tv Meet the Press MSNBC August 25, 2013 11:00am-12:01pm PDT
♪ now you can give yourself a kick in the rear! v8 v-fusion plus energy. natural energy from green tea plus fruits and veggies. need a little kick? ooh! could've had a v8. in the juice aisle. this sunday special "meet the press." the american dream. >> i have a dream. >> 50 years ago this week, dr. martin luther king jr. changed history with his "i have a dream" speech. he had a vision for equality and economic progress and issued a challenge to america -- to live up to its democratic ideals. how does america measure up today? i'll ask our guests, civil rights pioneer and georgia congressman john lewis, mayor of newark, new jersey, cory booker, and governor of louisiana, bobby jindal. also, we'll explore the overall state of american dream -- civil rights, the struggle of the middle class, issues at the
heart of our political debate. our roundtable weighs in. host of msnbc's "politics nation," the reverend al sharpton, pulitzer prize-winning journalist sheryl wudunn, republican congressman from idaho, raul labrador, and unique perspective from historian doris kearns goodwin as well as "new york times" columnist david brooks. i'm david gregory. all that ahead on "meet the press" this sunday, august 25th. >> announcer: from nbc news in washington, the world's longest-running television show, this is "meet the press." >> good sunday morning. thousands of people gathered here in washington saturday to re-create the march on washington where dr. king gave his famous "i have a dream" speech. and it was exactly 50 years ago today, august 25th, 1963, that dr. king and the executive secretary of the naacp, roy wilkins, appeared right here on "meet the press." many of you either already had the chance or will have the opportunity to see that special
program as we have made it -- the original broadcast available to our nbc stations across the country. our roundtable joins us in just a moment. but first joining me now, the only living speaker from the march on washington, congressman john lewis. he spoke yesterday in front of the lincoln memorial. >> you cannot stand by. you cannot sit down. you've got to stand up, speak up, speak out, and get in the way, make some noise! >> congressman lewis, welcome back to "meet the press." >> thank you very much, david, for having me. >> what a moment. we actually have the two images. there you were 50 years ago as a 23-year-old speaking so powerfully and 50 years later an elder statesman, sir, if you don't mind me saying. >> i don't mind. >> a pioneer of the civil rights struggle. that had to be quite a moment. >> it was a moving moment to stand there in the same spot 50 years later where dr. king and others stood.
i think in the past 50 years we have witnessed what i'd like to call the nonviolent revolution in america, a revolution of values, a revolution of ideas, and our country is a better country. >> you know, the president will speak on wednesday in the same spot. he'll mark 50 years since the "i have a dream" speech. we've talked over the years, and you told me about a year and a half ago in your view a lot of people can't get comfortable with the idea of an african-american president even though what a testament to the progress and the dream that dr. king had. and you even said during your speech yesterday there are forces, there are people who want to take us back. what specifically are you talking about? >> well, i hear people over and over again saying, we want to take our country back. take it back where? where are we going? we need to go forward. we've made so much progress. i often think -- when i was growing up, i thought it was signs that said white men, colored men, white women, colored women, colored waiting, those signs are gone.
when i first came to washington in 1961, the same year that president barack obama was born, to go on the freedom ride, black people and white people couldn't be seated on a bus or a train together to travel through the south. so when our children grow up and their children grow up, they will not see those signs. the only place that they would see those signs would be in a book, in a museum, or on a video. >> do you see some of the same trappings of resentment and fear in our modern-day politics? is that what you're warning of when you see some of those forces coming back? >> well, i think there is some forces want to create this sense of fear. they think the country is moving too fast or maybe becoming too progressive. the country is not the same country. willlard browner, people coming
together. and in a short time, the minority will be the majority. >> is there backlash that comes with that in your judgment? >> well, i think, as americans, we must be prepared to make the adjustment and not be afraid. be courageous. be embracive. embrace a change. >> as you look at dr. king's message 50 years ago and we remember that it was a march on washington for jobs and freedom, one aspect of dr. king's dream has not been realized and that is economic equality. he spoke on this 50 years ago. he said you've got to have social equality before you can have economic equality. there is more social equality for african-americans. yet look at the statistics. back in 1963, the rate of employment among african-americans, twice that of whites. that was 1963. page ahead to today, it's still twice that of whites. that's got to trouble you. >> it is very troublesome. we have a lot of work to do. the dream is not yet fulfilled.
>> do you blame anyone in particular? because through republican leadership and democratic leadership, you still see the state of affairs. >> well, this president, barack obama, has been trying to get the congress to move in a dramatic way to create jobs, to put people back to work, but it's all of our responsibility, not just those in elected positions, but it's the business community, education institutions. we all must play a role in putting people back to work. >> final question. the president will speak in the very spot that dr. king spoke 50 years to the day. one of his critics, tavis smiley, african-american who's criticized the president consistently. he talked about his hope that the president would be king-like but not king-like. he doesn't want him to just echo the words, but he wants him to have a specific set of proposals.
what do you expect from the president? >> well, the president is the president. he's not a civil rights leader. there's a difference. president johnson, president kennedy sat with us from time to time. when i met with president kennedy and later president johnson, part of the so-called big six, they would say, make me do it. make me say, yes, when i may have a desire to say no. create the climate. create the environment. it is up to the civil rights community to get up there and push and pull. >> you are a live testament to the idea that you've got to make some noise in this society and you've done that. i really appreciate your time here this morning. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, congressman. reverend al sharpton organized the march yesterday along with dr. king's eldest son. sharpton spoke to the tens of thousands gathered on the mall on saturday. >> we believe in a new america! it's time to march for a new america! it's time to organize for a new america!
it's time to register and vote for a new america! we're on our way, we're on our way, we are on our way! >> and our roundtable is now here. welcome to all of you, including doris kearns goodwin, who i just want to point out has been well, alive and well. you've just been in hibernation working on your new book. so it's good to see you. >> correct. i'm glad to be back. >> reverend al sharpton, a significant day for you and others yesterday associated with that march. 50 years ago, 50 years after the march on washington, how does dr. king's message relate today? >> i think his message relates in the sense that it laid the chart -- it charted the way from where we are. a black president, black attorney general who spoke at the march yesterday. but it also raised a challenge for this generation that we talked about yesterday. the supreme court just took away
section 4, the voting rights act, which means that we challenge the congress now to come with a new voting rights bill, because this is the first time in 48 years that we do not have free clearance in areas that have a history of discrimination. a jobs bill. the economic inequality today is the same as it was 50 years ago. so i think this generation of civil rights leaders and the civil rights community must challenge the economic inequality, the regression on voting rights, as well as deal with some of the gun violence and the internal problems in our own community. >> dr. king again on this program 50 years ago, he spoke about the highway of freedom and all its dimensions, moving up that highway of freedom. doris kearns goodwin, you were there 50 years ago, which is remarkable since you're only 27 now. >> hooray. >> i spoke to taylor branch, the historian of the era, and he talks about dr. king as a modern founding father. here's a portion of my conversation with him.
>> the founders confronted at the beginning of america a hierarchy, kings, monarchs, and they figured out a way to promote equal citizenship, to found us on the idea that we have equal votes and equal souls. and they moved us in that direction, and so did lincoln and the people -- the best, highest patriots have done that, and that's certainly what the civil rights movement did and dr. king did. >> the meaning of that moment today. >> i think there's no question that taylor branch is right. there are -- it's a straight line from martin luther king backward to lincoln, backward to the founding fathers. they created an ideal of a country founded on the idea that all men were created equal. they knew all men were not created equal. we had slavery. but they knew we'd force ourselves to move forward it. lincoln moved us forward. martin luther king 100 years later got us even further to that ideal. what was so special about that march when i was a college student, i remember the day, i remember the singing, i remember
the worry beforehand about whether there'd be mob violence. but most of all i remember the exhilaration, a feeling i was part of something larger than myself. we were helping to make the country a better place. and despite the fact that the '60s degenerated into riots later, assassinations, the vietnam war, there was something about that hopefulness in the early '60s. it stayed with me my whole life. and that's what you have to re-create today, the idea we can change the country, nonviolent movement, leadership, did it then, civil war did it in an earlier time, the framers did it at the beginning. we have a generation that can do it now. >> can i pay tribute to the two men who organized the march, philip randolph and bayard rustin, especially randolph, a man of immense dignity, who believed in peaceful, direct action, as dor ris just said. you go after your opponents relentlessly. superior emotional discipline and self-control and force them, the racists in that case, to display their own evil and transfer the whole debate that
way by a superior dignity. that was part of what the march did, took a strategy deeply thought through and expressed to the nation and showed how you make social change. >> sheryl wudunn, you won a pulitzer prize covering china, particularly the demonstrations in tiananmen square. the resonance that you saw covering tiananmen square of that 1963 march. >> oh, absolutely. look, martin luther king's speech was the greatest speech of the 20th century, so it had to have an impact around the world. the underlying need for better jobs, better, you know, life and also freedom was very strong. a chinese student leader actually invoked martin luther king as his role model during the tiananmen square movement. but most kids, they would say something like, one student told me, democracy, yes, i don't know much about it but i know we need more of it. >> it's interesting, reverend,
the tension at the time. and again, it plays out in this special rebroadcast on nbc when you saw dr. king with roy wilkins. to david's point, you saw dr. king so poised and unflappable facing questions of potential violence in washington. but there was tension about the value of that kind of demonstration, mass demonstration in the street, and how it made african-americans look and appear to a largely white america. >> it's ironic that people don't understand mrs. king, who i've got to know well -- i was too young to know dr. king -- talked about how controversial he was during his lifetime and those tactics of randolph and rustin. people always said, you're causing violence, stirring things up, and you're moving too fast, and i think that upon his death people gave him credit for things that he never heard in life. and in many ways we hear today some of the same kinds of attacks. certainly no one's on the scale that they were, but the same kinds of things, that why don't
y'all do it another way, when these are the ways you dramatize the problem. marches are not set to solve a problem. they're set to show the problem and force someone to solve it. >> we're going to come back with all of you in a few minutes because, in addition to marking history this morning, we wanted to try to expand our conversation and talk about the american dream. that's what dr. king talked about. it was rooted in the american dream. we'll have more on that with you in a few minutes. coming up, two rising stars in their respective parties, democratic mayor of newark, new jersey, cory booker, and republican governor of louisiana bobby jindal. what the american dream means to a new generation of politicians. and later, we'll have the latest on the developing situation in syria. new developments this morning. we've got it covered. morning. we've got it covered. alert.
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the truth of the matter is that the dream still demands that the moral conscience of our country still calls us, that hope still needs heroes. we need to understand that there is still work to do. >> that was newark mayor and u.s. senate candidate cory booker speaking yesterday in front of the lincoln memorial. he joins me now. mr. mayor, welcome.
>> thank you very much. good to be back. >> good to have you back. we're talking about the legacy of the "i have a dream" speech and dr. king's dream. here you are, trying to become the first african-american senator from new jersey. there's one other african-american senator in the united states senate, one african-american governor, deval patrick in massachusetts, african-american president, and attorney general. so much progress but still uneven when it comes to elected office. do you think that's how dr. king saw the dream playing out 50 years later? >> well, i think these positions are important, but i think the matter that drove the march, in which my mom was involved, what really drove the march was not simply propelling people to elected office. it was dealing with the larger issues of inequality, not only racial inequality but frankly the challenge we faced in our nation then and now on the dramatic differences between rich and poor and the challenges we had then in america and still have now with poverty. >> you know, it's interesting,
john lewis just said it, al sharpton has said it, they always make a distinction when they say, look, the president's the president. what dr. king harnessed was the power of the grassroots, the power of people coming together saying, this is worth fighting for. this is worth being an activist for. as a newer generation of leader, you have despaired a bit about the younger generation. you told this to "the huffington post" a couple of years ago. "i'm still frustrated when i see how difficult it is to get people to take relatively simple steps proven to make a difference. not to take a freedom ride, or march against a club or gas wielding and state troopers, but to take a small increased step of service that, along with others doing the same, could make a significant difference. a lack of activism and polarized politics. a wicked combination. >> it is. something clearly i learned from a generation that came before me in the civil rights movement that the power of the people is
greater than the people in power. the challenge i often see in america now is we get caught in these -- this idea that democracy is a spectator sport, that you can sit on your couch, root for your team red or blue, but not realize politics is a full contact, participatory endeavor, and that we as a people can never allow our inability to do everything, solving poverty, to undermine our determinations to do something. and so i come from -- i'm a child of a generation that said, i'm going to do something to make this world a better place. >> it is interesting. you talk about the income inequality as the lasting legacy of a dream unfulfilled. you're the mayor of newark. unemployment there is over 13%. it's endemic in a lot of our cities, where we have that kind of failure. and a lot of critics will say a lot of democratic leadership there. these are really hard things. why have you not been able to make more progress in this particular area? >> this goes back to your point about partisan politics. politics is a zero-sum game. the spirit of king taught me that love multiplies and hate divides. we've got too much division going on in our politics.
when people come together, you make remarkable results. chris christie and i disagree on most things but if we sat back in our relative partisan positions, we wouldn't have ever gotten together. the fact we have come together has created the largest economic development period in newark in over generation. we are 3% of the state's population but a third of economic development in new jersey is going on in newark, because we found ways to get together. the manhattan institute, a right think tank, i have lots of disagreements with their leadership, but we said that one of the biggest problems in america is mass incarceration. it's one of the most expensive governments and it fails. it releases people and a majority of them come back. so we found ways to get together and do reentry programs of dramatically reduced recidivism. >> take it to washington. if you're a senator, how would you forge compromise in modern-day washington over this tension of spending restraint and necessary improvements to lessen inequality? >> this is the challenge we have
to get back to in america. we want to forget the partisanship and go to a balance sheet analysis of our country. a recent study shows the social mobility, the ability for people to leave their social station in life is actually getting worse in this country. we're falling behind our peer nations, and we're paying the price of it. you want to stop government costs. we're paying for failure. you think education is expensive. the costs of ignorance is unbelievable, prison costs, health care costs. what we found in newark is people understanding the strategic investments in our country's greatest natural resource, which is the genius of our children, produces incredible productivity. >> but it's still not working. >> because we're stuck in that anti--king stance where, again, hate divides. where i simply think we're in a zero-sum game, where if your side wins, my side loses. when we saw a spirit in this country that needs to be rekindled, forget about right/left. we need to figure out ways to go forward.
i believe that american people need to start demanding this from their politicians again, not people who can stake out their partisan differences but people who can stake out points that can unite people and move us forward. >> i have just a couple seconds left, but a special part of our discussion this morning. we look at your parents, two of the early executives at ibm, first african-american, black executives there. what does their journey tell you about the american dream? >> it shows me my dad born to a single mom, poor, below the poverty line in a segregated environment, like the majority of my children in newark were born, it took a conspiracy of love, activists, coming forth to break out of that cycle of poverty. now more than ever we need to rekindle that love. we have a declaration of independence in america, but the testimony of america is also a declaration of interdependence. when we realize we need each other, that when a child fails, we are less of it, when a child succeeds, we all benefit from that genius. so that's what we need to rekindle, to reignite that
conspiracy of love in our country, so that kids born now in those same circumstances can have the same opportunities as my dad. >> mayor booker, thank you for your perspective. >> thank you very much. >> coming up in a few minutes our special roundtable is back, plus a live report from richard engel on the developing situation in syria. as part of nbc's dream day marking the anniversary of the march on washington, we asked various thought leaders, celebrities and politicians to finish the phrase that dr. king made famous. i have a dream that -- we'll hear some of those, including snooping to dog and mitt romney. that's a combination. getting your vegetables every day? when i can. [ bop ] [ male announcer ] could've had a v8. two full servings of vegetables for only 50 delicious calories. and this park is the inside of your body. see, the special psyllium fiber in metamucil actually gels.
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we're back here at nbc news, marking the anniversary of the march on washington by asking you and others to share your dream by finishing dr. king's famous phrase, i have a dream that -- we've received submissions from a wide range of people, including mitt romney and the rapper formerly known as snoop dogg, now known as snoop lion. >> i have a dream that america's communities can be a safe home for our young men and women to achieve their life goals, that violence and hate will not be a factor on the streets, when we can all live in a world based on peace and love, no guns allowed. >> i have a dream that what made america great will make our kids great, su besh -- superb schools, inspired churches, and parents that put their kids above everything else, will lift our children and preserve the greatness of america. >> we invite you as well to
submit your own using the #dreamday. and you can go to nbcnews.com/dreamday to see some of the others we received. coming up next here, new developments this morning in the syrian crisis. syria says it is granting u.n. inspectors full access to the site of the alleged chemical weapons attack this week. that's developing this morning. i'm going to speak with nbc's richard engel. plus, what is the state of the american dream? our special roundtable returns. our special roundtable returns. [ male announcer ] this is pam. her busy saturday begins with back pain, when... hey pam, you should take advil. why? you can take four advil for all day relief. so i should give up my two aleve for more pills with advil? you're joking right? for my back pain, i want my aleve.
like carpools... polly wants to know if we can pick her up. yeah, we can make room. yeah. [ male announcer ] ...office space. yes, we're loving this communal seating. it's great. [ male announcer ] the best thing to share? a data plan. at&t mobile share for business. one bucket of data for everyone on the plan, unlimited talk and text on smart phones. now, everyone's in the spirit of sharing. hey, can i borrow your boat this weekend? no. [ male announcer ] share more. save more. at&t mobile share for business. ♪
the white house this morning is saying there is, quote, little doubt chemical weapons were used in syria, as president obama weighs military action against the country. and also this morning a warning from iran that, quote, crossing the red line on syria will have severe consequences. nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel joins me now from turkey. richard, you got additional information about what's happening on the ground in syria. >> reporter: several new developments, david. we've spoken to commander of the syrian army, and he confirmed to us that large weapons supplies have arrived to the rebel force. they came through turkey and we're talking about tons of weapons that they hope will change the momentum of the battle. the general also told us that he believes that bashar al assad, the syrian president, personally ordered the use of chemical weapons against civilians in those outskirts of damascus last week. when we asked why, he said two
reasons. one, that syria was responding to a failed assassination attempt against bashar al assad when there was an attack on bashar al assad's personal convoy in damascus earlier this month. he said that infuriated him and he ordered his military council to draw up options including the use of chemical weapons. the second reason, according to the general, was that the rebels in this area that was attacked, which is right on the outskirts of damascus, had recently acquired their own weapons. they had taken some missiles from the regime and that syria found this unacceptable, that it couldn't have such well-armed rebels right on the outskirts of damascus and that these two things combined, the failed assassination attempt and then these heavily armed rebels right on bashar al assad's doorstep led the syrian president to take this action. >> a developing story and our richard engel is right on top of it, joining us this morning from turkey. richard, thanks.
i also want to go to the white house this morning and check in with our correspondent there, kristen welker. kristen, as i've been mentioning, another development is this morning is that damascus is saying they'll allow weapons inspectors in. this is a big point because the white house wants verification of whether this was a chemical attack. >> reporter: it is, david. i just spoke with a senior administration official who confirms that the administration is aware that the syrian government has agreed to allow u.n. inspectors into the area in question. however, there are some concerns. they don't believe the inspectors will get in today. they also say that area has been shelled for five straight days so there's some real concern that any evidence may have been lost or destroyed in all of that shelling. but there's another headline coming out of the white house today, david, and that is that administration officials say at this point there is very little doubt that chemical weapons have been used inside syria. now we know that president obama met with his national security team on saturday. there will be high-level meetings throughout the day as the administration tries to
determine exactly how to respond. president obama has called the use of chemical weapons a red line. he has ruled out putting boots on the ground, but we know that he's considering a range of options including and possibly limited air strikes. so that is the situation right now from the white house, david, as we continue to monitor this breaking news. >> kristen welker, thank you very much, on an ongoing story in syria. we have breaking news this morning but also a time for some reflection, looking back 50 years since the "i have a dream" speech. we wanted to have a broader conversation of the broader american dream, the state of that dream today. the president took this on when he was speaking about college education last week. here's a portion of what he said. >> times have been tough because wages and incomes for everybody have not been going up. everybody's pretty anxious about what's happening in their lives and what might happen for their kids. and so they get worried that, well, if we're helping people in poverty, that must be hurting me somehow.
>> the zero-sum aspect of our politics. the big question is what is the state of american dream today? >> it's become harder. i want to pick up on what cory booker said earlier, the phrase the conspiracy of love. we talk a lot about jobs and wages and all the economic policies we do well here in washington, but inequalities show up phenomenally early, by age 2 or 3. getting the economic pieces right, it's also right to get policies and have families with secure attachments, constant disciplined love, large vocabularies, lack of stress and dysfunction in the home. those are the things that leave permanent scars and make it impossible for kids to graduate from high school. we have a firm argument on economic policies. we're not good at talking about the word love in washington. if you use that word in a congressional hearing they look at you like you're oprah. but that is what we need to do. >> we know, sheryl, that people around the world still want to
come live in america. this is a country of enormous wealth and influence and opportunity. still today for all the tough stuff, but is the american dream still what it has always been? >> look, the american dream is still available but for the well educated. so a couple of doctors coming from china or india, you know, in the middle class, they can come here and they can live the american dream. but for an inner city single mom who lives in a bad neighborhood with bad schools, that's a challenge. and that's the problem right now. so the civil rights scandal isn't jim crow laws. it's actually that a poor minority kid living in inner city chicago, you know, he has nowhere to go, whereas the, you know, rich white kid living in the suburbs with first-rate schools, you know, he's got everything. and education is the escalator out of poverty, but unfortunately that escalator is broken for kids who need it most. >> what the president was speaking of, doris, is this idea
that there's huge inequality in the country in terms of median income. we have a chart here. this isn't purely an economic discussion, but this is one of those data points that really illustrates the point. you look at the bottom 10%, it's like a straight line. it's not going up. for the top 5% it's steadily progressed as you look back to 1963. i don't have to tell you, you look at that chasm among women, also horrible 50 years later, and the feeling that there's not as much opportunity to move out of that state of affairs. >> i mean, the fact that studies are showing now that people born in poverty are likely to be tracked in poverty belies the whole idea of what america was founded on, the idea that if you come here, you use our talents, you work hard, you'll have a more generous life for you and your children. we have to make a national commitment again. i think the lesson of the civil rights march, there must have been doubt that you could change an entire system of segregation, but they overcame that doubt. we now have to overcome the doubt that we can change poverty. there was a national commitment to poverty under lbj. he had a multipronged approach.
he had model cities, he had work studies, he had job corps, education. the war in vietnam cut it short. there were some flaws in it. he once said we're going to crawl, walk, and run, we'll get this thing. we need to recommit to that. it's not a zero-sum game. poverty for us as a classless supposed society is one of the scourges on our system. >> reverend, is that a blind spot for this president that he is focused maybe too much on the middle class, not large on poverty? >> i think it's a blind spot on the congress. when you can't pass a jobs bill, when you can't deal with any of the economic inequality that the president has addressed and talked about, what we are really seeing in this present congress is, they are trying to revoke any remnants of the great society that came out of the '60s with lyndon johnson. we cut head start this week. we are retreating on the very things young people need to step out of poverty.
so you can't in one hand say that we want to see young people advance and have one america, but we're going to take away the things that could bring us there, and i think the other part of that is that we've got the deal with the american dream must always correspond with people being able to have the individual dreams aligned with -- so a dream for an immigrant or a dream for a woman or a dream for a gay, all of that must be encompassed in the american dream. >> you talk about today's congress. raul labrador is joining us, as well. congressman, republican from idaho. congressman, good to see you back on the program. you know, part of what we're talking about here is the tension between what government should do to address the idea that the american dream is perhaps a little bit out of reach, and as i ask you about the state of the american dream, i note your own unique story, born in puerto rico, moved to las vegas, became a mormon, a single mother, and went to military school.
you practiced immigration law. i would argue that you would argue the american dream is alive and well for people like yourself. >> i would. and it saddens me actually to hear some of the things that i'm hearing here because i think the american dream is alive. i was born four years after the march on washington. i was born to a single mother who lost her job because she got pregnant by me, who decided to give me life, but the most important thing that she decided is she was going to give me a good life. i didn't go to military school when i was a young man because my mother was rich. i went to military school because she decided to sacrifice. she decided to go without some things in her life so she could put me in a military school. then she couldn't afford that anymore, so she put me in another private school and eventually when she wanted to move to the mainland, she decided to put me in a bilingual school because she thought that the only way i would be successful in life is by gaining an education, by being better educated, by learning english. i remember when we moved to the united states, she told me something that was so
significant in my life. she said in private we can speak spanish, but when you're in public, you need to speak english because i want you to speak english to the best of your ability. these are things that she thought about. i spent the last 24 hours, i watched the martin luther king speech three times over the last 24 hours, and it was fantastic. and the rhetoric that he used, the words that he used, and the message that he used was a message of hope. unfortunately what i've been hearing from your panel is not a message of hope. it's a message of despair. i think we need our leadership to be more hopeful. >> sheryl, what is the optimistic case? facts are facts, and again the challenges of the american dream being within reach are still facts that government has to deal with and individuals have to deal with. what is the more hopeful case, though, about the american dream? >> well, i think that the problem is government gridlock. it really is. i mean, head start, as the reverend said, 57,000 kids have
been shut out of head start. and illegal immigrant children have no way to move up. the chances of an american moving up is, you know, worse. it's 1 out of 12 versus in britain it's 1 out of 8. so what does that mean? that means as washington dithers america burns. and that's really important. the government used to be the provider of opportunities, mass education, you know, local community high schools, secondary and tertiary education. the president mentioned head start, and that may be the single most critical thing that actually could help us build the american dream again. but as washington dithers, america burns. >> head start's not a successful program. let me play the positives. >> exactly. >> i actually don't -- it's debatable. >> i want to talk about something congressman labrador said. we are an amazingly tolerant country. you go school, you have names like juwanda goldberg in there. mixtures of all these
ethnicities. we're really tolerant compared to other countries. and we still have these fantastic stories. i just had lunch with a woman from a not great family, she's homeless, decides she's going to enlist in the navy. the enlistment officer said, no, you shouldn't enlist in the navy, you should go to annapolis. she graduates this year. number one academically in her class, gets a rhodes scholarship, runs track, she's a marine. you run across these stories all the time and they still are endemic to the way we live. >> there's no question that those inspiring stories still exist. the question is, is there a generation where too many people are not having that inspirational moment. i mean, i grew up in the world war ii generation. there's a reason why that generation -- my father had an eighth-grade education. he left work because he was orphaned. he became a bank examiner. we had a house in the suburbs. i was part of a whole generation in the '50s that moved up together. why? there was full employment in world war ii, there was the g.i. bill of rights, an income tax that was passed. there was a sense of commitment at that point to bringing that
generation going. that's eroded. it started eroding in the '70s and the '80s for the middle class and the poverty. it doesn't mean you always have these wonderful people that come up, but how many people with talent are not being realized? lincoln used to -- haunted about a poem of a person who had great talent and was? an unmarked grave because he never had that chance. >> all those realities are true. >> very quickly, think that as you hear dr. king's speech 50 years ago, yes, it was of hope, but it was pointed at what we had to fight. he talked about governors whose lips dripped with the words of interposition and nullification, which is no different than we're talking about changing stand your ground laws today. he talked about american gave blacks a bad check. so let's not act like all he talked about was poetry. he went directly at issues that we're raising today. i agree with david that we are tolerant more than other countries.
the question is not to compare us on how we are to other countries. it's compare how we treat some americans to other americans inside our country. >> congressman, just a few seconds left for final thought from you on this. >> you know, we're still the greatest nation on the earth. if you listen to what martin luther king talked about, he talked about making sure that we were not bitter about what was happening in america but that we had hope. it was a beautiful speech, and i think that the leadership, the african-american leadership, needs to start thinking about that hope that martin luther king gave us instead of trying to get the community to think that everything is hopeless and without -- without a future. i think when we tell our young people that in america they cannot succeed anymore, you will see more and more young people not succeeding. >> quick response to that. >> the quick response is that is why we marched yesterday, to tell them to do what dr. king did. you can change america. you can fight what's wrong. we are not hopeless, but we also know from the champion of hope, hope needs legs to it, and you need action. >> all right. different perspectives here.
just the beginning of this conversation, i know. thank you all very much. i want to add a programming note here. many of our nbc stations will be showing a special rebroadcast of our 1963 "meet the press" featuring dr. king and naacp director roy wilkins. it aired 50 years ago today. please check your local listings for details. history coming alive. up next, an update on the wildfire that's now reached yosemite national park. we want to check in on that. and later, my live interview with louisiana governor bobby jindal. possible 2016 gop presidential contender. presidential could be simple? well, now it is with truecar. just go to truecar.com, configure your car, and get connected... to a truecar certified dealer... for guaranteed savings. save time, save money,
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an update now on some breaking news. a state of emergency is still in effect in san francisco because of a huge wildfire on the edge of california's scenic yosemite national park. the so-called rim fire has burned more than 125,000 acres, and is threatening thousands of homes and giant sequoia trees. it's near a reservoir that provides water to 2.5 million people in the san francisco area. video shot from water-dropping planes shows the shear magnitude of the fire. last word it was only 7% contained even though more than 2,500 firefighters are on the front lines. next here, he's been mentioned as a possible candidate for the white house in 2016, louisiana governor bobby jindal is here to give me his blueprint for the american dream. right now, 7 years of music is being streamed. a quarter million tweeters are tweeting.
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and we're back. joining me now republican governor of louisiana bobby jindal. welcome back to "meet the press." >> thank you for having me. >> good to have you here in person. you as a potential nominee in 2016, you've taken on your party, said, look, the american dream's got to be within reach for everybody and we as republicans need to find a way to provide a blueprint for americans to get their vote with changing demographics in the country. you said at one time, calling your party the stupid party for some of the remarks made in the 2012 campaign. so i want to ask you about the battles that are brewing in
terms of this tension between spending restraint and making more investments. the president speaking a couple days ago, said, look, there is no more deficit crisis. the deficit is coming down. here are his remarks. >> we don't have an urgent deficit crisis. the only crisis we have is one that's manufactured in washington, and it's ideological. and the basic notion is, is that we shouldn't be helping people get health care and we shouldn't be helping kids who can't help themselves and whose parents are under-resourced, we shouldn't be helping them get a leg up. >> this is about the role of government in helping people reach their version of the american dream. >> sure. well, a couple things. obviously, i disagree with the president. i still think we have a deficit and debt crisis, debt nearing $17 trillion, but to the bigger point. i want to pick up on something your earlier guests said, when it comes to the american dream, the next great civil rights fight is about making sure every
child as a great education. look at all of those disparity numbers, and it really comes down to making sure that every american has a chance at a great-paying job, starting with education. we like to say we're for equal opportunity in education but that's not the reality in america. if your parents have the means, they will probably move to a good neighborhood with good public schools, or saving their dollars to send you to a good private school. there are too many kids trapped in poor neighborhoods with poor failing public schools. in louisiana we're doing something about it. 90% of our kids in new orleans are in charter schools. we've now taken the program statewide so the dollars can follow the child. the teacher unions fight against that. just on friday. the department of justice said they would go to court. we have a scholarship program. 100% of the kids are low income, 100% in failing schools, c, d, f schools, 90% of the kids are minorities. 8,000 of those parents have chosen to take these dollars and
send their kids to other schools for a better education, and a better fit for their children. now the department of justice using the same rules that were there to prevent discrimination against minority children is going after some of these parents and kids and saying we don't know that we want to allow you to make this choice. we want you to have to go to a federal judge. we need to provide a great education for every child. >> and forging compromise on issues like that is still going to be difficult, as is finding the real true message of the republican party as the republican party tries to win back the white house and overall control of congress. general colin powell was on this program earlier this year and he spoke about another challenge that faces the party that he says really is intolerance. this is what he told me. >> there's also a dark -- a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. what do i mean by that? what i mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities. >> heard john lewis say there's still not a lot of acceptance of an african-american president, calls for impeachment this week,
that some have chalked up to racism. what's your view of a dark vein of intolerance within the gop? >> well, first of all, let's talk about -- >> is that fair even? >> well, i have a lot of respect for general powell. i think our party at its best, its core principles looks at people and treats them as individuals, not as members of special interest groups. talk about specific examples, let's talk about impeachment, for example. look, i reject that kind of talk. the reality is i didn't like it when the left spent eight years trying to delegitimize president bush. calling into question his election. i don't think we should be doing that to president obama. the reality is one of the great things about this country is we have a peaceful transfer of policy. i disagree with this president's policies. but instead of just talking impeachment, let's have a legitimate debate, try to repeal his policies, repeal obama care, fight for school choice, fight against war and debt spending. entitlement spending. you see the disparity numbers, have the numbers from earlier about the african-american
unemployment rate, the challenges in joining the middle class. it's time for a new approach. let's not talk about impeachment. let's talk about the policies we disagree with. >> on obama care, you have the speaker of the house saying the president's not going to lose his signature achievement, that efforts to defund obama care, even to threaten a government shutdown, simply are not going to work. >> well, look, one, i don't know why we would negotiate with ourselves. this isn't about politics. i think obama care is bad for our health care system. my background is in health care policy. i care deeply about health care. the president himself said if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep it, if you like your doctor, you'll be able to keep it. turns out that's not going to be true for millions of americans. turns out premiums are going up by some to estimates as much as 30% across the country in certain markets and some much more than that. so i don't know why we would take any option off the table. i don't think this president or the democrats are going to want to shut down the government. that's a false choice. that's a threat coming from them. i think republicans should use
every tactic, every option we can to repeal and re place -- >> what would the impact of shutting down the government mean? >> i think this is a false threat from the other side. you don't have to shut it down to repeal and replace obama care. we should be fighting to defund it. the reality is let's have that debate. i don't think republicans should be negotiating with ourselves and saying we're not going to do this or that. look at every option to get rid of obama care. >> i just have a few seconds left. first indian american governor, a picture of you going to disney land, where else, as a kid. your american dream has been realized. what does it mean to you as a newer generation of politician? >> you know, it's amazing. my dad's here in the audience, one of nine kids, only one that got past the fifth grade, came here with his pregnant wife. what's amazing to me is he had the confidence, didn't know anybody, went through the yellow pages, calling people, had the confidence he could get a job. he has an accent, not a southern accent. he has an accent. it's amazing to me, he's lived the american dream.
i want my children to have those same opportunities. this is the greatest country in the history of the world. >> governor jindal, thank you for being here. appreciate it very much. >> thank you. >> we'll take a break and be back with personal special images to remember dedicated to american dream. here now our images to remember. ♪ ♪ some of our images to remember. that's all for today. we'll be back next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press."
good sunday afternoon. i'm craig melvin. you're watching msnbc. right now we're monitoring the fast-moving developments in and around syria, as inspectors search for proof of chemical warfare. the push for action gets stronger. >> i think we will respond in a surgical way. i think we have to respond. >> this has to be an international operation. it can't be unilateral american approach. >> in both egypt and syria, america has to take a much more clever role. >> we'll get the latest from the white house. but that is not the only pressure on the president. >> i think now is the single best time to stop obama care. >> stop talking about impeachment.