tv Charlie Rose PBS January 26, 2011 12:00pm-1:00pm PST
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from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> from our studios in washington, d.c. this is a special edition of charlie rose. >> rose: welcome to our program. we're live from washington, d.c., new york, and los angeles. earlier this evening president obama delivered his second state of the union address. the future of economy was his main focus. he laid out his vision through a mixture of reductions. he called often both parties to work together. what comes of this moment is up to us. what comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight but
whether we can work together tomorrow. [ applause ] i believe we can and i believe we must. that's what the people who sent us here expect of us. with their votes, they've determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. new laws will only pass with support from democrats and republicans. we will move forward together or not at all for the challenges we face are bigger than party and bigger than politics. >> rose: he urged america to compete in the new world order. >> we know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. we need to out ino rate ratevatt
educate and out build the rest of the world. [ applause ] we have to make america the best place on earth to do business. we need to take responsibility for our deficit and reform our government. that is how our people will prosper. that's how we'll win the future. [ applause ] >> rose: he called for investment in innovation to restore jobs. >> half a century ago when the soviets beat us into space with a launch of a satellite called sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon. the science wasn't even there yet. nasa didn't exist. but after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the soviets, we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new
industries and millions of new jobs. this is our nation's sputnik moment. two years ago i said we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of space race. and in a few weeks, i will be sending a budget to congress that helps us meet that goal. we'll invest in biomedical research, information technology and especially clean energy technology. [ applause ] an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet and create countless new jobs for our people. >> rose: addressing the deficit, he presented various ways to reduce it including a five-year freeze of annual domestic spending. the speech comes at a time when president obama has regained political momentum and is recasting the administration ahead of 2012 campaign.
joining me this evening from new york, mark halperin of "time" phaog scene, john heilemann of "new york" magazine, author jon meacham, from lang los california's attorney general kamala harris, with me gwen ifill and john sununu and al hunt of bloomberg news. i'm pleased to have all of them with me this evening to look at this important speech to see what the president was saying and where he wants to take the country. i begin with al hunt, the speech? >> very good speech. he captured the tone of civility. he fully embraces the concept of american exceptionalism tonight. it was challenging, at times eloquent, maybe a tad long and a few voids -- gaps rather but a a minus bordering on a speech. >> rose: gwen?
>> i wouldn't give it that high a grade. sometimes when you read a speech, it reads better than on delivery. in the room, everyone crossed party lines and sat together. as a result in draining the partisanship from the room, it drained some of the energy from the room. some of the lines written for big applause kind of fell flat. some of the emphasis you would have expected didn't come come over but it was workmanlike. he said what he needed to say, and he tried to put what i thought was kind of a reaganesque optimistic spin on it. to have us come away applauding what we agree about which is that america is an exceptional place. >> rose: john? >> i think if you were in the chamber begun a member of congress, it probably was as interesting, erin moriarty interesting than the previous speeches. it wasn't an exhaustive laundry list of programs and
initiatives. there were the usual suspects and some were redundant from past speeches, clean energy, hiring teachers and some of the innovation initiatives. the fact that the seating was mixed probably made it novel, a little different for members of the house and the senate. i did think his delivery was good. frankly that makes a difference. when you are a member of congress sitting there in the chamber you are not looking forward to being there for an hour and a half, hour and 45 minutes so the delivery matter. you speak of applause lines, gwen, when he announced the domestic freeze in spending, nobody clapped. i wasn't enough for the republicans and the democrats weren't really happy to hear about a freeze in any spending. if you go back to that moment there was a tepid clap from about four people and everything quieted down. moments like that break up the mononmy.
>> rose: how many looked up and thought i could be there? >> there was one shot of john mccain sitting next to john kerry and you had to wonder with with -- what was running through their minds. >> 100 senators and ten of the members of congress. >> rose: every senator gets up in the morning and looks and sees a future president. >> if you are not under indictment or in jail you could be a -- [laughter] kamala harris what did you think? >> i thought it was wonderful. it was freshing to -- refreshing to hear the president talk about the -- the drama that accompanies the hatfields and mccoys was not present in the room but policy is often very boring but essential to moving forward. i think he set that tone. it was about the need to win the
future as a country, as a collective and to get beyond even bipartisan conversations and understand that a lot of what we must do to win the future is nonpartisan in nature. it's about a dedication to innovation. it's a dedication to technology, to education and to really being smart with the systems that we have recognize some are broken and must be fixed. the fix is often going to be based on practical issues and not ideological issues or factors. i thought it was wonderful. i thought it set exactly the right tone to do what we need to do to actually do the work of tomorrow as the president talked about. >> rose: jon meacham? >> i agree. i think it was the most -- the least idea logical -- id logical state of the union i can remember. it was a managerial, tech knowkratic speech. he reminded me of a john f.
kennedy speech talking about the problems of man are now so yiewable -- soluable in many ways. i think the lack of the applause was interesting. they want jobs, they want to know their kids are getting a good education. the president has received the message that he has to be as engaged as possible with their concerns and not some sort of larger vision that seem p-z less -- seems less important to them. when he said let's fix what needs fixing and let's move forward, i think that's the headline tonight. >> rose: mark halperin? i agree with al that it keeps the momentum going. i agree with jon meacham that it was not idea-- ideal logical. like reagan said he used inspire kwraeug stories and the incredible optimism about
america. like bill clinton was basically sticking it to republicans here are the things i'm on the right side 70% 30% and on the things where you are maybe on the right side, i'm stealing those issues back and finally it was like george w. bush because he was confidence. none of the things he said were not -- they were absolutely what barack obama believed. he went back to the 2004 convention speech, the campaign, the auto eyeography. he went back to the post patterson, nonpatterson progressive with the willingness to work across the aisle. i thought it was a strong performance. in terms of delivery, the white house said he locked down the text earlier than usual. he worked with the best speech coach in politics to rehearse a couple times and he injected more humor than we usually see. i'm told that was his idea.
id played well to the country i'm confident sitting here in manhattan. [laughter] >> rose: john? >> mark is always in touch with the real lives of real americans on the upper west side of new york. [laughter] charlie, i think it was a good speech and i agree with many of the things said by many of the other panelists. i want to focus on two things. one of which is, maybe one of the biggest things obama has lacked over the course of the last two years is a consistent, compelling, economic narrative. not just a bunch of policies but a story he could tell people about how the policies hung together and how they were going to carry america towards a better future in terms of prosperity. this was a conscious effort to try to start remediating that problem from the last two years and to set down a basis for a narrative he could pweld on head -- build on heading to 2012
and the reelection. i think he did that very well. the speech was almost exclusively about the economy. there was just a tiny little bit of about foreign policy. we're engaged in two big wars in the world. the president relegated them to a couple of paragraphs and spent pages about the future of the economy. very important in terms of emphasis. the one fault that kept running through my mind is, i wished he had given this speech back when he was passing the stimulus bill to explain how the stimulus bill had a larger purpose and how it hung together in terms of an economic narrative. the second thing i say is he started to lay down, this was a speech designed as a curtain raiser to the next year and a half legislatively working with republicans and in a bunch of areas where he thinks he should in principle be able to do business with them on trade, on the deficit, on tax reform, on education. he sort of -- in many of those cases he said here are things i'm going to give you that i wouldn't necessarily want to
give you under normal circumstances. maybe president obama wouldn't necessarily want a corporate tax cut. maybe he wouldn't want a freeze on discretionary spending. i'll put your feet to the fire on whether we can cooperate going forward. that gives you an outline on whether he's going to progress his case with them as we proceed on the legislative calendar going forward. >> rose: when does the speech hit the wall? >> paul ryan come after -- he pointed out the all things he where they could not work together. he had read and seen the words in advance. i hesitate thinking because people sat together tonight or because the president delivered a decent speech they come away and thinking, yes, tomorrow everyone works together. the pushback happened in advance. mitch mcconnell was telling
reporters we think the president is coming our way. he repeated something he said earlier about that he believes that november 2 was -- this is not the words he used, but basically it was a recall on the democratic policy. you could watch the reaction and watch that they were listening but they applauded at things like repealing -- or fixing or making a level playing field of the corporate tax code. things like that they applauded but i don't think they were embracing the notion of reviving the dream act or taking back the -- or once again trying to repeal the tax cut for millionaires that the president just agreed to a couple of months ago. just -- i don't think that the fights are over yet and certainly not because of a state of the union speech. >> in fact, the pushback comes from a practical standpoint as soon as they begin the debate on the debt ceiling.
that's unfortunate for the president but that's life. they are going to have a serious debate and discussion about debt and deficits and you can't have that discussion without looking at what was spent on the stimulus, what it did to the deficit, the cost of the health care legislation. there are different views of this but you can't escape the fact that it's going to be part of the debate and discussion. the president didn't offer a lot of specifics on the debt and deficit and especially the long-term issues, social security medicare, medicaid. >> rose: you mean specifics? >> not in terms of substantive aspects but perhaps a commitment to include the ideas in the budget. he really didn't have that or substance or specifics on process, on exactly how he intended to work with people on both sides to address these issue. while we get to the debt ceiling debate it's going to come back at him hard. >> rose: this is for halperin
and john heilemann and you are deep into writing the 2012 book, i assume. what surprised you? what did he say that you haven't seen before? isn't it more than going back to when he was at his best in the in narrative of the 2008 campaign, the idea of american concept you'llism, about the new world order and being able to invest in the future as a reason to do the kinds of things he has talked about the past? john? mark, go ahead. >> what is surprising to me is john said before he didn't try to give a version of this speech earlier and he was able to give it tonight. things had been going pretty well. we saw in the campaign in 2008 and earlier in his presidency tkpweufpz great big speeches at a moment of peril. he could have missed this opportunity as al talked about before he might have missed the opportunity to keep the the
momentum going and coast a little bit. he was heavily involved in writing the speech as he always is. i thought he did a great job, as i said, before of taking the stuff he believes that makes him popular and gives his presidency a chance to not only keep the momentum going but meet challenges in a big way. it's not surprising if you look back at his roots but he has missed the opportunity on many occasions so it's surprising to me he was able to seize it tonight. >> rose: go ahead, john. >> i think one of things that president obama's great stre strength as a speaker is not the inspirational quality people comment on all the time. he's a story teller. it's a strange dising skwrupbgt tour that he is a great story teller but he hasn't been able to tell a story about the economy in the waybill clinton did so successfully. it surprises me he has warmed to that now and recognized so fully it's necessary for him to do
that. he is starting to apply his real gifts as a story teller -bd a spinner of yarns to that particular subject. it's a real sense that he has an awareness of how important that is to his political future. >> rose: jon meacham? >> i think he sounded like a grown up talking to people who should receive the message like grownups. we're going to argue about everything because we disagree about everything. everything he proposed, and i think this goes to the tea party world out there and the people who still don't think he was born in this country and the socialist charge and all that, if you go through the text, almost everything he proposed he pointed back to something inarguable in the american experience that was a precedent for what he wanted to do. we built the intercontinental -- transcontinental railway. we have speed limits. we have food we can eat. air we can breathe.
it was a reminder that what he was proposing is fully within the mainstream of american life and it makes it hard for the predicable food fight to start in the morning. they'll figure out a way to do it but i think it's hard. [laughter] >> oh, jon? >> i realize what a high in yef pulitzer prize winning historian we have. the food fight began before the first sentence. there wasn't a chance in the world that politicians were going to turn -- that wasn't the point. that wasn't what obama thought was going to happen. he was setting the predicate for the certain fights that are going to take place. that's why he succeeded so well. i think some republicans are going to have to reposition their arguments, their case a little bit better because he was so effective tonight. it's not going to change the fights. john john said earlier he --
john heilemann said he gave something on corporate taxes. no he didn't. he said for a lower corporate tax rate. he wants revenue neutral. that's the key sentence there. i don't think they made any progress on that tonight but he set the predicate in a very effective way for these fights. >> rose: kamala harris here is what my impression was, that he has been listening to the criticism wherever it is about the role of government, listening to the criticism of regulations. he has been listening to a whole range of them. he absorbed them and in a way of saying to people about health care. i hear what you are saying. if you have a better idea let's have a conversation. at every point of contention about his presidency he incorporated it into what he said and tried to build it in part to where he is going forward. do you agree? >> a degree but i see what he did was not only talk about
where he will take it to the next level but he did it as a student of history. he talked about innovation not as a new concept but in fact as a concept that very much was about everything the spirit behind the foundation of our country. as a californian, i can look to the university of california university system which over 50 years ago decided that we would dedicate an incredible amount of investment in those institutions around science and engineering. but no coincidence then in the backyard of that investment grew google and apple and the technology that has changed the world works. so i think that his speech was very much about a commitment to the principal pies of -- principles of who we are as a country based on our history and moving it forward, saying not only should we be committed to innovation because it's the right thing to do in terms of
progress but it will actually allow us to be more efficient as a country, a country facing great economic challenges and it will allow us to be competitive in a world market n. that way i i think he really did pull together a theme that is existent around a perspective on vision but also on what should be our practical and priorities to improve our standing in this world and be able to compete, as he said. because i think as much as anything the point that the president was making was that we have to win as an american family so that we can compete in the world market. and we have to come together around that concept and remember how we've done that in the past. it has been investment and innovation and investment in education. >> rose: are you surprised, gwen, that he didn't talk more about arizona and tucson? >> no, no because he was -- >> and violence.
>> he was never going to be give a speech that outpaced what he did in tucson. >> rose: he has done that? >> that speech was his own thing. you couldn't use the state of the union to do that. >> rose: he could have used it perhaps to talk about guns if he wanted to. >> i would have been shocked if the president walked into that. >> rose: it's politcally -- >> these speeches operate on two levels, one is the level of optimism and history. talking about the transcontinental railroad is not going to get infrastructure money passed money. that's what these speeches have to work on. i'm not sure state of the union speeches ever work at that level when people wake up tomorrow and vote for what you want. bill clinton told the story about the economy because he had an economy in better shape by the time he was telling the story effectively. ] has an economy which is
demonstrabley turning the corner he is reaching for that but there are two completely different levels on which the speeches have to operate, especially this one. i don't know if he was able to manage them both. >> rose: jon? >> it's an economic narrative and a strong economic narrative. the economy getting better makes it easier to discuss it but it also creates risks because it raises expectations, expectations among the population, on unemployment, expectations among the business community. we talked about some of the things the president has done recently to reach out to the business community. bill daley, the reform initiatives, the discussion of tax reform. it's going to raise expectations. if he is unable to deliver in those areas, then it will hurt him. it will hurt him politcally. it will hurt him with the
business community he is trying to woo and hurt him with his own base for having tried to do these things in the first place. i think it raises some risks. he also hasn't really done anything to change the perception other than the symbolic or the gestures. and i look at the regulatory reform issue in particular. his own eba has come back and said we're not going to change any regulations. his administration has said, of course, we're not doing anything substantive on the health care bill. we're not changing our initiatives on carbon regulations. that's going to hurt. it's going to hurt the very community and the segment of the population he was trying to address with the speech that focused so much on the economy tonight. >> maybe when he vetoed the first bill with earmarks we'll see the rubber hit the road. >> that will be an interesting moment. >> rose: did he lay out a way
where we can reduce unemployment down to below 8%? >> no. i don't think they have -- >> rose: isn't that how the election will be decided? >> that will be part of it but if you get something approaching 8% in the fall of 2012 that would be pretty about news for the white house. there are challenges for republicans here we have to focus on. they can win as long as the argument is over theoretically cutting spending. but pretty soon they have to start talking about programs. the n.i.h. budget is 40% of the budget. are they cutting funding for alzheimer's? pell grants are 56% of the education. are they cutting them back to $14 billion where they were in 2008? those are tough choices. i think the president made it harder for them to come back in a couple weeks or months, whenever it is, and talk about the specific cuts. i really do. >> rose: what has he gone
through john heilemann in terms of preparing for this and react together mid term elections and gearing up for the competition with republicans in the congress and also gearing up to run for reelection? what kind of transformation, what kind of -- you know what has -- how is he different? >> i think first of all, charlie, i think one of the questions that people had after the mid terms happened was whether the president could in fact or would be willing to engage in a significant midcourse correction. he is a guy who has traditionally resisted those calls. he has been the stay the course kind of guy. in the face of adversity he has often doubled down and it's paid off. people wondered if he would be table doll something like bill clinton did and the piece, you mentioned i wrote this week, was about the period of the last three months when the president along with pete rouse, his interim chief of staff, looked at what hadn't worked well in
the first two years in the white house. they came to three conclusions, one was that the president was insular and the who was too inbred. he was not hearing from people outside the administration, people in the business community or republicans, but he wasn't listening to the own cabinet. ep wasn't talking to people beyond a small group in the white house. it's a tendency for people in the building to get cacooned. he was at an extreme end the spectrum. he real realized it was a problem. bill daley is the big part of that. a second thing is they reflected on the notion that they had become too reactive and two tactical in the first two years. they were dealing with so many big things coming at them with you partly part of the style, a by-product of rahm emanuel's
style. he was very driven by winning the day, the week. that caused them to lose the long-term strategic focus that they feel like they need in order to be successful over the long-term. i think the the president is thinking along those lines going forward. the third thing is something we talked about tonight which is they felt like their message operation. that sounds too trivializing, but the president failed to communicate effectively with the country about some of the big things he had done and in the process last the country on stimulus, on health care. he had accomplished those things on a legislative level but not brought most of country along with him and he needed to not be out in front of cameras as much as he had been and needed to be more sparing with how much he put himself forward and use the bully pulpit better than he had in the last two years. those things have inl formed how he wants to good forward. >> you've seen your name on a ballot.
you know what it's like to run for public office. you have to win the center and the independence to win in american politics today. was this a speech designed to appeal to the center and to aspiel to -- to appeal to independents who may have shifted in the mid-term elections? >> it was clearly a message from a centrist perspective and position. you know, in california, i can tell you in my election which was not very long ago, we have found a shift -- >> rose: it was very close. >> yes, it was very close and every vote counts. [laughter] but we also found that the -- we're finding that the independent party is growing. those people who when they register to vote decline to state a party affiliation has grown over the years. i think that the message that the president and all of us who run for us then must sform a
message -- form is a message that is not ideology and what is a traditional issue for republicans and democrats. i think the president demonstrated in his speech that democrats have to own the issues about being more efficient as an economy. we have to be smarter with resources. he is prepared to have that conversation. i'm sure we'll find it was controversial with some democrats. he is claiming what he need to do around job growth and development in a way that is very much about a conversation that was traditional perhaps mostly given by republicans. but, again, i think that the economy that we have in this country and in california, i know that is something that has shown us we don't -- and cannot afford the luxury of these ideological conversations. we have to talk about practically what works. he said he's not going to cut
edition but -- education but we have to look at the system and coming up with the highest product we can when talking about education of children. when you stand in the living room as someone running for office, you find that most people do not identify themselves in connection with the issues as democrats or republicans, they identified themselves instead as parents, homeowners, people who have lost their jobs and people concerned about their future. you stand in those rooms talking to them as people who have had hospital visits and hospital stays, dealing with acute illness, they really want a practical solution to the problems they see that impact their quality of life. i think that we all as electives have to start speaking to them that way instead of dumbing down the conversation from the perspective of what a democrat or republican wants to hear as though that's the defining characteristic of americans.
>> rose: jon meacham? >> i think that's what -- with due respect for my friend al hunt, the gentleman from washington, i really do believe that he tonight at least to my ears for the first time, struck a convincing rhetorical pose in which he truly seemed to stand beyond a phrase he uses constantly the steal partisan argue. s of past. he looked at the center, tried to find things he can win. what is interesting for me, for all of us on the politics of this, is can he by seeming to be reasonable not unrealistic, can he make it harder for there just to be a complete pitchfork attack from the republicans given he has talked to the country in a pretty coherent way about things that seem pretty reasonable? >> i actually agree with jon meacham on that.
john heilemann's article was brilliant. >> rose: right. >> it really was. one of the things that struck me about it i reread bill clinton's 1995 state of the union address. at that stage he was on the defensive. the most adaptive brilliant politician most of us had ever known. he was on the defensive. today. barack -- today. barack obama it's amazing he adapted more so than clinton. i'm stunned at how quickly and how well they've done it. >> rose: a lot of people were saying this is a speech that could have been been given by a republican, the american concept you'llism for sure. >> they said of that bill clinton's speech, too. >> rose: maybe that's where we are. >> it wasn't just a centrist speech. a center right speech, could you arc, malpractice reform,
spending freeze, tax reform. these are ideas that will certainly appeal to many independents. >> rose: willing to change health care or willing to listen? >> willing to listen. i think the health care issue is a separate issue and frankly that's going to anger independents and conservatives because it was a little bit in your face. i'm going to listen but there's a lot of things i'm not going to change. maybe that would have been best left unsaid. but the point is it was in text a center/right speech. i think this reflects the reality of the election, the reyament of campaign. the one reason he may not be on the defensive he still has 5783 democrats in the -- 53 democrats in the senate. he knows it's unlikely that there's going to be much he is going to have to veto and be put on the defensive on.
it creates a different environment for him in a way that bill clinton didn't have. >> americans identify themselves as -- they don't identify them themselves as centrist left or center they identify themselves as themselves. he needs to appeal to the people who are independents who don't identify with a party. that if anything else when you think about the speech is what he was attempting to do and who he was attempting to speak to. our political editor said i really wish i was in wisconsin right now listening to a bunch of undecided voters listening to the speech. i thought i would like that, too because i don't trust myself to reach outside of the bubble of politics in the way we're used to looking at things in washington to know how it would have gone across to someone in washington who doesn't identify left or right or doesn't care about 90% of the issues but cares about 10% of them.
likes science fairs but didn't care about corporate tax cuts. >> rose: part of my question: what do you think would have resonated with them? >> the storytelling. when you talk about health care and you say i'm willing to fix what is broken but the guy up there in the balcony with the bald head going through chemo therapy needs his coverage. i think that's how you tell the story and tell people wham politics is and isn't. >> i think that's very true, the story storytelling, the empathy is always important left, right, center. in terms of substance, i think the thing the voters cared most about in november and that they are still focused on are the implications of the budget and the debt and deficit. i think paul ryan did a job of capturing the issue, drawing the
contrast. it was a little bit more partisan but the contrast needed to be drawn. he talked about the principles that underlay those objectives, the ideals of self reliance and personal responsibility and limited government and why that was of value. i think that's a very important issue especially to independents, the fiscal issues. they don't want to necessarily get too wrapped up in social issues but fiscal issues are important to the middle. that's where we'll start the debate in a couple of months. >> i think jobs and economic growth are far more important than the deficit for most americans right now. they are aeufrpbg anxious. i think paul ryan it would have been a great speech but it fell in the long line of dreary responses. >> i thought he was kind of effective. >> most of them have been so it's hardly a -- >> rose: i'm bringing new york in because? >> i thought he was effective because he was a new face, a new
face speaking reasonably so even if you disagreed with the substance of his words he didn't feel like a aei speech -- >> mark how did it play on the upper west side. >> you mock that before and there's two polls and both show overwhelmingly support, over 90% in the cbs poll supported the president's policies in the speech. maybe i wasn't totally deaf here. >> i was talking about congress man ryan. >> he is big on the upper west side in general. [laughter] >> rose: they will support all of his pending cuts, won't they? >> i was talking about the heart of the fight going forward. i think people care more about jobs. the democrats didn't lose in the mid terms because republicans came forward with great ideas about job creation. their mantra was deficit cutting. the trap the president laid tonight and giving him confidence and getting over the
frustration is he is putting the onus on republicans you say you can cut spending in a big way without cutting programs that people care about and without raising taxes. the longer you can go forward and keep the onus on republicans to come forward. it's great republicans have figured out a way to talk about the promise of spending cuts. if john sununu were there, he could write a budget he would believe in, he would be willing to face the consequences of, but there are few republicans in congress are whoa are willing to. paul ryan maybe the own just on him as chairman of budget committee. this is the goal for the next few months, make republicans put up or shut up on balancing the budget in the house. he is reach some benefits or political victory if he this can't do that or do it in a way that people in the middle protested. >> rose: with respect to his base, where are they tonight? as they listened to him move to
the center? >> on the upper west side. >> drinkly heavily. [laughter] >> they are fine. he is their warrior now going against john boehner and mitch mcconnell. his base problems for the next few months at least are gone. they now have someone they hate more than the president. >> that's because the aclu put out a press release bashing the president for making fun of tsa patdowns. just saying. [laughter] >> mark is right. if it was a republican president in the same situation there was nothing in the speech for his base. he's their warrior. this is the beginning of reelection cycle and it's the base thinking about the reelection cycle long before a lot of other voters in the country. >> the face of the white house. >> that's very, very true. they are going to stand by him. they are going to -- it's not
knuckle under but work hard to get him reelectricked. that's the most -- reelected. it's the most important priority regardless of what kind of policies he is pushing for in the next three or four months. >> charlie. >> rose: yes, john. >> let's always try to keep in mind the difference between the what the white house want -- what robert gibbs called the professional left and the actual base of obama voters. the professional left may not like this speech very much but he has never lost his base over the last two years of african-american voters, hispanic voter and self identified liberals across the country. they have backed him in extraordinarily high levels and for reasons mark said that's not going to change going forward. regardless of what was said by the -- with all due respect to the aclu and many passionate voices in the blogo sphere and
elsewhere, his voice was solid. it was solid in the debates on capitol hill and it will be solid for the next two years for the reasons mark said. >> i suspect that when the history of obama presidency is written, at least to my mind right now this, is the clearest moment, the clearest speech and the reaction to it so far that actually has brought into being some of his post partisan talk. there's a different kind of partisanship but it's very hard to see kind of a traditional left/right fight here unfolding with any kind of intellectual integrity given the policies positions he laid out. >> >> rose: i wonder why the focus on enter (sureship and the appreciation of that was there and he talked about it before or something he has come to appreciate and incorporate
because he had a place to marry it with the need to focus on jobs. >> it's something he has began to build on. he used to quote stephen chu, the energy secretary, when he talks about the sputnik moment. he linked it to innovation, foreign policy, trade and put them under one umbrella. the one thing jon meacham said about there couldn't be any intellectual integrity in a left/right fight, i disagree. republicans believe they have an intellect argument to make against spending, against big government. >> rose: i think it's big government -- you can answer this. >> i think you are exactly right. >> because it's left and right doesn't mean it's intellectually fraught -- i mean lacking. >> it's very hard to make that argument given the history of the last ten years and how republicans have spent. it just doesn't hold up. the republicans have been
complicity in the deficits. we had an republican administration that got us into it in an extraordinary way. it's not a matter of intellectual coherence for us to say we're suddenly great spending cutters. it's just not. >> a couple of points here. first question is there sthr an intellectual arguement to be made for about limited government, being careful about the level of intrusion and spending. the answer to that is yes. that is one way in which paul ryan succeeded. he made that argument today. >> rose: how would this president different from the points that paul ryan made about government? >> well, if you -- >> >> rose: he seemed to be trying to define himself as -- >> i don't think you could describe the health care bill as a mod of self-restraint and limited government. that is exhibit a. the stimulus package $850
billion included in that stimulus package a great deal of spending in the areas the president talked about tonight. renewable energy, infrastructure, not just $8 billion or $10 billion as he talked about tonight but $20, $ 40 billion. >> rose: the president in the stimulus bill as designing this president and -- defining this president and how he defined himself tonight seem to be two different things. >> i think john heilemann said earlier he had a narrative which he lacked in the stimulus -- he seemed to be transational then. >> rose: -- transactional. i think he did better tonight. john, i would say paul ryan didn't specify a single spending cut. it's easy to say we're for limit ed government. wait until he starts cutting
n.i.h. research and pell grants. that would be gutsy. we'll see what the reaction is. >> two points here: first, i reiterate what paul did is he made the intellectual argument on behalf of limited government and government restraint and cutting spending. he made an economic argument on the behalf. you are correct, you have to deliver. paul is the chairman of budget committee. he is without question not someone who might be but someone who is bold enough, courageous enough. >> rose: the president has encommented him on that. >> i have a great deal of confidence that he will. it will be a tough template and a lot of people that don't agree with the provisions in there. i think he will do it and be successful. >> rose: kamala harris as i mention for the third time, for someone who has been out asking people to vote for you, does the role of government a big issue for people? >> well, for some perhaps in this conversation we would opine
that it's a big issue for people in terms of whether government should have a role or not. for most people standing in the living rooms what they want to know is that the way they interact with government is that it's most efficient. most people want to know that we, who are leaders in government have figured out how to have an educational system that actually educates our children so that they can be quawl tied -- qualified and be employed and live in a home which will not be stolen because of mortgage fraud. most people want to believe that government will protect them from fraud and abuse but support their need to have ad-- affordable health coverage. i think most people want to have government figure out a way to help them navigate the insurance
industry in a way that they can, you know live their lives with dignity, approach their senior years with dignity and be able to afford to maintain their health. so in that way, i think most people think about the role of the government as being something that should support them but should not intrude upon their lives in a way that will force them to make choices in their independent analysis would not otherwise choose to make. but we can also divide that between what they want in terms of role of government in terms of services and then a conversation we can have around what we say government should do in terms of social issues. >> rose: can you make -- this is for halperin and john heilemann, can you make an argument that says between what this president might have learned in the act of governing and where it was placed in this
speech? is there some connection there between his experience of being president, the difference in governing and running for office, the poetry of politics and the prose of governing as mario cuomo said, from what he said tonight? >> it's the losing control of house which allowed him to decouple himself from nancy pelosi and realize that he could no longer continue to govern in a partisan crisis mode, which did he dur the first two years. there's an accidental conflewence he had to make the changes because he no longer has the parry in control of the house but the crisis are over. yes there's a crisis in unemployment but the necessity to pass big legislation i don't think the democrats would be inclined to do that any any case. he had to decouple from nancy
pelosi and he spent a couple months figuring out now that i'm decoupled what options does that give me? as i said at the beginning he has only returned to the person he was before he has not invented a new persona. >> partly by necessarily and the partly by choice, the president in the first two years came across, and he is aware of this, came across looking like the chief negotiator or a prime ministerial figure, a leader of party in the legislative wars. he looked like he was off in the weeds for a lot of the first two years. the lame duck session, the tucson speech and this speech all have in common are a self-conscious attempt to be presidential. it seems like the simplest thing in the world to say but for him being presidential is being apart from and being above the narrow concerns of both parties
and especially the extremes of both parts parties. i think he has realized how important that is to him as barack obama, to why he got elected, to what he wanted to try to accomplish as president and to how he is going to be able to do that and sell that to the american people. >> well, i agree and i think he has done it well, charlie but this is historically cyclical. pat moynihan said a president has 20 months to get things done and governs for the next six years short of a crisis. that was ronald reagan. it was totally predicable that he had to shift the way he has. the only surprising thing is he has done it as well as he has done so far. >> rose: let me give you the last word. >> it depends when you think
investment is spending or spending is investment. that's what it comes down to. he's trying to define it his way. he gets the podium tonight. >> rose: i was struck by so many things including the fact that he talked about america as an exceptional country and at the same time he got criticism from the right at one time because in answer to that he said i think all countries think they are exceptional. he came close to defining why this country was unique and exceptional. he spoke about the concern about education and how central it is to the american experience and the feeling that perhaps in some way we have lost our way in that i thank you very much for joining us. jon meacham, john heilemann, john sununu, gwen ifill and kamala harris, and my partner al