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Parker Spitzer

Panelists discuss incoming Republican House majority; Governor Perry of Texas interviewed.

Aired December 23, 2010 - 20:00   ET


KATHLEEN PARKER, CNN HOST, "PARKER SPITZER": Good evening, I'm Kathleen Parker.

ELIOT SPITZER, CNN HOST, "PARKER SPITZER": And I'm Eliot Spitzer. Welcome to the program. And happy holiday to you Kathleen and everybody at home as well.

PARKER: Thank you, Eliot, and happy holidays to you.

And it is certainly a season of cheer at the White House. Yesterday President Obama took a victory lap celebrating recent deals on "don't ask, don't tell," the START treaty, and the 9/11 first responders bill. So much for a lame-duck Congress.

SPITZER: You know what, it was with a good couple weeks and I think the White House and Congress got a lot done. But here is the warning that I would give to the White House. Where their victories came were in noneconomic areas. Where they got their hands slapped was in the area of tax reform where they had to give everything away.

The Republicans are going to hold tight when it comes to fiscal policy. That's where the tough battles will. Social policy, "don't ask, don't tell," they did great stuff, but it's going to be a tough, tough January when the budget is front and center.

PARKER: Debbie downer.


SPITZER: This is the reality of the politics in Washington.

PARKER: To talk about the politics, we're joined by John Avlon, a CNN contributor and senior political columnist for, and Steve Kornacki who is the editor and columnist for, none other than. Steve, should the Democrats be taking a victory lap or not?

STEVE KORNACKI, NEWS EDITOR AND COLUMNIST FOR SALON.COM: Well, I think Eliot put it in good perspective there.

PARKER: You're going to disagree with your hostess?

KORNACKI: If you said the morning after the midterm elections when Democrats had lost more than 60 seats in the House and it was a drumming up and down the country by the end of the year you got significant Republican support in the Congress for what amounts to $300 billion, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy would be repealed, that the START treaty and a version of the 9/11 first responders bill would be in effect, I think people would have thought you were crazy.

The one thing you say, they have come with a Congress that is now going to be out of town for good in about a week and they are going to be replaced by what amounts to the most conservative Congress ever.

There's a political scientist down at Emory University who did a study of the composition of the incoming House of represents. There are by his definition three moderate Republicans who will be sitting in the next House. So you're going to have fights on issues that matter most to the Tea Party base of the Republican Party, funding for health care, funding for Wall Street reform.

In the Congress that will be sort of presiding over that is not the Congress that just passed all of these initiatives.

JOHN AVLON, SENIOR POLITICAL COLUMNIST, DAILYBEAST.COM: That political science measure does not account for the eight measures of don't ask, don't tell.

KORNACKI: Olympia Snowe, moderate Republicans. In the House there are not going to be moderate Republicans.

SPITZER: John, understand there's a big difference between the fiscal battles and the social issue where there has been a little bit of moderation in the Republican Party. That's the distinction that I'm making, success versus impending battles.

AVLON: There is. And the vast center of the American people tend to be fiscally centered but socially libertarians. There's a real opportunity to build on that common ground. The war of attrition characterizes the last five years does not need to continue into the next congress.

SPITZER: But won't it, though? Isn't the west and the average member of the Republican Congress serving for the next two years, isn't the lesson that they took in these core economic issues, I will loses to somebody to my right? Forget about the general election voters. It's the primary voters that they have to worry about. If that's the audience that you're debating about, there is no compromise.

PARKER: What about the Tea Party, John? Can the Republicans rein them in?

AVLON: I don't think it's reining in so much as harnessing in the right direction. If they can be consistent, then it's not going to be primary these folks who supported "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" or the START treaty.

SPITZER: I want to come back to the budget. One of the most fascinating sort of games that was played over the last couple of weeks when Harry Reid had to pull the $1.2 trillion budget that would have funded government for the next year and instead we got a continuing resolution that does not fund anything that president Obama wanted.

That happened because the Republicans have appeared to get gun- shy on earmarks. At the end of the day they are the big winners, it seems to me, because now they control the budget next year where they were going to give it away.

KORNACKI: I think it's hypocrisy is the unforgivable sin. In the long run, I don't think that is actually a loss for the country. I think it was a --

SPITZER: In terms of McConnell and Reid, they now have their capacity to put an imprint on next year's budget whereas that had already crafted by Harry Reid and the Democrats?

KORNACKI: I do not think it's a zero sum game. It's a matter of the Senate and the new Senate internalizing and realizing that they need to build on the record for the next two weeks.

AVLON: What I'm seeing down the road, the continuing resolution to fund the government, the battle is I'm seeing in the Congress with no moderates elected by the Tea Party base to dismantle the Wall Street reform. Not to just take the programs off the book. Where is the compromise how are they voting for a bill that funds Obama care?

KORNACKI: Look, they ma may be promising it. I do not think --


SPITZER: John, we can't predict how it's going to play out next March. I agree with you Steve that we're going to see a huge battle, but the one thing that seems inconvertible to me is the continuing resolution running out with the obligation of a new budget in March is a huge power shift to that very conservative Republican base in the House who now have a say on all of these issues that otherwise would have been taken away from them. That is a loss for the White House.

AVLON: Look, that's democracy. Those are the results of the elections. There's going to be no attention to spending if you generally care about the deficit and the debt. They are going to defund health care, I don't think it's credible at the end of the day.

KORNACKI: Don't they have to have that vote in the House to defund it?

AVLON: Yes, but it's not going to happen.

KORNACKI: Isn't going to pass the House is you have 242 Republicans?

AVLON: It's not going to pass the Senate or the White House.

KORNACKI: When it goes back to the House, they buckle and say, I'm going to tell the Republican electorate that elected me --

AVLON: If they are consistent and if I think frankly we are accurate about making sure the Tea Party is focused on deficit and debt. So the really long ball promises on health care, sure, they are going to have that vote but it's not going to matter if it doesn't get passed. Where does the rubber meet the rubber on the really big issues in the deficit and the debt? And there are really important, creative things we can do to bring those down. Don't frame it as being hijacked by the far right. It's not going to be the reality.

SPITZER: This is why I say the White House as part of the tax cut compromise with Mitch McConnell should have gotten a deal with him to pass the entire $1.2 trillion budget to protect themselves for the entire year. Instead, they gave away nine months during which it's on the floor.

AVLON: At least hypothetically. I get where you're coming from.

SPITZER: From a guy like that, we'll take that victory. All right, thank you so much for joining us. Happy holidays. We're going to have you back in March and replay this and see who is right.

AVLON: There you go.

SPITZER: Coming up, I do battle with the Tea Party governor. You decide who wins. We'll be right back.


SPITZER: With this year almost over, we look back at some of the most important interviews we did, and one of those was Texas Governor Rick Perry.

PARKER: He's a Tea Party proponent who embodied the philosophy that changed the political landscape in 2010. To listen to him is to understand how and why political power shifted so dramatically this year. It's a terrific interview if we do say so ourselves.


GOV. RICK PERRY, (R) TEXAS: I truly believe that the states have a better idea of how to take care of their citizens, whether it's educating our children or infrastructure. Not send it to Washington, let them skim off operational purposes or whatever they do with it, and then send it back to the states with a lot of strings attached all too often, whether it's health care.

For instance, unemployment insurance -- they had $550 million in '09 that they were going to send back to the state of Texas, but said if you take it, though, you're going to have to change the program. And we said no thank you.

SPITZER: Let me ask you. The state does the same things to cities and town. There is no question when the state sends money to a city with education, but we're going to obligate you to do certain things. You can't disagree with the notion whether it's your money from Washington --

PERRY: I don't disagree with that. The fact of the matter is Newt Gingrich said, if it's good for the gander it's good for the goose as well. So let's make sure in your state you're not taking people's money. I don't leave anybody unscathed in this book.

PARKER: We've noticed.

SPITZER: You've doubled what you've taken out of Washington for a health care system. It's not functioning very well in Texas. It's the highest uninsured state in the nation.

PERRY: I happen to believe that the states need to be left to how to deliver that. One of the problems that we run into, Washington sends these dollars and says, here's how you have to spend it. And that's the problem. That's the issue that I think needs to be addressed in Washington, D.C. today, is I think you ought to block grant it back to the states and let us decide how to best decide --

SPITZER: Governor, I can tell you in New York we get money from the federal government, a fair bit of it. We figure out how to spend it. We don't have an uninsured rate anywhere close to what you have in Texas and we deal with the same federal constraints. So on the one hand you're willing to take the money but you're not even insuring people. How do you justify that?

PERRY: You don't have a 1,200 mile border with Mexico.

SPITZER: We're talking health care.

PERRY: Well, a substantial number of those individuals -- we're talking about the uninsured that are in our state illegally.

SPITZER: We have the same issue with immigration here in New York City and New York State that you've got in Texas --

PARKER: That's not quite like the Texas border.

SPITZER: Sure it is. But we don't have anywhere close to 25 percent uninsured that everybody in the state and the nation is paying for.

PERRY: And you also have a state that is damn near bankrupt. Listen, I'm not going to try to compare Texas to New York.


PARKER: Governor dual. Governor dual.


SPITZER: You're taking $14 billion of federal money for your Medicaid system and still 25 percent uninsured. So how are you going to overcome this?

PERRY: Well, I happen to think that if federal government will block grant the dollars, allow us to use private insurance, come up with different schemes so that we can get people into insurance, that's a lot better way to do it than -- but be erected by --

SPITZER: Every governor has to deal with the same sort of constraints imposed by the federal government. Nobody has an uninsured program like that.

PERRY: Texas has always decided that they wanted to be a state that had fewer government services. That's one of the things that I talked about. If you want to live in a state that has high taxes, high regulations, big government programs.

PARKER: He does.

SPITZER: Let me ask you a question. You were against the stimulus?

PERRY: Yes. We're spending money we don't have on programs that we don't need.

PARKER: You took $18 billion.

PERRY: How much money do we send up there, Eliot? Texas is a huge donor state.

PARKER: So is New York.

PERRY: And I think it's disingenuous for you to say you took some federal money. Look what we spent in federal tax dollars, et cetera. You bet when the federal government -- just don't put the strings attached to it. That's my problem.

SPITZER: You were in favor of the stimulus?

PERRY: No. I'm in favor of the federal government getting their spending habit under control. I'm in favor of not sending anywhere near as much money to the Washington D.C. and allowing the states to come up with how to deal with these issues. That's what "Fed Up" is all about, talking about the abuse of the constitution, the commerce clause to expand it, and to allow for Washington to be in control of our lives more than the states.

SPITZER: Well --

PERRY: I can't believe a governor would want to have Washington telling you how to run your state, Eliot. I'm stunned. I think you would say when you were the governor you would rather run the state, not Washington.

PARKER: I think you're probably right.

SPITZER: But we worked with Washington figure out the best way to do it.

PERRY: I don't think federal government is what brought our economy back. I think the federal government is still stymied me in the stimulus dollar and all of the programs are stymied in this economy. I happen to think that if they would get some predictability in the tax code and I'm in favor of expanding these taxes, and allow people to know that the tax structure is going to be. There's a lot of money out there. People are sitting on it today because they're scared to death -- SPITZER: I've been confused about this. I think you and I would agree there is about $2 trillion that corporations are sitting on, just kind of sitting there. It's not being invested. I know it's the sort of story line of the business community, we need certainty. Certainty about what? Tax rates are set. They are -- they have been the same --

PERRY: People know what the capital gains next year is going to be?

SPITZER: There no more or less uncertainty now than at any point in the last 20 years when Congress will make shifts and discusses these issues. The issue is demand. Every economist I speak to says there's no demand and that's why the stimulus saves three million jobs.

PERRY: We disagree.

SPITZER: What should the government have done?

PERRY: I think the government should stand back and let the market work its way through. That's why we have bankruptcy laws. If someone would have come in and said, if you're going to fold up, here's the offer that we'll make. These people will get their jobs and America would have been substantially happier, I think.

I don't think the federal government coming in and being this central decision-maker for all of the states. The idea that we're owning an automobile company today --

SPITZER: You would have let GM and Chrysler and Goldman Sachs and Citibank and Bank of America gone bankrupt?

PERRY: I would have let them restructure.

SPITZER: You would have made them file bankruptcy?


SPITZER: Even after when Lehman went bankrupt, you saw what happened to the economy?

PERRY: I think that the federal government getting involved with private sector dealings is not good public policy.

PARKER: Governor Perry, please hold that thought just one minute. Don't go away. We'll be back in just a few minutes.


PARKER: Welcome back to "PARKER SPITZER." More now of our interview with Texas governor Rick Perry. There is talk that his name may make the list of GOP presidential hopefuls. We asked him about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PARKER: You have said that running for president "steals the soul," or something along those lines.

PERRY: I've probably said that, but more importantly I said I'm not interested leaving the best job in America. I really believe that governors are more closely aligned with the people of this country, and that let our states compete. That's how our founding fathers foresaw this country was the states being the laboratories of innovation.

SPITZER: We're asking all of our guests, elected officials, private sector folks, a question to say, name your cuts. Everybody looks at the federal deficit and says this is more than we can afford. Everybody agrees on that principle. But then everybody dodges when we ask, how are you going to balance this?

So tell us if you would in the context of Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and in the Defense Department which is where the big dollars really are, how would you save and cut?

PERRY: There's $106 trillion worth of unfunded liability in those, Social Security Medicare, Medicaid. And I think we need to have a national discussion about -- I have a son that is 27 and a daughter who is 24. They both think Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. They know for a fact that it's not going to be there if it continues down the path that it's going down.

So why should we try to fool anybody and pull the wool over their eyes? Let's have the discussion.

SPITZER: Would you raise the retirement age to 70?

PERRY: I don't know if 70 is the right number or not. But let's have the conversation. What if you go to 66, 67, 68? But let's have --

PARKER: Would you base it on whether people can afford to live without it?

PERRY: It's all on the table. But don't put it over there and say we can't talk about that. That's the third rail of politics. I don't believe that's wise and thoughtful.

SPITZER: You'll forgive me if I push you a little bit on this. You've been the governor of the great state of Texas for a decade now. You've run social welfare programs. Saying let's make it part of discussion is fine but begs for the follow up, are you for it.

You have a book complaining about government obligations. Yes or no, do you want to raise the retirement age?

PERRY: I'm on with two very bright and capable commentators having this discussion with the American people. I don't put in that book "Fed Up" that I have all of the answers, but I think we ought to have -- SPITZER: But you have to have an answer. I don't expect you to have all the answers, but you have to have an answer. Having a conversation is not an answer. It's a political punt. What is the answer? Will you raise the retirement age or not?

PARKER: I have no control over him.

PERRY: I'm not going to be the president of the United States.

SPITZER: You've been a governor for ten years and you've written a book largely critical of federal policies.

PARKER: Here's what I think would be a very wise thing. In 1981, Madagoria and Galveston counties all opted out of Social Security programs for their employees. Today their program is very, very well-funded and there is no question about whether it's going to be funded in the out years. It's there. It's an option out there.

SPITZER: So you want to let people opt out?

PERRY: Let the states decide if that's what is best for their system.

SPITZER: So the states will let people opt out of Social Security? I haven't seen anybody propose that before because --

PERRY: We just laid it on the table. Let's talk about it.

SPITZER: So that's your plan?

PERRY: No, that's not my plan.

SPITZER: I'm trying to get you --

PERRY: Your trying to get me in a corner and I don't corner very good.


SPITZER: Here is the problem I have. The Tea Party and folks who have been leading this movement dodging and dancing, unable to give a single answer about what they actually support. Having a conversation is to push it somewhere else. I want to know if there's an answer. Will you raise the retirement age? Are you saying you want private accounts? You can say it. We'll disagree, but at least it's an answer.

PERRY: I think all of those are legitimate options out there. But let the states decide. Don't force us from Washington, D.C., to say here is the size of tube socks that you're going to wear down in Texas. Put them on.


SPITZER: All right. Thank you much.

PERRY: Good to be with you.

PARKER: Governor Perry, thanks so much.

Don't go away. We'll be right back.


SPITZER: It might just be the most interesting story of the year, WikiLeaks. The international website revealed hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. State Department documents.

PARKER: the publishing of the documents stirred heated conversation about the thin line of democracy, particularly on the Internet, and national security. Earlier the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prompted just this conversation.


SPITZER: Joining us tonight to discuss WikiLeaks and Assange is Naomi Wolf, who is concerned about the dangers to democracy by manipulating the law and the detainment of Assange. And Clay Sherky is an expert on social networking and admittedly conflicted about how to handle Assange and WikiLeaks in this circumstance.

And for the legal perspective, we've asked CNN's Jeff Toobin to join us. Welcome to you all.

Jeff, let me ask you this question. Two, discrete, legal issues to be confronted. First is the potential exposure in Sweden, or London for events in Sweden about sexual assaults that are alleged. Second, the events relating to the leaking and publication of the diplomatic documents. How do you assess his legal exposure?

JEFFERY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think he is in big trouble in both realms. The Swedish government has filed formal charges against him and is seeking his extradition. Most of the time extradition is successful and it is likely, I think, that he will go back to Sweden sooner or later. Delay, of course, is always possible.

In terms of the WikiLeaks case, the case about disclosure of classified information, there has been no charges yet. But when you have the attorney general of the United States hold a press conference, the sole purpose of which is to say we are investigating this guy and his group for criminal activity, it's a safe bet the charges will be filed soon and I think they will be.

PARKER: What's so hard about just charging him with receiving stolen government documents?

TOOBIN: Because you have to put the pieces together for a criminal case. Who actually just got these documents? How did they get on to WikiLeaks -- on to the Web site? Who physically put them there? What was Assange's role in getting -- was it a thumb drive from point A to point B? All of that may be known to the U.S. government. It's certainly not known to the public now. And you can't bring a criminal case unless you can actually connect the evidentiary dots.

NAOMI WOLF, AUTHOR, "THE END OF AMERICA": I can't believe we're having this conversation because Assange isn't the guy who got the classified information. Some unknown person did that. He's not Daniel Ellsberg, he's the "New York Times." And I'm shocked that we're sitting around saying there's, you know, there's a criminal discussion about a criminal investigation of someone who's a publisher, no different from us sitting here, no different from me putting things on my own Facebook page or Web site, no different from the "New York Times." And what does it come to in the United States that there's been this mission creed that the people who are actually publishing what was classified information are the ones being scrutinized when that's one --

SPITZER: Naomi --


WOLF: And they decided in the Ellsberg case that the "New York Times" was right to publish. That the benefit to all of us as citizens outweigh the national security alert that the government then declared. And they always declare national security alert when they don't want the citizens to know something embarrassing to them.

PARKER: All right, Clay. You said you're very confused about -- on the one hand, you're for total transparency but not absolute?

CLAY SHIRKY, SOCIAL NETWORKING EXPERT: On the contrary, I said I'm not for total transparency. If, for example, there was a leak of all the information from all the teenage girls on Facebook.


SHIRKY: But I think we would regard that with horror. So there is -- there is, I think, not a case to be made for total transparency. And the way democracies deal with that is we say we have a system of checks and balances. There's some kinds of things that can be published, other kinds of things that can't be published. I think we would have no trouble saying of the "New York Times," were they to publish such a hypothetical data file, you know, something private material from Facebook, that this would be problematic.

WOLF: What if it's in the public interest?

PARKER: But it may not be in the public interest.

SHIRKY: This is the question.

WOLF: But that's what the courts decide, not legislators.

SHIRKY: And this is what I come down to, which is whatever the -- whatever the long haul decision of a democracy is, if Assange is brought to trial and the trial goes forward or if, as Senator Lieberman wants to, do the laws are rewritten and the new laws take place, that at least will have been part of the Democratic process. The only truly catastrophic mistake I think we could make right now is to opt out of democracy because it's too slow.

WOLF: Thank you.

SHIRKY: And just run WikiLeaks off the net because we don't like it.

WOLF: Thank you.

SHIRKY: Both because in the short term it doesn't live up to Democratic ideals. And because in the long term, actually in the medium term, we hand the rhetorical advantage to every autocratic government in the world.

SPITZER: Can I ask a question? Because I want to parse this just a little bit more finely. Don't we have to when you begin to do this, distinguish between the person who took or stole the information and somebody who merely publishes it?

WOLF: Absolutely.

SPITZER: And so let's look at those in two entirely different circumstances, Jeff, as well as a matter of law.

WOLF: It's not our opinion. It's not what we're sitting around thinking this is right or this is wrong, or I don't want my daughter's secrets from Facebook published by "The New York Times." It's a matter of law. There is such a thing as classified information. It is illegal to release it, if it's classified if you're the one who took it. So the person that they're right to investigate is whoever took it. I think that's what happened. And if, by the way, if they're investigating him, where is Cheney and where is, you know, Scooter Libby who also released classified information in outing Valerie Plame.

TOOBIN: Dick Cheney was the vice president of the United States who has authority to declassify anything he wants. But putting that aside, since when is Julian Assange in charge of deciding what should be public and what's in the public interest? We have a process --

WOLF: If that's why there was a court case and Daniel Ellsberg was facing 120 years and that judge said this is in the interest of the American people to know that we are engaged in a secret war. And that's what this leak also shows. We're engaged in secretly bombing Yemen, secretly bombing Pakistan and that is in the national interest.

SPITZER: Jeff, I want to ask you a question. You would agree there's a distinction between this person who took it and stole it off the government computer and if it came in the mail as just a thumb drive, as you said, if Assange just put it on a Web site, that would be a different set of issues.

TOOBIN: That would be a different set of issues.

SPITZER: So we need to answer that factual question.

TOOBIN: But you have to also -- there's also an issue of intent. SPITZER: Correct.

TOOBIN: If you intend to simply blow out 250,000 documents that are at tremendous -- putting individuals at risk, the United States government employees at risk, people who cooperate with the United States government at risk, that is not up to Julian Assange. That is up to the United States government.

WOLF: Scooter Libby did that.

SHIRKY: But Assange went with -- went with "Guardian," went through "Spiegel." In this case, the "Times" by proxy and they redacted some of the documents and held some of the documents back.

TOOBIN: Some of it. They redacted some of it.

WOLF: He asked the Pentagon to work with him on redacting what was sensitive and they would not do so. So who's responsible?

TOOBIN: Who's in charge? Julian Assange is not in charge.

WOLF: And let's also notice something else.

TOOBIN: No, actually, Julian Assange is not how democracy works in my opinion.

WOLF: But to ask the Pentagon to redact the sensitive information so that he can release what the rest of us deserve to know and the Pentagon --

SHIRKY: The Congressional Research Service produced a document in October looking back at the August release of the Afghani documents and they said basically what this conversation has come down to which is, a, there may be some -- in fact, there is some rationale for charging Assange under the Espionage Act. And, b, it's never been tried up against First Amendment, strong First Amendment principles since "New York Times" versus the United States -- the Pentagon papers case.

SPITZER: Which decided what?

SHIRKY: Which decided that "The New York Times" could publish the documents.


SHIRKY: It's illegal to leak secrets but it's not illegal to publish leaks.

WOLF: Exactly right. Look, we also have to notice something else which is the chilling effect. If you can close down PayPal, intimidate Amazon, if you can drive someone off the Internet then tomorrow it's going to be us. And tomorrow it's going to be you people watching because --

TOOBIN: Slippery slope arguments are almost always bogus. And, you know, the fact that --


SPITZER: One at a time.

WOLF: Exactly how you close down an open society.

TOOBIN: WikiLeaks is not the only evidence of an open society. The Internet is alive and well. It will be alive and well if we --

WOLF: I can't access WikiLeaks anymore.

TOOBIN: I'm sorry.

WOLF: I can't access WikiLeaks anymore.

TOOBIN: Good. Because WikiLeaks --

WOLF: Oh, really?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. Because WikiLeaks is jeopardizing many lives by doing what --

WOLF: You don't know that.

PARKER: No, it absolutely is.

WOLF: And WikiLeaks where someone's life is jeopardized. If that's indeed the case --

PARKER: I spoke to an ambassador this morning who said horror stories are going to emerge. I'm not going to tell you which one I spoke to because he needs to be protected. And he says you have to read these things as people in other countries do. They're not democracies. They're not the American people. They are other regimes.

WOLF: I keep saying this because sometimes when democracies --

PARKER: And nobody wants to talk.

WOLF: The courts decide that.

PARKER: Hold it right there. We've got to take a quick break. But we're going to come right back with more of this fascinating conversation. Stay with us.


PARKER: We're back with more discussion on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Naomi Wolf, Clay Shirky and Jeff Toobin are here. I want to raise the privacy concern in a minute. But first, Eliot, you go.

SPITZER: Yes, I want to come back, Clay. You were asking about Bob Woodward. We're raising the issue of his book where he relied upon conversations, documents that came out of "The Situation Room" in the White House. In what way is that different, Clay? How would you analyze that? Is that same thing?

SHIRKY: So here's the thing. I know Julian slightly. Not well enough to characterize his motivations, but I can say that he is one of the fastest learners I know. And one of the things he seems to have done is changed his selectivity bias. As we're talking about before the break, what he said now was when I did document dumps it actually wasn't -- it wasn't the right thing to do. Wasn't the right way to run the service. And so now his selectivity is the "Guardian" selectivity, "The New York Times" selectivity. He's not just dumping a quarter of a million cables. He's relying on the existing publishing establishment. So I don't see how he is not himself a publisher.

You said something interesting, Eliot, right at the beginning. You said the man behind the leaked documents. From my point of view, he's the man in the middle of the leaked documents. PFC Bradley Manning has been accused of being the man behind the leaked documents. And when you look at everything from, you know, CIA general counsel's testimony on this, you know, 30 years ago, you know, the report last August from Congressional Research Service, it all says the obvious crime is removing classified information from a classified system. It is not at all clear that you can prosecute publishers for publishing leaked documents.

SPITZER: And back to Woodward, where does Woodward fit in to this?

SHIRKY: So I think that Woodward is not a criminal for publishing leaked documents but I also think that Assange is not a criminal for publishing leaked documents. However, I also, also think that if I'm wrong about that, that the way in which I would be wrong is going through the court system. Not through an extra legal running of WikiLeaks off the network.

The damage to me -- Jeffrey to your earlier point about the slippery slope, the non-slippery slope argument is the State Department has currently committed itself to making it very difficult for autocratic governments to force information off the Internet. And we're suddenly providing not just a recipe but a rationale that's making everyone from Lubchenko (ph) to Kim Jong-il laugh.

TOOBIN: But see, you know, again, this is a slippery slope argument.


TOOBIN: It is, it is. Because the fact that someone takes United States government documents, secret, no foreign distribution, and says that shouldn't be on the Internet. To say that North Korea shouldn't have a free press, to say that Russia shouldn't allow journalists to -- I mean, I think it is easy to draw a distinction between the two.

WOLF: Jeff, can I talk about the Espionage Act because that's really what's at stake now that they've invoked it. I predicted in my book "The End of America" that sooner or later, journalists would be targeted with the Espionage Act in an effort to close down free speech and (INAUDIBLE) of government. And we have a president for that. In 1917, the Espionage Act was invoked to go after people like us who are criticizing the first World War. Publishers, educators, editors. Wait, and people were put in prison. They were beaten. One guy got a 10-year sentence for reading the First Amendment. And that intimidation effectively closed down dissent for a decade in the United States of America.

The Espionage Act has a very dark and dirty history. And when you start to use the Espionage Act, to criminalize what I'm sure you've handled classified documents in your time as a serious journalist, you know perfectly well that every serious journalist has seen or heard about classified information and repeated it. When you start to use the Espionage Act to say reporting is treachery, reporting is spying, it's espionage, you criminalize journalism. And that's the history that our country has shown.

TOOBIN: I recognize there is that history. And I'm familiar with the red scare, too. America is different now.

WOLF: Oh, it's worse in some ways.

TOOBIN: Well, I would disagree.

SPITZER: I want to ask Jeff a question though, because I want to come back to this Woodward distinction. You would agree with Clay and Naomi, I think, that Julian Assange would be precisely Bob Woodward if he had been the recipient of these documents, is that correct?

TOOBIN: I'd have to know a lot more.

SPITZER: But it might be the case.

TOOBIN: It well might be the case.

SPITZER: OK. So you're sort of clear articulation of the beginning that he clearly violated something maybe not so much.

TOOBIN: I'm not sure. Certainly the attorney general of the United States seems to think criminal -- criminal activity was involved here. But I think the wholesale taking of enormous quantities of classified information and putting it on the Internet, even if you don't put all 250,000 documents on, I think that is a meaningful distinction from what Bob Woodward does.

SPITZER: It seems to me that Bob Woodward arguably did something much more egregious. He took real-time decisions about why we were going to war in Afghanistan, the discussions are rationale, where we would go spoke to the most senior political and military officials in the nation and blasted that out in the book. A clear distinction.

TOOBIN: Well, again, there is a distinction in part because the president of the United States and the vice president are allowed to declassify anything they want at any time for any reason. So if the president declassified -- SPITZER: A lot of people who didn't have that power were sourced in that book. Seemed to be speaking in clear violation. They, in fact, should be subject to criminal investigations.

TOOBIN: I always wondered why -- why Woodward gets away with it. It's an interesting question.


PARKER: It's a fascinating conversation. I have mostly listened as a non-lawyer to these arguments. And I never want to make a case against due process because that seems always the right thing to do.

WOLF: Thank you.

PARKER: And yet I also want to say the government should be able to shut down people who are giving away secrets that are going to cause people to lose their lives and put in, you know, and cause our own people abroad not to be able to do their work in safety.

All right then. Naomi Wolf, Clay Shirky and Jeffrey Toobin, fabulous conversation. Thank you.

SHIRKY: Thanks so much.

PARKER: And you, too, Eliot Spitzer. We'll be right back.


PARKER: Our next guest is just the normal, happy couple, the family next door. And if you happen to live in Beverly Hills, you're constantly followed by TV cameras and one of you is famous for sticking out your tongue.

SPITZER: Gene Simmons has been the front man for the hard rock band KISS for more than 30 years and Shannon Tweed is an actress who's been in more than 50 films.

Welcome to both of you. Thanks for coming by.


PARKER: You all are in your '60s and of your reality TV show called "The Family Jewels."


PARKER: You've been happily --

TWEED: Called "Gene Simmons Family Jewels."

PARKER: "Gene Simmons Family Jewels."


PARKER: Sorry about that. I wouldn't have expected them to be yours.

But to the point --

TWEED: Technically, they are my jewels.

PARKER: Oh, OK. OK. So we're being literal here.

TWEED: Coming from his jewels.

SPITZER: We're just going to sit here and watch this repertoire. This is good.

SIMMONS: I'm not saying a word.

TWEED: They're shared jewels now.

SPITZER: You act like a married couple but you're not.

PARKER: You're not -- that's the first question I have for you, happily unmarried for 25 years.

SIMMONS: Twenty-seven.

PARKER: Twenty-seven.

TWEED: Don't take those last two away from me. They were tough.

SIMMONS: Twenty-seven.

PARKER: Oh, my goodness, so what is the secret to --

TWEED: There's no secret.

SIMMONS: There is. And I'll tell you. And I'll tell you right here. And I'll tell you what the secret it. The secret is of having Shannon Tweed be the teacher to all the women on planet earth about how to keep a relationship interesting, sexy and forever changing.

PARKER: You just decided not to get married? But why not?

SIMMONS: Well --

TWEED: The marriage part is not conventional, but everything else is very conventional.

SPITZER: Increasingly conventional, frankly, if you look at the society out there.

TWEED: I guess. I don't plan on defending that part of it.

PARKER: It's a hedgy way for kids. Would you like your kids go to your show? When they were little, were they rocker kids?

SIMMONS: Yes, the rocker kids are fine, but just, again, full disclosure, I've never been high or drunk in my life and I've never smoked cigarettes. TWEED: And neither have the kids.

SIMMONS: That's a personal choice. I'm not saying this is a political plan before anything else.


SPITZER: Do you think that surprises your fans? Do you think that would surprise your fans if they heard that?

SIMMONS: Initially they did, but I've badgered people and they've heard it so much. OK, I know, I know --

TWEED: He will make you put your cigarette out.

SIMMONS: I will not be in the same room with anybody that smokes.

SPITZER: Second hand smoke.


SPITZER: And in this series, this year's series, you begin over in Amsterdam visiting Anne Frank's house.


SPITZER: Which is not a conventional reality TV show.

TWEED: No, it's a very poignant --

SPITZER: This is one of the most powerful "Diary of Anne Frank" being one of the most powerful books ever written. Explain this, why there? What's it been?

SIMMONS: We were -- KISS was on tour around the world and the cameras followed us and we met -- we stopped in Amsterdam. We met a 13-year-old boy who was so proud of his grandfather who survived the German Nazi holocaust of World War II. And he wanted to do an article on me as a man who happens to be abandoned. But he was interested in my mother who, likewise, survived the concentration camps. And we then were invited to go see the Anne Frank house. And I will tell you initially we went there and I thought it was going to be sort of a sad day and just a sort of a historical overview, but it impacted me so much that I broke down because when I looked at the face of Anne Frank, a 13-year-old Jewish Dutch girl, I immediately saw my mother who, at 14 years of age, was herself drived into the concentration camps and saw her whole family wiped out. And the problem with -- I used to be a sixth grade teacher myself. The problem with information and history and schools is you think of it as far away. It's in the history books, the holocaust. It's just a phrase. And the truth is it happened yesterday. It happened to my mother.

I never met my grandmothers or my grandfathers. They were all wiped up in the gas chambers of Nazi Germany. And the phrase, if we don't learn from history, we're doomed to repeat it, actually means something. And I would urge everybody out there in all seriousness, if you haven't read a book by a 13-year-old girl while she was alive, you must read "The Diary of Anne Frank" because it's an inspirational book about life.

SPITZER: Gene, truly an amazing story. Stay with us. We've got to take a quick break.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello. I'm Randi Kaye. More of "PARKER SPITZER" in a moment. First, the latest.

Police in Rome say an anarchist group has claimed responsibility for mail bombs that exploded today at the Swiss and Chilean embassy. One man at the Swiss embassy suffered serious wounds to his hands. A second person was injured at the Chilean post.

President Obama arrived in Hawaii today for Christmas vacation with his family. He was originally supposed to fly there last Saturday, but got stuck in Washington while Congress wrapped up its business. The first family will return to the White House on January 2nd.

And tonight on "360," soldiers who have suffered brain injuries while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Keeping them honest, why are they not receiving one treatment that's highly recommended by brain specialists? That's at 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight.

That is the very latest. Now back to "PARKER SPITZER."

PARKER: You have -- it might surprise some people to know that you were a supporter of George W. Bush and you were behind the war in Iraq.

SIMMONS: Well, unlike most Americans, we don't vote by party. We vote by the person because a person is bigger than the party, which is why sometimes the Democrats get in and sometimes the Republicans get in. I voted for President Bush. I voted for President Clinton and although I do want my vote back, I voted for President Obama.

We vote for all sorts of reasons. I would like to think all of us vote for one reason. We vote our conscience. And, you know, by the way, as a wake-up call to all of you, Al Qaeda doesn't care what political party you are. They want you all to die.

SPITZER: We come back to Iraq. I mean, you supported it. I think many people at the time when the president said there were weapons of mass destruction thought this was --

SIMMONS: I don't care about that.

SPITZER: That was not the reason.

SIMMONS: No. I don't care whether there are or not. And politicians lie every day. I believe clearly that if you don't deal with a nuclear Iran now, and if you don't deal with Al Qaeda before it gets its hands on dirty weapons and if you don't stop the nonsense there, and yes, I think there's going to be some nation-building.

I'm a very conservative foreign policy person. Fiscally, I'm very conservative. I don't believe in welfare states. I believe in giving people jobs. Most importantly, I believe I'm like most Americans. I'm socially liberal. I want to separate church and state. I think anybody who's gay, for God's sake if what you want to fight for is to be married, that's all. Please, you know, let anybody get married if they want to and I wish you luck. But I'm socially as liberal as you can get.

PARKER: Gene, may I get back to one thing you said. What is it about -- why do you wish you could take back your Obama vote?

SIMMONS: Because I voted because the man that was running was a moment in history. I -- in the back of my mind, I wanted to show the world that America, the land of slaves, the land that tortured its black population for hundreds of years is also the place of hope that you'd give an African-American a chance to lead the most powerful place on the planet. However, if you take a look at the resume, you couldn't find somebody, in retrospect, more unqualified. Two years in public office, never ran his own company. So after the fact, I was questioning the qualification.

SPITZER: You're so passionate about this and so persuasive when you speak.

TWEED: Did you not know he's running for president?

SPITZER: I was going to ask you that. But your music seems frankly, kind of devoid of politics.

PARKER: I think I hear --

SPITZER: Did you ever think -- did you ever think of using your music as a vehicle for --

SIMMONS: Well, the last thing you want to hear is --

TWEED: It may not be as popular if you start talking about politics while singing.

SPITZER: But you care about this so much.

SIMMONS: In the same way that I don't want to hear our president start rocking out to a rock tune, I don't think rockers should be discussing politics because qualification is most important. I have said this --

TWEED: Sex and drugs and rock and roll.


TWEED: Sex and rock and roll.

SIMMONS: Sing about what you know about the most, you know.


SIMMONS: What I discovered, however, by reading "The Wall Street Journal" but especially by seeing all the pop culture news is, I never knew that in America that our foreign policy was actually decided in Malibu. I never knew that. I didn't know that Sean Penn was our foreign policy expert. It's a revelation. That's what you want to hear is morons who are actually in movies and playing guitars.

SPITZER: You joked about it, running for president. Are you going to get into public life?

SIMMONS: As soon as they pay me enough and I --

SPITZER: How much money?

SIMMONS: I believe in democracy.

TWEED: And that's a no.

SIMMONS: But I think the more effective form of government is a benevolent dictator and you're looking at it.

SPITZER: All right.

PARKER: All right. You all are fantastic. Thank you so much.

Gene Simmons, not the guy I would have pegged him to me.

SPITZER: No way. Let me tell you. Listen to his music and that's not the guy I expected. An amazing interview with him and his wife, Shannon Tweed.

PARKER: Well, that's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.