Following the "This Week" roundtable today, we asked our roundtable participants to expand on their discussion of the GOP presidential race, the budget and economy, and the Trayvon Martin case. Here are their views.
|Matt Bai: A Generational Contrast on Trayvon Martin Response|
I was intrigued by a lot of what I heard on today's roundtable, but I have to say I was especially moved hearing Van Jones talk about the challenges he faces in keeping his children safe. As a father, that really resonated with me.
It also made me reflect on a topic I've written about at length before, which is the generational contrast, stylistically, among leaders in the African American community. There was, I thought, a poignant example of that this past week, where you had two old rivals – President Obama and Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who once ran against each other in a primary – weighing in on the death of Trayvon Martin.
Like Van Jones, the president spoke in very personal, very measured terms when he said that if he had a son, that son would look like Trayvon. He seemed to be saying to white America: "Look, I know you see me standing up here and you think we've come all this way, and in a lot of ways we have, but you need to know that we still have this injustice as a country, and we need to deal with it."
And then you saw Congressman Rush, who wore a hoodie onto the House floor and dramatically revealed it, knowing full well that he would be cast out of the chamber (a silly rule, but a rule nonetheless) and that the clip would become viral and polarizing. This was the more confrontational posture of an earlier, more traumatized generation – taking it to the establishment, rather than speaking from within it.
Both approaches seem like valid expressions of the same outrage. But they do highlight, again, the way in which older and younger black leaders – those who grew up in the civil rights struggle and those who came of age after – relate differently to the society, based on very different racial experiences.
By the way, Van Jones and Ann Coulter seemed to get along famously in the green room, and they were exchanging Twitter addresses as I left. Who says television can't unify?
Matt Bai is chief political correspondent for The New York Times Magazine. Today's issue features his cover story, "Who Killed the Debt Deal?"
|Ann Coulter: A Job Only Mitt Romney Can Do|
Oops, I'm watching the show now (luckily, it's delayed in New York City) and I obviously misspoke when I said spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest on the national debt will consume 8 cents of every federal dollar within 10 years. Rather, spending on those programs will leave only 8 cents of every federal dollar for everything else – e.g., the Marines, the Air Force, national museums, food inspectors, air traffic controllers, national parks, etc. etc.
That's according to a 2009 report by President Obama's treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, which concluded that those programs will take 92 cents of every federal dollar sometime before 2019.
Taxing "the rich" won't stop this imminent disaster. Cutting the depreciation schedule on corporate jets won't prevent it. Only doing something no political party or politician – not even Ronald Reagan – has ever been able to do will stave off the total collapse of the American economy: we have to cut government spending.
Forget Republican, Democrat, the Tea Party, contraception or Trayvon Martin: What this country needs more than anything else right now is a green eyeshade accountant-type who saved the corruption-ridden 2002 Winter Olympics from financial collapse, slashed spending in one of the most liberal states in the union and rescued dozens of private businesses from bankruptcy to go to Washington and start cutting. (That's Mitt Romney.)
Only the federal government could spend $2 trillion a year on wealth transfers to the poor, and still have poor people. (That's the equivalent of paying 30 percent of all Americans $20,000 a year). It's time to let the Bain Capital guy loose on the federal budget.
Ann Coulter is a conservative commentator and bestselling author, most recently of "Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America."
|Van Jones: Two Steps To Rescue The American Dream|
There are a lot of bread and butter issues that we didn't get to talk about on the panel today – including the blanket of debt that is crushing the aspirations of the middle class.
If you want to know my full thinking on these issues, check out my new book, "Rebuild The Dream." It lays out a game plan for rescuing and reinventing the American Dream. I really appreciate George Stephanopoulos for mentioning it on the show.
It used to be that the pathway out of poverty into the middle class was to go to college and then buy a home. Given the crushing burdens of college debt and the prevalence of underwater mortgages, pursuing those same goals today is dragging people out of the middle class and into poverty. The American Dream has been turned upside down and inside out. It is time to do something about it.
That's why my organization, Rebuild The Dream, is working with the New Bottom Line organization to get Fannie and Freddie to reduce the principal on underwater mortgages. Bush administration holdover Ed DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, should reassess the value of America's homes. Doing so would probably save Americans $90 billion. So far, he won't allow Fannie and Freddie to do it. With 25 percent of American houses underwater, DeMarco should change his mind – or change his job.
Our other big fight is to stop Congress from letting the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent on July 1. At a time when banks are getting their money for practically free, it makes no sense to make the next generation of struggling students pay through the nose for an education.
Such a policy is not just bad for our kids. The next generation of Americans must be educated to compete in a global marketplace; erecting price barriers to education is bad for the country. A victory here could save eight million students collectively about $20 billion – and begin to restore American competitiveness for decades to come.
We may not be able to create jobs fast enough to put money into people's pockets. But we can keep the financial sector elites from taking money out of people's pockets. And that's an important start.
Van Jones is a former Obama White House environmental adviser, and the author of "Rebuild the Dream."
|Terry Moran: How 'Stand Your Ground' Short-Circuits The Justice System|
On the roundtable this morning. Ann Coulter and I had a bit of a debate on Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law and the Trayvon Martin case. I'll respectfully continue it here.
Ann seemed to say that the law was irrelevant to this case because there are only two possible scenarios, and, she argued, the law would not apply to either:
1. Zimmerman tracks down Trayvon and kills him.
2. Trayvon assaults Zimmerman, pinning him on the ground and battering him, and Zimmerman fires in self-defense.
Ann says in neither case is there any issue that "Stand Your Ground" impacts.
First, she does not seem to understand how police work actually proceeds. Cops don't say, "Well, there are only two possible scenarios here. Does the law apply?" Pundits do that. Cops investigate, they talk to witnesses, they comb the crime scene, they put evidence to forensic analysis.
And you know what? Sometimes – really, really often – they come up with a scenario that differs from the pat storylines of defendants, or activists, or pundits. That scenario is based on the totality of facts, from the tiniest to the most obvious, and it is based on the experienced, professional analysis they bring to the case – which is a far cry from what we bring to it in a television studio. It is that scenario that police present to prosecutors for possible indictment and trial, if warranted.
And that brings us to where Ann was wrong on the law. Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law is different from the laws in every other state. As law professor Michael J.Z. Mannheimer pointed out on PrawfsBlawg:
"So what is truly distinctive about Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law? It is this: while self-defense conventionally is just that -- a defense, to be raised at trial -- self-defense under the Florida law acts as an immunity from prosecution or even arrest. Section 776.032 of the Florida Statutes provides that a person who uses deadly force in self-defense "is immune from criminal prosecution." This odd provision means that a person who uses deadly force in self-defense cannot be tried, even though the highly fact-intensive question of whether the person acted in self-defense is usually hashed out at trial. The law thus creates a paradox: the State must make a highly complex factual determination before being permitted to avail itself of the forum necessary to make such a determination."
And this is why I said Florida's law "short-circuits" the justice system. By making it so hard for police and prosecutors to do their job, the law virtually prevents the proper resolution of this painful case by a jury.
I've covered hundreds of trials in my career. The system works – not perfectly, but reliably. I trust juries. Florida does not, at least in Section 776.032 of its "Stand Your Ground" law. Contrary to Ann's argument, that does matter to the search for justice here. It matters a lot.
Terry Moran is co-anchor of "Nightline" and covers the Supreme Court for ABC News.