Skip to main content

tv   NOW With Alex Wagner  MSNBC  January 11, 2013 9:00am-10:00am PST

9:00 am
f with country vegetables, poured over rice! [ male announcer ] campbell's chunky soup. it fills you up right. just how much of the nation wants insane gun laws is indeed a matter of debate? a majority of americans or an overwhelming majority of americans? it is friday, january 11th, and this is "now." joining me today former deputy white house press secretary and, wait for it, it's coming, bill, money bunny for the obama campaign. >> still. >> bill burton of priorities usa action. nbc news political analyst, former pennsylvania governor and current governor of "now" ed rendell, msnbc contributor and
9:01 am
queen bee joye reid, and buzz feed editor in chief the eternally buzzy ben smith. gun reform advocates knew that introducing any kind of firearm safety laws would be met with a fight, but did they expect actual battle cries? >> i'm here to tell you, 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms. doesn't matter how many lemons you get on the street begging for them to have their guns taken. we will not relinquish them. do you understand? >> just hours before vice president biden met with representatives of the nra yesterday, he spoke for the first time about some of the ideas gaining traction, including universal background checks and a ban on high capacity magazine clips. after the meeting of president of the nra said their discussion wasn't "a real conversation" and this morning pushed back against any regulation on gun ownership including background checks and an assault weapons ban. >> i think there's a very different view as to what the problem is and how to solve it. it's not the power of the nra,
9:02 am
matt. what it is is the strength of belief among millions of americans in their right under the constitution to privately own firearms. >> no one anywhere is talking about doing away with the second amendment, and no one anywhere is advocating stripping away gun ownership. what began this debate nearly one month ago next week was a massacre in a small town elementary school and a national resolution to keep america's children safer, but at some point that desire to better protect has been undermined by an extreme wythe right wing that seems more concerned with better protecting their firearms. ted nugent said yesterday, "there will come a time when the gun owners of america will be the rosa parks and we will sit down on the front seat of the bus, case closed." somehow, according to this twisted logic, questioning the necessity of bushmaster rifles and high capacity magazines has become a violation of basic civil rights on par with the racist era of jim crow, and anyone who suggests that it is
9:03 am
indeed time to ask whether 30-round clips makes society safer is deemed a traitor to his party. >> mark the date. it isn't going to be long before moderate republicans start going on television to push the notion that guns are hurting republicans with independent voters and women. the moderate, spineless, linguine-spined republicans it isn't going to be long as this controversy heats up. you know, they wilt. >> this outcry is no longer about a difference of opinions regarding what we need to do to keep the nation's children safe. it has become, instead, a rally to amass and protect an arsenal of battlefield grade weapons, ones that may be needed to fend off a government intent on instituting an oppressive dictatorship. >> 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms. >> as ousted tea party
9:04 am
congressman from illinois joe walsh said yesterday, we may have to shed blood every couple hundred years to preserve our freedoms. bloodshed, according to the radical gun enthusiasts, is nott a stain on our national conscience, but something that is championed as proof of their convictions. at least some people still remember what brought us to this discussion in the first place. >> there is nothing that has pricked the consciousness of the american people, there is nothing that has gone to the heart of the matter more than the visual image people have of 6-year-old kids riddled. not shot with a stray bullet. riddled, riddled with bullet holes in their classroom. >> governor rendell, we have talked about gun safety for months. for most of the year that this program has been on television. newtown seemed like an inflexion point, if you will, a changing of the national dialogue about
9:05 am
sensible gun laws, and, yet, the response that we have seen in recent days from members of the gun toting enthusiasts and the nra has been, to say the least, something that has dismayed me and very much disappointed me. i wonder what you make of some of that rhetoric. >> two things. number one, the battle on guns and reasonable forms of gun control didn't start after newtown. we've been doing it. there were mayors in the 1990s that were suing the gun manufacturers when i was governor of pennsylvania. it goes all the way back and predates columbine. each tragedy we resolve to do more. the good thing about newtown is it was so horrific that i think it galvanized americans to a point where the intensity out of our side is going to match the intensity on their side. secondly, i'm not dismayed by those statements at all. those statements convince the average american that the other side is absolute looney, nuts, off their rocker, and that drives people to the conclusion that we've got to do something reasonable, and the nra guy,
9:06 am
mr. keene, he should look at their own poll. poll taken by frank luntz, a conservative pollster. he only polled nra members and gun owners who weren't nra members, and on whether we need a universal background check before anybody could obtain a gun. 74% of nra members said yes, background check before anybody gets a gun. 87% of gun owners say yes, so they're out of step with their own folks. they're just driving ordinary people to the realization that we've got to act because there are crazy people out there. >> bill, can the president get these sensible -- whether it's back ground checks, whether it's banning high capacity magazine slip clips, can he get it done, though, in congress? we notice that the president -- the vice president yesterday did not say anything about the assault weapons ban. the thinking is there's not enough political capital to get it through congress. >> well, one of the most depressing things about this entire debate is that when you look at the people who are engaged in, it and you hear from folks who are talking about some
9:07 am
of the commonsense things that everybody fwraes with, including nra members and gun owners, you don't hear any republicans at all talking about coming to the table, and when rush limbaugh made the comment about, you know, it won't be long before you hear moderate republicans talking about how this is hurting them with women, actually you don't hear any moderate republicans saying that. you know, unless some republicans come to the table in the house, it is frightening how little we might be able to do on gun safety. >> bill, let me interject. there are four suburban republican congress mn in the philadelphia area. i wrote an op ed piece for one of our newspapers, and i challenged them to stand up and say are they for us, their constituents, or for the nra? they're going to have to vote. they're going to have to declare themselves. if they declare themselves on the side of the nra, they're finished. they will be defeated in 2014. >> the question is whether or not you can build a coalition big enough of the very small number that is moderate republicans to even get a bill to the floor in the house that makes a real difference. >> or you can convince republican leadership that they need to protect those guys. i do think limbaugh was really
9:08 am
on to something there. i mean, the big question is whether their house republicans, which is obviously where this legislation will die or we're afraid of this in the midterms. >> if you look at the numbers, you know, kimberly strasel writes in "the "wall street journal"" she says there's one issue on which congress still resoundingly agrees, gun rights. if you look at the polling, the numbers are overwhelming. these are a multitude of polls. this is cbs news and usa today, gallop. 57% of the country reports stricter gun laws. 57%, 58%. 92% support background checks, and a majority, 62% or 63% support an assault. >> they should step forward and see what the majority of americans believe.
9:09 am
people that do sdep are people by ted nugent who was a coward in vietnam and messed his pants instead of going to the draft. alex jones are stepping forward, and you don't have a politic that's even functional enough for actual elected conservatives. >> i am still a believer in a functi fucking two-party system, and it's hard to believe that the republican party is going to march under the especially whenever chris christie comes out, there's a sort of round of applause that he is saying. i can't imagine that they think this is a tenable position, and this leaves the ground work for a position on immigration that's in any way moderate, and how do they go through the next two years? >> the question is whether as governor ed rendell said, you may have 60% in fare of the law, but if only 10% of people who really, really care intensely about it, will make it a single issue, are the opponents? you know, it's not going to go anywhere, and that has been the situation with gun rights is that the only people who care enough to make it a single issue are the gun owners.
9:10 am
i'm not sure that's still true, and that will be the thing. >> intensity is critically important, but the other piece of this is money and politics. the fact that the nra wields so much money that they use to influence elections means that a lot of these republicans are worried that the nra could come after them in the primaries. >> they're ineffective. we saw their record in the last election. they got within .9% success rate, whereas the organization that you are in charge with did much better. >> he is the money bunny. >> they're not that successful when they challenge people. >> i think that it's a perception that doesn't comport with reality. i was governor of the state that has the second largest amount of nra members in the country. the nra vigorously opposed me all three times i ran statewide because of what i did as mayor. i won by 10%, 12%, and 21%. now, how strong are they? it's time for our democrats and weave got to convince some of our democrats to get a backbone like this. it's time for our democrats to have backbone, and it is time to challenge those republicans. and the intensity is going to be
9:11 am
there. you saw the ad by the family of the little 9-year-old girl in tucson. you saw the aurora victims and their families. we're not going to let up -- >> gabby giffords leading a national initiative. >> millions of dollars and give him credit. he is a leader of this, and he is doing a great job. we're going to be there. >> bill, let me ask you, the nra has -- i mean, theoretically, power because it's consolidated under one umbrella. do people who are in favor of sensible gun laws need to unite under one sort of banner? is that the issue here that we have too much desperate groups? do no labels need to unite with mayor bloomberg who needs to unite with gabby giffords. are there too many voices saying the same thing? >> i'm not sure. i think you have powerful voices on the left who are making this case, and they all -- like mayor bloomberg, they are doing a great job at making the case. i don't know that there is one group that they could all come under, and the fact that there are different groups, i think, builds an opportunity for people to come to the table and build a
9:12 am
consensus and get something done that is born of the diversity of ideas that come through that process. >> before we go to break, joy, when i think about the sort of road ahead here, once you give order to this fanaticism, i don't know how you come out of that and then try to make a deal on immigration or tax reform. i mean, i think in many ways where we go on this will tell us a lot about the road ahead. >> absolutely. i have an absolute cynic, and i don't believe in the idea of gop 2.0. i actually think that not a lot is going to change in terms of the idealogical framework of that party because you just can't have the consultants say we have to move to the center and have that happen because the base has been fed a message for something like 30 years by talk radio. they've been fed it by their media that they are right that, they are the true americans and that their views -- there's nothing wrong with them and they don't need to moderate, they just need to be even more purely conservative. i think as long as the elected
9:13 am
republicans are still fearful of primaries from that very intense base that is not changing just because we say they should and because it's logical, i don't really see how that party changes very much. >> joy reid taking us to break on a note of dismal pessimism. after we come back, productive divergence or group think? which kind of cabinet better serves an administration? president obama may soon get a chance to find out. we will look if he diversity of ideas next on "now." jenna shared her recipe with sharon, who emailed it to emily, who sent it to cindy, who wondered why her soup wasn't quite the same. the recipe's not the recipe... ohhh. [ female announcer ] ...without swanson. the broth cooks trust most when making soup. mmmm! [ female announcer ] the secret is swanson. my ex-girlfriend... 7th grade math teacher.
9:14 am
who is this? that's pete. my... [ dennis' voice ] allstate agent. a "starving artist" has an allstate agent? he got me... [ dennis' voice ] the allstate value plan. it's their most affordable car insurance and you still get an agent. [ normal voice ] i call it... [ dennis' voice ] the protector. is that what you call it? the protector! okay. ♪ the allstate value plan. are you in good hands? or treat gas with these after you get it. now that's like sunblock before or sun burn cream later.
9:15 am
oh, somebody out there's saying, now i get it! take beano before and there'll be no gas. take beano before we replaced people with a machine.r, what? customers didn't like it. so why do banks do it? hello? hello?! if your bank doesn't let you talk to a real person 24/7, you need an ally. hello? ally bank. your money needs an ally.
9:16 am
president obama is heading
9:17 am
into a fight over cabinet confirmations with a pick of familiar faces. carl, the former assent secretary of state under president clinton says, "unlike the first term, which was often referred to as a team of rivals, i think this is going to be more like a band of brothers." while this is a team that has joined the president on the frontlines before, it also creates two problems for him. the first is that republicans cannot stand the fact that his nominees also happen to be his closest confidants, including jack lew, who has already held two top positions. >> i believe this man has been the architect of the obama budget policy. i believe it's very fundamentally wrong, and i do not believe he has been honest with the american people about it. >> several senate republicans have made it clear that jack lew will be a fight just as chuck hagel will be a fight, just as susan rice was a fight. the second problem for president obama is that so far his chosen bantd doesn't include any sisters, nor does it include any racial diversity. even members of his own party
9:18 am
are expressing dismay. new york democrat charlie rangel called the lack of women embarrassing as hell and yesterday chairwoman of the congressional black caucus, marcia fudge wrote a letter urging the president to nominate two members of the cbc. bill, you are a former diverse member of the president's -- >> still diverse. >> yes. you remain diverse, though not sequestered at 1600 pennsylvania avenue, for which we are thankful. i wonder what you make about this contention that he is being too insular, a, in terms of the possibility of group think, people that have been with him forever, and then, b, how much is the diversity problem for him? >> well, i'll start with b. you know, i think that what we're seeing here is more of an optics problem than it is a real problem because by the numbers half of the white house staff is women. straight 50%. some of the people the president depends on the most are women. valerie jarrett, secretary of state hillary clinton, susan rice. let's not forget that the two people that he appointed to the
9:19 am
supreme court are both women. so i think that what happened here when you have the roll-out of the nominees, that they all happen to be white men made for what was a very easy story to do, but i think it's overstated. i think that there's plenty of diversity in the white house, and the president is committed to it. in terms of insularity. i think the president does have people who he depends on and who he can trust. i don't think that he is so beholden to the people who have been around him for a long time that he is not going outside to other voices. you don't hear about the phone calls that he makes and the meetings that he has with people who aren't from his inner circle. sometimes you do. sometimes you don't. he does really spend a lot of time on the phone and with people who are outside the circle in order to make some hard decisions. >> he calls people that don't have the same opinions. at the very least. >> he does. and meets with them. >> that said, it would seem to symbolize, governor, that the president -- and the read-out or the analysis of these choices is that president obama is sort of consolidating. he does not want a variety of
9:20 am
opinions and debate internally, he wants to move forward with his agenda. he does not have a long time to execute it. so he is going to choose the people that he likes and that he trusts. >> well, first of all, of the three big appointments he has made, john kerry was never a real obama confidant, and chuck hagel certainly never -- they knew each other a little bit because their terms of senator overlapped briefly, but certainly not a confidant from the inner circle. two out of the three don't come from the inner circle, and as far as -- >> you think too much has been made seeing eye to eye between hagel and obama? >> too much has been made. talking about jack lew being the architect of the budget, i think it's important we get the whole republican caucus and both houses to the constitution center in philadelphia, and we're going to tell them that there's a separation of powers, and that the people appointed by the executive work for the executive. >> yes. >> they don't work for the congress. >> that will be an interesting meeting, and i would like to attend. >> i will pay for their train fare. >> you heard it here first. >> out of my comcast salary.
9:21 am
>> it is -- well, let's not say. anyway, moving on. >> this got awkward. >> i mean, i will also say, look, and i think that a lot has been made of this sort of controversy. it may be a controversy where none actually exists. people have forgotten that janet napolitano was a cabinet level secretary. cathleen is out there. valerie jarrett. where have they been, though? could the white house not have done a better job in terms of pushing back on this narrative? >> it's partly because of the sort of sexy job, the jobs the beltway media tends to cover are state defense, cia, those are sort of the jobs that get the most glam, right? people focus on them. then i think in the sense bill is right that it's partly because the white house wasn't seeing to fight for susan rice. i spoke with prom independent african-american politician yesterday who their complaint was that it's cumulative. the president wants seen to fight over susan rice, and the office of not fighting for her publicly is hurting him now. had he done that, he may have
9:22 am
been insulated a little bit from this. >> ben, i want to know what you make of the insularity question and specifically on lew. bernie sanders has said he will not vote for him. he said in my view, we need a treasury secretary who is prepared to stand up to corporate america and their powerful lobbyists and fight for policies that protect the working families in our country. i do not believe mr. lew is that person. it is worth noting, in 2008 jack lew oversaw one of the most controversial branches of citigroup and there has been -- we talked about it yesterday. we're talking about wall street and the white house and the university system being the military industrial complex of our time, quoting gabe sherman from "new york magazine" piece. there is a pipeline between this stuff, and when you have a treasury secretary that's setting monetary policy, should he be someone that is theoretically in could ka hoots with the street? >> that strikes me as a crazy attack from bernie sanders because lew -- it is true that lew wrote for citigroup.
9:23 am
he is probably the most liberal group of the cabinet. he has spent his whole career on the left of the democratic party. you know, he is also a liberal a lot of republicans trust and have worked with and feel he is an honest person. he is a guy who, i mean, he has talked for a long time about the importance of, satisfy, the cuts to defense spending, which isn't something that a lot of people of either party are comfortable saying. i mean, he is not a high profile guy. think he is still commuting to and from beaverdale. >> does that make him -- >> maybe that's a man of the people plug. he really just -- if you look at his whole career and his views, he is a liberal. i don't understand why the left is attacking him over the citigroup thing. >> i think it's probably some residual disenfranchisement with how much maybe perhaps the left feels the administration has not pursued its goals. >> he is not tim geithner. geithner really did come from wall street and was a guy who was there to some degree to protect those institutions, and lew is not that. >> meanwhile, governor, we are not -- the person that in theory
9:24 am
should be the most controversial, john brennan, the drone program, he took himself out of contention in 2008. nothing has been said about him. >> because he is low key and on the radar screen from the public, and it not one of the big three. >> might check in with rachel maddow. >> i was going to say, i also think it's because there's been an acquessence. >> the republicans like drones. >> bernie sanders is planting a flag in jack lew's -- >> he represents the entire left of the democratic party? >> one wing of the very progressive left. you are just moving it like a very far -- a tad -- i'm not saying anything against senators here on this show, but i think -- >> bernie is a greet graet guy, but it's a tiny little wing. it's probably a little fet zeesh fet other the wing. >> wow. feathers and wicks. we need to take a break. president obama breaks bread with hamid karzai at the white house, but will they break from his withdrawal plans from
9:25 am
afghanistan? we will have a live update on the meeting after this. (dog) larry,larry,larrryyy.
9:26 am
9:27 am
why take exercise so seriously,when it can be fun?
9:28 am
push-ups or sprints? what's wrong with fetch? or chase? let's do this larry! ooh, i got it, i got it! (narrator) the calorie-smart nutrition in beneful healthy weight... includes grains and real chicken, because a healthy dog is a playful dog. beneful healthy weight. find us on facebook to help put more play in your day. >> president obama had a working lunch with hamid karzai after a meeting -- nbc white house correspondent kristen welker joins us now with the details of the meeting. kristen, tell us the latest. >> good afternoon, alex. the key topic of conversation here this afternoon at the white house is that timeline for troop withdraw. i can tell you that we don't
9:29 am
expect president obama to announce actual numbers when he addresses the nation during a joint news conference a little bit later on this afternoon along with afghan president hamid karzai, but the question is how many troops will remain after 2014? for the very first time this week the white house signalled that the president was open to having a zero troop presence in afghanistan after 2014. a lot of people wondering if they're just saying that as a bargaining chip or if the president is actually considering that. some commanders have suggested that the troops remain at a level of 6,000 to 15,000. right now there are 66,000 troops in afghanistan. either way, alex, it appears as though the white house is leaning toward a more scaled back troop presence after that date. now, the white house feels it's emboldened by what they are calling a weakened presence of al qaeda operatives. also, they're taking budget considerations into their thoughts here while they're trying to work through this, but the criticism is if there are
9:30 am
two few troops that will leave afghanistan in an incredibly vulnerable position and it could ultimately lead to a civil war and leave. the reports are that president hamid karzai wants to have a larger u.s. troop presence for that very reason because is he concerned about destabilization within his country. >> that's interesting. just quickly, the notion that we would keep even more troops there or that we would be able to play ball on hamid karzai's request, there doesn't seem to be a lot of political capital for that. if there's one thing people in washington sort of agree on it's the notion that we need to get the troops out of afghanistan, at least from leading democrats and republicans. >> well, there's no doubt that the president feels as though he has a fair amount of political capital on this front moving forward, but this is a tough issue, alex. there's a lot of tension right now between the united states and afghanistan with green on blue attacks. that's attacks of afghan forces against u.s. and nato troops at a high-end -- charges of
9:31 am
corruption, quite frankly, against the afghan government. they're going to have some sticky issues to work through this afternoon. >> we will certainly be following the story. nbc's kristen welker, thank you, as always, my friend. >> thank you. >> after the break if life does indeed imitate art, politicians may want to pay attention to the new film "broken city." we will talk with one of the stars of the film jeffrey wright and the director alan hughes about the movie and the culture of corruption in america. when they join the table next on "now." hi. at optionsxpress we're all about options trading.
9:32 am
we create easy to use, powerful trading tools for all. look at these streaming charts! they're totally customizable and they let you visualize what might happen next. that's genius! strategies, chains, positions. we put 'em all on one screen! could we make placing a trade any easier? mmmm...could we? open an account today and get a free 13-month e ibd™ subscription when you call 1-888-280-0157 now. optionsxpress by charles schwab.
9:33 am
9:34 am
nothing. are you stealing our daughter's school supplies and taking them to work? no, i was just looking for my stapler and my... this thing. i save money by using fedex ground and buy my own supplies. that's a great idea. i'm going to go... we got clients in today. [ male announcer ] save on ground shipping at fedex office. broken city send set to hit movie theaters next friday tackles the issue of corruption in our political system. it stars russell crowe as new york city mayor nicolas costetller ready to bend the law to get his way and mark wahlberg, an ex-cop turned private detective intent on restoring justice. the paths also intersect with
9:35 am
new york's tough police commissioner played by jeffrey wright, a master observer and manipulator who is also no stranger to ambition. let's take a look at the clip from the film. >> hostettler. it's what you gave him last night. i gave him andrews. >> i gave him pictures. >> you gave him pictures. of who? >> his wife. >> his wife and who? >> i can't tell you that. >> you better start telling me something, explain to me what you are doing at my crime scene. >> i am now joined by broken city director alan hughes and actor jeffrey wright. great to have you guys on. >> thanks for having us. >> we been talking a lot in recent days about institutional failure in america and the corrupting influence of power and that seems to be one of the themes of this film, and jeffrey, i guess i go to you first on this. whatsoever interested you in the film, and specifically the nature of power as a corrupting tool seems to be something we've seen in earlier films like the ides of march that you were in. >> sure. >> w, to a certain degree, and
9:36 am
syriana. >> sure. i think these are great themes for story telling, period. if you go back to shakespeare and julius ceasar. he uses this landscape as a need to explore human nature and how the organism navigates its way through, you know, issues relative to am abusiness and power and things like this, so it's not new stuff. it certainly makes for great theater and great cinema. for me i was -- to be honest with you -- more attracted to this because it reminded me of a old humphrey bogart tale, those stories that were taking place perhaps against the background of political corruption, but were much more personal and whether it be politics at large or office politics, you know, the idea that we examine the way people behave relative to one another's power and what they're willing to do or willing to sacrifice within themselves, you know, to gain more power. that's -- so i don't think there was really an expose that we were going after here necessarily, but just, you know,
9:37 am
fertile ground for good storytelling. >> is it a cynical -- are we going to walk out feeling cynical about american politics? >> oh, not at all. i think to me personally is about the average joe being a victim of politics and kind of the poker faced gamesmanship that goes on around, and he is just -- he is like me. you know, i'm in hollywood, and i just say what i feel, and things get a little out of hand. you pay for it. >> hollywood has its own corrupting influence as well. >> oh, my god. >> jackals, high evena, sharks. >> piranhas. governor rendell, have you actually held elected office, and i guess when we talk about the corrupting influence of power, you're someone who can speak from example. do you think in that sense washington is as bad as it ever has been, or is it par for the course? >> it's a little different. there have been a number of movies about corrupt mayors. "boss" with kelsey grammar that's on tv. we were talking about "city
9:38 am
hall" with al pacino. it's different executive he than legislative. in legislative it comes from pure money, whereas i think if you in executive, what you have to fight every day, your mindset has to fight that you're not special, you're not special. that there are different rules that apply for you because the city needs me. you know, how many people use that excuse? well, the city needs me. i've got to stay in power because the people need me. you begin to think like that. >> the city starts believing to some degree that it needs the mayor. we live in new york city where that relationship is very much -- i'm not trying to, you know smear mayor bloomberg, but there is that narrative that he saved us and, you know, we need the mayor and -- >> there's no question. >> i often said if the philadelphians said if a meteor was hurdling true space, they would say, don't worry, mayor
9:39 am
rendell will find some way to stop the meteor. you've got to tell yourself -- you've got to tell yourself i can't break this rule. there was a governor of connecticut by the name of john roland. a terrific governor. republican, moderate. three terms. very popular. in his last year in office he let some contractors do $60,000 of work in his summer home, and he didn't pay him. he was a year away from making big money in the private sector. he sort of thought, well, i'm entitled to that. >> how does one get to that level? >> because everyone kisses your butt. everyone says ewe right. >> everything is free? >> no, no, not -- well, if you want it to be, you can. i would have to fight in restaurants in philadelphia to pay the check. >> oh, i see. >> i would have to fight. >> i think that happens, you know. that happens in hollywood too. >> oh, my god, yes. >> the notion is that you are a public servant, and we lose sight.
9:40 am
>> where do you become self-interested and corrupt. that's what's interesting from a psychological perspective as i try to figure out these characters and what they're willing to do, i mean, that's the real contagion force in power. >> you can rationalize almost anything. >> exactly. >> to run for office in this day and age, you have to have a healthy ego. an ego to actually, you know, assume the office, but also a sense that you are singular in some ways, and if there is anything the president has been accused of it is this outsized ego, and, yet, at the end of the day i have to call everybody's attention to a financial times headline. the myth of the imperial presidency. obama's critics forget he is sometimied by his foes in congress. i won't say president obama is powerless, but he is very much shackled to an intransigent
9:41 am
republican caucus in terms of hour power and executing it, it's difficult for him. >> i thought someone would write a book called congress exists. congress could just be mowed down, but we forget that what they were approving were wars. it's almost impossible to be stopped. like they'll go ahead and approve a war and a tax cut, but, yes, congress exists, and there are a lot of constraints on power. >> you are being treated in a way that's not normal. you are getting things for free. you are being given all this power even if it's just theoretical. >> jeffrey, i know you met the president when he was a state senator. and you said that you were impressed or according to our press reports that he said democrats need to stick to their principles. i guess i wonder as we talk about corruption and influence and power, there has been a lot
9:42 am
said, especially critics on the right, about the president that he uses chicago style tactics to get things done. now, i actually think. >> he support someone seen in the mold of your traditional politicians. the notion that he has this chicago style poll seems kind of misguided. stoo there are a lot of things said about president obama from the right that don't bare any resemblance to reality. you know, i think he is obviously frustrated. his expectation when he came in is that he was going to be a unifier, you know? i think from a psychological perspective for him it's got to be incredibly disappointing simply not to be liked, simply not to have these powers of convening that he has clearly had all of his career and persuasion just from a
9:43 am
personal -- from the perspective of personal charisma. that's got to be, you know, a real -- i don't know, just a real psychological challenge for someone who has such power to be stymied as he has been on a personal level as well. it's kind of -- he seems to bear up very well. >> we thought -- we thought when he was in that rock star mode, when he was approaching the presidency the first time, we thought he had charisma, we thought he was that guy, we thought he was kind of like clinton in a way, and clinton is naturally has that ability. i think where barack is more obviously cerebral. >> he has extraordinary charisma. >> charisma doesn't work when the other side isn't willing to be rationale. >> i think that not having a partner to craft legislation with is a real -- to not be able to persuade anyone from the right to come over. i don't know if he thinks of that as a personal shortcoming, but it certainly must be a frustration. >> i don't think, you know -- not only on a political level he
9:44 am
was driving people's perceptions of who he was as a leader, and the fear that some of these guys have to go home to their constituencies and they capitulated to the president and driving up all these cultural issues is something that, you know, i didn't anticipate, but, you know, they're certainly out there. >> it's interesting to note that the closest things to absolute power that we have in an american democracy is the position of mayor because almost no city councils have republican and democrat battle. it was 88% democrat. mayor bloomberg has a council that's heavily democrat. the council generally tends to do what the mayor wants. it's the closest thing to sort of that political dictator ship you'll find, and that's when -- >> that's why cities are interesting fodder for films like this. >> there's something to be said for the checks and balances in our federal system which don't
9:45 am
quite exist in cities, and you look at the mayors. you look at the first mayor daley and even the second mayor daley, kevin white in boston, shafer in baltimore. you think they were almost dictators. that's when the absolute power really hits. >> alan, before we let you go, did you look to any certain cities for inspiration? was there any -- were there any figures historical or not that you -- that you were sort of -- whose experiences you were calling on to? >> i was very fascinated by boss tweed. way, way, way -- what year was that? >> that was around the time of the 19 -- the 20th century. >> he got away with everything. russell crowe in particular was like when he came on to play this role, he said the mayor is not going down. that was his biggest -- i said the mayor -- this never happens. he said -- >> i'm playing the mayor, by the way. he is not going down. >> he is like a schmuck always takes the fall. the bad guy doesn't go down.
9:46 am
i said what about boss tweed. he went to prison. >> at the end of the day the schmuck always takes the fall. thank you for joining us. thank you, my friend, as always. jeffrey wright, and alan hughes. remember to go see the new movie "broken city" which will be in theaters next week. thank you both. coming up, nothing says commemoration like the u.s. defaulting on its debt. is all the talk about a trillion dollar platinum coin a viable solution or just totally awesome political theater? chris hayes will weigh in just ahead. why did i switch to natural instincts? it's healthier, and the only one clinically proven. with aloe, vitamins, and no ammonia. my hair looks healthier than before i colored. i switched. you can too, to natural instincts. ♪
9:47 am
to natural instincts. living with moderate to semeans living with it could also mean living with joint damage. help relieve the pain and stop the damage with humira, adalimumab.
9:48 am
for many adults with moderate to severe ra, humira is clinically proven to help relieve pain and stop joint damage. so you can treat more than just the pain. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal events, such as infections, lymphoma, or other types of cancer, have happened. blood, liver and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure have occurred. before starting humira, your doctor should test you for tb. ask your doctor if you live in or have been to a region where certain fungal infections are common. tell your doctor if you have had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections or have symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, or sores. you should not start humira if you have any kind of infection. ask your rheumatologist about humira, to help relieve pain and stop further joint damage before they stop you. i've got two tickets to paradise!l set? pack your bags, we'll leave tonight. uhh, it's next month, actually... eddie continues singing: to tickets to...
9:49 am
paradiiiiiise! no four. remember? whoooa whooaa whooo! you know ronny, folks who save hundreds of dollars by switching to geico sure are happy. and how happy are they jimmy? happier than eddie money running a travel agency. get happy. get geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. diarrhea, gas, bloating? yes! one phillips' colon health probiotic cap each day helps defend against these digestive issues... with three strains of good bacteria. [ phillips' lady ] live the regular life. phillips'. as we like to call them numizmatists maying salivating at the thought of a trillion dollar coin. numbers people have their doubts. we will talk change we can believe in, so many jokes in that tease, with chris hayes.
9:50 am
next on "now." we've all had those moments. when you lost the thing you can't believe you lost. when what you just bought, just broke. or when you have a little trouble a long way from home... as an american express cardmember you can expect some help. but what you might not expect, is you can get all this with a prepaid card. spends like cash. feels like membership. humans. even when we cross our t's and dot our i's, we still run into problems. namely, other humans. at liberty mutual insurance, we understand. that's why our auto policies come with accident forgiveness if you qualify, where your rates won't go up due to your first accident,
9:51 am
and new car replacement, where, if you total your new car, we give you the money for a new one. call... to talk to an insurance expert about everything else that comes standard with our base auto policy. and if you get into an accident and use one of our certified repair shops, your repairs are guaranteed for life. call... to switch, and you could save hundreds. ♪ born to make mistakes liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy?
9:52 am
9:53 am
>> there's only one thing better than holding a hand full of cold hard cash, and that's swimming in it. i love to dive around in it like a porpus and throw it up and let it hit me on the head. >> no one loves high value gold coins more than scrooge mcduck and possibly paul krugman. the proposal to mint a $1 trillion platinum skoin as a bay averting a war over the debt ceiling may sound absurd, but it's being pushed by heavies. should president obama be willing to print a $1 trillion platinum coin if republicans try to force america into default? yes. absolutely. he will, after all, be faced with the choice between two alternatives. one that is silly but benign. the other that's equally slil, and both vial and disastrous.
9:54 am
the decision should be obvious. how is such a thing possible? an obscure 1966 law, which according to legal scholars gives the treasury secretary the right to mint a coin in any denomination he likes. here now to discuss whether this is a serious proposal or something better left to cartoon characters, i am joined by msnbc's chris hayes, host of "up" for a little segment we like to call up -- now. >> nailed it. >> this is a ludicrous outlandish proposal, but maybe also -- >> i think the first thing is the context of it is that it's in the context of a ludicrous proposal which is to push the country into default, right? the republicans have done a really crafty job of essentially taking norms that used to guide institutional behavior and destroying them, right? it used to be crazy to think, for instance, that republican senators would sign a letter saying we will not confirm any nominee so he a government position because we do not like the body that is constituted.
9:55 am
we will take the country into defate unless we get spending cuts. it isn't a context in which norms have been systematically destroyed and eroded by republicans, and this is a way of kind of, like, fighting lawlessness with lawlessness, fighting norm erosion with norm erosion. >> right. >> and creating some leverage. >> except in terms of legislative process, there's more of a smoke screen there, right? the american public isn't as tuned in maybe to, like, the debt ceiling debate or at least not the -- they did not used to be, whereas the minting of $1 trillion coin is out of duck tales. >> if you were going to do this, i don't think you would, for instance, like make a big deal of who is on the face. i don't think you would have a design competition for it. i don't think you would go parading around holding the trillion dollar coin. >> what if you lost it? >> yes, exactly. or my heist film that i'm writing about this. what you would do is come before the microphone and say in order to insure that the government meet its constitutional obligations to pay its debt, i have directed the treasury of
9:56 am
the secretary to legal the necessary steps to make sure we can pay our debts. that's it. then all the coin stuff happens in the background, right? you don't want to turn it into this cartoonish -- >> nobody will notice. don't even talk about it. >> people will -- might go crazy about it, but i would also note this. monetary innovation is a tremendously important free line in american history. abraham lincoln printed greenbacks to pay the union army. f.d.r. detached us from the gold standard and brought us out of the depression because of it, right? there are ways in which monetary innovation like this have proved incredibly important in times of crisis, and this could be another moment. >> something is telling me all that research is not for not, which is to say the end of this show, but for your show. >> forget it. we're doing nine hours on it. it's my favorite story ever. >> the trillion dollar platinum coin. unfortunately, we have to leave it there. before i can get everybody's suggestions -- >> i just blew through it. >> i want on the face of the coin, bill burton had a lot of the great nominees. maybe we'll do a web feature on that.
9:57 am
don't mess "up" tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. eastern. thank you, my friend. thank you to the rest of our panel who has stood strong today. bill burton, governor ed rendell and buzz feed's ben smith. see you back here monday at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific when i am joined by former chief economic advisor to vice president biden, jared bernstein, deputy new york city mayor howard wolfson, former bush advisor mark mckinnon, curt anderson, the new yorker's hendrick kurtzburg, and the hill's amy parns. that is must see tv. not that this wasn't. until then, find us at with alex. andrea mitchell reports is coming up next. happy friday, andrea. >> happy friday to you. good afternoon. coming up now ending america's longest war and the battle over guns here at home. we're just moments away from a joint press conference between president obama and afghanistan's president karzai. joining us former homeland security secretary tom ridge, general brent scowcroft, former national security advisor to
9:58 am
ford and george h.w. bush. andrea mitchell reports next only here on msnbc.
9:59 am