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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Russia, Friend or Foe?; Discussion of Clean Energy Technology; Trump and U.S. Cities; Democrats and the Election. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired December 18, 2016 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:09] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world, I'm Fareed Zakaria.
It was a big weekend in Washington and the world. And we have an important show for you. We'll start with Russia. Is America's relationship with this longtime foe about to change quite dramatically? Did Russia push for Trump's election and why?
Can America counter Russia's black ops? I have a great panel to discuss to it.
Also, the Paris agreement on climate change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This gives us the best possible shot to save the one planet we got.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Will President-elect Trump cancel it. I'll make the case why he should not.
And can cities go their own way? Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, the biggest city and the biggest state in the union, on the power of the nation's mayors to resist and counter Trump on immigration, climate change and much else.
Finally, a last look at Aleppo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: You bear responsibility for these atrocities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Who is Samantha Power talking to?
But first here's my take. We're now getting a sense of American foreign policy under Donald Trump. The president-elect has consistently signaled he wants to be accommodating toward Russia and tough on China. But that sees the work almost backwards. China is for the most part
comfortable with the American-led international system. Russia is actively trying to up-end it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our number one geopolitical foe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Mitt Romney famously said in 2012 that Russia was America's number one geopolitical foe. President Obama mocked the claim and others, myself included, thought it was an exaggeration. We were wrong, Romney was right. Obama's rationale for contradicting Romney was that Russia was a regional power and one in economic decline. That made it a nuance but not a grave global threat. It's an accurate picture of Russia's position which is only gotten worse since 2012.
The country's economy has actually shrunk for two years now. The economists point out that over the past decade state spending has risen from 35 percent of the economy to a staggering 70 percent. The country's sovereign debt is now rated as junk by Moody's. But under Putin, Russia has found a way to assert itself geopolitically despite its economic weakness. Most ambitiously and devastatingly, it's found a way to leverage its strength using cyber power.
We are now gaining a fuller picture of Russia's use of its power which began years ago with operations in Russia itself, in Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany and other European countries, and finally in the United States during the last presidential campaign.
In each case, Moscow directed a full spectrum strategy including hacking, trolling, fake news and counter intelligence aimed at discrediting targeted politicians, interfering with campaigns and tilting elections.
Observing Russia's operations over the last three years, NATO's former supreme commander, General Philip Breedlove, noted that some of Moscow's growing offense efforts are of a breadth and complexity that the European continents has not seen since the end of World War II.
China, by contrast, is an economic super power. While growth has slowed substantially it is already by some measures the world's largest economy. It spends $215 billion on its military, according to SIPRI, which is about three times Russia's defense budget. And its foreign reserve total over $3 trillion which is eight times Russia's.
Many people have assumed that given this enormous arsenal of strength China would begin to assert itself geopolitically. And it's done so especially in Southeast Asia. But China has also become a status quo power of sorts. Comfortable with the world in which it has grown rich and weary of overturning a global system into which it is now integrated. Whether on climate change or peace keeping, China has been willing to play a more constructive role in recent years than ever before. It has a far greater capacity to engage in asymmetrical attack using
cyber operations than does Russia. And it makes extensive use of these tactics in military and economic espionage but it has not so far engaged in anything as destabilizing as Russia's efforts to undermine the Western democratic order itself.
Keep in mind that China's view of the world over the last two decades has been fundamentally benign, having growth to wealth and power in that period.
[10:05:01] Putin, by contrast, believes that the end of Soviet power in 1989 was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. And that Russia has been humiliated ever since. His goal appears to be to overturn the American created international order even if this means chaos.
The question is, why would an American president-elect help Putin achieve that goal?
For more, go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week, and let's get started.
Russia has dominated America's headlines this week in a way not seen since it was the Soviet Union. There were essentially two main stories. First, the CIA's contention that Russia's leaking of its DNC hack was done specifically to boost Donald Trump's electoral chances. Then increasing concerns about ties to Russia in Trump's inner circle and amongst his nominees. Chief among them Rex Tillerson, the nominee for secretary of State. He was awarded the Order of Friendship by Putin and the two are indeed said to be friends.
Are we on the brink of a tectonic change in America's alliances and policy toward Russia?
Joining me here in New York are Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies, history and politics at NYU and Princeton. And Phil Mudd, former deputy director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center, now a CNN analyst. Anne Applebaum joins us in London today. She is a foreign affairs columnist for the "Washington Post" and a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. And in Moscow, Fyodor Lukyanov joins us. He is the editor-in-chief of "Russia and Global Affairs" and an influential foreign policy voice in Moscow.
Anne, let me begin with you. Can you lay out -- you live in Poland and in Europe, can you lay out what you see as Russia's strategy over the last two or three years particularly with regard to -- its involvement in the cyber operations abroad?
ANNE APPLEBAUM, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thanks, Fareed. It's actually not really two or three years, it goes back a bit longer than that. Russia has a consistent pattern going back a decade of attempting to intervene and shape its neighbors' elections partly through overt propaganda, partly through buying -- influence buying, but also interestingly and more recently through the use of Internet trolls, spots and social media campaigns that have caught many people unawares. There is a big Russian impact on the recent Polish election. There
have been Russian impacts on a number of other elections in Central Europe. Of course the most extraordinary example of how this works was the Russian campaigned accompanied and followed the Russian invasion of Crimea, which was an enormous information operation as well as being a military operation, in which the Russian sent out conflicting signals. They denied what was happening. They sent out trolls to give a different picture of what was going on.
And this is -- this is now a consistent pattern. The Russians attempt to use information and particular to use social media and the Internet to shape the policies of other countries. And the most recent example of the U.S. election campaign was following a pattern they used before and that is hacking into -- hacking into the politicians, accounts of politicians and foreign countries, publishing information in an attempt to sway and shape election campaigns. They've done it in the United States. They're doing it now in Germany. They've done it elsewhere.
ZAKARIA: Phil Mudd, you've worked at the CIA and the FBI. How does this pattern strike you?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: This strikes me as what we saw for years in terms of not only influence operations but foreign governments in particular the Russians and the Chinese getting into U.S. systems including the White House and extracting massive volumes of data. Recently we've seen this data on the political front. In the past, it's been things like designs and military aircraft. That goes back years, the beginnings of those technical operations. I think it highlights an important point here that we've seen in the past week.
The conversations about something we can see digitally, that is did someone intercede before the election to acquire information that was then released to affect the American political environment. And the conversations about a much softer subject. Why did they intercede and do we understand what the intent is? I don't think we understand that answer very well. But the issue of interceding by the Russians, it's clear. And the history of operations is one thing that allowed intelligence to be so confidence in ascertaining who did this operation before the election.
ZAKARIA: Because they could see that it was the same group.
MUDD: That's right. That's right.
ZAKARIA: The same --
MUDD: A lot of experience here.
ZAKARIA: Fyodor, I want you to respond to -- you know, to what you've heard but also what I want to ask you is, what you have been very frank about in your writing is that Russia is in a sense a revisionist power, that is trying to alter or even upset the international order.
[10:10:15] You write in a "Foreign Affairs" essay that Russia sees its subordinates' position currently as an illegitimate result of a never- ending U.S. campaign to keep Russia down. You say that Russia's decline in power since the collapse of the Soviet Union, again according to Russia, is it temporary revision that the West is now trying to make permanent.
So is it fair to look at these operations and say, Russia is -- you know, is in fact trying to upend the international order because it believes it has been unjust to Moscow's place in the world?
FYODOR LUKYANOV, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, RUSSIA IN GLOBAL AFFAIRS: The international order which you mentioned does not exist anymore. And it's not because of Russian activities. I think many people in Moscow would be very pleased to hear esteemed colleague mentioned just now about enormous impact Russia has on political systems in Europe and the United States. I'm afraid in fact it's not that powerful. And what happens now the international system or in particular countries, election results, unexpected results of votes and so on, this is a product of decline of polls. This is -- we failed actually.
As for Russians attempt to influence other countries, I think we live in an open world where anybody be it democratic or authoritarian countries, big or small countries are very vulnerable to any outside influences. And this is -- in this way, the result of openness which came with communication and revolution and with the collapse of the Soviet work and the disappearance of our country.
ZAKARIA: When we come back, first I will ask Steve Cohen what he makes of all of this and then I'm going to ask Phil Mudd what Washington can do to respond to Russian actions.
[10:16:01] ZAKARIA: And we are back with Anne Applebaum in London, Fyodor Lukyanov in Moscow, and here with me in New York Stephen Cohen and Phil Mudd.
Steve Cohen, what do you make of Russia's moves over the last few years, what -- of Russia's strategy?
STEPHEN COHEN, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, NYU AND PRINCETON: I have to say in my 40 years of doing and thinking about this, I have never seen anything like this. We are at the moment by whatever name in a Cold War of Russia more dangerous than the last one. As we talked, it is a confrontation fraught with the possibility of hot war from the Baltics to Ukraine to Syria. Meanwhile, we have in the United States allegations, very little confirmed facts that I've seen that the Russians are trying to steal our election and that there is a pattern in Europe and here where the Russians are through cyber what if invading us.
Meanwhile, the most reputable newspapers in the country are referring to Kremlin lackeys around Trump and saying we've got to find who Putin's friends are. So what we really need is what we used to have is a debate about our own policy and about these dangers, and that we're not having that debate but discussing allegations for which, about all that Phil thinks, not a whole lot of factual confirmation, I think puts us in a really terrible crisis and the end result could be a crippled America and a paralyzed American the president who can't pursue whatever he wants to do with Russia because he's going to be seen as a Putin puppet in the White House.
So I've never seen like this before. Now Trump during the election, and I think pointed this out maybe on your broadcast once, said something that nobody else said, would it be great if we cooperate with Russia? We used to call that detente. I hope he pursues that. But I strongly believe that a lot of these allegations floating around are the enemies of detente in this country.
Senators such as McCain discrediting not only Putin but Trump and making any new detente impossible. And that would be bad for American national security.
ZAKARIA: Anne Applebaum, what do you say? Is there a prospect of a new detente? Is it worth having a new detente?
APPLEBAUM: Before answering that, I'd like to quote something that Stephen Cohen said in March 2014. He said, "We don't know that Putin went into Crimea. We literally don't know." So he's somebody who has been repeatedly refusing to believe that Russia has invaded foreign countries, that Russia is hacking other countries, you know, for the past two years. So his refusal to believe that I think is also part of a pattern.
I think you'll find if you look at not just what the CIA says but with several independent groups has said, CrowdStrike, Mandiant, you can look at FireEye.com, you can listen to the German intelligence service well, you will discover that the hacking is real, that it's happening. And that far from inspiring the U.S. into a Cold War, we've been very surprised by it. We haven't responded to it. You know, this was first revealed last summer after all. And there has been no real response, there's been no action, nothing has been taken.
I mean, I think on the contrary what we've seen as a pattern of really extraordinary Russian aggression taking many new forms that we're not used to and we've had no American response really whatsoever.
ZAKARIA: Phil Mudd, what should the response be? How does one respond to something like this?
MUDD: I think we're way too simplistic on this. This week there is a question about whether we look at what happened during the election and how we respond, for example, with sanctions, we'll step back as a new president is coming in, you've got to deal with Russia on the Security Council and thinking about the Iran sanctions. You've got to deal with the way forward in Syria where the people we like are more and more losing. Even this week, you look at what happened -- what's happening in Aleppo, that's a failure for America.
So the question is not how we reset based on what happened with the election. The question is, in a variety of areas, we've got to figure out how to make this work with Putin.
[10:20:02] We've got to figure out a way forward especially in a place like Syria. The solution is not the opposition. They're losing.
ZAKARIA: Fyodor, let me ask you. So the fundamental question I guess would be, is it possible to imagine a situation with Russia where the United States under President Trump or any president could cut deals like this, could have a constructive foreign policy on Iran, on Syria and yet there'll be areas of disagreements? Or, again, I go back to your article which I thought was very frank and honest where you say, no, Russia wants to bring down this international order because we regarded as fundamentally legitimate and one which we relegated to a kind of second rank status.
LUKYANOV: The current demise of international order is not because of Russian actions. It's rather the rejection of many other countries and people inside leading Western states which is being manifested in the elections and vote results which is the real problem.
I cannot imagine constructive work between Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump on certain areas. Syria might be one of those because everything we heard from Trump about Syria, about Assad is actually that he perceives Syria as less important for U.S. national interests than anything else.
I cannot imagine constructive work on Iran because of Mr. Trump's rhetoric on Iran is utterly aggressive which is not at all the Russian perception of this. And the biggest problem which I envisage between Trump and Putin, and it may be a serious problem for Mr. Trump who used to say that he can make better deals, he seems to believe that he can convince Putin to abandon rapprochement with China and get Russia on board against so to say China or at least to work together with Russia to counter China.
I don't think it's realistic to expect. And it might be a big disappointment for Mr. Trump. But what is most important with Trump is not his position on Russia. Most important is that he genuinely believes that America should not be in charge of the Cold War and should not try to transform everybody else. And this is, of course, what Russia would like.
ZAKARIA: Steve Cohen?
COHEN: Yes, I don't like being slurred by Miss Applebaum but she does it regularly. I'll ignore it. I think American policy and I'm not alone in this toward post-Soviet Russia has been catastrophic and has led us to this dangerous moment. We need to rethink our policy toward Russia. It's not just the expansion of NATO to Russia's border.
Are you aware that NATO artillery can hit St. Petersburg? Not missiles or bombers, but artillery. Imagine if China hits or Russian artillery could hit Washington, the country would be more hysterical than it is.
ZAKARIA: Well, Russian artillery can hit many Western capitals.
COHEN: We're talking about --
ZAKARIA: Baltic republics for sure. COHEN: Let's talk about the United States because this -- this is a
debate among ourselves. I mean, Fyodor has his fight in Moscow for a wise policy. We need to debate among ourselves for a wise policy. Trump, though I didn't support him, is an opportunity to rethink American policy. You asked or somebody asked, would detente be a good thing? What we used to call cooperation instead of conflict? I think it's the essential thing. I think it's the only way to save our national security given this perilous moment.
ZAKARIA: Steve Cohen, Phil Mudd, Fyodor, Anne Applebaum, thank you all very much.
Next on GPS, Donald Trump has named a climate change denier to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and he has said he would cancel America's participation in the Paris agreement.
I will try to present an argument that he might buy as to why he shouldn't do that.
[10:27:55] ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World." This week, President-elect Trump appointed Rick Perry as secretary of Energy. Last week he appointed Scott Pruitt as the head of the EPA. Both are climate change deniers and this makes many people nervous that Trump would make good on his campaign promise to withdraw from the Paris agreement, the landmark deal to combat climate change reached by almost 200 countries.
But the president-elect has also been meeting with climate change activist like former vice president Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio, and he has said he has an open mind on the topic of global warming.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: I am still open minded. Nobody really knows. I've -- look, I am somebody that gets it and nobody really knows it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: So what is the best case that DiCaprio or Gore could make to Donald Trump not to renege on Paris? I asked Fred Crump and Matt Cohen of the Environmental Defense Fund for the best argument that they would make.
It all starts with the economy. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the U.S. solar industry created jobs at a rate 12 times faster than the economy as a whole last year. In fact a report in May said that in the U.S., there are now more job in solar energy alone than in all of oil and natural gas extractions. It shows the renewable energy jobs have increased by about 6 percent across the board while employment in oil and gas extraction has contracted by 18 percent.
Mr. Trump has said he's going to create 25 million new jobs. The number is hyperbolic. But I would say clean energy jobs are good paying and growing companies in an industry of the future.
A crucial point that Crump and Cohen made to me is that the rest of the world is moving fast to a low-carbon economy. The IRINA report demonstrates that China is now the biggest employer when it come to renewable energy with some 3.5 million jobs. Nearly a million more than in their oil and gas sector. Clean energy technologies are and will increasingly be a huge opportunity for the countries that develop and build them.
[10:30:00] The U.S. should be a lead player in this growing global market, selling the best technology products and energy to all in the world. And that's why some 365 American corporations and investors sent a letter to Trump last month imploring him to stick to the Paris deal.
Pulling out of Paris would be very complicated and messy. Article 28 of the agreement says that countries can withdraw but not until four years after the agreement went into force. That means the potential withdraw date is November 2020, when Donald Trump's first presidential term will be coming to a close. And let's not forget the most powerful force of all on this topic, Mother Nature.
There really is broad agreement amongst the vast majority of scientists that, without action, the earth will continue its warming trend, which could have unpredictable and dangerous effects for human beings. Over 800 earth science and energy experts wrote Donald Trump an open letter this month urging him to take action on climate change. Shifting to clean energy is good for the environment, good for jobs and good for international cooperation.
When Donald Trump falls sick, assuming that happens, he listen to an expert called a doctor. When he builds a building, he follows the plans drawn up by experts called engineers. On this vital issue, I hope he'll keep an open mind, listen to the experts and scientists and chart a course that would make America great as a great global clean energy superpower.
Next on "GPS," many progressives are worried that much of the forward movement made during the Obama years on things like gay marriage, climate change and immigration will be torn asunder as soon as Trump takes the Oval Office. Are the nation's mayors the first line of defense against that? I will talk to the mayor of Los Angeles about just that.
ZAKARIA: Donald Trump talks about deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, including children, and a group of mayors stepped in to ask him to reconsider. Donald Trump talks about canceling U.S. participation in the Paris climate change agreement and a group of mayors stepped in to ask him to instead accept and embrace that agreement. Can America's mayors stand up to Trump? Should they?
Joining me now in Los Angeles is that city's mayor, Eric Garcetti. And here with me in New York is Benjamin Barber, a scholar and the author of a book titled "If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities."
Ben, let me start with you. You have a piece in The Nation where you argue that cities can counter the power of President-elect Trump. How can they do it?
BARBER: Well, there are a lot of different ways. But here is the reality today. After 400 years of nation-states as the primary instruments of national governance, whether it's immigration, whether it's the economy, whether it's war and peace, whether it's security, increasingly, nations have become dysfunctional -- way before Trump, way before Brexit -- dysfunctional in the sense that, as bordered, independent, sovereign bodies, they can't deal with all of the global cross-border problems that we face, whether it's of immigration, the global economy. Trump talks about the global economy and the loss of jobs, but no one nation can control that.
Increasingly, it is not nation-states but cities that are taking up the slack. Because cities have pragmatic, can-do mayors. It's cities that are really dealing on the front line with global problems like global warming, terrorism -- terrorists don't attack forums; they attack cities. Those are really city responsibilities.
And now, as we see in England with Brexit, in the United States with Trump, ideological reactionaries who don't even want to try to use government to do the things that government does. It increasingly is going to fall to cities to do those jobs.
I even talk about the concept of city sovereignty, city rights, that cities now have to guarantee the life and liberty and property of their citizens not against national government but in the place of national governments that either can't or won't do it.
ZAKARIA: Eric Garcetti, how -- how would this work, given that, when you look at Trump's vote, it was in large part a rural backlash against urban America. I mean, you know, he won the rural vote big, and clearly there was a certain sense of resentment.
When you talk to him, which you did, was he making nice?
GARCETTI: We had a very productive conversation. We've spoken three times, actually. And I think we have a shared agenda, whether it's in suburban areas, in rural areas or urban areas. I don't have time to politicize or time to demonize; I have to fix roads; I have to build public transportations. I have to, you know, reduce traffic in my city.
And, similarly, I can't pick and choose that you are allowed to be here and you're not allowed to be here. Our great strength has been the migrants and the immigrants that are the backbone of our economy and of our security here in Los Angeles.
So we had a good conversation about those things. But it really cuts to the core, I think, of how cities will move an agenda forward, not against national government, not against Donald Trump, but, remember, he's a -- a city resident, and he understands that cities need infrastructure. I think we'll be able to find that common ground. And, hopefully, on immigration and inclusion, he'll see the economic arguments as well as the moral ones of why it's so important to continue an inclusive society.
ZAKARIA: Ben, what I'm struck by is that, you know, the difference in perspective. Eric Garcetti clearly, you know, feels that immigrants, for example, are a vibrant part of the DNA of the city. And yet, there is this reaction. I was looking at the numbers. You know, you look at all these charts; it does look like a sea of red that Donald Trump won, versus these little slivers of blue. And then you realize cities make up 3.5 percent of America's land space, but they house something like 55 percent of the population?
BARBER: And produce 80 percent of the wealth and 95 percent of the universities and 98 percent of the culture and 99 percent of the patents. That's true right across the world. That's not just true in the United States. Cities are the life blood; they are the fuel and the engine of the economy. They are what make this country run. Farmers are great. Suburbs are fine. We've got to all work together -- no question about that. But the division here is not Eric Garcetti making war on the suburbs or the countryside but voters out there feeling resentment at cities because there are peoples of color, because there are minorities, because there are immigrants and because there are Muslims.
I very much appreciate the mayor's pragmatism. And he's right to say the first job of a mayor is to work with the new president, whatever party. The new president has said we will not tolerate sanctuary cities, cities that say we will not deport immigrants who are workers here and are living lawfully, in terms of keeping the law and sending their kids to school and holding jobs and so on.
If that happens, mayors are going to have to be ready to say not just "We're going to work with you, Mr. President, but we are not going to let you do certain things."
Mayor de Blasio said just two weeks ago in a remarkable speech at Cooper Union, where Lincoln spoke a long time ago -- he said, if the feds come and try to remove immigrants, we will resist. If the feds come and try to register Muslims, we will not comply. If the feds come and try to take away the rights of women, we will not let that happen.
ZAKARIA: So, Eric Garcetti, are you being played? Will you resist?
GARCETTI: We are prepared. We state our values. We look to collaborate, but we're not shy about being able to say, here in Los Angeles and throughout our cities -- I authored, for instance, that letter to our president-elect on climate change, that said we're not going to be held back no matter what you do. I'm still buying electrical vehicles for my fleet, converting our energy to green electricity, making sure our building codes can reduce, in the midst of a drought, our water use.
We don't really have the luxury of being able to politicize these things. We have to do things. But we will absolutely stand up for the values that are, frankly, you know, American values. My city is 63 percent immigrants or the children of immigrants. I am the grandson of a dreamer who came across the border from Mexico, probably without any documents, in his mother's arms, fleeing a war. And now I'm the mayor of the largest city in the largest state in this union. When we invest in our immigrants, we get more economic prosperity. We get safer streets when people trust the police, not fear them. And I think we're going to say that very loudly and very clearly to any threat against that.
Mayors have that solidarity, not just across this nation but across the world, people like Sadiq Khan in London, Anne Hidalgo in France. I was just with Mayor Mancera in Mexico City, where we came together to speak about the importance of fighting climate change, because we're the ones dealing with it.
So we absolutely will stand up. We'll look for areas of collaboration, but I agree with Ben, we cannot be weak at this moment; we have to stand for the values that have defined this country and that we need in this world.
ZAKARIA: You are a great optimist, Mayor Garcetti, and if you can solve the problem of traffic in Los Angeles...
... I think you should run for president.
GARCETTI: It won't come in a couple years.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," speaking of those rural areas, Vice President Biden said that his party fared so poorly in the November election because it overlooked them. Was that the problem? We have another great debate, Thomas Frank and the Connecticut governor, Dannel Malloy.
ZAKARIA: I want you to take a look at a chart that's been flying around the Internet. Democrats have been sharing it mournfully, Republicans gleefully. It shows the loss of seats the Democratic Party saw between 2008 and 2016. Granted, it's one snapshot in time, but it's stunning. There are 10 percent Democratic-held seats in the U.S. Senate, 20 percent fewer in the U.S. House and in state legislatures, and an astounding 35 percent fewer Democratic governorships than eight years ago.
What went wrong with America's oldest party?
Joining me now to discuss are Thomas Frank. He's the author of a terrific and prescient book, "Listen Liberal, or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People." And Donnel Malloy is the governor of Connecticut, a Democrat, through and through, of course. Tom, let me start with you. Your analysis of the party, which you have
outlined in several books, is pretty simple. It became a party -- the Democratic Party became a party of coastal elites, cosmopolitan professionals, who worry about all kinds of things like, you know, lifestyle and cultural issues and environmental issues, and lost focus on the white working class.
But I guess the question to you would be what should the message have been that wasn't -- wasn't articulated?
FRANK: Look, one of the -- one of the big problems, one of the reasons that Hillary's message did not resonate is because people didn't believe her. And one of the reasons that they -- I mean, she had -- on paper, she had all sorts of great ideas, you know. She, you know -- but you look at the environment that she's coming into. Look, we have been fighting over the same thing for quite a while in this country. We elected Barack Obama eight years ago to deal, for a lot of the same reasons, and to deal with a lot of the same issues. And, you know, long story short, he didn't do it. You know, he wasn't there on a lot of the most important things. And, you know...
ZAKARIA: Specifically what? What, what?
FRANK: Well, can I give you -- I mean, an example -- there's a lot of things that leap to mind these days, like getting tough with Wall Street, I think, is -- that's the main, sort of, failure of the Obama years, that he didn't do that when he -- when he was elected to do that very thing back in 2009.
But there's many things now that you think of, which, in hindsight, look like he should have done, for example, re-negotiating NAFTA, you know, which he says wanted to do back in 2008. You remember this in his debates with Hillary.
Another thing, he was going to come down like a sledgehammer on agricultural monopolies. And you just -- you know, you think about how that would have helped him in these rural areas.
Another thing: make it easier to form a labor union. That would have been huge in dealing with -- with, you know, what we now have seen unfolding.
ZAKARIA: Governor, so the argument, you know, is that the Democratic Party needs to be more populist, more left-wing, more caution about trade. Is that -- is that the path forward?
MALLOY: Well, I think it's part of the path, or has to be part of the discussion. I don't think we spoke to a lot of our former supporters. We didn't reach out to them properly, I think. We also are up against quite a phenomenon, if you think about Mr. Trump's trajectory.
But I do -- but I absolutely agree, we need to talk about issues that are important to people.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about the things Tom Frank specifically talks about, should be tougher on trade, perhaps even against trade, against NAFTA, against the TPP, and should be much tougher on Wall Street. Are those things -- you know, what I wonder is -- I saw you quoted as saying, "Well, you know, let's not forget we also have a modern professional voter who might get turned off by this."
MALLOY: Well, you know, I think -- I do think we need to change how we speak to folks. And, quite frankly, I also think we need to be less Washington-centric and more Trenton -- or any-other-state-capital- centric. It's an interesting difference. You know, if you think about who speaks to Democrats in the media, it's from New York and it's from Washington. But if you think about who speaks to the Republicans, it's a guy in a basement studio down in Florida; it's a guy in Wisconsin; it's a couple of guys in Nevada. I mean, we really have to reach out and reach beyond our comfort level, perhaps, to actually speak to people in terms that are important to them.
ZAKARIA: Tom, let me ask you what strikes me as the biggest tension here in your thesis, which is part of what has alienated the white working class in the United States from the Democratic Party, it seems to me, is that the Democratic Party has pushed a set of ideas that one could call cultural liberalism, or what you will, gay marriage, gay rights, transgender rights, issues like global warming. So, you know, you -- I don't think you can have it both ways?
FRANK: You can, though. You have to...
ZAKARIA: ... these cultural issues, they will produce a backlash, but give people the bread of bank regulation and they'll -- and they'll be satisfied? Is...
FRANK: Well, it's a little -- you know, it's a little more than that. You know, you go to the small towns that were just mentioned, and these places -- I was just out in rural Missouri, just the other day, Fareed. And these towns look like a neutron bomb went off in them, OK? You know, the main street is all boarded up; young people leave as soon as they graduate from high school. The main industry is methamphetamine. You know, it's -- it is a disaster zone all over America. And this is because of -- we know why it's happening, right?
But the Democrats who are -- were, once upon a time, the traditional voice of those people aren't helping them out. Now, I don't think you need to -- I don't think you need to throw the cultural issues -- by the way, and I'm a very strong liberal on the cultural issues that you just mentioned. I don't think you need to throw those things overboard in order to help those people out in rural Missouri. You just have to do both.
MALLOY: I agree, we have to -- we have to do both, and we have to do both by getting to people inside their living room.
A telling point in this election was when Donald Trump told everyone that they were in more danger than they have ever been, when in fact crime is at an all-time -- a nearly all-time low. In my own state, we have a 50-year low in crime. We've seen violent crime go down 23 percent in our state in the last three years. But to listen to Donald Trump talk about that, Democrats don't have anything to show for that except higher crime. It's not the case. We gave up on that issue. We didn't argue sufficiently. We didn't push back sufficiently. And quite frankly, we have a party, in the Republican Party -- the Trump Republican Party, because I'm not sure the old Republican Party still exists -- that actually is based on convincing people how bad off they are, even when they feel good about themselves.
ZAKARIA: Governor, Tom Frank, pleasure to have you both on.
Next on "GPS," the world was once again paying attention to Syria this week as Aleppo fell. But, sadly, as usual, it was too little, too late.
ZAKARIA: President-elect Donald Trump's announcement of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as his nominee for secretary of state raised eyebrows amongst Democrats and some Republicans this week. Some believe he could be in for a tough confirmation fight in the Senate. It brings me to my question. When was the last time the Senate rejected a president's Cabinet nomination: 1976, '89, 2004 or 2008?
Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
This week's book of the week is my book, "In Defense of a Liberal Education." I figure it's the last time I can plug it. It's in paperback and it actually would fit into most stockings.
And now for the last look. This is virtually the last look at Aleppo, as the ruined city falls from rebel controls into the hands of the Assad regime. Aleppo had been Syria's most populous city. It was the nation's financial hub and a major tourist destination, home to the famed Umayyad Mosque and many historic buildings dating back to Biblical times. Aleppo was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.
Now, the city has been utterly destroyed, whole neighborhoods bombed out and the remains looking like a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In 2010 the U.N. said the city's population was about 3 million. Now the small fraction who remain, perhaps thousands, are trapped.
Meanwhile, much of the world has become immune to seeing these shocking scenes play out on television. Here in America, we've paid far more attention to Donald Trump's every tweet. The American ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, made an
impassioned speech this week at the U.N. Security Council, taking aim at Russia, Syria and Iran, saying "You bear responsibility for these atrocities."
But she continued.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: "Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Those three nations bear the brunt of the blame, yes, but we all stood witness and we all did so very little. This holiday season, I urge you to take some action. Donate to charities like the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps whose aid workers are risking their lives to offer what assistance they can to the desperate men, women and children of Syria. Any amount, no matter how small, makes a difference.
The correct answer to the "GPS" challenge question is B. The U.S. Senate last rejected a Cabinet nomination in 1989, when George H.W. Bush nominated Senator John Tower as secretary of defense. It was the first Cabinet nomination to be rejected by the Senate in 30 years. Trump's nominees may face tough questioning in the Senate in 2017, but history shows it is very rare to actually reject a nomination.
Thanks for being part of my program today. I will see you next week.