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tv   NOW With Alex Wagner  MSNBC  March 27, 2013 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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nia malika-henderson has the last word. thank you. alex wagner is next. >> edith windsor and thea spire got engaged years ago. it's wednesday, march 27th, i'm alex wagner. and this is "now." >> i am today an out lesbian who just sued the united states of america. >> the supreme court cracks open doma. the skim milk marriage. chad griffin helps us dissect today's developments. >> you are serious? you want to equate interracial marriage to a homosexual marriage? >> susie orman will break down what will happen when the right wing realizes it's wrong. >> i'm not concerned about the democratic party. i'm concerned about the people whose lives will be impacted by it. >> but will he make the moves?
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don't call it a comeback. >> toss the political scripts. >> sarah palin releases a new video with one message, 2014. and a shocking report on the culture of violence in the military. no, not the one on the battlefield. the one on women. >> in 1965, edie windsor meat thea spire at a new york city restaurant. she would later tell the times that they danced so much that night. they fell in love, spent 44 years together and eventually, in 2007, they got married. >> we heard from literally hundreds of people, little playmates and schoolmates and friends and relatives all
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congratulating us and sending love because we were married. so it's a magic word, for anybody who doesn't understand why we want it and why we need it, okay. it is magic. >> their story is a story of millions of couples who find love in this country, except that edie and thea were gay. and because of that, the rules were different. and edie was widowed in 2009, she owed state and federal taxes. >> in the midst of my grief, i realized that the federal government was treating us as strangers, and i paid a humongous estate tax, and it meant selling a lot of stuff to do it. >> today the supreme court heard charges to the defense of marriage act.
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the challenge was brought by edie windsor herself, for a basic reason. doma doesn't seem fair. while the court will not rule until june, it appears that a majority of justices are leaning towards striking down the law. the four liberal justices argued that the law was discriminatory. >> it affects every area of life, and so you are really diminishing what the state has said is marriage. you're saying, no, state -- there are two kinds of marriages. the full marriage and then this sort of skim milk marriage. >> what gives the federal government the right to be concerned at all at what the
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definition of marriage is. so they can create a class they don't like, or a class that they consider is suspect in the marriage category. >> justice anthony kennedy, the court's traditional swing vote, seemed prepared to rule against doma, citing not discrimination at the root of his concern, but state's rights. >> when it has 1,100 laws, which in our society means the federal government is intertwined with the citizens' day-to-day life, you are, at real risk of running in conflict with what has always been thought to be the essence of the state police power, which is to regulate marriage, divorce, custody. >> and then there were the conservative justices. mirroring current republican position on the subject, they expressed resistance to overturning the law but didn't do much to defend it either. led by justice roberts and
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scalia, they aimed to kick it back to the executive branch, specifically president obama. >> he has made a determination that executing the law by enforcing the terms is unconstitutional. i don't see why he doesn't have the courage of his convictions and execute not only the statue but do it consistent with his view of the constitution, rather than saying, oh, we'll wait until the supreme court tells us we have no choice. >> for his part, the president was happy to weigh in on the issue, speaking this afternoon. >> i certainly recognize that those states who recognize these couples as being married, that the federal government has to respect that decision by the states. that's traditionally how it works. states have defined marriage and the federal government has followed the lead. >> ironically and to
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republicans' chagrin, if doma does fall, it may be due to states' rights. joining me is the president of the human rights campaign. chad, it's great to see you. chad, let's talk about what's going on here at the supreme court, because we talk a lot in washington about political kabuki theater. what we seem to be seeing at the high court is judicial kabuki theater, which seems like the conservative justices really don't want to have to hand down a ruling legalizing gay marriage, so they're going to find whatever argument they can to throw it back to the states. >> i think you have to be careful trying to read anything into the questions. these justices ask tough questions of both sides, as they should, and we learned from healthcare that it's dangerous to try to predict what they mean by those questions.
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but i think what was question yesterday and today on the doma case, our opposition could offer no legitimate reason to justify the discrimination of doma orf proposition 8. and the point that you make about some of the justices talking about kicking it back or taking it down on standing, it's important to know what that means. the reason that's an issue is because no one would defend this law. the federal government wouldn't defend it. in the prop 8 case, we sued a republican governor, arnold schwarzenegger, and they responded by saying it's unconstitutional. we're at a new day on this issue. >> let's talk about justice kennedy. he has had prior rulings, in 1996 in a rule banning laws
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discriminating against homosexuals, he said homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy. it is not within our constitutional tradition to enact laws of this sort. that was nearly 20 years ago, and yet now you see him taking a more hesitant position. what do you think accounts for that? >> i think he asked real and legitimate questions on both sides. he also yesterday referred to the 40,000 children in california who are currently being raised by gay couples and asked who's speaking for them, who's standing up for them. so again i think it's tough, tough to read in anything into any of these nine justices. but as you pointed out, justice kennedy has authored some decisions in this matter. very soon in the coming months we'll know. but at the end of the day, as you started out your piece with the story of the real-life person, edie windsor, she represents thousands and thousands of people like her who are being discriminated against every day, simply because of how
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they were born, who they are. >> and one of the reasons we started with the story at the supreme court, is often we forget about the human aspect of all this, which is people who are in love with each other who just want an even chance, an equal chance under the law. i want to talk about what happens if it goes back to the states, because we were trying to track this sort of report of anti-marriage or anti-gay marriage, and it sort of happened concurrent. there are nine states that allow same-sex marriage and yet 30 states that ban same-sex marriage by constitutional amendment and they sort of happened at the same time. what culturally do you think accounts for that? i want to talk about what happens if it goes back to the states, because we were trying to track this sort of report of anti-marriage or anti-gay marriage, and it sort of happened concurrent. there are nine states that allow same-sex marriage and yet 30 states that ban same-sex marriage by constitutional amendment and they sort of happened at the same time. what culturally do you think accounts for that? >> harvey milk said it first in 1973 and then in 197. come out, come out wherever you are. come out to your family members, come out at school, come out to your families. and that's exactly what has happened over this decade and in particular over the last four or
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five years. today nearly 60% of people support doma. as we have gotten to know one another, we don't wish harm upon their family. eight out of 10 americans say that they have someone in their close family or in their very close friend circle at home, at school or at church who is lgbt. that's what makes a difference. when it comes to our politicians, they see where public opinion is headed and they want to be on the right side of history. >> claire mccaskill, jay rockefeller, these are not necessarily senators from crazily progressive states. it is in some ways a political liability. it has been for them to come out now as a testament to how
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quickly this issue has moved. but chad, before we let you go, i want to talk about as a gay american, what this moment has been like. i was on the plane coming down here on monday, and i felt the sense of excitement and the notion that we are at the precipice of history and that this is really a modern-day civil rights battle and the tide is fundamentally turning. from your perspective, feeling like gays are going to have an equal place at the table, what is that like for you? >> it is an incredible moment. but all i could think about, the plaintiffs are there representing the millions of people who can't be in that room, and all i could think about is that young person i once was growing up in a small town in arkansas. but there are teenagers who are discriminated in their school, in their church, and the
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government gives license to that discrimination. and what this does is gives hope. both of these cases give hope to that young person in any town in america today. >> i am so hopeful. thank you so much for joining us. coming up, nate silver predicts that marriage equality will have support in 44 states by 2020. yet republicans continue to suffer from a severe case of demographic denial. perhaps that's why the three amigos behind the doma act each avoided making any statements about today's arguments. we will discuss the silent minority just ahead. my mother made the best toffee in the world. it's delicious. so now we've turned her toffee into a business. my goal was to take an idea
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the tide of public opinion continues to flow in favor of same-sex marriage. but the right flank just can't help by swim upstream. we'll try to navigate the river of republican denial next. plus, rest easy, mitch mcconnell. actress ashley judd has decided not to challenge the minority leader for his senate seat. the kentucky tea leaves or the bluegrass just ahead. morning, brian! love your passat! um. listen, gary. i bought the last one. nice try. says right here you can get one for $199 a month. you can't believe the lame-stream media, gary. they're all gone. maybe i'll get one. [ male announcer ] now everyone's going to want one. you can't have the same car as me, gary! i'm gettin' one. nope! [ male announcer ] volkswagen springtoberfest is here and there's no better time to get a passat. that's the power of german engineering. right now lease one of
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if you love one, you can love two. what if all three people love each other and they want the benefits and all that. who among us should deny those three people their love? where does this freedom to do what you want stuff stop? you can have, you have one woman and two guys in a marriage and the woman could be impregnated by the two, and voila, you've got a family. >> what to do when you know you're wrong but terrified of being right. republicans can't quite figure out how to change with the country. reince priebus deduced that something is afoot. >> if you're basically losing for 24 years, something has to happen in our party. >> could that something be an embrace of marriage equality? >> my position is that marriage
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is between a man and a woman, but my other position is that you also treat people with dignity and respect and love and grace. >> your own view on same-sex marriage has not changed? >> no. as for the party's evangelical base, mike huckabee chose the middle ground. >> if they do, they're going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will take a walk. and it's not because there's an anti-homosexual mood and nobody's homophobic that i know of. >> rick santorum was still pulling out the old standby. >> if marriage is just two people loving each other or three or four people loving each other, you can call anything marriage. >> and what of the newly
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invigorated tea party? jim demint wrote today, those of us who support marriage as it has been, respects the liberty of others to live as they choose. president jim demint, we hardly knew you. what a boon to civil rights in a more equitable society, until you get to the next sentence. but governmental redefinition of marriage is a power grab that attacks civil society. so much for that. if the old guard is still stuck, what of the new guard? last night newly minted star dr. ben carson explained his position. >> no group, be they gays, be they people who believe in bestiality, they don't get to change the definition. so it's not something that's against gays. >> gay, bestiality supporters,
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whoever, you're all basically the same and you don't get to change the definition of marriage. dr. ben carson, your party thanks you for this elegant clarification. so the saga continues to playing the gop, perhaps comprehending that multiple parties and not the best approach, house speaker boehner kept his head down, never minding the whole doma thing is something he is paying for. >> listen, this is a very divisive issue, and i respect everyone's opinion. it was to make sure that the proper forum was used to make sure that we know what's constitutional and what isn't. >> let's bring in susie orman, host of the susie orman show,
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and congressman sean patrick. thank you for joining me. >> susie, i'm getting a muscle cramp from watching republicans twist themselves into pretzels over the subject of marriage. here is a guy who is dedicated to defending $1 million in court, and he doesn't want to defend it. >> here's the thing. if you ever really ask any of these people that how do they really feel about it, they then start to quote something that makes no sense on any level whatsoever. it's as if god forbid they should be heard saying the words, i don't think gays should be allowed to be married. they put it on all these other things, and that's what he did
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as well. what makes me so sad that, listen, gay people understand very well that when they get married, that is a legal, legal document. and when you get married, that means if you don't want to stay together anymore, then you are going to have to go through a serious divorce. so this thing about oh, two and three people are going to get married, it's going to do this, it's going to do that, it's so ridiculous, it's like saying, husband and wife, you would want two husbands. you get married because you love one another. and i really think right now the republicans and many of the people that are still trying to say that they're against it, they don't really know what to do because they know for once they are in the minority for this issue. they're just not used to being in that particular situation. >> congressman, suze brings up a great point, which is how things have changed.
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i want to revisit the year 1996 which is when all this began, and this is the house judiciary committee. the house judiciary committee's report said that civil laws that permit only heterosexual marriage reflect and honor a collective moral judgment about human sexuality. this entails both moral approval of homosexuality. if that is not a moral referendum on the subject of gay marriage, i don't know what is. how do house republicans walk back from that, congressman? >> well, they don't, and the fact of the matter is that people have always justified discrimination in moral and religious terms. it's almost a desperate attempt to justify something that is indefensible. look, my partner and i have been together for 20 years.
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we have three children together. we get up every morning and get them to school and make sure the homework's done. and we just want to be a committed couple leading our lives. these people in washington who talk as though the sky is going to fall must not have been watching as state after state has done this with little or no change to traditional marriage. at the end of the day, this is about people who love each other trying to enter committed relationships. my kids shouldn't be in a family that is scripted against, it's just wrong, and happily a majority of americans and a majority of republicans under 50 agree with me. >> suze, this sort of brings up the question of what is the road forward and what would be the best outcome for the gop which is in such a weirdly uncomfortable position, of their own making, but nonetheless it's uncomfortable.
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in the atlanta journal constitution today, jay bookman writs, the best thing the supreme court could do for the future of the republican party is issue a ruling that marriage is a constitutionally protected right. basically, the best thing for republicans would be for this to become a nonissue and for everybody to acknowledge this is a basic civil right protected by the constitution. do you agree with that? >> personally, i don't care what's best for the republican party. i don't really care about them on any level when it comes to this issue. what i care about isn't republican, democrat. i care about every single gay person out there. i care about every single straight person out there that knows somebody who's gay and whose heart is touched by the fact that there are loving people out there and they want to be together. personally, what i would love to see happen, obviously, is that
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doma is overturned. i mean, i would be even happy enough if the supreme court said, fine, let's go back to prop 8, it's only legal in california. we're only ruling for that state, and then if the states want to decide because it is the arguments about the states that have made it that doma is going to be overturned on some level. and i think then what can happen is that i think everybody, and i'm personally thinking about this, alex. currently i am a resident of florida, and i would be more than happy to go and move. and i have substantial wealth. i would be more than happy to move to california because i want to live in a state that validates me. and i would validate them with my money. >> congressman, before we go, the part of the electorate that's gay, president obama won the gay vote 76% to mitt romney's 22%. there is a question of morals, there is also the question of getting elected into office. one would think that republicans
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would at least try and put an iron in that fire and gain some support from the gay community. and this could be an opportunity for them to do that. >> well, it is amazing what can happen when your ideology bumps up against your desire to be in power. now, i don't have that suze orman money, but you should know it's going to cost me over $8,000 to insure my partner. he can't get health insurance. it's illegal under federal law. and if i as a member of congress can be discriminated against where i sit and vote, then what chance does edie windsor have, or the thousands like her. we need to do better.
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>> congressman maloney, it's such an important thing not to lose sight of the gay couples being discriminated against. thank you so much for your time. suze orman, please move to new york. we would be so happy to have you. president obama -- will congressional republicans speak the same language when it comes to the deal making? plus, tina fey impressions and big gulps aside, she wants america to know that she still matters. we'll be back. [ dentist ] with so many toothbrushes to choose from,
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welcome back. president obama continued his push for immigration reform today. sitting down for interviews with spanish language media, including telemundo. >> what more are you willing to do to make sure you can fulfill your promise with regards to immigration reform and not have a legacy of record deportations, and what would be the consequence for the democratic party that received an astounding support from latino voters? >> i'm not going to presuppose failure.
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i don't know why you keep on asking about failure, because i think this is going to succeed. i'm not concerned about the democratic party. i'm concerned about the people whose actual lives will going to be impacted by it, and i want to make sure they have the capacity to move forward and live out the dream of immigrants that have driven this country for so many years. i think it's good for the economies and for these families. >> the outreach to the latin world doesn't stop there. the president will travel to costa rica in may. meanwhile, members of the bipartisan gang of eight toured the border and met with patrol agents. senator schumer sounded hopefully. he said, the bottom line is we are very close. i'd say we are 90% there. coming up, the mama grizzly roars again. while the darling from kentucky is bowing out stage left. what does it all mean for 2014? we'll talk to sam stein and michael scherer.
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for up to 8 weeks. new vidal sassoon lets you say no to compromise and yes to vibrant color like this. new vidal sassoon pro series salon genius. affordable for all. big news out of kentucky today that is sure to have senate minority leader mitch mcconnell jumping for joy or however mitch mcconnell expresses happiness in general. actress ashley judd has announced she will not be running for his senate seat. quote, after serious contemplation, i realize that my responsibilities and energy at this time need to be focused on my family. if the gop is breathing a sigh of relief, sarah palin is back in the spotlight. after her all-star performance at cpac, it looks like she is still searching for the limelight. palin's action committee released a new video entitled "loaded for bear."
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yes, the mama grizzly is hunting for bear. >> sarah palin stole the show this weekend. >> she is a super star. >> and she's used that to help get people elected. >> she is fearless. >> the next election is 20 months away. the last thing we need is washington, d.c., vetting our candidates. >> i would not be in the u.s. senate today if it were not for governor sarah palin. [ applause ] >> joining me now is sam stein, political reporter from the huffington post, and michael scherer, white house correspondent for time. gentlemen, today we get sarah
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palin in a new pac ad. has her moment passed? >> clearly not. >> but in terms. being a queen maker, does she still have that power? >> it's hard to say. she clearly has a good following. she knows how to get the conversation going. she backs candidates who often are insurgents in primaries. and she has a decent record. she has some notable losses, but she has successes too. >> which is surprising because she's so humble about her losses. >> but yes, she is a player, primarily she talk about her all the time. >> you notice you saw ted cruz in that video, who is a rabble-rouser inside the halls of congress. in some ways hasn't made a lot of friends inside the republican party. the double hydra is enough to
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make even members of the gop shudder a little bit. >> you can see they've raised about $5 million. they've got a big donor pace. but they've spent almost all of it on sarah palin. they buy lists. they flay her around the country. she does these events. they give something like $70,000 and $5 million to other candidates. she's saying look, i'm not going away, guys. i'm not just an entertainer at this point, i don't have a talk show or book, but i'm going to be in the picture. and she'll have some impact somewhere. >> although in terms of the contribution to the national dialogue, it does seem to be based on highly entertainment value. but the fact that ashley judd is not running, is that goods news or bad news for democrats? >> it depends who you talk to.
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on the one hand, she would have been a very entertaining candidate. it would have put a spotlight on mitch mcconnell that i think would have been uncomfortable for him a lot of the time. on the other hand she has a lot of baggage. she has the hollywood label. she had a ton of stuff that was coming out prior to her even announcing the opposition. so it's tough to say. i think by and large democrats are going to be grateful that someone other than she will run because mitch mcconnell does still have weaknesses as a candidate. on the other hand it would have drawn a lot of attention. >> i think it's simpler. people don't like mitch mcconnell. he has to get elected in a state where 55% of the state doesn't like him. ashley judd was great for him because it was making the race about something other than mitch mcconnell. >> challenging patriarch gender normals. >> you had all these ways of making this all about her.
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>> mitch mcconnell has all these little projects in kentucky that he's helped fund. he's brought home enough pork to make himself still relevant, that he can say look, i've delivered for you guys. now you can run someone in kentucky who says i'm just as much kentuckian, i've just as much time and resources, and i can do for you in washington that he has, and i can do it better. >> i think the boast interesting part about this race is the emerging relationship between rand paul and mitch mcconnell, and if they stay as close, i think mitch is going to get re-elected, because they can hold the base together and avoid the tensions that have hurt mitch in the last four or five years. >> jesse benton is now working for mitch mcconnell and you're seeing a lot of more incendiary rhetoric coming out of the mcconnell campaign office, primarily because i think mitch thinks he needs to pivot. >> he knows what he has to do at
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this moment which is avoid a base primary challenge, so he signs onto the paul budget. >> the paul budget, which is not an aside, which is even crazier than the paul ryan budget. >> let's not underestimate how good a politician mitch mcconnell is. he will pivot very definitely from this and become a different candidate once he's clear of any challenge. >> it's interesting the amount of work behind the scenes mcconnell has done promoting rand in the senate. you kind of need the permission of the minority leader to do a lot of that stuff. he's getting the amendments he wants to get. mitch supported him in that filibuster. they're scratching each other's backs and it's really in both of their interests. >> is it sympatico? it sounds like they both have to -- it's a mutually -- >> they both have talents the other lacks. they both really need to -- they
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work together well. they can share their abilities very well. >> before we go, sam, in terms of the senate, how worried do you think democrats need to be? it's obviously super, super early. >> it's way too early. i think there's reason to be worried. a lot of these open seats are in predominantly conservative or republican-leaning states, but if history's any guide, we can't really count on the republican party to run the greatest candidates in the general election. >> a great understatement in a block that led off with a sarah palin ad. coming up, welcome back david petraeus. the former war general returns to the arena with a very public mea culpa. just ahead. i'm telling you right now, the girl back at home
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five years from now, most people probably won't remember the name paula broadwell, that is, unless it's a company by the name david petraeus. last night the former general attempted to put a period on his affair with broadwell, and now his public career may very well end in ellipsis. what about paula? [ kitt ] you know what's impressive? a talking car. but i'll tell you what impresses me. a talking train. this ge locomotive can tell you exactly where it is, what it's carrying, while using less fuel. delivering whatever the world needs, when it needs it. ♪ after all, what's the point of talking if you don't have something important to say? ♪ not financially. so we switched to the bargain detergent
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let me first of all apologize to my wife, jenny, and our four great boys. >> i want to again offer my deep sincere apologies to all those i have let down and disappointed with these actions from my past. >> there's no question that at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately i felt about this country, that i worked far too hard and that
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things happened in my life that were not appropriate. >> very powerful men who have very public affairs usually make very public apologies. it's a cycle that repeats itself every so often. enter david petraeus. last night he publicly apologized for the extramarital affair that ended his career. he offered this statement in a crowd of 600 at an rotc dinner in los angeles. >> so please allow me to begin my remarks by reiterating how deeply and apologize for the circumstances that led to my resignation from the cia and caused such pain for my family, friends, and supporters. that has obviously been a very difficult episode for us. but perhaps my experience can be instructive to others who stumble or fall as far as i did. one learns that life doesn't
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stop with such a mistake. it must go on. >> public life will certainly go on for the commander. petraeus is, it must be said, admirably trying help veterans find jobs when they return home. but the path is not as easy for the woman he had the affair with. paula broadwell was an overachiever with all the makings of a superstar. that all fell apart when her affair became public. broadwell isn't a victim in this story. she chose to have the affair and bears responsibility for its aftermath. but it's likely she will pay a much steeper price. following the affair, broadwell lost her security clearance. while the career setbacks are in some ways par for the course she has charted, it is in the court of public opinion she will suffer most, like the many mistresses, secretaries, and interns who have gone on before
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traumatized in the military are nine times more like to have post-traumatic stress disorder. they are at dramatically higher risk for depression. the likelihood of being raped is staggering. a woman serving in the military is reportedly more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than to be attacked by the enemy. and women who are raped are not likely to report it. that said, in 2011, the department of the defense received nearly 3,200 reports of sexual assaults. once reported, only 78% of the 8% of the assaults are prosecuted. researchers say the military should ensure that services are available in all branches of the military. in response, a pentagon
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spokeswoman says the department is, quote, committed to taking care of our people and will thoughtfully consider the studies, key findings and recommendations. the pentagon will have to give congress its official response by june. i am joined now by senior fellow at the american progress and the first iraq war veteran to serve in congress. congressman, it's great to see you, as always. >> great to see you too. >> i wish we had better news to deliver to the american public as far as the violence in the military. you've been working on this issue since 2009 when you commissioned a study. and you also prosecuted sexual assault cases at fort bragg. do you feel like this is a problem the defense department is taking seriously? >> i do. and there's a fair analysis that the department of defense was slow to react, but they are definitely reacting. and alex, let me be very clear.
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the people who prey on women or anyone, any of these victims, are the scum of the earth. they are no place in society, they have no place in the military, and the only place they have is a special place in hell where they belong. >> patrick, i want to ask you about the sort of broader narrative here. there was a great documentary called the invisible war. but as something discussed in the public dialogue, we just had a hearing for a defense secretary, and this issue was really limited to a few comments by women who were sitting on the committee. i want to play some sound from claire mccaskill who i think should be commended for taking up the issue in such a public fashion. >> if you think you are showing order with your current convening authority, framework, i'm sorry to say you are wrong.
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>> our military does an amazing job of training. i'm so proud of our military. but unfortunately, i believe that this is not a crime that we're going to train our way out of. >> what do you make of that, patrick? we talk a lot about institutional failure. do you think the defense sector can police themselves? you look at those numbers in terms of reporting and actual prosecution and conviction. they are low. >> without a doubt, and that's why we need to have a zero tolerance policy, and it just can't be top down, alex. it has to be bottom up as well. it has to go to the core of the military unit, those squads and companies. and i want to say that documentary was so powerful, but within two days, former defense secretary panetta, he then instituted that any case of
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sexual assault, it has to be seen by a colonel or above. and that's why i think there have been great leaders, like senator jeanne shaheen, who are bringing a fresh voice to the senate and the senate armed services committee to make sure this doesn't happen again. and when it does happen, that these scum are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. >> patrick, we talk a lot about women making progress in terms of integration, in terms of our armed services on the battlefield. 18% of national guard and reserve personnel are women. that probably is more than a ray of hope, but something to be decidedly optimistic about as women see greater integration into armed services, one can hope that the violence against them will change quite radically. >> yes, and within the next seven years by 2020, there will

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