Transcript: President Barack Obama

STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna? BRAZILE: Well, George, there's some evidence that -- not an overwhelming amount of evidence -- that some of -- a small fringe of this movement, clearly there's some racism. And you don't have to know the motives of someone's heart to understand when you see signs, incendiary signs that basically compares him to a witch doctor, an African heathen. We know racism; we don't have to be told or taught that. That -- that much we do know.

There's a culture of extremism that has gained mainstream acceptance. And I think the president is absolutely right. When you see it, you have to call it. You shouldn't duck it. But, on the other hand, you shouldn't exaggerate it.

This is why we need responsible leaders to denounce it, but more importantly, we need to find a way to have an honest and good dialogue whenever race is a topic so that the president of the United States, which is very busy, does not have to have beer summits all the time.

NOONAN: You know what I think? When I look at this, I step back a little bit and I think, "There is a lot of anger now." Mrs. Pelosi had a point. Things get high. It's always good to cool things down. But, essentially, what we have here is a very new president. He's only been here for 10 months. He is a young man. He didn't have deep, long, profound experience.

He is attempting right now to change, what is it, 17 percent, 18 percent of the GNP of the United States of America, changing how it works, health care. This is problematic on the face of it. People will argue about that. But on top of that, people are thinking about -- in America -- the economy, unemployment, war and peace, two wars that are going.

This president, who is new and young, comes along and says, "Oh, that's not the issue. The issue is health care." It seems not like a program, but a non sequitur...


NOONAN: ... and it angers people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and that -- and, Bob, Bill Clinton faced the similar -- and Hillary Clinton faced similar kinds of anger in 1993 when they put health care forward, as well.

REICH: Yes. The difference, though, I think -- and, by the way, I think Donna is absolutely right. There is some element of racism here. You can't avoid it.

The question is whether it's the dominant element. I don't think it is the dominant element. I think Peggy put her finger on it just now, and that is, when 1 out of 6 Americans is underemployed -- either unemployed or underemployed -- and when you have about 1 out of 3 Americans worried that they could be, there is an element of anxiety and fear in the population right now that demagogues either on the right or left will almost inevitably use to position themselves. The politics of resentment is something we've seen before in this country. Right now, you have right-wing talk radio people who are whipping it up, not just against the president, but against foreigners, against immigrants, against blacks, against elites. This is what happens in this country when people are scared.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But -- that's true, and it's -- but it's right and left. You know, Ed, I was struck this week -- I spent an evening flipping between Fox News and MSNBC. And it's like you were living in parallel universes. They are basically taking completely different takes on a similar issue to just attack each other and not -- and not really look at -- look at the problem.

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