tv PBS News Hour PBS June 24, 2011 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: the house of representatives rejected authorizing u.s. military involvement in libya, but also voted down an attempt to cut off money for the operation. good evening. i'm jim lehrer. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, one vote was a victory for republicans, the other for the obama administration. we get perspective from two veteran congress watchers. >> lehrer: then, margaret warner gets an update on the north dakota floods as the record water levels keep rising. >> brown: judy woodruff examines cracks in the republican party's longtime opposition to raising taxes to curb the budget deficit.
>> we disagree with senator coburn's stated policy of raising taxes and spending it. >> if we don't, guess what's going to happen? we're going to be treated just like greece. greece is gonna-- greece is gonna be our model. >> lehrer: mark shields and david brooks provide their weekly analysis. >> brown: and ray suarez has a book conversation with pulitzer prize winning author oscar hijuelos about his new memoir, and how early success changed his life. >> sort of almost becoming a carnival act. you know, i sometimes felt like a freak. >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> well, the best companies are driven by new ideas. >> our future depends on new ideas. we spend billions on advanced technologies. >> it's all about investing in the future. >> we can find new energy-- more
cleaner, safer and smarter. >> collaborating with the best in the field. >> chevron works with the smartest people at leading universities and tech companies. >> and yet, it's really basic. >> it's paying off every day. and the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brown: the u.s. house rendered a split decision today on the military operation in libya. lawmakers refused to endorse the u.s. role, but they likewise refused to stop footing the bill.
>> it is congress whose responsibility to defund any further action in libya and that's what we should do. >> we must support our allies who are carrying out combat operations. >> brown: debate was joined in the house today, 97 days after u.s. forces launched the air campaign in libya. nato allies are now in the lead, with the u.s. in a supporting role. for that reason-- and with no american troops on the ground-- president obama has argued the u.s. is not engaged in "hostilities" as defined under the war powers resolution. but congress has increasingly complained that the president overstepped his authority and should have sought its approval under the resolution. today, the house overwhelmingly refused to give it, 295 to 123. most republicans, and 70
democrats, said they had not been properly consulted. >> the fact is there was no imminent threat to the united states, plenty of time to negotiate with arab league. there should have been time to get consultations with congress, authorizations from congress. we have to put our foot down now and say no. >> we cannot spend precious taxpayer funds to support this military action while the president flouts the law and constitution. >> brown: but then, in a separate measure, republican leaders then pushed to block funding for air raids by u.s. planes and pay only for aircraft refueling, intelligence gathering, and reconnaissance. the president's supporters decried the move, and many republicans joined in as well. >> we talk about allowing europe to take the lead, nato to take the lead, and they've done that.
now, today, we'll pull the rug out from under them simply because we have a dispute between legislative and executive branch? i think the president should have come to this chamber, but the wrong thing to do is pull funding. >> the message will go to all the world, will go to moammar qaddafi, the message will go to our nato allies, will go to every nation of the world-- that america does not keep faith with its allies. >> brown: ultimately, the effort to cut off funding for the libyan mission also failed, as more than 80 republicans voted against their leadership. secretary of state hillary clinton had urged lawmakers thursday not to cut off funds for the libya mission. she had this to say today, after meeting with the south korean foreign minister. >> i am pleased that a very important statement was made
today by the house on a bipartisan basis that recognizes the need for us to continue this important mission. >> brown: in the meantime, over in the senate, republican john mccain and democrat john kerry have offered their own resolution to authorize operations in libya for up to a year. for more on today's vote, we turn to congress-watcher norman ornstein, resident scholar at the american enterprise institute; and todd zwillich, washington correspondent for "the takeaway" radio program from public radio international and wnyc. welcome. >> thank you. >> todd, the first vote, not giving approval to the libya operation, was expected, i think right. >> it was. it can't be seen as anything but a rebuke to the white house but not unexpected. members of congress have been carping for weeks. i think your report said 97 days in, and members have been carping the entire time that
they weren't consulted. >> carping over that. >> carping over that. there are a lot of members with a lot of different kbripz with this operation, that first and foremost it's a separation of powers issue. you never consulted authorization interest congress. we have the war powers act-- he can launch operations. he has to come back within 60 days. you didn't even do that and this white house definition of it not being hostilities to many members of congress seems tortured and downright off base ask a lot casted their vote on that basis. >> brown: the second vote, at least going in, seemed less certain how it was going to turn out. >> indeed, and secretary of state hillary clinton was on capitol hill testifying on a routine hearing and made time to meet with democrats-- interestingly not with republicans-- and met with democrats asking them not to summit the defund efforts. she probably did get a rebuke on the first vote. it is a confusing picture for the white house to spin it as they want and opponents of the
war spin it as they want. that's what's happening now. clearly, the white house dodged a bullet by not having the war at least partially defunded. >> brown: norm, tell us about the strange bedfellows, people moving across the aisle on both votes. >> it created of course an enormous muddle, not just in the two results, but if you try to interpret things. we had a lot of strongly anti-war democrats led bee dennis kucinich is going to bring home a resolution to cut off all funding. this is a partial cutoff that was voted down, voting with should isolationist,-oriented libertarian republicans like ron paul, but with a lot of others who just don't like president obama, and others yet who view this in fiscal terms. so it was an odd coalition. the second vote was an even odder coalition because you had a number of those anti-war democrats who voted against the resolution that would cut off partial funding out of a fear
that if there were any funding that they voted for twould provide an implicit legitimacy for what they view as an illegitimate action by the president because he didn't consult with congress under the war powers act. >> brown: they want to go even further. >> they want to go even further but the net result is-- something we saw three weeks ago congress had two votes in which they rebuked the president for not coming to congress but then said we're going to let him go ahead-- congress doesn't know how to handle these kinds of issues at all. they have a war powers act. once you get americans involved in hostility,they are very reluctant to take a step that might undercut them and you have so many different viewpoints. >> brown: expand a little bit more on the motivations that you have both raised here that leads to these interesting coalitions. the ones i just heard-- dislike for the actual mission. the frustration, the battle over legislative versus executive powers, and of course the politics, the "stick it to the
president," and the money. >> one one of the things to consider on the republican side here-- and there's a raging debate going among conservatives about whether there is a new isolationist strain in the republican party. john mccain, who is critical of the president for not coming to congress for approval but a strong supporter of our actions in lip libya, has wondered whether the republican presidential candidates might move off in that direction. libertarians like ron paul in the house and his son rand paul in the senate taking a position that we haven't be-- america shouldn't be involved abroad unless we're under direct threat. so you've got that. on the democratic side there's a long-standing strain of anti-war sentiment that is tempered, of course, because it is a democratic president but not tempered all that much and democrats in congress have grown increasingly unhappy because guantanamo is still open. the president has adopted some of the techniques that president bush used to deal with terrorist threats. there's afghanistan and iraq. and now libya. and we saw that reflected a
little bit, along with the strong congressional prerogative >> brown: todd you mentioned hillary clinton trying to sway some votes. were there others? was there a big effort by white house to try to get people on their side? >> there was an overt effort, which was the secretary of state. there was a more occult effort this morning, the national security advisor, tom donnelly, inviting a couple of democrats, some of them anti-war democrats, directly down to the situation room to try to convince them, ostensibly on a classified basis what's really going on in libya ask why the president needs their votes. i was not in the room. none of us was. but that seemed to be-- that seemed to be the point there. so a very public move by secretary, working on members on a more individualized basis has a lot of clout when you're invited into the situation room. the white house did not want to lose either of these votes. they certainly didn't want to lose the second one, and i will say, you mentioned dennis kucinich and his effort coming up after july 4.
he should have an amendment on a defense spending bill that will completely cut off spending. >> brown: that's still to come. >> still to come. 144 republicans votedly for the defund, this partial defund, many of them not because-- many of them, you know, didn't vote for it because it wasn't strong enough. when a full defund come,how many member will vote for something that's as strong as it conclude, choking off funding. where will the chips fall on that. >> brown: let me ask you about the republicans. yesterday john boehner made a statement to sort of reassure, i guess, nato allies that it was a symbolic gesture, that the u.s. forces will still be there. so they were playing an interesting game in all this as well, right sqloo domestic politics clashes with foreign policy, leaders have to do this. the speaker knows that even if a defund had passed the house tcouldn't pass the senate skrks even if it pass the the senate, this is a bill. the president would have to sign that. and why would he? so reassuring the allies that, no, the money will not be cut off, even if we're having our domestic squabbles. europe, don't worry too much about it. the leaders have everything
under control even though there's a lot of yelling going on in the house. >> brown: so how unusual is something like this to have votes like this in the midst of military operations? >> you get the votes, but generally speaking, congress carps and then they vote to authorize. the last time we had something happen like this was in 1999 when congress refused to allow president clinton the authority to have ground forces in kosovo. but of course the bombing operations continued. generally speaking, the war powers act is not a very effective mechanism, even when it's applied, because once you have american forces in action, congress tries to have it every which way. in this case i should note, speaker boehner thought he had a very calibrated respond-- you know, rebuke the president by denying him the authority under the war powers act but leave him a little running room on the funding. it didn't work in votes the way he wanted and it shows leaders can't quite get the votes guaranteed on issues like this
where you have all of these cross-cutting ideas. >> brown: but you're a longtime observer of this. they go in saying it's a symbolic vote but symbolism sometimes sends loud messages. >> one of the more interesting comments i thought after these votes came from one of the leaders of the libyan opposition saying how can you do something like this? so speaker boehner knows that you're playing with live grenades here this a way with a little bit of fire, and that's why i think that todd is right. the vote that kucinich is going to bring up, even though it's symbolic, the senate is not going to cut off fund asking they're not going to cut off the funds, is something that has the leader,i suspect, including speaker boehner very nervous because that signal the reach mow, and that's not something that congress really wants to do. they want to make their point but they don't want to have it blow up in their faces. >> brown: briefly, todd, when are you expecting that? that's after july 4? >> that's the defense spending bill which should come up after
the july 4 break in a couple of weeks. >> i should say expect we're going to see an intensified effort to try to get qaddafi move out of here-- >> before we have that problem. >> next week should be interesting in libya. >> brown: all right, thanks very much. >> thank you. >> lehrer: still to come on the newshour: flooding in north dakota; to raise or not to raise taxes? shields and brooks; and "thoughts without cigarettes," a memoir. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: this was another bloody friday in syria. government troops opened fire on thousands of protesters. activists reported at least 15 were killed. the shooting took place as crowds gathered after friday prayers near damascus and in several other cities, defying the ongoing crackdown. the uprising against president bashar al-assad is now three months old. the opposition estimates his forces have killed nearly 1,400 people. greece has moved a step closer to another financial bailout. in brussels today, greek prime minister george papandreou announced a new agreement with
the european union and the international monetary fund. it calls for the greek parliament to enact $40 billion in new austerity measures. >> what we're doing is changing greece. we're not asking for money to remain the same. we're not asking for money to be thrown into a black hole. we're saying let's have a program, and this is the program we decide on, where we can continue to mack major changes. >> sreenivasan: the parliament has to approve the new spending cuts and tax increase next week for the bailout funds to be released. public employees in new jersey will have to cough up sharply higher contributions to their pension and health care plans. the state assembly gave final approval to the new requirements last night, affecting half a million teachers, police and others. public-sector unions staunchly opposed the bill. republican governor chris christie said the changes will save new jersey up to $132 billion over the next 30 years. wall street ended the week on a
slide. stocks fell amid poor earnings from technology companies and ongoing concerns about debt troubles in europe. the dow jones industrial average lost 115 points to close at 11,934. the nasdaq shed more than 33 points to close above 2,652. for the week, the dow lost just over half a percent; the nasdaq rose more than 1%. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jim. >> lehrer: now, the latest on the flooding overwhelming cities in north dakota, including minot. margaret warner has our update. >> warner: the water is gurgling in some places and rushing in others, and all the residents of minot can do is wait and watch. today, the souris river hit an all-time high-- breaking a record set in 1881-- and kept rising. >> we can't do anything about it, but accept it, you know. just, pray, pray, pray, you know? >> warner: the source of the misery lies in saskatchewan, canada, where heavy snow melt
filled reservoirs and sent a surge down the souris, into north dakota. recent rain added to the flood, forcing lake darling to release water just 30 miles north of minot. more than 10,000 people, roughly a quarter of the city's population, have been forced to evacuate so far this week, and more may follow. >> really scary because you don't know what's going to happen. and i feel bad for everyone who is in the evacuation zones, because we've got family that's living with us right now that's in the evacuation zones, and it's just a really hard thing to go through. >> warner: shelter space is at a premium because housing in minot was already in short supply, with an expanding air force base nearby and a boom in oil development in western north dakota. >> everybody was booked up at the hotels and motels already, so this was the perfect place to come back to. >> warner: for now, police in
minot have cordoned off parts of the downtown to help bulldozers get around, as they labor to build up earthen levees. other roads are cut off by the water, and some people have taken to getting around in airboats. but the worst is yet to come. the river is expected to rise another six or seven feet before it crests, possibly by sunday, and slowly begins to recede. for more now on the latest on the ground from minot, we're joined by city council president dean frantzsvog, and council president frantzsvog, thank you for joining us. you were up in a helicopter today flying over the city. give us a sense of qhat scope of the flooding looked like as you looked down on your city. >> it's devastating. we've got close to-- between a third and a fourth of our people evacuated from their homes, and if you go up there and see you see many homes already underwater. some homes have r beginning to
go underwater ask homes not underwater at this point will be underwater soon. it's devastation for our community. >> warner: what is the noise i'm hearing behind you? >> right behind me there's a frontend loader and another piece of equipment working on dikes to try to save a building right here. i'm right across from city hall, and they're working to try to save that building before the water rises any higher. we expect the water to rise several more feet, probably seven feet more than it is right now, and our city is flooded now. but we expect the water to go up several more feet. people are working at a feverish pitch to do whatever they can, right up to the water forces them out you'll see people working. >> warner: so do you anticipate that you might have to evacuate even more than the 10,000 who have already had to leave their homes? >> we don't anticipate it, but we know that that's a distinct possibility. what we have in our city is two hills and a valley in between. and the valley is evacuated, and
if the water got any higher, we would-- would havsome issues with more evacuations that are-- but right now we don't see that happening. we also wander the people on the outskirts of the evacuation zone that they should be prepared to evacuate. even if you're not under a mandatory evacuation at this point, be prepared. collect your belongings where are people going. >> that's the great thing about our community. you see 11,000 people be displaced and out of their homes, and right now we've set up temperature shelters in minot. the red cross has set up temporary shelters at our university and minot city auditorium. last night, we only had less than 250 people stay at those
shelters which i think is a testament to the type of people we have here in minot and in north dakota. people are staying with friends, relatives, loved ones, and in many instances, it's people that they don't even know that have just opened their homes to anyone who has been displaced by the floods. it's a real-- like i said, it's a real testament to the type of people that we have here in north dakota and especially minot. >> warner: this is, as i understand, the second time since memorial day that many residents have had to flee the water. how are people coping psychologically with that? >> it's a psychological rocket, to be honest. we had to-- we had to evacuate. we let people back in. fortunately, with no flooding, we were able to keep the river in the banks. so that was aed any thing. and the spirits were high, and we really did think that the flood was behind us. we thought we were over that hill. and, unfortunately, due to huge massive rain events in the last week, we realized that we were in for just an enormous-- something we could never prepare for, the water coming our way.
>> warner: it has been reported that only one-tenth, i think of the people who lived in the valley, as described it, had federal flood insurance. why is that? >> fema in 2001 or 2000 i don't remember the exact year-- changed the flood plain here in minot so flood insurance was not required after that flood plain was changed. at that point, people probably felt secure that flooding wasn't a real possibility and it's been such a long time, and we've done-- we've had flood protections put in place since our last major flood so there was that security people were feeling, and like you said, probably less than 10% of the people have flood insurance here. >> warner: finally what, kind of help are you getting for either the federal government and also from surrounding communities in north dakota? >> i'll tell you what, it's been amazing. not only the surrounding communities. we've-ed phone calls and offers of support from municipalities, city,small and large alike, all over the state. on the statewide level, our
governor and our national guard has been outstanding. right now we have 750 national guardsmen here in minot, on the ground, doing work, whether it's building dike,securing our areas-- you name it. if there's a question, they'll fulfill it. it's amazing. we're just so appreciative of that. on the federal side we've got both of our senators and our congressman here in town today. they're working on the fema side of things, making sure that we're jumping through all the hoops that we need to jump through and crossing all of our ts and dotting the eyes, that when and if the fema assistance is need-- and it will be-- that we're ready for this. >> warner: thank you so much and good luck. >> thank you, we need it. >> brown: now, grappling with the nation's deficit and debt. the talks led by vice president
biden reached an impasse yesterday over republican objections to raising taxes. g.o.p. leaders have put forward a united front in opposing tax hikes as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling. but there are some in the party willing to consider revenue increases. judy woodruff reports on the debate within the republican party. >> woodruff: it's fair to say, in the republican party, poison ivy is more popular than taxes. >> we've got to bring that tax rate down substantially. >> we didn't raise taxes in massachusetts. >> lower taxes! >> the taxes are too high. >> woodruff: but after years of support for an almost sacred pledge not to raise taxes, lately, there appear to be cracks in the g.o.p.'s solid wall of opposition. just last week, 33 senate republicans joined in what many observers saw as a symbolic vote in favor of ending $6 billion a year in controversial tax credits for the u.s. ethanol industry, meaning its taxes would go up. >> look, this isn't the good old days in america. we're at risk.
>> woodruff: oklahoma republican tom coburn, one of the sponsors of the ethanol amendment, sees that vote as evidence many in his party are shifting their thinking, something he believes both parties must do in order to reverse the dire fiscal course the country is on. >> you think we can actually solve this problem without compromising on some of the things that are important? and that doesn't mean you compromise your principles. it means how do we fix a very real problem that is ultimately going to change everybody's outcome for the future in this country if we fail to do it? it's a big challenge, and it's much bigger than most people know, and it's much more dangerous than most people know. >> woodruff: die-hard g.o.p. anti-taxers insist there is no shift, and charge coburn overstates the meaning of the ethanol vote. >> no republican voted for a tax increase and coburn's effort failed. >> woodruff: americans for tax
reform's grover norquist, who has led the crusade to get republicans to sign a no-tax pledge, says cutting spending is the only solution to the deficit. >> there is no interest, apart from coburn, in voting for tax increases. that's what the democrats want to do. that's not what the republicans want to do, and its certainly not what anyone who has taken a pledge to their voters should be doing. >> woodruff: but long-time republican insider vin weber, a former minnesota congressman, says the ethanol vote sent an important signal. >> i think it does represent a sea change, and if they're allowed to define, on their own terms, what constitutes a tax increase, that opens the door to a broad tax reform that might broaden the base by closing loopholes and eliminating deductions and credits and exemptions, probably coupled with a reduction in top rates, to spur economic growth, but resulting in a net tax increase. >> woodruff: hardly anyone believes such an overhaul of the
tax code will be part of any deal to emerge from current talks between the white house and congressional leaders, to win votes for a hike in the debt ceiling. but if they do produce an agreement in the near term, with savings in the range of several trillion dollars, weber and others believe another bipartisan senate group could pick up the ball. the so-called "gang of six"-- which coburn recently left but says he still may rejoin-- could provide the basis for a larger package to address the looming debt catastrophe. that group's co-founder, georgia republican senator saxby chambliss, reiterated at a recent forum that, for them, everything is on the table, both spending cuts and taxes. >> and while we're reducing tax rates, a la ronald reagan, we're going to increase revenues, a la ronald reagan. it's exactly the same sort of approach that was taken back then. we know it worked then, and we
know it can work again without raising tax rates. >> woodruff: under president reagan, along with spending cuts, a number of tax breaks were reduced and loopholes were eliminated. more people and more companies saw their taxes go up. but norquist says history has shown that was the wrong approach. >> we know that, "let's cut a deal, cut spending, maybe raise taxes" really never works. doesn't work. bad idea. >> woodruff: coburn insists his tax efforts do not deviate from the core values of the republican party, as norquist charges. >> and his theory is to get that compromise, we might abandon what he sees is the ultimate principle of the republican party. the ultimate principle of the republican party should be, do what is in the best interest of the country and the free enterprise system in this country. that ought to be the number one principle. and will there sometime be that we have to raise rates if we can't get out? if we don't, guess what's going
to happen? we're going to be treated just like greece. greece is going to be our model, if we don't control our own destiny. >> woodruff: the greek government is working feverishly now to avoid default on its debt. even with increasing fears about the debt crisis here at home, norquist beats the no-tax drum and has a warning for any republicans thinking of straying. >> they get elected promising not to raise taxes, promising... committing to their voters in their states that they won't raise taxes. if they want to go back to their state and say, "you know what? obama spent so much money, i want to take more of your money and give it to obama," they're free to do so. i tend to think it would be difficult to get reelected. >> woodruff: but vin weber, who remains close to many in the g.o.p., says if both parties give in on some of their core beliefs, a solution involving taxes is possible, even as an election year draws close. >> this is difficult. i'm not suggesting any of this is going to be easy.
just as it's not going to be easy for democrats to vote for reforms in medicare and social security, which they consider the "crown jewels" in their social compact. but if one side starts to give in on one thing that is critically important to them, it makes it a little easier for at least a prospect of the other side to give, and that's what we're talking about here. >> woodruff: which creates the image of two enemies, holding hands and jumping off a cliff at the same time. >> brown: president obama is stepping into the stalled debt talks. he's invited senate majority leader harry reid and republican leader mitch mcconnell to separate meetings at the white house on monday. >> lehrer: and to the analysis of shields and brooks-- syndicated columnist mark shields, "new york times" columnist david brooks. david, how do you see the republican divide on taxes? >> tom coburn is completely right and grover norquist is completely wrong. if you're going to have a deal,
there's going to have to be revenue as part of it. it doesn't mean you have to raise rates but it does mean you have to raise revenues by closing loopholes and the loopholes they're talking about is closing loopholes on corporate taxes for a plane and things like that. they're not raising rates, anything that's going to hurt growth. if you're going to do a deal, if you're going to cut the size of government-- which will be part of the deal-- you have to raise revenue. and grover is wrong on the economics. he's wrong factually. he said that only coburn reallyments to raise revenues. i've had several republican senators say to me, hey, i signed grover's pledge. but as part of this deal i know we need to raise rates and i'm going to go back on it. and it would be good for the country. it would be bad for grover's interest group, but it's absolutely-- coburn is absolutely right. >> what about the republican party? would it be bad for the republican party? >> i was thinking as we watched that piece with judy, vin webber represents the district, was reasonable and thoughtful it struck me, and reflective, and very problem solving.
that district is now represented by michele bachmann so--. >> lehrer: in minnesota. >> it tells you how minnesota republicans may have changed in that time. no, i think, jim, what we see here is that over the last 60 years, 60 years, really, since the truman administration, the highest percentage of gross domestic product that the government has spent is today, all right. the highest percentage, 26.6% of the gross domestic product, which is higher than it is historically and naturally. and the lowest percentage of gross domestic product we've ever collected in taxes is this year. to sit here and say that we're going to resolve it by just cutting spending, which has to be cut, no question about it. but without cutting-- without increasing taxes, increasing revenues-- because we don't want to say taxes-- i just think it's sheer folly. you're living in never-never land. >> lehrer: but that's not only
grover norquist, david, mark. there's also the republican leader of the united states senate. there's john boehner, the house speaker. they've all said no deal on this debt ceiling deal if there is revenue enhancement or increased revenue. >> right, and so the ultimate question here is who is playing games? grover believes what he believes. he's completely sincere. when mcconnell and cantor and those guys and boehner are talking, that's part of the show. we're in the middle of show season. and the cantor walked out of this commission. that was part of the show. it was part of the show tow get to get obama to come forward with a plan and have some meetings, which he's doing. it was part of the show to tell people in the republican party, we're really fighting for you. we're really fighting for you. it was part of the democratic show so they could say this is really blowing up and we're fighting for puupon this is the crucial question-- when they say no revenue, are they saying that now and at the last moment
august 2 whenever it is going to be, we held tough and really got a great deal but--. >> lehrer: but they have toot the revenue stuff. >> as part of that. the question is how much of that was 100% conviction ask how much of it is part of the show? i confess i don't know the answer. >> lehrer: do you know the answer, mark? >> i do, jim, but i can't tell you right now. >> lehrer: just tell me and me. we won't tell anybody. >> david is right in that i think where he may be a little bit optimistic is republicans in the house. i think there are probably 60% of the republicans in the house who will not vote for any revenue increase. and this drives john boehner to the reality that if he's going to pass anything out of the house on the debt limit, he needs democratic votes. and so this forces it. i thought that-- i thought that cantor, eric cantor, looked a little small walking out of that meeting. i mean, american voters, particularly independents, want people working together. and there was a certain air of pettulence. i know he's trying to kick it
upstairs to boehner, the speaker. he also kicks it upstairs to the president and brings the president in. and this is-- this has got skittishness on the part of the democrats. they think the president was more than accommodating last december when this came to the extension of the bush tax cuts to agree on the budget that got us through the first four months of this past year. >> lehrer: what do you see, the effective that. is this-- are we getting close to an end here? do you think a deal can now be made? >> i think the end will come at the end. i think--. >> lehrer: midnight august-- >> well, maybe beyond--. >> lehrer: might do a temporary thing. >> right now we have an american believe that doesn't believe the debt ceiling, two to one, that it ought not to be raised. democrats, republicans, and independents, and you have to convince people of the consequences if it isn't raised. and that means the fighting
people, bob gates discuss in the interview last night, talking all the stress and sacrifice, they won't be paid. their families won't be paid. social security won't be paid. and they have to drive that home. this is going to force the president to do something which the president is reluctant to do ask that's lay out another bright line what he's for. he likes to be the ultimate concilarty, bringing people together. it's a natural role for him, and one he does quite well. but this i think forces him out. >> yeah, i think this is going to-- one of the core weaknesses of his presidency that he has not gotten out on front of the issue. you look at the way chris christie governed new jersey. you might not like the bill he passed into law but he was out there with 30 town hall meetings with charts, explaining, "here's our situation, and here's my plan." i think that's the way you lead. i don't understand the passivity except it's become part of a pattern for the administration but at some point he has to get out and explain, a., here's our debt situation.
b., here's the seriousness if we default. and no one else can do that. and hopefully he'll start to do it but he really hasn't and he hasn't taken any risks and until he takes a risk the republicans are really hesitant to take any risks. so finally, i'm not too worried about what's happening this week the walkouts. that's part of the script. but i am very pessimistico moderately pessimistic about the next couple of months. i really think they're much father away than we all assume. if you talk conventional wizz comhere, conventional wisdom on wall street, they say the effects are so catastrophic, they will never not do a deal. i think it's possible. >> lehrer: you think it's possible? >> i think in the final analysis we may-- we may go a week or two weeks or even, you know have to see some of the dire consequences. i just remind people in the past 20 years, there's little short fellow with the buzz hair cut interest texas who walked out
with charts, ross perot and put it on the national agenda ask forced both parties to address it and led in the polls. it can be done. that was at a time when the consequences were far less severe than they are now. >> lehrer: the libya votes today. what do you make of that? >> i think the votes are institutional, constitutional, political and personal. institutional in the sense the shous upset it hasn't been consulted by the white house. >> lehrer: we talked about that last week and the two of you kind of agreed with that. >> and constitutional because--. >> lehrer: kind of agreed. >> kind of greed i like that. that glossed it over. part of it is personal. they feel that the white house has dised them and been indifferent to them on both sides of the aisle. and part of it is political. it's a chance to establish some daylight, put the other side, the democratic president in an awkward role. it's not going to become law. >> lehrer: i know, as jeff said in his discussion-- >> that's right. and todd and norman did, in
their segment. but it's not-- it's not inconsequential. >> lehrer: symbols do matter. >> symbols do matter. it reflects public opinion. public opinion on libya has switched 20 points from march to today. >> lehrer: that's a remarkable change. >> i kind of agree with mark. >> lehrer: kind of agree with mark? >> he's kind of right. first of all, i completely understand where that-- congress is coming from. in the first place they were not consulted. the second place, obama-- and this should be more canneddulous than it is-- sort of overruled some of the lawyers in his own administration, came up with this cock mamie idea that these are not hostilities. on the other hand, the idea sending a signal to qaddafi that we're divided at this moment to me that's-- that hurts our effort. and the idea that the congress can run a war like this, that also, i think, is unwise. and so i understand why they're coming from. nonetheless, i do think the signals they're sending can only
reasure the people who are potentially defecting from qaddafi's government that, maybe those guys aren't as serious. >> lehrer: speak of wars, how does the president's decision on afghan troop withdrawal, look to you now, a few days later? >> i don't think it achieved the clarity of purpose or mission that was needed. i don't think he energized his own supporters. and i-- i think--. >> lehrer: his own supporters--. >> his own supporters who are dubious--. >> lehrer: they want the war over. >> the base of his party as he's going into an lxz. i mean, i just-- i didn't think-- there was nobody who said let us march behind this leader after that speech or now i understand. what we're about. our objectives in afghanistan have gotten progressively smaller. no longer a functioning democracy is mentioned. if they can put the taliban on
the defensive before we get to negotiating table and get a big enough police force. that really seems to be the objective. >> lehrer: it was labeled a compromise between those who wanted a-- the democrat-- the democrats who wanted a quicker and bigger withdrawal, and then those who wanted no-- little or no withdrawal, which is-- >> sometimes compromises are coherent and sometimes they're incoherent. and i think this is on the incoherent side. if you really want to do with the drone, what biden want,them you shrink down a pretty small force and sunday out a lot drones. if you want to go with what petraeus wants, a counter insurgents, you go with the surge. i'm not sure what it's about. are we trying to just create what they call fortress kabul or just protect kabul over the long term and the rest of the country does what it can or are we trying to protect the whole country?
i'm not quite sure what the answer is. i think the best reading is when mullen said the risks are higher that we surrender the areas outside of kabul, the kandahars and those areas, and that the taliban does verily retake those areas. it's not certain it's going to happen but the risks are higher. i think that's a warning that raising those risks and letting the taliban take over those areas would be a humiliation ask a moral problem. >> lehrer: what do you think about what gates said last night on the program that he believes it is possible to negotiate a peace with the taliban. >> he did. i did hear him say that. >> lehrer: he was not saying that a few weeks ago. >> no, he wasn't saying that a few weeks ago. and he, i thought, gave a better defense of the president's decision than the president had given. in a strange way, both he and general petraeus strengthened the president's position afterwards, general petraeus' testimony on the hill and bob gates's testimony to you.
what struck me most about what bob gates said was emphasizing that 99% of the stress, stranz, sacrifices, are all on the troops. >> lehrer: or as an acstrakz to most americans. thank you both very much. >> brown: next, an acclaimed author takes on his toughest subject-- himself. ray suarez talks with writer oscar hijuelos. >> he is the author of "the mom bow kings play songs of love" for which he won the pulitzer prize, "and our house in the last world." this time the subject is himself. he just released a memoir called "thoughts without cigarettes." oscar hijuelos, welcome back to the "newshour". >> thank you, ray. it's a joy to be here. >> the subject might have been "portrait of the author as an
untight young man." >> my first, i sort of told the story of my upbringing fictionally. the spine of that story was when i was a little kid i went to cube ai got very sick, i spent a year away interest my family, and the culture and sort of came back spending so much time in a hospital, i ended up losing easy facility with the language. >> suarez: spanish language. >> the spanish language, yeah. my mother sahd i went in speaking spanish and came out speaking kblrb. i picked up a lot of it since but it never was easy psychologically for me. so that was an element in my first novel. but i became mostly known for the "mom bow king" and i have spent the rest of my career explaining the first story to people over and over again. so "thoughts without a cigarette" in part became a way of discussing those issues that had been-- played a big part in
forming me as a writer in so many ways. >> suarez: does it have to be thought out as a novel does. do you have to think hard about how you treat living people and worry about it? >> i-- it's a funny thing, ray. when you're writing a novel, at least the way i write, i fwrork what i recall, emotional atmosphere, ambiance to ambiance. i work towards leaving the reader with a sense of certain emotions. with a memoir you want to do both. you want to leave the reader with a strong sense of the emotional world but you also have to be more fact reliant, and also you have to prioritize about thoses in your life and you have to pass judgment. you have to say how important this was to that time and hopefully you can take an instant and attach all kinds of emotions and insights about the
period, your family, and so forth, to an event. >> suarez: if anything, you're affectate to others and very tough on yourself. >> i was hoping you would say "self-effacing" but yes, yes. i never thought i would be a writer growing up. i certainly never thought that as a kid, and even when a lot of people around me expressed strong confidence in what they saw as my gifts or emerging gifts, i always doubted them. and i think part of it-- i mean, to this day i'm not sure if that came about because of the insecurities i had felt, psychologically speaking as a kid, being separated from family or if it had to do with looking at the way my parents' jeoperation experienced american life in general with some trepidation, anxiety. i've talked to my older brother jose about this, and essentially we both agreed that we grew up
having to overcome a feel-- i say the term "second classness" and i mean a lot of people take reading and writing and being good at something for granted. but if you come up in a certain way without a lot of positive reinforcement, it takes a lot, like pulitzer prizes and being published all over the world, to make you feel pretty good about yourself. even when that happens, i've always had my doubts. >> suarez: you write at one-- about one episode looking down on your street from the apartment building. "i, out of sort, craving a cigarette of my own went home to yet another one of those evenings in our cuban household that tended to leave me feeling restless and confused." again and again, coming back to that slightly out-of-sync guy living in this spanish-speaking milieu on the upper west side. >> my father ray came up from cuba with my mother in the 1940s and i think the life he expected
having grown up on farms in eastern cuba, turned out to be quite different from what he encountered, and as such, he had these great jobs. we were talking about hotel life in the biltmore downtown in manhattan, different time, different world, a union man. but he worked very hard just to get by. and i think that, that created certain tensions within the family, and as well, he had to contend with, you know, associated expenses and anxieties connected to what happened to me as a child. i mean, i went to cuba, loving cuba, loving cubans and loving the cuban culture and language and what do i know i got sick and separated from all that. my out-of-sortness, if you want to calling it that, was just as much a response to what my family of going through as sort of a perennial, you know,
feeling they didn't quite fit in even with my own home culture and family. >> suarez: the story of your life that you include in "thoughts without cigarettes" takes us right to the doorstep of your success. you're published. you're able to make a living as a writer. you within a prize that allows you to study abroad, and then you stopped. when you make it, does your life get less interesting? >> does your life get-- it suddenly has more-- it has-- it becomes more populated, as it were. i've never-- i've never let go of my childhood contacts. my best friends from childhood are still my best friends, but on the other hand, your world expands in a way. it's sort of-- it's sort of-- you go from being a private individual to sort of almost nsome likes, becoming awe carnival act you know. i sometimes felt look a freak simply because the level of high
success and traveling around the world as a latino writer as much as anything, was sort of wonderful and also very strange interest me at the same time because, indeed, i'm-- i came up with one version of many potential versions of latino that there could be. and as i say in the memoir, i never intended to represent myself as a spokesman for anybody but myself. and yet i would be in a round table in sweden, in stockholm, sweden, on a live television show and the host would come on and look around trying to figure out who the latino guy was in the group. that kind of thing was both interesting and alarming at the same time. >> suarez: memoir is called "thoughts without sigets." oscar hijuelos, good to see you. >> thank you, ray. i love being on your show. >> lehrer: finally tonight, remembering peter falk, the
actor who died yesterday at beverly hills, california. he was best known for playing the rumpled detective columbo for 30 years on television. the police lieutenant wore a wrinkled raincoat that was his trademark. suspects usually underestimated him, but he always got his man in the end, often by asking, "just one more thing, sir." here's an excerpt from an episode that ran in 1976. falk is closing a murder case against william shatner, who plays an actor best known as a tv detective. >> fascinating. but as lieutenant lacern would say, where there is no proof, there is no criminal. fascinating. >> but i think, sir, i have the proof here.
>> what truth? lieutenant, there are no fingerprints on that gun. you said so yourself this morning. this has been a rather silly demonstration, lieutenant. >> well, you're absolutely right again, sir. the killer cleepd the gun of all incriminating prints. but the thing is, he forgot something. >> forgot what? >> well, circ you know that this gun was only used as a prop so, of course, it was never filled with anything but blanks. that is, until you stole it, sir. and in order to kill mrs. daley, you had to remove the blanks and insert real bullets. there were no prints on the gun because you wiped the gun clean, sir. but there is a reason that the lab report took so long. you remembered to clean the gun
but you didn't remember to do the same thing with the bullets. d >> brown: peter falk won five emmys, four of them for "columbo." he also appeared in dozens of films, and received two oscar nominations in the 1960s for "murder, inc" and "pocketful of miracles." peter falk suffered from alzheimer's disease at the time of his death. he was 83 years old. >> lehrer: again, the major developments of the day: the u.s. house refused to authorize u.s. military involvement in libya, but it also voted down an attempt to cut off money for the operation. government troops in syria opened fire on protesters in cities across the country. activists reported at least 15 people were killed. and a flooded river in minot, north dakota, surged past a record high set 130 years ago and kept rising. and to hari sreenivasan for what's on the newshour online. hari. >> sreenivasan: patchwork nation
examines how manufacturing job losses pose a big problem for the economy and the 2012 presidential race. and there's a new dispatch from our reporting team in indonesia. they talked to citizens in jakarta about how they view their government and what they think of the united states. plus, on "art beat," jeff talks to brooke gladstone, co-host of npr's "on the media" about her new book "the influencing machine." all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. jeff. >> brown: and that's the newshour for tonight. on monday, we'll look at the final day of the supreme court's term, and a ruling on whether violent video games can be sold to minors. i'm jeffrey brown. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations. we'll see you online and again here monday evening. have a nice weekend. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: chevron. we may have more in common than you think.
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