tv The Ed Show MSNBC September 13, 2012 12:00am-1:00am PDT
stirring up east/west hatred by mocking islam. there's a lesson here, mitt romney is able to be pushed. he jumps into matters before understanding them. and it shows. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "the ed show" with ed schultz starts right now. good evening, americans. and welcome to "the ed show." i'm ezra klein in for ed schultz, and there is 55 days until the 2012 election. the tragic events in libya today have turned into ugly politics in america. this has genuinely been one of those 24-hour periods that could reshape not only the presidential campaign, but american foreign policy going forward. we'll have all the details. as ed would say, let's get to work. today was an incredibly important day in the u.s. presidential race. in response to the awful attacks in libya, mitt romney said something that was genuinely unbelievable. and then more amazing, he doubled down on it. this is the kind of thing, the
kind of day we could look back on the 2012 campaign and say, yeah, romney just never quite managed to recover from that. here's romney and obama today. >> i think it's a -- a -- a terrible course for america, to stand in apology for our values. >> there's a broader lesson to be learned here, and you know, governor romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later. and as president, one of the things i've learned is that you can't do that. it's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them. >> we will get into all of that tonight. i promise you will we will do the campaign in detail. but before we do, in an election year, presidential politics has a tendency to overshadow everything else. there's a tendency to only care about real genuinely important
events in terms of their effect on the campaign. but what happened over the last 24 hours in libya and cairo needs to be understood on its own terms first, because the ramifications could be with us for quite a while, no matter who is president. and so we should start the show tonight on a note of humility. we don't yet know what happened. the information is changing almost hourly. and we don't know yet what it all means. but here's what we think we do know. yesterday, on the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the united states, the u.s. embassy in cairo released a statement that read, in part, "the embassy condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of muslims. as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. they released that statement because there was an angry mob gathered outside, and that mob continued to gather as the day wore on. nearly five hours later, the state department confirmed the embassy had suffered a breach. protesters outside the embassy were reportedly there due to anger over a reported low-budget anti-muslim film made in the
united states and posted on a youtube account. more on that film in a moment. by late afternoon, the compass embassy was reiterating its statement on twitter, one of the tweets read, "of course we condemn breaches of our compound. we're the ones actually living through this." a short time later, the state department confirmed the u.s. diplomatic mission in benghazi, libya, was under attack. searches for the british monitoring group called it a well-planned assault that occurred in two wavs. the sources said the attack involved a group of about 20 militants and included heavy artillery, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades. by morning, it was confirmed that four american diplomats, including the u.s. ambassador to libya, christopher stevens, were killed in the attack. that makes stevens the first ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1988, when arnold raphael, the ambassador to pakistan, died alongside the president of pakistan in an unexplained plane crash. president obama addressed the
nation from the white house rose garden this morning. about 50 u.s. marines were deployed to libya and two u.s. warships are headed towards the libyan coast. secretary of state hillary clinton addressed the sad irony of the attacks in the wake of the u.s. support of the libyan revolution. >> today many americans are asking, indeed, i asked myself, how could this happen? how could this happen in a country we helped liberate in a city we helped save from destruction? >> so that is the chain of events, as best we can describe them, as best we know them. where it gets murky are in the details. for instance, we know less about this anti-muslim video today than frankly we did yesterday. this morning, we thought we knew who was behind that film. a california real estate developer named sam bacile. he'd even given an improve to the associated press. but as jeffrey goldberg reported
in "the atlantic," the alleged filmmaker does not appear to actually exist, at least not under the name sam bacile. previous reports that he is an israeli national have been disputed by the israeli government. there are no records of film permits or financial statements the to account for the making of the movie, and the incendiary lines about the prophet muhammad appear to have been dubbed in after the movie was made. earlier this afternoon, members of the casting crew of the film stepped forward to release this statement. they said, "the entire cast and crew are extremely upset and they feel taken advantage of by the producer. we are 100% not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose. we are shocked by the drastic rewrites of the script and the lies that were told to all involved. we are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred." further more, we do not know who instigated the attack on the benghazi compound. was it in response to this film? or was the film used as a pretext to justify planned violence?
it should be pointed out that ten libyan security guards reportedly died defending the u.s. diplomatic mission in benghazi. thousands of libyans staged counterprotests today in a show of o support for the united states. many of them held signs thanking ambassador stevens for his service, and the libyan government was quick and forceful in its condemnation of the attacks. that, at least, is the situation in libya. in egypt, the conditions are much different. more protests against the offending anti-muslim film have been called for tomorrow. there have been no statements by the transitional government in egypt, not about the protests or about the reaction to them. it's also worth noting that the president did not mention the protests in cairo or the breach of the u.s. embassy in his statement today, indicating the continued volatility of the situation on the ground in egypt. all this is what my "washington post" colleague david ignatius calls, quote, the fog of revolution. these are two countries transitioning from decades of existence under despottic conditions to governments with at least some foundations in representative democracy. the balance there is delicate and very difficult to cut
through the motivations of the various factions and shadowy militant groups that are currently vying for power. and the outcome, who wins and who loses these struggles, could decide the very shape of american foreign policy in the decades to come. middle east with an egypt that is friendly to american interests is very different than middle east with an egypt that is not. here to help us make sense of all of this, is hillary man lever, and a former foreign service officer, who was twice stationed at the gassy embassy in egypt, and spencer ackerman, senior writer for "wired" magazine, and one of the very first persons i turn to on days like this one. but hillary, why was ambassador stevens at the consulate in benghazi and not at the embassy in tripoli? >> it's hard to know. i wasn't privy to his day-to-day schedule, i think he was opening a cultural program. and it's typical for ambassadors to go to cities. when i was in egypt, it was typical for the ambassador to go
to cairo to alexandria pretty regularly. it would be a normal thing too. >> and spencer, do we know anything, or anything we feel is firm about the motivations behind the attack? some people thought, at least, initially, it was about the video. then there seemed to be some indication, maybe, that the protests over the video was cover for a attack that had been long pre-planned. it's not clear if they knew the ambassador was going to be there. what can you say? >> we can say nothing in confidence, but make some inferences based on what happened. this was a 4 1/2-hour assault on a u.s. diplomatic compound. there was small arms fire, there was reportedly artillery rocket fire, set the place ablaze. that doesn't happen from a spontaneous mob. that is an organization that is in place, whether it's some elements of some existing organization or something that arose specifically planned for this attack, remains unclear,
but it was well equipped, it was well supplied, and it got its message across. >> i mean, even from the social media, you see references in the social media and the arabic social media to anger and attempts to protest at the embassy in cairo at the office in benghazi and the embassy in tripoli, predating the film. and this certainly was a pretext for people's anger or a cover for an operation, but the critical issue here is the deep-seated resentment that people have for u.s. policy throughout the region. and we have yet to come to terms with -- we have not even begun to grapple with the enormity of the challenge we face as countries become more politically par participatory, and then see that the u.s. has chose to deal with this in a militaristic way. it doesn't leave a lot of options. >> but spencer, this group, there's been particularly in libya a real sharp divide between how the elected government -- or how i'm sorry, the transitional government has dealt with the attack on the
united states. do we have a sense of what group carried it out, at all? i mean, there are clearly factions vying for this, and there was a protest, as hillary mentioned, we knew at least something about. do we know if it was even the folks who were protesting? >> we don't know specific organizations. none have taken responsibility yet. there's been a lot of speculation, but i think it would be ill of us to focus on things that we don't actually know. but something that really did come across from some of the details that came out was that this wasn't americans versus libyans. libyan security officials were helping guard the compound. there was apparently a local militia that not only was around the gates as auxiliary ies, but
helped get a bunch of americans out from one part of the compound to another. and, in fact, when americans seemed to be unable to stop the siege and suppress the assault, it was libyan security officials that actually got the compound back under control. so it's not as simple as saying that americans were under attack by libyans. >> but there's a critical difference, though, that we constantly gloss over. in egypt, what we have is the product of a real revolution. this government really represents the people. it was a real revolution, done over the objections, essentially, of the united states. mubarak was our true friend and ally for 30 years. in libya, what you had happen was, initially a revolution that then was intercepted with a military intervention, and what was put in place is largely a government of expatriates, who don't necessarily represent the country. and you're going to have, inevitably, militias that come out and violence and factions that are contesting for power, because that wasn't a revolution that was let go forward. >> one of the -- one of the responses you saw on the hill today was an effort by house conservatives to strip aid for egypt and libya out of the continuing resolution, such that it would be cut off. spencer, given what we know
about as hillary said, the fragility of the government there, what would that mean? is that a good idea? is that an appropriate response? would that just make matters worse? >> the state department and the white house really believe that would make matter worse. there's already a fragility in both countries and there's a sense at least from the administration that stripping aid would just leave the u.s. with fewer cards to play. so, it's difficult to say whether that will happen. on the other hand, as we've seen from a recent poll from the chicago council of foreign relations, even though u.s. foreign aid is a relatively minuscule part of the budget, it's tremendously unpopular. and seeing these scenes from egypt and from benghazi now, can only serve to strengthen the hands of people who want to get rid of it entirely, and wonder what the arab spring actually meant for u.s. interests in the region. >> i think it's a fantasy -- >> real quick. >> it's a fantasy to think that we have cards to play. the president of egypt, before he comes to the united states, his first trips were to china and iran. it is a fantasy to think that we have cards to play here. the train has left the station in these countries. and unless we begin to figure out thousand adapt, our strategic position in the middle east and therefore globally will continue to erode.
>> hillary mann levertt and spencer ackerman, thank you both for coming here and trying to clear this up tonight. coming up on "the ed show," when campaigns are desperate, they begin to make mistakes, big ones. and the romney campaign is desperate. buzz feed's ben smith will join me, next. [ male announcer ] most people tend to think more about how they brush than what they brush with. until i show them this. the new oral-b pro-health clinical brush. its pro-flex sides adjust to teeth and gums for a better clean. the new pro-health clinical brush from oral-b. adjust to teeth and gums for a better clean. [ female announcer ] some people like to pretend a flood could never happen to them. and that their homeowners insurance protects them. [ thunder crashes ] it doesn't. stop pretending. only flood insurance covers floods. ♪ visit floodsmart.gov/pretend to learn your risk.
coming up, governor romney's rash response to the embassy attack. ben smith is going to join us. and later, relations with the muslim community have not always been partisan. and we're learning more about the four diplomats killed in libya. the internet community is remembering their friend and fellow gamer, sean smith. we'll be right back.
there is a saying in american politics. no campaign is ever as good as it looks when it is winning, nor as bad as it looks when it is losing. in mitt romney's comments on libya, you see part of the reason why campaigns end up looking so very bad when they are losing. a few months ago, the romney campaign had a clear theory of the race. to keep the focus on the economy. when other issues came up, they had a clear strategy for dealing with them. you acknowledge the issue, you put out some restrained comment. and if possible, you end by saying, and we need to remain focused on the economy. everything was about the romney campaign's prime directive, it's the economy, stupid. that romney campaign would have known just what to do on libya. a simple restrained statement condemning the murders and expressing sympathy and solidarity with the victims. a few lines on romney's resolve to hunt terrorists like these down, make romney look presidential, but whatever you do, do not interrupt the underlying dynamics of the election. this is, by and large, actually, the template that other major
republicans have followed in their responses to the attacks. look at speaker john boehner's statement, for instance. he said, "we mourn the families of our countrymen in benghazi and condemn this horrific attack. 11 years after september 11th, this is a jolting reminder that freedom remains under siege by forces around the globe who relish violence over free expression and terror over democracy, and that america and free people everywhere must remain vigilant in defense of our liberties." it's simple, it's classy, it doesn't move the campaign too much. and this strategy for republicans, it makes sense. president obama, after all, has a wide lead in the polls on who is better on handling foreign policy and terrorism. if the candidates turn to those issues, that might help obama. and that brings us to the corollary of romney's comments. but the underlying dynamics of the election are no longer seen as being enough for romney. he trails obama in the polls and
has for basically the entire campaign. he received little to no bump from his convention and watched obama enjoy a significant polling bounce out of his. the economy just isn't proving sufficient to beat obama. that means that the romney campaign strategy isn't proving sufficient to beat obama, which means they need to change it on the fly. when campaigns are losing, they get a little desperate like that. and when they get desperate, they begin making riskier decision. and so tuesday night, the romney campaign made a very, very risky decision. they released this at the same time. "i'm outraged by the attacks on american diplomatic missions in libya and egypt by the death of an american consulate worker in benghazi. it is disgraceful that the obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks." wednesday morning, given a chance to walk it all back as full details of the attacks revealed themselves, the romney campaign doubled down on that statement, making clearly that it was not a mistake.
the romney campaign isn't run by amateurs. they knew this statement was incendiary. they knew it would change the campaign, and presumably, they knew it was wrong. it conflates a statement from a terrified staffer in the egyptian gas embassy, who was trying to calm a potentially angry mob with the obama administration. it conflates unrest in egypt with the murder of an american diplomat among others in libya. and it accuses the obama administration of something that they not only didn't do, but that would have been unbelievably, unimaginably horrific of them to do. so sympathize with terrorists who had just murdered one of the ambassadors they named. the backlash has probably, predictably, been brutal. the atlantic's jeffrey goldberg called romney's statement a slander. times's mark halperin said it was, quote, the most craven and ill-advised move of 2012. josh halperin said it was reminiscent of the john mccain's rash call four years ago to
cancel the presidential debates and the campaign itself to deal with the unfolding economic crisis. >> i don't feel that mr. romney has been doing himself any favors, say, in the past few hours, perhaps, since last night. sometimes when really bad things, when hot things happen, cool words or no words is the way to go. >> romney's comments were to be sure unusually obnoxious and indecent, even by the standards of risky campaign maneuvers, but this is also what happens when campaigns get desperate. like a gambler who has already lost too much, they begin taking risks in the hopes of making it all back. and then more often than not, they pay the price. let's bring in my friend ben smith, editor in chief of becausefeed.com, who did a great piece on the backlash of romney's words in republican circles. great to see you.
>> good to be here. >> i could have believed it was an overeager press staffer who made a mistake. what i couldn't believe was the campaign's decision, for romney's decision to double down on it in televised remarks today. here's what he said. >> the president takes responsibility not just from the words that come from his mouth, but also for the words that come from his ambassadors, from his administration, from his embassy, from his state department. they clearly sent mixed messages to the world and the statement that came from the administration and the embassy is the administration, the statement that came from the administration was a statement which is akin to apology and i think was a severe miscalculation. >> you talked to them. what upside do they see here? >> that was a very strange moment. he was relitigating this very small thing in an announcement that had been put out the night before. before it was clear that the ambassador had been murdered,
that three other embassy staffers had been murdered, that this was a coordinated assault, not some random bit of mob violence, and he's relitigating this, and this has become a much bigger story, and one that it's very hard to drag into presidential politics. andchi when i talk to republican presidential foreign policy hands this morning, what is he doing? there's always a tendency to jump into stories of this, when the reality isn't clear yet. it takes a while for this stuff to sort out. and the standard thing to do, reporters call you for comment, and staffers know you have to hold your fire and wait until you know what's going on. and romney last night that had this statement that was released earlier, but embargoed for midnight, because they didn't want to be seen as playing politics on september 11th. they then changed their policy around 10:00 p.m. and thought, we'll do a little politics on 9/11. but the statement was already slipping out of date as the situation changed. >> just a little bit of 9/11 politics.
more on the kind of substantiative side of this, what are we learning in this campaign, there seems to be kind of a tough pattern emerging here for romney. his trip -- on foreign policy, his trip to the london olympics didn't go very well. had a lot of gaffes. he went to israel and accidentally insulted the palestinians, and now he jumped on the political dimension of a national tragedy much too quickly, in a way that created a really significant backlash. he doesn't come to the campaign with very much foreign policy experience, so at what point is there a danger of having assigned a narrative that he's not to use hillary clinton campaigns' formulation, the guy you want answering the 3:00 a.m. phone call? >> i think that's the narrative the obama campaign is driving. he doesn't have less foreign policy experience than, say, barack obama had before, you know, he worked in international business, he's talked to people at a high level in that world for a long time, as much as bill clinton, as many presidents did, before taking office. i think there's a bind on republican foreign policy right now, which is that in their heart, what they want to say is that who lost egypt, who lost libya. you know, we need to be in a
muscular way retake control of these places. at the same time, anything that is a hint of american involvement overseas polls terribly. they know they can't reach the logical conclusion of a lot of these arguments, which is some troops somewhere in the middle east. so you're struck condemning obama without an answer, without saying, yes, let's invade syria. >> so you spoke to a bunch of republican foreign policy hands today. what did they say the obama campaign should do next? what did they say the next move was? >> one of them referred to it in a lehman moment, just this sense of a loss of a grip on the campaign. i mean, it wasn't so much that mccain was doing something immoral by suggesting that the campaigning be suspended for this crisis, but the sense that he had lost his grip of the thread of the thing. and that was what was projected by romney this morning. >> ben smith, thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> thank you. diplomacy as traditionally been a bipartisan effort. the last republican president understood that. yet the party's current
may or may not be israeli, who may or may not tricked his crew and dubbed in anti-muslim prop propaganda after the movie was done, and who is definitely really terrible of making movies. you watched the clip of this thing online. it's a low-budget, badly acted, completely ridiculous amateur production. it's a joke, a deadly joke. but at the heart of the political furor today is a 99-word statement released by some terrified staffer in the american embassy in cairo asking for religious beliefs to be respected. mitt romney interpreted that statement to be an apology from the obama administration. an apology for what, i'm not exactly sure. outreach to the muslim world is not new, and it's not been a partisan issue. in fact, its history is bipartisan. and that history is a very recent history. inform 2006, protests across the middle east broke out about the
publication of cartoons of the prophet muhammad. while the bush administration defended the right to publish the caricatures, rightly, it condemned the content. "we find them offensive and we certainly understand why muslims would find these images offensive." that was the bush administration offering its support to the offended protesters. state department spokesman sean mccormack elaborating, "anti-muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-semitic images, as anti-christian images, or any other religious belief." as "the new york times" reported back then, a central tenant of the administration's foreign policies is a promotion of democracy and human rights. but a core mission of its public diplomacy is to emphasize respect for islam in the wake of the wars in iraq and afghanistan. in may of 2008, president bush went beyond just offering support. after an american soldier used a koran for target practice, president bush actually apologized to iraqi prime minister nouri al maliki. >> he apologized for that in the sense the that he said, we take it very seriously, we were
concerned about their reaction, we wanted them to know that the president knew that this was wrong and that the commanders in the field had publicly reprimanded the soldier and removed him from iraq. >> this was always one of the most admirable dimensions of the bush administration. and a real achievement. after 9/11, it was entirely possible that the country could have lapsed into anti-muslim sentiment. the bush administration legitimately fought to keep that from happening, and they largely succeeded. let's turn to congressman keith ellison, who was also the first muslim member of congress. congressman, good to have you here tonight. >> thank you. thanks for having me. >> the bush administration understood the value of diplomacy in the muslim world, in particular, in keeping relations with the muslim world strong, because of possible dangers to america of letting the country fall into anti-muslim sentiment or letting anti-american sentiment prosper overseas. from your perch in congress today, is what happened today an aberration? is it just part of the campaign,
or is that project of the i bush administration's being lost in our politics? >> well, i mean, i think that the bush administration did do a number of things that are commendable. president bush even visited a mosque, had muslims at the white house, publicly stood up for muslim civil rights in the wake of 9/11, and said, look, this act was done by some despicable criminals, not muslims, and he even referred to islam as a -- as one of the great world religions. so, i mean, i think that president bush has a lot of, a lot of credibility there. this other thing that came out is a little bit disturbing. i think it has got to be chalked up to campaign rhetoric and, unfortunately, hopefully, folks will learn from it. i mean, and here's the reality. ambassador chris stevens is not even buried yet. he has a grieving widow, a
grieving family, and the other three persons who lost their lives, two of them haven't even been identified. one has. and to start making partisan play out of this tragedy, at this point, is insensitive. >> going forward, and as you say, it is a delicate moment, what needs to be done under either president in terms of outreach to the muslim world? i mean, it's -- there is an understandable tension here in the foreign policy, where people look at things like this, and they look at these mobs that gather for a youtube video, and they say, how is it our job to placate that? but on the other hand, the commander in chief needs to worry about the diplomats and the troops and the americans out in the field. how do you navigate that tension? >> well, the reality is is that there were libyans who were helping to fight and defend the consulate. i mean, i've been to libya since the liberation, and the group -- the allegation i was with was very well received. i mean, this is a -- it is a
mob, but it's not representative of libyan society. neither is the mob in egypt representative of egyptian society. now, we see that imagery on tv, and we think, well, this is the whole country or this is most people. it really isn't. and i think it's important, you know, for us to just acknowledge that, you know, if the rest of the world judged us by recent events in milwaukee and in aurora, and in, you know, in tucson, when my friend gabby giffords was shot down, i mean, they would judge us harshly, if that's the only evidence they had to go by. but we don't have a lot of evidence to go by. but we've got to know that those societies, particularly libya, is not an anti-american society. and in fact, libyans fought to help defend the consulate when it was under attack. >> you were mentioning a minute ago that you were in libya
recently. i know you were in that region and followed it closely. what is your sense of where the arab spring is going at this point? both egypt and libya are countries that had very, very dramatic changes of regime. it's not entirely clear how the political ground will settle. what does today say about where it's going, or does it say really nothing about where it's going, as of yet? >> well, today's events, you know, i think should and can only be considered a setback, but i would say the overall trend, i would say, is cautiously optimistic. there have been successful elections in libya and in egypt and in tunisia, and there has been -- and in morocco, and we've seen a number of positive developments. now, there will be fits and there will be starts. i mean, if we examine our own history, it wasn't a straight line toward democracy from the moment of declaration of independence. there were bumps and bruises up and down, but the reality is is that they've gone through some
pretty amazing political changes, and i think are making steady progress towards free democratic society. now, it's not going to look just like in the united states, but i do think at the end of the day, we've got to embrace the change and stay the course. >> congressman keith ellison, thank you very much for being here tonight. >> thank you. coming up, some republicans are jumping to defend mitt romney's attack on the president. we're going to talk to one of them and debate the issue, next. and later tonight, a gamer's good-bye. find out how one of the americans killed in libya is being memorialized by hundreds of virtual strangers. we'll be right back.
egypt and libya, attacks that left four americans the dead. romney hastily released a statement late last night that read, "i'm outraged by the attacks on american diplomatic missions in america and egypt and the attack on a american consulate worker in benghazi. it's disgraceful that obama administration first response was to condemn attacks on our diploma ikts ic missions, but to sympathize with the protesters." some republicans have been quick to defend him. south carolina senator jim demint released a at the same time today that read, "governor romney's absolutely right. there is no justification for these deadly attacks and we should never apologize for american freedom." "the weekly standard's" bill kristol, also quick to jump to romney's defense. he wrote on his blog today, "the facts remain that the events of september 11th, 2012, represent a big moment for the country.
romney is right to sense this and is a to seize on this moment as an occasion to explain the difference between his foreign policy and president obama's. he's right to reject the counsel of the mainstream media, which is to keep a obama a pass." michael medved, the author of "the odds against obama." what i want to get at, this has become a very, very heated argument. i feel like folks are talking past each other. to so i want to get at the issues behind the debate. michael, you say it was wrong of romney to be critical of the statement today. this was a statement by a mid-level embassy official trying to disrupt the ongoing siege. so from your perspective, what is the actually foreign policy argument being made here? >> well, the actual foreign policy argument is that we don't preemptively attempt to avoid
some kind of attack on the embassy that we know is coming by condemning a film that nobody has seen, that has nothing to do with the united states, and nothing to do with our government. to even condemn it seems to suggest to the rest of the world that somehow the united states government is responsible for free speech in this country. and it was a mistake for that to be issued by the embassy. and by the way, the obama administration says so too. because they made it clear that they did not clear this statement from the embassy in advance. and that statement was a mistake and i believe that governor romney is entirely correct to crises it. it's part of a general pattern. and this is what bill kristol said as well. it's part of a general pattern of trying to placate some of the most implacable enemies of the united states of america. >> lawrence, what's your take on that? has the obama administration had a general pattern of trying to, as michael put it, placate the most implacable enemy of
america? >> absolutely not. as you just showed before, president bush was even more apologetic after an american threatened to desecrate the koran in iran. you may remember that general petraeus condemned pastor jones, who was part of this video hear. re. he condemned him when he was threatening to burn korans, and that would cause damage to the troops he was commanding in afghanistan. president bush himself explained that he didn't support what was in the cartoons, the danish cartoons, because of the problems that they would cause. i have no problem with the statement. i wish obama had not, you know, distanced himself from it, because, basically, what they were saying is that we don't support what's in there. they didn't say he has no right to do it. and don't forget, this is the person on the ground who is worried about the lives of the people in the embassy. so i think it was completely appropriate for him to do that and inappropriate for somebody in lakeland, florida, thousands
of miles away from cairo, not knowing what's happening on the ground, to condemn it. >> so, michael, i think that's kind of the key point for -- yeah, please. >> if i can, the idea here is, take a look at how all those other instances worked out. it has not helped make americans more secure when we issue these statements. one of the things that a president obama criticized president bush for a great deal was our low standing in the islamic world. in other words, by taking an apologetic tone for even disgusting expressions of free speech, that's not the job for the government or for governmental authorities. i talked on my radio show today. there was a play in 1998 called "corpus christi," which was very offensive to christians. i mean, very offensive. it involved a jesus figure in homosexual situations and men's room -- it was disgusting. but it would have been totally inappropriate for any governmental authority to condemn it.
we don't do that in the united states. it's not the role of government. and frankly, anyone in an embassy -- and you can see how poorly it worked out, by the way. it didn't make anyone safer when that statement was issued. >> let me ask you something about this, lawrence. i think one of the things that's somewhat confusing to me when i hear some of these arguments is that i don't -- the obama administration continued for -- brought us out of the war in iraq, but did the surges in afghanistan, although it's beginning to draw that war down. they significantly stepped up drone attacks in pakistan and in afghanistan. they did end up killing not just a large slew of al qaeda number twos, but also in the end, osama bin laden. it feels strange to say, or it feels -- it's hard for me to see this as sort of an apologetic approach to the war on terror. >> what a lot of people are referring to is the cairo speech that president obama launched his reset with the islamic world with. that speech was a disaster, and it was wrong. and what you're saying, gaving
president obama credit for his success, he has been successful in following the policies of george bush. >> but i assume he did follow those policies. lawrence, you get the last word because we've got to go to commercial. >> first of all, president obama has been much more active in using the drones than president bush did. he has killed many more al qaeda leaders. and in fact, president bush toward the end said, well, he wasn't worried about just getting one person. president obama when he came in got then-director panetta to focus exactly on going after bin laden and risked his presidency by undertaking a mission, which if it hadn't worked, i'm sure a lot of people would be criticizing him for, including governor romney. >> lawrence korb and michael medved, thank you guys for coming on and debating this tonight. next, new information on the census numbers on poverty in measuring. and the rich are getting richer, but what about the rest? all the details are coming up. you are watching "the ed show." it is on msnbc.
up next, new census data shows the income gap between the rich and the rest of us is growing. but there's also some good news when it comes to the number of insured americans. we will have all the details. and later, while the world mourns the death of four american diplomats in lab ibya, one is being remembered in a very different way. how online communities are paying tribute to sean smith. we'll be right back.
welcome back to "t i am not sure how to sell this next segment to you, exactly. it doesn't exactly scream great television. but wave got some, i think, exciting new economic numbers for you today. yay! after three consecutive years of increasing poverty rates, new data released by the census bureau finds that the poverty rate remained unchanged at 15% in 2011. that's better than going up.
that means 46.2 million americans are living at or below the federal poverty line. but, and this is important to remember, that's before you take into account all the anti-poverty programs, like 2350d food stamps and the earned income tax credit we have going. when you bring those into the calculation, the number is probably lower than many millions of people. well, the poverty levels held, the census did find a rise in income inequality. the income of the highest quintile of earners was 1.6%, while the middle fell. so the rich are getting richer and the rest of the country is not. but we do have some genuine good news here tonight. the number of uninsured americans, which usually goes up in bad economies, is dropping. about 1.4 million more americans have health insurance than had it one year ago. after three years of rising uninsured rates,ing the percentage of people without health insurance coverage dropped from 16.3% in 2010 to 15.7% in 2011. and for the first time in a decade, the percentage of people with private insurance did not drop. census officials cited two major factors driving down the uninsured rate.
the number of young adults ages 18 to 25 dropped 2%, that is largely because health reform, the affordable care act, allowed kids up to age 26 to stay on their parents' insurance, which has kept an estimated 3 million young adults insured. and the number of americans covered by government programs such as medicaid has expanded. there are a lot of things government doesn't do well. but one thing it does know how to do, which you can see here, and you can see, frankly, in every other developing nation on earth, is give people health insurance. coming up, one of the americans killed in libya spent his spare time making peace among virtual strangers. one of the diplomats shaped a universe you have probably never even heard of, when we come back.
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finally tonight, one more word about the attack on the u.s. consulate in libya. and more than that, the people in the attack. behind the presidential politics and the geopolitics, we lost four very real americans. it's easy to forget, even when we're remembering it. it's easy for people to become headlines or symbols, to become the diplomat killed in libya, all capital letters, bold print. but these were folks you could have known. folks, in fact, that you might have known, even if by a different name. sean smith was a husband and father of two.
he'd served with the state department for a decade, had been stationed all over the world. this is how he looked in real life. but this is how he looked in his other life. see, sean smith was known as vile rat, an influential online gamer in his cybercommunity with almost half a million members. this is how smith kicked back. it's how he relaxed in the middle of a political powder keg in benghazi. the game is called eve online, a massive multiplayer game that lets thousands of people interact. vile rat was a diplomat for one of the game's biggest alliance. so he's a guy who loved his job so much, that when he went home at night, he turned on his computer and did it all again virtually. in fact, vile rat was gaming when the consulate came under siege. he wrote, "assuming we don't die tonight. we saw one of our police that guard the compound taking pictures." within hours of making that joke in the cyberworld, smith was killed in that very real attack. but while flags fly at half-mast
and families mourn sean smith, vile rat is being remembered too. thousands of gamers are writing tributes like this one. most just say, "r.i.p., vile rat." some are pushing a petition to change his name from vile rat to a more dignified vr. there's actually a movement and i kind of love this for the webmaster to create a permanent virtual monument for vile rat somewhere in the eve online universe. another gamer put together this tribute video. it's making the rounds on facebook. it's set to the song "mad world" and thanks vile rat. the video ends with a call for peace. one longtime gamer calls vile rat one of the most influential diplomats in any online game ever. a blogger turned his site black in vile rat's honor, posting his birth and death dates on the meashead. he wrote, it seems kind of trivial to praise a husband,