tv MSNBC Live MSNBC December 21, 2012 8:00am-9:00am PST
two-minute warning. the nra went into radio silence in the days after the shooting and even as the nightly web newscast continued. the powerful gun lobby group did promise in a statement to make, quote, meaningful contributions. >> this morning one week to the day since the tragedy in connecticut bells tolled 26 times in newtown during a moment of silence for the victims. that moment at the:30 a.m. eastern time the same time the gunman forced his way into that school. bells tolling across the country from massachusetts to a cathedral in manhattan to the basilica in washington, d.c. in the nation's capitol president obama held a moment of silence on his own away from the cameras. in a video release this had morning the president spoke to the thousands of american that is signed a we the people petition calling for gun control and vowed to take action. >> as i said earlier this week,
i can't do it alone. i need your help. if we're going to succeed it will take a sustained effort for mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, law enforcement and responsible gun owners. >> with the president calling for concrete change by next month, there is already signs of republican resistance to his push for stronger gun control. >> what bothered me the most as a representative is how this has been politicized so quickly. >> do you dare come on my show and say i am using the slaughter of 20 little 6 and 7-year-old children? >> how many children do you have? >> joe, how many children do you have? >> i have four children, tim. answer my question. >> so do i and i refuse to let you say because you have children or anybody else that we need to actually politicize this. >> joining me now, delaware attorney general beau biden whose father vice president joe biden is leading the new task force and los angeles mayor and the current president of the u.s. conference of mayors and a
member of the mayors against illegal guns and also joining the conversation is congressman john yarmouth of kentucky. stand by. the nra started the press conference. >> i welcome you here this morning for the purposes of beginning our discussion of the topic that's been on the minds of american parents across this country. that is what do we do about the tragedies of the sort that struck in newtown, connecticut to avoid such events in the future? like most americans, we were shocked by what happened. like all americans, we have been discussing all of the various options that are available to protect our children and at this point we would like to share our thinking with you. for that purpose i would like to introduce wayne la pierre, our executive vice president. thank you for being with us. at the end of this conference we
will not be taking questions but next week we will be available to any of you who are interested in talking about these or other issues of interest to you so contact us, please, at that point. thank you very much. wayne. >> good morning. the national rifle association, 4 million mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, join the nation in horror, outrage, and grief and earnest prayer for the families of newtown, connecticut, who have suffered such an incomprehensible loss as a result of this unspeakable crime.
out of respect for the families and until the facts are known, the nra has refrained from comment. while some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectively silent. now we must speak. for the safety of our nation's children. because for all the noise and anger directed at us over the past week, no one, nobody has addressed the most important pressing and immediate question we face, how do we protect our children right now starting today in a way that we know
works? the only way to answer that question is to face the truth. politicians pass laws for gun free school zones. they issue press releases bragging about them. they post signs advertising them. in doing so they tell every insane killer in america that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk. however our nation's priorities gotten so far out of order? think about it. we care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed
guards. american airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses, even sports stadiums are all protected by armed security. we care about our president so we protect him with armed secret service agents. members of congress work in offices surrounded by capitol police officers. yet when it comes to our most beloved, innocent, and vulnerable members of the american family, our children, we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless. the monsters and the predators
of the world know it and exploit it. that must change now. the truth is -- >> nra, stop killing our children. it is the nra killing our children. not armed -- not armed teachers. we have to end the violence. we have to stop the killing. stop the killing in our schools. stop the killing in our homes. stop the killing in our streets. the nra is killing our children. we have to stop the violence and violence begins with the nra. stating the true facts, they are the reason the crimes are taking place in our schools and on our streets.
>> the truth is, that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters, people that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can ever possibly comprehend them. they walk among us every single day. does anybody really believe that the next adam lanza isn't planning his attack on a school, he's already identified at this very moment? how many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame? from a national media machine that rewards them with wall to wall attention and a sense of
identity that they crave while provoking others to try to make their mark. a dozen more killers, 100 more, how can we possibly even guess how many given our nation's refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill? the fact is this. that wouldn't even begin to address the much larger, more lethal criminal class, killers, robbers, rapists, gang members, who have spread like cancer in every community across our nation. meanwhile, while that happens, federal gun prosecutions have decreased by 40% to the lowest levels in a decade.
so now due to a declined willingness to prosecute dangerous criminals, violent crime is increasing again for the first time in 19 years. add another hurricane, terrorist attack, or some other natural or man made disaster, and you have got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization. here is another dirty little truth. that the media try their best to conceal. there exists in this country, sadly, a callus, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people. through vicious violent video
games with names like bullet storm, grand theft auto, mortal combat, and splatter house, and here is one. it is called kindergarten killers. it has been online for ten years. how come my research staff can find it and all of yours couldn't or didn't want anyone to know you had found it? add another hurricane, add another natural disaster, i mean, we have blood-soaked films out there like american psycho, natural born killers, that are aired like propaganda loops on splatter days and every single
day. 1,000 music videos, and you all know this, portray life as a joke and they portray murder as a way of life, and they all have the nerve to call it entertainment. is that what it really is? isn't fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography? in a race to the bottom media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of a civilized society by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes every minute, every day, every hour, of every single year.
a child growing up in america today witnesses 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18. throughout it all too many in the national media, they're corporate owners, and their stockholders act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators. rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonized gun owners. >> reckless behavior, punishment for the nra. the nra has blood on its hands. the nra has blood on its hands. shame on the nra. ban assault weapons now! ban assault weapons now!
nra, ban assault weapons now! >> can you voice reaction to these protests? what is your reaction? >> rather than face -- >> stick to the script? >> rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonized lawful gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws and fill the national media with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee the next atrocity is only a news cycle away. the media calls semiautomatic firearms machine guns. they claim these civilians semiautomatic firearms are used by the military. they tell us that the 223 round is one of the most powerful rifle calibers when all of these
claims are factually untrue. they don't know what they're talking about. worse, they perpetuate the dangerous notion that one more gun ban or one more law imposed on peaceable, lawful people will protect us, where 20,000 other laws have failed. as brave and heroic and as self sacrificing as those teachers were in those classrooms, and as prompt and professional and well trained as those police were when they responded, they were unable through no fault of their own, unable to stop it. as parents we do everything we can to keep our children safe. it is now time for us to assume responsibility for our schools. the only way, the only way to
stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away or from a minute away? now, i can imagine the headlines, the shocking headlines you will print tomorrow, more guns, you will claim are the nra's answer to everything, your implication will be that guns are evil and have no place in society much less in our schools.
since when did the gun automatically become a bad word? a gun in the hands of a secret service agent protecting our president isn't a bad word. a gun in the hands of a soldier protecting the united states of america isn't a bad word. when you hear your glass breaking at 3 a.m. and you call 911, you won't be able to pray hard enough for a gun in the hands of a good guy to get there fast enough to protect you. so why is the idea of a gun good when it is used to protect the president of our country or our police but bad when it is used to protect our children in our
schools? there are kids. they're our responsibility. it is not duty to protect them, it is our right to protect them. you know, five years ago after the virginia tech tragedy when i said we should put armed security in every school, the media called me crazy. what if, what if when adam lanza started shooting his way into sandy hook elementary school last friday he had been confronted by qualified armed security? will you at least admit it is possible that 26 little kids,
that 26 innocent lives might have been spared that day? is it so abhorrent to you that you would rather continue to risk the alternative? is the press and the political class here in washington, d.c. so consumed by fear and hatred of the nra and american gun owners that you're willing to accept a world where real resistance to evil monsters is alone, unarmed, school principal left to surrender her life, her life, to shield those children in her care? no one, no one regardless of personal political prejudice has
the right to impose that sacrifice. ladies and gentlemen, there is no national one side fits all solution to protecting our children, but do know this president zeroed out school emergency planning grants in last year's budget and scrapped secure our schools policing grants in next year's budget. with all the foreign aid the united states does, with all the money in the federal budget, can't we afford to put a police officer in every single school? even if they did that, politicians have no business and no authority denying us the right, the ability, and the moral imperative to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm.
now, the national rifle association knows there are millions of qualified, active and retired police, active reserve and retired military, security professionals, certified fire fighters, security professionals, rescue personnel, and extraordinary core of patriotic, trained, qualified citizens to join with local school officials and police in devising a protection plan for every single school. we can deploy them to protect our kids now. we can immediately make america's schools safer regarding on the brave men and women in america's police forces. the budgets and you all know this, everyone in the country knows this, of our local police departments are strained and the resources are severely limited,
but their dedication and courage is second to none, and they can be deployed right now. i call on congress today to act paidly to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation, and to do it now to make sure that blanket safety is in place when our kids return to school in january. before congress reconvenes, before we engage in any lengthy debate over legislation, regulation, or anything else, as soon as our kids return to school after the holiday break, we need to have of single school in america immediately deploying protection program proven to work and by that i mean armed security.
right now noticed every school in the united states should plan meetings with parents, school administrators, teachers, local authorities, and draw upon every resource that's out there and available to erect a cordon of protections around our kids right now. every school is going to have a different solution based on its own unique situation. every school in america needs to immediately identify, dedicate, and deploy the resources necessary to put these security forces in place, though, right now. the national rifle association as america's preeminent trainer of law enforcement and security personnel for the past 50 years we have 11,000 police training instructors in the nra, is ready, willing, and uniquely qualified to help. our training programs are the most advanced in the world.
that expertise must be brought to bear to protect our schools and our children now. we did it for our nation's defense industries and military installations during world war ii. we did it for very young kids with our eddie eagle child safety program that is throughout the country in schools right now. we'll do it again today. the nra is going to bring all of its knowledge and all of its dedication and all of its resources to develop a model national school shield emergency response program for every single school in america that wants it. from armed security to building design and access control, to information technology, to student and teacher training, this multi faceted program will be developed by the very best
experts in the field. former congressman asa hutchinson will lead the effort as national director of the national model school shield program with a budget provided by the nra of whatever scope the task requires. his experience as a united states attorney, director of the drug enforcement agency, and under secretary of the department of homeland security will give him the knowledge and expertise to hire the most knowledgeable and credentialed experts that are available in the united states of america, to get this program up and running from the first day forward. if we truly cherish our kids, more than our money, more than our celebrities, more than our sports stadiums, we must give
them the greatest level of protections possible and that security is only available with properly trained, armed good guys. under asa's leadership our team of security experts will make this program available for the world for protecting our children at school, and we'll make that program available to every single school in america free of charge. that's a plan of action that can and will make a real positive indisputable difference in the safety of our children and it will start right now. there is going to be a lot of time for talk and debate later. this is a time, this is a day for decisive action. we can't wait for the next unspeakable crime to happen before we act. we can't lose precious time debating legislation that won't work.
we must not allow politics or personal prejudice to divide us. we must act now for the sake of every child in america. i call on every parent, i call on every teacher, i call on every school administrator, every law enforcement officer in this country to join with us and help create a national school shield safety program to protect our children with the only positive line of defense that's tested and proven to work. now to tell you more about the program, i would like to introduce the head of the effort, former u.s. congressman, former u.s. attorney for the western district of arkansas, and former administrator of the u.s. drug enforcement agency, the honorable congressman asa
hutchinson. >> thank you. one of the first responsibilities i learned at homeland security was the importance of protecting our nation's critical infrastructure, and there is nothing more critical to our nation's well-being than our children's safety. they're this country's future and most precious resource. we all understand -- >> we have been listening to the press conference from the nra and the words of executive director wayne lapierre in his own words in one of the most bizarre press briefings that i have ever witnessed talk about what can happen in this country in terms of offering meaningful
contributions on the heels of what happened in newtown, connecticut. the main message, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. wayne lapierre's message is basically we are all arg targets and we need to have a gun on us at all times and need to have our schools with armed security guards, basically the same message he reiterated five years ago after the tragedy we witnessed at virginia tech and joining me beau biden and representative yarmouth from kentucky and and michael steel and the former rnc chairman and then karen finney, contributor writing for the hill. it is great to have you here and i know we were listening together. michael, i want to start with you on this. the right has been instin at.
did the nra help seal the message that we really need to talk about this more than we ever thought before because if their meaningful contribution is all of us have a target on our back and all of us need to carry a gun, we have big problems. >> we do. you know, i don't know where to begin. as a supporter of the second amendment and a supporter of the nra, even though i am not a member of the nra, i just found it very haunting and very disturbing that we are country talking about arming our teachers and principals in classrooms. what does that say about us? i do not believe that's where the american people want to go. i do not believe that is the response that should be coming out of the tragedy in newtown. i just think that this was a missed opportunity to create another conversation at a higher level where the american people are right now. this incident cut to the bone. this is unlike anything that's come before it because it did
involve such precious young people and it really starkly called us to think about our society, those issues, not just gun control laws but mental health and a whole bunch of other things i think the nra could have brought to the table, the idea that the message, the top line message out of this press conference is let's put a gun in the hands of teachers in our classroom and i do not think that's what rank and file nra members expected this to go to. >> they called out the media, video games, saying they are in a race to the bottom, the media, and wayne lapierre saying they're silent enablers and co-conspirators allowing this to happen in the country saying they're now displaying with asa hutchinson at the helm a shield program that will look at armed security in schools and building design. you bring up what the appetite in the country is for this and cnn has a new o poll out restrictions on gun ownership. 37% think that we should have major restrictions.
33% believe we should have minor restrictions and only 13% think no restrictions at all. beau, i want to bring you in. your dad is taking up this interagency task force and he was instrumental in getting the 1994 assault weapons ban put into place. do you think what we just witnessed here gives your father a lot of ground to move people into a coalition that needs to look at where the nra continues to stand entrenched in a long believed position that school security armed guards need to be at all of our schools? >> i do. obviously i speak as the attorney general as the state of delaware not on behalf of my father but i do, thomas, and i also agree with michael's assessment of the news conference. it was remarkable. really lack of any meaningful dialog about what we can do to protect our kids. the reality is that we do have to address and look seriously at whether or not we should have more school resource officers in our schools and whether or not the cops program which has been
around to help do that at the federal level and helping states fund that and i am in support of that and i hope the administration will be and has been and there has to be a much more robust and meaningful dialog about whether or not there are certain types of weapons consistent with the second amendment which has been enshrined in our constitution and upheld in the hill ler case that i support and whether or not there are certain types of weapons that shouldn't be in the hands of citizens other than those types of assault weapons that you take to battle that don't belong in our communities and that's what the discussion i hope we have in a meaningful way over the next many weeks as we move toward i think reasonable rational legislation consistent with the second amendment that also protects kids in our schools and citizens all over the country. >> for those of you that are just joining us, we just finished watching wayne lapierre, the executive director of the nra give a 25-minute talk about the meaningful contributions they want to add to the conversation based on
what we saw as a country in newtown, and, mayor, i want to ask you, i know in los angeles you have joined the u.s. conference of mayors in signing this letter asking the president and congress to seek stronger gun control laws and you have also moved up a gun buyback program in l.a. from may until the day of achristmas, so coming up in just five days from now. as we all look at as country for meaningful contributions, that's one thing we witnessed in places around the country where buyback programs have been immensely successful in the wake of newtown. >> yes. i think people want to do something. they don't just want to look at what the nra is going to do or not do in this case. that was a commercial by the way. that was not a press conference. i have never been to a press conference where you can't ask questions. and you just do a diatribe in the way he did today. people want to get involved. this is a way for people to get involved.
we do this for mother's day. mothers have come together and helped us. we have taken about 8,000 guns and assault weapons off the street, grenade launchers even, and we'll do it again the day after christmas. that's not the only thing we can do. we're also going to be paroling and assigning police officers to all of our schools when they come back and be there intermittently during the school day. we're looking to support a federal assault weapons ban, tighten up and repeal the tr amendment, and to do a number of things with respect to straw purchasers who these are legal people that buy guns who don't -- who then sell guns or to people who shouldn't, and can't buy guns and we need to toughen our background checks and make sure that we have a full registry of all of the folks who are plementally ill a
shouldn't be able to buy a gun and in california in the city of los angeles we're looking at our california registry to see who has a gun and shouldn't have it and we're going after them. >> congressman yarmouth, i want to ask you, because being that you do hale from kentucky, as we look at gun purchases, kentucky ranking number one for americans that have purchased guns. as we talk about the reflections of what can come after newtown, it is not so much about guns as it is about what's deemed as assault weapons in this country and properly defining what are assault weapons and that should be sold to the american people through the bill of rights and the second amendment in honor of that. are you calling for comprehensive action based on what we saw in newtown. what is comprehensive action mean and especially when we know there is 51% of people on the hill that have been funded by the nra for their campaigns to be there? >> we now have a task force
headed by mike thompson of california looking into what kind of package the congress might consider. i think the mayor mentioned most of the elements the primary elements of one, but one thing that i have suggested and i think that actually the nra implied it, we never do oversight in congress as to the gun laws on the books. he talked about enforcement and we never have not looked at that and apparently according to one member of the judiciary committee in her 18 years on the committee, so we need to take a look at the laws on the books, see which are effective and which are not and what is failing us in those laws and existing laws and maybe we can actually enact laws that will help. >> karen, what is the reaction going to be from the left as the white house looks at this and also the people on the left calling for stronger regulation, especially now that the vice president will helm the task force. >> i think lapierre did a favor for the issue of gun control in the country, not just from the left but across the political spectrum and the american
spectrum how could you have watched that press conference and thought there was any sane or realistic reaction? i mean, think about the fact he was talking about the need for a database for the mentally ill and yet it is the nra that has opposed the kinds of database that is could have alerted the police for example in aurora, colorado, that they had an individual in their community amassing large amounts of weapons and ammo. the nra opposing those kinds of databases. again, there was so much within what lapierre said, i agree with the mayor, more of a commercial and i will leave with you one thought. i was with a friend redeploying for a fifth time to afghanistan in march on saturday when we saw the images of the guns that were used and his reaction was that is the gun that i carry in afghanistan. what was it doing in that community? >> not only will them bolden the message from the left but shake people awake on the right?
>> i think it already has. i think you have begun to hear and see a number of leading conservative voices saying, yeah, it is time for us to revault and reassess our priorities here. we're not just talking about our kids. we're talking about our nation, our psyche, who are we, and are we going to be ruled by guns or ruled by something bigger and better than that? and i think that this press conference to kaifren's point galvanizes that discussion in a way and honest way and the nra, it is taking a step forward. on "meet the press" wayne will have an opportunity to further explain in greater detail and get asked questions that specifically draw out exactly how this new world order looks in his view and beyond that, i really believe this is a moment where the american people right, left, red, blue, says to as a whole what we want and what we don't want is the killing of our young kids and i doubt we really want to arm teachers. >> one thing that you have done in the state of delaware and i
believe it was signed roughly into law two years ago when talking about mental illness and getting a database up and running and kind of as karen was talking about, and that would flag, that flags individuals like what we saw in aurora, colorado, for people that are trying to amass the kind of weaponry? >> karen is exactly right. she and i were in d.c. in the '90s and one of the first issues i worked on is the implementation of the brady law that had a five-day waiting period and ultimately an instant check system that had up and running since then and something they fought all along the way. my father and others supported that. we have to be serious what we focus on. we have to focus on what types of weapons should be banned and impersonally in support of reconstitution of the assault weapons band modernized and updated and rational and reasonable including high capacity magazines. we have to take a hard look at the database issue. 1968 gun control, not to go into
the weeds but the 1968 gun control act had seven categories of persons prohibited under the law that forfeited constitutional rights to bear arms and it is added to twice in terms of people convicted of domestic violence crimes and people who are subject to a protection order. we have to look at specifically the category as it relates to mental health. on the law and in the books right now it says people who have been adjudicated mentally i8, that from my perspective, and i speak only for myself as the attorney general of one state, we need to look whether or not that should be a broader category, not just deal with adjudication, and deal with people who have had some mental health issues, serious mental health issues, it is a serious issue and will be a big first amendment issue and there is privacy concerns involved and it is a real issue and the press conference you heard was not a serious discussion. there are serious points need to be made and a serious discussion has to be had and the third point, thomas, and this is where where i think wayne although he undermined his entire effort, we do have to have a discussion about whether or not the federal government as it has has a role
and continues to put it money into local law enforcement to have uniform police officers in our state we call them school resource officers, the cops bill that my father support puts money into local laurt and making sure local law enforcement has the capacity to have trained people there to protect kids. a discussion about making this a question between only time to have a gun in the hand of a person is when they're protecting a president and we don't care about kids and schools t turns people off and it is hard to listen to what wayne had to say. >> more information for everybody, the executive director of the nra will be on "meet the press" this weekend with david gregory, so there he will be answering questions. they pointed out they will be taking questions from the media as a whole coming up next week. i want to thank my power panel for today. thanks to all five of you. >> take care.
>> are you quitting? >> absolutely not. listen, i am proud of our members. they do a great job on behalf of their constituents and frankly a great job on behalf of our country. the house would come back if needed. we're prepared to come back if needed. >> house speaker john boehner after a humiliating blow to his plan b to avert the fiscal cliff from members of his own party. he spent much of the week trying to muscle up support. we all knew it had no chance of passing the senate. the president said it uses veto power if it did and the first team calls what happened last night an unmitigated disaster and embarrassing blunder and a loss of leverage and leadership. i want to bring in republican congressman tom cole from oklahoma, a vocal supporter. good to have you here. let's start with speaker boehner to say what he was asked today, he was concerned whether or not he should be worried about his speakership. he said no. do you think he should be worried? >> absolutely not.
he had the overwhelming majority of the republican conference for his plan last night and between 190 and 200 votes, and so he certainly commands the vast majority. that would frankly include some of the people that opposed him on this issue. his speakership is secure. >> congressman, i want to ask you to stand by for one second. we want to take everyone to the national cathedral as the president begins to say goodbye to hawaiian senator daniel inouye. >> the man would probably be wondering what all the fuss is about. this tuesday was in many ways a day like any other, the sun rose, the sun set, and the great work of our democracy carried on, but in a fundamental sense it was different. it was the first day in many of our lives, certainly my own,
that the l thats of the united states congress were not graced by the presence of daniel ken inouye. danny was elected to the u.s. senate when i was two years old. he had been elected to congress a couple years before i was born. he would remain my senator until i left hawaii for college. even though my mother and grandparents took great pride that they had voted for him, i confess that i wasn't paying much attention to the united states senate at the age of four or five or six. it wasn't until i was 11 years old that i recall even learning
what a u.s. senator was or registering at least. it was during my summer vacation with my family, my first trip to what those of us in hawaii call the mainland, so we flew over the ocean, and with my mother and my grandmother and my sister who at the time was two, we traveled around the country. big trip. we went to seattle and we went to disney land which was most important, and we traveled to kansas where my grandmother's family was from, and went to chicago and went to yellowstone. we took greyhound buses most of the time and we rented cars and would stay in local motels or howard johnson's and if there
was a pool at one of these motels, even if it was just tiny, i would be very excited and the ice machine was exciting and the vending machine, i was really excited about that, but this is at a time when you didn't have 600 stations and 24 hours worth of cartoons and so at night if the tv was on, it was what your parents decided to watch. my mother, that summer, would turn on the tv every night during this vacation and watch the watergate hearings. i can't say that i understood everything that was being discussed, but i knew the issues were important. i knew they spoke to some basic way about who we were and who we
might be as americans. so slowly during the course of this trip which lasted about a month, some of this seeped into my head and the person who fascinated me most was this man of japanese descent with one arm speaking in this courtly baritone full of dignity and grace. maybe he captivated my attention because my mom explained that this was our senator and that he was upholding what our government was all about, and maybe it was a boyhood fascination with the story of how he lost his arm in war. i think it was more than that.
here i was a young boy with a white mom, a black father, raised in indonesia and hawaii and i was beginning to sense how fitting into the world might not be as simple as it might seem. so to see this man, this senator, this powerful accomplished person who was not a central cast when it came to what you think a senator might look like at the time, and the way he commanded the respect of an entire nation, i think it hinted to me what might be possible in my own life. this was a man who as a teenager stepped up to serve his country even after his fellow japanese
americans were declared enemy aliens. a man who believed in america even when its government didn't necessarily believe in him. that meant something to me. it gave me a powerful sense, one that i couldn't put into words, a powerful sense of hope. as i watched those hearings and listening to danny ask all the piercing questions night after night, i learned something else. i learned how our democracy was supposed to work. our government of and by and for the people. and by and for the people. we have a system of government that nobody is above the law. where we have an obligation to hold each other accountable from the average citizen to the most
powerful of leaders. because these things we stand for, our ideals are bigger than one person, one party, one politician, and somehow nobody communicated that more effectively than danny. you have to sense, as joe mentioned, of just a fundamental integrity. that he was a proud democrat, but most importantly he was a proud american. those two ideas that were planted in my head at the age 11 in between disneyland and a trip to yellowstone, i might never have considered a career in
public service. i might not be standing here today. i think it's fair to say that danny inouye was perhaps my earliest political inspiration. and then for me to have the privilege of serving with him. to be elected to the united states senate and arrive and one of my first visits is to go to his office and for him to greet me as a colleague and treat me with the same respect that he treated everybody he met. and to sit me down and give me advice about how the senate work and then regale me with some stories about wartime and his
recovery, stories full of humor. never bitterness. never boastfulness. just matter of fact. some of them, i must admit, a little off color. i couldn't probably repeat them in the cathedral. there's a side of danny that -- anyway. danny once told his son that his service to this country had been for the children. for all the sons and daughters who deserved to grow up in a nation that never questioned their patriotism. this is my country, he said. many of us have fought hard for the right to say that. obviously rick described what it
meant for japanese-americans, but my point is that when he referred to our sons and daughters, he wasn't just talking about japanese-americans. he was talking about all of us. he was talking about those who serve today who might have been excluded in the past. he is talking about me. that's who danny was. for him freedom and dignity were not ab strakzs. they were ideas he had bled for, ideas he had sacrificed for. rights he understood only as someone can who have had them threatened, had them taken away.
the valor that earned him the highest military decoration, a story so incredible that when you actually read the accounts you think this you couldn't make this up. it's like out of an action movie. he had such a rooted and deeply abiding love in this country, and he believed, as we say in hawaii, that we're a single ohana. we were one family, and he devoted his life to making that family strong. after experiencing the horror of war himself, danny also felt a profound connection to those that follow. it wasn't unusual for him to take time out of his busy schedule to sit down with a veteran or fellow amputee trading stories, telling jokes. two heroes generations apart sharing an unspoken bond that was forged in battle and
tempered in peace. in no small measure because of danny's service our military is and will always remain the best in the world. we recognize our sacred obligation to give our veterans the care they deserve. of course, danny didn't always take credit for the difference he made. ever humble, one of the only landmarks that bare his name is a marine corps mess hall in hawaii. when someone asked him how he wanted to be remembered, danny said i represented the people of hawaii and this nation honestly and to the best of my ability. i think i did okay. danny, you were more than okay. you were extraordinary. it's been mentioned that danny
ended his convention speech in chicago in 1968 with the word aloha. in some of you who visited, it meant hello, but to others it meant good-bye. those of us who have been privileged to live in hawaii understand aloha means i love you. and as someone who has been privileged to live in hawaii, i know that he embodied the very best of that spirit, the very best of aloha. it's fitting it was the last word that danny spoke on this earth. he may have been saying good-bye to us. maybe he was saying hello to someone waiting on the other side, but it was a final expression most of all of his love for the family and friends that he cared so much about, for
the men and women he was honored to serve with, for the country that held such a special place in his heart. and so we remember a man who inspired all of us with his courage and moved us with his compassion that inspired us with his integrity and who taught so many of us, including a young boy growing up in hawaii that america has a place for everyone. may god bless daniel inouye, and may god grant us more souls like his. >> the president and other leaders gathering at the national cathedral in washington d.c. to give their final respects. a big aloha to the second longest serving senator in u.s.
history, daniel inouye, who passed away on monday. the army vet was 88 years old. his final word was aloha, and the hawaii native explaining that aloha means "i love you." congressman tom cole has been kind enough to stand by patiently waiting, and, sir, your reflections and remembrances of senator inouye? >> what a great american. what a wonderful story, and what a touching tribute by the president of the united states. well deserved. have i worked in the appropriations process and served on that committee in the house, and obviously he was our counterpart and had the opportunity to work with him and always considered it a prif. he was always a gentleman. he always fought for the things he believed in, but he knew how to find a middle ground. most importantly, we were sitting down with him, and he is a real american hero, and it's a real sad day for the country, and i'm very pleased is he getting the kaf tribute from the president and everybody else that he genuinely deserves. >> certainly a beautiful send-off there. congressman tom cole, thanks for joining me, sir.