tv Meet the Press MSNBC December 8, 2013 11:00pm-12:01am PST
i think i can handle that. i think that will be all right for me this sunday, nelson madikizela-mandelman dedela. a special person whose world course changed world events. >> he was a president that embodied that human beings and countries can change for the better. >> his enduring power is that he showed us there is true freedom in forgiveness. >> we'll look at mandela's life, his policy, and how he handled
criticism. it's all part of his enduring legacy. my guest, tom brokaw, civil rights leader reverend jesse jackson. and harry smith talks to poet maya angelou as she mourns a good friend. >> and that's what he brought, was deliverance and ignorance. >> i'll have all that ahead on "meet the press," sunday, december 8. the world's longest running television program, this is "meet the press." and good sunday morning. it is a day of prayer and reflection in south africa as the nation mourns its former president, nelson mandela. flags are also at half staff at the white house this morning. president obama and the first lady will be going to south
africa on tuesday. and former presidents jimmy carter and bill clinton will also be going to south africa this week. nelson mandela will be laid to rest this week. charlene hunter-gault who worked for npr during nelson mandela's presidency, and from new york, special correspondent tom brokaw. here is tom back in 1990 interviewing nelson mandela after he was released from prison. it's a great photo. the reverend jesse jackson is here, one of the first people to greet mandela after he was released from prison. what a great day that was. we'll talk about it. and he wrote a book entitled "mandela's way." and charles ogletree who marched
for mandela's freedom and subsequently met with him several times. welcome to all of you. it's a great privilege to have this conversation. i want to begin in south africa with charlene hunter-gault and have her set the scene with this national period of mourning and reflection and celebration. good morning, charlene. >> reporter: right now, david, it is pouring down rain, and in south africa rain is a sign of good for tutune, so maybe it is honor of mandela. up until this moment, people have been dancing in the streets, they've been singing songs, they've been recalling aspects of nelson mandela's health, and we're near his house where i first interviewed him when he got out of prison. so this is not a sad time, even though there are tears she had from time to time, but south africa adored the world that
mandela created, and they are celebrating his life in every possible way that you could think of, including dancing in the streets. >> which is good to see. well, charlene, you'll be with us. it's kind of loud where you are and you'll be joining our conversation. tom brokaw, i want to talk about the man. it is unusual to speak of a major politician which, after all, is what he was, a revolutionary, a prisoner and a politician. but we speak of him in terms of personal virtue. they seem to loom largest. >> it was a perfect combination of a man who has suffered, learned from his suffering and had a vision of what he wanted for his entire country, and then had that wonderful user-friendly personality in which everyone felt connected to him in some fashion. i've been thirnking a lot about him since his death, how it resonated not just in south africa but around the world. we are in need of someone with those qualities. the people who remember john
kennedy, he was similar. remembering ronald reagan, he had a lot of the same qualities. at the center of those qualities was a strong vision about what they wanted that would be good for everyone. >> and reverend jackson, you go back to that seminole moment in 1964 when he's on trial, that speech in the dock that mandela gave. he said, i have cher i should the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. it is an ideal for which i hope to live for and to see realized. but, my lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which i am prepared to die. >> well, he was shaped by persecution and internal will and dignity, and he did not internalize the system. to that extent, he was gracious because of victory. he won the battle over skin color apartheid and political right to vote and legal
apartheid and national world opinion. he had a choice at that point to choose revenge or reconciliation. he chose reconciliation as a victor over that system. >> we'll talk about reconciliation because it is a lasting legacy over his political life. >> at that moment if he had chosen revenge, then you would have had a bloodshed. he chose to go forth by a kind of hope and not by fear. those are choices the man made. >> rick stengel, we talk about some of these other choices. in prison -- and you've written about this -- that he would suppre suppress emotion. the incredible story tom was relating oert night with brian on nightly news, hearing about the death of his son. he's in prison. he's refused to go to his funeral. and he also had to live with the fact that his son never forgave him for basically putting his political career and the country in front of his own family. >> i asked walter susulu, he was
his mentor, and i said, walter, did he show any emotion? and he said, obviously i knew he had all this emotion, but he didn't show it. prison was a crucible that steeled him. he was a compassionate man, and prison just made him never show that emotion. i asked him, what is the difference between the man who went in and the man who came out? he said, i came out mature. >> they bring in some south african journalist to try to demonstrate that, in fact, conditions there were more humane than people thought, and there was an image taken of mandela, and he refuses to speak to reporters. he is the stoic prisoner, always calculating about how he would be viewed on the outside and what his own leadership goals were. >> that's exactly right.
he was deteriorating in 27 years in prison, but he never showed that. he was a man of strength, of resolve, of faith. and he was not a bitter man, as reverend jackson said. he really wanted to make sure that people understood that he's paying the cost of freedom against apartheid, and he paid that cost for 27 years in prison. he died with some of the illnesses that he achieved -- occurred when he was in prison, but the reality is that this great man, 95 years old, left a legacy of struggle and freedom, and we have to follow that. >> jesse jackson, describe the moment when he's released. what was that like for him? >> we anticipated he would be set free soon, so i went to meet with mrs. thatcher and britain would not break from that system. america barely broke, so that was a high anticipation on how he would respond. he walked into the room at the back of the hall in cape town and said, freedom fighter, i was
calling for god. he had been watching the campaigns on television, very current, very up to date, and was just warm, and in addition to the speech he gave, it must have been that he knew every name in the room and he came out with his feet on the ground. it was one of the biggest moments in his life. >> tom, you interviewed him right after he had been released. we have a portion of that. i want to show that and have you reflect on it. >> what did you most want to see in the outside world all those years that you were in prison? >> a host of things. i can't even count them. the very question of being outside and being able to do what you like, to see the changes that have taken place, the changes that we have seen on television, we have listened to, you know, on the radio.
even though they are not the basic changes that we demand, nevertheless, south africa has changed considerably from the time i went to jail, and i wanted to see those changes. >> everyone agrees that prison did help shape him and mature him, and people who were there with him said the same thing. what was so striking to me when i first saw him, and reverend jackson and i talked about this earlier, the only image we had of him before he was released was that ancient black and white photograph when he was very militant, so when he stepped out, this tall, elegant man, completely composed, knowing the people that were in the room with him, completely at ease when we show up with our television cameras, which he had not had any exposure to, the sound man had one of those big boom microphones with a fuzzy thing over it for wind protection. and i said, you have to understand this is not a weapon, it's a microphone. and he said, i thought they were
getting the shotguns out for me again. that's why we were laughing there. it's that quality he brought to the public stage. think about the lives that he had. he was shaped by the royalty of his tribal beginnings, then he became militant. he was a warrior who represented the poor. he goes to prison, comes out, and now he is being celebrated as one of the great leaders of the 20th century. i would hope other leaders, not just in africa, but around the world would take a lesson from all of this. >> he leveraged his suffering and world a claim to bring down that system. he could have gotten out early on personal assurance. he used the world opinion to demand that apartheid end, that you could have the right to vote, that you could have the right to work. then he led the election. he didn't just leave, circumstances change. the freedom of that change with
global opinion. >> i was in college when he was freed, rick, and you have this sense, especially looking back historically, that he's released and all is well. and that was the opposite of actually what was the case. when chris hani was an anc leader, was murdered, that was a seminole moment. you talked about when then mandela goes to f.w. de klerk and says, you have to stop this or virtually everything will go off the rails. >> and he went on television in south africa that night rather than de klerk ask showed that he was the father of the nation. as you know, i was with him when his father was murdered. we were in kuno, had just taken an early morning walk, the phone rang and he picked it up and got the news. he was on the phone for about 15 minutes, his expression never changed. he put down the phone and turned to me with a little ex aspiration and said, man, where is our porridge? he was so calm in a crisis and
then he rose to that. he said that was when south africa was on the knife edge of a civil war. that was one of the most perilous moments of modern history. and he presided over the fact that they would repair themselves. >> charlene gault is with us in south africa. i want to show over the years of how mandela was featured, and that international claim that reverend jackson spoke about over the years that was used so wisely as he was heralded for those political ends in that country. >> reporter: are you asking me a question? >> i was just talking about the international acclaim that he used, as reverend jackson suggested, toward great political ends in south africa. i just wanted to get you into the conversation. >> reporter: oh, i see. yes, i was with him when he
first got out of prison and then when he first came to the united states where there was just almost universal approval of him and everybody wanted to see him. but i think what we also have to remember, and i was reminded of this, i had a piece remembering him in the new yorker this week, and i was shocked at some of the awful comments that followed, so while we have a man who is almost universally loved, i think the lesson of his life tells us he spent 27 years in prison trying to bring about harmony and racial reconciliation, and i think that's what we need to be talking about today, what of his lessons and what of his fortitude and single-mindedness do we need to be embracing, because every now and then, there is a reminder that things aren't perfect. but i think this celebration of him is almost universal, but we still have some naysayers out
there and i think we still have some people we have to work on. >> charlene, that's a perfect segue to what i want to talk about when we come back after this commercial break. i thank you very much for your time this morning and we'll continue to watch your reporting from south africa. we'll come back with the rest of our group in just a minute on "meet the press." nelson mandela, the leadership lessons he taught. but also how he handled those moments of vulnerability in his personal life. >> we're back from new york
this morning on "meet the press" talking about the legacy and the lessons of nelson andela. charles overtree is in boston with us this morning. professor, the modern influence that he has had. you think about president obama who meets him, and we have the pictures of it back in 2005. he's still a senator, and mandela had been encouraged to meet with this rising star in the democratic party, and this was their only meeting at the four seasons hotel in washington, the president reflecting on the life and times
of mandela from the white house on thursday. >> i'm one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from nelson mandela's life. my very first political action, the first thing i ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics was a protest against apartheid. >> and it's interesting, he being too young for the civil rights era, reverend jackson, but first to charles ogletree, this was the connection point was apartheid. this was the inspiration nelson mandela, who he could experience realtime, the joy of that deliverance realtime. >> that's exactly right. i was a student at stanford when i heard the movement about divestment from south africa in 1972. in 1971, barack obama was only ten years old so he was very young and never able to
appreciate that. what i want to make clear, though, we shouldn't call him militant, we shouldn't call him a terrorist, he's a patriot. he's just like the patriots fighting here many, many centuries ago for equality. and that's what he was. he was a patriot who tried to make sure that his country where he was born, where he controlled would recognize the fact that the majority of people who were african were suppressed by the minority of people who were white, and that has to be changed. he is a patriot who did a great deal in his 27 years in prison and did a great deal as president and continues to have that legacy as a patriot. i am a south african. i am an african, as he said when he got his honorary degree from harvard in 1998. that became a watershed moment of him recognizing who he was, what he was and who he's speaking for. >> but to all of you here in new york, it wasn't just that personal grace that allows him to say, i want to make a decision to forgive after he had succeeded. but there is a great deal of political pressure to, quote,
unquote, not sell out to the national government at the time which he had to resist and say, look, i've got a long view here, and to whites as well. >> you have to separate his career from dr. king's career. we were in apartheid in 1965, which was the right to vote. in almost 30 years we had a lead jump on that right to vote and used that vote to empower allies in south africa. going against our own government's policy, i thought the u.s. partnership and britain with south africa would help prop that system up. yet he came out seeing what his options were, and he knew that for giving a forgiving and redeeming had more value than retaliation and revenge. and even today, while we won the apartheid battle against skin apartheid, the apartheid that remains, the apartheid gaps in poverty and elt cahealth care a
education, we're still in it but it's just changed phases. >> one of the things that has to change, and one of the things professor ogletree said about him being a patriot, it is a much different world then than it is now. the great cold war was on at that time and the south african government was aligned with the united states. and people who were seeing that struggle were seeing the south african government as an ally of the united states and not paying enough attention to the big human rights issues. but the big issue going forward now is president zuma in south africa now and does he get the lessons from the life and leadership of president mandela and other leaders in africa, and not just that continent but around the world that they can take something away from that. there are not going to be a lot of people dancing in the streets because they're mourning the loss of mugabwe, for example, next door, but i hope the lesson
this week and the days to come, that people will see the real value of the kind of leadership that was not self-centered and it was not based on division but on unification. >> i do want to chime in on this. there was a great difference between nelson mandela and dr. king, which i'll get to in one second. our two countries were going on divergent paths. apartheid is not that old. it came in in 1948 with the national party. at the same time, america was moving toward civil rights, toward the -- brown versus the board of education was a few years later. he realized south africa was on the wrong side of history. but he also realized, when he came out, he had to repair the breach. part of the reason he never showed his bitterness, which he did have, was that he knew he had to reconcile white and black for a new south africa. the white's business center was the engine of prosperity for africa. south africa couldn't survive without them, he knew that. and that was one reason he never showed the anger or bitterness.
>> the 1986 decision for apartheid here laid the ground work for the apartheid decision there. we had to fight that same system that dr. king started in '63, mandela got out and there was the right to vote, and they had to get this commerce to declare sanctions very reluctant against our system. but the impetus to free that system came from the civil rights struggle on policy. and to think, david, he got off the terrorist list in 2008. think about that. >> he had sort of lingered there. >> he got off the perish list by george bush at the communists' urging in 2008. >> we talk about the mandela legacy and he's often compared, as we said, to dr. king, to
ghandi. but those two were killed much earlier in their lives before they could see the fruits of that struggle. mandela stands alone in that regard, doesn't he? >> in many respects. but let me just say this, i think it makes sense, david. when you think about ghandi, both mandela and king learned from ghandi his whole commitment as a lawyer to non-violence. that became king's legacy in his short 39 years of life, it became nelson man dailydela's l in his 95 years of life. king freed a nation and reverend jackson talked about the 1965 civil rights act, the 1968 voting rights act, the '68 fair housing act. the world changed and he changed with it. we have to lift this great man up for what he's done and what we'll do in the 20th century. >> quick point, rick.
>> he drew a distinction between king and ghandi and himself. what he said to me once was he said for king and ghandi, non-violence was a principal. for me it was only a tactic. a few years later he started his way, which was the military wing for the anc because non-violence wasn't working for the anc. >> when we last met two years ago, i asked about when they captured him, and i said, explain. he said, well, actually, i think i'm kind of glad i got arrested at that point. i said, why? he said, we've been targeting installations. we were targeting schools. i would rather spend 27 years in prison than have the blood on my hands of children in schools. >> thank you, professor ogletree. tom, you'll stay with us here. how mandela affected politics in the u.s. our roundtable looks at ending
apartheid and how he became the official congress in washington during the efforts to force his release from prison. >> what we're interested in doing is achieving the political objectives that president tutu has talked about, freeing nelson mandela. >> our roundtable, tom over the next 40 years the united states population is going to grow by over 90 million people, and almost all that growth is going to be in cities. what's the healthiest and best way for them to grow so that they really become cauldrons of prosperity and cities of opportunity? what we have found is that if that family is moved into safe, clean affordable housing, places that have access to great school systems, access to jobs and multiple transportation modes then the neighborhood begins to thrive and then really really take off. the oxygen of community redevelopment is financing. and all this rebuilding that happened
could not have happened without organizations like citi. citi has formed a partnership with our company so that we can take all the lessons from the revitalization of urban america to other cities. so we are now working in chicago and in washington, dc and newark. it's amazing how important safe, affordable housing is to the future of our society.
. we're back with our special "meet the press" in-depth look at nelson mandela. the question i've heard most after his death was what could he teach washington? before his death, he refused to be consumed by hatred and insisted on working toward a common purpose with his political foes. that to me seems to be what's missing from this era of argument in washington. president obama eulogized president mandela. >> the day he was released from prison shows me what can be done when presidents are guided by their faith and not by their fears. >> yet president obama has struggled since he made history. he still aspires to achieve political consensus on some of the country's most pressing challenges. mandela also faced obstacles. while obama only met the south
african leader once, president obama clearly understands the meaning of mandela. i was in college when mandela was freed from prison. in 1990 i traveled to oakland to see him during his visit to the u.s. on a victory tour, of sorts. he thank ed the tens of thousans gathered in the oakland sun for his support and toppling the right racist regime. his pure joy talking to the crowd is what i will always remember. i welcome this moment to pay tribute to nelson mandela as a figure who can inspire human beings to be better people. he exuded patience, principal as well as grace as a person. even after so much had been taken from him, he kept his heart open and changed the world. up next here, more on mandela and his relationship with the u.s. with our political roundtable after this short break.
"meet the press" is back with our political roundtable. here this morning, tom brokaw, al sharpton, paul gigoe and katty kay. now, david gregory. >> we're back from new york. the reverend al sharpton sheer. your book is out now called "the rejected stone." congratulations on that. i want to talk to the group about not really the other side of mandela, just his historical context. he celebrated in death, he celebrated in life, but there is a more divided view on mandela in the anc. senator kennedy on this program back in '86 talking about the push of economic sanctions against south africa when there was political disagreement about that, and indeed, reagan didn't agree. here was senator kennedy in '86. >> what we're interested in
doing is achieving the political objectives that desmond tutu has talked about, freeing mandela, freeing detainees. hopefully in the meantime we might get some international group who can go to south africa and look at the 8 to 10,000 detainees, some of whom have been reported beaten to death in the south african prisons. >> tom, this was a different time. cold war is what holds sway over our views. >> first of all, talk about south africa and the real consequences of apartheid. it was an unspeakable policy they had going. i was in south africa at that time, and an african who grew up in south africa, a person of color, had virtually no rights. not the sidewalk they walked on, certainly they couldn't vote. the law enforcement was directed right at them, the beatings that went on was certainly awful at that time.
currently we had growing in the world the liberation movement. the soviet union collapsed in 1989, we had the rise of poland, you had the velvet revolution going on czechoslovakia. china was beginning to change but they had economic movement like never before, so south africa was really at the tail end of liberating people, not only people of color. that gave idea to nelson mandela stepping out on the stage and being who he was. he just didn't measure up, he exceeded everyone's expectations. >> paul gigoe, for a lot of conservatives at the time, including the reagan administration, they looked somewhat askance at mandela. you wrote the following: the bulk of his adult life, nelson mandela was a failed marxist revolutionary and leftist icon.
then in his seventies, he had the chance to govern. he chose national reconciliation over reprizal. but it was that formal piece. >> it was before the communist berlin wall fell, and we were still in a cold war. and there was that debate over communism and there were people within the african national congress who were communists and were associated with the soviet union. and that is the context in which the debate here unfolded at that time. but in the end, i think, that doesn't diminish mandela's legacy, that enhances it, because he transcended that when he left, when he got out of jail, and what could have been a bloody revolutionary scenario which sank in with so many revolutions after the cold war, it did not because of his leadership. >> there was this debate, and
certainly so many americans were part of it who were protesting on college campuses saying this is the pressure that must be brought to bear. we have this in the modern context with iran. why is iran negotiating about nuclear weapons? because they're in such economic turmoil. but this was not a unified view between left and right about how to presssouth africa. >> there was a real battle in this country. so when rand robinson and maxine waters and reverend jackson led that fight, as tom knows, i grew up a student of them. they were attacked for supporting communism. let's remember, the anc that he refers to, they were pursuing freedom. many of the communist nations embraced them, this country did not. it was not like they were born marxist, they were born people
seeking to be free. some of the marxist nation either genuinely or in a self-interest way tried to embrace that. this country did not and fought that and denounced them and denigrated them. and i think for us now to sugarcoat that is a betrayal of history. we chose sides. we chose the wrong side. people in this country turned us around toward the right side. that set the stage for mandela to evolve. but if you're drowning and someone throws you your raft to get out, you don't call them a rafter, you call yourself the one that's trying to stop from drowning. those are the ones that threw the raft in south africa for freedom fighters. >> i think you have to put the african national liberation movements in the global context of the struggle against communism. as the reverend said, they were supported by the soviet union, they were funded by the soviet union, they were one of the fault lines in the cold war. and there was a real fear in this country and in great
britain. margaret thatcher also opposed sanctions in south africa, that you could lose southern africa and go to mozambique, and they would all lose parts of the nation. and all we knew about mandela before he went into prison was that he had joined the communists at one point, that he had been the leader in the violent struggle against the apartheid regime. and the real genius, political genius of mandela was that he came out of prison and saw that the policies he had espoused before he sbiwent into prison w no longer effective. >> everyone agreed that apartheid was odious. the agreement was how best to pursue the breakdown. after the sanctions debate, president reagan picked an ambassador, edward perkins to south africa, who was a black
american, who arg uld fued for release of mandela. and, in fact, he may have had significant influence in releasing him. >> but let's be clear, reagan vetoed -- supported veto on bills, reagan denounced mandela, called him names. he evolved after a protest movement here turned the tone and public opinion. but let's not act like reagan was a major supporter of mandela and the anti-apartheid movement. it's just not true. >> this came up in 2000 when dick cheney was nominated to be the vice presidential candidate. and he was asked on this program by tim russert about opposing even a resolution to call for mandela's being freed. this is what cheney said then. >> well, certainly i would have loved to have nelson mandela released. i don't know anybody who was sffor keeping him in prison. again, this was a resolution of the american congress, so it
wasn't as though if we passed it he was going to be let out of prison. it had another provision. it required the recognition of the anc, which at the time advocated violence in south africa. my recollection is the reagan administration opposed it and i supported the administration. >> tom? >> everything was happening at warp speed. that's one of the things you have to remember. we were going from the pitch cold war to these extraordinary changes that were going on not just behind the soviet union but in the satellite states as well. then in south africa, you had the additional pressure, as reverend sharpton points out, that grew really in a generational way in this country. the college campuses were critically important about what was going on. so that was beginning to rise. and the reagan administration obviously had a very strong anti-communist line, and you see that reflected in what former vice president dick cheney is talking about. so it's very hard to say in a kind of physics formula way, x minus y and you're going to end up with z.
because it was very dynamic in terms of the situation. reagan eventually did begin to talk about constructive engagement. at the united nation he said it was time for mandela to be released. but was he enthusiastic about it when he first took office? not by any stretch. but there was a lot about what we didn't know about what was likely to happen. certainly what i always think doesn't get enough attention, frankly, is the impact that mandela had on his captors, on f.w. de klerk who decided to release him. he knew it was going to be in the best long-term interest of the country. no one admired mandela more at the end of their relationship than f.w. de klerk did. he saw the kind of man they were dealing with and the interest he had for their country. >> we're going to take another break here. the roundtable will be back. but first, she said our planet has lost a friend. our harry smith talks with author and poet maya angelou about her enduring friendship with the inspirational leader.
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maya angelou in her poem called "his day is done" as she mourns the passing of nelson mandela. harry smith now, whose friendship with mandela snood the test of time and endurance. >> courage is one of the most important of all the virtues. without courage you can't practice it consistently. but to be that time after time after time when you're in a prison cell 27 years, when you're being brutalized by everybody, it seems, and nobody seems to care, and to be constantly gracious enough to say, i forgive you. goodness gracious. harry smith, that's incredible. >> what do you remember from when he was released from prison? >> my joy was overwhelming. i watched him walk out, smiling. hmm.
i was so proud. i was so proud to be an american, i was proud to be black, i was proud to be a woman, i was proud to be a human being. i am still proud. when i saw him walk out, that's who i am. that's who i can be. >> we are going forward. >> he not only survived, he thrived. just imagine. i just think of the person who could invite his captors and his guards at robben's island to his inauguration. >> so help me god. >> i weep now at it. >> reporter: what's the lesson? >> forgive. goodness gracious, you do yourself a favor when you forgive. drop that. whatever it is, it's happened already. forgive. maybe the person will learn something. >> true liberation. >> yes, sir.
indeed, sir. indeed, was his spirit that delivered us. and that's what he's brought, is deliverance from ignorance. >> reporter: when you heard, then, finally that he had passed, what was your thought? >> i thought, will i be able to remember all that i've learned from him, from his kindness and his generosity of spirit. will i remember? and i thank god i do. >> reporter: a week will pass, two weeks will pass, three weeks will pass, and a few more will be over and people will stop having this conversation.
>> well, i don't think anybody dies in vain. i don't think so. some of us learn. some of us don't. do you realize what would happen in south africa had there not been a nelson mandela? it would be running in blood. not too long ago, they weren't allowed to lynch a man or a woman, so i don't think nelson mandela's death was in vain. his life was not. i will never be the same. we thank him for coming. we thank him for teaching us. and we thank him for loving us all. all. >> what a reflection. harry smith, your thoughts this morning.
>> a redemptive morning to be able to spend it with maya angelou, but how eye-opening it was to be black and living in south africa. steve beko ends up getting pulled over by the cops in south africa. he's dead 24 hours later. you rick yosk your life just breathing and being black in south africa, and to see this man come out and talk about a teachable moment. >> thank you very much, harry smith. when we come back, we'll talk about other politics of the week. how did mandela's death overshadow president obama's push for obama care this week? plus, have we fina
back with our roundtable. the politics of the moment is obama care, and the president was out there reselling it this week, katty kay. this is a portion of what he said. >> if i've got to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that's what i'll do. that's what we'll do. >> underscoring that this is really the only job he has in his second term, right? >> it may be all he gets done in his second term. if he can make this succeed, this will be his legacy issue. and if you look at the chances of getting immigration reform, of getting some kind of comprehensive jobs bill, of getting some kind of infrastructure, of getting tax reform which is what businesses say they'll need, he may have to use the next three years to make it work, and this may be what he's left with as his big legacy issue. >> but you write it's not just about the website. there are a lot of challenges ahead about will this thing
float? >> the website is not fixed, either, particularly on the backhand. you have to deliver the information to the insurer and you're not getting accurate information to them. they don't know who is signing up. that's the big problem, young people not signing up right now in the numbers they have to to make this work long term, so you'll see problems with people not just losing their insurance policies but beginning to see what these narrow networks in these new policies. i can't keep my doctor, and by the way, maybe the price is not going up in 2014 by policy but by 2015, and that politics is going to roll out and hurt the democrats. >> going on the offensive as he did this week, it certainly plee pleases the base. is it enough to change the impression that america has? >> i think as we begin to see people sign up and we see victories. we heard people talk about, i did not have a way out, i had a preexisting condition. we see him going on college
campuses, young people are beginning to sign. i think it will be enough because there is nothing that can have glitches and problems forgotten more than success. i think the success of this, notwithstanding the problems and the blunders, this is the first time millions of people that had no opportunity to have health care and to be insured now has that opportunity, and the critics who have presented no way of doing that will not be able to dampen that as that becomes reality. >> tom being up here in new york talking to economic leaders, you see the unemployment news this week, positive. we'll show the chart on the screen showing the arc of it over the course of the obama presidency. it's certainly the right direction, but is it really turning a corner? do people feel that in a way that he'll get any credit? >> no, i don't think they do, david. i don't think charts give people reassurance, and speaking about health care and the unemployment situation. these are two very dynamic situations that we're face ing this country. a big part of the economy also involves health care.
what we don't know yet, despite the president's promises, is not only how the health care industry will respond but what big companies and small companies are doing to see that their best interests are served by all of this, and we can't see how that might play out by the end of his first term. terms of employment. yes, there are encouraging signs that unemployment is going down, but the middle class is still widely separated from the 1% at the top. we know we don't have the skill set in our economy. there is just another report this past week about where america stands when it comes to the rest of the world in terms of educational skills. we have a lot of work to be done. so these are decimal points we're talking about. it's not really dealing with the larger, big picture issue about the american economy. >> katty kay, a final point on this? the president talked about a higher wage hike this week, and it's just not going to happen. it's not going to happen if you
look at the current political climate. so a lot of these things still go unaddressed. >> he was out making a political pitch this week, but you have individual states, individual cities that are doing things on the minimum wage, but we have the prospect of unemployment benefits being rescinded the beginning of next year. that could again have another knock on effect of growth if people are not getting that kind of money. the underlying issues of this economy are still fragile at the moment, and the political consensus in washington to really shore things up, to do the things that are necessary, is not there. >> we're going to leave it there for today. thank you all so much. it was great to have you here. that is all for today. one program note i want to share with you, be sure and watch today in "nightly news" with brian williams. we'll be back next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press."