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PARKER SPITZER

Assange Granted Bail; Tax Cut Compromise

Aired December 14, 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 ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Kathleen Parker.

ELIOT SPITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Eliot Spitzer.

A stunning development today in the WikiLeaks saga. More on that coming up.

Also ahead tonight, James Carville, the one who's been subtle as ever, take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: We're doubling down on a failed strategy. These tax cuts didn't work. I mean what is -- why are we so enamored with failure?

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PARKER: Then an innocent man may be on death row.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anybody believes this man is guilty, all we're saying is put him away, throw away the key, don't kill him.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PARKER: Columnist Nicholas Kristof and renowned attorney Lanny Davis offered impassioned defense.

SPITZER: And NBA Hall-of-Famer, Walt Clyde Fraser breaks down the president's game. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LANNY DAVIS, ATTORNEY: He's a very cool guy. He has style. He's had adversity. He has to overcome and still has to overcome. So you also need luck.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

SPITZER: All that coming up in a packed hour tonight but first WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could walk out of jail on $315,000 bail this week. Assange has been in a London prison awaiting extradition on alleged sex offenses in Sweden. When Assange heard the judge's ruling today, he gave a thumb's up to the courthouse but it might have been premature. Assange will remain in jail for the next 48 hours as Swedish prosecutors appeal his release.

His lawyer fired off an angry response, quick to criticize the Swedish prosecutors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK STEPHENS, JULIAN ASSANGE'S LAWYER: They clearly will not spare any expense but to keep Mr. Assange in jail. This is really turning into a show trial.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PARKER: A high-profile cast of characters is also jumping to Assange's defense. Bianca Jagger was at the courthouse today and filmmaker Michael Moore is putting up $20,000 of his own money for Assange's bail.

SPITZER: Joining us in "The Arena" for more on what today's ruling means, Naomi Wolf, road scholar, author of "The End of America," and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Thank you for joining us.

Look, Naomi, let me begin with you. You have been intensely critical of the Swedish government for even bringing the case. You're basically saying had he not been the individual who released these documents --

NAOMI WOLF, AUTHOR, "THE END OF AMERICA": Absolutely.

SPITZER: -- then --

WOLF: Absolutely.

SPITZER: This law would not have been brought to bear against him in this way.

WOLF: Exactly. Exactly.

SPITZER: And this is government from the U.S. to Sweden and Britain, basically saying we're going to shut you down.

WOLF: Exactly. That's right. I am saying that.

SPITZER: And you're saying that's wrong?

WOLF: Well, obviously, I can't say conclusively until the man has had his day in court.

SPITZER: Right.

WOLF: And the women, too, need to have their day in court.

SPITZER: Jeffrey --

WOLF: But I am saying it -- from 23 years of looking at how rape is treated, this is so anomalous that it sure --

(CROSSTALK)

PARKER: OK.

SPITZER: You're a (INAUDIBLE), does that bother you?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, not a bit. I mean, you know, Sweden has the right to enforce their laws however they want.

WOLF: Selectively?

TOOBIN: The idea -- the idea that Sweden of all of a sudden has become a wing of the FBI or the American Republican Party is totally inconsistent.

WOLF: Just not -- that's so naive of you. Of course United States brings pressure to bear against governments like Britain which is a total lack --

(CROSSTALK)

SPITZER: And WikiLeaks are going to kill --

WOLF: Look at the Iraqi war.

TOOBIN: All right. With respect to the Iraq war, if the United States wants to charge Julian Assange, which they very develop may, and in my opinion they probably should, they could just charge him.

PARKER: OK. Let's --

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Why do they need Sweden to arrest him? Why do they need to arrest him for -- have Sweden arrest him for rape? I mean it's just -- it's so circuitous. Sweden seems to be enforcing its own laws and more power to them.

PARKER: Let me ask you, where are we in the investigation? It's been a week since Eric Holder held a press conference? What -- where is he on that investigation? What does he know?

TOOBIN: I have no idea, but certainly it is well under way. I mean there was one report that a grand jury has been empanelled in the eastern district of Virginia, which would make a certain amount of sense in this case, but look. We have suffered a massive disclosure of classified information. This is a crime.

WOLF: Julian Assange is no -- he is the publisher, we talked about this as well. As is "The New York Times", as is "The Guardian," as are we here and discussing it. And as I said before, I'm going to say it again, it's a very dark day because what they're looking at is the Espionage Act. And you and I know that that was used to close down dissent, close down criticism for a decade.

And if they're going to go after WikiLeaks for publishing information, then by your reasoning they have to go after "The New York Times" and CNN --

TOOBIN: That's not true.

WOLF: -- and FOX News.

TOOBIN: It depends --

WOLF: And every news outlet that published it --

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: It depends what role these so called news outlets had in getting the classified information in the first place.

WOLF: You want to investigate the "New York Times"?

TOOBIN: I want to investigate Julian Assange.

WOLF: You want to investigate CNN? You want to investigate your employer?

TOOBIN: I sure want to -- absolutely.

WOLF: Who have also reported on --

TOOBIN: Wait a second, no, no. I'm talking about getting the information from the person who took it. That's what's significant.

WOLF: He's a publisher.

TOOBIN: I don't think that -- he is the co-conspirator.

(CROSSTALK)

WOLF: Then why is it "The New York Times" and CNN and FOX News --

SPITZER: Let's move away from Assange, because I'm going to say something that I think puts Assange off to the sidelines for a moment. He may not matter. By next week, there will be other outlets, other on-the-line entities that have replicated WikiLeaks. There's one being created right now by somebody who --

PARKER: Open Leaks.

SPITZER: Open Leaks is the name. They are saying, you know what? There's nothing that Julian Assange did that is so unique. He was the recipient to buy -- Naomi's view. WOLF: Exactly.

SPITZER: We, Open Leaks is saying, are going to be here to receive leaks from anybody. We will not publish it. We will then talk to media outlets to see if they want it. So is this sort of the way Napster was with music? A whole new technology has been created.

And is it the case, Jeffrey, that you were -- you know, involved in top security clearance documents years back as a prosecutor. Is it going to be almost impossible to maintain that security around those documents?

TOOBIN: No, it's not going to be impossible because ultimately someone has to make the decision to take classified information like Manning is accused of doing it, putting people's lives in jeopardy and fortunately I don't think the United States government is crawling with people who want to do that.

But if there are people who want to do that and if there are people who want to assist them, they should all go to prison because it's illegal and it's wrong and it places people's lives in danger.

PARKER: That's what I want to --

(CROSSTALK)

PARKER: Let me ask you a direct question. One sec, Naomi, please. If you are going -- if you can establish that someone died as a direct result of Assange's work, is that not equivalent to yelling fire in a theater?

TOOBIN: I -- I'm not -- no, it's not. I mean, I -- the chain of causation is very hard to pin down here. But certainly, the -- you know, look, I believe the government overclassifies a lot. But we cannot have the Julian Assanges of the world as the arbiter of what should be public and what shouldn't.

It's just not right. And you know, the idea that this guy is a whistleblower, what did he -- what did he disclose here?

(CROSSTALK)

WOLF: And you object to the publication of Pentagon papers? I mean what is the difference between WikiLeaks --

PARKER: Those are not morally equivalent.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: You know what? I think there's a huge --

WOLF: What's the difference?

TOOBIN: There is a huge moral difference. The moral difference is that was a situation where you had Daniel Ellsworth on his own without any involvement from anyone else go -- WOLF: "The New York Times."

TOOBIN: No, no. Wait a second. He -- the "New York Times" didn't tell him to take the documents.

WOLF: No. But they published it.

TOOBIN: Once they took the documents, they gave it to the "New York Times."

WOLF: And they published it.

TOOBIN: It's very different.

WOLF: They talked to their lawyers and then published it.

TOOBIN: That's right. That's very different. It's very different from Assange encouraging, working with people to get --

WOLF: "The New York Times" encourages people to bring them newsworthy material all the time.

TOOBIN: No, no. This is not newsworthy.

(CROSSTALK)

WOLF: If you -- I don't get it. This is a hypothetical. You're somehow soliciting -- come give me your leaked documents. If you're WikiLeaks, and not soliciting. If you're the "New York Times" or the "Wall Street Journal" --

TOOBIN: Absolutely.

WOLF: -- that used to do real reporting?

TOOBIN: I think that's a big difference.

WOLF: People who run everything need to know that there might be whistleblowers and that does keep their actions within parameters.

SPITZER: This is not going to be resolved right now at this table. We will continue this. I promise.

Jeff, Naomi, thank you for being with us.

PARKER: Or ever.

(LAUGHTER)

SPITZER: Coming up, one of the few senators to vote against the tax compromise. Senator Sherrod Brown joins us next to tell us why. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: A political story this week is the president's tax break compromise. After winning in the procedural vote yesterday, a full Senate vote on the bill is expected sometime late tonight.

Next focus turns to the House, where with gathering opposition on both of the right and left, the outcome is by no means certain.

PARKER: Only 15 senators voted against the bill on the Senate floor last night. And one of them was Sherrod Brown, Democrat from Ohio. He joins us now.

Welcome, Senator.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Good to be with you. Thanks.

PARKER: Senator, could you tell us why you voted against the tax compromise plan?

BROWN: Yes. I was -- I was hopeful there would be a compromise still that we could get the Republicans to the table to deal with the huge hole that these tax cuts, especially upper end income tax cuts, are blowing in the budget -- in the budget deficit in the next couple of years.

I don't want to see us in a position that -- you know all the -- all the budget balancing is done on the backs of Social Security and Medicare. There are, however, some good things in this bill that make it hard to vote no ultimately. But in terms of what it does for unemployment, it's hard to look in an unemployed person's eyes and say, you know, I'm standing on a principle here, sorry about your unemployment benefits.

So I -- last night was our last chance, I thought, to get a better deal, a better deal, a better -- better bill. I think we're stuck with where we are and make the situation that way.

SPITZER: Look, Senator, I'm with you. I would have voted no also, because I just think this is not the right compromise and the president should have pushed harder. One of the things I don't get is the way this seems to have played out.

When did the Senate Democrats -- certainly the Senate leadership -- seem to be taken by surprise when the president announced this compromise? Were Democratic senators even brought into this negotiating process?

BROWN: Well, there were senators there. We were all talking to the White House. And a couple of senators were part of the negotiations, but as you know, there are negotiations and there's negotiations. And the final negotiations apparently took place between the White House and Senate Republicans, and our input seemed to be less welcome at that point.

I think that's why House members -- so many House members, and frankly both conservative and progressive House members in both parties are not particularly happy because, you know, they're half of the legislative branch. And they were excluded, too. And it's not that they were excluded. It's the people they fight for are excluded. And that's what's disserving to me. SPITZER: Well, it's also a matter in terms of just negotiating strategy. If your allies do not know what deals you're cutting, you can't genuinely assess what -- what your power is and what your capacity is to either bluff or push the other side to negotiate its own position when the White House seemed to cut out its allies in this process, the Democrats in the Senate.

Now that's what a lot of us don't understand their strategy here.

BROWN: Yes, I would have done it differently, but he's president. I hope that it changes in the next few months because I'm a strong supporter of the president and will continue to be. When I disagree, I generally do it quietly. This one, we hoped we could change by being more public. But we'll work together. He knows he needs us, we need him. We'll work together.

PARKER: Senator, this -- the bill now goes to the House of Representatives. And I realize that the Senate and the House don't like to speak to each other. But what's your best guess for how things will go there? Do you think there's going to be more opposition?

BROWN: Well, the Senate will pass it late tonight, I assume, with a handful of no votes. The House -- I hope the House sends us something that's just an improved bill and that we take it up. But I'm afraid if it improves much, then I don't know that the Senate Republicans don't just turn their backs again.

I mean if you remember, Kathleen, that they signed a letter -- I've never seen U.S. senators engage in a work stoppage before. They signed a letter, 42 senators, all 42 of them said we ain't doing nothing until we get our tax cuts. We're not passing unemployment, we're not going to do the START treat, we're not going to do food safety, we're not going to do anything until we get our tax cuts for the rich.

And I -- you know, they work for them, but I don't think it works for them long term. And I hope they don't behave like that in the future. It's just not good for our country.

PARKER: Well, they've made clear what they're -- what they care most about. And you've indicated what you care most about.

BROWN: Yes.

PARKER: But you don't see your position as being the same as theirs in terms of being --

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: No, I was -- no, I was always willing to negotiate and I -- no, I know you don't get everything you want in this. But, you know, I didn't say -- the Democrats didn't say we're not going to do anything in this body until we get our way on one specific thing.

SPITZER: You know one of the things the president has said to justify the compromise is that, look, this is only a two-year extension. Two years from now, I will really, really, really fight against the tax cut extensions for the rich and this time you can trust me unlike what I was saying during the campaign and all the rest.

How do you see the politics of this two years from now when the House of Representatives is going to be in Republican hands? Is it anymore likely then that the political dynamic will make it easier to repeal this?

BROWN: Well, you never know. I mean you come off a terrible election for your party like the president has. And it does change the discussion even though the Republicans aren't in office yet.

If the president wins a fairly resounding victory in 2012, and I think that's very much a possibility -- I think he's going to win my state, for instance, which means he probably gets reelected because of the importance of Ohio. I think he's in a stronger political position.

I think him at his word that he will fight for it. And I think it will be part of his campaign. It will be about that. So it's just so hard to predict, as you know.

SPITZER: One of the things that I find so troubling is that two weeks ago we had the Bowles-Simpson report. The entire world is focused on deficit reduction and everybody was saying, look, the deficit is the major crisis we face over the next decade. A week and a half later, we've blown another $4 trillion hole in the deficit, assuming that you extent this out for more than the two years, which I think is a fair presumption.

What happened over the course of the weekend or the two weekends? Deficits concerns went nowhere and suddenly we add $4 trillion to the deficit?

BROWN: Well, deficit concerns are never as much as people around here like to say they are. In my party, Social Security and Medicare, the importance of those two things trump deficit concerns. And the Republicans Party, tax cuts for the rich trump deficit concerns.

So read into that what you want. But that's clearly what happened. When -- you're exactly right. I mean the juxtaposition of the budget deficit commission, how this -- these people sat around, some really talking about it, and then vote tens of billions of dollars in tax cuts for people making a million dollars a year is pretty stark.

SPITZER: Well, what worries me, Senator, is that the additional $4 trillion in the deficit over the next 10 years will now be used as the excuse to gut the very programs that you and certainly I care about and that we will get the raw end of both of -- both sides of this bargain, tax cuts for the rich and none of the investment we need.

BROWN: That's my -- SPITZER: And that would be the worst possible outcome.

BROWN: And that's my biggest fear of this whole package, is that the discussions in the next two years, the next five years is all about -- are all about cutting spending on Pell grants and the Environmental Protection Agency and Medicare and Social Security in the country. They're not going to get away with it, but it's going to be a big fight. For sure.

SPITZER: Well, you know, Senator, I do have to say, there is one school of thought that thinks it's good social policy to borrow money from the Chinese to give tax cuts to the rich so we can build up a bigger deficit and cut the investment we need.

BROWN: That's true.

SPITZER: But hey, maybe I'm just -- I'm missing something here.

BROWN: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

BROWN: Thanks. Thank you both.

PARKER: All right, Senator -- Senator Brown, thanks for joining us.

BROWN: Thank you, both.

SPITZER: Thank you, Senator.

It's not what we want but it's what we got. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the president's tax compromise. We talk to James Carville when we come back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARVILLE: He's not opposed to some of these members of the opposition party I think are hideous and odious. I disagree with him but I actually think it is --

PARKER: Care to name names?

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: I don't -- this show only lasts an hour.

SPITZER: Yes.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: The Obama tax deal is likely to pass the Senate and move to the House for a vote by the end of the week. But Obama took another hit today. Part of his health care law has been ruled unconstitutional.

PARKER: Here with some insight on all the president's controversies is James Carville, Democratic consultant and CNN contributor.

Hi, James, how are you?

CARVILLE: Doing good, Kathleen. Doing good. Always good to be on your show.

SPITZER: Well, thank you.

PARKER: Well, it's nice to have you. Listen, I got to ask you about President Bill Clinton's visit to the White House. What is going on? President Obama just handed the podium over to the former president and disappeared. What's up? What's up?

CARVILLE: Well, you know, in President Obama's defense, I think it was effective. And the votes started pouring in after that performance. I mean President Clinton is a very good explainer. He'd be a great college professor. I hope he gets down to my class at Tulane sometimes. He's quite a performer.

I was in Argentina at the time and my phone lit up with people calling and texting me about what was going on.

PARKER: Well, I agree that Bill Clinton is persuasive. But is that -- was that a good move for President Obama just to walk away, say, I'm keeping the wife waiting and let the other president take over?

CARVILLE: Yes. Well, I'll tell you what people are saying is that, if he would have been there, President Obama would have been there, President Clinton would have been constrained. It felt like he had to take a secondary role, just allow -- allowed him to flower, if you will. And bloom he did.

PARKER: Well, heaven forbid we should miss that.

(LAUGHTER)

SPITZER: Let me ask you. He is an amazing explainer. We've all heard him and just kind of marvel in that. But did he persuade you? After he was done, you've been harshly critical of this.

CARVILLE: Right.

SPITZER: You said it was a capitulation. Look, I share your view.

CARVILLE: Right.

SPITZER: Is it a right deal for this president after all that's been said and done?

CARVILLE: Well, I like to refer to him as the manila cause, like we folded.

(LAUGHTER)

SPITZER: Right.

CARVILLE: Look, he persuaded me that given the circumstances that this is a deal that we have to accept. I think in fairness to President Obama, there are some good things in there. Elections have consequences. One of the consequences of this election, if you're a rich person, you're going to do very well. This is -- that's the consequence of this election. That's a consequence of this agreement.

SPITZER: Is the House going to get any significant changes?

Last week, I thought it was quite a remarkable moment when the House Democrats got together and said we're not bringing this to the floor. This simply violates our principles. Will anything change in the bill because of that?

CARVILLE: I don't know. My thing is the Republicans got to two- to-one what we they wanted so the Democrats say, look, you get -- you supply two-thirds of the vote for this because you get two-thirds of the goodies.

I doubt that's going to happen. And the reality is that we are in very difficult economic times. And this is the deal on the table. And this is probably going to be -- my daddy used to say when it's -- you're going to like it because you got to like it. And that's pretty much where we are with this. We're going to like it because we got to like it.

I think President Clinton made that abundantly clear. That this is what you're going to get and it's actually better than you think. I don't know if I'm convinced that he's right, but whatever he says, I agree with.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: He's for it, I'm for it.

SPITZER: You're a loyal soldier. And you were certainly in his -- in the senior ranks of his court.

CARVILLE: Right.

SPITZER: Let me ask you one thing, though. Just seems to me this deal kicks everything down the road. I mean if you were worried about the deficit, it adds $4 trillion. If you want the stimulus, only a little piece of it is real stimulus and a lot of it is just giveaways to the wealthy. We're borrowing from China to give money to the rich.

How does this help us overcome our problems?

CARVILLE: No, no. I'm trying desperately to be a loyal soldier here. You're tempting me --

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: To break ranks. My big problem is that -- and of course as the Republicans insisted, we're doubling down on a failed strategy. The tax cuts didn't work. I mean why do we -- why are we so enamored with failure here?

We want to try something different and new that may work. But I'm desperately trying to stay --

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: Stay in line here, but you're making it very hard. You know a lot of this stuff is -- particularly the stuff with reference to the estate tax, why would Americans have an unbelievably difficult time that we do in this which has no economic benefit to speak of, I have no idea. I'm at a loss for this.

But it was something that the Republicans absolutely insisted on. And the truth of the matter is, I will let them defend that more than a Democrat.

PARKER: Well, some members of the Obama administration, including Larry Summers, are saying that this is a good thing. It is going to stimulate the economy. In fact, to not do it would have the opposite effect.

So what do you say to those people?

CARVILLE: Right. Well, this would be the same thing Larry Summers that said that we don't need to regulate derivatives.

PARKER: Boy, he's not a good person to quote, is he?

CARVILLE: No, I'm just saying -- Larry Summers has an IQ of 248 but he also has a track record here. You know, look -- you know, he helped put -- you know, I want to say negotiated, he helped sign this deal, or whatever. Signed off on it. It's what's there and to the extent that it's better than nothing, he's right. I guess by that minimal standard, this is something that we should be for.

PARKER: Well, Woody Allen once said that the brain is the most overrated organ and he should know.

But --

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: Yes.

PARKER: Let's switch gears a minute. Your friend Bill Clinton was known for many things including his emotional upfrontness. You know he would -- he could cry at the drop of a hat. So last night, we all watched "60 Minutes" and we saw the rising speaker of the House, John Boehner, become very emotional in several segments. And I have to say that I even teared up at one point because I thought it was very touching.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER DESIGNATE: I can't go to a school anymore. I used to go to lots of schools. I see all these little kids run around. Can't talk about it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why?

BOEHNER: Making sure that these kids have a shot at the American dream, like I did, it's important.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PARKER: What is that -- what do you think? Is that helpful or not? Is that good for a leader to cry or not?

CARVILLE: I don't know. And John Boehner doesn't deserve this -- you know, it's not exactly what he wants to hear. But I actually think -- and he's clearly a fairly decent guy. And you know, when you lead the kind of life he has, and you are the speaker of the House, you're third in line to the presidency, maybe that's kind of what he feels.

He's not -- as opposed to some of these members of the opposition party I think are hideous and odious, I disagree with him. But I actually think it is --

PARKER: Care to name names?

CARVILLE: Not a bad guy.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: I don't -- this show only lasts an hour.

SPITZER: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

PARKER: James Carville, it's always great to have you with us. Thank you so much.

SPITZER: Thank you.

CARVILLE: You bet. Love you, guys. Take care.

PARKER: When we come back, Fareed Zakaria joins us to talk about what he calls our Manana economy. We are, he says, putting off until tomorrow what tax cuts will cost us today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, CNN'S GPS: This time around, one more time we've been told, you know, this is not the right time to raise taxes or cut the debt or get a fiscal House in order. We'll do it when the economy is better.

Of course a few years ago when the economy was better, we said no, this isn't the right time to do it. And somehow, no matter what time it is in Washington, it's never time to put our fiscal house in order.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: Our next guest always does a unique job what politicians seem unwilling to do. Tell it like it is in an elegant manner.

PARKER: Fareed Zakaria did it again. A stunningly honest and straightforward column about what we need to do to get out from under our economic woes.

Welcome, Fareed.

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Thank you.

PARKER: You say that we are -- we are hurting ourselves by practicing what you called "manana economics." What do you mean by that?

ZAKARIA: Well, you noticed this time around one more time we've been told, you know, this is not the right time to raise taxes or cut the debt or get our fiscal house in order. We'll do it when the economy is better.

Of course, a few years ago when the economy was better, we said this isn't the right time to do it. And somehow, no matter what time it is in Washington, it's never time to put our fiscal house in order. And I just worry that there's a theory here that Congress will, at some point in the future, have the political courage it now lacks. And I don't see anything to suggest that that's going to happen.

SPITZER: Wasn't this simply the path of least resistance? This perpetuates the status quo of both excess spending but spending in the wrong areas, nothing that's going to address either our deficit or the need to restructure our economic future?

ZAKARIA: Yes, it's the Santa Claus compromise because each side got what they wanted.

SPITZER: Right.

ZAKARIA: People keep talking about how hard this was. I don't quite understand how hard it was. The Republicans got the tax cuts. The Democrats got the unemployment insurance and a few other things. The hard choice is --

SPITZER: And our kids got the bill. ZAKARIA: Right. Exactly. Our kids got the hard choice of saying no.

PARKER: Fareed, everybody knows that we have to raise more money in order to provide the services that we seem to want and yet at the same time, we've got to cut spending in order to cut our deficit and reduce our debt. So why is it that we can't come to the recognition that there actually is going to have to be some pain involved and as you say, it's either, if it's not now, it's going to be later and it will be worse then?

ZAKARIA: You know, this may be a disease of modern democracy. That it is very difficult for the system to impose short term painful long term gain. Now we've come out of Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving was a puritan festival. The one thing the puritans were all about was delayed gratification. And in fact, Daniel Bell, this great sociologist says that the key phrase to understand the Protestant revolution, the Protestant economic revolution was deferred gratification. If you want to find deferred gratification today, you have to go to Asia.

SPITZER: But what is so important about your article and you don't simply say we should be taxing the wealthy to reduce the deficit. You say that we should be taxing all of us slightly more in order to invest in the future because as you point out in China, they're investing $1.5 trillion in seven critical sectors where they will simply wipe us out competitively if we don't react.

ZAKARIA: You know, this is something we all forget about, which is the basis of this extraordinary American growth that we've seen over the last 40, 50 years was very large government investments or government support for technologies. If the Defense Department had not been there, there would be no semi-conductor industry. The Defense Department bought all of it. Interstate highways, if NASA hadn't been there, there wouldn't be a computer science industry. And while Al Gore didn't invent the Internet, DARPA, the defense agency (INAUDIBLE) how.

So we've got to get back into that game. And as you point out and I say in the article, the only government that really believes in us right now is China and to a lesser extent, South Korea and Singapore. And they're home growing nine percent a year. We need to make massive investments for the future in technology. And you know, some of it will take the form of tax credits to let the private sector do what it can. Some of it has to be direct government involvement. For example, our infrastructure is crumbling. Our digital infrastructure is crumbling. We keep saying we're number one, but actually none of these areas are we even in the top ten.

PARKER: Part of the problem now is that people don't trust the government. There's no faith in the institution and certainly no faith in the politicians. I don't want to pay more taxes because I know they're going to fritter the money away or misspend it. So how do you change that? How do you change the system so that we trust it again? ZAKARIA: Well, because the fundamental problem is actually, Kathleen, the government does not fritter away the money. The stimulus program, that is the 2009 one, was reasonably effective. It was efficient. There wasn't a lot of pork. The problem is government spends enormous amounts of money subsidizing all of us. You want to find the big money in the budget.

PARKER: It's entitlement, yes. Well, so why --

ZAKARIA: Which is actually very efficient, social security is a very efficient program.

SPITZER: So is Medicare.

ZAKARIA: It takes money from one hand and gives it from the other. What we've got to do is to stop thinking about the problem as wasteful abuse. And the problem is really, again, we want to consume a lot of stuff, health care, and the government pays for that. We want pensions.

PARKER: So the Americans, the American people really have to make the decision that we don't want to continue going down this road of debt and deficit.

ZAKARIA: Right. And it needs leadership because if you look there was a recent poll in which Americans were asked what do you want to do to deal with the deficit. And basically they said we don't want to cut any spending at all.

SPITZER: Now they did. Arts and education. Which is both irrelevant numerically and, of course, would be a shame. But education, of course, is also the key as you've pointed out in so many of your articles. The report that came out last week, China ahead of us, ranking number one in the world. We're down at 17, 24, 25. That is where the future rests. And if we could take $120 billion that would go to the wealthy over the next two years alone under this tax compromise and invest it and redo our K through 12 program which would be better for the nation in the long run.

ZAKARIA: You know, if you think about it, we've missed so many opportunities.

SPITZER: Yes.

ZAKARIA: $2-3 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan, imagine that invested in the way we're discussing.

SPITZER: Right.

ZAKARIA: Take this 120, I would actually just let the tax cuts expire for everyone in a year or two.

SPITZER: Right, right.

ZAKARIA: And then you have $6 billion, $700 billion and you could put it in. The report, that study out of China, the international education study is really worth stressing because the fact that China is number one is actually stunning. The idea that what is still a developing country is beating the pants off us is extraordinary.

SPITZER: Right.

PARKER: Well, of course, we don't want to be China. And China does things well and en masse because people don't have choices as we do in this country. So there has to be self-imposed discipline. And I don't know how you do that.

SPITZER: But we -- let me be theoretical, we do want to beat China in one respect and that is as Fareed said, to have the capacity as a nation to make tough judgment calls and then act upon it. What we have done is kick the can down the road over and over and over, whether it's the deficit or the investments, continuing to consume on credit card that has simply reached its limits. And that's why the crash of '08. And we're building the foundation for another crash with these tax cut. It simply doesn't work.

ZAKARIA: The Chinese are the ones who should be celebrating Thanksgiving and we should be having a big Mardi Gras party. But that's what we pick up, a kind of a culture of overconsumption.

PARKER: Do you have faith in the American people that we can do this?

ZAKARIA: No. I think the people are the big problem. I mean, Americans -- everybody wants to say the American people are so wonderful. You know, I think that when they come to recognize that they have to make sacrifices too that it's not just wasteful (INAUDIBLE) they need to have -- they need to recognize that some of what's going to happen here is fewer. They have to consume fewer things. They have to accept slightly higher taxes. And in the long run, you will have a much better economy.

PARKER: Fareed Zakaria, so nice to have you with us as always. Thanks so much.

SPITZER: Coming up, an acclaimed author whose book was bought by President Obama when he was 12 years old and oh, yes, he won two NBA titles. Stay tuned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALT FRAZIER, NBA HALL OF FAMER: I came from very humble beginnings in Atlanta Georgia and never thinking that I had the talent to do it. But today, I know that if you have a game plan, because people don't plan to fail, they fail to plan. You have confidence, you believe in yourself, believe in achieving, you're motivated, you put in the time, work diligently and you have a tenacious work ethic, nothing can deny you the success.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SPITZER: Now for tonight's "Person of Interest," he is one of the greatest basketball players the game has ever known and part of the magical era in New York basketball history. Former U.S. Senator and New York Knick teammate Bill Bradley has called him and I quote, "the only player I've ever seen I would describe as an artist."

PARKER: Nowadays, he splits his time between living in the Caribbean and commentating on the Knicks games and they're finally on a winning streak, eight in a row. He just republished his classic book "Rockin' Steady: A Guide to Basketball and Cool."

Welcome number 10, Walt "Clyde" Frazier. Well, we're both a little bit star struck here, so you just have to give us a minute to get a grip. But President Obama, when he met your co-author here, he said he bought this book when he was 12 years old. Did he rub off on him?

WALT FRAZIER, NBA HALL OF FAMER: Yes, I think so. He's a very cool guy. He has style.

PARKER: So he got the cool part.

FRAZIER: Yes.

PARKER: Basketball part?

FRAZIER: Well, his game -- you know, he really idolized Lenny Wilkens, I guess because he's a lefty as well. Obama is a lefty.

PARKER: Left-handed, you mean?

FRAZIER: Right, right. He's left-handed.

SPITZER: We're not in politics yet. Come on, Kathleen. Give us a minute here. We're talking basketball.

FRAZIER: All right.

SPITZER: One of the things in the book you say you never look at somebody's eyes. You look at their belt buckle --

FRAZIER: Right.

SPITZER: -- see which way they're going.

FRAZIER: If you look at their eyes, they could fake you. Wherever that belt buckle go, they must go.

PARKER: Oh, that's a trick then.

SPITZER: You can't move your hips that way.

FRAZIER: That's right, so --

PARKER: But that doesn't work in real life.

FRAZIER: No, you always watch the eyes.

PARKER: You'll get in trouble watching people's belt buckles.

FRAZIER: You're mesmerized by the eyes.

PARKER: You say -- you write in your book that taking sides causes hassles. Is that true in politics as well?

FRAZIER: Of course.

PARKER: This is a political show.

FRAZIER: When I was a ball player, I was a neutral. I never took one side or the other because half the people are going to hate you.

PARKER: Exactly.

SPITZER: Are you willing to dive into it? These days you're still --

FRAZIER: These days since I'm not playing, I have a little more impact on, you know, taking sides with one or the other.

SPITZER: Right.

FRAZIER: But I'm also got -- my mother always told me a house divided cannot stand. So in politics today, there's a lot of turmoil, animosity, so you have to work together. And that essentially is what we call team work, working together as a team.

SPITZER: Did you ever have to overcome that on the team? Look, you were part of the legendary Knicks moment when those of us who were my age, you know, 50 or above, remember that was the only time the Knicks won. So did you have divisions on the team that you got, you work through, you overcame somehow?

FRAZIER: No, we had sweet harmony, primarily because of our coach. Red Holzman demanded that we play together as a team. We're diligently on a defense. Our mantra was hit the open man.

PARKER: All right. You grew up with no advantages whatsoever. You learned to play basketball in a dirt lot full of pebbles as I recall from your book. And then you, you know, you didn't think you had what it took to become the player that you clearly became. Yet you also had this reputation as being cool. You sort of defined cool. And by that I don't mean that, you know, the cars and the clothes and all that, which you did have, but it was your attitude and your sense of self. And you didn't go where everybody else went. If everybody else wanted to get drunk, you didn't necessarily feel you had to participate in that. So you were your own man from a young age without really much help along the way. Where did that come from? And what advice do you give to young people today who want to be Walt Frazier?

FRAZIER: My parents instilled that in me. You know, I'm the oldest of nine kids. So I have seven sisters, one brother. I was a role model before I knew what the word meant. And my whole thing was my parents taught me you're representing the family. Wherever I went I was always cognizant of that. So obviously, I had a chance to do drugs but the thing that came back to me was what would my mother think? And a lot of times what would my mother do to me if I did this. So I just stayed away from it. A lot of times the guys would drink and I wouldn't drink. So after a while, they accepted me in the group. But as far as style and fashion, which I relate to in my book as well, whenever I go to a new tailor, I always tell him show me something you think no one will wear. That's probably want I'm going to choose from.

PARKER: But back to the president for just a minute, Charles Barkley tore apart the president's game not too long ago. We wanted to get you to look at some video of the president playing basketball and maybe give him some tips. What do you think? Here we go.

Can you take us through this here, Walt? All right, there he goes. The lefty.

FRAZIER: OK. That was good penetrating.

SPITZER: Looked like the Knicks of two years ago. Right there, and he still didn't drop.

FRAZIER: Right, right. But a little wheeling and dealing. He made a nice move.

PARKER: Yes, he's got the moves.

FRAZIER: Yes.

PARKER: Poor President Obama. One thing he does extremely well, we still have to pick him apart. I guess that's our job.

FRAZIER: When you're number one, that's what happens, right?

PARKER: Well, you would know.

FRAZIER: People are always taking shots at you. That's right.

PARKER: Walt Frazier, great to have you with us.

SPITZER: Ahead on "PARKER SPITZER," five federal judges say a man in death row may be innocent. The state of California is still prepared to execute him. We'll ask his lawyer if his client has run out of time. Stay tuned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPITZER: The evidence, and Nicholas you refer to this, of the possibility, strong probability of planted evidence, destruction of evidence. As a former prosecutor, it makes my blood run cold to see that. What has been done in the state of California to follow up on this powerful accusation of malfeasance?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NY TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: Well, very little is the problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PARKER: And now, in taking a stand, a chilling story out of California.

SPITZER: In the view of five federal judges, the state of California may be about to execute an innocent man. That man is Kevin Cooper. He faces lethal injection next year for allegedly murdering a white family in 1983.

PARKER: When you look at the facts in this case, nearly everything points towards Cooper's innocence. We spoke with two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof who recently wrote a column about the case, and with Cooper's lawyer, Lanny Davis, who is White House special counsel to President Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PARKER: Nicholas, you wrote a great piece in the "New York Times" describing all of this. Lay it out for us. Tell us about the case.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NY TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: In 1983, you had a horrific murder of a family, four people murdered and their son left with his throat slashed.

PARKER: He survived.

KRISTOF: He survived and he immediately identified, actually -- he said that three white people had done it. But immediately, the police discovered that only 125 yards away, there was a black man, Kevin Cooper, who had escaped from a low security correction facility and was hiding out there at the time, more or less at the time of those killings. They immediately focused their attention on him and arrested him. And then what the judges in this case suggests, there's a lot of evidence for it, is that once they were convinced of his guilt, that then they began to plant evidence to confirm that. And maybe more important, they also ignored evidence that another group of three people were involved.

SPITZER: Look, Lanny, first I want to point out, you're doing this, handling this case pro bono.

LANNY DAVIS, ATTORNEY FOR KEVIN COOPER: Right.

SPITZER: You're not being paid for it. I read the dissent, five judges in the ninth circuit, a very, very senior prominent U.S. federal circuit, five judges said this is an innocent man. Rarely do you see opinions like this. From a legal perspective, where are we? What happens next? What can be done?

DAVIS: First of all, my co-counsel Norman Howell (ph) or Karen (ph) did the trial work here and speaking really on behalf of a large pro bono team. Our point on the clemency petition of Governor Schwarzenegger is even if you believe this man is guilty, there's enough substantial doubt and absolute evidence of police misconduct that Judge Fletcher wrote in a 100-page decision, one of the most remarkable ninth circuit Judge Fletcher opinions. With this much doubt and this much evidence of police misconduct, we're asking for life imprisonment without parole as Governor Schwarzenegger decision.

PARKER: SO why would you ask for life without parole rather than clemency?

DAVIS: Because where there's life, there's hope. And in Texas, a man was executed and a year later found to be innocent. And what we're saying to Governor Schwarzenegger at least put him in jail for life without parole, and where there's life, there's hope. But if you kill him, there's no hope.

SPITZER: Reading this dissent, the evidence and emphasis you refer to this of a possibility, strong probability of planted evidence, destruction of evidence. As a former prosecutor, it makes my blood run cold to see that. What has been done in the state of California to follow up on this powerful accusation of malfeasance?

KRISTOF: Well, very little is the problem. The circuit court, the ninth circuit sent it back to the district court to follow up on some of these leads. And maybe the most striking is that there was a beige t-shirt that had been found at the scene, was probably left by the murderer or murderers. And it turned out to have Kevin Cooper's blood on it. Well, that is obviously very damning but it turns out when they checked that blood, that there was a blood preservative on it, an anticoagulant and that it's a preservative that you find in test tubes when you keep blood. And the question, you know, what happens? The thought is it came from the police file of his blood. The district court did not pursue that and did not allow counsel to pursue that.

SPITZER: Indicated it had been planted.

KRISTOF: Exactly.

PARKER: Suggesting (ph). You mentioned other evidence too that was kind of stunning. I mean, there were three weapons allegedly that were involved in the killing of this family.

KRISTOF: That's right. The coroner had said that there were either three or four weapons used in these killings. A hatchet, one or two knives and --

SPITZER: An ice pick?

KRISTOF: An ice pick, that's right.

And you know, why would one perpetrator be juggling these weapons?

PARKER: One man carrying -- SPITZER: Horrific is a horror movie to begin with, but the surviving son immediately identified three white individuals to be the assailants.

KRISTOF: That's right. And usually in these crimes, of course, you don't have any alternative theory. You have a doubt about one --

SPITZER: The son is another suspect.

KRISTOF: Yes, in this case, you actually have an alternative. Three other people who were identified by the girlfriend or one of them as having appeared that night in bloody clothing who presented those bloody overalls to the police and they threw them away.

PARKER: Wow. There was also a case in Pennsylvania involving this same man. He was accused, I think, of kidnapping and raping a 14-year-old girl. And I think this was, correct me if I'm wrong, but this was known to the community. Is there anything about that particular case that maybe caused the community outcry?

DAVIS: This is a heinous crime and the community was outraged by the awful crime. He was never convicted of that crime he was accused. He was convicted of just burglary. He was not tried for that crime. But the fact that he was accused was in all the newspapers.

The most important damning evidence here is that these bloody coveralls were never presented to the jury. And the person that said that he threw them away on his own was one of the lead witnesses, a forensic detective, who said I threw them away on my own decision. Subsequently, we found that, in fact, he'd been instructed to throw them away by the supervisor. So he lied under oath.

SPITZER: The overalls you're talking about were worn by the alternative suspect who not many people think actually did commit the crime. That was never brought, either given to the defense attorney?

DAVIS: The girlfriend, Diana Roper, who's now unfortunately passed away, said to the police my boyfriend came home with bloody coveralls in a station wagon that was similar to the station wagon that was found to have been owned by the Ryans. She said I think the hatchet that was also -- there was a hatchet found. She said there's a hatchet missing from our house. That evidence was never presented to the jury. And with this much doubt, why kill him if we're asking Governor Schwarzenegger for clemency with commutation for life imprisonment without parole?

PARKER: Well, this is precisely why I'm against the death penalty. You know, if there's any even sliver of doubt, then we need to err on the side of keeping people alive and not give them the --

SPITZER: But time winds down? What can people do? What do you want people to do?

KRISTOF: I think in content -- I think at this point, Governor Schwarzenegger is the last best hope for Kevin Cooper. And I think they need to contact his office and to just commutation. SPITZER: Nick Kristof, Lanny Davis, thank you so much for being here.

When we come back, the tributes are still pouring in for Ambassador Richard Holbrooke who died yesterday. But the last word, as he would appreciate, belongs to him. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

In Florida, a shooting at a school board meeting was captured on a live Internet feed in terrifying detail. It shows a 56-year-old gunman opening fire on a superintendent and board members. Incredibly no one was hit. The gunman killed himself after he was shot by a security guard.

Tonight on "360," the lawmakers behind a bill requiring presidential candidates to prove they were born here. Is it a birther bill in disguise? We're keeping them honest.

That's the latest. Now back to "PARKER SPITZER."

SPITZER: Now, our postscript. A diplomat's last words. Las night, we devoted our show to the tragic death of Richard Holbrooke, legendary diplomat, most recently special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Today, the editorials and testimonials kept pouring in. It was widely reported that his final words were spoken to his Pakistani doctor. And they said and I quote, "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan."

People immediately took it as a parting message to the world.

PARKER: But now we've learned the conversation didn't quite happen that way. An internist of Egyptian descent asked Holbrooke how she could help him relax before surgery. He said it was hard to relax because he had to worry about Afghanistan and Pakistan. She said she'd worry on his behalf. And that's when Holbrooke asked her to end the war. It was part of bantering conversation meant to comfort an ailing patient.

SPITZER: It says something about us and our feelings toward the war that we wanted his last words to be a battle cry. In fact, there are vintage Richard Holbrooke filled with humor as well as meaning. For now, he's left us with a question, not an answer.

Thanks so much for being with us. Be sure to join us tomorrow night.

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