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Karl Rove on Terror Attacks; Rand Paul on Terrorism; Who Was Tashfeen Malik? Aired 9-10a ET

Aired December 5, 2015 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:04] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: That's going to do it for us, here. Victor and I, both back at 10:00 but do stay with us. "SMERCONISH" is next.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish. Here we go again. That's what my colleague Brooke Baldwin said here on CNN Wednesday as the earliest news started trickling out of San Bernardino.

She meant semi-automatic weapons, innocent victims, lockdown, manhunt, shoot-out, manhunt, fear, outrage. But here we go again, sadly, also applies to what came after.

Politicians immediately suited up in their usual jerseys and resorted to the same old playbooks. Republicans again said it was time to pray. The "New York Daily News" run a controversial cover noting that God wouldn't fix this.

Democrats again made calls for gun control. The "New York Times" tried something different, putting an editorial on the front page of this morning's newspaper, the first time they've done that since 1920, calling for outlawing of civilian ownership of weapons capable of mass killing. But will it make any difference?

More telling is that my most popular tweet of the week by far was when I quoted a "Times" blogger wondering why the paper even has a comment section on such stories since it can used use "the same ones each time there's a mass shooting in the USA."

This morning, news broke that ISIS radio claiming the San Bernardino attack was carried out by supporters yet when we learned in the midst of the attack that the female shooter had posted a tribute on Facebook to the leader of the ISIS, that simply rebooted the tiresome debate whether to use the words radical Islam. Now you would think the presidential campaign season might offer an opportunity for the airing of detailed plans to combat ISIS, but no.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would handle it so tough, you have no idea. You don't want to hear, you don't want to hear how I'd handle it.


SMERCONISH: Instead, sound bites get rewarded, especially that candidate whose deep thinking on ISIS consists of a platform to build a wall, create a Muslim database and kill the families of ISIS members. Look when 9/11 happened, the country rose above partisan politics.

Now we're so polarized that in the words of columnist Reuben Naverret, quote "we may not have to worry about our enemies defeating us, we're together a splendid did job all by ourselves."

Now to talk about the impact of the latest shootings on the 2016 race, I'm joined by Karl Rove, he, of course, was a senior adviser to President George W. Bush. He previously was involved in more than 75 campaigns for president, governor, senator. And he's just published a very relevant book. "The Triumph of William McKinley, why the election of 1896 still matters."

Karl, I read and thoroughly enjoyed the book. I'll get to it in a moment. React, if you would, to my commentary.

KARL ROVE, FMR. SNEIOR ADVISER TO PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I think you're right. The initial response to this was to fall back into the old pattern. But let's realize, this is not the old pattern. This is an internationally-inspired act of terrorism inside our borders. We had people who appear to have been radicalized over the internet. There may have been some seeds planted in Miss Malik's background, her upbringing in Pakistan and in Saudi Arabia. In Pakistan, it appears when she graduated from college in an area that's known to have sectarian strains, that she destroyed her personal computer telling family members that it contained personal information on it.

So maybe the seeds of radicalization were there. But this is not an issue of gun violence or workplace violence. This is an act of terrorism inside our borders. And we should not freight this with either discussions in my opinion about gun control or about the efficacy of prayer. We ought to focus on why this happened and realize that America's future is at stake.

If we do not resolve and fight them abroad, we're going to see more instances like this here. These people associated themselves with the Islamic state, apparently, not because the Islamic state is losing but because the Islamic state looks like it's winning in the Middle East. And until we push them back, until we make it, in essence, unattractive to be associated with the people who are losing strength, being killed. People losing power, people being wiped out, we're going to see more of these, not less of these.

SMERCONISH: Well, let's talk about how it will impact the 2016 race. I've got some data points that I want to run through with you. A brand-new CNN ORC survey, just released this week although conducted before the attack in San Bernardino. There you see it, Donald Trump at the top of the heap with 36 percent of the vote.

Karl, what I find of significance is that he wins all the internals, including when you ask the question regardless of who you're voting for, who is best equipped to handle ISIS, Trump comes out with 46 percent of Republican support followed by Ted Cruz at 15. Analyze that for me. Why is he being perceived among Republicans as the being best equipped to deal with ISIS?


ROVE: Because he looks the toughest. I mean, he is - loo , he has a sound bite. And the people attracted to Trump are not really interested in - you know, and policy statements, that are not really interested on the fact that he's been all over the board on this.

Remember, it was a matter of weeks ago in which he dismissed the ISIS threat. He said leave it to the Russians to take care of. Then he said, you know what, let ISIS take out Assad in Syria. Now, he wants to bomb the expletive out of ISIS.

So they really don't care the specifics of the policy. As long as he's up there pounding the podium and saying I'm going to be so tough there's an element inside the Republican party that is attracted to that strong man image.

Now, whether or not it's enough to win the nomination is really up in the air. I'd be careful about reading too much into any one given poll. This particular poll is an outlier in terms of the sense of the strength. If you look at the real clear politics average he's seen there in the high 20s. 27, 28, 29. But he has shown an inability - there's been an episodic poll that has shown him lower and higher than that and some had shown him lower than that.

But the average is in the high 20s and in resistance inside the Republican Party - look, he has the highest unfavorables and lowest -- excuse me, lowest favorables and highest negatives of any of any of the major candidates. Then you take him into the general election campaign, and his image gets even worse.

SMERCONISH: But nevertheless, in the same survey I think it was echoed by the Quinnipiac data that came out this week, 52 percent say they believe he has the strongest chance to win the general election. I think Karl Rove just told me, you don't agree with that?

ROVE: Well, no I agree - that's what they think now. But if you go back to 2012 you'll find a period of time where people thought Herman Kane had strongest chance of becoming the nominee and Newt Gingrich had the highest chance of being the nominee. In the aftermath of the New Hampshire primary in 2000, people thought John McCain had the best chance of becoming the republican nominee.

So you need to differentiate between the questions and the poll that ask people to comment as spectators and pundits and those that say what do you believe about what you're going to do.

SMERCONISH: OK. So I'm asking you directly - what do you believe, do you believe that he's the republican who has the best shot of winning the White House? Yes or no?


ROVE: Well I don't know but think he has a high floor and a low ceiling. I think you have to look at the candidates who have higher favorables and lower knowing negatives who a lot more people could see themselves voting for than Trump. Trump has the strength that comes from being a strong definitive personality. He also has the weakness that that includes things like disparaging Latinos. That it involves mocking a disabled reporter. That it involves calling every one of his opponents a clown, a looser and a moron. These are not the kind of things that ignite the party.

In order to win the nomination, a candidate has to unite the party at some point. You can't simply win the nomination by saying everybody else who is running against me is a jerk. So are there supporters in essence. You know, calling people and mocking people inside the party who are accomplished individuals, who have supporters and adherence to their own the kinds of things that he calls them is not, in my opinion, a winning recipe for either uniting the party or winning the nomination with the united party and carry it into the general election.

You mentioned my book, we have a candidate in the 1896 campaign William Jennings Brian who excoriates most, a big chunk of the country. He announced that he's going to accept his - the party's nomination in New York. He announces at a train station in Lincoln, Nebraska, I go on to the enemy's country. And he attacks his opponents as tools of the Wall Street blood suckers and the money grubbers of Lombard Street and shylocks of the Rothschilds.

I mean, he uses language that is designed to divide the American people and it helps divide the American people and it helped divide them against himself, particularly when his opponent, William McKinley uses language designed to draw the country together. In which he says, we're all in this together. We're a common country no east, no west, no south, quoting George Washington.

SMERCONISH: Here's what I thought of as I read your book. I thought of - and I've got a slide to show you on this. I thought of the fact in 1988, Papa Bush, Bush 41, gets 59 percent of the white vote and it earns him 426 electoral votes. 2012, Mitt Romney same percentage, guess what -- it's only worth 206 electoral votes.

Due to a variety of factors not the least of which is the changing demographic of the country. What I learned from your book is that William McKinley saw the need to build the tent. So who is the tent- builder in this array of GOP candidates?


ROVE: Well it's almost everybody except Donald Trump and to a lesser extent Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz says "the way we can win this election is get a missing army of conservatives who have historically reliably voted Republican and then didn't do so in 2012 because Mitt Romney was a liberal. That's simply not true. You look at the exit polls there are 580,000 more self identified conservatives who turned out to vote in 2012 than the previous high in 2008. And 2.2 million more conservatives voted for Mitt Romney than voted for John McCain. You're right, 59 percent of the white vote went for Mitt Romney, 59 percent went for George W. Bush in 2004, 59 percent or thereabouts, in 1988.

And in 1984, but what McKinley looked at was the changing demography of the country in which there were increasing numbers of Catholic industrial workers, particularly in our big cities, in the midwest. And people who were not from the historic places that we've got immigration before. We had for decades had immigration coming primarily from the British isles, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and from Germany and increasingly in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, we had increasing amounts of immigration from new places. Scandinavia, from the Ukraine, from Belarus, from southern Europe - from Spain and Portugal.

And McKinley was smart enough to say "my party's only going to be able to win if I can draw those people into my coalition." In which he did, he got 37 percent more votes than his predecessor had done.

SMERCONISH: But respectfully, I don't see the outreach taking place today - I mean McKinley, as you document, was the first candidate to openly go campaign for black vote.

ROVE: Right.

SMERCONISH: Where is the outreach? I mean, you say everybody but Trump and to a lesser extent Cruz. I don't see it happening with these other candidates?

ROVE: Well, Michael, first of all - remember, he does this outreach in the year of the general election after he's largely secured the nomination. So there's plenty of time left. But look at the language. Look at the people who acknowledge this is the issue and whether it is Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, John Kasich and others you find plenty Republican candidates who say we need to have the confidence in our conservative messages to carry to every community in America, young people, Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, people who have not voted for us before and it's been - I thought it was a good sign.

When you have Rand Paul saying I'm going to go to Berkeley. And Jeb Bush saying why don't we campaign more in the Latino community. And Marco Rubio speaking Spanish to Spanish-speaking audiences, when you have all of these candidates acknowledging we need to broaden our party and grab this demographic because we ought to have confidence that they will be attracted to our conservative views, I find that heartening.

And the question is going to be - do they do it in the general election. Right now, they're focused on the one of the nomination as McKinley was. But McKinley, when he secured the nomination and therefore was - SMERCONISH: I lost Karl Rove, what a shame because I was so eager to say to him and it's almost unfair to raise it "are you saying that they can't make that case to expand the tent until after primary season?" To be continued.

What do you think? Tweet me @smerconish. I'll read some of the best at the end of the program.

Coming up, in the wake of another shooting, Americans are on edge, but is our fear unfounded? A guest of mine thinks our reaction is overblown.

But first, Karl Rove just mentioned Senator Rand Paul. Well, he's here to respond to today's front page editorial of "The New York Times."



SMERCONISH: "End the gun epidemic in America." That's the headline on this morning's front page of "The New York Times." It's an editorial, though. This is the first time an editorial has been on the front page of the "Times" since 1920. And it's calling out politicians for their inaction after so many of these mass shootings occurring more than once a day.

Here's what the "Times" says in part, "America's elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then callously and without fear of consequence reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing." Presidential candidate Rand Paul is one of the politicians who has been criticized for calling for prayer instead of gun control. Perfect timing. He joins me now, unfortunately, from outside in Iowa to respond to the "The New York Times." Senator, what do you make of what they said on the front page?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well I think people disparaging prayer are kind of out of line. But I also think when you talk about the need for gun control, we might want to discuss the fact that California has the most stringent gun control in the country. We also might want to make a point here that this is less about g.un control and more about terrorism.

I think the fact that the president and other partisans immediately jumped on tragedy, you know, our response was, we were praying for the victims. Sometimes, you do have prayer when you're at a loss for things that can be done. I'm not sure gun control is the answer. I think if you have very strict gun control, what will happen is the people who are law abiding citizens will not be able to get guns, but criminals always seem to be able to get guns.

I think terrorists do. We do need to stop terrorism. We need to, I think talk about who comes into this country. That's what I've been talking about having rules about who comes to visit us and who comes to live here. SMERCONISH: Are you a second amendment purist? In other words, are there any weapons that Rand Paul would say, now, that's not for civilian use?

PAUL: If people want to change the second amendment - you know, there is a process for changing the constitution. Our founding fathers made it difficult, because freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to bear arms, they didn't want to make it easy for government to change these things. We do have some restrictions. And the Supreme Court has ruled that there can be some restrictions.

Well, people need to understand this - the most strict of restrictions are in California, and yet, these weapons were still purchased legally. Really, the question is, are we going to continue to have unlimited immigration from the Middle East? I think we have to talk about whether the need to have some limits on those who are coming from the Middle East, since we don't know really who's already here. And how many people who have come want to attack and kill us.


SMERCONISH: Senator Paul, Karl Rove was here at the outset. I don't know if you got to hear the interview. It sounded to me like he was advocating going overseas and confronting ISIS. You know there's a lot of tough talk among your colleagues. This week, you said that Senator Rubio much like Hillary Clinton is a supporter of regime change, what were you referring to?

PAUL: You know, Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio were for regime change in Libya. But that led to disaster. When we topple Khadafi, we got chaos and now a third of Libya pledges allegiance to ISIS. So I think Rubio and Clinton's foreign policy of regime change has actually made us less safe. But it's the same in Syria.

If your goal is to topple Assad, my fear is that ISIS will take over. So Rubio's advocacy for arming the allies of ISIS, the allies of Al Qaeda and Syria has been a disastrous policy. I think it has made us less safe. So this is a debate we need to have. It's an important part of the presidential debate. But it's interesting that both Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton seem to have the same foreign policy.

They've also advocated for a no-fly zone in an area in which Russia already fly. So the question to Marco Rubio has to be, are you prepared to, are you advocating shooting down Russian jets? It appeared the other day as if he was advocating for that and has made me very worrisome to get a commander in chief that is so eager for war, so reckless.

SMERCONISH: Is there room for you in this incarnation of the GOP, I'm mindful of your standing in the CNN poll which is not too strong. And when we asked about who's best equipped to handle foreign policy. You certainly don't rate anywhere near the top.

I know, I think your argument, your argument is that opening bases overseas in response to attacks like we have seen doesn't necessarily make us safer. And might in fact, make us less safe. Can you get traction with that kind of a message in this Republican Party?

PAUL: I think it's interesting when you poll the question was the original Iraq war a good idea, did it make us safer? Even close to a majority of Republicans are concerned that the first Iraq war didn't accomplish its purpose and made us less safe. I think the arguments can be made and I think there's a significant amount of Republicans but actually I think there's a vast majority of Americans who aren't for sending half a million sons and daughters of America back into Iraq.

I think the ultimate victory, the ultimate peace the long-lasting peace will come when Sunni Muslims actually defeat this (INAUDIBLE) that's coming from their ranks. I don't think they're going to accept the victory from Shiites. I don't think they're going to accept the victory from Americans or Europeans.

I think what will happen is we have the political or military might to do it but what happens is another generation or another reincarnation of this (INAUDIBLE) ideology. I think you stamp it out when Islam rises up, when civilized Islam rises up and says we've had enough of this barbarity.

SMERCONISH: Donald Trump says we should bomb the crap out of them. Donald Trump says we need a database perhaps for Muslims. Donald Trump says we should contemplate taking out ISIS family members.

PAUL: And I've also supported arming the Kurds. I think arming those in Syria, arming the allies of Al Qaeda, letting $1 billion of U.S. humvees fall in the hands of ISIS is all a mistake.

SMERCONISH: I guess my question is, does it frustrate you that the tough talk seems to be selling so well within our party?

PAUL: I think we lost our connection.

SMERCONISH: Lost our connection.

All right. I'm two for two today. I lost with Karl Rove, I now lost with Rand Paul. At least I'm in good company. Thank you, Senator Paul.

Up next - more than ever before, Americans are looking over their shoulders but is our fear of terror an overreaction? Next is a man who says, yes, it is.



SMERCONISH: Fear matters. In politics. That's the take-away from this week's attack in San Bernardino.

The execution of 14 took place against the backdrop of a contentious presidential campaign. A CNN-ORC poll released yesterday but conducted before that attack show Donald Trump firmly in the lead with 36 percent of the vote. Trump led on each of the issue. When asked regardless of who you're voting for, which is the candidate best able to handle ISIS? Forty six percent of Republicans said Trump, followed by Ted Cruz who is only 15 percent of the vote.

Trump's words have been calibrated to address the concerns of many Americans. He famously wants to build a wall along our southern border, presumably to prevent the continued migration of rapists. He's called for a database for refugees. And he won't rule out a database for all Muslims.

This week, Donald Trump said in an effort to fight ISIS, we should "take out family members of terrorists." Pretty extreme measures that tap into many emotions but are they warranted or just -- stoking irrational fears for political purposes?

Joining me now is John Mueller. He is a professor of political science at Ohio State University, a fellow at the CATO Institute and author of "Chasing Ghosts the Policing of Terrorism."

Professor, I thought of you yesterday. I read the Friday "New York Times" there was a front page story with this headline "Fear in the Air, Americans look over their shoulders." Should we not be looking over our shoulders?

JOHN MUELLER, CO-AUTHOR, CHASING GHOSTS: Well, fear is a really important emotion if you're walking through the jungle and you approach a saber tooth tiger. The fear is the appropriate emotion.

[09:30:00] That's one of the reasons the human race is here. But what's really important is to get the fear in context and not fear things that have little probability. And what seems to be the cases of your chance being killed by a terrorist is about 1 in 4 million per year if you're in the United States.

SMERCONISH: You're in California right now. Earlier this week in California, 14 people were executed in a presumed act of terror.

And I don't you want to be misunderstood. You believe that we face a real adversary. But in many respects it's an adversary not worth the chase in which we're currently engaged.

Is that a fair way of saying it?

MUELLER: Yes, you want to keep the chase in proportion. If -- the place to start is what is the risk? One in 4 million, in the case of active shooters, in other words, terrorist or non-terrorist, your chance of being killed is simply like 1 in 9 million per year.

That doesn't mean that you'll demonstrate, OK, I'll forget about it. It means that I start from that basis if I want to make the risk even lower, how much do I want to spend on it when there are a lot of other things that kill people as well. For example, an automobile, your chance of being killed is about 1 in 8,000 per year. Not 1 in 4 million or 1 in 9 million. SMERCONISH: I want to read a paragraph from your book. It's a page

133 and I put on the screen for people to follow along. You wrote, "President George W. Bush says, 'For me, the lesson of 9/11 was simple. Don't take chances.' He's certainly right about the simplicity of the lesson he managed to come up with. However, in applying it in response to a tragedy that inflicted perhaps $200 billion in direct and indirect costs, he created tragedies that were far greater, increases in domestic counterterrorism expenditures of over $1 trillion and two wars that thus far have cost several trillion dollars and have led to well over 100,000 deaths, including wise as Americans as died on September 11."

So if that is -- I'll quote the title of another book of your, the overblown approach, what is the threat approach?

MUELLER: There is a threat out there. There is a problem out there. And you do not want overreacting as have been certainly after 9/11 with those wars and the incredible expenditures, and the number of people that died in the process was very excessive, even from that standpoint, even though that was an incredibly horrible terrorist attack.

You want to go after the terrorists. You want to do it in as judicious, effective manner. You don't want to throw huge amounts of money at it frenetically.

SMERCONISH: Does that mean, for example, look, the TSA, my God, the wasted time as we search, take our shoes off, go through the metal detectors, forget it. If we lose an airplane, we lose an airplane, but on balance it will be worth it?

MUELLER: What you need to do, you want the airplanes to be equally safe. But what you want to do is go through the expenditures and see if they can be reduced without increasing the risk substantially, or at all if possible. What we've done with many measures is, for example, with federal air marshals, we sort of determined the amount of safety they give you is extremely small. And their expenditures are extremely high. Therefore, it's not really justified expenditure. There's other ways to spend less much money and get the same amount of risk reduction.

You're not going to get every terrorist. You're not going to be able to stop every automobile accident. You're not going to be able to prevent every flood and so forth. And you're not going to have seat belts everywhere.

So, consequently, the question is basically, are you spending the money in sensible manner that best justifies -- that reduces the amount of money you're spending.

SMERCONISH: Professor John Mueller, thank you so much for being here.

MUELLER: My pleasure. Thank you.

SMERCONISH: What do you think? Do you think that we overreact? Tweet me @smerconish and I'll share some of the best at the end of the program.

Up next, how could she do it? How could a mother drop off her 6- month-old daughter and go commit a massacre? I'll talk to a top psychiatrist about what could possibly have been going on inside her head.


[09:38:39] SMERCONISH: The first question that I wanted to know after San Bernardino was why? And the second question -- how? How could a mother of a 6-month-old drop her off with a grandmother and then participate in a slaughter?

Tashfeen Malik reportedly pledged her allegiance to ISIS on Facebook at roughly the time of the attack. She met her husband online and entered to this country on a K1 visa, which permits people to come to America and marry citizens. And then, of course, yesterday, after the landlord invited in the media, we saw images from inside their home, including toys and a baby's crib, presumably, in the same place where they made bombs and prepared weapons.

Joining me now is Dr. Gail Saltz. She's a noted psychiatrist, columnist and author.

What do you think when you view that videotape and you see kids' toys and it looks like my house in the bygone era --


SMERCONISH: -- and know that the weaponry was being prepared there?

SALTZ: To most women, and men, that would be shocking. It doesn't fit with family values, but that's because you're thinking with your mindset and not the mindset of someone who has been radicalized, who has entered essentially in a way a cult mentality. And in many ways, she fits the profile of a female terrorist, which is a person who is highly educated but not necessarily working, with no criminal background, coming out of the original religion of which she was raised.

And these things actually -- looking, a person who is looking -- a woman who is looking for some power, for some inclusion in society, to be revered in some way.

[09:40:09] And if that has entered the picture before having children, then the draw to that idea would supersede potentially motherhood.

SMERCONISH: How about dropping off the 6-month-old with the mother- in-law, the grandmother --

SALTZ: Right.

SMERCONISH: -- and then committing these heinous acts.

SALTZ: Right.

SMERCONISH: Do you draw any significance to the 6 month age of the child? You know what I'm thinking?

SALTZ: Yes, I do. Up to a year, a woman can suffer postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis. So whether that was involved in altering the mindset of this woman, you have to consider that possibility. You also have to consider the possibility that having a baby was part of being involved with this man. And part of maintaining the marriage, the relationship. And therefore, the radicalization of him, if that's the direction things went in.

SMERCONISH: As a lay person, lacking your credentials, I look at this and say, why have the child? If the planning exceeds the six-month time period and it seems like there was a lot of planning that went into this --

SALTZ: Sure.

SMERCONISH: -- how twisted is it to bring someone into this world and then take others out?

SALTZ: Well, there's two things you have -- two different possibilities you have to consider. One is that the baby was simply a tool, you know?

SMERCONISH: For cover?

SALTZ: I'm bringing him in. I need cover. I need to bond myself to this man.

And this is what he wants. So, this is the road that I'm going. And the baby sort of doesn't matter in that sense.

And -- or the possibility you that believe you're going to a better place. You're doing the right thing. You're making a better world for your child.

And now, ultimately, you'll be reunited. In other words, female terrorists often do have a belief that they are having a maternal instinct in the sense that they are making the world better for the children, because they are committing jihad.

SMERCONISH: Final subject, important subject. Here we are together again, talking about guns, talking about terror, talking about mental health.


SMERCONISH: I say tongue in cheek, get news is professionals like you are studying this issue. No?

SALTZ: Sadly, no. In 1996, it was decided in Congress that this was not a public health issue, which clearly it is. Therefore, the CDC would not be funded, would not be allowed, as a government organization to do research on gun violence. So, we have minimal, minimal data from which to pull. Old data, only, because it was starting to be done at that time. And really, we need current data to figure out who and what and when, and what is the profile. We can't stop things if we don't have any information about it.

SMERCONISH: So, where the country is now experiencing a mass killing defined as four people or more, at least every day, this year, you're telling me that it's left to, you know, the pundit class like me.

SALTZ: Correct.

SMERCONISH: Instead of the experts like to you try and figure it out.

SALTZ: Correct.

SMERCONISH: Therein lies a big part of the problem.

SALTZ: A big part of the problem. We can change that to at least have real information, science-based information on which to base our decision making.

SMERCONISH: Respectfully, I hope it's a long time until you come back.

SALTZ: I do, too. But sadly, I fear not.

SMERCONISH: Thank you, Dr. Saltz. I appreciate it.

Keep those tweets coming to me @smerconish.

Up next -- is political correctness hindering our ability to win the war on terror?


[09:48:01] SMERCONISH: You know that saying if you see something, say something?

Well, how is it that the San Bernardino shooters were able to amass 12 pipe bombs and a stockpile of weaponry without anyone noticing?

There have been reports in local media that a man working in the area noticed a half dozen Middle Eastern men recently but was hesitant to make any report for fear of being accused of racial profiling.

That fits in right with Donald Trump's narrative. Here's what he said last night.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How about the person that knew what was going on said they didn't want to report them because they think it might be racial profiling? Did you see that?

No, did you see that?

And I'm not sure, do I believe the person? Can anybody be that dumb?

But they didn't want to report because they didn't want to be involved with racial profiling. We have become so politically correct, that we don't know what the hell we're doing.


SMERCONISH: Is he right? Has political correctness become dangerous?

Joining me now is Carol Swain. She's a law professor at Vanderbilt University. She's written a controversial article about political correctness and Muslims.

Is Donald right? Is Donald right in this particular case, Professor?

CAROL SWAIN, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: He's absolutely correct that political correctness is preventing people from using their common sense. And the racial profiling, the fear that many whites have, as well as, I believe, many minorities, is causing people to be reluctant to report things that they see in front of them. And it's not just that they don't want to be involved directly with the police, I think that they fear the government, the backlash from the government, if they step out and report what they see.

SMERCONISH: You know, a decade ago, I wrote a book on this subject. And I argued that the mindset at home of giving every kid a participation trophy could ultimately rein in our ability to win the war on terror.

[09:50:03] Many people thought I was crazy when I advanced that theory. But it sounds like I was correct.

SWAIN: I believe that you were correct, and that we are following a very dangerous pattern in the U.S. and that at trajectory, when it comes to being able to protect our citizens and to have an effective society, it's being diminished. And a lot of it is connected to Islam and Muslims. And the fact that they -- any criticisms of Islam is called is Islamophobia, and I think Islamaphobia and the fact that you are going to be labeled as a racist or a bigot causes people not to do the wrong thing. And that's dangerous for your society.

SMERCONISH: So, you have caused quite a bit of a stir on the Vandy campus. Let me put on the screen something you published in "The Tennessean" that caused a lot of blowback.

What would it take us to make us admit that we are wrong about Islam, what horrendous attack would finally convince us that Islam is not like other religions in the United States, that it poses an absolute danger to us and our children unless it is monitored better than it has been under the Obama administration? What was the result on campus after those words appeared in print?

SWAIN: Well, the dean of students took the very unusual act, I've never seen this done before, of sending out a campus-wide e-mail encouraging the students to get counseling or engage in expressive action and/or dialogue. And so, the students organized and denounced me for my bigotry and hatred. It was very -- it was stunning to me the reaction because I have never seen a university respond the way they did over an opinion piece in a local newspaper. I believe that everything that's happened since January 15th when the

article was first run online has vindicated my position and that more and more Americans are waking up and seeing that unless we begin to deal with the threat that is in our land, that the future is going to be grim for us. I think we are going to have more terrorist attacks, because we are not doing anything to prevent it.

SMERCONISH: I know that the vice chancellor said we are in no way condoning or supporting the views stated in your editorial and understand they are deeply offensive to many members of our community, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

Professor, there have been a number of events in the media recently. I think of a controversy over Woodrow Wilson at Princeton University that draw on some of the same themes of political correctness. Is this all causally connected? In other words, the reaction on campus to different incidents at a time when this terror threat continues to be pervasive.

What's the big picture?

SWAIN: Well, first of all, that's viewpoint discrimination that if a liberal professor writes an article that's controversial, students may be offended, the community may be offended. The university immediately protects their academic freedom. So, I was treated very differently.

I think that what's taken place on the college campuses is dangerous in that we are coddling students in such a way that they are not going to be able to function in the real world, that this college environment, where they have safe spaces. We don't have safe spaces in the world. And I believe that administrators are failing students. That we, the adults, ought to be teaching the students to respect the Constitution, to respect the First Amendment, to respect religious freedom and freedom of association. We're not doing that. We're letting the young people that have no experience run the organization. And that's a serious mistake.

We should not be changing the names of buildings and we should not be dealing with the students in the way we are. We need to help them become adults.

SMERCONSH: Well, I think you can have it both ways. I am for civility and I'm also for fair and open exchange of ideas on controversial subjects. Otherwise, I don't think we get anywhere.

Thank you, Professor Swain.

SWAIN: You are right.

SMERCONISH: I appreciate you being here.

SWAIN: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Up next, my favorite political cartoon of the week and your best tweets @Smerconish. Oh, boy. Look at this one.


[09:58:49] SMERCONISH: Hey, check that out, nobody better summed up the frustrations of this week's events than political cartoonist, Mike Luckovich of "The Atlanta Journal Constitution".

And now, a couple of your tweets from this past hour. Let me again with Mark who says, "@smerconish, 'Chasing Ghosts' author, John Muller, has too many facts and common sense. Politicians are not interested in facts."

Look, fear sells and I think his message is, keep it all in perspective. There's a real threat, but keep it in perspective.

Christopher says, "I think we lost our connection, is the new no comment along with the mysterious A.C. plug malfunction." I don't know what went wrong at the end of my conversations with Karl Rove and Rand Paul, but I appreciated having each of them on the program.

I think this is my favorite tweet of the week though, and it comes from Lucy. Lucy Ferr who says, "@smerconish, you worry too much about Trump, stop. The higher his ratings get, the stupider he gets. Soon, Americans will wake up."

Lucy, it's the reverse that concerns me, the stupider he gets, the higher his ratings. That, I think, poses a real threat for the country.

Keep tweeting me @smerconish. Thanks for watching and I'll see you next week.