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Bringing out the Big Guns in Political Ads; Judge Orders Military to Stop Enforcement of DADT

Aired October 14, 2010 - 20:00   ET


KATHLEEN PARKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Kathleen Parker.

ELIOT SPITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Eliot Spitzer. Welcome to the program. We begin tonight with our "Opening Arguments." Today, some alarming bad news: Home foreclosures, the highest in history, nothing good there for homeowners anywhere in our economy. Unemployment claims, still going up. Trade deficit with China, the highest in history.

And here's the good news: If you work on Wall Street, listen carefully, guys, $144 billion in Wall Street pay, the highest ever funded by, you know, it, tax dollars and bailout checks. These guys don't even have the decency to say thank you. They destroy our economy, cash the checks, leave the rest of us in the lurch.

Mr. President, that's the record. And in two-and-a-half weeks, this election, these midterm elections are referendum on your record. You know what, you gave the banks money, and you got nothing back. No relief for homeowners, no control on pay, no consumer debt relief. Nothing anywhere that was good for real people. You got to learn to stand up to them. We'll vote for somebody who stands up and fights, even if they're not winning yet. We're not going to vote for somebody who doesn't know how to fight - Kathleen.

PARKER: Boy, Eliot, you're kind of tough on your own president. Nothing like handling the midterm election...

SPITZER: A little constructive criticism.

PARKER: All right, well I'm going to be just as tough. Everybody keeps talking about President Obama's communication dilemma. As if he could only return to the soaring rhetoric of his campaign days, everything would be hunky dory. The jobless would have jobs, sick would have health care, and the rise of the oceans would slow.

I'm afraid communication is not the president's problem. His problem is, he's disappeared. The philosopher president has retreated to his cave and surrendered the keys to his kingdom. Obama is so invisible that he hardly even makes it to the front page anymore. The cold hard truth is everything the president has done has been directed by others.

Just look at some of his accomplishments: First, the health care bill. He kicked it to Congress, which means Nancy Pelosi did the heavy lifting. She fought to have health care passed, not the president. Then there's Afghanistan, where the generals outmaneuvered him, and on Wall Street, ditto. So, if it's your agenda, Mr. President, own it, because if you're not careful, you might find yourself in a rewrite of the "Emperor's New Clothes," not a naked president, but an empty suit.

SPITZER: You know, Kathleen, I agree with some of what you're saying. And the fact of the matter is it's the conceit of every politician when things don't go right, that it's just communication, because you want to think you're right on substance and therefore you're making the right hard decisions. But, the reality is, the president has ended up at the wrong point.

PARKER: But you can't do that if you're the president. You have to come to play. And I don't think -- I think once he got there, you know, it wasn't fun anymore. He wanted -- he loves the campaign part.

SPITZER: I agree with that, but I don't think that goes far enough. In other words, I think...

PARKER: Well, I wasn't finished.

SPITZER: Well, keep going, keep going.

PARKER: No, you go ahead.

SPITZER: No. I don't think it's just that he's introverted, I think that he didn't have a strong enough belief in where he need to end up on Wall Street reform or Afghanistan or the economy. And as a consequence, because he was too pliable and too willing to negotiate and too willing to reach out to the other side in a desperate effort...

PARKER: Oh, my goodness. That is so wrong. He did not reach out to the other side.

SPITZER: Of course he did.

PARKER: No, no, no, no, no. Even that article it said it was a half-hearted gesture. You talk to any of the Republicans, and they will tell you, he did not actually extend himself. It was like -- it was sort of -- it was a limp handshake, OK, it was not a real...

SPITZER: I'm not going to talk about his handshake.

PARKER: That's a metaphor, Eliot.

SPITZER: But here's what I'm going to say about -- oh thank you, I didn't pick up on that. Here's what I think is important for the public to understand. He went to the Republican leadership and said, what kind of stimulus do you want? And they said, we want a big tax cut to be in it, and he put that in, and they still wouldn't vote for it. So he did everything, and on health care, as well. There was a decision made by the Republican leadership: We will not vote with him, we are going to a defensive posture from the beginning. His response to that should have been, fine. In that case, I'm not going to try to be bipartisan. I won, I was elected president...

PARKER: That's essentially what he did.

SPITZER: The public did want health care reform and does want health care reform...

PARKER: Well, they wanted reform, but they didn't want -- look, they didn't want a remake of America, they wanted a tweak.

SPITZER: Well, look, I'm not so sure I agree with that, but I think something else intervened, which is the economy collapsed.

PARKER: Well, yeah. That's kind of a big thing to intervene.

SPITZER: Well, of course it is, which is why what he should have done is say we've got to focus on that.

PARKER: That may be true, but maybe sometimes when you look weak, you are weak.

SPITZER: Well again, I'm not going to play closet shrink. I think the guy is still going to be a great president.

PARKER: I don't blame you.

SPITZER: I want him to succeed. And that's why we got to...

PARKER: I want him to succeed, too. But I just want him to do it right.

SPITZER: All right.

PARKER: Right. Well, it's now time to bring two of the sharpest political minds into the arena. Joining us now, Naomi Wolf, author of "The End of America" and John Avlon from the "Daily Beef."

Welcome to you both. Hi, Naomi, how are you? Actually, we want you there, if you don't mind.

May I call you John?


PARKER: How are you?

AVLON: I'm great.

PARKER: So nice to see you here, finally.

AVLON: Nice to see you.

PARKER: Naomi, I'm a big fan from a long way back.


PARKER: You've done a lot of fascinating things, but the thing that you're most famous for, I think, was turning or trying to turn Al Gore into an alpha male. Is that a fair -- credit?

WOLF: I mean, I don't know where you're getting your information from. But that was the Republican national committee's version.

PARKER: Did they make that up?

WOLF: Totally. Whole thing made up.

SPITZER: Embrace it.

PARKER: Pretend like you want to remake President Obama. We feel like...

WOLF: Oh she's asking me to go there?


PARKER: Well, you don't have to talk about his clothes, but how would you help him sort of reinvigorate his presidency?

WOLF: Well, he's got the same serious problem that any American president is going to have right now, which is he's not free to do what he wants to do because of the influence of the special interests and they're on the Democratic side, they're on the Republican side, there's not a single president who can say to the oil lobby or the trial lawyers and the insurance companies, I'm going to ignore you...

SPITZER: Can I disagree for a minute?

WOLF: Please.

SPITZER: Because I agree with your sentiment that he has not done in many arenas what needs to be done, but I think, to say he cannot do is to be even more cynical than I. I mean, the reality is that we could have negotiated a very different deal with Wall Street. We could have a very different foreign policy. We could have a very different budget right now. All it takes is -- and I'm not suggesting that lacks it, the will to stand up and say here are the priorities, I'm the president, we will do this.

WOLF: Well, let me ask you this. I mean, I would love to believe we live in that world. We used to live in that world until recently, but let's just look at national security issues in relationship to the Constitution. Our Obama, I voted for him, I, you know, got people to vote for him and now I kind of bite my lip every time I read the news about what he's doing in terms of Guantanamo, and Justice Department that upholds Bush's state secret position every time there's a prisoner saying you beat me, you tortured me...

SPITZER: John, jump in before I...


No, no, no, we'll come back to it. We'll come back to it. We'll come back to it in a minute.

WOLF: This is the idea of what he wants to do?

AVLON: Part of what it is, is we're talking about the gap between campaigning and governing and the responsibilities of governing that don't match up with ideology or let alone activist- driven politics, and that's the reality of the office, that's the responsibility of the office. But, if it's done the right way, that's a position of strength. That doesn't mean that the president becomes a helpless giant stuck in the White House. It means that they're constrained by the responsibilities of the oath office to keep Americans safe. That's what's driving the foreign policy.

SPITZER: But I think what Naomi's talking about, and here's where I disagree, I think the president has been wrong on state secrets. I think he has been wrong in the positions he has taken in court, but he...

WOLF: But, he knows he's wrong.

SPITZER: No, but he could change it -- I'm not sure he knows -- look, this is the debate...


WOLF: Why isn't he closing Guantanamo?

PARKER: He knows that he can't. He can't.

WOLF: He can't, it's a military industrial...

PARKER: There's no place to put them.

AVLON: It's not that easy.

SPITZER: No, no, no, that's not why, no...

AVLON: I'm a big Eisenhower fan, but I don't think that it's that -- look, it's not that easy. And while the president...

SPITZER: John...

WOLF: But the British have set the people are free who were taken without charge, without trial, innocent, without due process, and they have -- you know, they're -- giving them recompense for the abuse that they said that they...

SPITZER: And Naomi, they're easier examples...

WOLF: That's what civilized countries are doing. And Obama is a constitutional scholar. He knows the right thing.

AVLON: America's a very civilized country.

WOLF: It used to be before we opened a gulag off ours, you know...

PARKER: Wow. But, Naomi, there has got to be a reason, I mean...


SPITZER: Well, there is...

WOLF: There is a reason which is the people who were tortured. I went to Guantanamo last June.

SPITZER: Naomi, hold on a second. There's an easier case...

WOLF: People who were tortured cannot be released because they would name names.

SPITZER: You are over arguing your case. Guantanamo is not your best case.


No, no, no, this is not your best case, because I happen to agree with you to a great extent about state secrets, Guantanamo. I know that people were trying to close it, it isn't, but put that aside. The better and easier example I think is the relationship between the White House and Wall Street. Because they are -- the reason national security imperative that we would all agree sometimes tilt (ph) to the balance. There it was a simple lack of will bringing in the wrong people. And I think that is why when you say he is either absolved or you understand it because he was so constrained, it was a woeful choice, and that's why I think he now needs to stand up and say we just got it wrong and we can recalibrate.

WOLF: What should he do differently?

SPITZER: Well, it's very easy. Look, we see in the paper these days, Wall Street bonus as enormous as they've ever been, with unemployment still in the high teens when you really count it. This is where the economy is still imbalanced between the financial sector and the creative sector. And this is a fundamental choice that he's got to make, if he's going to reclaim the hearts and souls of the American people.

WOLF: I mean, I love that. I agree with you, but what does he do about those big donors next time around when he needs those big checks?

SPITZER: The president of the United States doesn't need a single donor.

WOLF: He needs a big one.

SPITZER: No, he doesn't.

AVLON: He has the bully pulpit, it's not the same situation the senator is in or a candidate for president. I agree with you. But, I mean, I think we're in the same conversation in this country because the far right thinks that Obama's a socialist or a communist, and the far left thinks he's a show for Wall Street. That's an insane situation and yet those are the terms of debates we're having right now. And I think, you know, one of...

SPITZER: And where do you come down on it?

AVLON: Well, I...


SPITZER: Which one of these wing nuts are you part of?

AVLON: Neither. I think they're both wrong. I think the far left and the far right can be equally insane. It's a revolutionary concept.

SPITZER: We'll agree on that premise.

AVLON: Yeah, but in all seriousness, one of the politics is perception, and one of the things the Democratic Party always needs to deal with is the perception that they're somehow anti-business. And I think this president, and for example, on the Chamber of Commerce, that's the wrong enemy. It's tough to get Main Street Americans to look at the Chamber of Commerce and identify them as a shadowy special interest. That's the wrong fight. You don't want to have that fight at this point in the election.

WOLF: You have tremendous influence. I mean, when I was working with the Gore campaign on things like women's issues, he knew that women need work-family balance, better policies to take care of their kids and it was a big, very popular issue. Families, men and women want it. He couldn't do it because of the Chamber of Commerce because it costs business money.

AVLON: If your argument here is that America needs to be more like Europe, it is a total legitimate argument, but it is losing argument in terms of the American populous. It just is. I don't think -- the argument that the folks on the far right want to have is that President Obama represents a decided shift towards European socialism. That's because they want that fight, not...

WOLF: Child care isn't socialism...

AVLON: I agree. I agree. Of course it's not.

WOLF: It's a very popular initiative, but we can't get it because of the Chamber of Commerce and the influence they have, even though voters want it. So that's not Democracy in my view.

SPITZER: What should the president be sending? You're the maestro who's written speeches for successful politician. I agree, the Chamber of Commerce (INAUDIBLE). What should he say?

AVLON: I think the president needs to be -- politics is perception -- what the president needs to be doing is declaring his independence in a way that's clear to the American people. I think this president, because, in part, he doesn't have an executive background, hasn't been decisive enough. And there's a problem. We are incubating a radicalism in American politics right now, where engaging in the politics of incitement, where people demonize people who disagree them every day. That is standard operating procedure, right now.

What shocked and offended me about Carl Paladino's comments on Sunday was the fact that they were scripted. It wasn't a gaffe. It was strategy. That is a sign of the times right now. So things are going to get worse, because people are approaching politics right now as ideological blood sport. They are not interested in the politics of problem solving and that's overwhelmingly what the people want. Hyper-partisanship is hurting our country, because we can't solve problems.

SPITZER: We've been through this before and I want desperately to be an optimist about this, as difficult as it may be, and I see this sort of flow to the extremes. On the other hand, when that happens at a certain point, most of the public snaps back to somebody in the middle and the president could still step into that void and say, wait a minute, I'm not going to be either for Wall Street or be a raging populist, I'm going to be somebody who speaks common sense on this whole raft off issues, and I think that he may, on November 3, wake up and say that space is still vacant and that's where he's got to gravitate. And hopefully he will.

AVLON: Yeah. I think that's what 12 (ph) is going to be. Yeah, I agree with you.

WOLF: But Eliot, I mean, can -- can he actually break through the clutter? I mean, I see speeches that he gives, I listen, you know, where I can get through to those talking points. And he's up against a giant machine, you know, the right-wing Fox News bloggers that is intent on and very good at whipping up fake issues -- the mosque at Ground Zero -- in order to distract attention from things like well, what do we do about health care, well, how do we take care of returning vets, what about our nation's children, how to educate them better. It's hard to break through, as you know.

SPITZER: With one critical caveat. He still has the biggest megaphone of the world, he's the president of the United States, and he can use it with beautifully crafted words to seize, once again, the logic that drove him to the Oval Office.

WOLF: How many people cover the State of the Union in its entirety anymore?

SPITZER: Look, we're going to have to continue this some other time.

PARKER: Well, if says it, they'll listen, but he hasn't been able to articulate it, lately.

SPITZER: Look, we got to be optimistic, because things are so dark, you got to believe there's light at the end of the tunnel.

WOLF: Absolute true.

SPITZER: Naomi and John, it has been great having you here. We will continue this, we promise. Thanks so much. We'll be right back.


PARKER: So, we're going to go ahead and get the elephant out of the room, and I'm not talking about you. But you did write about me that I am...



SPITZER: We'll get to that. Don't worry. Equal time.

PARKER: That I am a "pleasantly wishy-washy, mostly plain vanilla Republican." It's hard to see your words applied when the person is actually present, isn't it?

VIGUERIE: It really is.

PARKER: So what are you thinking? Nobody who knows me says I'm wishy-washy and certainly I'm not plain vanilla.

SPITZER: Never call you vanilla, let me tell you. I can vouch for that.



PARKER: You have been a big supporter of President Obama. Do you feel betrayed by him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this question, I think, yes. I do.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, I -- I still support him, generally speaking, because I think he is trying to do the right thing. And I think he was trying not to inflame the situation. And I think he over-learned the lesson of bill Clinton.



SPITZER: Richard Viguerie was present at the creation of the Modern Conservative Movement, a brilliant political organizer, Viguerie has gone over the heads of the media of gatekeepers to connect with grassroots voters since the early 1960s.

PARKER: And at 77, Viguerie still has a lot to say about the Tea Party movement, the Republican establishment, and even about this very program. We sat down with him a short time ago.


Welcome, Richard.

VIGUERIE: My pleasure. I'm shocked to be here.

PARKER: Yeah, well, I'm kind of...

VIGUERIE: After writing your article.

SPITZER: We'll get to that. Don't worry. Equal time.

PARKER: That I am a "pleasantly wishy-washy, mostly plain vanilla Republican." It's hard to see your words applied when the person is actually present, isn't it?

VIGUERIE: It really is.

PARKER: So what are you thinking? Nobody who knows me says I'm wishy-washy and certainly I'm not plain vanilla.

SPITZER: Never call you vanilla, let me tell you. I can vouch for that.

VIGUERIE: Kathleen, all due respect, in the last 10 days or so, I have been watching this show, I would change vanilla to more distilled water. I've not heard you say, an ideological thought that disagrees with Eliot.

PARKER: Well, I'm not an ideologue, I'm not an ideologue, that's why.

VIGUERIE: No, that's right. So, that was my point in the article there, that seeing -- says they play it down the middle. Nobody that I know, literally no one in the Republican conservative right of center community sees CNN as playing it down the middle. We see it as, you know, left of center.

PARKER: Well, they hired me to balance that out. And, you know, I have a very bad habit of being polite, because I'm southern, but I am getting rude -- I'm getting ruder by the minute, and pretty soon I'm going to take him down, OK?

VIGUERIE: I married a southern girl. I understand that.

SPITZER: Here's the thing. Here's what you said. And first of all, Kathleen is not only not plain vanilla, she is acerbic, she's smart, and her critiques are devastating, but we'll get to that over the course of this show.

VIGUERIE: I'd just like for her to express some conservative thoughts.

PARKER: Just let me in.

SPITZER: And since we're both here at CNN, and you know, I have this funny thing, when you gore my ox or whatever the cliche is, I'm going defend it. You said at the top that CNN was left of center, didn't play it straight down the middle. Give us some examples. Because honestly, I, sitting here now as a journalist, think of this a network that firmly believes in facts and vigorous debate, but always based on the facts and makes it clear when a statement is a statement of opinion. So give us examples.

VIGUERIE: Well, I ran into David Gergen, somebody who is known for decades and I like David, and we were talking, and David now lives at Harvard, he's part of the CNN crew here. Everywhere I look at CNN, I see the ruling class. And when you look at Fox, you see people that you could see maybe living next door to you, you know, being a colleague at work...

PARKER: Well listen, I moved here from Camden, South Carolina, a population of...


I mean, come on.

VIGUERIE: Kathleen, how many times do you see conservatives on CNN who are articulate and will challenge an Eliot Spitzer?

PARKER: I have to tell you, they're hard to find, because Fox has got them on payroll.


VIGUERIE: Well, that's it, but we're looking for you to raise...

SPITZER: Richard, once before I said this in this program, that was fun to listen to, but you didn't answer the question.


Give me a specific case. Give me a specific case where we at CNN did not tell the facts as they were.

VIGUERIE: No, no. David Halverson, the great writer, said years ago, in a book that he wrote that media bias does not come in distorting facts, lying, misrepresenting things, it comes in the selection of the news story. So when liberals look at waste, fraud and abuse, say, in the military, and they don't look at waste, fraud and abuse in the welfare program, that's media bias. So, where are the articulate conservatives on here?

SPITZER: We invited you. We invited you.


I couldn't have been happier to get you on the show.

VIGUERIE: That's great, Eliot, but that's 10 minutes. You know, you're going to be on for five hours this week and five hours next week. But where are the articulate conservatives that will challenge you, day in -- and not just there, but al throughout CNN.

SPITZER: I hear you, I hope you don't mind if I tell you I think you're wrong because I think the two of us are not only open-minded on every issue, we battle when we disagree and we go to facts and we go to first principles about what makes this country great, which is about markets, capitalism, democracy, tolerance. That is what we believe in. I'm no liberal, I'm no conservative. I believe in those basic principles.

PARKER: Well, I would also argue that most of America does fall into the center. We're not hard right or hard left.


PARKER: More people are self-identifying now as Independents -- I'm sure you know this -- than they are Republican or Democrat. Which suggests to me they're tired of the partisan warfare and want a conversation that's civil and...

VIGUERIE: No, they're not tired of war, they want people who are going to speak for them. Twenty percent, Gallup says, of the American people identify as liberal, 42 percent identify as conservative -- 42. America is a center right country and they don't see CNN as a center right network.

SPITZER: All right. So you said, "Americans are frightened about their financial circumstances, and angry at the ruling class, such as Spitzer and Parker." Now, here's my problem with this. Nobody -- I think I can say nobody in the past 10 years has gone after Wall Street and the plutocracy tougher than I did. So, I just wanted to ask a question. Your party, Republican Party, defending the plutocracy for the last 15 or 20 years, Wall Street and the moneyed interest, do you still believe in the deregulatory spasm that President Reagan, your creation, took us down?

VIGUERIE: Oh, absolutely. The problem that we have with the economy of this country now is because of government, it's because of the Community Development Act, it's because of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Reserve system. It's all of government, everywhere you look, government is got its fingerprints on our economic problems.

SPITZER: And it wasn't the banks.

VIGUERIE: They were part of it, absolutely part of it. But you all trace it back to the government. The government is authorizing them to do that. The Wall Street gets its power from government.


Let me just make one point. TARP was not about saving banks, it was about saving the bonuses of Wall Street. You and I might agree on that.

SPITZER: Oh, we agree on that. But that's what I was fighting against. That was the banks in conjunction with government, and that was the gridlock we're trying to break.

All right, your turn, Kathleen.


PARKER: You see my problem, right? I have a little pause, Eliot. Well, I want to get back to a couple of things. First of all, you started in 1961 here in New York City, with William F. Buckley. And I am wondering if you think that today's Republican Party is William F. Buckley's party. That's question No. 1. No. 2, you call yourself a Reagan conservative and yet you supported John Connolly in 1980, he's a former governor of Texas. Isn't that right?

VIGUERIE: Oh, wow, Google is a real problem, isn't it?

PARKER: Exactly.

VIGUERIE: Yes. It's that Texas thing, Kathleen. It's a Texas thing.

PARKER: All right.

VIGUERIE: Growing up in Texas, I was enamored with Connolly and that was a mistake. I would the not do that again. Reagan was obviously the man. But...

PARKER: So to Buckley.

VIGUERIE: Yeah, back to Buckley. The Republican Party is not the party that -- excuse me, the Republican Party is not the party that Bill Buckley would want today, but it's moving in that direction. The reason the Republicans lost to Congress, Kathleen, in '06, the White House in '08, had nothing, literally nothing to do with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama. It had everything to do with Tom DeLay, Denny Hastert, Karl Rove, George Bush, Bill Frisk, the big government Republicans. People were furious at them. And they were not voting for the Democrats so much as they were throwing the Republicans out. They wanted to fire the Republicans, just like the country wants to fire the Democrats this year.

PARKER: Well, you know, but William F. Buckley tried to marginalize, for example, the John Birchers, and now the John Birchers are co-hosting CPAC, you know, the Conservative Political Action Committee, so and I know...


VIGUERIE: It's a big ten, CPAC is a big tent, they've got the homosexual group in there, too. So, anyway, it's a big tent, CPAC and it causes a lot of controversy.

PARKER: Well, but some the Tea Party people and you're, of course, a big supporter of the Tea Party...

VIGUERIE: Absolutely.

PARKER: And we both have been very complimentary of the grassroots feel of the whole thing. We like that. But there are some characters out there who are, I think William F. Buckley, would think we're a little bit on the kooky side of things. And I'm not sure that's where you really want to take the party.

VIGUERIE: I challenge you, Kathleen, to find any large movement, and the Tea Party is a very large movement, that doesn't have some people on the fringe.

SPITZER: I want to go down to the nitty-gritty of your proposals. And we can go back, because we were sitting here talking. You have been part of what we see as four different revolutions of the Republican Party, right? You begin with Goldwater, then get to Reagan, then you get to Gingrich and now the Tea Party. The bases of the Tea Party is finally, you're going to live up to what you were saying, which is you're going to cut the budget. None of the other three have done it. Is that a fair statement?

VIGUERIE: Absolutely. Absolutely.

SPITZER: OK, so finally you're going to do it. The total federal budget is about $3.8 billion -- trillion, excuse me. Billion would be small, $3.8 trillion. Of which only $520 billion is nondefense discretionary money. Where are you going to cut? I want - because, are you going to eliminate transportation, you going to eliminate justice -- I want to get this...

VIGUERIE: I made a list of questions you might ask today and you know, No. 1. Let me put it in perspective in this sense. Well, we start with the Republican proposal. We go back to the spending limits of...

SPITZER: You got to cut over a $1 trillion. There's only $500 billion in nondiscretionary money to start with. What -- where are you going to take huge pieces -- are you going to cut Medicare?

VIGUERIE: What you're going to do is change the entitlements. You have to.

SPITZER: So, you're going to cut Medicare.

VIGUERIE: America is not going to function, as you well know, in 20 or 30 years. America is not going to function unless somebody, Democrats or Republicans, conservatives and liberals, get together and figure out how we're going to get away from this entitlement society. One thing, very simple way to do it, Eliot, there are many parts to it, but one is you change the retirement age. Most people when they get to 62 now are drawing social security. You can't continue that when people are living into their 80s and 90s. That's an easy way. You tell a 20, 30, 40-year-old they have to wait another three or four years for so is social security, their eyes glaze over.

So, you're going to -- well, it's sensible...

PARKER: I think that's perfectly legitimate. What else?

SPITZER: Medicare? Are you going to -- I mean, you're going oh have to take a meat axe to -- because a part of your proposal is to extend the Bush tax cuts in perpetuity, which is going to -- if you ask most people who know the numbers, going to increase our budget deficit by $1 trillion a year, so you're going to have to take a meat axe to the federal budget, and you're saying no defense cuts and so it's all going to come out of Social Security and Medicare, then.

VIGUERIE: No, no, no. There -- the government has grown, you know, exponentially, as we all know, in the last 15 years and we want to ratchet government back, and we want to take power away from people in government, and give it to the individuals. And America is there, Eliot, they are there. People get it. That their children are not going to have a life...


PARKER: There are there, it's just a question of how can you really do it...

SPITZER: But here's the thing, when Dick Army was here and we had a wonderful conversation with Dick Army, he said, he came up, I asked him the same question, he came up with the National Endowment for the Arts and National Public Radio.


SPITZER: One-one thousandths of one percent. It was kind of silly, I hate to say it, but it was meaningless. So give us -- are you going to really chop Medicare in half?

VIGUERIE: Tell you what, why don't you have Paul Ryan on here?

PARKER: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly.

SPITZER: We'll do it.


We will see. Richard, this has been great. We hope you will come back to join us again.

VIGUERIE: My pleasure.

SPITZER: Thanks so much.


ANNOUNCER: That all depends on the caliber of our candidates.


Meet Pamela Gorman, candidate for Congress in Arizona III. Conservative Christian, and a pretty fair shot.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SPITZER: Now it's time for "Fun with Politics," or in this case, gun with politics. Remember Harry Whittington, the man Vice President Dick Cheney shot in the face? Not only did the vice president not tell anybody about it for hours, including the president. Now news has just come out that Cheney hasn't even apologized to the guy four years later. I mean, I just can't even imagine that. Shot him.

PARKER: Well, when you shoot somebody, you usually apologize?

SPITZER: Well, let me tell you, unless you mean to shoot him. I mean, come on, this is something bizarre here.

PARKER: It is a little odd. Dick Cheney may have started a trend, however, in a lot of political ads this year. If you're not packing heat, you can't compete.

SPITZER: You know, during the primaries, a candidate for Congress in Arizona got a lot of attention when she took dead aim at her opponents. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That all depends on the caliber of our candidates. Meet Pamela Gorman, candidate for Congress in Arizona 3. Conservative Christian, and a pretty fair shot.


PARKER: Whew-hoo. Guns for Jesus. Well, Pamela Gorman may have lost the primary, but she set the tone for this election. And it's not just French candidates. Take Governor Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia running for the Senate. Remember, now, this is the governor.


GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I'm Joe Manchin. I approved this ad, because I'll always defend West Virginia. As your senator, I'll protect our Second Amendment rights. That's why the NRA endorsed me. I sued EPA, and I'll take dead aim at the cap-and-trade bill. Because it's bad for West Virginia.


SPITZER: Well, that's one way to take care of a bill that Congress passes or just talking about passes. I'm not so sure I like that one.

Let's not forget, by the way, our friend Dale Peterson. Last week, we showed you his gun-toting ad. He was running for Alabama agricultural commissioner. Not sheriff, agricultural commissioner. Well, he lost the primary, but made this new ad, encouraging voters to support the man who beat him, or else. You've just got to take a load of this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DALE PETERSON: He'll do something about Alabama losing three family farms a day. He'll look out for the people of Alabama. I want all of my supporters to vote for John McMillan in the runoff July 13th, and that dummy with all his illegal campaign contributions can head on back to his chicken farm. Hey, you! Hey, get away from that!


PARKER: Hey, you. Well, I guess when it comes to getting elected, it's praise Jesus and pass the ammo.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


ANDREW SULLIVAN, THE DAILY DISH: So we have made amazing strides. But our political system, the Congress, is so screwed up. The Republicans are too busy catering to bigots, and the Democrats don't have two balls between them.



SPITZER: A federal judge has ordered the military to stop enforcing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and issued an injunction to stop all investigations into suspected violators of the order.

PARKER: And our headliner tonight is one of the most widely read and most controversial bloggers writing on politics and foreign policy. Andrew Sullivan is also a leading advocate for gay rights, and he opposes "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Andrew, welcome.

ANDREW SULLIVAN, THE DAILY DISH: Thanks. Nice to be here.

PARKER: You've been fighting these battles for a long time.


PARKER: Are you -- does this give you hope? Are you cynical?

SULLIVAN: I'm not cynical. But I've learned not to overreact to sudden judicial announcements, because the Justice Department may well appeal. There may be a stay. We will see what this process is.

I mean, I thought this was going to end 20 years ago. And everywhere else in the world, it has ended. You know, one of my best buddies was one of the first men to go into Afghanistan and risked his life for this country. The first man in Afghanistan, soldier to lose a limb was a gay man, Eric Alva.

For me, this is about our troops. This is about -- this isn't about being gay, it's about honoring these people who are risking their lives for us. And the fact that this was legislated by the Congress in '93, and signed by Clinton, that made it difficult for a commander-in-chief to do what Truman did, which is just say no. But since he was elected, Barack Obama has had the power as a commander- in-chief to issue a stop loss order. To just say, we're just holding it for a minute. We'll have the debate, the legislation, but I am not enforcing this. And he has not done so. He has fired more gay people than any other employer in America just because they're gay. He personally. All right? The buck stops with him.

SPITZER: I not only agree with you, but at one point in my career I was the only governor in the nation to support same-sex marriage and pushed toward it very aggressively.

SULLIVAN: Thank you.

SPITZER: Having said that, the arc to de-quote famous words, the arc of history is moving in the right direction on this. And you have a ring on your left hand, you got married in Massachusetts. So do you sense some optimism when you look at where we're headed?

SULLIVAN: The country is there. Seventy-five percent of Americans want to end this ban. Eighty percent want nondiscrimination laws and employment federally.

We've suddenly just passed the 52 percent mark in support for marriage rights. Marriage rights. And when I started arguing for this, like 20 years ago, people thought I was out of my mind. So we have made amazing strides. But our political system, the Congress, is so screwed up. The Republicans are too busy catering to bigots, and the Democrats don't have two balls between them. And that's the problem. And I'm afraid I really thought this president would be different. But he isn't.

PARKER: There's no question that society has changed, attitudes have changed, particularly young people. The issue of somebody being gay or not is really not on their radar. But at the same time, we've lately seen some pretty awful things happening.


PARKER: A couple of gays were tortured. In fact, two gay teen suicides. Are you at all concerned in this political season that this is going to ramp up some of the hostilities that have surfaced in the last few weeks?

SULLIVAN: I always think that fear is forever. I mean, every human society people are afraid. And when you're a kid and you're a teenager, the last thing you want to be is different, especially with questions of hormones, boys, girls, dating. So it's always going to be rough for a gay teen.

And I would like to tell them right now, as many other people have, it gets better. It will get better. And there is a future. But I do feel that the message is being sent by someone like Paladino, for example, whose speech was really disgusting bigotry, demonizing gay people as basically trying to rape and abuse children. I mean, this kind of stuff -- and I do also think that when the president of the United States is firing patriotic soldiers just for being gay, that cannot help but keep the stigma going. I want to get past it. I really --


SULLIVAN: I don't want to be thought of as gay. I want to be thought of as a human being, OK.

PARKER: Right.

SULLIVAN: I don't want this to be the issue that totally defines me. It's had to, because we have had to fight for it. But we want to get past them. These guys and these women want to be soldiers.

PARKER: You have been a big supporter of President Obama. Do you feel betrayed by him?

SULLIVAN: On this question, I think, yes. I do.


SULLIVAN: I mean, I -- I still support him, much -- generally speaking, because I think he's trying to do the right thing. And I think he was trying not to inflame the situation. And I think he overlearned the lesson of Bill Clinton.

SPITZER: Let me ask you a tough political question.


SPITZER: Could he have been elected if he had come out for same- sex marriage?

SULLIVAN: Well -- that's a separate question.

SPITZER: I'm trying to put you into the very -- you know my views on the matter.


SPITZER: I'm trying to put you into the very heart, sort of political dynamic where -- I don't know what he really believes. I presume I take him at his word. He actually is not in favor of same- sex marriage. But some would say even if he were, he couldn't say that because then we would have ended up with John McCain. That would have been worse. And so these are the pragmatic decisions. How do you come down on that?

SULLIVAN: I believe that in the end, the public judges the president and a man by his convictions, even if they disagree with his convictions. People came to respect Reagan, even when they disagreed with him --


SULLIVAN: -- because it was clear he had principles and he stood by them. Barack Obama is the only politician to have once supported same-sex marriage and then changed his mind the other way. He's the only politician I know that's been going in the opposite direction. And I like the guy. And I think he has integrity. But I think he's let us down on this. And I think -- and I think it's a shame. But I do think on the military issue, where he has actually direct responsibility, he can do it. He can stop firing gay people now.

PARKER: All right, Andrew, thank you so much for being here.

SULLIVAN: Kathleen, thank you.

PARKER: It's always interesting to talk to you.

We'll be right back.


NAOMI WOLF, AUTHOR, "THE END OF AMERICA": I hear from a lot of citizens who say, the minute someone stands up from a grassroots place isn't anointed by the insiders in Washington, New York, didn't go to an Ivy League university, isn't blessed by the gatekeepers of the Republicans and the Democrats, they're called crazy.



PARKER: It's time for "Our Political Party," a provocative conversation with fun and opinionated guests.

SPITZER: We have a great guest list here tonight. Let's go around the table. Naomi Wolf joining us again. S he has been the best-selling author and social critic. And John Avlon, speechwriter for Rudy Guiliani, senior political columnist for TheDailyBeast.com.

PARKER: And now I'll pick up where you were supposed to. John Ridley is a screenwriter and a commentator --

JOHN RIDLEY, NPR: My name there.

PARKER: -- for NPR. And now we have Andrew Sullivan who is celebrating his tenth anniversary as the blogger on The Daily Dish, one of my favorites of all-time.

SULLIVAN: Thank you, Kathleen.

SPITZER: Your best-selling book, your defined by wingnuts and this notion of how do we get rid of the fringe. But you also are brilliant at identifying these sort of fringe characters who have donated the political scene.


SPITZER: We all know Christine O'Donnell. Who is in the on-deck circle? Who's next? I mean, who do we not yet know we can get enough? AVLON: You know, you need to go to the minor leagues to really appreciate where things are going. You know, everyone get the Senate. So I think if you look at the House, you know, go look at the nine co- sponsors of the birther bill, you'll get a pretty good shot chance of who's coming up. And there's always Michele Bachmann and Allen Grayson, always good for entertainment at that kind of J.V., you know, AAA ball level.

SPITZER: You know, Alan Grayson is actually a smart guy.

AVLON: Oh, just because you're smart doesn't mean you're not crazy.

SPITZER: He's waging some good battles there on a populist crusade.

AVLON: Well, you know, one man's populist is another man's extremism. I think, you know, we've got a conservative populist movement in this country that has a lot of wingnuts attached to it, not all, certainly. But I think, you know, in the macro sense, you go to politics and you sort of get the hatred movement that we see and rise of some of the militias. And, you know, that's when it gets -- you get off the reservation. They're not playing in minor league ball. They're kind of outside the stadium screaming.

RIDLEY: I just want to jump in, because I know when we talk about the fringe, everybody immediately jumps to the right and that's kind of expected to. So I wanted to identify someone on the left who's fringe, who's coming up that people maybe don't know about, just to, you know, kind of balance the playing field.

PARKER: Right.

RIDLEY: And by the way, it's actually kind of a little difficult to find these individuals. Not a lot of ink spilled on them. But one young lady, and she's kind of young, Kesha Rogers, who's a Democratic, is actually the Democratic candidate, not a write-in candidate, not (INAUDIBLE) 22nd Congressional District, Texas, Tom DeLay's old stomping ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, this is a good one.

RIDLEY: This is an interesting one. She's calling for the impeachment of President Obama, which not even a lot of Tea Partiers are going down that road. She is comparing his health care to (INAUDIBLE) Germany, the Hitler.

SPITZER: All right. OK.

PARKER: Of course.

RIDLEY: She also would like to colonize Mars. Let's get it done now before anybody else. But this is interesting.


SPITZER: They have rare earth minerals there or something we need, absolutely.

RIDLEY: Get there first before the Venusians do. But this is what I wanted to bring up because this is something I had not heard before and is apparently -- I want to quote her, because I don't want to get this wrong. But she said that the number one challenge and enemy that we are up against right now, if anyone wants to take a quick guess, imperial Britain is our number one enemy.


RIDLEY: Because they're down there first behind the destruction of sovereign national states.

SPITZER: I think she started reading history maybe 150 years ago.

RIDLEY: Let's just say that she's clearly not a Kenyan anti- colonialist at this point. And I do want to point out, by the way, also, she is a person of color. Because a lot of people -- everyone is saying you can't find a black Democrat who is against President Obama. Let's just get rid of that and that's right.


PARKER: Well, you know, they're not many black wingnuts either, are they?

AVLON: No, no, no, no, let's not discriminate. I think, again, you know, there are plenty of folks on the far left who qualify for wingnut status.


NAOMI WOLF, AUTHOR, "THE END OF AMERICA": This is like a really issue though, like what box do we create and we say this is legitimate. This, of course, makes people crazy. Because I've heard from a lot of citizens, I grant you that there are many crazy people out there. The left has its own share. You know, all races and classes can come up with wingnuts. But I hear from a lot of citizens who say the minute someone stands up from a grassroots place isn't anointed by the insiders in Washington, New York, didn't go to an Ivy League university, isn't blessed by the gatekeepers of the Republicans and Democrats, they're called crazy. And frankly, if you look at the real troublemakers -- you know, Ron Paul, a lot of people are saying you now, he's not a lunatic on a lot of issues, but the insider establishment that, you know, we are all part of, cast people like him. Howard Dean was called crazy when he was challenging --


RIDLEY: I think it's more about how you polish that message. My issue is not -- there are plenty of things that people can say, look, I'm sure she's for smaller government, reducing the deficit. That's fine. But it's those messages that aren't quite as polished and you see so many individuals running for those safe harbors of this cable network or this blog site, because that message gets out. SPITZER: You know, every now and again, there are objective facts we think, and you say people don't deal with objective reality we can throw off the reservation. But then somebody says, how about Galileo, you know? How do you deal with these people who come in with transformative theories that simply don't fit our objective facts and how do you then integrate them into a new world view?

PARKER: That's one who do qualify.

AVLON: You don't demonize the people you disagree with.

SULLIVAN: The only answer is empiricism. You ask what the facts are, and you do your best to find out what the truth is. And sometimes the truth is truly weird. I mean, it really is.

PARKER: That is right.

SULLIVAN: And sometimes the truth is the truth. And so I think that's all you can do. And I think the other thing you can do is constantly ask yourself whether you are trapped in your own what they call epistemic closure, whether you are not --

PARKER: Exactly. Your own bubble.

SULLIVAN: -- whether you are -- and the great thing, I have to say one of the bad things about the blogosphere is you can get these little bubbles. The good things, if you don't want to be in that bubble, if you want to really subject yourself to alternative points of view, they're there.

PARKER: Thank you all so much for coming.

WOLF: Thank you.

PARKER: And we hope you'll come back and join us again.

RIDLEY: Thank you.

PARKER: We'll be having a party like this every night on "PARKER SPITZER." We'll be right back.

Was that Spitzer? Spitzer. "PARKER SPITZER." Don't go away.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Anderson Cooper. More "PARKER SPITZER" in a moment. Here's the latest news.

In Chile, the country's president greeted all 33 rescued miners at the hospital. There's word tonight that three of the men are going home. Earlier, the hole through which the miners emerged one by one was temporarily sealed. We'll have more tonight on "360" at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she is sickened by the case of David Hartley and the U.S. is doing it all it can to find his body. Hartley's wife claims he was killed by gunmen on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake two weeks ago.

And tonight on "360," keeping them honest. Sharron Angle, Nevada's Republican Senate candidate, she claimed two towns in America are adopting Islamic Sharia law. It's simply not true. She explains where she got the idea. And we'll have latest from the debate tonight that's about to occur between her and Harry Reid. That's the latest.

"PARKER SPITZER" will be right back.


SPITZER: Before we leave you, a postscript. Last night, along with the entire world, we watched the ultimate feel-good story. Thirty-three Chilean miners rescued in an unforgettable demonstration of faith and endurance.

PARKER: And they're back home now with their family and loved ones so we're going to raise a glass and toast those fellows. Eliot?

SPITZER: To them.

PARKER: Cheers and salute.

SPITZER: Absolutely.

PARKER: Join us tomorrow night. And now stay tuned for Larry King.

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