PBS NewsHour full episode, Dec. 10, 2021

PBS NewsHour full episode, Dec. 10, 2021

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: abortion battle. The Supreme Court allows health clinics to challenge Texas' near total ban on the procedure, but leaves the law in place, setting up another legal showdown. Then: rising prices. Inflation grows at its fastest rate in nearly 40 years, complicating the president's agenda. Plus: democracy in crisis. Personal freedoms and representative government decline worldwide,

as the shadow of authoritarianism grows ever larger. MIRIAM KORNBLITH, National Endowment For Democracy: These authoritarian trends are being promoted from within, parties inside democratic systems that are pushing their own countries against the will of the people. JUDY WOODRUFF: And it's Friday. David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart reflect on the legacy of former Senator Bob Dole. All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."

(BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: Abortion has been front and center at the Supreme Court this term. Today, the justices issued their opinion on a restrictive Texas law. They are allowing abortion providers to continue challenging the measure in lower courts, but the law stays in place, for now. John Yang picks up the story.

JOHN YANG: Judy, this is about Texas S.B.8, the law that effectively bans abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy and allows private citizens to sue people who help a woman get an abortion. For reaction, we went back to two advocates on both sides of the debate in Texas whom we have talked with before, Marva Sadler at Whole Woman's Health in Austin, which is an abortion provider, and Rebecca Parma from Texas Right to life. MARVA SADLER, Director of Clinical Services, Whole Woman's Health: I was hoping for the opportunity today to be able to tell a woman, yes, and not have to tell her no. The bright spot and where I'm feeling hope is that the fight is not over. We do still

have a chance to go back and to rectify it, to fix this horrible thing that has happened. REBECCA PARMA, Texas Right to Life: We're celebrating the fact that the Texas Heartbeat Act is still going to be saving about 100 pre-born children and their mothers from abortion every day. We will continue to fight for the law at the lower court. But, today, we are celebrating, and we're grateful the law's still in effect. JOHN YANG: For what this all means and what comes next, we're joined by Marcia Coyle. She's the chief Washington correspondent for "The National Law Journal."

Marcia, this was a procedural issue, as Justice Gorsuch noted in the court's opinion. He wrote: "The ultimate merits question, whether S.B.8 is consistent with the federal Constitution, is not before the court, nor is the wisdom of S.B.8 as a matter of public policy." So what was at stake here and what happens next? MARCIA COYLE, "The National Law Journal": Well, John, the real question before the court, boiling it down, was a procedural question about, who can these abortion providers sue in order to block the law, if not permanently, temporarily, while their challenges, their constitutional challenge, goes forward? And so that's what the court had to decide today and did decide. It narrowed who the abortion providers wanted to sue down to roughly just four people who have licensing authority over doctors and others who might be accused of violating the ban.

JOHN YANG: So, then what's next now, that they said this case can go forward? MARCIA COYLE: That's right. It goes back to the federal district court that initially was trying to hear it, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stepped in and stopped everything. The abortion providers and the others who sued to challenge the law can -- now know who they can sue, and the federal district court will hear their challenge and decide what kind of relief they should get, if any. JOHN YANG: And even though the -- sort of the basic constitutional question wasn't at stake here, Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by the three liberal justices, seemed to telegraph his position or their position on this. He wrote: "The clear purpose and actual effect of S.B.8 has been to nullify the court's rulings.

The nature of the federal right infringed does not matter. It is the role of the Supreme Court and our constitutional system that is at stake." Now, back in September, this same set of four justices said they would have blocked the law from taking effect.

MARCIA COYLE: That's right. JOHN YANG: Why did the five other justices keep it in effect, keep this law in effect? MARCIA COYLE: Well, back in September, they said it was because it presented complex procedural questions about who can be sued, who the abortion providers could get an injunction against, but they resolved that today. So I'm not sure. I have no special insight into their thinking why they would not block it right now, except maybe -- maybe they have eye on the Mississippi abortion case, which they heard on December 1. Mississippi bans abortion after 15 weeks, and perhaps those five conservative justices think, once that case is resolved, it will have an impact on the Texas case. And then, if you want to be totally cynical, you might think these five justices don't place a very high value on the particular constitutional right at issue here, women's right to an abortion.

JOHN YANG: And, as a matter of fact, some of the conservative justices have talked about the abortion distortion, that they feel that abortion rights get special attention sometimes. MARCIA COYLE: Yes, they have said that over the years. We're going to have to wait and see how the Mississippi case plays out. That, as you know,

John, is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the landmark abortion rights rulings. But the tenor of the arguments on December 1 don't bode well for maintaining the abortion right, at least as it now exists. We will just have to wait and see. JOHN YANG: And tell us how the court works. After those oral arguments last week, do they

have a sense of where each other stand on this? MARCIA COYLE: Oh, I'm sure they did. The usual practice is, depending on which day they hear the argument, is to vote almost immediately after the oral argument. And that can be a very tentative vote on how the case should come out. Much can be done during the drafting of the opinions and whoever was in

the majority in that first vote who writes the opinion. So, it's -- I think it was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who said back during the Affordable Care Act, it isn't over until the fat lady sings. So, once again, we just -- we have to wait to see how that is going to turn out. JOHN YANG: The "NewsHour"'s very own chief justice, Marcia Coyle, thank you very much. (LAUGHTER) MARCIA COYLE: Thank you, John. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: Inflation in the U.S. has surged to its highest point

in nearly four decades. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that consumer prices jumped 6.8 percent last month over what they were a year earlier. At an afternoon event, President Biden acknowledged the toll that's taken on many Americans. JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: It's a real bump in the road. It does affect

families. When you walk in the grocery store and you're paying more for whatever you're purchasing, it matters. It matters to people, when you're paying more for gas, although in some states, we have got the price down below three bucks a gallon. But the point is, it's not gone down quickly enough. But I think it will. JUDY WOODRUFF: We will have more on this after the news summary.

Stocks rose on Wall Street today, despite today's inflation report, which analysts said was on track with expectations. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 216 points to close at 35971. The Nasdaq rose 113 points. And the S&P 500 added 44 to close at another record high. COVID-19 cases in the U.S. climbed 37 percent this week, with at least 25 states confirming Omicron variant infections. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky reported that the number of daily

deaths was also up 28 percent. Even so, she expressed optimism that the numbers will improve. DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC Director: We do have increasing cases. We're at 118,000 a day. But we also have many more readily available tools than we had earlier this year. And it

is the collection of all those things together, vaccinations, boosters, and preventive measures, that really gives me a lot more faith in our -- where we are currently. JUDY WOODRUFF: New York is tightening its COVID restrictions even more, amid a surge in infections. Starting on Monday, the state will require masks in all indoor public spaces, unless businesses or venues require proof of vaccination.

At least 54 people have died in Mexico after a tractor-trailer packed with roughly 200 migrants crashed into a steel bridge. The incident, which happened yesterday evening in the southern part of the country, injured at least 53 others. Survivors recalled how the crash played out. CELSO PACHECO, Crash Survivor (through translator): It caught the curve. And because of the weight of the people inside, we all fell into the curve. Clearly, the trailer could not contain

the people because of the weight, and it toppled over. JUDY WOODRUFF: Most of the migrants aboard the tractor-trailer were coming from Guatemala and Honduras. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is one step closer today to being extradited to the U.S.

for publishing secret military documents a decade ago. A London high court overturned a lower court's ruling that Assange's mental health was too fragile for the American criminal justice system. Assange, who is currently being held in London on spying charges, plans to appeal.

And three passings to note tonight. Auto racing legend Al Unser Sr. died last night in New Mexico after a long battle with cancer. Unser won his first Indianapolis 500 in 1970, and went on to win three more times. He holds the record for most laps led in the Indy 500, 644. He is also the only driver ever to have a sibling and a child also win the race. Al Unser was 82 years old. Former National Football League wide receiver Demaryius Thomas died at his home in Georgia last night from what his family said was most likely a seizure. Thomas played most of his

10-season career with the Denver broncos. He earned five straight Pro Bowl honors, and was a Super Bowl champion. Demaryius Thomas was 33 years old. And Michael Nesmith, the singer-songwriter and lead guitarist for The Monkees, died of heart failure today in California. He starred in the 1960s television sitcom about a rock

band modeled after The Beatles, which led to a string of hit songs. He later went on to have a successful career in songwriting, television, and film production. Michael Nesmith was 78 years old.

Still to come on the "NewsHour": Nobel Prize winner Maria Ressa discusses the need for a free press worldwide; former Senator Bob Dole is remembered during a ceremony at the National Cathedral; plus much more. As we reported, new data released by the Labor Department today show consumer prices are surging at a rate not seen in almost four decades. Inflation is up 6.8 percent over this time last year, due in large part to rising food and energy prices.

I spoke a short time ago with Jared Bernstein, a member of President Biden's Council of Economic advisers. Jared Bernstein, welcome back to the "NewsHour." So, prices climbing at their fastest rate since 1982, how big a problem for the country is this? JARED BERNSTEIN, White House Council of Economic Advisers: Well, this is something that the president considers a real challenge to family budgets. Even a moderate amount of inflation, he's mentioned, can be a challenge. However, we also have to recognize that we are in the midst of one of the strongest labor market recoveries on record. That's certainly helping to lift people's job opportunities and lift their paychecks. We're talking about unemployment claims that are down to a level

we haven't seen since 1969, fasting falling unemployment rates on record, six million jobs since we have gotten here, but, at the same time, price pressures. You're absolutely right. And we are doing everything we can, many more levers, actually, that we're trying to pull than I even envisioned, and I have been in this business a long time, from the White House, having to do with our work on the courts, having to do with taking down the price of gas, which actually has come down a bit in the past few weeks -- didn't make it into this inflation report -- and having to make sure that there's enough competition between companies that savings are being passed forward to consumers.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mentioned jobs, and there's no question there is some good news on the jobs front. Wages are up. But we now see that these inflation numbers are overwhelming wage increases. They have outpaced them. So, what do you say to people out there who -- I mean, polls show people pay more attention to inflation, frankly, than they do to a few more dollars in the paycheck. JARED BERNSTEIN: Well, a couple of things.

First of all, again, this is precisely the kind of challenge that we are focused on with laser energy. The president is instructing his team to do all we can to help ameliorate these pressures. Now, when you're talking on the wage side, if you look at the wages of hotel workers, of restaurant workers, of workers in warehousing and transportation, key sectors right now where labor demand is particularly strong, those wages are beating inflation, consistently so. They have done so for a number of months now.

They are growing faster than inflation, so real wage gains in those sectors. Same for the bottom 25 percent. This is part of the Biden jobs boom. Workers, particularly in low-wage sectors, have a real bargaining power. That's core for Bidenomics. That's something this president believes he came here to help make happen.

So that's part of what's happening here. At the same time, we have to make sure that those broad-based wage gains evolve for all Americans. And that means we have to try to, again, unsnarl the chains in the supply chain, so that the logistics can flow more smoothly, that goods can flow through the system more quickly. Now, we are having some success there. Judy, I don't think I have ever thought more about dwell time in my career, which is the amount of time that a container spends on the port. It's down about a third since we started working with some of the ports in L.A. and Long Beach

to help get things from ship to shelf more quickly. We talked about some of the gains on the gasoline side. That has our fingerprints on it as well, through the release of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. So, there are things we can do. We're doing them. We're going to relentlessly be attacking this problem.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just one other thing I do want to ask you about to come back to. You mentioned Build Back Better. That's sitting in the Senate right now. The president says inflation doesn't undercut the need for that. But you know there are plenty of critics out there in both parties who are saying, do we really need to spend...

JARED BERNSTEIN: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: ... trillions more at a time when inflation is rising? Even people who are on your side, who worked with you in the Obama administration saying that the administration has just ignored inflation too long.

JARED BERNSTEIN: Yes, well, I hope that you have captured from our discussion today that we're doing anything but ignoring. We're working as hard as we can to loosen these pressures on American families and on their budgets. But I want to unequivocally say here, for the record, that Building Back Better ameliorates price pressures in the long run by helping to build up the economy's capacity for greater labor supply, on the infrastructure plan, through investments and infrastructure. And

these will ease long-term inflationary pressures. In the near term, Building Back Better does nothing to the current inflation, the things that we're talking about now, these month-to-month prints that we're describing today. What it does do is help cut costs for middle-class and lower-income families, costs in prescription drugs, costs in child care, costs in education, costs in housing. Some of the most challenging aspects of family budgets, Building Back Better, helps to ameliorate those costs. It ameliorates near-term costs. It lowers inflationary pressures over the longer term.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Jared Bernstein, with President Biden's Council of Economic Advisers, thank you very much. JARED BERNSTEIN: My pleasure, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, at a U.S.-led summit on democracy, President Biden announced initiatives designed to bolster democracy around the world, from election integrity, to independent media, to fighting corruption. But the president and democracy advocates admit freedoms are eroding, and authoritarianism is rising.

Here's Nick Schifrin. NICK SCHIFRIN: This week, President Biden hosted leaders from over 100 countries and territories for a virtual Summit For Democracy. The president called safeguarding rights and freedoms in the face of authoritarianism the defining challenge of our time. JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: Government of the people, by the people, for the people can at times be fragile, but it also is inherently resilient. Will we allow the backwards slide of rights and democracy to continue unchecked? NICK SCHIFRIN: As the president said, the state of democracy around the world is not good. The nonprofit Freedom House has tracked 15 consecutive years of decline in political rights and civil liberties worldwide. and of 146 countries with more than two million

residents, only 39 are fully free. To discuss the summit and the decline of democracy worldwide, I'm joined by three experts. Miriam Kornblith is senior director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Endowment For Democracy, a foundation promoting democratic institutions. Helen Kezie-Nwoha is an activist in Uganda and executive director of the Women's International Peace Centre, an organization that promotes women's rights in conflict settings. And Heather Conley is

about to become the next president of German Marshall Fund, which focuses on transatlantic relations and the future of democracy, and was a State Department official on European affairs during the George W. Bush administration. Welcome, all of you to the "NewsHour. Miriam Kornblith, let me start with you. President Biden said there's a global competition between democracy and autocracy. Which side

is winning in Latin America? MIRIAM KORNBLITH, National Endowment For Democracy: Unfortunately, I have to say that I think autocracy is winning. Unfortunately, this is a region of the world that, until recently, praised itself of having all the countries in the democratic field, except for Cuba, and that has been a 60-year, long-lasting dictatorship. However, nowadays, we have -- in addition to Cuba, we have Nicaragua and Venezuela, and we have a significant slipping into authoritarian trends both on the right and on the left. And what's really worrisome is these authoritarian trends are being promoted from within, elected officials, players, parties inside democratic systems that are pushing their own countries against the will of the people, in many cases, towards authoritarian regimes. NICK SCHIFRIN: Helen Kezie-Nwoha, we have seen coups in Guinea, Mali, Chad, Sudan, the highest number of coups in afternoon in 40 years.

Each, of course, have their own local causes. But what's behind what Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently called an epidemic of coups? HELEN KEZIE-NWOHA, Executive Director, Women's International Peace Centre: The democratic process in Africa has been mired with a lot of corruption in electoral processes. You will find politicians taking advantage of poverty, a large number of unemployed youths, buying votes during elections, making elections not credible. We have also seen increasingly marginalization of minority groups, ethnic groups.

We see also increasingly social and economic inequalities that have also led to agitations by people calling for changes in government. Once people are calling for changes, the army takes over. And when they took over, they also used elections itself to manipulate themselves into power, making it even worse for people. NICK SCHIFRIN: Heather Conley, how are leaders in Hungary and Poland especially challenging democracy, weaponizing cultural values, and how are other leaders in Europe, frankly, taking their example? HEATHER CONLEY, Former State Department Official: Hungary, under the leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has really been a leader in establishing an illiberal handbook, so restricting constitutional capabilities for an opposition to be able to express themselves, reduce media freedoms, so any media voice has to be supportive of the government, is controlling the judicial branch, making sure that there can't be any meaningful investigation into a government. Mr. Orban's handbook has now been adopted in Poland, increasingly in Slovenia. In part, it's to ensure the current government can maintain its political power and its base, and making sure that the opposition cannot do that.

NICK SCHIFRIN: So, let's talk a little bit in each region about how some local forces are fighting this. Miriam Kornblith, let's start with you. What do we see in terms of resistance in Latin America to these anti-democratic trends? How are people fighting back? MIRIAM KORNBLITH: There is a lot of fighting back against the authoritarian trends. Even in the case of Cuba, for the first time in 60 years, people took to the streets. There's a very vibrant civil society in Latin America that is fighting back. They are looking for transparency, anti-corruption. They're looking for rule of law, for independent judiciary,

for independent legislative branches. There are lots of courageous, innovative and very committed people fighting back. NICK SCHIFRIN: Helen Kezie-Nwoha, you talked a lot about elections. Why is it important for the world to try and support African election infrastructure? HELEN KEZIE-NWOHA: Civil society organizations and others bodies are working very hard to ensure that electoral processes are more transparent, despite the militarized nature of states within Africa.

Although there's been a lot of works in terms of sensitizing the citizens on the rule of law on elections, you find that the environment itself is not conducive for civil society. NICK SCHIFRIN: Heather Conley, we have seen major protests across Poland. Can something like that make a difference? HEATHER CONLEY: Absolutely. So, you really are seeing a pretty significant social mobilization. But is it enough? You have governments that have all the tools. They control the media, they control the funding sources, and they are able to use their majorities to pass through new laws.

But I think we're seeing some real improvements. So we see this as well in the European Union withholding pandemic relief funds from both Poland and Hungary because of the democratic backsliding, may, in fact, have the greatest leverage, in addition to strong U.S. engagement. NICK SCHIFRIN: And, finally, let's look at the Summit For Democracy itself. And let me come back to you, Heather Conley. The Biden administration has been -- criticizing for inviting some countries to the summit that they say are sliding back from democracy, Philippines and Egypt, for example. Do you think the Biden administration held this summit in the correct way? HEATHER CONLEY: My recommendation would be, let's focus on the democratic activists, the freedom fighters that are working very hard within these countries to fight for a different future. Give them the tools, the mechanisms.

When you get into the countries and the geopolitics, it starts not making sense exactly. And it wasn't clear from the White House what exactly the criteria was for those that were -- that joined the summit that did not have strong democratic credentials. Others that did have strong criminal democratic credentials were not allowed in. So it was an unnecessary distraction. NICK SCHIFRIN: Helen Kezie-Nwoha, can a summit for democracy help fortify democracy? HELEN KEZIE-NWOHA: I don't know to what extent this conference is going to be able to fortify democracy.

We're talking about changing institutions of governance, changing institutions of elections. And we don't have those technical people in the room, although I believe it is a starting point to begin to discuss how democracy can be more transparent, more effective. NICK SCHIFRIN: Miriam Kornblith, the administration says one of its goals is to promote democracy across Latin America. It's also openly discussed how, in the words of Vice President Harris, U.S. democracy is not immune from threats, mentioning January 6. What's the impact of American democratic flaws on its ability to spread democracy in the region? MIRIAM KORNBLITH: To those who oppose the U.S., raises their views and arguments, saying,

well, that is not the kind of democracy that serves as a model. But, on the other hand, I think it opens the opportunity for a more sincere and more direct conversation. Many people, governments in the region resented was this sense of superiority, like the feeling that a model was being imposed because the U.S. model was so perfect. I think recognizing that the U.S. system has difficulties opens this possibility of addressing in a -- say, I would say a more -- maybe more sincere fashion. NICK SCHIFRIN: Miriam Kornblith, Helen Kezie-Nwoha, and Heather Conley, thank you very much.

HELEN KEZIE-NWOHA: Thank you, Nick. JUDY WOODRUFF: The Nobel Peace Prizes were awarded today in Oslo, Norway. This year's winners were two journalists honored for their unrelenting pursuits of truth in a world becoming less free. Dmitry Muratov, editor of one of Russia's last independent news sources, was recognized for his work. And Philippines journalist Maria Ressa, editor of Rappler.com, called for a

reform of social media platforms. MARIA RESSA, CEO, Rappler: Our greatest need today is to transform that hate and violence, the toxic sludge that's coursing through our information ecosystem, prioritized by American Internet companies that make more money by spreading that hate and triggering the worst in us. JUDY WOODRUFF: I spoke with Maria Ressa last night, and I asked her if it felt at all real yet. (LAUGHTER) MARIA RESSA: Oh, I still do -- you know that painting The Scream? That still -- it's been more than a month, and not yet. It's sinking in slowly. But having to write a Nobel lecture makes you really think about this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What does it mean to you personally, first of all? MARIA RESSA: Judy, you know that we have been under attack by our government for the last five years. And having the Nobel Committee shine the light on what journalists are going through in the Philippines, I mean, personally, it's a lift. You know, it feels like a little bit of a reprieve. And, hopefully, I can pay it forward.

I think journalists in the Philippines felt this, and Filipinos, as we move into our May 2022 elections. JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think this is going to mean for the people of the Philippines, but for government officials? Because they have hauled you into court time and again. They have charged you with libel. You had to get, what, permission from four different courts even to travel to Oslo. MARIA RESSA: Look, I think the conditions haven't changed yet. Just yesterday, a former colleague was shot, hit with a bullet to the head. But, also,

beyond that, a Cabinet secretary just said he would file a legal complaint against seven news organizations, and all we did was report on the corruption charges against him. That was said in a press conference. JUDY WOODRUFF: There's an election coming up in the Philippines. Do you think that provides hope of change from the current Duterte regime? MARIA RESSA: It feels like 1986 all over again, because it is a Marcos against a woman.

You know, our top opposition leader is the vice president, Leni Robredo. And Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is the front-runner for president. And he filed this candidacy 35 years after his family and his father were kicked out, ousted in a People Power Revolt. So, who knows what will happen in our May elections. One thing is clear is that this

-- you cannot have integrity of elections if you don't have integrity of facts. And that is something all of us, all democracies around the world face. JUDY WOODRUFF: What more, Maria, do you think needs to be done to support journalists, to support freedom of the press, especially as we see more and more governments around the world sliding toward authoritarianism? MARIA RESSA: I think the accelerant for the attacks against journalists is technology. And part of the reason that these authoritarian, populist-style leaders have gained power all around the world has been because the information ecosystem, the gatekeepers have changed from news organizations to technology, to social media platforms. So, I think the first step is regulation. We have to stop the impunity that social media actually prioritizes over news, over facts. And then the second thing is, we have to help

independent media survive. The world has gotten significantly more dangerous, I'd say exponentially more dangerous, for journalists just trying to do their jobs. JUDY WOODRUFF: I was looking at the Committee to Protect Journalists. They have put out a -- in their last report, 1, 421 journalists from around the world killed since 1992, 293 imprisoned for their work. But you keep urging journalists to stay with it. What's at stake here? MARIA RESSA: Truth, facts, our democracy, right? I always say that what has wound up happening is technology, social media has prioritized the spread of lies, laced with anger and hate, over facts. So, if you don't have facts, you

can't have truth. If you don't have truth, you can't have trust. JUDY WOODRUFF: When ordinary citizens ask, why does this -- why should this matter for me, what do you say to them? MARIA RESSA: Well, if you're on social media, if you're on the American social media platforms, you are being insidiously manipulated. You have these algorithms of distribution, algorithms of bias. The editorial judgment of these tech platforms are actually done exponentially, and it's -- the prioritization is lies over facts. JUDY WOODRUFF: So when this prize is awarded to you, and you go back home to the Philippines, what do you think the prospects are that you're going to be able to remain free? MARIA RESSA: I don't know. You know, the future for me is -- I don't know what it will bring. I do know that I

face 10 criminal charges, which could lead to about 100 years in prison. And it's almost like a high-stakes game of chicken, because I know I am innocent. I know these are trumped-up charges. And I will fight them in court. My ability to do that will depend on what happens during our elections, whether our judges stay to the spirit of the law. But I also think it's a time that matters. I think it's a risk worth taking. I couldn't do anything else.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Maria Ressa, being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, we congratulate you. Thank you so much. MARIA RESSA: Thank you, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: President Biden and a large number of political leaders from both parties gathered today to honor the late Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole at his funeral in Washington, D.C.

Amna Nawaz has our report. AMNA NAWAZ: The late Bob Dole arrived at the Washington National Cathedral today, his casket draped in the flag he had honored as a soldier and statesman. The first tribute delivered by his former Senate colleague President Joe Biden: JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: He came into the arena with certain guiding principles that began with devotion to country, to fair play, to decency, to dignity, to honor, to literally attempting to find the common good. AMNA NAWAZ: Those principles, Biden said, led Dole to deep concern in his final days about threats to American democracy.

JOE BIDEN: And this soldier reminded us -- and I quote -- "Too many of us have sacrificed too much in defending freedom from foreign adversaries to allow our democracy to crumble in a state -- under a state of infighting that grows more unacceptable day by day." AMNA NAWAZ: Biden hailed Dole as a man of integrity and quick wit, on display when Dole was asked why he bucked his party casting the deciding vote to save Amtrak: JOE BIDEN: He said, it's the best way to get Joe Biden the hell out of here at night, so he's not here in the morning. (LAUGHTER) JOE BIDEN: Excuse my language. AMNA NAWAZ: Fellow Kansan Pat Roberts, who followed Dole in the Senate, today recalled the deep connection he kept to his home state. FMR. SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R-KS): Whether we were in Topeka, Abilene, Wichita, or Dodge City,

I saw Bob Dole connect with Kansans always on a personal level. AMNA NAWAZ: Roberts too remembered Dole's renowned humor, often deployed to break down political walls. FMR. SEN. PAT ROBERTS: It was embedded in his nature to deliver that punchline deadpan,

knowing, waiting for the room to light up, which it always did, For the barriers to come down, letting the air out of the partisan balloons. AMNA NAWAZ: Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat who served opposite then-leader Dole, spoke of a bond born across party lines that only strengthened with time. FMR. SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD): I have always thought that life has no blessing like that of a good friend. And to know Bob was to know the truth of that statement. AMNA NAWAZ: The final tribute, from Dole's daughter, Robin, who saw firsthand her father's lifetime of service. ROBIN DOLE, Daughter of Bob Dole: He set a personal goal to help at least one person every day of his life.

Then, he said: "I'm not sure I have been able to meet my goal." I said: "Dad, you have got to be kidding. Some days, you help one person, and other days you help 40,000 people." I will miss him so much. I think I will still talk to him every night.

I love you, dad. I promise, you will never walk alone. AMNA NAWAZ: After the cathedral service, Dole was brought to the World War II Memorial. Actor Tom Hanks, who starred in the 1998 World War II film "Saving Private Ryan," helped Dole to raise funds for the memorial, but said the senator was the driving force. TOM HANKS, Actor: He pushed the idea. He corralled the votes. He made the phone calls. He enlisted

allies. This memorial stands in this rightful site because Bob Dole remembered. AMNA NAWAZ: Dole's military service and sacrifice were front and center in remarks from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley. Dole nearly died as a 21-year-old, shot by a Nazi machine gun. He was later awarded two Purple Hearts. GEN. MARK MILLEY, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff: He continually raised his hand, mangled as it was, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. We are all

better off for the service of Senator Bob Dole. AMNA NAWAZ: Former Senator and Secretary Elizabeth Dole honored her husband through deeds today, not words, carefully laying a wreath in his memory. The late Senator Dole will now return to Kansas for home state tributes, before being laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz. JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we turn to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart. That is New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post.

Very good to see both of you. I have to say, I was at that service today, very, very moving. And, Jonathan, I know you were there too. And, David, I want to talk about Bob Dole because I wanted to talk about how much it was stressed he worked across party lines. He started out as a partisan earlier in his career, chairman of the Republican Party, but then he went on to work on food stamps, the ADA. He worked on Martin Luther King's holiday.

Is there a lesson in all this? DAVID BROOKS: Well, it was a different time, when he -- he was a war hero, obviously. And he was in Kansas. And some Democrat said to him, you should run for office. You're a war hero. Run as a Democrat. And then a Republican said to him, you should run as a Republican. There are twice as many Republicans here. So, he said, OK, I'm a Republican. (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: And it was like not an ideological chasm, the way it is now.

And he was a dealmaker. I mean, he was a guy who counted votes. He never -- and people who worked for him, especially on the presidential campaign, were sometimes frustrated that he didn't have a strict ideological line. He just wasn't wired that way. And so he was good at counting votes. And he always wanted to know how you could get

a coalition of a majority. And he was phenomenally good at it. And he -- people liked him. He was certainly acerbic. And he was certainly a tough guy. But he was funny. I mean, my favorite Dole joke is, after he lost the election, people asked him, how do you sleep having lost the presidential election? He said, I sleep like a baby. I wake up every two hours screaming. (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: And so that's who he was. So, he was not a product of our age. And we -- people like that don't go into politics

right now. There are still people like that. They just don't go into politics. JUDY WOODRUFF: And I was struck, Jonathan, more Democrats were speaking today, Tom Daschle, the former Democratic Senate majority leader, and President Biden, than there were Republicans. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right. Sitting there, I was thinking, one, it was an honor to be there. JUDY WOODRUFF: It was.

JONATHAN CAPEHART: And I was sitting there thinking, I'm sure people will be talking about this as a Washington funeral because of the pageantry and the solemnity. But the more I thought about it, and listening to the speeches of the president and Senator Daschle, and Senator Pat Roberts as well, that this was a national funeral. This was a funeral that was saying goodbye to, as the president said, a statesman, a patriot. Patriot was used -- a word used many times, a national hero, someone who reached across the aisle to make deals, who put country first.

I think one of the earlier ministers remarked how folks had gathered there five weeks earlier to say goodbye to Colin Powell. And the president delivered a similar speech then, I recalled watching on television. In this time that we're in right now, where the ideological divides are so wide, that the rancor on Capitol Hill is so intense, that, to be in a place where we're sort of reminded of what is -- what used to be, but also what's still possible, if folks could just get out of their way. And I can just tell my Bob Dole story. I was an intern on "The Today Show." It was July

1986, big celebration over the -- I think it was the unveiling of the refurbished Statue of Liberty. My job was to escort the guests from the ground up the steps on the elevated -- the elevated set. Bob Dole and Mrs. Dole came, and I had to escort them. And there were rumors that he was going to run for president. So I leaned into him. And I asked him, "Are you going to run for president?" And he leaned down and he said: "Yes. Are you going to help me?"

And I said, "Yes." (LAUGHTER) JONATHAN CAPEHART: And it was just so -- it was so exciting. And when you said he just wasn't wired ideologically, that came racing back to me, because that's the person I remembered him then. JUDY WOODRUFF: And when President Biden today, I mean, made what to me sounded like a direct appeal to -- reminding everybody you can't have democracy without compromise.

But, David, is this a bygone era, we can't bring it back? DAVID BROOKS: I believe in cycles. So I think it'll come back. I mean, we're not in that era now. But we have been in polarized eras before in our history. And people just get sick of it. And you think -- and I do think people will eventually get sick of a government that is semi-dysfunctional. And you think of Bob Dole, the Americans With Disabilities Act.

There were all sorts of pieces of legislation that he worked through, a lot of Veterans Affairs stuff. And he -- the '86 tax reform, which was probably the peak of legislative craftsmanship in my lifetime, with people like Danny Rostenkowski and Bill Bradley. And I just believe in cycles, since we didn't -- we weren't born yesterday as a country. And we have been through worse. JUDY WOODRUFF: It may be a long cycle, though.

JONATHAN CAPEHART: Yes, a long cycle, and a cycle where I'm looking for, who are the statesmen in the Republican Party now? Who is the Bob Dole? Who is the Colin Powell? Who is going to be that person who's in the generation of leaders in the Republican Party, in national office right now who we will be sitting years down the road saying the exact same thing? I can't think of anyone. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, beyond even partisanship David, we reported earlier on this summit on democracy the president was presiding over this week, talking about democracy challenge -- under challenge around the world. Meantime, you have people seriously concerned in this country, journalists, academics, writers, about what's happening right now, and efforts, in their view, to begin to affect the outcome of the election -- the next election, this year, coming year, 2024. I mean, where -- I mean, how concerned should Americans be? DAVID BROOKS: I think pretty concerned. I was in Russia when the Soviet Union fell. I was in Ukraine. I was in the Middle East. And I saw in the '90s that sweep of democratization. And the U.S. was genuinely admired. Ronald

Reagan was genuinely admired for saying, the Soviet Union was an evil empire. And I saw America doing good in the world. We have lost faith in ourselves to do good, like Iraq and Afghanistan. And I think we have gone a little too on the other side at the same time. As we just heard, technology

is swept in. Authoritarian ideas have gained prestige. China's had a big effect on spreading authoritarian ideas around the world, Russia, and then the same forces in our own country. And so I'm glad Biden did this, because, even though -- with our own failures, because there's one big struggle. And I think Biden's right. It is the defining global struggle. And democracy is just a fragile system. How alarmed should we be? There's a piece in "The Atlantic" by Barton Gellman.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes. DAVID BROOKS: And that piece says, what's most alarming is not necessarily the laws that are being passed. Most alarming is that there's a large percentage of Americans -- it may be only 12 percent or 20 percent -- who have detached from reality and believe everything is stolen. And you don't know what those people are going to do in 2024. So, that's my main source of alarm.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We talked to Gellman last night on the "NewsHour," Jonathan. He said that, according to the best estimates, 21 million Americans, give or take, are prepared to use violence to keep Donald Trump in power. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right.

And as he notes in his piece -- and I think I'm going to misremember the country he was talking about that had fewer people and spun out of control, based on eight million people. I think it was -- I think it was Serbia that he wrote about. But with 21 million people -- he's making the point that 21 million people, that's a lot of people who can do a lot of damage in key places around the country, if they turn their detachment from reality into an effort to overturn elections, not just by ransacking the Capitol, but going to state capitols around the country. What's been so alarming -- and I'm very alarmed about what's happening in this country -- the voting -- the voting bills that have been passed, that have been introduced around the country where they are keeping people from voting. If people vote, they make it -- they make it possible that their votes don't count. And if their votes do count, they have now

made it so that those results can be overturned. That is the key thing. And that is what Barton Gellman is really ringing the alarm about, that we're going down a road that, if we don't do something relatively soon, we might not be able to climb back out of the hole that we're in. JUDY WOODRUFF: It was -- I mean, the article that he wrote is seriously disturbing. (CROSSTALK) DAVID BROOKS: And the other thing which I thought about before... JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes.

DAVID BROOKS: ... is, he likens it to Northern Ireland before the Troubles. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes. DAVID BROOKS: And so it's not only a political -- we imagine it would be something with elections, but it could just be civil violence. And that's horrific enough. JUDY WOODRUFF: And when I said they want to keep former President Trump in power, meaning a lot of them think he should still be in power. In fact, most of them do.

Last quick thing, only in a couple of minutes, but, David, economic numbers out today, inflation getting even worse than it was. The president's poll numbers -- we can show everybody the latest Marist/NPR poll, has his approval at 42, his disapproval at 51. How much is the president to blame for what's going on with the economy? DAVID BROOKS: I don't think he's to blame for the inflation rates. I think that's mostly the supply chain issues and other things, and the fact that we have a booming economy.

So we're in an overheating economy. And you could make the argument that we shouldn't have passed that infrastructure bill, but that is not affecting the economy right now. It's too soon. And so you can make the argument we shouldn't be spending more money because the economy is overheating. But I don't think he's to blame. What disturbs me is, people have become so disabused, so cynical, that they see the negative, and they don't see the positive. So, as Jared Bernstein -- he's right. There's a lot of

really great news. And there's a lot of bad news. But people are so -- have reached a point of disillusionment about our country and our system that they focus on the negative. JUDY WOODRUFF: And it's all gotten mixed in? Or has it gotten mixed in with how they perceive how their daily lives are going? JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, I look at what's happening as a macro and micro issue.

So, at the macro level, as you were saying, the economy is great. This inflation number came out, but the stock market was up 216 points today. So, if you have a 401(k), everything's great. Unemployment is down. Jobless claims are down. Wages are up. That's a macro level.

But at the micro level, you go to the gas station, gas prices are high. You go to the supermarket, eggs, milk, meat, coffee, it's all high. So you feel it at a more direct level. JUDY WOODRUFF: Paper towels. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Paper towels. JUDY WOODRUFF: You name it.

JONATHAN CAPEHART: Yes, I have a whole list, but I wasn't going to read them all. JUDY WOODRUFF: We have got a List, which means -- but, I mean, having said that, David, people will continue to look at whoever is in office and say, can't you do something about this? DAVID BROOKS: That's just the way it works. But the thing that's really unique about this moment is that, if you ask people, how are your personal finances, large majorities say, good, the country, bad. And large majorities say that. So there's a disjunction between how they feel they are doing and how they think the country is doing, which is negative. And Biden pays the price.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we will leave it there. David Brooks, Jonathan Capehart, thank you both. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thanks, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: And on the "NewsHour" online right now: The descendants of enslaved people owned by Jesuit missionaries in St. Louis are working to amplify their ancestors' lost stories. You may read more about this little known history at PBS.org/NewsHour.

And before we go tonight, we would like to say farewell to a special colleague, Annette Miller, who began with this program in its very earliest days. She joined the broadcast 46 years ago as one of two staff members in Washington for what was then known as "The Robert MacNeil report." She was a politics producer, booking guests, writing scripts, researching stories, and doing whatever was needed. She became the right-hand, so to speak, for the late Jim Lehrer, as the show expanded and transformed into the "NewsHour." She served as news editor, director of research, and eventually vice president of NewsHour Productions.

When Jim, Robin, and our correspondents interviewed political leaders or newsmakers, Annette was preparing and digging for information behind the scenes. And, as director of research, Annette was crucial in nearly every presidential and vice presidential debate moderated by Jim Lehrer and the late Gwen Ifill. At the same time, Annette was a generous mentor to so many young journalists who came up through the program. We want to congratulate, we want to thank her for her years of contributions, and wish her well in what sounds like a busy next chapter. We are going to miss you a lot, Annette. Thank you.

And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff. You can join us online and again here on Monday evening. For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and have a good weekend.

2021-12-12 19:27

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