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A Divided Government; Midterm Election Results; Synagogue Terror Attack. Aired 11p-12m ET
Aired November 7, 2018 - 23:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST, AMANPOUR: Hello everyone, and welcome to Amanpour. Here's what is coming up.
TED CRUZ: God bless Texas.
AMANPOUR: A midterm split, a blue wave of Democratic votes meets a red wall of fired up Trump supporters. Women won big. Power shifts in
America. I'll talk to two winners, Democrat Jackie Speier and Republican Dan Crenshaw, also to political analyst, John Avlon, and Historians, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Walter
Plus, "New York Times" contributor Barry White breaks down the identity crisis within the Republican Party with our Hari Sreenivasan.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanour in New York. As final votes are counted in a midterm election that was under the global
microscope, we can safely say that history was made. There was a woman's wave. They won bigger than ever and more than a hundred are coming to
congress. Voting won big too, numbers so far reflect a massive turnout with estimates of close to 150 million voters casting their ballots. About
double the votes for the last midterms. All of this delivered divided government as Democrats take control of Congress and Republicans tighten
their grip on the Senate. Leader Nancy Pelosi, likely the incoming Speaker of the House gave president trump a taste of the Democratic agenda in a
victory speech late last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
NANCY PELOSI, CALIFORNIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans. It is about restoring the constitution's checks
and balances to the Trump administration. It is about stopping the GOP and Mitch McConnell's assaults on Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act.
And the healthcare of 130 million Americans living with pre-existing medical conditions.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: Now, in the words of one Republican, the Democrats may have won back the house but Donald Trump won the election. Something that he is
clearly reveling in the morning after.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We saw the candidates that I supported, achieve tremendous success last night. As an example of
the 11 candidates we campaigned with during the last week, nine won last night. This vigorous campaigning stopped the blue wave that they talked
about, I don't know if there ever was such a thing but it could've been if.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: The president went on to say that last' night's results are a good indicator for the 2020 presidential campaign. So let's get a deeper
reality check from our regular political contributor, author, editor, analyst, John Avlon, welcome back to the program
JOHN AVLON, POLITICAL ANALYST: Wonderful to see you.
AMANPOUR: So we've said a few firsts, a few historic markers, women the turnout, et cetera. what does this say about all the indicators that we all
look at and about the state of the country right now?
AVLON: Well, it says the country is very divided particularly around urban and rural lines, suburban votes actually were split this cycle 49-49,
Democrats however picking up some really big seats that the Republicans considered safe in the outskirts of Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Dallas,
Charleston South Carolina, that's a big deal. Because those seats have been considered essentially safe. So you are seeing those demographic
changes really taking place.
Turnout was extraordinary, as you said almost 150 million votes compared to around 88 million in the last midterm of 2014 which was a 70-year low. So
a real surge in voting. And that's good news for a Democracy in a way that transcends politics. Democrats did not achieve a deep blue wave but they
picked off some very powerful seats.
Republicans always had an edge in the Senate. Democrats defending ten seats in states Donald Trump has won. Some are still out as we speak. But
they were able to pick off people in Missouri and Indiana. so you've got divided government going forward, but Democrats really will be able to hold
President Trump accountable through Congress.
AMANPOUR: Okay, so let's just take that before we go on to the Republican strength. Because they do hold and increased majority in the Senate.
Obviously everybody has been looking at this and President Trump was asked about it in his press conference.
Will -- are you worried that the Democrats will take all of these committee chairmanships and hold you accountable on any number of issues?
And he basically said if they do, well, we won't compromise on legislation and we'll hold them accountable as well. What do you see going forward?
Is it in the Democrats best interests to do that?
AVLON: It is in the Democrats interest to actually follow through and hold the president to account. I think you are going to see the House Ways and
Means committee release his taxes, for example, or request his taxes and they will put them into the public domain, that is a big deal for the
president, Questions whether the president has a vested interest in total gridlock either.
Right now, they are worrying about the political implications of being too aggressive. I think Democrats impeaching no matter what the Mueller report
says would be a bad idea. We didn't see what the Mueller report says and does and how that all plays out in the coming days. Watch for it with
possible turnover at the justice department as well. But, I think that...
AMANPOUR: What did you mean, like firing the attorney general?
AVLON: That is certainly on the table. The president has floated that many, many times. That could have implications for the Mueller
AMANPOUR: You don't believe he would be energized enough to fire Mueller?
AVLON: That's unlikely but he would, again, if there is a new attorney general in place, or an acting attorney general, they could take action.
you know, apparently on their own. I don't want to say that's the marker. But I think there is new urgency around the Mueller investigation now that
the mid terms are over.
I do think though that the president and even, Nancy Pelosi at a CNN conference a few days ago said that she felt there was possibly room to
work with the president on infrastructure and prescription drugs, that is not crazy.
AMANPOUR: That is what he said as well
AVLON: Yes, and those are things that are in line with his agenda, there's overlap between the parties and I thinks folks would like to see something
be able to get done in divided government again. And that would be purely dysfunctional. That said, the country is on a path to be more divided. 77
percent of voters last night said the country is more divided now than it was before. That's a terrible sign. My guess is they are going to get
worse, not better.
AMANPOUR: So let me just quickly ask you about some of the races that the Democrats hope to win and didn't and not necessarily predicted to win.
Beto O'Rourke in Texas. How significant is it that he came so close in Texas as a Democrat?
AVLON: It is very significant. For a while it looked like he might pull it out Beto O'Rourke has transformed himself into a sort of a national star
and really gave Ted Cruz a run for his money. Ted Cruz was virtually unopposed. I mean you basically got a state where Republicans feel they
have the full field. He was able to really close that gap. That said, second in politics doesn't get you a silver medal, it really gets you
oblivion. Beto O'Rourke will remain a national figure to many people. because what he was able to pull off despite not winning is pretty
The map has shifted. The water level has shifted. A lot of these e red states in ways that Republicans hadn't expected. But again, you know, Ted
Cruz won, that is the end all of it.
AMANPOUR: You know,, obviously in Florida, the governor's race did not go Democratic, people have predicted that Andrew Gillum would win but DeSantis
did, and he got a lot of support from President Trump. And a lot of people who President Trump did a last minute blitz for did actually do well and
did win. He is saying that this has a huge implication for 2020. To all of those wondering what last night means for the presidential election and
another referendum on President Trump, what do you say?
AVLON: Trump lives in trump-centric universe. This election, the mid term elections he said were all about him. There is no word more popular than
me. So of course he is going to say that those last minute rallies made a difference. Many of those candidates, he said nine out of 11 did pull it
out. And places where the polls have been tightening for Democrats and Democrats in some cases seemed ahead. I think the problem is you saw house
Republicans lose because of President Trump.
And President Trump in an unusual display of personal venom for the office that he holds went after those centrist Republicans in personal terms, .
people that said i'm not all on board with the president's agenda, particularly the doubling down on immigration, Mia Love, Carlos Cabello,
people who had said I'm not all on board with the president's agenda particularly the doubling down divisively on immigration. Mia Love coming
because of Asian decent, Carlos Cabello representing the Florida Keys and the Cuban community. And he really said, good riddance, if you question my
doubling down on immigration, then you lost because of that. That creates a sort of a hot house environment inside the Republican Party further where
dissenters are demonized by the President of the United States.
AMANPOUR: It's really fascinating. We'll be pass all these figures and all these results for a while to come. John Avlon, thank you very much
So as we reported, this was a massive year for women candidates and for diverse candidates all across the political spectrum with an influx of
LGBT, African American, Muslim American and Native-Americans coming to Congress. Look at these pictures. They came in unprecedented numbers.
Minnesota's Ilhan Omar is one of two Muslim women and the first Somali American ever elected to Congress. And when I talked to her back in 2016,
she walked me through her incredible journey so far.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ILHAN OMAR, MINNESOTA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: You know, 20 years ago sitting at a refugee camp in Kenya, and today I'm able to represent my community
here in the US. So it's a story of hope and aspiration for something better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So as a ten-year veteran of Congress, California's Jackie Speier is ready to welcome the influx of new and diverse representatives as
Democrats assume control of the House. Jackie, welcome to the program.
JACKIE SPEIER, CALIFORNIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Thank you, great to be with you.
AMANPOUR: So just very quickly, your reaction to this amazing female wave.
SPEIER: So 1992 is the year of the woman, this year 2018 is the year of the women and astronomical changes and very exciting because you know,
California and much of the rest of the country has seen women in places of significance but not across some of the red states and you saw some
elections in red states.
The United States ranks 90th in the world in the number of women serving in their Congress. We have a long way to go but this is a great shot in the
AMANPOUR: What do you attribute it to? I understand that the Kavanaugh issue was very polarizing issue and broke down quite a lot on party and
gender lines but what else do you attribute this women's wave to?
SPEIER: President Trump. We can't forget that the largest demonstration anywhere anytime in our country was the Woman's March the day after he was
inaugurated. Women have really spoken up and many women ran for congress for the very first time having never served in any public office because of
We expect to be respected, we expect not to be treated like we are chattel and his Hollywood Access tape I think ired many women and thus we have so
many women who ran.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you about the Muslim issue, I mean obviously President Trump did also campaigned demonizing Muslims and then there was
the Muslim ban. It is amazing that Ilhan Omar has won, veiled or turbaned and overtly and proudly Muslim-American.
SPEIER: It says wonderful things about the diversity of our country and that no matter what comes out of the President's mouth, that in truth, we
are a country that embraces diversity, embraces various religions as part of our constitution, first amendment and we will continue to open our arms.
AMANPOUR: What do you think were the issues, President Trump, obviously the Democrats won the house, the Republicans held and increased their
margin in the Senate and there was a sort of a what will the issues be, is it the immigration that President Trump was campaigning on or the
healthcare and other issues that the Democrats were campaigning on. What do you think it boiled down to?
SPEIER: I think it's different in each of the houses, in the House, clearly retaining the Affordable Care Act was key and it was important for
us to point out that for 65 different times the Republicans tried to repeal it. In the Senate, it is more of a reflection of Rural America. They have
undue, frankly, influence in the Senate because for instance, California by population has two senators, it takes 11 other states to equal the
population of California, that is 22 other votes.
But again, that gives an advantage to Rural America as a result.
AMANPOUR: What do you think it portends for 2020? Where are the demographics going? Are they favoring suburban and urban America or does
rural America get demographically stronger in the years ahead?
SPEIER: I think suburban America really flexed its muscle, certainly suburban women did and...
AMANPOUR: And independents too.
SPEIER: And independents, independents are always, in play so they shift from one party to the other and clearly they shifted to Democrats in these
house races. I think that frankly, the Democrats, all of us have to realize that we have lost the working Americans in the Russ Belt and it's
time for us to reengage with them, they always used to be Democrats and we have to realize that we have to listen to them as well.
AMANPOUR: So a lot of people complained that the Democrats actually have no coherent message that President Trump was very successful in all his hot
button issues whether it's immigration and all his other issues, taxes, the economy, manufacturing, all of that kind of stuff. But I wonder whether
you think healthcare is the issue. I mean this what you know, Nancy Pelosi said, she talked about a Democratic House and what I t would do, it's about
stopping the GOP and the assaults on Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, the health of 130 million Americans.
Is that what Democrats will take forward or will they try also to figure out an economic message which they don't have.
SPEIER: Absolutely and our economic message is infrastructure. It creates really good paying jobs, we have a crumbling infrastructure throughout the
country, we have not invested like we should have, the President at one point created his infrastructure week and it fell flat on its face.
We will work with him on infrastructure. Infrastructure is a key component. I think prescription drugs and reducing the cost of
prescription drugs is another key component. Making sure pre-existing conditions are covered is another important part because you can say pre-
existing conditions are covered, you're just going to have to pay for it and we want to make sure it is part of comprehensive healthcare.
AMANPOUR: So you heard John Avlon and our discussion about what might happen with all the chairmanships of the House now changing to Democrats
and how might that affect President Trump and his administration.
President Trump has been incredibly gracious to Nancy Pelosi since the result last night, praising her over and again for her hard work. Let us
just play what he said in his press conference and then we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I give her a great deal of credit for what she's done and what she's accomplished. Hopefully we can
all work together next year to continue delivering for the American people, including on economic growth, infrastructure, trade, lowering the cost of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
So you mentioned a few of those things, but what do you think is behind that? Do you think that the House will go full investigative, full
accountable, you know, asking for tax returns and this, that and the other?
SPEIER: So first of all, it's important to point out that he read that statement. You have to listen to him in the next 2 hours to hear him spew
out something that's more negative towards leader Pelosi.
I would say that -
AMANPOUR: You believe she'll be the leader?
SPEIER: I think she'll be the speaker.
AMANPOUR: Speaker is what I meant.
SPEIER: No question - no question about it. And I would also say that we have an obligation to be a check on the executive. That's why we have
three equal separate branches of government, and we will force - we will move forward on that responsibility and you will see investigations
continue. We want to make sure that the president's personal wealth or personal holdings are not influencing his decisions on behalf of the
I don't think that's asking too much.
AMANPOUR: Now I want to get to your life story, and you've just come out with a - with a new book. There are so many winners in this cycle, women
who have amazing life stories.
As I said, there's the first Native American woman, there's the first Somali Muslim woman. But you have had an amazing history and I think one
of the most incredible stories is when you went with Congressman Leo Ryan, is that right?
All those years ago in the `70s to try to rescue constituents who were essentially being held hostage by Jamestown (ph), by the Reverend Jim
Jones. Tell me about that and what - and what - and what your book is about.
SPEIER: So the book is coming on the - the 40th anniversary of that horrific experience, where over 900 people lost their lives, 300 of them
children. And where a cult leader was allowed to operate both in the United States and in Guyana, and he was doing all kinds of horrible things.
Sexual abuse, physical abuse, mind control and Congressman Ryan went down to find out and indeed we found out that people were being held against
their will. We were taking them with us, and then of course they followed with a tractor trailer, shot the congressman 45 times.
AMANPOUR: And he was killed.
SPEIER: He was killed. There were - Don Harris from NBC was killed, as was Bob Brown, I was shot five times.
AMANPOUR: That's you, isn't it?
SPEIER: That's me, that's me. I was left for dead on that air strip for 22 hours and was able to rebuild my life. It took months, took many
operations, but it - the book is about not just that, but about all of the traumas and experiences I've had in my life.
My husband was killed in an automobile accident when I was pregnant with our second child, failed adoption, sexual abuse as a child. And yet, I
have been resilient, and this is about how you turn heartache into hope.
How you turn grieving into healing. And I want this to be a book for - a personal survival book and a political survival book, because I've got now
over 34 years in public office.
AMANPOUR: It's called "Undaunted", you are undaunted. It comes out at this moment, and you said you sort of wanted to be an inspiration. What
specifically do you want to have men and women to get from it, from your story?
SPEIER: Well I've learned a lot of lessons politically. One is you never, ever give up. You may lose a battle, but you haven't lost the war. Many
of the legislative proposals that I had turned into law took years to pass.
That you don't need to wait your turn in line, which is something frankly I did, and I think many of the women today are showing you don't have to wait
your turn in line.
AMANPOUR: And actually you just mentioned sexual abuse, I think you also, as an adult, experienced sexual harassment. You were a staffer and a
fellow staffer pressed himself on you.
Tell me what happened and how you view that in - you know, the eternal women's fight against this.
SPEIER: So sexual harassment has been plaguing Congress for a very long time. I was sexually harassed when I was a staffer by the chief of staff,
who pushed me up against the wall, kissed me, stuck his tongue down my mouth.
I recalled I was stunned and I told that story because I wanted women to come forward in Congress and tell me their stories. And their stories were
bone chilling in some respects. The - the apparent power that men think that they can assert on staffers in the Hill, and so we wanted to change
So I worked with a very conservative colleague from Alabama, Bradley Byrne, and we introduced this MeToo Congress Act, which has passed the House, is
in the Senate now. And it holds members accountable.
They pay the settlement, not the taxpayers. Victims are now going to be protected by council as well. So we're trying to change the climate in
Congress and then we need to change the climate in the rest of the federal government.
AMANPOUR: And perhaps that's helped with this massive women's wave that's going to Congress.
SPEIER: I sure hope so.
AMANPOUR: All right, Congresswoman, thank you very much indeed for joining us, author of "Undaunted". So the former Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw, a newly
elected Republican is coming to Congress as Texas's youngest representative.
And he's joining me now from Houston. Welcome, Congressman, to the program.
DAN CRENSHAW, REPRESENTATIVE ELECT, T.X.: Thank you for having me, it's great to be with you.
AMANPOUR: You know, I just want you to follow up on what the Congresswoman Jackie Speier just told me. Would you also support and fight for this, you
know, make sure there's no longer impunity and hold people accountable on one of the most corrosive elements in public life these days, sexual abuse
CRENSHAW: Well it's about personal accountability, so yes. And I think that was a good measure and I think it was bipartisan in nature,
AMANPOUR: So tell me your reaction to last night. I mean obviously you're a winner, you saw the Senate firmed up and increased its Republican share
last night. What are you feeling about divided government?
CRENSHAW: Well, you know, we can't sugar coat it. It's going to be harder. You know, I wish we had kept the House, but it was looking like we
were going to lose it and we did.
I'm glad to see us gain some seats in the Senate. But we - we are moving into a - jeeze, a highly divided political environment and of course a
divided government. And so - you know, and Democrats are saying it themselves, they're going to use the next two years to - to - to - what
they call hold accountable, but it's really just endless investigations on the president.
I don't know if that's really what our country needs, I don't know if that's healthy. We do know that they have a very different direction that
they want to take the country. They want more government intervention in your healthcare, they have said they wanted to raise taxes.
We'll see if they actually go through with that. I would like us to find the things that we can work together on and some of those have been listed
just in the last 15 minutes. And let's work on those and let's do what's right for the American people.
AMANPOUR: So Congressman - and congratulations, Congressman Elect, would you - would you agree with what has been said on the program already and
what actually President Trump said, issues of infrastructure, prescription drugs, maybe even somewhere down the line a rational immigration reform for
Do you think that those are workable going forward?
CRENSHAW: I think so. On infrastructure of course we always have to ask the question how do we pay for it, I'm very fiscally conservative. So, you
know, we have to keep in mind the burdens that we want to place on our children and our grandchildren.
But do we need infrastructure in this country? Yes. I mean one of the big issues in my district in particular is flood mitigation infrastructure. I
need to be able to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to make sure that if we have another Hurricane Harvey event, Houstonians are going to be
So there's probably some room to work together on that. I would add job training and apprenticeship programs, looking for private public
partnerships on a way to expand middle skill labor in this country.
I would add that to the list as well. And prescription drugs, absolutely, we need to lower the cost of prescription drugs. The president and, you
know, the current Congress has actually been doing a lot working towards that goal and I see no reason why we wouldn't continue to do so.
AMANPOUR: Before I get to the attempt to bring the country together and get your take on whether that's possible, I want to ask you about the
political climate in your state. It was pretty extraordinary, I don't know whether you agree, but that Beto O'Rourke as a Democrat in such a red state
did actually do as well as he did.
He didn't win, Ted Cruz did. But how do you analyze, you know, what happened?
CRENSHAW: Yes, you know, I won't sugar coat this one either. Republicans did have a tough election night in Texas, the reality is he did not win.
The other reality is is that I did feel like I was running against Beto this entire and not necessarily against my opponent.
He ran a very strong campaign, he's charismatic, he's likeable. That being said, you could flip this around and say despite the fact that he's so
charismatic and so likeable, he still didn't win because it's Texas.
I think Texas values haven't changed, I think what I'd like to do and my goals moving forward are to give the Republican Party an articulate voice
for our values in Texas and make sure that we do keep Texas red.
AMANPOUR: And also you have talked about - you've talked about, again, the divisive nature. This is what you said in your victory speech last night,
this election, the next couple years and hopefully the next 50 to 100 years are going to be about understanding what we all believe in together.
Understanding the foundational values that keep us together and that used to be comedy and sports, let's separate politics from these things, let's
enjoy life together as Americans. Man, that's what I would like to get back to.
How do you think that's possible and what everybody considers sort of an unprecedented, tribalized moment in American culture, and how will you try
to sort of re-knit some kind of community spirit?
CRENSHAW: Well you know, it starts with - with the way I would put it is don't press send, OK. Write what you want to write to somebody, but then
don't press send, right. Don't be part of the problem, be part of the solution.
You know, when I got attacked over the weekend, there was a reason I was very careful, I didn't want to demand an apology, I didn't want to get on
my soapbox and demand that somebody be fired.
I think that's ridiculous, I think we have to get away from that. That's what I meant by this. Let's all be part of the solution, and it does take
individual effort from every single person.
You know, we ask comedians, we ask the late night shows, do you always have to make fun of Republicans every single night? Or maybe can we expand our
audience and give every American something to laugh about? And you know, that's really what I was saying with that comment.
AMANPOUR: Well look, it's a good place to start if each individual, you know, can start trying to do their bit for civility, that would be a good
thing going forward. I just want to make note of, we've talked about a woman's wave, a women's wave.
But there's also a veterans wave and you are one of them. You've been deployed to Iraq and to Afghanistan and there were others who actually won
who were - who were vets. I want to ask you about a vet who's no longer with us, from a different state, Senator John McCain of Arizona.
He was known for his war hero personality and for his commitment to his party and yet being willing to call out what he thought was maybe immoral
or wrong if he thought leaders in the party, and sometimes President Trump, were doing.
Are you one of those? Are you willing to call out members of your own party if it becomes necessary?
CRENSHAW: I think we need to, I think in elements of intellectual honesty is - is always a good thing. And John McCain had that. I respect Senator
McCain so much, you know, and the country did as well.
He will always be in our memories and we honor his memory by doing exactly that, being intellectually honest. Let's know what our principles are,
let's know what we stand for and let's call out anything that flies in the face of that.
And I think - and I think that consistency would be a breath of fresh air to the American people for sure.
AMANPOUR: I wonder how swept up in the Kavanaugh hearings you were. I mean it certainly was the last - one of the last big things that sort of
ripped the fabric of this country apart by gender, by party, et cetera.
And as you saw, some female senators, Democrats, paid for opposing him, those who were in red states and a senator who voted for him was repaid by
winning, a Democratic senator.
Where do you stand on this issue and particularly the worry that a Supreme Court might be stacked and it was - it's going to cause a lot more division
in the country, particularly over basic, fundamental, you know, established court law and precedent such as Row versus Wade?
CRENSHAW: OK, there was a lot of elements to that question. So I'll actually answer the second part first which is is the Supreme Court now
stacked? And the answer is I don't think so.
See, conservatives don't see Supreme Court judges the way that Democrats do. All right, we see them as constitutionalists, we ask if they're
originalists, we ask if they are going to interpret the law according to the constitution.
We don't ask actually what their values are and what their voting record is. That tends to be what Democrats ask. So stacked to us just means that
they'll actually follow the constitution and I think that's a very, very good thing.
You know, where do I sit on the entire controversy that we saw play out over the last couple of months? I mean where I stand is we need to get
back to our roots of this idea of justice where you're innocent until proven guilty and you can't - and your life cannot be ruined with
allegations that have not been substantiated.
Now they should be listened to, they should absolutely be listened to and we - and I think we did that as a country. It was painful, it was
divisive, I'm glad it's behind us and I hope we can heal from it.
[23:30:00] AMANPOUR: Healing is a very big word that's being used today. And everybody is wondering, in fact, the country can and will. So it is
very very good to hear from you. Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw, thanks for joining us from Texas.
CRENSHAW: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, based on past experience, what should we expect from the divided government in Washington? I'm joined now by two distinguished
historians and friends of this program, Doris Kearns Goodwin is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of numerous books and presidential history
including her latest, "Leadership in Turbulent Times" and my colleague Walter Isaacson is a celebrated journalist and biographer of Henry
Kissinger, Einstein, Da Vinci and many more. So Doris and Walter, welcome to the program.
Let me first ask you, Walter. You've heard some of the discussion that we've had from the winners last night, from John Avlon our analyst. Where
do you come down, I suppose in a historical context, in what happened last night? It is not the first time there's been a divided government but it
is the first time in a long time, isn't it?
WALTER ISAACSON, AUTHOR, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AN AMERICAN LIFE: Yes, it is definitely the first time in a while. And what is particularly interesting
is that our country does not really have in its DNA right now how to deal with the divided government. We used to have most state legislatures that
were divided. The Republicans would have one House, Democrats the other. Seemed kind of random.
Do you know that right now, 49 out of 50 states, the legislatures are all in one party? And that makes it a little bit harder for us to understand
divided government. I think divided government can be good. It provides the check and the balance. It means we have to meet and compromise with
that notion of compromising with the other side.
You know Ben Franklin said at the Constitutional Convention, he said, you know, "Compromises may not make great heroes but they do make great
democracies." And he came up with the compromises that work. I think that's not in our blood right now. We need to get it back.
AMANPOUR: Doris Kearns Goodwin, you have done many many numerous great biographies of former presidents. You heard you know, what Ben Franklin
once said. Non-president but you heard what he just said about compromise and what it might do. Where do you see the next months and years up until
the next presidential election taking this country?
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR: Well, the thing that worries me is that it's one thing to have divided government if you've got
both sides that treat each other as people who are in another party but can compromise and collaborate. What we've seen happen in this last years
which I haven't seen since the 1850s when I wasn't there, but I was thinking of them when I lived with Lincoln during that period of time where
the other side is seen as the other and it's so highly partisan.
And what this election I think has shown is that the one positive thing that I think came out of it and partly the two people you were just talking
to, that more women coming into the government for the first time, outsiders coming in without that plague that we've seen in this last years
of hyper-partisanship, they're being trained by Emerge and EMILY's List, their whole infrastructure out there.
And they're bringing in as research shows, they're more willing to cross party lines, women are than men, and Veterans too. Veterans have that
common mission that they've worked for, a common goal. I think the height of bipartisanship in our country took place in the '50s, the '60s, the
'70s, even into the '80s because so many of the congressmen and senators had been in World War II or the Korean War.
So those are the signs I think, the awakening citizen involvement in this election. Even though the hyper-partisanship, I don't see how it's
changing from the people inside Washington. I just wish we could get back to that as well as you said. I mean there was a time when they stayed
together. They weren't raising money every minute. They played poker. They drank together. Their families knew each other and they felt that the
Senate or the Congress was an institution to which they owed loyalty and responsibility beyond their party.
We never could have gotten the Civil Rights Bill through without both sides, or Voting Rights, Medicare, Medicaid. I mean all those things came
with bipartisanship. I just long for that again. But I think it is going to be a while because this took a while to break. It's going to take a
while to fix.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I'm smiling because it sounds so warm and fuzzy and so welcome. We just -- many people want to get back to that, to have actual
policy so to be able to actually take place. What you mentioned, compromise is actually what brought so many --
ISAACSON: And, by the way, on almost every issue we face now, most Americans could get around the table and figure out what is the common
threat. We could do it on immigration. We need to secure our border. We need to treat the dreamers right. Please, we could do it on pre-existing
conditions. We could do it on building infrastructure and yet the politicians haven't been able to get there. They've become so [23:35:00]
I fear that the election will increase polarization a little bit in the short-term but maybe, maybe -- and we've heard Donald Trump talk about this
in his very long press conference, maybe having a Democratic House will make Pelosi and Donald Trump even try to work together.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean both of you, let me ask you about that because, you know, in order to be able to work together, you have to decide whether
there's going to be the newly Democratic House leadership holding on the president accountable as many Democrat say they want to do. So the
president talked about that. He said if there are a whole load of investigations now in the House, well, we won't deal with them and we'll
give them a taste of their own medicine and we control the Senate and we have power as well.
So I wonder how each of you thinks that might transpire. Doris, do you think there's suddenly going to be a flood of investigations and all the
rest of it and how that will affect policy going forward?
GOODWIN: Well, it does seem that what the president was saying was that if you do that, then I'll pay you back and I'm better at it than you are. And
there will be no real bipartisan possibility of policies going through. I'm not sure. I think both things can go on at the same time.
I think it's unrealistic to say that now that the chairmanships have gone into different directions, that some of the investigations will keep going
on. Certainly, the Mueller investigation is still going to come back despite the fact that people say more people are disapproving it now than
before. It's partly because it just hasn't been in the news. When there are indictments, when things are happening, then people think highly of the
investigation there hasn't been anything because it's been quiet.
So I can't -- we can imagine that that's all going to go away in the next few months but it's possible that on some of these smaller issues which
aren't so small to the people for whom it counts, pre-existing conditions or prescription drugs, they can move in both fashions at the same time
unless the president decides. As he said, if you do that, then I pay you back and nothing will get done.
AMANPOUR: I want to now delve back into history because both of you, as I said, have written biographies of great leaders and presidents and
secretaries of state and all the rest of it. So let me ask you first, Walter since I have you sitting here. You've written about Benjamin
Franklin who was at the Constitutional Convention, help write the Constitution, and at the end urging his fellow framers to put their
divisions behind them.
Here's a quote of his from 1787. "I cannot help expressing a wish that every member of the convention who may still have objections to the draft
Constitution would with me on this occasion doubt a little more of his own infallibility and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this
instrument." What does that teach us today?
ISAACSON: Well, you know, Ben Franklin said that he was old. He was actually hitting 80 which back then was considered old, believe it or not.
AMANPOUR: He was old.
ISAACSON: And he was twice as old as the average age of the other members. And he said, "The older I get, something strange happens to me. I realize
I've been wrong at times and other people were right." He says, "It's going to happen to you so put your divisions aside" and then he gives that
line. I think that's what America was built on which is somewhat of a respect for listening to other people.
The big question our country faces now is after this period of rabbit incivility, rabbit demonization and so much, you know, just bashing on
things whether we can grow up. Einstein, who I also wrote about, who also was not the president of the United States but was a very smart person.
When the McCarthy hearings were happening, he writes to his son and said, "I've seen this before. I saw it in Nazi Germany. I saw it in communism."
But Isenhower, Edward R. Murrow, the mainstream press, not Joseph McCarthy off the stage. Einstein says, "American democracy, it has a gyroscope.
It's amazing. Just when you think it's going to fall over, it can ride itself." I believe that. We've got to do that now.
AMANPOUR: And it's very important to mention the mainstream press and what a fundamental and strong pillar of a healthy democracy it is. Doris Kearns
Goodwin, let me turn to you for a bit of history. You obviously worked for Lyndon Johnson. You also have written about him. He had huge Democratic
majorities in Congress when he was doing civil rights and the others, Abraham Lincoln who you've obviously also profiled, big Republican
majorities but the country was at war then.
But, you know, what is the president -- let me just quote this from Benjamin -- from Abraham Lincoln if I can find it. Here it is. From his
first inaugural address in 1861. "Though passion may have strained it must not break all bonds of affection. The mystic cords of memories stretching
from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land will yet swell the chorus of the
Union, when again touched as surely they will be by the best angels of our nature."
Again, it sounds so great and almost too quaint for today. Can we find our better angels? What will it take?
[23:40:00] GOODWIN: Well, I think we have to. I mean when I think back to the 1850s before he gets into office, we had a divide that was so deep that
it led to that Civil War. It wasn't just a political divide. It was a cultural divide where people in the north and the south thought entirely
differently about issues. When the southern congressman hit the northern Senator over the head with the cane, he was made a hero in the south.
Whereas in the north, it bolstered the anti-slavery movement.
And what worries me about the country today is that people -- Teddy Roosevelt warned that the rock of democracy will fail if people on the
other sides of regions or issues or parties see each other as the other, rather than his fellow American citizens. But I have a feeling I'm with
Walter on this. I think the fever is going to break at some point because the overwhelming majority of the people want this divisiveness to come to a
polarizing end. They want to see us work together.
It's not like the country as a whole is happy with what's happening. They think the direction of the country is wrong. So maybe the people in
Washington spurred by new people coming in -- it's almost as if Washington has lived in war so long, they don't know what pieces anymore. So having
that new blood come in and maybe having the older people take something from Ben Franklin and remember what it was like when they worked together.
I mean the important thing to remember about Lyndon Johnson is not just that he had Democratic majorities. On all those issues, he was able to
persuade Republicans. He never would have gotten the Civil Rights Bill through if he hadn't got Dirksen to come with him and bring the Republicans
because the southern Democrats were breaking off from the northern Democrats.
And I love the way he did it. You know he promises them everything. In those days, you get earmarks. You want an ambassadorship, you got it. You
want me to come to Springfield, I'll come. You want to postmastership in Peoria, yes. But then he finally says to him, "Everett, you come with me
on this bill and 200 years from now schoolchildren will know only two names, Abraham Lincoln and Everett Dirksen." How can Dirksen resist? That
is what we need today to have these people think about what do we want to be remembered for.
We're in here for a purpose. We came here to do something for our country. I want our children to be proud of us. And maybe if they get that sense,
the Ben Franklin sense or the Abraham Lincoln sense of the mystic cords or memory, they'll realize this fever has to break because it will, sooner or
later, but the sooner is the better.
AMANPOUR: The sooner the better indeed. And what do you think Walter and both of you really about the turnout? That's a massive vote, you know,
from people. The turnout was historic for midterms.
ISAACSON: I think it's just so welcome that so many people have gotten involved. And I think there needs to be a mobilizing force for them. And
perhaps the phrase can be the better angels of our nature, that somebody who comes along right now and says, "OK, we've all gotten involved" and
says "I'm not going to appeal to the worst in America. I'm not going to try to divide you."
We know we share so much in common and have goals for this country. And if you could get a caucus that Doris has helped name which is the better
angels caucus, we could appeal to it --
AMANPOUR: I like it. It's brand. It's a brand. It's good, the better angels. And I'm sure Doris would agree and maybe you would agree too,
Walter, that this massive historic wave of women may actually direct us towards our better angels and better leadership.
ISAACSON: Absolutely and she's --
GOODWIN: Hooray. Hooray.
ISAACSON: -- right about the veterans too.
AMANPOUR: And veterans too, exactly.
GOODWIN: You know when you think about it, all the changes in our country have come from movements. And then there's a leader there that channels
that emotion, whether it's the Anti-Slavery Movement and Lincoln was there, the Progressive Movement for Teddy or Franklin, the Civil Rights Movement
with Abraham Lincoln. And with Civil Rights with LBJ. I get my guys --
AMANPOUR: Yes, I know.
GOODWIN: -- mixed up. I think now there's a movement that's afoot with women, with veterans, with new people coming in, with all those people
standing in line that they want to see change and the healing divisions of our country.
AMANPOUR: Let's hope.
GOODWIN: And the movement has to change our political structure. Let us hope. There's no other choice but to hope. The pessimism will not do us
AMANPOUR: There you go. I wish we had a lot more time for this optimistic segment of our program. Both of you, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Walter
Isaacson, thank you so much.
ISAACSON: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And now, for the relationship between the president and the press. Remember Thomas Jefferson's famous dictum? "Were it left to me to
decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
Now that means a lot to our next guest, of course. She's Bari Weiss, an Op-ed staff editor, and writer for "The New York Times". She calls herself
a political centrist, sometimes the leaning left, sometimes leaning right. She was born and raised in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh where 11 Jewish
worshippers were gunned down less than two weeks ago. Bari spoke to our Hari Sreenivasan about the election results and how terror came to her own
HARI SREENIVASAN, CONTRIBUTOR: What explains the outcome last night?
[23:45:00] BARI WEISS, OP-ED WRITER AND EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: This country is -- I'm the first to say this. We're in the midst of a kind of
cold civil war. And the outcome last night was you can sort of conceive of it as a battle that ended in a stalemate. You know, lots of people
predicted that the Democrats were going to take the House and they did.
But we really saw was sort of the solidification of the Republican party as the party of Trumpism. Moderate Republicans lost last night. Moderate
Republicans who stood up to Donald Trump lost. And that is a very very troubling sign for the health of a country that's sort of built on a two
SREENIVASAN: You know, and for our audience, give us some context. Where do you identify yourself or find yourself in a political spectrum?
WEISS: I think of myself as being in the center. Some people see me as sort of a Democrat in the mold of a Scoop Jackson or a Daniel Patrick
Moynihan. Others see me as a Liberal Republican. I don't spend much time thinking about what party I belong to. I've always been registered as an
Independent. I've always voted for people of both parties.
I see myself as a sort of Classical Liberal. And frankly, I see myself in the space where I think a lot of other Americans do which is moderate,
taking things issue by issue, not wanting to sort of just ascribe wholeheartedly to any political orthodoxy. And right now, frankly,
politically homeless and unrepresented by both parties in this country.
SREENIVASAN: You've had powerful voices in the -- what would have been a traditionally Republican party from George Will to Max Boot to, you know,
lots of others saying outright, Michael Gerson saying, "Vote for Democrats. Get these guys out of office." But between them all, they do not have the
power anymore especially in terms of last night's results from the Senate.
WEISS: Well, let's not underplay what happened last night. I mean the Democrats took the House. That was big. I mean --
SREENIVASAN: Isn't that expected in an off-year election that whatever the in party is that there would be gains from the opposition?
WEISS: Sure. I'm just saying that we can't -- I don't want to undersell what happened last night. There's finally going to be a check on the
presidency of Donald Trump and that's hugely, hugely significant. I think that that's a game changer. The fact that -- you know, people like to
point out that they're never Trumpers like Max Boot and George Will and Bret Stephens my colleague, you know there's that line. I think Max Boot
There's enough of us to fill a dinner party, a political party. Maybe that's true but the fact that that's the case, I sort of don't understand
the criticism of that which is to say those people, unlike a lot of people who are in political power in the Republican Party, have the freedom to
think freely and to speak their minds. And they're doing it.
And I think that they should be praised for it and not sort of -- there's this sort of feeling that they should be, you know, not condemned but
criticized because they're not really representative. Well, their job was only ever to represent themselves. They're public intellectuals and
writers. And they're doing their job of that.
SREENIVASAN: How much of this climate do you attribute to most single issue voters? It seems white evangelicals think that abortion is the issue
to go to the polls for, how Supreme Court might protect or challenge those rights in the future. You're familiar with people -- Americans who believe
Israel is the defining issue of our time and Trump support. There's been a lot of people who said, "You know what, I've pinched my nose but this one
single issue is important to me and I will give Donald Trump his transgressions."
WEISS: Right. I think that there's a lot of people in this country who have chosen to place particular policies. Notably, the Supreme Court and
the Supreme Court picks over values and over, you know, the very obvious things that this president is doing to degrade the character and the sort
of common civic language, the social fabric of this country. I think that that's a bargain that's not worth making. Other people make other
I think the other thing that's going on is that a lot of people just feel like I don't want to be ruled by those other guys. And there's very much a
sense of that, at least among the people that I talk to. And that's certainly the case among a lot of Conservatives I know who are still -- who
still pulled the lever for Republicans yesterday, which is to say they might be convinced if there was someone like a Mike Bloomberg or more
moderate person on the Democratic ticket in 2020. But they sort of feel like I'm not sure that it's worth it for me to give up all of my policy
principles for a party that doesn't really respect or understand mere things that I'm deplorable.
SREENIVASAN: It seems, as you pointed out earlier, this is kind of a death of moderation and an increase in tribalism.
SREENIVASAN: As long as it's not the other team, fine. Right? I'll tell her all kinds of stuff as long as it's not the other guy, regardless of
what their ideas actually were, what you agree with them on.
WEISS: Yes. I mean the Democrats have an enormous opportunity right now. [23:50:00] This is a moment all over the world and not just in this country
in which nationalism and specifically far-right nationalism is on the rise. Trump and the party of Trump are telling a, in my view, very anti-American
story about the kind of nationalism this country is about.
They're telling a story that's about blood and soil nationalism, an idea that immigrants are alien invaders to this country. The notion that, you
know, we've always had presidents in my lifetime that celebrated the fact that America is a country built by immigrants. It is a country of
immigrants. That's who we are from the founders.
That story is right now up for grabs and the Democrats are not grabbing it. In my view, they have an opportunity to tell an expansive story about who
we are as Americans, not who we are in terms of our tiny slots of racial and gender and really just lanes but who we are as Americans writ large. I
don't see them doing that yet and I think there's a huge opportunity for them to do so. And if they do so, they can win back that middle that's
right now homeless.
SREENIVASAN: What happened? Speaking of the increased hate, we saw pipe bombs being sent to different people and institutions, we saw the massacre
in the Synagogue but also sort of --
WEISS: With the shooting at Kroger Supermarket.
SREENIVASAN: The shooting at Kroger.
WEISS: Two black grandparents.
SREENIVASAN: Exactly. Were these all things that we've now forgotten under the bridge or you know it has been kind of subsumed by the midterm
election news cycle? Do those events shape how we think going forward?
WEISS: They certainly shaped how I think going forward. It certainly shaped how everyone in my community in Pittsburgh who are still shattered
and traumatized from this massacre thinks and certainly, informed I think the way that they voted yesterday in the election.
You have to be willfully blind or delusional to think that these incidents don't have any connection to the political rhetoric coming out of this
White House and the refusal to turn down the temperature on the tribalism that's going on in this country. And the hate and the demonization of the
other, that is what this president just ran on and has been running on for two years. So to suggest that there's not a connection between this kind
of violence in the presidency, I think is ridiculous.
SREENIVASAN: We should point out to our audience that you grew up in that community. You had your (INAUDIBLE) at that Synagogue where this massacre
occurred. How is this changing you?
WEISS: It always will change a person. I think to see people you love, not only murdered but shattered by violence like this, just seeing it up
close is different than seeing it on the news. But frankly, you have to have been not paying attention to what's been going on for the past two
years to life the imagination to imagine something like this happening in your own community.
Even in the weeks before this happened, all of these places, Las Vegas, Parkland, Charleston that now signify mass murder. One of the things that
are deeply frustrating for me is in the wake of these tragedies, it becomes almost numbing. We go through the routine of first we see it on Twitter
then it breaks -- then it comes through in places like "The New York Times", then we hear about all of the innocents who were slaughtered. And
then we make T-shirts and then we move on.
That has to stop. People need to wake up. We abolished slavery in this country. Don't tell me that we can't get rid of (INAUDIBLE) reservoir.
SREENIVASAN: You know, you said that's central tenets to your faith and welcoming the stranger, dignity for all human beings, equality under the
law, respect for dissent, love of truth. These are all core values of your faith but it seems that they're starting to take a back seat around the
WEISS: They are and I'm alarmed by that. And I think that we have the responsibility in our everyday lives to sort of recover those virtues.
Obviously, we should be electing people to public office to represent those values. But I feel that even in a very personal and intimate way, this
presidency has changed me in the way that I just moved through my everyday life and try and be a more -- Trump leads the way. And what I mean by that
is Trump leads the way, he shows us exactly what not to be.
He's cruel, we should be kind. He's indecent, we should be decent. He's ungenerous, we should be generous. We need to be modeling anti-Trump
values in our everyday life. I think that that's really important beyond who we vote for at the polls.
SREENIVASAN: You're also simultaneously working on a book about civility are the necessary pre-conditions, irrevocably damaged. Can the United
States get to a point again where you and I can disagree agreeably about matters that matter?
WEISS: Yes. We have to and we have to model it. The thing that I think is strange about the times that [23:55:00] we live in is that we're living
in a kind of paradox when it comes to free thinking and free speech. In the political arena, seemingly, anything can be set right now.
You can talk about grabbing women by the genitalia and become president of the United States. You can be a supporter of white nationalism like Steve
King and win public office. You can be like Danny Davis in Illinois and talk about how Farah Khan is an outstanding man, a man who has -- Farah
Khan, who has called Judaism a gutter religion, who has gone to Iran and proclaim death to Israel in Farsi and win for Congress.
That is what's going on in our political sphere. And yet in the cultural sphere, which is largely controlled by the left, there's a vanishingly
small number of things that can be talked about freely and openly, things like gender, things like biological difference. And I think that that's
really really problematic.
SREENIVASAN: All right. Bari Weiss, "New York Times", thank you so much.
WEISS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Making incredibly important points there.
Now we've seen how this election is being analyzed and absorbed here in the United States, tomorrow we'll consder how it's being poured over by allies
and adversaries around the world. With the Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray and with J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Diamond.
But for now, thanks for watching.
Remember, you can listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Goodbye from New York.