Did the President Bungle Ferguson Response?

The "This Week" powerhouse roundtable examines President Obama's comments in the wake of the unrest in Ferguson, and take a look at which potential 2016 candidates are speaking out.
9:27 | 11/30/14

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Transcript for Did the President Bungle Ferguson Response?
? Back now with our politics buzz board. Topping it off, democrat versus democrat. New York senator chuck Schumer said his party misread the results from the 2008 election and it's now costing them politically. Following major midterm losses, Schumer took aim at president Obama's signature legislation, the affordable care act. Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them. We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem, health care reform. He said democrats should have focused on issues affecting the middle class first. Criticism of Obama continued with tweets and headlines drawing attention to the Monday night split screen image of president Obama calling for calm even as smoke filled the streets of Ferguson. And we're joined now on the roundtable by bill kristol, editor of "The weekly standard," democratic strategic donna Brazile, jelani Cobb of "The new Yorker" who was in Ferguson as the rioting broke out this week and our own cokie Roberts, welcome, everybody. Jelani, I want to start with you. You told me when we talked yesterday that you do not believe officer Wilson. No. The story he told was fantastic. It almost sounded like the kind of beginning of a superhero film of some sort. He actually said that when Michael brown was shot, it seemed that he was bulking himself up to run back toward him. And what exactly does it mean? You know, bullets don't cause people to gain mass. You also had some pretty strong words about the president. Let me read what you wrote in "The new Yorker." "Obama took pains to point out that there is never an excuse for violence. The man who once told us that there was no black America or white America but only the United States of America has become a president whose statements on unpunished racial injustices are a genre unto themselves." What do you mean by that? What I mean is the president spoke in a very evenhanded way about this, as he tends to do in these matters. But not everything is even. There's not kind of an even distribution of concern here. People became very upset about the prospect of property damage in Ferguson. But the people in the community were saying, we are concerned about not only Michael brown's death but the context in which his death seemed almost, if not predictable, then not shocking and so in that regard we can't make a property offense the equivalent of a person losing their life. Now, I'm not going to actually defend attacking someone's business, but these two things are not equivalent. Well, but and what's mystifying to me is why they did anything they did. Why would you not have -- You're talking about the grand jury. Yes. Why not have a regular grand jury proceeding and then go to an open trial where you have a defense lawyer and a prosecuting lawyer and all the evidence is out there with a jury and everybody can hear it. This way it just seems that they were fixing it, and that's, of course, how the community feels. And it contributes to the sense that black Americans, particularly young black males, do not get a fair shake in the American justice system, and now it's not just black people who feel that way, young white people feel that way too. The Numbers have changed dramatically on this. Yeah, this was their "Broadcast news" moment, I'm angry as hell. They were looking at this and saying this could be me. This is the authorities. This is -- these are people who are sworn to protect me and now they're coming after me. Look, the tragedy was out there. We've known since August that there was a tragedy. The fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager. The grand jury decision, deliberations, I read most of it. I couldn't -- I had to put it down because when you are at page 120 -- yes, bill, I sat and read all of it. More than I did. I give you credit. Then -- I did too. You look at all this witness testimony and then you get to page 209, 210 and you see Darren Wilson, he wasn't cross-examined. The county prosecutor acted as if he was the defense attorney. Right. Bill kristol, I want you to jump in on this. Should it have been a different procedure? Should they have not had the grand jury or -- People I know who are both prosecutors and defense attorneys think there were no grounds to indict officer Wilson. A lot of young people -- you know, he's a young American too and a lot of young Americans look at that situation and say we shouldn't have political correctness or the understandable anger of a community lead to a railroading of the criminal justice system. No serious legal person I know thinks he should have been brought to trial. Not that he acted in an exemplary way perhaps as a police officer but that's a tough job but he has his rights too. On what basis should someone be brought to trial? The forensic -- don't you think the forensic evidence was pretty determinative in this case? No, it actually wasn't because they said his blood was inside the vehicle. Dorian Johnson, the person -- the only other eyewitness who was there said his blood was in the vehicle because officer Wilson grabbed Michael brown. Do we really believe the officer pulled up and said, hey, guys, won't don't you get on the sidewalk. If as bob Mcculloch was aware he said, they were aware about the purported robbery, why not ask about that? There are inconsistencies throughout the story. There are also 16 -- I think 16 of the 29 witnesses who said they saw him raise his hand. Right. I mean how -- let's just move forward with this. How do you re-establish trust in that community? Well, I mean one of the things that I can't get over is here we are in 2014 and we're still having these all white or almost all white police forces in majority black neighborhoods. That's just nuts and why would that be true? We know how -- we know how to fix this, and we know it works, by the way. It does work to have people who are from the community in the community. Okay. I want to move from 2014 to 2016. Not a very smooth transition, I know. But Rand Paul, jelani, Rand Paul is the only potential 2016er who's wading into the Ferguson discussion and really trying to reach out to young african-americans and bring them into the republican tent. You wrote that "Republicans didn't lose the black vote but forfeited it." What advice would you give to Paul to get the black vote back? Well, I mean, his main problem is the republican party. Right. You know, because you can't attract -- this is not something that's just simply him. You know, you know, George bush said this in 2000. If you go back even earlier to the late '80s, lee Atwater said something similar but you run into the conflict of the other parts of your party. You cannot attract african-americans on one hand while you have blatant issues of voter suppression on the other. Right. 123w4r people are going to vote their interests. Okay, Rand Paul is targeting younger voters, as well. Let's take a look at our Facebook senti-meter. He is among the most talked about potential gop candidate in the 18 to 34-year-old range second only to Ted Cruz and take a look at how they view him. Perry, 61% positive. Rand Paul, 57% positive. Ted Cruz, 37% positive. What do you think there, bill kristol? I think Rand Paul is totally overrated for 2016 possibly. The media loves him. The media loves him. At least he takes a couple of liberal views, publicly sides them in an incoherent way. I predict Rand Paul will get fewer votes than his father got in 2012. He's more dovish than president Obama on foreign policy. Republican voters aren't and on law and order republican voters and I think most Americans and an awful lot of african-americans think whatever injustice happens and cops do what they shouldn't do, nonetheless there is no excuse for rioting and people apologizing for the destruction of property and the endangering of life. Law and order is not just a political slogan but part of a decent society. I want to very quickly because this was -- stood out to me, the face -- speaking of Facebook, the Facebook post on Sasha and Malia at the Turkey pardoning this week. We saw president Obama pardon a Turkey in honor of Thanksgiving. We saw the 13 and 16-year-old girls, they're looking a little bored but then we hear Elizabeth lauten, who is a congressman's communication director, "Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you're both in those awful teen years but you're part of the first family. Try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play. Then again your mother and father don't respect their positions very much. Dress like you deserve respect not a spot at the bar." Give me ten seconds on that, cokie. It's ridiculous, but she's probably 18. I mean, comes across that way. Social media is a problem and people should stay off of it particularly if they've had any substance they shouldn't be on. Or a big Thanksgiving meal and it's late at night. Very good advice. Insulting but she did apologize. She did apologize. She did apologize. They looked really exciting. They looked really excited when they were buying books the next day. That's right. That's a good thing. Always exciting to buy books. Pardoning that Turkey is pretty dumb. Not my favorite event of the

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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