tv To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe PBS May 25, 2013 11:30am-12:01pm PDT
62. >> funding for "to the contrary" provided by the cornell douglas foundation, committed to encourage stewardship of the environment, land conservation, watershed protection, and eliminating harmel chemical. additional funding provided by the coal come foundation, the wallace genetic foundation, they e. rhodes and leona b. carpenter foundation, and by the charles a.frua foundation. >> this week on "to the contrary," first, politicians shrug off sex scandals. then pope francis criticizes the global financial system.
behind the headlines, political trailblazer olympia snowe's next act. hello, i'm bonnie erbe. welcome to "to the contrary," a scussion of news and social trends from diverse perspectives. up first, the end of the era of political scandal? have american voters and particularly women voters gotten to the point where political sex scandals no longer doom a politician's career? one current and one recent race show that may be the case. anthony weiner, former house member who was forced to resign after lewd pictures that he took of himself surfaced on twitter
is now running for mayor of new york city. in a campaign commercial he says >> look, i made some big mistakes, and i know i let a lot of people down. but i've also learned some tough lessons. i'm running for mayor because i've been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life. and i hope i get a second chance to work for you. >> weiner's entry into the race comes just weeks after former south carolina governor mark sanford won election to a house seat. sanford's political career was thought to beead after an extramarital affair became bubble but now he's back. >> congresswoman norton, are voters, particularly women, more likely to forgive male politicians for their sexual indiscretions? >> bon web forgiveness is very american but politicians would do well not to count on it. >> i think voters, men and women
are less shocked than they used to be about these things but to the extent people think they can do whatever they want and get away with it now, there's no consequences, not sure that's a good thingor the long term. >> i think depending on the situation it's really more about the politics. i think a flandering conservative is more likely to get conservative votes than a faithful liberal and vice versa. >> we live in this age where everyone is issuing a mea culpa all the time, especially these past few years, forgive me for doing wrong, did it, and i'm back for a second chance. i think the answer is, no, we're not willing to forgive because a woman going to the ballot box is saying, how dare he coul do thao as a wife. >> but look at mark sanford in south carolina. you would have thought that. his wife was popular when he was governor. he was pretty much drummed out of office for what he did and yet he's back this the house. >> i think that's the exception. the political dine nick in south carolina you have to look at that. they were not going to go for
steve colbert's sister. she spliff was not appealing to them, and i think that's this exception. i think weiner for mayor a tougher bet. >> he won the primary against other republicans so they had a chance to put into practice their, quote, morality and chose not to do this. this is i lot about southern politicians. southern politicians, male politicians have for a long time had women on the slide beginning with slaver web need i remind us, so they have never lived by -- >> it's not all southern in the stance mark sanford. be very careful about. but the difference with mark weiner his wife, if you watched that commercial all the way through, it wends his wife sitting next on him on the steps. mark sanford's wife wasn't sitting next to him. we live in any culture people are living out loud, whether it's facebook or whatever it is, and so there's less of a shock value than there used to be, and i do think ther that's a serious issue. there's something about public
mortality that's shaped by whether someone thinks highly of you or not highly of you, and we talked about teen morality and how public moray shapes what people do. it would be better if politicians went to bed alt night thinking about what their constituents thought about them and how they lived their life and treated their family. overnight a great thing. i like mark sanford's political views better than t woman he wha is running against but i don't think it's great he didn't pay more of a consequence. >> would you have voted for him if you lived in south carolina? >> if it was up to two people who uphold certain views, i think i probable probably would have voted more for him, and it's a sat stayed o sad state of affairs that that's the only kind of people we had running. >> that's my point that it has to do with politics. >> put it also used to be about character. because of what genevieve is saying, there's so much all over the place, you know, that people won't say things publicly,
they'll post on it facebook, that sort of thing, you're lieutenanlearning so many detait everybody's lives that it fleams look the abnormal, as in the case of weiner or sanford, it's becoming normal and like who cares anymore, and what does that say about the state of politics. >> or maybe we're just going back to an earlier time when male politicians did this all the time and we just didn't know about it. >> look what this guy did. he was -- and i don't know if flan drear, not only that, he lied, he abused his office. he piled one on top of the other. scandalous things that they will say this fast-talking dude, maybe i don't want him representing me. so i really wonder, and i don't accept this notion that he was running against a democrat. of course he was. they had plenty of choices in that republican primary. >> and what happened there do you think? >> i honestly, don't know.
i don't know all the folks that he was running against, but i do think, i mean, to your point of what about character, they reality is people have very different views now. republicans and democrats are more divided on issues than they used to be. so, you know, when you got these two options, you've got somebody who is going to vote for the things that you want them to vote for, this other person really is not, that's a little e bit different than it used to be. the parties are more divided, and i you think that makes i easier to say they'ra crook or not a crook. they're an adultery. when iwhich is not good. >> it's going to be tested in new york because it's going to be pay democratic primary and weiner is going to have to come up against some good democrats and very progressive city on such issues. let's see when new yorkers come out. >> who of these two guys, who is worse? you were talking about sanford abused his office, you know, this had girlfriend down in argentina, pretended to be on the appalachian trail when he
was more on the ar jan tinnian trail, and -- argentinian trail and lied to a very popular wife versus a guy who for god knows what reasons decided to -- >> apparently he e-mailed these stupid pictures of himself, and then it got tweeted, but, you know, which is worse and which is more frida forgivable? >> doesn't matter. democrat, republican, doesn't matter, sanford was absent without leave. in the military that's something you can get in real trouble for. this guy was governor of the state and you can't be found? how terrible and shameful is that? and at the same time weiner rain media society taxpayer's dime, oinhe hall of congress he is held these confirmations lying the to the american people. >> i have a hard time saying which is worse, too. >> are women voters going to be less forgiving than men voters in these situations? one would certainly think so. >> they put bill clinton back in
office. >> but they put him back in office but not after he was impeached. that was in his second term. >> but -- well, that's true, but the stories were out there in 1996 about a lot of things, and that was -- the had been jennifer flowers other folks prior, but he remained very popular with women, even to today, and so, you know, i don't know that -- i don't any society as a whole is holding folks accountable publicly as well as we should. >> let us know what you think. please follow me on twitter at oneerbe or to the contrary. pope francis has already distinguished his papacy after a mere two months in office. he'surned the focus o the church back to helping and fighting for the poor in the image of jesus christ. k. just in month he's taken on a new crusade
he's trying to steer international finance and monetary systems away from corporate greed. he recently told a small audience of ambassadors to the vatican, corporations should stop viewing people merely as consumers, and people should control money rather than the other way around. the pope himself abjures the ostentatious trappings of the office and has taken to jumping out of the pope-mobile to bless babies and he also washes the feet of poor women. so kim gandhy, he's already phenomenally popular. i think heal go downtow down iny as much more popular than either of his two predecessors, but how is he viewed by american catholic women? >> i think that american catholic women optimistic about this pope, that they don't have direct signals yet, but his behavior in general leads women,
catholic women in the u.s. to think that perhaps he may be more open about the role of women in the church and particularly in dealing with the sexual abuse scandals. we know one in six girls, one in three boys that is been a victim of sexual abuse. that's something that has to be chandi up, and there's a sense that he's going to take that on. >> it must be a lot of relief from catholic women example, sexual abuse scandals have so clouded this gat relion, at it was hard to get from under them because they kept coming forward, and here's a man that takes the church back to the first principles if ever there were some, and h he's suca deeply read intellectual that he applies the theory to -- believe me, even the economy. there are going to be sayings of pope francis when you come out with words like "tyranny of the market." the market, which has been seen as god, especially -- and so
catholics and people like me are going to hear these praises, and say, my goodness, he'saking a top and think about everything that is happening in the world today, not just about our souls but about the world in which we live. he is remarkable. >> how do you think he's going to do in this campaign to get corporations to be, as he puts it, less greedy? i mean, the point is money is money, finance is finance, and it's all -- i mean it's fabulous to lobby for poor people, obviously, but are corporations going to listen to him? >> well, corporations have people in them, and i think that you made a very good point in talking about bringing it back to principles. because regardless of what kind of society you're in, whether it's ca capitalism, socialism in terms of economy, the people running it is what matters. you have had socialistic countries where people are run into the ground.
community sic countries where people run night the ground and capitalism, so greed can be found anywhere, so taking care of our neighbors and taking care of each other is something individuals ve to do. i think he's speaking broadly, no matter what system you're in or what your beliefs are, that those are important, important factors. but he's still new and it's going to be interesting to see. i think so many people like him righ and -- but people i think are reading in what they want to hear, and we'll see what comes out over the next couple of years. >> i want to get to specific policies like, as you mentioned -- role of women the in church in a second, but let me put a little pin in the balloon here. the catholic church is have gone one of the wealthiest organizationsin the world, one of the largest landowners in the world, and that is a portfolio that was reported earlier in the last decade at being at least $1 billion invested in corporations, not in corporations such as pfizer that
produce birth control but in all sorts of industrial, banking, chemical, et cetera industries. now, should he be putting his money where his mouthsome? no. >> wait, wait. if he controls -- if he's saying that corporations should be more people-sensitive and takcare of t poor, why is he questioning his portfolio of the, the church's portfolio of these kinds of corporations? >> and everybody is poor. >> thank you. >> what's really important here is that notice you cannot -- he does not take a position that is anticapitalism. >> that's right. >> he does for the take a position that is pro socialist, although he believes that the state has a duty to, in fact, perform for the public good. what he's talking about are the excesses. now, what he should be doing, he will have influence. he should be keeping his portfolio, using his portfolio, perhaps using those funds to
encourage changes in those corporations in which he is invested, taking them and doing what christians did in the beginning, feed the poor. so opponent him to be poor. i just want him t to distributet to the poor. >> she makes a perfect point about that. you cannot do good when nothing is in your coffers yourself to do thagood, and i think that's entirely what the church is thinking. he's coming out. he is a vocal pope early on, and he's putting these thoughts out there. i think it's going to be a while before we see any action. and the implications, there aren't that many. very nice to hear, though. >> behind the headlines. , former maine republican senator olympia snowe may have left the u.s. senate, but she hasn't left the fight to get government back to work. in fact, she has a new book out "fighting for common ground," with some fascinating ideas of what it will take to get the deeply divided coness worki
one against in unison. >> there is a serious disconnect between the realities across america where people wanted their elected officials to be in the final analysis, which is to solve the problems on the big issues facing this country. i just don't personally understand what motivates people to serve in public office if it isn't to solve problems, and people are just bewildered and angry t that the polarizing dynamics and the partisan rhetoric is fueling these legislative dead locks. >> lots of people in washington talking about why polarization has created unprecedented gridlock in congress. but former senator and house member snowe has put together a series of reforms she believes will help tow end it. among her ideas, first, withhold senators' salaries if they don't pass a budget. >> we have to get back again to rewarding those who are willing to work across the political
aisle, and the penalty for those who don't. you can do it at the ballot box. you can do it by virtue of your contributions. you can during the congressional session. >> she also wants to change the budget cycle so congress passes a budget every two years instead of every year. this way she said congress can evaluate decisions made in year one and adjust in year two. she also thinks members of congress need to spend more time working on legislation. her answer, requiring members of the house and senate to work five you-day weeks for most of the year. she says if five-day work weeks were routine, congress might have been able to avert the debt ceiling fee as s fiasco in 2011. >> today i noticed that standard & poor once again didn't see any better conditions for collaboration among policy than they did in 2011 when we had the debt ceiling fiasco and what
surrounded that and the net result of losing a tra credit rating. and she's so serious, she wants senator salaries reduced by about a prortnate amount for every day they fall short of five-day work week, but it's not just how congress congress works that needs changing, according to is noe. is noe snowe one reason see thinks there's so much gridlock is that partisan voters electing more and more extreme politicians. her solution, institute more open primaries. we're nonot just democrats and republicans but also independence can select candidates for office. >> these elections are decided long before the election in many ways. when you see the divide, obviously, in the way in the house of representatives we had very few competitive seats today based on all of the analyses in the senate, get can fewer and fewer senators that represent diverse political
constituencies, either a red state or a blue state if you can use that language, i think that's so divisive. >> and in one more controversial starbucks snowe lo like to see independent commissions put in place by the states deciding how to redistrict house seats. right now it's done by state legislature and tt,he says, makes the process way too political. >> we need a counter weight to the extremes. of. in our associated and the only way to do that is to be a force for bipartisanship and to build a strong grassroots effort to make that happen. if we want our government to work we've got to demand and it we have a right to demand it and we have a right to demand lawmakers are accountable and are held accountable for what they do and for what they don't do. >> so let's go through point by point what she suggests. the first one being cutting senators' salaries. the first time i saw that, i thought of 20 years ago jackie mason had a routine about, "you
want congress to balance the budget? put them on commission." it's the same thing. >> i'm all for cutting sal partnerships i don't know if i want them in washington. i'm not sure that's a good idea. but i mean, look, i think everybody would say we wish that we had not necessarily more compromise but more working together on things, but -- >> but how can you -- you just said something important. how can you have compromise without working together? >> you need to find compromise. compromise i think increasingly in washington has been, i'll vote for that you have u. stuff over here as long as i get my piece in it, and i think that's one reason we have a trillion dollars debt that we do because nobody ends up giving anything, everybody gets what they want. i'm not sure that's a good idea. but it used to be that you had some southern democrats, for example, who were more conservative than northeastern republicans. that isn't the case anymore. so that inner party kind of stuff is not where it used to
be, and i'm not quite sure how you fix it. >> that's her point. i don't want to jump too far ahead, but her other point was allowing, instead of just part an voters to vote in primaries, to allows independence to vote, something like a third of all voters now identify as independents, so that would really stop -- >> that could mix it up. >> -- a lot of extreme left or extreme right politicians from gaining the nomination. >> i think that's up to the state, right? >> you could take issue with any one of r propols. what's important, it seems to me, is she is virtually one of a combined most of the time i lament such really valuable people leaving the house or senate, and i did. she was one of two women who you could count on to bed mo rapt but when i think about what she's trying to do, she is going to get more attention than she ever would have gotten in the senate if she comes forward with
these proposals. there will be differences on some of the proposals. she will get people to listening to the moderation that the country lacks. so my hat is off to her, and i think she will get the attention that almost no one else is getting for moderation. >> but let's get back to the ideas. i mean, do you think it's a good idea for this -- should the states open up the primary to anybody to vote in partisan primaries, not just democrats for democratic candidates or republicans for republican candidates? >> that's not a particularly -- like most of her ideas, is not a particularly new idea. there are a number of states that do that. a number of states, and by the way these are state-controlled so it becomes more difficult. a number of state don't because they've seen parties take advantage of one another, like everybody registers republican for this particular primary or democratic, and so people have become a little leery of that. but even -- and i'd like somebody to look at the states who have done it to see if most
of the time it does more good than harm. but i tell you, i wouldn't focus on one or the other. i think they're all ideas that should be -- we should pay attention to. >> what about -- i have to ask you the five-day work week. it wouldn't affect you because you live where you work anyway, but for the members, the california, the west coast members, the midwest members, wouldn't that be tough. >> it would be very tough for them and living right here, i really should have the least to say about this, but i do want to say something about whether or not being here five days would have gotten us past the deficit. it would have meant more time to be just as polarized. it's not time spent in washington. it's a kind of moderionhe's trying to offer. >> and your thoughts? >> these leaders is why we elect them. we think show you had leaders and they should be thinking, they should be electricity, right? but a five-day work week doesn't do that. that. i've spent time as a congressional staffer up i see
how badly folks in the district need them back there, witnessing what's going on in the district, and again members out west, they need that time to go back. it's time not well spent to be in washington entirely. i think as hard as olympia snowe goes, hats off to her, she's always been a favorite of mine, but is she really going to garner much attention with this simply because of her stature? maybe. but it would have been far better if she had proposed these reforms when she was within the halls of the cork. congress. i think people like me, young folks are saying, here's an older member of congress who left and is now talking the talk, sadly. >> kim, your thoughts. >> i have to say i'm one of the people that will miss olympia snowe very much in the senate because she was someone who had the ability to cross the aisle on issues that should not be partisan, things like the violence against women act, things like the sequester. these are issues that we ought to be able to work out across parties. maybe she'll be able to have some influence in that. >> last word, genevieve. yes, no?
>> i think she will have a platform outside if she chooses tow really use that, and as somebody who didn't always like her views on some of these things, i'm glad she's out there doing it. >> that's it for this edition of could the contrary. please follow me on twitter at bonnie erbe and at "to the contrary" and visit our website, pbs.org/tothecontrary where the discussion continues. whether you agree or think, to the contrary, please join us next time.
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