Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Photo of Bill Moyers Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Watch & Listen The Blog Archive Transcripts Buy DVDs
Transcript:

February 8, 2008

BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the JOURNAL.

It's been a week since we invited you to nominate the one book you would most like the next president to take to the White House, and we're ready to report on your reading list. You'll also meet a young Hispanic born-again Christian whose organization of 18,000 churches could be crucial to the presidential election in November. And Kathleen Hall Jamieson says this campaign is not only about race and gender but age.

First...Vice President Cheney this week defended how the U.S. treats detainees captured in the fight with terror. "The United States is a country that takes human rights seriously. We do not torture —: it's against our laws and against our values."

Maybe, but for a reality check though, you should see a movie opening this weekend that tells a very different story. It's up for an Oscar as one of the most powerful documentaries of the year. Its Director is Alex Gibney, and the story is unforgettable. Go see it. Not in a while has the truth hit so hard. Be forewarne...the images you see may be disturbing.

TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE begins with the disappearance of a young taxi driver named Dilawar in Afghanistan, back in 2002.

DILAWAR'S BROTHER: Dilawar couldn't work in the fields so he said, "I will take the taxi and bring the family meat and potatoes in the evenings."

BILL MOYERS: Three passengers hired Dilawar to take them home to their village. As the film reports, it turned out to be the wrong place at the wrong time. He wound up in the prison at Bagram Air Base. The filmmakers got inside Bagram for never before seen images of the prison.

GOLDEN: The prisoners were kept in these big pens downstairs. And their numbers would be scribbled on the door of the airlock, which was the little passageway that they were taken out of when they were brought up to the isolation cells upstairs.

BEGG: Detainees were actually chained with their hands above their heads in these airlocks. His number, 421, was something that I could see often because his back was toward me in the airlock. The numbers were written on the backs of detainees in black marker. We all had that as well as on the front.

BILL MOYERS: Dilawar was innocent, just a taxi driver, but that didn't keep him from being tortured to death.

NARRATOR: A number of witnesses remember the night before Dilawar died.

CURTIS: Just that one night he got kicked in the leg maybe like 10 times.

GOLDEN: Some of the soldiers said they started using the knee-strikes essentially to shut him up because he was yelling and screaming.

MORDEN: The damage that was done was done from multiple strikes, and a lot of that could have been avoided had you known the person before you had fought with him and used that exact technique.

BEGG: When they eventually came to take him to an isolation cell, I believe his body had become almost limp. One of the reasons why they began punching him was that they felt that he was putting it on.

BILL MOYERS: The film turns to NEW YORK TIMES reporter Carlotta Gall, to find out what had happened to Dilawar.

GALL: It took a long time to find the family because the military didn't tell us who they were and we started calling around Governors. They are a very simple farming family. They don't speak English. But they showed me a paper that was given to them with the body. And that's when I opened it up and read it and it was in English, and it was a death certificate from the American military. And it was signed by a U.S. Major who was the pathologist, and there were four boxes and she ticked the box for "Homicide." I said, "my God they've killed him."

BILL MOYERS: But Dilawar and Bagram prison were only the beginning.

NARRATOR: Soon after Dilawar's death, the officer in charge of interrogation at Bagram, Captain Carolyn Wood, was awarded the Bronze Star for valor. Following the Iraq invasion, Wood and her intelligence unit were given a new assignment: Abu Ghraib.

BILL MOYERS: "Taxi" follows the trail from Bagram in Afghanistan to Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

LAHAMMER: The only thing I can really remember about Abu Ghraib was the heat. It was like 148 degrees there and it was all concrete. But, Abu Ghraib also had the infamous torture chambers and stuff left from Saddam's era. I remember walking through and seeing like fingernail marks on the walls, and bloodstains and guillotines, and stuff like that. It was a pretty surreal feeling. We went to Abu Ghraib, I believe in July. July or August of 2003, to start that prison.

CORSETTI: You put people in a crazy situation and people do crazy things.

BILL MOYERS: Gibney's film makes it clear, the officers and higher-ups knew what was going on.

LAHAMMER: There were always officers coming and going through the facility. We kind of joked about it as being the greatest show on earth. Everyone wanted to come and look at the terrorists.

CORSETTI: Mr. Rumsfeld's office called our office frequently. Very high commanders would want to be kept up to date on a daily basis on certain prisoners there. The brass knew. They saw them shackled, they saw them hooded and they said right on. You all are doing a great job.

BILL MOYERS: The film reports that the encouragement of torture wasn't confined to Afghanistan or Iraq.

NARRATOR: Well before the abuses of Abu Ghraib became public, government officials had been quietly raising concerns about harsh techniques in use at Guantanamo.

LEVIN: There were emails back to the Department of Justice from FBI personnel down at Guantanamo saying, you won't believe what's going on down here. We've got to disassociate ourselves as FBI people from what is going on here in Guantanamo. This email says, the DOD has their marching orders from the Secretary of Defense.

Marching orders from the Secretary of Defense, to engage in practices which the FBI finds to be deeply offensive and dangerous. But the emails are what we call redacted, which means there's big holes in these emails. Now some of these emails are totally redacted, so we don't know what they say at all. So that's an example of a lot of the documents that we got here. You know, you can't see anything on these documents. One after another of where there is nothing.

BILL MOYERS: Many of the detainees were caught up by a net of corruption fueled by money, revenge, or just pure chance.

WILNER: Despite Rumsfeld's and Cheney's and President Bush's allegations that these guys are the worst of the worst, that they were all captured on the battlefield, recent studies of the whole compendium of the government's documents show that only 5% of these people were picked up by the United States. Only 8% of them are accused of being members of the Al Qaeda. Over 90% of them were picked up by Northern Alliance or Pakistani forces in exchange for bounties.

RUMSFELD: We have large rewards out. We have leaflets that are dropping like snowflakes in December in Chicago.

BEGG: I was kidnapped, abducted, falsely imprisoned, tortured and threatened with further torture, without charge, without trial. Even many soldiers had said to me afterwards, what the hell, if you weren't a terrorist when you came in here, by the time you leave I'm sure you would be because if the way you've been treated.

BILL MOYERS: TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE. The director, Alex Gibney, also brought us THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM, about how Kenneth Lay and his friends in high places produced the Enron scandal. That one was about greed and chicanery. TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE is about depravity and deceit.

I knew Alex Gibney's father, Frank, an accomplished writer and journalist. He had been a navy interrogator of Japanese prisoners in World War Two. At the end of this film he literally comes off his deathbed to warn us that the terrorists have already won...once we reinvent ourselves as their mirror image.

BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the JOURNAL.

Mike Huckabee came out of super Tuesday wearing the shiny buckle of the Bible Belt. On the strength of born-again evangelical Christians he carried West Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and his home state Arkansas.

NEWS COVERAGE OF HUCKABEE: President of the United States of America. Thank you! God bless you! Thank you!

BILL MOYERS: But elsewhere he didn't do as well. Exit polls show he received only about a third of born-again Christian votes across the country -- about the same as John McCain and Mitt Romney. A strong reminder that evangelicals are a far more diverse group of believers than you might think from just watching Huckabee and his homogenous Southern Baptists.

Hispanic evangelicals, for example. Not only are Hispanics the fastest-growing group of voters, they're the fastest growing group of evangelical Christians. At least 8 million Hispanics identify themselves as evangelicals. In 2004 two out of three of them supported President Bush --almost double the number from the year 2000. But this year their votes are up for grabs, and that's why the reverend Samuel Rodriguez was recently identified by NEWSWEEK magazine as a new leader to watch.

Reverend Rodriguez is President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which claims 18,000 churches as members. No wonder he's being courted by both Republicans and Democrats. He is here with me now in the studio. Good to have you.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Thank you for having me

BILL MOYERS: What excites you about this year?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: The 2008 election is the convergence-- it's the nexus of those dynamic threads of the American political experience. It's about sex, gender, Hillary Clinton. It's race, Senator Obama. It's faith, Mike Huckabee, evangelicalism. And it's the military. It's the four dynamic threads of the American political landscape and American popular culture, all coming together in one election cycle. It's an exciting season.

BILL MOYERS: So many Latino evangelicals supported George W. Bush in 2004, that it really is hard for me to think that you're a wild card, that the Latino vote is up for grabs. But in this exciting year, is that the case?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: The Latino vote will decide who the next President of the United States will be.

BILL MOYERS: You said a year ago-- April, I think it was-- that if the immigration bill that was then before Congress didn't pass, it could be that Latinos would vote Democratic in the next three or four election cycles.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: The Republican Party really had it going on. I mean, they really made significant inroads. Forty-four percent of Latinos voted for George W. Bush in the 2004 elections. I mean, - historically, the African-American community has voted Democratic since 1960, since Coretta Scott King and the call-- and it's 1960, African-Americans. The Latino population, 44 percent, Bush 2004-- all of a sudden, the Republican Party is hijacked de facto, by the Sensenbrenner's and Tancredos. By a nativistic…

BILL MOYERS: Congressmen who were very strongly against immigration reform?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Right. And we're all in favor of border protection and securing the borders, of course. But however, what we actually did see in the Republican Party is the emergence of something that subtle in the Republican Party, the xenophobia, American nativism under the guise of border protection and border security. And the amount of polarization — I'm a generation X'er, born in the great republic of New Jersey — I never would have imaged in my lifetime that I would have to prove my citizenship in order to apply for an apartment in Oklahoma, Texas or Arizona. There's an anti-Latino, a nativism, xenophobic spirit emerging out of the Republican Party. As a result of that, the Republican Party will be hard pressed to engage anything close to 25 percent in the 2008 elections. And they may lose the Latino vote for two or three generations.

BILL MOYERS: Mike Huckabee called you, I understand, and asked you to set up a conference call for him with Latino pastors and theologians. Did you do that?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: We did. Mike Huckabee spoke to the national leadership team of our organization. And Huckabee really presented-- Huckabee's considered by many as a quasi, you know, this moderate, maybe liberal on social justice issues. Huckabee successfully addressed issues of alleviating poverty. Darfur, AIDS — Huckabee's addressing these issues.

BILL MOYERS: And he spoke in Arkansas, he spoke for immigration, right?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. Huckabee is not the personification of the Christian right.

BILL MOYERS: All right. So when he says this, what do you think? Quote: I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do. To amend the Constitution so it's on God's standards, rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family. Now, what would you say about that?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: I have a great amount of affinity towards Governor Huckabee. However, I am more of a fan of religious pluralism in America. The notion that America is a Christian nation-- America is a nation that enables us to really serve God, worship God, and exercise our religious belief with freedom. It's religious pluralism that makes us strong. The issue of-

BILL MOYERS: So you wouldn't want to change the Constitution --to reflect the Biblical-

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Well, it would reflect the Biblical God. Or who's definition of Biblical God? Or, you know, what denomination? That enters into a myriad of other issues. I think what we need to look at is the issue of our lifetime globally, is religious totalitarianism, or religious pluralism. And America really needs to present religious pluralism as a viable alternative, not exceptionalism.

BILL MOYERS: How many Latinos are there like you? That is, born again believers?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Close to 10 million. If you add on the Catholic charismatic group, which identifies themselves as a born again Christian group, it's close to 15 million. And these voices are emerging in every community. There are so many issues in our society that need to be addressed. Not from a Christian right or a Christian left, but from a Christian center. And I do believe — and it's not a messianic presumptuousness — it's more of, I do believe that we're going to really reconcile the white evangelical platform historically, has been on issues of life and marriage.

BILL MOYERS: You mean abortion and-

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Abortion and traditional marriage. The preservation of traditional marriage.

BILL MOYERS: How do you differ from them? I mean, are you for a-- opposed to same sex marriage?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: We- are committed to the sanctity of life, but it's more that it's from the womb to the tomb. I mean, the life platform can't-

BILL MOYERS: You're against the death penalty?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Personally, I would be. And we have a problem when it's just a life issue right when it's out of the womb. But health care and education are no longer included in the platform of a life agenda And they need to be. we care for the baby while the baby is in the-- in the womb. But after the baby's born, somehow it's you're on your own. That's not truly part of what we interpret to be the Biblical call. And on the issue of marriage, Latinos would be hard pressed to be this emerging voice, a homophobic voice, or a voice that is anti anything in respect to civil unions or rights in the homosexual community.

The Latino community sees the preservation of traditional marriage as the antidote to the proliferation of gang violence in our communities. We know for a fact that if mom and dad are in the home, that these young men and women are going to be hard pressed to be engaged in gangs. Rather not - they would stay at home, they're academically-- the-- the social, economic and educational advancement is directly related to mom and dad being in the home. So to us, it's not a matter of being anti anything. It's a matter of being-- survival for our community.

BILL MOYERS: What about progressive taxation, torture, all these other issues that we're discussing now in terms of large, under the umbrella, social justice? Would you differ from the white evangelicals on this?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Yes, we would. Because white evangelicals do not in general-- do not see these issues as important issues. As a matter of fact, they'll see them as-

BILL MOYERS: The religious white evangelicals - there are progressive...

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Religious white evangelicals, evangelicals as defined historically in the past 20 years by the Christian right. It's life, meaning abortion, and it's traditional marriage. What about health care, education? What about alleviating poverty? What about AIDS? What about Darfur? What about climate change?

BILL MOYERS: These are all in your agenda?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: These are all part of the Hispanic evangelical agenda. That's why I really believe that we're going to take the righteousness White evangelical platform, and the justice African-American platform, and we're going to reconcile them in the middle, and brown evangelicalism will contextualize that narrative, will tell the story of a balanced gospel narrative that does not adhere to the — for lack of a better term, you know — apostle Limbaugh and prophet Hannity and Bishop Dobs, but will really look at Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and say, here's what the Bible actually expresses in respect to the issues of our time.

BILL MOYERS: For my viewers that don't have a concordance-- Hannity, Sean Hannity, the talk show host. Limbaugh, Rush Limbaugh, and Dobson, brother Dobson, as you say, who is now endorsing Mike Huckabee, because he thinks McCain is too moderate.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Again, you know, the question is, who do white evangelicals listen to in respect to applying their faith? Let's look at the issue of immigration reform. The group more committed to deporting 12 million people in America are white evangelicals. Now, we have to-- help me out for a second here. These are-

BILL MOYERS: Religious right?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Religious white evangelicals. But the exit polls and the polling data indicate out of all the groups most staunchly opposed to immigration reform, white evangelicals are right on-- right there on top.

BILL MOYERS: How do you explain that? They're Christians.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: They are-our brothers and sisters.

BILL MOYERS: So how do you explain it?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: That's-- that's-- they're juxtaposed between this issue of the rule of law, of Romans XIII, and of course, the Leviticus nineteen principle, treating a stranger amongst you as one of yourselves. However, the issue is we are Americans. And it-- I'm a Christian first. I'm a Pentecostal. I'm a born again believer. I'm a follower of the teachings of Christ.

BILL MOYERS: I was going to ask you. How-- when you say, "I'm an evangelical Christian," what do you mean?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: I am a born again believer.

BILL MOYERS: That means?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: To me, evangelicalism means born again believer, one who has a-- has experienced a personal encounter. Their lives have been transformed by their commitment to a crucified and resurrected Christ.

BILL MOYERS: Dobson would say that of himself.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: A lot of-- there's a lot of people on the other side of the political fence.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Correct.

BILL MOYERS: Who'd say, "I'm a born again, committed believer."

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: So where do you-- where does the track switch?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: I'm a Christian first.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: I'm an American second.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: That's where the track switches. I think many white evangelicals-- and I say white, and-- and not condescending just to — just for more descriptors for lack of a better term — white evangelicals have placed on the altar of worship the American culture, Americanism. And it's there, right next to the cross. It's-- and sometimes, it supersedes the power of the cross.

I see the cross as a unifying force, not a force that divides, not a symbol that divides, but brings us together. It's a symbol of tolerance and not intolerance, of compromise and reconciliation. And not of xenophobic, not of rejection or refusal. So I think many white evangelicals really see themselves as Americans first and Christians second. I more adhere to a kingdom culture sort of mindset, a re-- a viable Biblical world view would provoke everyone in the evangelical world to see things through the prism of-- from the 1990s, I mean, everyone wore a little wristband - what would Jesus do? It's truly the heart of Christ. It's love of compassion, it's mercy and it's justice.

BILL MOYERS: Who are your heroes?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Of course. And I say, of course, because it's just a life in the ministry, even from an academic, from an intellectual viewpoint, other than a religious standpoint. Just the passion of the Christ, his life. His narrative. Christ, Jesus.

BILL MOYERS: Right.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr.

BILL MOYERS: Wait a minute. Ronald Reagan?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Right.

BILL MOYERS: Why?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Hope. I was born in the summer of '69. And when-- throughout my teenage years-- it was right after Vietnam. Reagan really-- even Senator Obama alluded to this and he was pushed back a bit by President Clinton. But he really, you know, it-- he really gave America this message, or conveyed a message of hope. City on a hill, a better day.

BILL MOYERS: And Kennedy?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Let's shake it off.

BILL MOYERS: You were born after Kennedy.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: John F. Kennedy-

BILL MOYERS: Five years after he was shot.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: I was a history teacher, and I'm a student of history. John F. Kennedy really personified a transgenerational American experience of hope, of personal responsibility, of civic engagement. Of making sure that we leave behind much more than we ever take.

BILL MOYERS: Martin Luther King?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Civil rights for the African-American community, for all communities. The nexus of the religious experience with social justice. Coming together, really sharing of America, that any viable movement in this nation, any sort of transformation in this nation needs to incorporate a faith thread. Without faith, there would never have existed an abolitionist movement, or the civil rights movement would never have succeeded. Martin Luther King Jr. really personifies the convergence of these two powerful forces.

What we are lacking in the Latino community are-- are gatekeepers and oracles throughout our country.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean gatekeepers -

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Gatekeepers, oracles, voices that will emerge that contextualize the Latino narrative.

BILL MOYERS: You mean, you need a Jesse Jackson? You need a Martin Luther King?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: I would-- we need-- what we need is not one Martin Luther King, Jr. We need thousands of Martin Luther King, Jrs. We need every community, in every single community, in every city, in every district, for voices to emerge out of the Hispanic American community, and contextualize the narrative of the Hispanic American experience.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean, contextualize the narrative?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Tell the story, articulate the story.

BILL MOYERS: Eyes on the prize?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Eyes on the prize. Mobilize the people. We've never been down this road before. You know, do we legitimately need a civil rights movement with the Hispanic American population? I would argue we need a social rights movement.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: I-- it would be hard pressed for Samuel Rodriguez to argue that we are experiencing the same amount of racism or bigotry the African-American community. I believe the civil rights movement, in respect to the African-American community, was a unique experience.

However, there is a call for a social rights movement. This large demographic now, in light of the amount of xenophobia and nativism against the Latino community in America, really needs to come together, come around, coalesce around principles. Our principles are faith and family, but there's a strong social justice ethos to our community that drives us. But what really bothers me is, to a degree, Obama should really resonate. Senator Obama should really resonate with the Hispanic American community.

BILL MOYERS: Is he?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Not as much. As a matter of fact-

BILL MOYERS: Why?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: I believe the Latino community is the wild card in the Democratic presidential nomination process. Of course, Senator Clinton historically has done very well with the Latino community.

BILL MOYERS: She did terrifically in Super Tuesday, two to one in California among your community.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: That's correct. Now--

BILL MOYERS: How do you explain that?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Well, the Latino vote looks at Clinton-- Clinton, the Clinton brand reminds them of, this is pre-immigration reform debacle.

BILL MOYERS: Pre George W. Bush?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: This is pre George W. Bush, pre immigration, pre Latinos deported, pre the marches. This is the golden age of the Latino middle class. Latino middle class really emerged throughout the 1990s. Economy, we boomed. If the Latino community does not gravitate towards Obama in these last months of the primary season, Senator Clinton will be the candidate of choice for the Democratic Party. And Obama should be resonating. The ethnic minority experience. His Christian commitment and the incorporation of a social justice platform. H Obama should be-- there's a black-brown divide.

BILL MOYERS: There really is? Right.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: There really is.

BILL MOYERS: Explain that to me.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: You can't deny the fact that racist elements are apparent in every single ethnic group or culture. And we can't deny the fact that there is racism in the Latino-- in the Hispanic-American community. And that's the shame.

BILL MOYERS: What's the fight?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: It goes way beyond race. I think there's an issue here of fighting for the same entitlements, fighting for the same piece of turf, for lack of a better term. The same jobs. Immigration reform. We really-- we, meaning the Hispanic-American community, we reached out to the African-American community and said, march with us. I mean, stand by us here. You understand the story better than we do.

BILL MOYERS: Those big demonstrations last year, half a million in Los Angeles.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: Right. You're saying that the African-American-

SAM RODRIGUEZ: That the African-American community was not as physically present. And you know, the gatekeepers of the African-American community did not go out and hold a press conference, and say, we support our Latino brothers and sisters on this. Is there an issue? Absolutely.

I also understand that there are those in the establishment, in the white establishment, that would love to really focus on the divide between black and brown. I was present when a white politician, in a round table discussion, looked at black evangelical leaders and said, "They are taking away your jobs." They, the Latinos. These immigrants are taking away your jobs. They're taking away your subsidies. They're actually harming your family. They're taking away dollars that should go to educating your kids. Now I heard that. I was there, present, when that rhetoric was presented. So there is an attempt out there to create a wedge. If the African-Americans and the Latino population would ever come together and work in our cities, in our urban areas, we would really bring about a transformational messiology, we would transform our cities. We would transform our nation. Those two-- that partnership is unbelievably powerful, if it would ever emerge. And I'm committed to the emergence of that partnership.

BILL MOYERS: That's your agenda? That's what you want from politics?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: I want the Latino community and the African-American community to come together. And I want us to walk as Peter and John. We may not have-

BILL MOYERS: Peter and John from the New Testament?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: From the New-- Absolutely. And we may not have all the economic resources. I do tell you that. But we don't have silver, we may not have gold. But we have numbers. We have incredible numbers.

BILL MOYERS: So tell me how you think that the Latino evangelical vote can be decisive in the Democratic race and the Republican race.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: In the Republican race, if the Republican Party nominates a candidate that addresses the issue of immigration reform, that really repudiates the xenophobic and nativist threat, and that apologizes.

BILL MOYERS: Well, McCain talks to you. McCain's been-- in fact, he's been criticized by conservatives because he's been moderate on immigration, right?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Truth be told, McCain has invested more political capital than any other presidential candidate in the 2008 season on the issue of immigration reform.

BILL MOYERS: So that's settled. He is going to be the Republican nominee.

SAM RODRIGUEZ: He is. The question is whether or not McCain will be-- will continue to be committed to an immigration reform platform. I mean, there's an incredible amount of push back from the conservative voters in the Republican Party. And whether or not McCain will stick to his guns and commit himself to an immigration reform platform.

On the other hand, if the Democratic Party presents a candidate that addresses the issues of faith and family within the story of engaging the Latino community and the Latino evangelical community, an attractive candidate would emerge. Senator Clinton did something wonderful prior to the New Hampshire primary. Senator Clinton addressed the issues of abortion. In addressing abortion, she mentioned the fact that we really need to be committed to minimizing the number of abortions and addressing the cause of those abortions. That really-- that resonated within our community. We are a pro-life group, undeniably so. Latinos are more pro-life than any other ethnic group in America. I believe TIME Magazine gave the statistics on that last year. Then, in New Hampshire, Senator Clinton went out. And in those two days prior to the primaries, addressed white single women. And championed herself as the gatekeeper of abortion rights. That's-- that-

BILL MOYERS: And you heard about that?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: It worked in New Hampshire. It did. It got her the vote. It will work against her nationally with the Latino community.

BILL MOYERS: Didn't Tuesday-

SAM RODRIGUEZ: =Well, that's-- well, again. California, the Clinton-- it's immigration and economics. Right now, if you would ask Latino evangelicals, what's your number one issue? Is it abortion, is it marriage? It's immigration. And it's the economy. It's immigration and the economy.

BILL MOYERS: I've read a lot about you, followed you for a while. I know you're trying to write a new story for this country. What's the lead of that story?

SAM RODRIGUEZ: Righteousness and justice. It's justice. This issue. Is America committed to eradicating terror and eradicating Al Qaeda? I would say yes, only if we are as equally committed to eradicating AIDS. We have to be balanced. It can't be either-or. It must be both. If we are committed to some sort of political agenda in respect to economic-- we must be committed to alleviating poverty. There must be an agenda that carries both and doesn't leave absolutely anyone behind. I really do believeit.

Someone recently said, Mr. Rodriguez, what you need to do is tell your people, Latinos, to embrace the American culture, to become American. Does that mean white America? What does it mean to be an American? Anglo-Saxon, be European? To me, an American is any individual who looks at the documents of our founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution, and says, "I fundamentally adopt these values. These are my values. I adhere to these values. These are mine." It's not the color of your skin. It's not the language. It's not your accent. It's not your vernacular. It's whether or not those values become your values. That's an American. I call it the American covenant.

My objective is to mobilize the Latino community in America to bring about change in this nation that incorporates righteousness and justice, marries them both, and brings about a spirit of reconciliation where we're no longer polarized between blue and red, black and white, west coast, east coast, academia and the religious faith. We come together in righteousness and justice.

BILL MOYERS: Sam Rodriguez, it's been a pleasure to have you. And I look forward to talk to you again before this year is out. Thank you for having me.

BILL MOYERS: Just two days after Super Tuesday, and just hours after Mitt Romney bowed out of the race, John McCain delivered his first make-or-break speech as the almost certain leader of his party.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: I know I have a responsibility, if I am, as I hope to be, the Republican nominee for President, to unite the party and prepare for the great contest in November.

BILL MOYERS: His audience was thousands of conservative activists from all over the country, at their annual gathering in Washington. They have been skeptical about McCain; some of them, downright hostile.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: John McCain has stabbed his own party in the back I can't tell you how many times. He stabbed his own president in the back on legislation a number of times. He doesn't support his party or his president when the chips are down.

BILL MOYERS: And now, James Dobson, a titan of the Christian right, has spurned McCain and endorsed Mike Huckabee instead. So even as he is being fitted for the winner's crown, McCain must persuade the Republican base that deep down he's one of them.

On the Democratic side, there's a different kind of division: of numbers more than ideology. Think about it: on super Tuesday more than 14 million Democrats cast ballots in 22 states across the country, and only 100,000 votes — less than one-half of one percent — separated Hillary Clinton from Barack Obama.

So who to turn to after Super Tuesday? Well it's the person I often consult in times like this — one of our foremost students of politics and the media — Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

BILL MOYERS: Let's begin with McCain. Can he bring them around?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: McCain's in an interesting situation because with the Dobson endorsement of Governor Huckabee, comes a featuring of those issue positions that differentiate McCain from his conservative base. But at the same time, signal to moderates and independents that he might be a very attractive general election candidate.

At the same time, when we look at that speech, what we see is he's featuring everything about him that is conservative. At the same time, saying something that's very important to those conservatives -- "You know where I stand. I will not obscure those positions. We agree about more things than we disagree." And he's inviting the conservative audience to hear, as a central claim, "Because I'm true to my convictions, because I don't change my convictions, and I don't obscure my positions, you can believe me when I say, I will govern as a conservative."

BILL MOYERS: But this is the man, we have to remember, who back in 2000 seethed at Jerry Falwell for opposing him, when he was running-- when McCain was running against Bush. But later, when he needed the conservatives on the right, and particularly the religious right, he went down to Liberty University and virtually prostrated himself before Jerry Falwell. What does that say to his audience? Can they believe that he's being consistent?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Look at the issue positions that Senator McCain has taken, and you see a very interesting and complex voting history. Senator McCain voted for embryonic stem cell research. Now you might say, "Well, that's what's in the odds with conservatives," and it certainly puts them at odds with some, but not with Nancy Reagan, who presumably embodies Reagan conservatism.

He opposed the amendment to state that marriage is between a man and a woman and as a result, on those two positions, embryonic stem cells and same sex marriage Constitutional amendment, he has the same voting record as Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama.

But his reasoning on that, is reasoning that you might think would resonate with conservatives if they listened, "You shouldn't amend the Constitution unless you have an actual problem." And the implicit argument, you shouldn't casually amend the Constitution.

Now those are the positions that are being featured by Dr. Dobson* when he's endorsing Governor Huckabee. Those are also the positions that people who say, "There's no difference between Senator McCain and Senator Clinton, or Senator Obama," are featuring. Here's the question, for conservatives -- which are more salient to you, that block of decisions on which you agree with them, and he's arguing, that's the majority of my career are those that you disagree.

And second question, how important is the Supreme Court to you? Because underlying central claim of John McCain is that he is fundamentally different from the Democrats. And what is one major difference, that everyone believes is real? He would appoint a different kind, or nominate a different kind of Supreme Court justice.

BILL MOYERS: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL this week was reminding conservatives with an op-ed piece that McCain, you can trust McCain to put more Alitos and Roberts on the court.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: And he supported those candidacies very strongly. That op-ed piece was interesting, though, for a second reason. Inside that op-ed piece, which was circulated to the McCain mailing list, by the McCain campaign, is this statement: "The judiciary is different. On January 20th, 2009, six of the nine Supreme Court justices will be over 70. Most of them could be replaced by the next president, particularly if he or she is re-elected."

John McCain, as the press routinely reminds us, is 71. In the process of circulating that op-ed, and circulating the argument about appointment of justices, John McCain implicitly, with his base and with the country, raises the question now being raised in newspaper accounts, including visibly, by Anna Quindlen in NEWSWEEK, and by a young man who stood up and asked Senator McCain if he wasn't too old. McCain's response, "Sit down, you little jerk." But you know, is there an age issue here, and if so, what does it mean?

BILL MOYERS: If he is elected, he will be the oldest man to enter the White House, ever.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: But Ronald Reagan served through a second term at an age that would be comparable to the age that Senator McCain would be at in the first term. The problem with the discussion of age is that we are not having an intelligent discussion of what it means. It's now being raised. It's raised parenthetically, in a column by David Broder, who says, "It will be a greater concern in the general election than it was in the primaries." What is the question that is under the age, so-called age issue? I think it's actually physical and intellectual competence. And the question, can a person sustain the intense workload of the presidency, the pressure of the presidency, and also be over 70 years old?

BILL MOYERS: Anna Quindlen says, in fact, a year in the White House is-- is a dog year, seven years, you know, and there's something to that. You look at the pictures of the men who enter, so far men, who enter, and when they leave, they've aged a lot more than normal.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: The — by the way, I think a bizarre metaphor. I think analogizing prospective presidents of the United States to dog aging is just a little bit strange. But one of the underlying issues, I think, should be as we talk about this — to what extent is there a legitimate concern there, and to what extent is there not?

And here's the way I would frame this issue. We should be concerned if there's a health issue, that is attached to aging. Now how do we know that, young people have health issues too. For example, we know that people who've smoked for a long time are more likely to die of a smoking related illness. They're more likely to have heart problems. They're more likely to die of lung cancer. Well, Barack Obama smoked until very recently. We know that your parents' longevity has a small predictive effect on your longevity, and we know that John McCain's mother, visibly featured in the backdrop of his rallies is mentally competent, articulate—

BILL MOYERS: Sharp.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: — funny, witty, and also —

BILL MOYERS: "I've got good genes." And he can point to her, 95 years old.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: And she's about to celebrate a birthday, I think, this week. And so that becomes a sort of tacit rebuttal. And what it does is it reframes the age question. It sets 71 against 96. Now Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, it sets, 45, 46, 47 against 71, 72, 73. And that's a different kind of contrast.

BILL MOYERS: Do we have a right to expect all the candidates to release their medical records, and their family histories?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: I believe we do. And I think it should be as central a question as our questions about their experience in office and their voting records. Some illnesses may carry genetic implications. Alzheimer's disease is one of them. President Reagan's mother had Alzheimer's disease. It's possible that in his second term, he was beginning to suffer some of those symptoms. It's possible that the assassination attempt may have made some of that worse. So there's some things that we want to ask about, not necessarily to disqualify a candidate, but because we want to understand the full implications of the health records that is available, and the implications, if any, for governance.

The trauma to this country if a president were to die in office is such that we have a right to know. And also, importantly, there have been major cover-ups in the past. The Kennedy campaign in 1960 effectively covered up Addison's disease. The Tsongas campaign effectively covered up the recurrence of cancer, and had Paul Tsongas, Senator Tsongas been elected president, he would have died in office. So we ought to, I think ask, what do we want to know when the age issue is raised? I think we want to know about health.

BILL MOYERS: Let me go back to the challenge still facing McCain in bringing this party together. Let me read for you, and put on the screen for my viewers, what the conservative Christian leader, James Dobson, said earlier in the week about McCain. Quote, "I am deeply disappointed the Republican party seems poised to select a nominee who did not support a Constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage, who voted for embryonic stem cell research to kill nascent human beings, who opposed tax cuts that ended the marriage penalty, and who has little regard for freedom of speech, who organized the gang of 14 to preserve filibusters, and has a legendary temper and often uses foul and obscene language. I cannot and I will not vote for Senator John McCain as a matter of conscience." And of course, he has now endorsed Mike Huckabee. What signal, or signals, is he sending?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Well, first, that endorsement makes salient the moderate to liberal voting record that Senator McCain has on some central issues that are of concern to social conservatives. What does Senator McCain say? To CPAC? I have a reliable--"

BILL MOYERS: Conservative meeting, right--.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: --"reliable pro-life voting record. I've always been pro-life." What does Reverend Dobson* say? "Not on embryonic cell, stem cells." What does Senator McCain say? At the CPAC meeting -- he said, "I would make the Bush tax cut permanent." What does Reverend Dobson* say? "He voted against the first two Bush tax cuts."

Now what you're seeing is a contest over what you should feature in your voting decision. Should you feature the moderate to liberal McCain, or should you feature the conservative McCain? And the signaling is going both ways. Those who are saying, "Let's feature those moderate to liberal votes," are saying, "Those are so important to us and so similar to Senators Obama and Clinton, that we would rather stay out of this election, or vote for the Democrats, than vote for Senator McCain."

BILL MOYERS: Let's turn to the Democrats. There seems to be a consensus among the mainstream media that there's very little difference between Obama and Clinton, not just in numbers-- and delegates now. Very little difference, but also in ideas. They seem very much out of the same pod. What do you, what, how do you see it?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: The, certainly their voting records are similar, although if you look at the NATIONAL JOURNAL composite rating, you'd-- you'd say, for at least the year 2007, that Senator Obama is marginally more liberal. But what you're seeing, I think, as a result of the fact that on most of the issue positions on the big picture goals, they agree.

What you see, the Democratic party, it does have a sense of where it wants to go on issues, as a result. But you're seeing signals that it has some different vision of what that is going to incarnate itself as. So what Senator Obama's featuring is change, and now he looks to his legislative record and he says, "I championed ethics reform." Now it doesn't mean that Hillary Clinton didn't support ethics reform. But, yeah, Senator Obama was more visible.

What does Hillary Clinton go back and feature? First, a lot more specific things that she's done. She's got a longer record. But she also does something very interesting. She challenges Senator Obama in a debate to support her as she takes on the presumption that President Bush will try to have a long-term presence in Iraq. What she's saying is, "I know how to exercise power." That's not about something she had done in the past. It's something she's doing in the future. What does she do, when she's responding to overall, the Obama notions about generational change? She tries to forecast forward, all of the things that she had done in the past that equals experience plus change, not simply change. His argument is change. Her argument is experience plus change. His argument is judgment versus experience.

BILL MOYERS: And the party seems so divided between those two options at the moment, that this week, I can spend hours on the Internet reading about the dream ticket, Clinton-Obama, Obama-Clinton. Do you think this campaign is shaping up so that either could accept the other?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: One of the things that I think is interesting about the rhetoric that Senator Clinton is using is that it makes it very difficult to then make the argument that Senator Obama could be a vice-president--

BILL MOYERS: How so?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: --to be able to assume the presidency. When you make the argument that "I'm ready from day one," implicitly, he's not. When President Clinton says, "It would be a roll of the dice," what you are arguing is, this person isn't qualified to be president. There's some words that are very, very damaging. They're damaging, first, because it makes it harder to name that person as a vice-presidential candidate, if you've just argued the person's unprepared to assume the presidency. But also, suppose Senator Clinton's not the nominee. Those are the kinds of words that come back in attack ads.

Some of the most effective attack ads in the history of the presidency, '64, the words of Governor Scranton and Governor Romney, Mitt Romney's father, used against Barry Goldwater, arguing that he is not within the mainstream of the Republican party. 1980, the words of Edward Kennedy, used against Jimmy Carter, a very effective attack ad for Governor Reagan. The Hillary Clinton line of argument makes it more difficult for her to nominate, name Senator Obama vice-president. It also makes it more makes it more difficult for him to become president, should he become the nominee.

BILL MOYERS: Is he doing the same thing to her, so it would be difficult for him to ask her to be his running mate?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: When Senator Obama, sometimes carefully and with nuance, sometimes much less so, suggests that the Clinton years were not years of great accomplishment, and he doesn't look back to them as a result in those moments, as moments the Democrats can be very proud of, he makes it far more difficult to create an alliance back to that part of the party, and it denies him some of the intellectual ballast that comes with suggesting that Democrats can lead on the economy, in a way that's fiscally prudent.

BILL MOYERS: Last question. What do we look for now? What comes next, in your playbook?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: I would look to the next primaries. People are talking about Governor Huckabee staying in, as if it were some major liability. It's not necessarily a liability, because it keeps the news attention focused on Senator McCain and Governor Huckabee.

And to the extent that they've been civil toward each other, to the extent that it's interesting to watch, the dynamic between the two and Governor Huckabee's just fun to watch. He's got a great sense of humor. It keeps a parity between the two parties, which means the capacity to learn about the contrast, is potentially gonna carry forward. We need as much of that as we can get, before this whole thing is obscured by talk about strategy, tactics about who's gonna put together enough delegates, to ultimately become the nominee. The issue differences between these nominees are not stark enough to make that much difference. We actually have an issue profile of what the race for presidency's gonna look like.

BILL MOYERS: Well, as they say the show goes on, and we'll be back to review it. Thank you, Kathleen.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: You're welcome.

BILL MOYERS: You've kept us busy this week — and given us a great deal of enjoyment — with your nominations of the one book you would like the next President to read.

We were inspired to ask you after Katie Couric had asked the presidential candidates to name the single book — the Bible excepted — that they would take to the white house next January. We turned the question around and invited your recommendations. Thousands of you responded with suggestions all across the spectrum, from history and biography to politics, novels, and poetry. You will find the complete entries at the MOYERS BLOG on pbs.org.

Many of you recommended classics such as John Steinbeck's THE GRAPES OF WRATH, George Orwell's ANIMAL FARM, and IF I RAN THE ZOO by my grandchildren's all-time favorite, Dr. Seuss. We detected only one organized campaign behind a certain book and we disqualified it as a result. Now lets take a look at a few of the titles that will give you a taste of what viewers like you want the next President to think about:

KADIRA BELYNNE: I would like to see the next President take A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, by Howard Zinn to the White House. This book chronicles the conflict-of-interest ridden collusion between big business and government officials, and the way that working people and poor people have struggled to claim the rights promised by our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Kadira Belynne.

J.M. THOMAS: The next President must read Jared Diamond's COLLAPSE to gain an understanding of the interconnections between science, public policy, the environment, resource utilization and the decline of civilizations. J.M. Thomas.

R.C. EDWARDS: The next President should take ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand with them when they go to the White House, then start cutting the federal government down to its real essentials: courts, police and national defense. R.C. Edwards.

JOHN MCELROY: Naomi Klein's SHOCK DOCTRINE is the single best narrative that I have found that explains how we as a country have lost our sense of community. New forms of capitalisms are toxic ... Naomi has found the best metaphor, shock ... to explain why we are in the position we find ourselves. John McElroy.

SHIRLEY BORUD: THREE CUPS OF TEA by Greg Mortenson presents the things that matter from a Third-World perspective. Education, human dignity, fostering relationships based on mutual respect: these are approaches that will help to restore America's standing among nations. Shirley Borud.

JACK WALLACE: I would recommend Barbara W. Tuchman's THE MARCH OF FOLLY. This covers many incidents in history where government created and extended world problems and in the end the government lost what it coveted most. Shouldn't we expect our leaders to learn from history? Jack Wallace.

CHARLES PETERS: I would recommend the President reads A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens. With the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor and middle class, the book's timeless message is still as relevant today as when the book was written. Charles Peters.

JENNIFER ALESSI: ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN by Robert Fulghum. Think of how wonderful the world would be if we just followed these basic rules. Play fair. Don't hit people. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. I think that pretty much says it all, don't you? Jennifer Alessi.

R. FEMMER: Samuel P. Huntington's CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS portrays the international challenges facing the West midst the conflicts, economics, and rising power of non-Western civilizations in Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere. R. Femmer.

DON HENDRESS: All top government leaders should read and reread Lee Iacocca's WHERE HAVE ALL THE LEADERS GONE? This excellent book addresses leadership qualities, priorities, optimism, responsibility, accountability, discipline and community spirit. Don Hendress.

BILL MOYERS: The list goes on and on. Reading the titles and your comments would have made this an exciting week even without Super Tuesday. It's also been satisfying.

So here, for what it's worth, is one more suggestion — mine: COMMAND OF OFFICE: HOW WAR, SECRECY AND DECEPTION TRANSFORMED THE PRESIDENCY FROM THEODORE ROOSEVELT TO GEORGE W. BUSH. The author is Stephen Graubard. As a much younger man he was invited by Eleanor Roosevelt to FDR's wartime inauguration in 1945. Ever since, he has watched the presidency evolve with greater and greater authority and less and less regard for the checks and balances that sustain democracy.

The next occupant of the White House can't read this without weighing how much more war, secrecy, and taste for empire America can tolerate. Unless we are vigilant and combative, says Stephen Graubard, there will come a moment when we will have quietly, perhaps even unknowingly, acquiesced in the loss of our liberty or our government, or both.

That's it for the JOURNAL. I'm Bill Moyers.


*A viewer has pointed out that James Dobson actually has a clinical psychology degree, not a divinity degree, and is Dr. Dobson, not Reverend Dobson. Kathleen Hall Jamieson regrets the error.

Moyers Podcasts -- Sign Up for podcasts and feeds.
TALK BACK: THE MOYERS BLOG
Our posts and your comments
OUR POSTS
YOUR COMMENTS
For Educators    About the Series    Bill Moyers on PBS   

© Public Affairs Television 2008    Privacy Policy    DVD/VHS    Terms of Use    FAQ