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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Obama Addresses NAACP

Aired July 16, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Wolf, thank you. Good evening, everybody.

The president will give a major speech at the NAACP over the course of this hour. We'll have live coverage of his speech as soon as it begins.

Judge Sotomayor is very merely Justice Sotomayor. She could be confirmed as Supreme Court justice within a matter of weeks after reversing direction on a series of her earlier statements and rising opposition to the president's plan to raise taxes to pay for sweeping changes in our health care system, and on climate change, as well.

The highest tax rate envisioned would rise to levels not seen in nearly four decades. Tonight, President Obama will deliver that speech to the NAACP convention in New York City to mark the organization's 100th anniversary. His speech will begin within the half hour. The president is expected to call on the entire nation to recapture the spirit of the civil rights movement. Suzanne Malveaux has our report.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One hundred years after the birth of the NAACP, a major address by the first African-American president.

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, it is always humbling to speak before the NAACP because it's a powerful reminder of the debt that we all owe to those who marched for us and fought for us, and stood up on our behalf.

MALVEAUX: Just last year as a candidate, Barack Obama was both deferential and defiant before the civil rights group.

OBAMA: I know there's some who have been saying I've been too tough talking about responsibility. NAACP, I'm here to report I'm not going to stop talking about it.

MALVEAUX: Taking on some of his African-American critics, Mr. Obama delivered a message of tough love, echoed just last weekend in Ghana.

OBAMA: We all know that the future of Africa is in the hands of Africa.

MALVEAUX: The historic election of the United States first African-American president highlights the NAACP's role in fighting for equality and opportunity.

BEN JEALOUS, NAACP PRESIDENT: This is a big step that we've taken, have a black family in the White House and ending that 233- year-old color barrier. But there's a lot more work that needs to be done.

MALVEAUX: This after former President Bush kept the NAACP at arm's length, declining their invitations to address them for five years.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, Bruce, thanks for the introduction. Bruce is a polite guy, I thought what he was going to say is it's about time you showed up and I'm glad I did.



DOBBS: Both -- President Bush and Suzanne Malveaux -- the president is now preparing to speak at the NAACP convention. Let's go to him right now.

OBAMA: For being here -- it's just good to be among friends.


OBAMA: It is an extraordinary honor to be here in the city where the NAACP was formed to mark its centennial. What we celebrate tonight is not simply the journey the NAACP is traveling, but the journey that we as Americans have traveled over the past 100 years. It's a journey that takes us back to a time before most of us were born. Long before the voting rights act and the civil rights act, and Brown v. Board of Education, back to an America just a generation past slavery.

It was a time when Jim Crow was a way of life, when lynchings were all too common, when race riots were shaking cities across a segregated land. It was in this America where an Atlanta scholar named W.E.B. DeBois, a man of towering intellect and a fierce passion for justice sparked what became known as the Niagara Movement where reformers united not by color, but by cause.

Where an association was born that would as its charter says promote equality and eradicate prejudice among citizens of the United States. From the beginning, these founders understood how change would come. Justice King and all the civil rights giants did later. They understood that unjust laws needed to be overturned that legislation needed to be passed, and that presidents needed to be pressured into action.

They knew the disdain of slavery and sin of segregation had to be lifted in the courtroom and in the legislature and in the hearts and minds of Americans. They also knew that here in America, change would have to come from the people. It would come from people protesting lynches, rallying against violence, all those women who decided to walk instead of taking the bus, even though they were tired after a long day of doing somebody else's laundry, looking after somebody else's children.

It would come from men and women of every age and faith and every race and region taking Greyhounds on freedom rides, sitting down at Greensboro lunch counters, registering voters in rural Mississippi knowing they would be harassed, knowing they would be beaten, knowing that some of them might never return -- because what they did we are a more perfect union. Because Jim Crow laws were overturned, black CEOs today run Fortune 500 companies.


OBAMA: Because civil rights laws were passed, black mayors, black governors, members of Congress serving places where they might once have been able not just to vote, but even take a sip of water and because ordinary people did such ordinary -- extraordinary things. Because they made the civil rights movement their own, even though there may not be a plaque or their names might not be in the history books.

Because of their efforts, I made a little trip to Springfield, Illinois, a couple of years ago where Lincoln once lived and race riots once raged and began the journey that has led me to be here tonight as the 44th president of the United States of America.


OBAMA: Because of them I stand here tonight on the shoulders of giants. And I'm here to say thank you to those pioneers and thank you to the NAACP. And yet even as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of the past 100 years, even as we inherit extraordinary progress that cannot be denied, even as we marvel at the courage and determination of so many plain folk, we know that too many barriers still remain.

We know that even as our economic crisis batters Americans of all races, African-Americans are out of work more than just about anybody else, a gap that's widening here in New York City as a detailed report this week by Comptroller Bill Thompson laid out. We know that even as spiraling health care costs crush families of all races, African- Americans are more likely to suffer from a host of diseases but less likely to own health insurance than just about anybody else.

We know that even as we imprison more people of all races than any nation in the world and, an African-American child is roughly five times as likely as a white child to the see the inside of a prison. We know that even as the scourge of HIV/AIDS devastates nations abroad, particularly in Africa, it is devastating the African-American community here at home with disproportionate force. We know these things.

These are some of the barriers of our time. They're very different from the barriers faced by earlier generations. They're very different from the ones faced when fire hoses and dogs were being turned on young marchers, when Charles Hamilton Houston and a group of young Howard lawyers were dismantling segregation case by case across the land. But what's required today, what's required to overcome today's barriers is the same as what was needed then.

The same commitment, the same sense of urgency, the same sense of sacrifice, the same sense of community, the same willingness to do our part for ourselves and one another that has always defined America at its best and the African-American experience at its best. And so -- and so the question is, where do we direct our efforts? What steps do we take to overcome these barriers? How do we move forward in the next 100 years? The first thing we need to do is to make real the words of the NAACP charter. And eradicate prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination among citizens of the United States.


OBAMA: I understand there may be a temptation among some to think that discrimination is no longer a problem in 2009. And I believe that overall there probably has never been less discrimination in America than there is today, I think we can say that, but make no mistake, the pain of discrimination is still felt in America by African-American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and a different gender, by Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country, by Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion simply because they kneel down to pray to their God, by our gay brothers and sisters still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.


OBAMA: On the 45th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination cannot stand. Not on account of color or gender, how you worship or who you love. Prejudice has no place in the United States of America. That's what the NAACP stands for. That's what the NAACP will continue to fight for as long as it takes. But we also know that prejudice and discrimination, at least the most blatant types of prejudice and discrimination, are not even the steepest barriers to opportunity today.

The most difficult barriers include structural inequalities that our nation's legacy of discrimination has left behind, inequalities still plaguing too many communities and too often the object of national neglect. These are barriers we are beginning to tear down, one by one. By rewarding work with an expanded tax credit, by making housing more affordable, by giving ex-offenders a second chance.


OBAMA: These are barriers we're targeting through our White House office on urban affairs, through programs like Promise Neighborhoods that built on Jeffrey Canada's success with the Harlem Children Zone to foster a comprehensive approach to ending poverty by putting all children on a pathway to college and giving them the schooling and after school support that they need to get there.

Now, I think all of us understand that our task of reducing these structural inequalities has been made more difficult by the states and structure of our broader economy, an economy that for the last decade has been fuelled by a cycle of boom and bust. An economy where the rich got really, really rich, but ordinary folks didn't see their incomes or their wages go up. An economy built on credit cards and shady mortgage loans, an economy built not on a rock, but on sand.

That's why my administration is working so hard, not only to create and save jobs in the short-term, not only to extend unemployment insurance and help for people who have lost their health care in this crisis, not just to stem the immediate economic wreckage, but to lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity that will put opportunity within the reach of not just African-Americans, but all Americans -- all Americans of every race, of every creed, from every region of the country. We want everybody to participate in the American dream. That's what the NAACP is all about.


OBAMA: Now one pillar of this new foundation is health insurance for everybody, health insurance reform that cuts costs and makes quality health coverage affordable for all and closes health care disparities in the process. Another pillar is energy reform that makes clean energy profitable, freeing America from the grip of foreign oil, putting young people to work, operating low income homes, weatherizing them, creating jobs that can't be outsourced.

Another pillar is financial reform, with consumer protections that crack down on mortgage fraud and stop predatory lenders from targeting black and Latino communities all across the country. All these things will make America stronger and more competitive. They will drive innovation. They will create jobs. They will provide families with more security.

And yet even if we do all that, the African-American community will still fall behind in the United States, and the United States will fall behind in the world unless we do a far better job than we have been doing of educating our sons and daughters. I hope you don't mind, I want to go into a little detail here about education.

In the 21st century, when so many jobs will require a Bachelors Degree or more, when countries that out-educate us today will out- compete us tomorrow, a world class education is a prerequisite for success. There's no two ways about it. There's no way to avoid it. You know what I'm talking about. There's a reason the story of the civil rights movement was written in our schools.

There's a reason Thurgood Marshall took up the cause of Linda Brown. There's a reason why the Little Rock Nine defied a governor and a mob. It's because there is no stronger weapon against inequality and no better path to opportunity than an education that can unlock a child's God-given potential.


OBAMA: And yet more than half a century after Brown v. Board, the dream of a world class education is still being deferred all across the country. African-American students are lagging behind white classmates in reading and math, an achievement gap that is growing in states that once led the way in the civil rights movement. Over half of all African-American students are dropping out of school in some places.

There are overcrowded classrooms and crumbling schools and corridors of shame in America filled with poor children. Not just black children, brown and white children, as well. The state of our schools is not an African-American problem. It is an American problem because if black and brown children cannot compete then America cannot compete. And let me say this, if Al Sharpton, Mike Bloomberg, and Newt Gingrich can agree that we need to solve the education problem, then that's something all of America can agree we can solve.


OBAMA: Those guys came into my office. They're sitting in the Oval Office; I kept on doing a double take.



OBAMA: But that's a sign of progress and it is a sign of the urgency of the education problem. All of us can agree that we need to offer every child in this country, every child -- got an amen corner back there -- every child.


OBAMA: Every child in this country the best education the world has to offer from cradle through a career. That's our responsibility as leaders. That's the responsibility of the United States of America. And we, all of us in government have to work to do our part by not only offering more resources, but also demanding more reform.

Because when it comes to education, we've got to get past this old paradigm, this outdated notion that somehow it's just money or somehow it's just reform but no money. And embrace what Dr. King called the both and philosophy. We need more money and we need more reform. When it comes to higher education, we're making college and advanced training more affordable and strengthening community colleges that are the gateway to so many with an initiative that will prepare students not only to earn a degree but to find a job when they graduate -- an initiative that will help us meet the goal I have set of leading the world in college degrees by 2020.

We used to rank number one in college graduates, now we are the middle of the pack, and since we are seeing more and more African- American and Latino youth in our population, if we are leaving them behind, we cannot achieve our goal. And America will fall further behind and that is not a future that I accept and that is not a future that the NAACP is willing to accept. We're creating a race to the top fund that will reward states and public school districts that adopt 21st century standards and assessments.

We're creating incentives for states to promote excellent teachers and replace bad ones because the job of a teacher's too important for us to accept anything less than the best. We also have to explore innovative approaches such as those being pursued here in New York City, innovations like Bard High School Early College and Medgar Evers College Preparatory School that are challenging students to complete high school and earn a free Associates Degree or college credit in just four years.

And we should raise the bar when it comes to early learning programs. It's not enough just to have a babysitter. We need our young people stimulated and engaged and involved and we need our folks involved in child development to understand the latest science. Today some early learning programs are excellent, some are mediocre, and some are wasting what studies show are by far a child's most formative years.

And that's why I've issued a challenge to America's governors. If you match the success of states like Pennsylvania and develop an effective model for early learning, if you focus reform on standards and results in early learning programs. If you demonstrate how you will prepare the lowest income children to meet the highest standards of success, then you can compete for an early learning challenge grant that will help prepare all of our children to enter kindergarten all ready to learn.

So these are some of the laws we're passing. These are some of the policies we are enacting. We are busy in Washington. Folks in Congress are getting a little tuckered out. But I'm telling them we can't rest; we've got a lot of work to do. The American people are counting on us.


OBAMA: These are some of the ways we're doing our part in government to overcome the inequities, the injustices, the barriers that still exist in our country. But all these innovative programs and expanded opportunities will not in and of themselves make a difference if each of us as parents and as community leaders fail to do our part by encouraging excellence in our children. Government programs alone won't get our children to the promise land. We need a new mindset, a new set of attitudes because one of the most durable and destructive legacies of discrimination is the way we've internalized a sense of limitation, how so many in our community have come to expect so little from the world and from themselves.

We've got to say to our children, yes, if you're African- American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are high. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that somebody in a wealthy suburb does not have to face. But that's not a reason to get bad grades. That's not a reason to cut class. That's not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands. You cannot forget that. That's what we have to teach all of our children. No excuses.

(APPLAUSE) OBAMA: No excuses. You get that education all those hardships will just make you stronger. Better able to compete. Yes, we can. To parents, to parents, we can't tell our kids to do well in school and then fail to support them when they get home. You can't just contract out parenting. For our kids to excel, we have to accept our responsibility to help them learn. That means putting away the Xbox, putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour.

It means attending those parent-teacher conferences and reading to our children and helping them with their homework. And by the way, it means we need to be there for our neighbors' sons and daughters. We need to go back to the time -- back to the day when parents saw somebody -- saw some kid fooling around and it wasn't your child but -- they'll whoop you anyway...



OBAMA: ... or at least they'll tell your parents. Parents will, you know. That's the meaning of community. That's how we can reclaim the strength and the determination and the hopefulness that helped us come so far, helped us make a way out of no way. It also means pushing children to set their sights a little bit higher. They might think they've got a pretty good jump shot or a pretty good flow. But our kids can't all aspire to be LeBron or Lil' Wayne. I want them aspiring to be scientists and engineers, doctors and teachers, not just ballers and rappers. I want them aspiring to be a Supreme Court justice. I want them to aspiring to be the president of the United States of America.


OBAMA: I want their horizons to be limitless. I don't -- don't tell them they can't do something. Don't feed our children with a sense of -- that somehow because of their race that they cannot achieve. Yes, government must be a force for opportunity. Yes, government must be a force for equality, but ultimately, if we are to be true to our past, then we also have to seize our own future each and every day. And that's what the NAACP is all about.

The NAACP was not founded in search of a handout. The NAACP was not founded in search of favors. The NAACP was founded on a firm notion of justice to cash the promissory note of America that says all of our children, all of God's children deserve a fair chance in the race of life.

It's a simple dream and, you know, one that all too often has been denied and is still being denied to so many Americans. It's a painful thing seeing that dream tonight.

I remember visiting a Chicago school in a rough neighborhood when I was a community organizer. And some of the children gathered around me. And I remember thinking how remarkable it was that all of these children seem so full of hope despite being born into poverty, despite being delivered in some cases into addiction, despite all the obstacles they were already facing, you could see that spark in their eyes. They were the equal of children anywhere.

And I remember the principal of the school telling me that soon that sparkle would begin to dim; that things would begin to change. That soon the laughter in their eyes would begin to fade, that soon something would shut off inside as it sunk in -- because kids are smarter than we give them credit for -- as it sunk in that their hopes would not come to pass.

Not because they weren't smart enough, not because they weren't talented enough, not because of anything about them inherently, but because by accident of birth they had not received a fair chance in life. I know what can happen to a child who doesn't have that chance. But I also know what can happen to a child that does.

I was raised by a single mom. I didn't come from a lot of wealth. I got into my share of trouble as a child. My life could've easily taken a turn for the worst.

When I drive through Harlem or the south side of Chicago and I see young men on the corners, I say, "There but for the grace of God, go I."

They're no less gifted than me, they're no less talented than me, but I had some breaks. That mother of mine, she gave me love, she pushed me, she cared about my education, she took no lip, she taught me right from wrong. Because of her I had a chance to make the most of my abilities. I had a chance to make the most of my opportunities. I had the chance to make the most of life.

The same story holds true for Michelle. The same story holds true for so many of you. And I want all the other Barack Obamas out there, all the other Michelle Obamas out there to have the same chance; the chance that my mother gave me, that my education gave me, that the United States of America has given me.

That's how our union will be perfected and our economy rebuilt. That is how America will move forward in the next 100 years. And we will move forward. This I know.

For I know how far we have come. Some of you saw last week in Ghana, Michelle and I took Malia and Sasha and my mother-in-law to Cape Coast Castle in Ghana. Some of you may have been there.

That was where captives were once imprisoned before being auctioned; where across an ocean so much of the African-American experience began. We went down into the dungeons where the captives were held.

There was a church above one of the dungeons which tells you something. About saying one thing and doing another. We walked through the "door of no return." I was reminded of all the pain and all the hardships, all the injustices and all the indignities on the voyage from slavery to freedom.

But I was reminded of something else. I was reminded that no matter how bitter the ride, how stony the road, we have always persevered. We have not faltered nor have we grown weary. As Americans we have demanded and strived for and shaped a better destiny. And that is what we are called on to do once more.

NAACP, it will not be easy, it will take time, doubts may rise and hopes may recede, but if John Lewis could brave billy clubs to cross a bridge, then I know young people today can do their part to lift up our community. If Emmett Till's Uncle Moss Wright could summon the courage to testify against the men who killed his nephew, I know we can be better fathers and better brothers and better mothers and sisters in our own families.

If three civil rights workers in Mississippi, black, white, Christian, and Jew, city born and country bred could lay down their lives in freedom's cause, I know we can come together to face down the challenges of our own time.

We can fix our schools, we can heal our sick, we can rescue our youth from violence and despair. And 100 years from now on the 200th anniversary of the NAACP, let it be said that this generation did its part. That we too ran the race that full of faith that our dark past has taught us, full of the hope that the present has brought us. We faced in our lives and all across this nation the rising sun of a new day begun.

Thank you, God bless you. God bless the United States of America.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: President Barack Obama at the 100th convention of the NAACP; A rousing speech met by a rousing cheer from the audience as you hear.

I'm joined again by White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.

You know, I was struck earlier -- Clarence Page telling our colleague Wolf Blitzer that, in response to a question about why did the president need to make this speech? Clarence Page said he didn't. And pretty accurately forecast what he would say.

What do you take away from the speech?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDNET: Well, in some ways it was very similar to the speech of President Bush in 2006 -- I attended that one -- in terms of the message itself. He did talk about the fact of personal responsibility was utmost important, that people's own destiny was in their hands.

I think what was really different about this, however, was the tone of the speech, the messenger who delivered this. Obviously he has more familiarity with this audience; we heard kind of the cadence, the rhythm that we heard in the campaign that was very familiar...

DOBBS: I thought I was listening to a Southern minister there for a while.

MALVEAUX: In some ways he did do that. He did do that because he does get into that cadence before predominantly black audiences, but he also, as well, was building a case for credibility here.

It may seem like it was a long time ago when there were folks from the black community who were asking, "Are you black enough?" What they meant by that was do you understand the agenda of many people in the black community? Do you understand the struggle?

Barack Obama laid that out saying, yes, that discrimination still exists, that everybody has a tough time, that many more African- Americans have it tougher and that he understands the dynamic within the black community but that there's also the need for accountability.

DOBBS: He was talking about the legacy of the lowered expectations in the quote-unquote "black community." But it took him 24 minutes to get to the issue of individual responsibility.

And I must tell you, as I listened to the president give what was an artful speech, I thought that speech could've been given 40 years ago. It was almost as if so little had been accomplished since the war on poverty began in 1965.

MALVEAUX: I think one of the things that you heard the president talk about in broad brush strokes because that's what he's more comfortable with is that it's education, it's jobs; these are the kinds of things that have to turn around in order for the black community to turn around. I think the reason why it took so long is because he was building his case.

If you look at his own childhood and his own racial identity -- biracial, didn't have the same kind of experience a lot of African- Americans did in terms of living overseas, living in Hawaii, that kind of thing.

DOBBS: He had an extraordinary background; an extraordinary life story.

MALVEAUX: Absolutely, but very different from a lot of other black Americans.

I think what he was doing was trying to say I can relate, I'm familiar with you, I'm part of the community here. That's what he's done in his childhood, that's what he did during the campaign when he had to actually win the African-American vote. That's what he's doing as president.

DOBBS: How do you think LeBron James and Li'l Wayne are going to feel about the president's speech?

MALVEAUX: They're going to love this now. It takes a lot of skills to be either one of those guys.

DOBBS: There you go.

Suzanne thanks very much. Suzanne Malveaux.

MALVEAUX: Thank you.

DOBBS: Still to come, much more on the president's speech today before the NAACP's 100th convention.

Judge Sotomayor is set to win confirmation as Justice of the United States Supreme Court. We'll have complete coverage as we continue here.

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: The president's nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor is likely to be confirmed; all but certain to be confirmed, in fact. The judge completed four days of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and that committee could vote on her confirmation as soon as next Tuesday. A senate confirmation vote is expected by early next month.

Candy Crowley has our report from Washington.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's all over but the voting and the probable nays are letting it slide.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: I don't think any member of this side will support a filibuster or any attempt to block a vote on your nomination.

CROWLEY: It ended well for Sonia Sotomayor; she spent three days answering questions while saying nothing about her take on hot-button controversial issues.

JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Senator, would you want a judge for a nominee who came in here and said, "I agree with you, this is unconstitutional," before I had a case before me...

CROWLEY: Just no clue from the witness table where a Justice Sotomayor would come down on things like limits on abortion or property rights or gun ownership; legal questions, political dynamite.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: People now understand the role of the court in modern society when it comes to social change. That's why we fight so hard to put on the court people who see the world like us. That's true from the left, and that's true from the right.

CROWLEY: It's why Republicans were intensely critical of Sotomayor's public speeches, including her most famous words that a wise Latina would more often than not make better decisions than a wise white man. They think it smacks of identity politics and a judge with an agenda.

She says she was misunderstood and her 17 years on the bench show race, gender, and background do not color her decisions. Republicans are still deeply suspicious and otherwise confused. SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: What is creating this cognitive dissonance for many of us and for many of my constituents who I've been hearing from, is that you appear to be a different person almost in your speeches and in some of the comments that you've made.

CROWLEY: It was a pretty cordial affair, questions were pointed, but polite, and even if she didn't answer, Sotomayor seemed to appreciate the effort.

SOTOMAYOR: But I love that you're doing your job and I'm doing my job as a judge. I like mine better.

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: I think I would like yours better, as well.

Although I doubt I could ever get to the stage of a confirmation process.


CROWLEY: Bottom line, beneath all the words whether humorous or pointed, history is a page away barring something completely improbable. Sonia Sotomayor will be the first Hispanic and the third woman to sit on the highest court in the land.

DOBBS: Candy, thank you very much. Candy Crowley from Washington.

Joining me now are three of the country's best political analysts: Ron Christie, former aide to both President George Bush and Vice President Cheney; CNN contributor Errol Louis, columnist, "New York Daily News;" CNN contributor and Democratic strategist, Robert Zimmerman. Thank you, all.

No surprise that Justice Sotomayor -- as I tend to think of her -- will be confirmed, right?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think it's all over but the counting. What's going to be interesting to watch...

DOBBS: The count started at 60, so I don't think it should be any surprise.

ZIMMERMAN: Well, I don't think -- being a Democrat, I don't take any vote for granted. But I'll tell you what's interesting though, watching the number of Republicans votes that will be there for her. You look at how divisive the rhetoric was when she was introduced by the Republicans who run at the mouth. And look at now how the Republicans who are running for reelection are handling themselves. I think we're seeing...

DOBBS: You couldn't stop your bad self, you had to be partisan.

ZIMMERMAN: I'm not being partisan.

DOBBS: They run at the mouth?

ZIMMERMAN: Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich using...

DOBBS: Pat Leahy -- you want me to go through the list of Democratic senators, as well?

ZIMMERMAN: I don't think anyone match -- no Republican senator indulge with behavior...

DOBBS: What I'm just saying here is why do that? Why do that?

ZIMMERMAN: Because I think it's important...

DOBBS: You were talking about Republicans coming to vote for her and the next thing you're insulting Republicans.

Ron Christie, Republicans.

RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, speaking for the Republicans, Lou, I think what we saw this week was a very dignified process. I think the American people got to hear from Judge Sotomayor, and I think that there were very pointed questions, some very hard questions from the Republicans.

But looking at it from my prism from being a Republican, I would only note that judge -- or I should say the nominee Miguel Estrada, who was nominated to the D.C. circuit court here, was filibustered by the Democrats; he was filibustered by Senator Obama and Senator Clinton.

I think what you've seen from the Republicans is a very, very tough and a very respectful confirmation but at the end I think that she'll receive a number of Republican votes.

DOBBS: Okay. Good. Errol, the Frank Ricci case, the New Haven firefighter discrimination case, it was supposed to be a central line of questioning. It really wasn't, was it?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, it really wasn't. Because in the end, what you'd have to say if you were upset about the way that whole case was handled before it got to the Supreme Court, you'd have to say that Sonia Sotomayor should have taken it upon herself to reinterpret the law and advance the whole understanding of affirmative action, which is ultimately what the Supreme Court did.

DOBBS: That's actually the inverse of what Senator Kyl and Judge Sotomayor discussed today. And that is that that precedent didn't rest, necessarily with the Supreme Court, but within the second circuit court...

LOUIS: Within the second circuit, right. So to ask her, how come you didn't change precedent within your circuit? It's a very difficult case to make, I mean, especially if you want somebody who's not an activist.

DOBBS: Rather than retrying, I was going to the politics of the moment. Let's go to the politics of the moment somewhat more approximate, and that is the president's speech to the NAACP; your reaction to it -- the fact that it took 24 minutes for the president to get to the issue of individual responsibility.

Our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux says that the president felt he needed to build a case for his own credibility before the NAACP. Your thoughts.

LOUIS: Well, there's certainly an element to that. This is an organization that's made up of many establishment figures who did not initially support Barack Obama. One thing he didn't say in the course of it is that, "Hey, your great work in civil rights made it possible for me to be president, thank you very much." That's not necessarily an interpretation that he places on their work.

DOBBS: But he could have said that to a number of organizations certainly beyond the NAACP.

LOUIS: Absolutely. Absolutely. And to the extent that, you know, there is this new biography about him called "Renegade," he's a bit of an outsider. Everywhere he goes, he's a bit of an outsider and that includes the NAACP.

DOBBS: Richard Wolffe, the "Newsweek" senior correspondent's book -- giving that credit where it is due.


ZIMMERMAN: I have to tell you, I thought it was a very inspired speech. Obviously, he did lay out the problems, the obstacles and the history. But he also laid out a path for the future. I thought that was very important.

It was a great source of pride for the NAACP obviously to have him there. But I think every American can take pride in watching that moment.

DOBBS: Yes, we're told that the NAACP, Ron Christie, wanted to get -- was it -- Yankees stadium for the appearance. But the White House said, "Wait a minute. We did that at Denver."

CHRISTIE: I know. Enough is enough, right? We don't need another column speech. I think President Obama gave a very rousing speech. He was obviously very, very fired up.

DOBBS: There you go. You did a Robert Zimmerman. Why can't you all get along? Why can't you get along?

ZIMMERMAN: That's why we're here with you, Lou, to bring us together.

CHRISTIE: I'm saying, Lou, I'm saying actually I thought he gave a rousing speech.

DOBBS: Good. CHRISTIE: But I will say this. The one thing I didn't like about the speech -- and you noted it in your previous segment -- it almost made it seem like the speech could have been given 40 years ago and that there has not been significant progress in the African- American community.

I mean we have overcome so much as a people. We've overcome so much as a race. I think that now there are millions of African- Americans now who have hope, who have the dream, who have the aspiration. I wish the president noted that in his speech tonight.

DOBBS: There is something of an overwhelming irony about the first African-American president standing before the NAACP talking about obstacles. We commiserate, we even empathize and understand what he was saying, but that irony nonetheless quite evident. We'll continue with our panel here in just a moment.


DOBBS: The political theater of the Sotomayor confirmation hearings has concluded.

Now distractions from things cap and trade, health care reform, energy policy, a host of other issues. Now, Robert Zimmerman, we're going to see what happens.

The director of the Congressional Budget Office today absolutely corrected the President of the United States saying the health care legislation as proposed by the Democrats in the House will, in fact, cost more, not less.

ZIMMERMAN: And to further scrutiny when he appeared before a House committee on this issue, he did acknowledge projecting ten years down the road when he said it would cost more, not less, is very hard to do. And also he didn't take into account the other committee proposals that are coming out that address the issue of curbing Medicare and Medicaid costs.

DOBBS: You're kidding me here, aren't you?

ZIMMERMAN: I'm on the level with you. I think it's premature to dismiss this bill.

DOBBS: No, I'm not dismissing the bill. I'm quoting the director of Congressional Budget Office without, you know, bringing in a host of other issues. But when you bring in Medicare and Medicaid as you just did, it's important to note what the Pacific Research Institute did that Medicare in, fact, has a 35 percent higher cost than the other programs in this country.

And yet, we're talking about, Errol Louis, making this is a government program. These are difficult headwinds, are they not?

LOUIS: I don't know if it's about making it a program. It's about -- I mean, this is where I think there are -- underlying the debate is, is it going to be an entitlement? Is this going to be something we do for citizens because they're citizens or is it something we'll do if we can afford it and otherwise we won't.

ZIMMERMAN: Errol, we're doing it because it's about jobs. It's about economic recovery. It's about the fact that right now it's costing us more...

DOBBS: Well, surely you gentlemen can agree...


DOBBS: Surely, you gentlemen can agree about why it's being done.

Ron Christie, you want to get in here?

CHRISTIE: Please, let me. I know why it's being done. Because this is a payoff back to the Democratic constituency; this has nothing to do with health care reform.

DOBBS: You're so partisan, Ron.

CHRISTIE: If you look at what the director of the Congressional Budget Office said today, it will cost more, it will not achieve the savings that's the president and Democrats are promising.

ZIMMERMAN: Is this a patronage...

CHRISTIE: And I might point out that you're talking about that it will only cover 37 million people. If the United States Congress was going to be serious about reforming health care costs, you have 49 percent of the people in this country who have chronic disease, 75 cents out of every health care dollars is spent on chronic disease and yet we're doing nothing...

ZIMMERMAN: Ron, you have to read the second page of this testimony however, when he does talk about...

DOBBS: We're going to all do that and you know what? You're going to report back to us at your earliest convenience what that second page says.

Ron Christie, I hope you'll be listening dutifully.

Thank you so much, Errol Louis; and you can arbitrate. We thank you very much. And Robert Zimmerman.

And we'll be right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: And a reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Fridays for the Lou Dobbs Show 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon on WOR 710 Radio in New York. And go to to get the local listings in your area of the country.

And you can follow me on loudobbsnews on Please join us. Thank you for being here with us tonight. Join us tomorrow.

Good night from New York.

Now Campbell Brown.