentioned in the bible. those were the only thing that was necessary.
and it wasn't until after the destruction of the second temple that passover became a home festival around a table, because there was no longer a temple in jerusalem. >> woodruff: you've made some sweet jam-- >> right, this is a sweet blend. this is symbolic of the mortar when the jews were slaves in egypt. so it's all slavery to freedom, and the original one was a date jam. >> woodruff: this is this. >> the biblical honey. and that was the one in babylon. then there is this one actually is from maine-- blueberries, very modern. this one is from persia or iran, and it has nuts. it's got pistachios, it has pears, it's got dates, all kinds of good things, pomegranate juice, really delicious. >> woodruff: in judaism, food is an integral part of telling the story. >> absolutely.
>> woodruff: why is it so important to remember these stories and to remember-- i mean, down to the recipes that you've preserved in this book? >> well, i think, in the bible it says that this is the-- you must relate this story to your children so they know that they're free men and that they are jews. and that you don't want to be in slavery and you-- you don't want to treat people like slaves so it's just something that we must preserve throughout history. it's the hardest meal for me to prepare, and it's the most wonderful and the most meaningful, because i do think that it's important for families today to take those traditions from their past and cling to them. and i really get totally moved when i think about the seder with everybody, jews all over the world at the same time reading this ancient text and enjoying foods from all over the world. >> woodruff: joan nathan, food
writer, extraordinary cook, author now of your 11th book. thank you very much. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: and you can get joan nathan's recipe for flour- less chocolate cake on our website, www.pbs.org/newshour. it's delicious. >> woodruff: finally tonight, reflections on coming to the united states from author alia malek, who considers the various journeys syrian refugees take on their many roads from damascus. >> in september 2015, i felt i had to drop everything to go to turkey to travel with syrians, as they hurriedly made their way to europe, trying to beat the rapidly closing of borders. as a syrian american, their fate was one i had only accidentally been spared.
i couldn't help thinking of how different these circumstances were from how my own syrian family had ended up in diaspora, of how my mother, pregnant with me, herself had left damascus. unlike the dangerous mediterranean sea crossings and the trek through the balkans, her trip itself wasn't treacherous, and it wasn't undignified. she was traveling to baltimore to join my father, a medical resident at the university of maryland. while emotionally painful for her journey couldn't have been easier. she had left on her terms. she could have stayed. she wasn't facing imminent death or displacement, as people are today. indeed, both my parents meant to eventually return to their homeland; what the then-new assad regime would mean for syria was not yet fully obvious. my parents gave up that dream to return. they became americans, years after their children were all born american.
as a syrian, i was told i ate too much cereal -- oh, for those days. in these past six years, syria has disintegrated taken over the headlines and become the foreign menace to have the day. how accidental and unintended occurrences are what separate me from the syrians who made that trip from greece, and from the syrians unfairly maligned, banned, and banished today. how our lot depends on what suffix happens to follow" syrian:" refugee, immigrant, american. in each new border, what would happen to her children? in syria, they have been comfortably working class. her husband was a baker and she was a stay-at-home mom.
at the beginning of the trip the children were horrified to relieve themselves outdoors and in public. within days she was pained to see how they quickly adjusted to their new reality. they approached any new crossing with the guilty con shuns of a passport carrying american. i was completely aware my fortune was by chance and circumstance. but rather than make me unique, i imagine that makes me like many other americans whose families were also once aupon the time among the lucky, favored by fate to have made it to these shores when and how we did. >> woodruff: and that's the perspective we need to hear. alia malik. on the newshour online right now, as we go into the weekend, we asked for reading suggestions from an independent bookstore in lahore, pakistan. get their recommendations, on topics from hip-hop to persian cooking. all that and more is on our website, www.pbs.org/newshour. later tonight on "washington week:" a reporters roundtable
further explores president trump's decision to strike syria. what led to the dramatic shift in his national security priorities? and what do the missile strikes in syria signal to u.s. allies? and, join us tomorrow on pbs newshour weekend. we hear from a charity in africa that gives cash to those in need-- no strings attached. and we'll be back, right here, on monday, with a story about the end of an era, as the curtain comes down for the last time on the ringling brothers' circus. that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. have a great weekend. thank you, and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- skollfoundation.org.
>> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
. >> rose: welcome to the program, we begin this evening with a look at the chinese american summit taking place in palm beach, florida. we talked with tom done illon, the former national security advisor for president obama. >> it's clearly the most important diplomatic meeting that president trump will have had so far in his presidency, by far. i think on the chinese side, i think that their approach would be to have a successful meeting. i think they put a high premium on having a successful meeting and indeed particularly successful moving forward between now and the end of this year, the fall of this year when the chinese leadership changes take place. >> rose: we continue with ian bremmer talking about china and the u.s. summit as well as syria and the chemical weapon attack. >> my view has been from day one