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Billionaire Bloomberg Joins the Presidential Race; What are the Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment?; Overcoming Tragedy. Aired 9- 10a ET

Aired November 30, 2019 - 09:00   ET



BRUNO MARS, MUSICIAN: I want to be a billionaire so freakin' bad, buy all of the things I never had...

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: That's Travie McCoy's "Billionaire" featuring Bruno Mars. I'm Michael Smerconish in New York City and wondering why all the hostilities toward Michael Bloomberg. The former Mayor of New York City formally entered the presidential race this week. He was greeted with a torrent of nasty headlines. Take a look at these.

No other democratic candidate was so coldly welcomed into the race. Bloomberg got no honeymoon. Think about it, when Elizabeth Warren announced the initial coverage speak to her, quote, baggage. Did the first round of stories about Bernie Sanders address, the quote, the huge barriers he'd confront. Anyone every use the word grown regarding Kamala Harris? Anyone ever say disqualify soon after Amy Klobuchar announced?

No way. It's been a total double standard, with much of the animus directed at Bloomberg's wealth. Instead of focusing on the fact he's the son of a middle class accountant who earned his money himself and that by not accepting donations he need not prostitute himself to political process, his self financing is cast as a negative and his uniquely American story largely ignored.

Well, I have a different perspective. I say, "Welcome, Mr. Mayor, and thank you for your willingness to enter what T.R. described as the arena. You've been in this race just a week and already your face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. You don't need this. You could spend the rest of your years with your feet up in Bermuda. Hell, you could buy Bermuda but you choose to contribute both with your donations and with your talents. Your ethics seem above reproach. You're a data-driven non-ideologue. And by most accounts, New York City benefited from your leadership of 12 years so I say good luck. You can have my salt shaker and my sugary drink. Just make the trains run on time.

Joining me now is Scott Galloway. He's a Professor of Marketing at NYU's Stern School of Business and he wrote this piece for "Business Insider." Bloomberg should run. Elizabeth Warren has put on a master class in campaigning but the U.S. is still wildly sexist. Professor, why all the hostility toward Michael Bloomberg? SCOTT GALLOWAY, NYU PROFESSOR: Thanks for having me, Michael and good

morning. Just north of here in Florida you can go to Universal's Harry Potter World for $125 per person and wait in line for a couple hours for the most popular rides or you can opt to pay $4,000 which entitles you and four friends to meet a very high E.Q. young person in the morning who not only takes you to the front of the line but takes you in through an employee entrance and you can go on the ride several times.

I think there's a great type of resentment toward that type of wealth and people cutting the line. I think people, to your point, have mistaken Mr. Bloomberg and his wealth for kind of cutting the line and there's some resentment. And it's a bit unfair as you referenced at the outset of the show is this is an individual who has been the executive or governed a city that by GDP would be the 10th largest or 12th largest sovereign nation in the world so it's a bit unfair to say he's cutting the line. He's getting in late in the process but I think there's some resentment and a belief, if you will, he's cutting the line.

SMERCONISH: Well I guess I would respond as follows. The $4,000 that Michael Bloomberg is paying to be at the front of the line for Harry Potter is his four grand and the $120 - the $120 that the others are bartering is other people's money to whom -- special interests -- they are now indebted. In other words, I see it as an asset and not a liability. But professor, I said the same thing about howard schultz when he was tempted to get into the race. Same type of hostility. There's a class resentment I sense in all of this.

GALLOWAY: Yes, I know also, if you were to look at the 12 years, I think people from New York saw leadership that resulted in not only a decline in prison populations but a decline in crime. New York became a global node of creativity, social tolerance. He showed an ability to thread the needle between the world's largest corporations in the world and some of the most progressive unions in the world. You have an individual whose philanthropy wasn't used to shape public policy to his own benefit but a lot of it was done anonymously.

This is an individual who is on the first-name basis with majority of world leaders. If there's anyone who can kind of slip into the shoes of a world leader and has sort of a proven ability to bring people with much different backgrounds and much different agendas together and lead what I'll call an evidence-based govern where it was based on data, and appreciation for outcomes. You would think -- I, too, am shocked the mayor hasn't received a more welcoming entry into the race.


But in 30 days, he's going to -- this will all be forgotten and we'll see where he is. We have a centrist, a new centrist. It's going to have a huge impact on the race. I can tell you as a local New Yorker, a lot of us, even those of us who may not have loved the mayor, are happy to see him in the race.

SMERCONISH: I wonder if electability might change some of this conversation. "Politico" addressed head on the quote, unquote, crazy nature by which he's doing this, skipping the first four. I want to put up on the screen and read to you what they said. The evidence for the alleged non-craziness, meaning Bloomberg's argument, is based on polling. And emphatically low regard for the current field of democratic candidates and emphatically high regard for Bloomberg's purported assets. These include compelling life story, record of accomplishment as mayor, credibility on activist on gun control and climate change and an ability to nationalize the race this coming winter and early spring with a historic torrent of money and messaging. I guess my question to you is do you think this can work?

GALLOWAY: I'd like to think so. A lot of us who live on the coast have been accused of being in a bubble, but just from a marketing perspective, if you look at the number of times an incumbent president has been voted out of office when there isn't a recession, that happens 0% of the time. So I think what we're seeing in the democratic race is a recognition by democrats who put near the top or at the top, in terms of a priority, and that is putting someone else in the White House. If there is sort of this mother of all pivots to the center, and there's beginning to be a recognition that if we were to try to reinvent or reconstruct the economic model of capitalism to different health care, vastly different taxation, that that might be a blue line path to re-election for the president.

So we're seeing a big move to the center. I think what this really says is Michael Bloomberg and his colleagues and supporters and polling have said there's a huge opening in the middle. I think a lot of people on the left have someone they prefer to Michael Bloomberg. The strategy here is that people will coalesce around the most electable person and the most electable person will likely be a centrist who is seen as a pragmatist, who has the resources and has shown the ability to bring different constituencies together.

SMERCONISH: And finally, the premise of his candidacy seems to be that former Vice President Biden will falter, Elizabeth Warren will win the nomination and cannot be elected. That's a subject you dealt with in your recent essay. Briefly address that.

GALLOWAY: Yes, look, I think Elizabeth Warren is a fellow academic, is an incredibly impressive person. Unfortunately, and this goes deeper and this is a deeper problem for our society, a lot of the polls come back that she's quote, unquote, not likable. Quite frankly, it's sexist. And we're seeing that she's having trouble getting past a certain high watermark. This is obviously disturbing but it's the reality we face.

The notion that Joe Biden or Vice President Biden hasn't kind of inspired the type of passion that we're going to need is one factor. In addition, if the Democrats are going to take back the White House, they need two cohorts. They need the base, and it looks like Trump is going to turn out the base for the Democrats and they need to go after the middle, which is largely white, largely male, largely disaffected voters and there's very little chance that Senator Warren will probably appeal -- or Bernie Sanders -- the notion Steve Schmidt, kind of summarized it very tersely, a -- a sociopath beats a socialist seven days and on Sunday in this economic environment. SMERCONISH: Professor Galloway, thank you for being here.

GALLOWAY: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @smerconish or go to my Facebook page. I'll read some throughout the course of the program. This comes from Facebook. I don't want another billionaire New Yorker. Ray Franklin (ph) deciding forever now all billionaires from New York are out of it. Painting too broad a brush, I would say, Ray(ph). I wouldn't hold the man's finances against him. He earned them himself.

Up ahead, throughout eight years of Barack Obama's Presidency, the opposition attacked him as some kind of a radical socialist. Recent signs suggest they got him wrong, which leads to this week's survey question and we'll explain in just a moment. Former President Barack Obama is a conservative. Agree or disagree at



SMERCONISH: Is former President Barak Obama actually a conservative? He's been back in the news lately and not sounding anything like the radical socialist that he's been cast as by so many of his opponents over the course of his eight years. A few weeks ago, he was speaking at a doner dinner and warned Democratic candidates, quote, we also have to be rooted in reality and the fact that voters, including democratic voters and certainly persuadable independents or even moderate Republicans are not driven by the same views that are reflected on certain left-leaning Twitter feeds or the activist wing of our party.

That's why this piece in the "Washington Post" caught my eye. "Barak Obama, Conservative." The left and the right still misunderstand his politics. Joining me now, the piece's author, David Swerdlick who's also the assistant editor for the "Washington Post's" Outlook section. David, were you trying to be provocative or do you really believe that President Obama is a conservative?

DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR AT THE "WASHINGTON POST": Good morning Michael and Happy Thanksgiving.


SWERDLICK: I do think President Obama is a conservative, not a conservative as we discuss it so often nowadays but I think to start this discussion you have to have a definition of terms. Republican doesn't mean conservative, doesn't mean right wing, certainly doesn't mean Trumpist and I think where you situate Obama and where I've tried to situate him as others have is someone who certainly is between the 40 yard lines ideologically and then the only question in my mind is which side of the 40 - of the 50 yard line he's on. I think he's slightly to the right of it and that's what I talk about in this piece.

SMERCONISH: You cast him in the same light as T.R., as Ike, and as Bush 41. Why?

SWERDLICK: So that's another way to look at him and others have described him that way. He's sort of the heir in this era to the moderate Rockefeller Republican wing of thought and sort of style of governance.


Ike, George Romney, Rockefeller, Ford, Nixon, the first President Bush, as you said, Michael. President Obama was an institutionalist, an establishmentarian. He was someone who believed in change and believed in using government to change people's lives but he always, starting going back a decade even further, was looking to do it in a way that preserved the way his predecessors had done things and also that had preserved a traditional American sense of the American dream. He was looking to improve America, not to sort of turn it upside down

and fundamentally change it despite, I know, that there was sometimes rhetoric in the way he campaigned that made it seem like he wanted to do that.

SMERCONISH: This is from your essay. The former president was skeptical of sweeping change, bullish on markets, sanguine about military force, high on individual responsibility and faithful to a set of old-school personal values. Compare that with proposals from his would be successors, Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, free college, a wealth tax, universal basic income. I don't know if in the survey question today, because you have framed the issue for us, I don't know that you're going to carry the day, but I think if I worded it differently and said by comparison to this 2020 field, Obama is a conservative, I think you would have won.

SWERDLICK: Yes, no, I think you're right about that. A lot of the sort of response I got to this piece was people saying, well, Obama was wasn't a conserve, he was a pragmatist, a centrist, a moderate. I think that is certainly a fair way to characterize him, but part of this piece was a fact check or a corrective. The debate is between moderate and conservative. I think looking back on Obama now, it is fair to say that the idea that he was ever a socialist, which was always ludicrous or even someone really of the left certainly in the way he governed or the way he carried himself in office over the last decade is just not the starting point of this discussion.

Let me just zero in on one thing there from the piece you read there, Michael which is that President Obama was good for business, and that is something that Republicans then and now worked hard to downplay. But President Trump just in Afghanistan this weekend said to the troops, I think inappropriately, isn't it good to be fighting for something that's working now and then went on to cite the stock market.

Well, as of yesterday's Dow close, the market is up 42% since Trump took office. On the same day in President Obama's presidency the market was up 45% and when he left office it was up 149%. Obama made plenty of mistakes. He didn't do everything right on the economy but in terms of big business, he was good for business. SMERCONISH: Take our final 30 seconds and try and convince the

audience that with regard to the Affordable Care Act, Barak Obama is a conservative.

SWERDLICK: Sure, so two things. One, it was a version of Romney Care, Governor Romney's plan in Massachusetts which before that a version of a Heritage Foundation Plan. But more than that, it was the idea that President Obama wanted to do things incrementally. He said when he campaigned, Michael, if I was starting from scratch, I'd do it differently. Since we're not, we're going to do it this way, stick with a market-based plan and part of being a conservative is recognizing realities and governing not as you want to in your fantasy world but as the real world fits. That's why he went for that instead of, I think, the public option, which Democrats really wanted and that's why I think it has remained in place all these years later.

SMERCONISH: And I think his mistake in terms of the rollout, the technical issues aside, was in not casting it as an issue of personal responsibility. All right, David. Be prepared to lose the survey question today. I think that's a foregone conclusion. It will be very interesting to see how high you've moved the needle, so thank you.

SWERDLICK: Thanks, Michael.

SMERCONISH: All right. Let's see what you're saying via Twitter and Facebook. This comes from Facebook. Regarding Obama, compared with the far left candidates today -- yes, I mean, Carolyn (ph), that was the point I was making to David. Had I worded it slightly different and said in comparison to Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders or a slew of other candidates now running on the democratic side of the aisle, yes, he's probably the most conservative in the crowd save maybe Joe Biden. Go make sure you're voting at the survey question today at Former President Barack Obama, this is David Swerdlick's theory, is a conservative. You've got to agree or disagree. I'll give you the results at the end of the hour.

Up ahead this week the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing to determine if President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors as defined by the Constitution.


I'll talk to a Constitutional scholar who testified for both parties on this issue during the impeachment of Bill Clinton. And before John Dorenbos became an NFL player then a magician who made the finals, by the way, of "America's Got Talent," he suffered an unthinkable tragedy. When he was just 12, his father killed his mother. How did he survive and thrive?


SMERCONISH: The House Judiciary Committee has set a deadline of Friday for President Trump to decide whether his attorneys will participate in the committee's impeachment proceedings. This starts the clock for the White House to decide if it will take part in the House's impeachment process which the president and Congressional Republicans have claimed are unfair or wait for a potential Senate trial to make the case to Congress and American people.

The latest CNN reporting is that the White House probably won't participate in Wednesday's hearing on the Constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment. A panel of expert witnesses will testify as to whether the president's alleged conduct falls under high crimes and misdemeanors as cited by the framers in the Constitution. Well, my next guest has some valuable experience on the subject because in 1998, Michael Gerhardt testified in a similar hearing about the impeachment of then President Bill Clinton. He was the only expert invited by both parties. Here is part of his testimony.


MICHAEL GERHARDT, LAW PROFESSOR AT COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY: The ultimate purpose of impeachment was not to punish but to protect and preserve the public trust. The framers did not try to exhaust the list of potential impeachable offenses, instead they left it to subsequent generations, particularly to subsequent Congresses to decide on case- by-case basis.


SMERCONISH: Michael Gerhardt joins me now. He's a Constitutional Law Professor at the University of North Carolina. Hey, look at you. You haven't aged a bit.

GERHARDT: I wish that were true.

SMERCONISH: So I note that there's been this total reversal by the parties since the last go round. In other words, in 2998, it was the Democrats who say, the country want us to move on and it was the Republicans who were saying, we have an obligation. We need to pursue this case. Do you note the same thing?

GERHARDT: Yes. The parties have switched. That's not surprising. This happens not just with respect to impeachment but other important issues. Back in -- as you said, back in 1998, the House Republicans were pushing the idea that impeachment had to be used against President Clinton and Democrats responded that it's just all politics. Now, of course, it's just reversed where Republicans are saying it's all politics and Democrats are saying we're doing this to vindicate the rule of law.

SMERCONISH: It seemed to me from reading your testimony, Professor, that members of the Congress were trying to draw you into the question of does President Clinton's behavior rise to the standard of impeachment. You were essentially saying, hey, I can tell you what the framers had in mind but that's really your job. Is that a fair summation?

GERHARDT: I think that's a very fair estimation. It's exactly what I was trying to do under those circumstances. I was trying to sort of underscore the fact that the ultimate choice isn't mine as a professor but it was one to be made by the members of the House. Of course they ultimately did. My job, I thought then, and I still think now, is to talk about the law and particularly the Constitutional standard for impeaching a president for certain kinds of misconduct.

SMERCONISH: The framers really did not enumerate exactly what high crimes and misdemeanor means. Treason and bribery, able to be easily defined. But relative to high crimes and misdemeanors, why the vagueness, if you agree that's how they did it?

GERHARDT: I don't think they were being purposefully vague. They were using language, other high crimes and misdemeanors taken from the British system before the Constitution was ratified. In the British system those words had meaning and certainly had meaning for the framers. The meaning was these words referred to what was understood as political crime. Not the kinds of things you'd go to jail for but offenses against the country, serious abuses of power, serious kinds of misconduct that might not be criminalized but only a president or high ranking official could commit. So that basic understanding I think is clear. And then we take that understanding and try and see how the facts that we have before us fit it.

SMERCONISH: I've been wondering if this conversation will turn slightly towards censure. I note that in 1998, this, too, came up in your testimony. Here is what "The New York Times" wrote about what you had to say on the subject, "views on censure, although widespread, were not uniform. Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the College of William & Mary and the only one of the 19 witnesses to appear under the sponsorship of both parties said censure had been used against five judges and two presidents - Andrew Jackson and in a lesser-known case, James Polk in the 19th Century. Then you're quoted as saying, I think censure has a textual and historical pedigree we shouldn't ignore. What does that mean?

GERHARDT: It means censure might be an option to address presidential misconduct. Censure basically is an expression of disapproval by the House or the Senate. Just that, just an expression of disapproval. For example, the president did something bad. Abraham Lincoln, in fact, introduced a resolution criticizing James Polk for illegally starting the Mexican War. My thinking is that it was good enough for Lincoln, if Lincoln thought it was permissible, it's something we ought to take pretty seriously.

SMERCONISH: And finally I had a conversation recently with Senator Chris Coons of Delaware who made the point to me that the Senate has experience in impeachment, more experience, perhaps, coming from federal judiciary -- members of the federal judiciary. Is there guidance in the impeachment process of federal judges that you think applies to what we're currently looking at?

GERHARDT: Yes, that's a great question and it's a really important point. It gets overlooked a lot in the discussion about impeachment.


The House has impeached 19 people in American history. The only people that have been convicted and removed from office are lower court federal judges. So we can look at those situations and learn a lot of things such as what's the burden of proof in an impeachment proceeding? Are there rules of evidence that apply. By the way there's not a uniform burden of proof and there are no rules of evidence.

What you also can learn the valuable lesson that people may be impeached, convicted and removed for things that are not indictable offenses meaning for things that are not laid out as crimes and federal statutes but for offenses again as I said at the beginning, for offenses against the republic, serious abuse of power, breaches of the public trust. The judges that have all been impeached and convicted and removed were all liable or guilty for those kinds of offenses against the country.

SMERCONISH: Professor Gerhardt, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

GERHARDT: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: I want to remind you to answer the survey question at Former President Barak Obama is a conservative. Are you agreeing or disagreeing with that statement? In comparison to the other members of the field this year, I think you'd probably have to say yes. Anyway, go vote at

Still to come, he played for the Philadelphia Eagles and was a finalist on "America's Got Talent," achievements made all the more remarkable because when he was 12 his father killed his mother. I'll talk to Jon Dorenbos about how he overcame that tragedy next.


[09: 35:00]

SMERCONISH: How could you ever bounce back with one of your parents killed the other. That's the amazing story of my next guest. Jon Dorenbos is a former NFLer. He played 14 seasons mainly for the Philadelphia Eagles. He's also a celebrated magician. Chances are that you've seen him as a finalist on "America's Got Talent" or during one of his many appearances on "Ellen." Together with writer, Larry Platt, he's the author of a memoir, "Life Is Magic: My Inspiring Journey From Tragedy to Self-Discovery." The tragedy, to which the title refers, is the fact that when he was 12 his father killed his mother. Jon Dorenbos joins me now.

Jon, the book is remarkable. I won't dwell on this part of it. But it's August 2, 1992, you get out of bed. Your dad has laid out your baseball uniform. You're headed off to camp. He gives you a hug, puts you in the neighbor's car without any hint that he had killed mom the night before in the family garage.

JON DORENBOS, AUTHOR: That's where the journey starts and so I drove away and that was really the last time that I spent with my dad before he went to prison.

SMERCONISH: Was there any history of violence? Any explanation, anything that can make sense of what transpired the night before?

DORENBOS: No, that's crazy. We were kind of like "The Brady Bunch" family and so to come home - look, he coached my teams. He was the president of Little League. My mom volunteered at the school. Kind of we were loved by the community so this was completely out of the blue and shocked not only the neighborhood but it shocked my family.

SMERCONISH: You're very praising of your therapist, John (ph), you give him a shout out, many shout outs in the book and something that I'm wrestling with is that the therapist when you are I think 13 thinks it's important you be given the opportunity, if you choose to do so, to see the autopsy photos, and you did, and you're glad that you did. Speak to that.

DORENBOS: You know, at the time everybody thought he was crazy. I'll never forget the moment he ended up going back to court. We got a court order. My sister and I first minors to have a private viewing of an autopsy photo and it was super intense. But I remember the moment that he said look, it's not about whether I want you to see it, but you should have the choice. It should be your decision. This is your reality. He said if you look at these pictures, there might be a day you want to see your dad. It might be 10, 20 or 30 years down the road, but if you do look at these pictures and do decide to one day sit one day and have lunch with your dad, it will be for reasons other than wanting to know what happened because this kid, this is what happened. And so I basically took his advice and I went through the pictures and I looked at them, and that was my reality.

SMERCONISH: If anybody had a right to grow up angry and hostile, it's you. And yet the book is called "Life Is Magic." Explain.

DORENBOS: Life is magic and this is my journey. I believe this that we need to find motivation in the worst things that happen to us so instead of repeating history we can make it better for people after us. I want to make this better place for my daughter. When I look up in heaven, I talk to my mom every day. I have a choice. I can either be what she wants to be or I can live in circumstance. I choose to live in vision. I choose to make this world better. I choose to be all the dreams that my mom wanted me to be and not repeat the negativity.

SMERCONISH: Your escape became both magic and athletics and you explain in the book that your life became a mission of sorts to cleanse the Dorenbos name. In other words, you wanted folks to think Dorenbos associate it with your athletic or your magical talents and not that tragedy that took place outside of Seattle.

DORENBOS: Yes, you know, I found this, my name means something, and it means something to me. Every team I was on became family. Every time I would see a magic trick, the world quieted so I combined the two. I would sit there and I would shuffle cards and the world would quiet and I would be just a kid that I always wanted to be. And then during the day I would play football which means I could hit you and not get in trouble; I could take out my aggression.

More importantly it was about the owners or coaches or whatever person decided to have me on their team, I wanted them to hear my last name and I wanted them to be proud of it. I wanted them to say there's nobody else I would rather have on my team than you. What that means is I want to bring pride back to my last name. I want to bring pride back to my family so when they hear the name Dorenbos, they think of something other than my dad. SMERCONISH: You made it to the NFL as a long snapper. I'm not going

to give it all away but can I say thank God for Pam Anderson sex tape or maybe that wouldn't have happened?

DORENBOS: Yes. Yes, I learned how to edit VHS tape back then and that's when the tape was going around right in high school So long story short, look I was a good player. OK? I lacked some footage. So look, I didn't Laurie Laughlin this thing, OK? I knew I could do it and I knew I was capable of doing it so basically I took some teammates, I borrowed some of their footage. I put it on with my footage and then I sent the tape out and the rest is history.

SMERCONISH: The book begins, the memoir begins, and it ends with you seeing your father for the first time in 26 years. Why were you interested in seeing him at this stage of your life?

DORENBOS: There were years that I wanted to see him that I thought about it, that I was curious but nothing in my life stemmed action. And so all of a sudden my daughter was about two or three weeks from being born and I realized it was time for my life to come full circle.

So I went and I had lunch with my dad and that lunch symbolized a relationship that should have been that could have been. The dysfunctionality and really I wanted to sit across from him and I wanted to feel all of the pain all over. I wanted to feel that time in my life. I wanted to reflect on all the things that a father and son missed out on and I wanted to find motivation in the worst thing that happened to me. And I'd never said three words out loud. I had never said, "I forgive you." And so at the end of 5.5 hours, I stood up and I said, "I forgive you for being lost. I forgive you for making mistakes. Both of which I've made many." And I realized all of those things that we missed out on, made me more excited to be a dad, made me more excited to be the husband and I wanted to find motivation to be everything for my daughter that my dad was not for me.

SMERCONISH: Hey Jon, we just showed the photograph - now we're showing the photograph of you and your wife and your gorgeous daughter but we showed a moment ago the reunion picture from your book and I can't help but notice, he's got a big grin, not so much you. I don't know what to read into that. What should I read into that?

DORENBOS: I think that was a moment where I reflected on this just happened and I never thought I'd sit there and say I had lunch with my dad and so I called my wife right after that and I said, "Babe, I'm going to tell you something that I never thought I would tell you. I just had lunch with my dad." And it was reflecting on a lifetime of pain and mourning and finding forgiveness so it wasn't about him. Here's what I learned that forgiveness for me wasn't about I'm OK with what you did. It wasn't about rekindling a relationship. It was about coming to terms with my reality, about coming to terms with who I am and being OK with it.

So when I forgave my dad, it was all about me. It had nothing to do with him. It wasn't an issue of hey, not now, I'm waving the white flag and I'm surrendering because I think a lot of people think forgiveness is about one upping and winning and losing. And in that moment it was just I think I was just reflecting on probably the hardest journey I'd ever been on and probably the most intense conversation that I've ever been a part of.

SMERCONISH: Will that relationship now continue?

DORENBOS: No, and I wasn't there for that. I didn't need validation. How about this? I was on the plane heading there. There comes the moment when I thought about my therapist. That was the moment that I remember him saying, hey, if you look at these autopsy pictures and you decide to see your dad one day, it will be for reasons other than wanting to know what happened.

Sure enough, there it was. I was going there for reasons other than wanting to know what happened and in that reality I realized that I don't need excuses. I don't need stories. I don't need answers from him because me being there had nothing to do with him. It was about my journey, about trying to become the best father I could for my daughter and best husband I could for my wife and I'm glad that I did.

SMERCONISH: Notwithstanding my Eagles bias, the book is tremendous. Thank you for being here.

DORENBOS: Thank you guys so much.

SMERCONISH: That's Jon Dorenbos. Still to come, we all accumulate too much stuff. I'm guilty of that which is why I'm an avid fan of Marie Condo's theory of tidiness. So I was surprised to learn that on her website she's now selling more stuff.



SMERCONISH: Yesterday was Black Friday, the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season. My Sirius XM radio listeners know from my many discussions that I'm a disciple of Marie Kondo, the Japanese cleaning consultant and guru of personal organization. That I'm a bit of an obsessive compulsive probably made me a natural pupil for Kondo. In her international bestseller, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" she advocates the showing of gratitude and compassion toward all things but the disposal of any possessions that do not spark joy, whereas we say in our house, things that end up in the next yard sale.

Kondo's tutelage has enabled me to release old concert t-shirts, loungewear like college hoodies, countless books, even some that I wrote and lots of political ephemera. So when I heard that she now had opened an online store of her own, I naturally assumed it was for storage-related items, things that would facilitate her principles of tidiness. Yes, there's some of that -colodiotrays(ph), desktop boxes, simple storage containers, but she's selling more than things that will keep you organized. Tuning forks, bud vases, a candle, a mirror and a tissue box cover to name just a few. Don't get me wrong, they all look awfully nice, and frankly just the sort of things I would have bought for someone or hope someone would buy for me before I read her book. Now I'm not so sure. That tuning fork, it looks like just the sort of thing that starts out on display and ends up in the kitchen junk door or at least was the junk drawer before I KonMaried(ph) the kitchen. This Christmas season I'm trying to give gifts that will spark joy. Kondo's book will make the cut, not her brickabrac.

Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebooks comments and we'll give you the final results of the survey question at Former President Barak Obama is a conservative. Agree or disagree?



SMERCONISH: Time to see how you responded to the survey question Barack Obama is a conservative. Agree or disagree. What have we got? Wow. Man, I am floored by that: 7,419 votes. That's not the part that floors me. The part that floors me is you know it's like within the margin of error. I said to David Swerdlick, David, you're not going to carry the day. But I'm shocked by how close it is. That's really a sign of the times, huh? In comparison to the rest of the field, I bet it would 90/10. Obviously he's not running this cycle.

What else came in Katherine(ph)? What do we have from social media? Smerconish, I voted no. Barack Obama may be conservative, but he is not a conservative. I guess you're picking up on what I just said. It's a relative term perhaps in this climate. But he's not a conservative. He's not a conventional conservative, but he's certianly not that which he was cast as during his eight years in office. That we can agree on.

What else? Wouldn't you 'agree that the left in the U.S. has gone further left. Well, Bald Head Man (ph), by the way, I need that handle, OK, @smerconish is getting a little tiresome. Yes, I'll give you that and you need to give me that the right has done likewise and leaves the rest of us the exhausted majority, somewhere in between. Look, the data says and take a look at Morris Fiorina from Stanford because he's done a lot of this research. The data suggests that most Americans have not changed their political views in the last 30 or 40 years. We're pretty much where we were in the 1970s. The leaders in the media, oh, they've got adrift.

What's next? Smerconish, Bloomberg is so tone deaf, that's where the hostility comes from. He is the very opposite of what we want. No more white guys? What are you blanking me?


So now we're going to wipe out -- Linda the Liberal (ph), so all white guys are now disqualified by the nature of their skin color? You don't deserve to have Linda the Liberal (ph) as your moniker, as your brand because no progressive would say we can't have any of one particular demographic including people who are wealthy. I mean the guy is a data-driven independent thinker. Why would we rule him out? I'm not here to carry his water but why would we rule him out at the outset? Because he's a white guy? That's horrible. Hey, my American Life in Columns tour in 2020 is soon headed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Manchester, new Hampshire, St. Louis and Raleigh. Thanks for watching. I'll see you next week.