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PARKER SPITZER

Interview With Eric Schmidt; A Look at the Swing Vote: Latino Voters in Midterm Elections; "Waiting for Superman": Is Reform Possible?

Aired October 22, 2010 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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

ELIOT SPITZER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: And I'm Eliot Spitzer. Welcome to the program. Kathleen, amazing show, tonight. First, does Google know where we are, where we've been and what we're thinking? You know what? A scary thought, but that's what the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, said. We'll talk to him a bit later in the show. But first, my guess, the first Latino president of the United States, the Reverend Sam Rodriguez, when you listen to him, you will see why I make that bold claim. But even before all that, Juan Williams, the scandal striking at the heart of NPR's credibility. Why did they fire him? Beyond me. I love NPR, I like listening to it, but firming him was a gargantuan mistake, just feeds the flames of the right.

PARKER: You have given money to NPR, haven't you?

SPITZER: Indeed I have.

PARKER: Well, good for you. I have too. Actually, have a lot of friends who work there and I love to make fun of the way they talk but...

SPITZER: Now, come on. They make fun of the way we talk.

PARKER: Yeah, I'm sure they do. No, but I completely agree with you. It was outrageous, it was completely out of proportion to what -- whatever his offense was which was saying what he thinks and, you know, this is just another victim of the thought police as far as I'm concerned.

SPITZER: We're just Too careful too often in limiting what people say and I hate to say it, it raises for me the easy issue is should he have been fired? Of course not. The tougher issue raised by the right, why does NPR get federal money? I'm not sure they should. I believe in separation of the media and government. Why the government funds a media outlet happens to be one I listen to and like, but it is clearly left of center. Why do tax dollars go to them? I'm not sure they should.

PARKER: Well, that's a very good question, but one of the concerns I have, the greater concern is, you know, this is a conversation we should be having. You would never get past the fears if you don't acknowledge them and then a freedom to talk about them in an open way. And my great fear is that, you know, we'll miss the big ideas that eventually tumble out of the chaos of our less careful thoughts.

SPITZER: Absolutely, absolutely.

PARKER: So, now let's continue the conversation with one of the sharpest media minds out there. Let's go into "The Arena."

SPITZER: Joining us now, Mediaite founder and president, Dan Abrams.

Dan, before you weigh in, let's remind viewers of what Williams said Monday night that got him fired and his explanation last night. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUAN WILLIAMS, FIRED FROM NPR: I'm not a bigot, you know, the books I have written about the civil rights movement in this country, but when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they're identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried, I gets nervous.

They take it out of context, like one word or one line, and they forget the fact that I'm engaging you, Bill O'Reilly, right?

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Right.

WILLIAMS: And we're having an honest discussion. This is what America should be, people having a real debate and telling you, as you pointed out rightly in the "Talking Points Memo," this is what I felt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PARKER: Dan, most people seem to agree with Juan Williams at this point think he shouldn't have been fired. But, why do you think NPR did fire him?

DAN ABRAMS, MEDIAITE.COM: Well, I don't think he should have been fired. But, I don't think it's entirely fair for him to say it was taken out of context. I mean, it was the first comment he made coming into the segment. All right? Now, I don't think he should have been fired. I don't think it was that big of a deal, but I think that it's not his strongest argument to say it was taken out of contest text, because it was a thought.

SPITZER: What's the strongest argument?

ABRAMS: Is strongest argument is: "So what? I said this. This is what I was thinking. This is how I feel. And I was saying it," his argument I think is, parenthetically to say to Bill O'Reilly, "look, effectively, I agree with you on this but" -- and then get to the main point which is he's telling O'Reilly we need to separate out Muslim from Muslims extremists. SPITZER: Right, that actually was why he claimed it was taken out of context because he did go on to say we have got to differentiate between extremists and all Muslims and that's why he said tagging him just as somebody who was saying -- and generalizing about all Muslims was unfair.

ABRAMS: He is right.

SPITZER: Can I ask one legal question.

ABRAMS: Yes.

SPITZER: Because I want the public to understand. Is this a 1st Amendment issue or employment contract issue?

ABRAMS: It is no 1st Amendment issue. I mean, you know, he can say what he wants. The government isn't saying you can't speak this. You are not imprisoned for saying this. You're not sued for saying this. The bottom line is, an employer saying we don't want associated with you for this reason.

Now, getting back to your question about why would NPR have fired him? It is not just a wrong move on NPR's part, it is a really bad strategic move for NPR, meaning this is a media entity that for years has been dogged by allegations of being too liberal. So you would think that they would at least be particularly sensitive to making decisions that will allow them to be targets. And this allowed them -- who's become a bigger target now than NPR because of this?

PARKER: Well, and not to mention the fact that we have to talk about things. I mean, how do we get to the next level of awareness and enlightenment if we don't actually admit to what our fears and discuss it? Do you think putting this out in the open the way we have and condemning Juan Williams has chilled the conversation?

ABRAMS: I don't think it's chilled the conversation. Look, I think that media commentators, hosts, the two of you have a higher standard. Meaning, there is a higher -- we all of us going on television have to endure a more strict standard of what we say. Meaning, we can say something at a cocktail party but if someone's taping it and they put it out there, we're going to have to live by those words and that puts us in a different category. And you got to be careful.

SPITZER: I'm a fan of NPR, I said this early in the show. I listen to it. My family's contributed to it. But why do they get federal money? I believe in the 1st Amendment, it's inherent separation of government and media. Why should tax dollars go to a media outlet that is clearly a left of center...

ABRAMS: Well look, you could make an argument and a lot of people do, I'm sure you've dealt with this many times. That a lot of people don't think the arts all should get any government funding. Right? That in general, this is one of those things that drives people nuts when they start hearing about the amount of dollars. What they're supposed to be doing, right, is they're supposed to be doing programming that's good for the public. Meaning, programming that wouldn't necessarily be commercial and it wouldn't succeed on networks because -- because we at the networks live and die based on advertising dollars and ratings, et cetera. And the goal to have a place you can go where they can do -- they can do programming that's good for the country and good for people that -- where they don't have to be concerned with commercial interests.

PARKER: Aren't we being overly sensitive? And doesn't this thwart our ability to have interesting conversations and what do you think's driving all of that?

ABRAMS: Well look. I think what's driving this, I think that this is a political choice that they made. And I think it was a bad one for the reasons we have already talked about. Do I think that broadly in sort of stifling discussion and debate? No. I mean I think that if this had been Bill O'Reilly, right, who made the comment instead of Juan Williams, Fox will support Bill O'Reilly. If Eliot Spitzer had made this comment, my guess is that CNN would support Eliot Spitzer.

SPITZER: Interesting when Bill O'Reilly was on "The View" the other day, he made a comment that was probably as edgy to most people listening to it. Right? And there the debate was who walked off the set.

PARKER: What he said Muslims killed us on 9/11 -- attacked us on 9/11.

SPITZER: Which is the same sort of vortex of the issue that Juan Williams was talking about, the difference between Muslims and extremists.

ABRAMS: But I think the difference with this one was personal.

PARKER: One wasn't objective.

ABRAMS: Right, right, but Juan is talking about how he feels every day. And again, he is making a passing comment I think many Americans...

SPITZER: In a way that makes it more defensible. Notice that he is being honest enough to say this is how he, as a commentator, feels the emotional agony and he's trying to deal with what he understands...

ABRAMS: Honest doesn't protect you. I mean...

SPITZER: Most people watched him say that and said, "How can you fire him for telling you what he believes and that's why I think NPR is in that vice grip, right now."

ABRAMS: Yeah, but look, you can say things you believe and reprehensible and get you fired.

PARKER: All right, Dan, be honest, do you check out your fellow passengers when you're getting on an airplane? ABRAMS: Of course I do.

PARKER: And what are you looking for?

ABRAMS: But here's the thing that's so crazy about this. Is the idea when I see someone in Muslim garb, I'm thinking they can't possibly be a terrorist.

PARKER: Right, they would change their clothes, clearly.

ABRAMS: I mean, who's going to be -- I mean, there's no way that any one in like full Muslim garb is going to be a terrorist.

SPITZER: They're going to be wearing J. Crew sweaters, we know that.

ABRAMS: No matter what religion your terrorist is, they're going to be wearing something and trying to look like every other passenger.

PARKER: Not anymore.

SPITZER: NPR said something else that was actually kind of crazy. What they said was that his stating his own opinion sort of injured his capacity to be an analyst.

ABRAMS: Yeah. I mean, had they ever watched him before?

PARKER: Well, do you want an analyst that doesn't have an opinion?

SPITZER: That's why I didn't even understand their words.

ABRAMS: But I mean, had they watched him before? I mean, they had this policy that they laid out with this sort of legal language about, well our ethics policy says that you cannot appear on programs and express opinions that encourage whatever it was, opinions and et cetera.

SPITZER: Right.

ABRAMS: I mean, what is he -- he's been on Bill O'Reilly's show for a long time expressing opinions.

PARKER: Which is probably part of the whole deal. It's a problem for him to be on Fox News. Right? NPR audience probably hates that.

ABRAMS: But here's where they got him. Right? I mean, this was the gotcha moment. Look, this is -- let's be clear. This is good for Juan. OK?

PARKER: Best thing that ever happened to Juan.

ABRAMS: Put aside the fact that Fox News increased his -- renewed the contract, gave him more money. It is just a great thing for him. PARKER: Also driving the conversation that needs to take place and so that's a big bonus on that.

SPITZER: Are you saying he did it intentionally now?

ABRAMS: No, no. Yeah, of course, the conspiracy theorists will say, oh yeah. No, I don't think he did it on purpose.

SPITZER: Dan Abrams, founder of Mediaite.com, thank you so much for being here. Fascinating conversation. We will return for an entirely different take on the NPR brouhaha. Back in 60 seconds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we see happening is media outlets becoming targets by homosexuals every time that someone stands up and talks about traditional morality, traditional marriage. That media becomes a target for allowing somebody to spew hate speech and so on and so forth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: Our next guest says NPR's decision to fire Juan Williams is political correctness run amuck. Tony Perkins is a conservative activist and the president of the Family Research Council. He joins us tonight from Dallas.

Tony, thank you so much for being with us.

TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Good evening.

SPITZER: Pleasure to have you mere. Now, I think there's a general consensus at this point in time that NPR's actions were in fact wrong and whether it was political correctness or not, we'll have to sort out in due course, but I want to go back a month to a statement you made at the moment of the pastor in Florida was going to burn the Koran, something that was also rejected by many, including you. But in rejecting it, you also said that Islam is evil. And I have the quotation right here in front of me if you want me to give you more of it. Do you stand by that, Islam is evil, perspective?

PERKINS: I think when you look at the teachings of Islam and those who have taken it and its literal interpretation; they have perpetrated great evils upon society. Now, not every Muslim is evil and not every Muslim is a terrorist but if you look at what has happened in our nation in the last 10 years going back, the terrorist attacks that have been perpetrated against our country have been by Muslims.

SPITZER: But I'm asking you, you individually, if you stand by the notion that Islam, the entire religion is evil, which is what you said here, as opposed to the notion that there are certain individuals within who are practitioners who may be extremists and they are evil. Are you saying that about the entire religion? PERKINS: The teachings of Islam, when they're taken as I just said -- restate myself -- when the teachings of Islam are taken literally, it is not like Christianity to love your neighbor, you're to bring your neighbor into subjection and in those that have literally carried out the teachings of Islam, a great evil has been perpetrated on society.

PARKER: Well, I think we would agree that one can interpret any religion in a way that could be construed as evil if you exercise those things in literal terms. But let's shift gears a minute. When you want to talk about gays in the military? Do you think that's a threat to the national security to have gays openly serving in the military?

PERKINS: What I have said on that was that the ruling by Judge Virginia Phillips, in California, who overstepped a district level judge who ignored the four service chiefs who said don't change this policy, when overstepped Congress and forced the military to begin allowing homosexuality openly in the military, that yes, allowing judicial activism at that level is a threat to national security. What I have said specifically when it comes to open homosexuality in the military is what the military chiefs have said is that they're concerned about what that would do in compromising the military's mission.

SPITZER: Well, let's continue that one step beyond because I think you would agree the likelihood is that the chiefs are going to recommend unless the issue is resolved before then that, certainly by the end of the year. And in fact, the military repeal and can exceed to Congress' request saying "Don't ask, Don't Tell" should be...

PERKINS: I don't agree to that.

SPITZER: You don't think they're going?

PERKINS: I don't agree to that. The four service chiefs have been very resolute in saying that this is not the time in midst of two wars to use the military for some kind of social experiment. That this is not the time to do this, we have too much on the plate. Too much is at risk. So I don't think the chiefs will say that.

SPITZER: We will wait and see. I think the chairman of the joint chiefs has taken a different view and seems to be suggesting that...

PERKINS: Right, is a political appointee.

SPITZER: Well, no, but he speaks for the military. So, I think the military is likely through its senior commander is going to probably say, we should, in fact, do away with don't ask, don't tell. Once he says that will you be happy to go along with the repeal of that policy?

PERKINS: No, because the difference here is that Admiral Mullins does not have operational control of the military. The four service chiefs are the ones who are actually responsible for overseeing the minimum the men and women who server in uniform. Those are the four that have said now is not the time to change this policy. Others have said don't change it, especially those that have frontline responsibilities. So, you've got Admiral Mullins and you have the secretary of state.

SPITZER: Well, was there not -- I'm sorry. Wasn't there the same hesitancy when the military was desegregated?

PERKINS: No, it's a totally different issue.

SPITZER: You need to do this.

PERKINS: No, totally different issue. What you have here is you interject into a small unit environment a sexual tension. And we just saw Congress had a hearing last year on sexual assaults in the military. And amazingly, what the data showed was that the homosexuals were three times more likely to be involved in these sexual assaults even though they represented a very small portion of the military.

SPITZER: Well look, I'm not familiar with that data that you were simply referring to, but in every other context in society where we have seen people more willing to be open and forthright about their sexual preference what it has led to is an easing of tensions rather than what you're describing, which is an exacerbation of tensions.

PERKINS: It's a different environment.

SPITZER: Look, we'll go over the numbers some other time and hope you'll join us again. Thank you Tony, for being here. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a reason why private thoughts were invented by generations before us and the fact that teenagers, for example, will blog every known internal thought that is now retained on the Internet for the rest of their lives, not a good thing. As society as a whole we actually have to think about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: Now it is time for "The Headliner." There are two billion searches on Google every day. We know what it tells us, but what does it tell Google? Meet the man who knows more about you than anybody ever has.

ERIC SCHMIDT, GOOGLE: Thank you.

PARKER: Google chair and CEO, Eric Schmidt says, "We know where you are, we know where you've been, we can more or less know what you're thinking about." So, I want to know, what do you know about me? Do you know what prescription I filled last week? Do you know -- can you read my e-mail. I have a Gmail account. SCHMIDT: We don't read your Gmail and don't know what prescription you had. What we do know is we keep the searches that you do for roughly a year, year and a half and then we forget them.

PARKER: You say that, but I mean can somebody come to you saying we need information on Kathleen Parker?

SCHMIDT: Under a federal court order properly delivered to us, we might be forced to do that, but otherwise, no.

PARKER: Does that happen?

SCHMIDT: No. Very rarely. If it's not formally delivered, then we'll fight it.

SPITZER: You say you keep stuff for a year or a year and a half, who decides?

SCHMIDT: Well, in fact, European government passed a set of laws that require us to keep it for a certain amount and the reason is that public safety sometimes wants to be able to look at that information.

SPITZER: Now, my experience as a prosecutor was that nothing is ever really eliminated from a computer.

SCHMIDT: It really is eliminated from our computers because we actually rewrite the information so that you cannot track it.

SPITZER: The NSC said we want something that was 18 months and a day you could not get it?

SCHMIDT: We could not.

SPITZER: On your Web site, you say you've gotten about 4,200 subpoenas or government requests over the past six months, so about 9,000 a year. Those come from state and federal authorities?

SCHMIDT: They come from any legitimate...

SPITZER: Any legitimate...

SCHMIDT: If you have an authority.

SPITZER: And so if somebody serves you with a subpoena, say Kathleen's example, you would then be obligated to turn over her entire search history?

SCHMIDT: If it's a well-formed subpoena and in our opinion it's legal we do have to comply with U.S. law.

There have been a couple of cases where there were subpoenas that were overbroad. Typical example is somebody phishing and would violate people's privacy around a particular terrorist or criminal or what have you. And that's not OK.

SPITZER: As you know I was attorney general so we served many subpoenas and won the vast majority of the litigations about the threat and so most authorities would believe that if they gave you a subpoena you would have to divulge the entirety of Kathleen's search history.

SCHMIDT: And we typically will refuse to do anything unless it's incredibly narrow for precisely this reason.

SPITZER: Virtually everything about us now is accessible through a search of one form or another.

SCHMIDT: See, I would argue that this -- what we learned from this is that privacy is more important, not less important and that people have a right of privacy and they have a right of private behavior and that we need to respect that as a society.

SPITZER: I think you would also have to acknowledge once of the consequences of the ubiquity, the ability to data search is that there is less and less privacy.

SCHMIDT: And I would argue that that undervalues privacy. Privacy needs to be seen in its proper context is more important than how we're treating it today on online.

PARKER: What do you mean by that?

SCHMIDT: Well, society, there's a reason why private thoughts were invented by generations before us and the fact that teenagers, for example, will blog every known internal thought that's now retained on the Internet for the rest of their lives and not good thing.

As society as a whole, we actually have to think about that. The Internet because it has a sort of perfect memory remembers all of these things and things not true. One of the problems people have is often the first fact they encounter they think is true even if it's not. It's not leading to a proper in my view understanding of what real facts are.

SPITZER: Let's pivot for a moment to the economy. You have been one of president Obama's closest advisers, certainly within the rank of CEOs. I think objectively stating the economy is not where anybody wants it to be, 30 million jobs needed, unemployment at 9.6 or high teens depending on how you count it. What is your prescription? If you were to sit down with the president say here are three things to do to get the economy moving, what would they do be?

SCHMIDT: If you look at the history these are seven-year cycles, we're in the third or fourth year of a seven year cycle, essentially of a deleveraging that's going on. So, it looks like a tough few years for people who are unemployed. This whole thing started with the housing bubble and the credit bubble and now this problem of recovery. So you have a bunch of things.

You have to increase sort of certainty of the way business will operate. Things like the questions and details of health care. You have to figure out how to get the concerns of foreclosures and all the issues and the terrible tragedies that are occurring now. You have to get them addressed and quickly and you have to do something about spending where you're investing in markets which are going to create jobs. A form of targeted loan guarantees or other programs where you could help strategically important parts of the industry. And finally you have to figure out a way to get jobs to be created. We have an unemployment problem in America and the unemployment problem is structural and it's going to get worse unless we do something rather quickly.

SPITZER: That's where I want to...

SCHMIDT: In order to do that, for example, changing the economics around hiring so that you can hire -- makes it easier to hire people, various forms of payroll tax credits, all those sorts of things.

What the government always wants to do is spend money on the incumbencies that are already there, so who speaks for the unemployed person who can't get a job? The entire goal of the program at least for the next couple of years, in my view, is to reduce the marginal unemployment and increase employment even if the jobs are not particularly good because it gets people started, gets them going and improves the state.

PARKER: As you know the conversation now is about eliminating the tax cuts under Bush and so people over 250,000 are going to have to pay higher taxes. You and Google's taken advantage of some great tax shelters by, you know, by funneling money through various country's and so you get to...

SCHMIDT: I'm completely legally.

PARKER: It's all legal. It's all legal. You're not the only one. Corporations do it all the time, but it seems a little unpatriotic to me.

SCHMIDT: So, you'd like us to voluntarily pay more taxes to the U.S. government?

PARKER: I would like for you...

SCHMIDT: And how would you like us to give?

PARKER: A lot so I don't have to pay more.

SCHMIDT: I'll take it. The American capitalist system creates the incentives that we operate under and part of our objective is to produce earnings for our shareholders. If the government changes the law, it causes those earnings to go more in taxes.

PARKER: OK, We have got you on the record then. Thank you.

SCHMIDT: We follow the tax laws of America.

PARKER: One last America, what government spending would you cut? SCHMIDT: I have always felt that since one half of the world's defense spending is in America, we could do just fine with a little bit less there. The real -- that's a comment. The real issues around costs are all in the entitlements and the fact of the matter is we have had an economic change that people are now living much longer and that the entitlements are unaffordable. So, the only solution to think of is delay the onset, increase the number of years people have to work, delay the onset of the entitlement programs and address health care costs.

The president's proposal does, in fact, that was passed, does have a health care cost containment part. Could have gone further. Of course, increases retirement age and so forth are needed no matter what. And by the way, every country in the western world is facing this and by the way China will, as well.

SPITZER: All the nonpoliticians say what you're saying and politicians dance around it and are unwilling to commit.

SCHMIDT: Remember that you're a former politician here. The politicians respond to the incumbencies and the incumbencies have lobbyists. So, the laws written by the lobbyists, and ultimately we have got to transcend the dialogue and actually deal with the fundamental problem which is creating jobs, getting more investment and making America strong enough so that we can do the kind of things that we want to. Without that strength, we're not going to be a very strong country.

PARKER: Thank you. Fascinating discussion. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PARKER: Now it's time for "Constitution Avenue" where we go behind the scenes in politics and tonight we meet the man considered to be the Karl Rove of the Hispanic evangelical community.

SPITZER: A minister who has taken his message from the pulpit into the political arena, Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, represents more than 16 million Hispanic Christians and 30,000 churches.

Welcome. Thank you for being here.

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, EVANGELICAL MINISTER: Honor to be here. Thank you.

SPITZER: So with the midterms quickly approaching, what is your message to the voting bloc, the enormous voting bloc that you lead and represent? What are you telling folks to do?

RODRIGUEZ: Hispanics must vote. There is this absurd notion out there and even a call by some for Latinos to boycott the 2010 midterm elections to punish the Democratic Party that did not pass immigration reform and definitely not to support a Republican Party that's embracing a Tom Tancredo anti-immigration set of public nativist rhetoric. Stay home. Absolutely not. We have to deliver. John McCain once told me, how do you influence Washington? Deliverable constituency. I think we have the power to determine the outcome of many of these elections.

PARKER: All right, let me ask you something. You have said, you're clearly disappointed with the way immigration reform has gone. And you say it's somewhere between Arizona and amnesty. How do you see it?

RODRIGUEZ: A just integration strategy. Arizona, that's an exercise in futility. It's just absurd. Again, I speak to Republican Party. If you're hijacked by that sort of rhetoric, you're never going to win 2012. You may win 2010 in respect to the House. Try to win the White House without Latinos in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico and Florida. Good luck. It's not going to happen. It's just a party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, or is it the party of Tom Tancredo, James Simpson (ph) and Reverend Pat Buchanan? You're going to have to determine that. You know, short term viability or long term sustainability? A Latino vote will determine that.

There's an answer. Suggest integration strategy. Real simple. Let's deport the bad guys. Let's get rid of those that are committed to nefarious activity, the gang bangers, drug traffickers. Let' deport the bad guys. Why are we paying them through our taxpayer money? Why are we funding them actually in prison right now in many across the union? Let's deport the bad guys.

Let's address the other 98 percent who came here illegally, mind you. Let's prompt them to go to the back of the line. Make sure they learn English and demonstrate proficiency in the English vernacular. Pay fines. Respect the rule of law. Understand what it is to be an American. Civics 101. That's just integration. We need to address the issue of integration rather than go to the extreme of amnesty or the extreme of Arizona. Both extremes.

SPITZER: OK, enough. Here's what's interesting. You have laid out something that is sensible, right in the middle, seems that everybody who is not just playing to a political constituency would say yes, that makes sense. Why has that not had any traction in Washington and has that, in fact, not been what President Obama has basically been pushing? And so why do you fault him for not succeeding even though you know how hard it is?

RODRIGUEZ: Actually in defense of President Obama, I don't agree with him in a number of public policy issues but with respect to immigration, I agree with him wholeheartedly.

SPITZER: Right.

RODRIGUEZ: I don't blame President Obama. I blame Congress. Congress is playing volleyball with the Hispanic American electorate without a doubt. It was the Democratic Party that made a promise. In the first year of the Obama administration, we will pass immigration reform. We are two years into immigration reform and what we have is Arizona.

PARKER: Are Latinos getting more liberal? Because they seem to have been a natural constituency for the Republicans given the social conservatism of Catholics, Catholic Latinos? Is there a movement away from the Catholic church to, in your case, the evangelical church?

RODRIGUEZ: Forty-four percent Latinos voted for Bush in 2004 and they were inclined to vote in the numbers that we went over. Even with Karl Rove actually, over 50 percent in 2006 is not for immigration reform.

Are they becoming more liberal? No. Few research would say no. Are we frustrated? Yes. We're not more liberal, we're frustrated.

We have a party, the Republican Party, that is it pertains to social values, life and marriage and others really resonates with our ethos, our cultural DNA. So we have a party that looks like us that doesn't want us, or it seems not to want us. Then we have another party, the third party, that in respect to some of the social values way beyond where we're at but they want us. So we're caught between the proverbial rock and the hard place. The Republicans look like us or they want it -- they don't want us. We're confused. We're in limbo.

SPITZER: I completely agree with you and I have said repeatedly that President Obama will be re-elected primarily because of the impact of the Hispanic vote. Is there any Republican candidate, potential Republican candidate in 2012 who's reached out to you saying I can't win without you. We've got to bridge this chasm?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, I don't want to, let's just say, surrender any information that may at the end of the day --

SPITZER: Nobody's listening.

RODRIGUEZ: Prompt a number of Facebook messages. That would be, let's just say, troubling to my family. Notwithstanding, yes, there are a number of potential candidates out there that resonate. Not again, in full disclosure, I'm not saying that I've had these conversations with these individuals. Maybe, maybe not.

Governor Mike Huckabee really resonates with Hispanic evangelical community, faith community. Just who he is, what he stands for, so forth and so on. There are others. The governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty. Wonderful, wonderful gentleman. Committed to a value system that resonates with the Hispanic American community. And there are other. Newt Gingrich is actually reaching out to the Hispanic community right now.

Some of these major Republican leaders understand you can't win a national election without engaging the Latino vote. But again, I look at the Republican Party and say why in the world are you tolerating sort of xenophobic and nativist rhetoric and the whole Tea Party idea.

Here's my message to the Tea Party. Any party about chips and salsa is no party at all. That's my message to the Tea Party. You're going to have to diversify the Tea Party. When Latinos see 100,000 white people in Washington, D.C. and ask, where are the brown faces? You know, and is there legitimate cause for a Tea Party? Absolutely. Frustration, overreach of government. We come from socialist governments in Latin America. We don't want to see Hugo Chavez reduxing (ph) America. But we would love to see a couple of chips, salsa or cafe con leche, whatever it takes to diversify the union.

PARKER: Exactly.

RODRIGUEZ: We need diversity in the Republican Party and then we need the Democratic Party to move more towards the center on social issues and pass immigration reform.

PARKER: I'm getting a sense of your pulpit here. You must feel like the most popular young man at the dance. Everyone is courting you. Who are the some of the people who have come to you?

RODRIGUEZ: No, I mean, I don't think -- I don't think it's about Sam Rodriguez. I'm not playing the super humble card here. I think it's just a constituency that we serve, but from both sides, from Democrats and Republicans and some of the presidential candidates. You've read and, yes, they've courted us. They want to have a conversation.

PARKER: Well, that worries me, too. Listen, thank you so much for joining us. It was wonderful to meet you and to have you here on the show.

RODRIGUEZ: Honored to be here.

PARKER: Hope you'll come back.

SPITZER: Thank you.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you so much.

PARKER: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: It is time for "Our Political Party," a conversation with people of strong opinions in a whole range of topics. Let's meet our guests. Jacob Weisberg is editor-in-chief of Slate.com and author of the highly successful book series, "Bushisms and Palinisms."

PARKER: And Karen Hanretty is a Republican media strategist and former communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. And Will Cain is a regular party fellow. He is the host of "Off the Page" at NationalReview.com. Welcome everybody to our party.

SPITZER: All right. You know, Wall Street is code for evil these days in the political arena. And you know, if I were a kinder person I would ask you to say something nice about Wall Street. I just can't find it in myself to do it. So what is your most paranoid theory about Wall Street?

JACOB WEISBERG, SLATE.COM: Well, I'm not very paranoid, but I don't think they need a conspiracy -- SPITZER: I know you --

WEISBERG: But the group think on Wall Street is such that they don't need to conspire about anything because they all think the same thing on any given day anyway. And the thing that I find most appalling recently is we start to pull out of this crisis and look back on it is the unwillingness to take responsibility, to own up to their role. It is everyone on Wall Street you talk to thinks either it was nobody's fault or it was someone else's fault or it was the government's fault, but I have yet to run in to anyone of Wall Street background who really takes a deep and perspective look and says, you know, this was terrible. It was based on mistakes we made.

SPITZER: Yes.

WEISBERG: And it was avoidable.

KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: But if we did the great conspiracy is they're definitely not doing God's work because it's just an amoral enterprise. And I think if you can just consider Wall Street as an amoral enterprise, it's not there to necessarily make the world better. You know, we don't need a bunch of corporate righteous activists trying to make Wall Street better. It just does what it is. It's there to make money. It's the bottom line. It's numbers and I think if you can just come to terms with that --

PARKER: When Wall Street's making money at the expense of their own investors and betting against their investors, that seems to me not just unethical but immoral.

WILL CAIN, NATIONALREVIEW.COM: The pursuit of profit is a moral goal. The problem is what you started to say, Kathleen, is who are you making money for? So here is my paranoid theory and I'm right, by the way.

SPITZER: We knew that, Will.

CAIN: Yes, right, right. Is that Wall Street has simply become a big fee generation skimming business. And most of these guys, despite their Harvard degrees, do little better over the long haul than a no-load index fund. So they're making money for themselves. It's one percent, two percent dings and not for the investors.

SPITZER: You know what we both have, because he and I actually agree on this. He's from the far right and he accuses me of being in the far left. It was a big Ponzi scheme. It was one big Ponzi scheme. Kathleen was right. They didn't care about the consumers. All they saw was the bottom line, the fees. It was outrageous.

CAIN: But before we celebrate our agreement and dance down the halls holding hands --

SPITZER: That won't happen, trust me.

CAIN: -- let me ask you this. I worry a little bit that when you're starting to say Wall Street, you actually mean capitalism. SPITZER: No, no, no. Oh no, no. See, that's where we deliver. I was the pure capitalist. I said if you're going to take a bet, at least be responsible for whether it turns out well or not. Get the upside and the downside. Anyway, this is a party.

PARKER: We'll never get off Wall Street once we get Eliot started.

Let's talk about Karl Rove. He's used to being demonized from the left, but now he's being demonized by the right. People like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin have called him an establishment dinosaur. Are we being too hard on Karl?

CAIN: No. It's fair. And you know, guys like Eliot should celebrate. There's a real reformation going on inside conservatism and Karl has found himself on the wrong side of too many ideas.

SPITZER: Such as?

Tell us. You know, what? The constitution doesn't separate church and state? I mean, which of Christine O'Donnell's --

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: Karl is essentially been in charge of the country for the last eight to 10 years, a time in which we saw one of the biggest expansions of federal government and federal spending. We invaded two countries. These aren't exactly the ideals of small government conservatism.

WEISBERG: Well, you want to talk about amoral, you can go pretty far with Karl rove. But I mean, I do think Rove was the most overrated man in politics through the Bush years. He was not the genius he was made out to be. I mean, this is the guy whose idea for the leadoff for Bush's second term agenda was privatize social security. It crippled his president. And in 2000, he was guilty of gross malpractice by spending money and sending Bush to California in the closing days of the election. If they have lost by 500 votes instead of winning by 500 votes in the Supreme Court, Karl Rove would have been the goat of American politics. And there's this, you know, habit in political analysis where the guy who wins is a genius even if he won because the other side handed it to him.

And I do think now Karl Rove is being pretty rational. He sees the threat that this Tea Party movement poses to his party, and I have agreed with him more in the last couple of months than I ever had before but I have a low opinion of his political acumen.

PARKER: Well, I think the media named him a genius then it's very hard to live up to that. But he was a genius at getting people nominated, namely George W. Bush.

WEISBERG: But there you go. Didn't mean that --

HANRETTY: But he never had a long-term strategy for the Republican Party. And I think that's a frustration and if you look at a lot of state parties around the country and their frustration with the Bush White House over eight years, a lot of it went directly to Karl Rove who really only had one interest and that was George Bush and it was never about the bigger party.

SPITZER: Let's squeeze in one more quick question. Jacob, in your books of "Palinisms" and "Bushisms," you define an "ism" as an unintentionally funny misstatement. What is your favorite "ism" so far?

WEISBEG: Well, the classic Bushism is I know how hard it is to put food on your family.

(LAUGHTER)

PARKER: Especially when they're wearing clothes.

WEISBERG: Exactly. And I think my favorite Palinism, I mean, there are a lot to choose from but, you know, when she was speaking in Canada, she said, you know, when I was a kid, we used to hustle across the border to get health care in Canada.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

WEISBERG: Isn't that ironic?

(LAUGHTER)

PARKER: All right. Thanks to Jacob Weisberg, Karen Hanretty and Will Cain for joining us. We're throwing a party every night at this time on "PARKER SPITZER" and we'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM, DIRECTOR, "WAITING FOR SUPERMAN": We treat teachers like widgets, the same, then that's what it becomes. You're basically the same worker for everything. We start to reward the good ones and start to develop the good ones if they start to collaborate. That's when the teachers start to feel like but they're party of something special.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: I'm Joe Johns. More of "PARKER SPITZER" in a moment. First, the latest.

Breaking news. The Pentagon says a new document dumped by WikiLeaks has put U.S. troops in Iraq in even greater danger. The whistle-blower Web site released nearly 400,000 classified military documents. The "New York Times" got an early look and says the documents shows the vast majority of slain civilians in Iraq were killed by other Iraqis. The documents also reportedly contain the names of Iraqi civilians who have cooperated with the United States and describe Iran's role in supporting Iraqi militants. A British newspaper "The Guardian" says the documents show U.S. authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and murder by Iraqi police and soldiers.

In Haiti, a fast-moving cholera outbreak has killed at least 138 people and sickened more than 1,500. That outbreak began after heavy rains caused a river to overflow and flood an area north of Port-au- Prince.

And coming up on "360," hypocrisy on the campaign trail. Politicians who rail against government spending but also want their share of the very stimulus plan they're attacking. They're asking Washington to show them the money. More with "PARKER SPITZER" right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: Now for tonight's "Best Idea." Once in a while a great documentary can shine a light on an issue that leads to real substantive change. That's what happened with the Oscar-winning "An Inconvenient Truth" and now the same filmmaker, Davis Guggenheim, has turned his attention to America's troubled public education system.

PARKER: Guggenheim's latest, "Waiting for Superman," follows a group of kids vying for a highly-coveted slot at a charter school. Let's take a look at a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since the 1970s, U.S. schools have failed to keep pace with the rest of the world. Among 30 developed countries, we rank 25th in math and 21st in science. The top five percent of our students are our very best, rank 23rd out of 29 developed countries.

In almost every category, we've fallen behind except one. The same study looked at math skills and found in these eight countries, the USA ranked last. But when researchers asked the students how they felt they had done, did I get good marks in mathematics, kids from the USA ranked number one in confidence.

MUSIC: Don't want to be an American idiot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the end of the 2009, the unemployment rate was almost 10 percent but the high-tech industry could not find enough qualified people to fill their jobs. Instead, they had to go halfway around the world to recruit the engineers and programmers they needed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PARKER: Pretty powerful stuff. The people who made this film just stopped by the studios and we asked them what we should take away from "Waiting for Superman." Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM, DIRECTOR, "WAITING FOR SUPERMAN": We've been sticking our head on the sand on this issue for a long time thinking that we can take care of our own kids, but now it's everyone. And what happens to the kids in our movie affects all of us. PARKER: Lesley, what about you? What did you take from the movie?

LESLEY CHILCOTT, PRODUCER, "WAITING FOR SUPERMAN": I taught for a while, a long time ago in Japan, and I had this experience where I was really respected as a teacher and all my students paid attention. And I was a new teacher so it wasn't because I was amazing. But I noticed that there was this huge cultural shift and in the top countries, like Japan and Finland and Singapore, the country as a whole really values the teaching profession and I kind of knew that. But everybody we talked to and all the examples that we saw of these amazing schools, they had fantastic teachers. And that it's so simple, yet not everybody gets that.

SPITZER: How do you create good teachers? What's the answer there?

CHILCOTT: Well, in some of these top countries, they recruit from the top third and in some cases like Finland the top 10 percent, and they train them for a long time. They evaluate them and they reward the really good teachers. And I think that that's really important. In addition to this cultural shift, we have to support them. We have to evaluate and we have to reward.

GUGGENHEIM: And we treat our teachers like widgets. They're all the same.

CHILCOTT: Yes.

GUGGENHEIM: They just put them in a system and they go, we don't do any of the things Lesley's talking about there.

SPITZER: You also raised the issue of teacher recruitment, getting the best kids in certain colleges to go into teaching which we have failed to do in this nation. How can we change that? Is it money?

GUGGENHEIM: Prestige deficit. And we treat teachers all like widgets, the same, then that's what it becomes. You're basically the same worker for everything. We start to reward the good ones. We start to develop the good ones if they start to collaborate. That's when teachers start to feel like that they're part of something special.

PARKER: I have to raise a question about family structure because I had a friend in Washington who taught in one of the public schools. Of 25 to 30 students in her class, not a single one had a father at home.

GUGGENHEIM: Yes.

PARKER: And I wonder even if you have the best teacher in the world and the most -- you know, the best structure, these kids are not going to do well if their families are disintegrated.

GUGGENHEIM: We hear that in screenings we go to and say you found parents in your movie that care. These parents are fighting for their kids. The truth is that there is actually no aspiration difference between poor and rich families. A lot of these poor families don't have the skills or the access, but my feeling is and teachers will tell you they have these problems. In low-income schools, you're absolutely right, it's an extra struggle. But the really high performing schools are proving you can reach 90 percent of these kids and send them to college. And I think it's the only way you're going to reverse the downward spiral in these tough neighborhoods.

SPITZER: Let me -- in the movie and in studying academia and education, there are some heroes like there. Michelle Rhee, whom Kathleen referred to. Geoffrey Canada, the Harlem Children Zone, the KIPP Academy, are those the model? Can they be brought to scale which is kind of --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

SPITZER: -- you know, technocratic term? How do you build a thousand people like that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The charters will never go fully to scale but what they're great -- the way I look at them, and they're plenty of charters that don't do well. There's only one in five do exceptionally well. They're like incubators for innovation. So what you want to do is look at those high performing charters, like the KIP schools and there are a lot of them in different cities. Take the ingredients for those and put them in district schools. And to do that, the ingredients aren't that hard but you have to relax these union contracts and you have to relax. These district rules really oppress progress and hold back reform. But the ingredients are great teachers, longer school days, more school days and high expectations. And it's really not that complicated and the solution's cut across both political parties. It's about political will and relaxing those contracts.

PARKER: Well, it's a very important film. I hope everybody sees it. Thank you so much for joining us, both of you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SPITZER: It really is a great documentary. We recommend everyone go see it. Thanks so much for being with us. Enjoy your weekend.

PARKER: Good night from New York. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.