Binding Ties | The New York Times Close Up with Sam Roberts

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♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪>>I’M SAM ROBERTS OF “THE NEW YORK TIMES.” WELCOME TO “THE NEW YORK TIMES CLOSE UP.” THE SENATE DECIDING ON THE SUPREME COURT NOMINATION. THE NATION, UNDECIDED. AN IN DEPTH LOOK AT PRESIDENT TRUMP’S WEALTH, ACQUIRED LONG BEFORE HE ENTERED POLITICS. IN FACT, EVEN BEFORE HE COULD WALK OR TALK. ITS CAST RENEWED SCRUTINY ON HIS FAMILY’S BUSINESS DEALINGS. INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER RUSS BUETTNER JOINS US AND LATER, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER MARA GAY. SHE USUALLY FOCUSES ON CITY AND STATE POLITICS BUT THIS WEEK, HER OPINION PAGE COLUMN WAS VERY PERSONAL. SHE DESCRIBED HER OWN EXPERIENCE WITH SEXUAL ASSAULT. ADDITIONAL TIMES JOURNALISTS BRING THEIR OPINIONS TO THE FORE ON “THE BACK STORY.” AND I’LL ADD MORE ON “CODA.” BUT FIRST, RUSS BUETTNER, WHO WITH SUSANNE CRAIG AND DAVID BARSTOW, HAVE SPENT OVER A YEAR EXAMINING THE FINANCIAL WEB OF THE TRUMP FAMILY. THE RESULT, THEIR EXTRAORDINARY INVESTIGATION ON HOW AND WHEN DONALD TRUMP’S INHERITANCE BEGAN AND GREW. THE FINANCIAL TIES THAT CONTINUE TO BIND THE ENTIRE FAMILY. RUSS, THE BIGGEST QUESTION BEHIND ALL OF THIS, AND THERE IS A VAST AMOUNT OF INFORMATION THAT IS ABSOLUTELY WORTH READING IN THE PAPER OR ONLINE IS, IS THIS AVOIDANCE OR EVASION OF TAXES?>>IT IS A LOT OF BOTH. THERE ARE INSTANCES WHERE THEY ARE TAKING THE STRUCTURES THAT ARE ALLOWED TO WEALTHY PEOPLE TO PASS WEALTH, WHILE MINIMIZING THEIR TAXES. THEY ARE PLAYING CLOSE WITHIN THOSE BOUNDARIES, THERE ARE ALSO CASES WHERE THEY ARE BLOWING THOSE APART AND BEING AGGRESSIVE IN WAYS THAT APPEAR INTENTIONALLY DECEPTIVE, WHICH MEETS THE LEGAL STANDARD FOR FRAUD. THERE ARE OTHER CASES WHERE IT IS NOT ANYTHING SET UP TO FORMALLY ALLOW WEALTHY PEOPLE TO AVOID TAXES. IT IS JUST A STRAIGHT OUT SHAM CORPORATION WITH NO BUSINESS PURPOSE, OR AN ILLEGAL TAX WRITE OFF, THAT WASHES AWAY MONEY AND ANY TAX LIABILITY.>>ARE WE TALKING ABOUT A FATHER BEING NICE TO HIS SON, AND A RICH PERSON DOING EVERYTHING HE CAN WITHIN ALL THE LOOPHOLES OF THE LAW, TRYING TO KEEP HIS TAX PAYMENTS TO A MINIMUM? OR, ARE WE TALKING ABOUT SOMEONE WHO IS BEING A CROOK, AND AVOIDING OR EVEN EVADING TAXES AND IS SUBJECT TO PROSECUTION?>>AT FIRST THEY THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD FAMILY TAKING CARE OF EACH OTHER. THE EXAMPLES WE UNCOVERED GO MORE TO THE SECOND. CAN I GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE?>>PLEASE DO.>>THEY SET UP SOMETHING CALLED ALL COUNTY BUILDING SUPPLY. FRED TRUMP BOUGHT EVERYTHING FOR HIS PROPERTIES HIMSELF. HE RAN A SMALL OPERATION, NEGOTIATED ALL THE PRICES. IN 1992 THEY SET UP THIS CORPORATION, ALL COUNTY, ONLY EXISTED ON PAPER. FRED TRUMP CONTINUED TO NEGOTIATE THE PRICES. THE LETTERHEAD OF THE COMPANY CAME FROM HIS EMPLOYEE. WITH THAT LETTERHEAD THERE WAS A BILL CREATED FOR 20% MORE TO FRED TRUMP. HE WAS STILL PAYING THE SAME PRICE FROM THE VENDOR, BUT ALL COUNTY WAS ADDING 20% ON TWIT, STRICTLY ON PAPER. THAT 20% WAS SPLIT BETWEEN DONALD TRUMP AND HIS SIBLINGS. THAT IS NOT A TRUST MECHANISM OR SOMETHING IN THE TAX CODE, THAT IS STRAIGHT OUT TRYING TO CREATE SOMETHING TO LOOK LIKE SOMETHING IT IS NOT, FOR NO WORK AND NO SERVICES.>>EVEN WORSE, SOME OF THAT WAS PASSED ON TO THE TENANTS.>>YES, FOR SOME TYPES OF IMPROVEMENTS TO RENT REGULATED APARTMENTS, YOU HAVE TO FILE WITH THE STATE AND SAY, I PUT A NEW KITCHEN IN. THIS UNIT COST ME $600 AND I SHOULD BE ABLE TO RAISE THE RENT BASED ON A FACTOR OF $600. BUT THAT $600 KITCHEN SUDDENLY WOULD BE A $720 KITCHEN. MULTIPLY THAT BY 10,000 UNITS, THERE WERE POTENTIALLY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS OF EXTRA BILLS THAT RESULTED IN ARTIFICIALLY HIGH RENT INCREASES TO THOSE APARTMENTS.>>YOU AND DAVID AND SUSANNE SPENT A YEAR ON THIS. WAS THIS IN PUBLIC RECORDS? WHAT DID YOU MINE TO FIND THIS INFORMATION, AS MUCH AS YOU CAN SAY?>>WE FOLLOW THE USUAL PROCESS. YOU SCRAPE ALL THE PUBLIC RECORDS YOU CAN. IN THIS CASE, EVERY PROPERTY RECORD GOING BACK 60 YEARS, DEEDS AND MORTGAGES. SOME COURT RECORDS WERE HELPFUL. HIS SISTER’S FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE FORMS WERE HELPFUL FOR US. AS A FEDERAL JUDGE THAT HELPED MAP OUT CATEGORIES INITIALLY. WE TRIED TO CREATE A NETWORK OF SOURCES, OF PEOPLE WHO HAD WORKED IN AND AROUND FRED TRUMP AND DONALD TRUMP’S SPHERES FOR A LONG TIME. THROUGH THAT WE WERE ABLE TO GATHER QUITE A LOT OF RECORDS THAT WERE NOT PUBLIC. MORE THAN 200 TAX RETURNS, FRED TRUMP’S PERSONAL TAX RETURNS, TAX RETURNS FROM HIS BUSINESS ENTITIES, BANK STATEMENTS, CANCELED CHECKS, A VARIETY OF THINGS WHICH HELPED US GATHER THIS INFORMATION AND SEE WHERE THE MONEY WAS FLOWING AND HOW IT WAS LEAVING THE EMPIRE IN WAYS THAT DID NOT SEEM STRAIGHT UP.>>WHEN DONALD TRUMP SAYS HE STARTED WITH A MERE $1 MILLION FROM HIS FATHER, THAT IS KIND OF DUPLICITOUS?>>IT IS A PROFOUND FICTION, IS WHAT IT IS. IT NEVER HAPPENED. HE STARTED RECEIVING MONEY FROM HIS FATHER WHEN HE WAS THREE YEARS OLD. HIS FATHER BUILT HIS FIRST HOUSING PROJECT, BEACH HAVEN, IN 1949. GAVE THE LAND UNDER IT TO A TRUST FOR THE BENEFIT OF HIS FIVE CHILDREN. DONALD TRUMP WAS THREE. FRED SIGNED A 99-YEAR LEASE WITH THE TRUST TO START PAYING MONEY. DONALD TRUMP, AT THAT TIME, WAS COLLECTING MONEY, THE EQUIVALENT OF A PHYSICIAN’S SALARY. IT INCREASED, IN DONALD’S DARKEST HOURS IN THE 80s-90s, WHEN HE WAS FACING FORECLOSURE, IT REALLY WAS BOTH THE FOUNDATION THAT ALLOWED HIM TO DO EVERYTHING HE DID, AND BAILED HIM OUT WHEN ALL THOSE THINGS FAILED.>>IS THERE STILL MORE WE DO NOT KNOW?>>I THINK THERE IS ALWAYS MORE WE DO NOT KNOW. WE DO NOT HAVE HIS TAX RETURNS. WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HE CLAIMS FOR OTHER SOURCES OF WEALTH. WHAT WE HAVE GOT IS THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE LOOK THAT HAS EVER BEEN TAKEN OF THIS MATERIAL, BUT THERE IS ALWAYS MORE YOU DO NOT KNOW.>>THANK YOU. IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY DONE SO, OVER THE WEEKEND PLEASE READ THOSE ARTICLES ONLINE AT NYTIMES.COM. NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD WRITER MARA GAY IS NEXT. ♪♪>>WELCOME BACK. EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER MARA GAY’S WRITING HAS FOCUSED ON MOSTLY STATE AND CITY ISSUES. BUT THIS WEEK, SHE OFFERED A VERY PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE OF BEING ASSAULTED AND THE AFTERMATH OF THAT RAPE. HER COLUMN BEGAN, “I WAS AT MY FAVORITE BAR RECENTLY A FEW BLOCKS FROM MY APARTMENT, WHEN THE BOY WHO RAPED ME CAME OVER TO SAY HELLO AND GAVE ME A KISS ON THE CHEEK.” THAT IS ONE COLUMN YOU’RE GOING TO READ THE REST OF. MARA, WHY DID YOU WRITE IT?>>I WROTE IT BECAUSE I FELT MANY FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES WHO HAVE BEEN THROUGH SIMILAR EXPERIENCES WERE SUFFERING IN SILENCE, PRIVATELY, WITH PAIN AND SHAME THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN THEIR OWN. AND THEY WERE BEING RE-TRAUMATIZED BY THE HEARINGS IN WHICH DR. FORD TESTIFIED FOR THE BRETT KAVANAUGH NOMINATION. I FELT IT WAS A PERSONAL FORM OF CATHARSIS. EVEN MORE THAN THAT, I SAW DR. FORD DELIVER WHAT SHE DESCRIBED AS HER CIVIC DUTY. I FELT THE DESIRE TO PUT THE BURDEN OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE, WHERE I BELIEVE IT BELONGS, INSTEAD OF WITH VICTIMS.>>HOW COULD YOU LET THIS GUY KISS YOU, INSTEAD OF STRANGLING HIM?>>IT IS A GREAT QUESTION. THE MAN WHO I WAS WITH WAS A VERY GOOD FRIEND OF MINE, HAD THE SAME REACTION, ASKED THE SAME QUESTION. AS WOMEN WE ARE TAUGHT NOT TO MAKE A SCENE. WE ARE TAUGHT TO MAKE OTHERS FEEL COMFORTABLE, AND OUR OWN NEEDS SECOND. I HAVE TO SAY IN THAT MOMENT I WAS SHOCKED, FIRST OF ALL. SECONDLY, IT WAS A FORM OF SELF-DEFENSE AND PROTECTION, WHICH IS AVAILABLE TO WOMEN, WHICH IS, I’M NOT GOING TO MAKE A SCENE, I WILL BE POLITE AND GET OUT OF HERE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. LATER, WHEN MY FRIEND WHO I WAS WITH, A MAN, FOUND OUT WHAT WAS GOING ON, HE REACTED IN SUCH ANGER. THAT MADE ME RETHINK MY OWN RESPONSE AS A WOMAN, AND THE WAY WE ARE PRIMED AS WOMEN NOT TO TAKE OUR OWN PAIN SERIOUSLY, OR VALIDATE IT.>>YOU WROTE THAT PART OF THAT ENCOUNTER WAS CONSENSUAL. WHAT DID YOU MEAN?>>PART OF THE SEXUAL ENCOUNTER THAT WE HAD WAS CONSENSUAL. I CONSENTED TO SOME OF IT, NOT ALL OF IT. I WILL LEAVE IT THERE WITH THAT. IT IS A DISTINCTION THAT IS IMPORTANT, BECAUSE THERE IS THIS SENSE OF, THIS NARRATIVE AROUND, WELL, IF YOU CONSENTED TO SOME OF IT, THEN YOU ARE GIVING CONSENT TO WHATEVER HAPPENED. THIS IS NOT 1950 AND THAT IS JUST NOT TRUE. OUR UNDERSTANDING OF CONSENT HAS CHANGED. A LOT OF PEOPLE STILL NEED TO BE EDUCATED AROUND THOSE ISSUES.>>WHAT IS THE POINT AT WHICH PEOPLE GO TOO FAR? TO ME, LISTENING TO DR. FORD’S TESTIMONY, WHICH SOUNDED VERY CREDIBLE, IT SOUNDED TO ME, AND I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR PERSPECTIVE, ASSUMING IT WAS ALL TRUE, WHEN KAVANAUGH PUT HIS HAND OVER HER MOUTH AND STOPPED HER FROM SAYING NO. IS THAT THE MOMENT THAT IT BECOMES FORCED? HOW DID YOU HEAR IT?>>A COUPLE THINGS. ONE OF THE THINGS DR. FORD DESCRIBED, WHICH WAS EXTREMELY DISTURBING TO ME, SHE WAS WALKING UP THE STAIRS. AS SHE TELLS IT, SHE WAS GRABBED, PHYSICALLY GRABBED, PULLED INTO A ROOM, TWO MEN, AGAINST HER WILL. THEY LOCKED THE DOOR AND DID NOT LET HER OUT. YOU ALREADY HAVE TWO INSTANCES OF BEING PHYSICALLY VIOLATED. HER PHYSICAL SPACE WAS VIOLATED AGAINST HER WILL AND WITHOUT HER CONSENT. YOU HAVE DR. FORD TELLING US THAT BRETT KAVANAUGH GROUND HIS GENITALS AGAINST HER. HE DID NOT, ACCORDING TO HER, ASK OR SEEK CONSENT FOR THAT. ON TOP OF THAT, IN HER ACCOUNT, HE PUT HIS HAND, OVER HER MOUTH. YOU HAVE A SERIES OF ESCALATING VIOLATIONS, IS WHAT I WOULD SAY.>>WHEN DO YOU GIVE THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT? BRET STEPHENS HAS A COLUMN IN THE TIMES, HE ALMOST AGREES WITH TRUMP BEING A BULLY BECAUSE MEN OR BRETT KAVANAUGH IS BEING BULLIED IN THIS CASE BY SO MANY PEOPLE, THAT NO ONE IS STANDING UP FOR HIM, WHEN HE DENIES ALL OF THIS. AND NOW YOU HAVE AN FBI REPORT SAYING AT LEAST THEY CANNOT SUBSTANTIATE IT.>>IT IS EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING TO HEAR THAT. FIRST OF ALL, YOU HAVE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES STANDING UP FOR BRETT KAVANAUGH, WHICH IS NO SMALL THING. THE ISSUE HERE IS THAT WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN THAT ROOM. ALL WE CAN DO IS JUDGE WHAT IS CREDIBLE AND WHO IS CREDIBLE, AND WHO IS NOT. I THINK DR. FORD IS CREDIBLE AS A WITNESS. I BELIEVE HER TESTIMONY IS EVIDENCE. I THINK IT SHOULD BE COUNTED AS THAT. THE THING IS, THIS IS NOT A COURT OF LAW. THERE IS A MUCH HIGHER STANDARD FOR BRETT KAVANAUGH, OR THERE SHOULD BE, THAN IF WE WERE TALKING ABOUT PUTTING HIM IN PRISON FOR A CRIME. YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO A SEAT ON THE SUPREME COURT. FOR A LOT OF REASONS, NAMELY THE FACT HE HAS LIED ABOUT OTHER THINGS, SMALLER THINGS, FOR EXAMPLE, BRETT KAVANAUGH DID THINGS LIKE — OTHER WITNESSES HAD REFUTED DR. FORD’S TESTIMONY. THAT IS NOT ACCURATE. THAT IS A GOOD EXAMPLE. IF YOU’RE TELLING A LIE ABOUT THAT, WHAT ELSE ARE YOU LYING ABOUT? HE HAS ALL OF THE MOTIVE TO LIE OR NOT BE ABLE TO RECALL THIS INCIDENT, WHILE DR. FORD HAS NO MOTIVE.>>IF THE MAN YOU HAD AN ENCOUNTER WITH WAS NOMINATED TO THE SUPREME COURT, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?>>I WOULD NAME HIM.>>MARA GAY OF “THE NEW YORK TIMES,” THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. PLEASE READ HER ARTICLE ONLINE AT NYTIMES.COM. “THE BACK STORY” IS NEXT. ♪♪ WELCOME BACK. EXTRAORDINARY WEEK MAY BE UNDERSTATING IT. JOINING ME TO EXAMINE IT ARE MY TIMES COLLEAGUES CONTRIBUTING WRITERS AND GURUS, CLYDE HABERMAN, AND ELEANOR RANDOLPH. WE SAW A LOT IN THE TIMES SERIES ON DONALD TRUMP AND HIS FAMILY AND THEIR TAXES. WHAT DID WE LEARN BESIDES THE FACT THE FAMILY HAS VERY GOOD ACCOUNTANTS?>>MAYBE YOU ALREADY KNEW, DONALD TRUMP WAS A CON MAN. WHAT YOU REALLY SAW IS, THIS GUY DID NOT BUILD AN EMPIRE. HE DID NOT TAKE $1 MILLION FROM HIS FATHER AND CREATE ALL THESE GLORIOUS APARTMENT BUILDINGS AND CASINOS THAT HAD TROUBLE STAYING ALIVE. THAT HIS FATHER WAS FEEDING HIM MONEY. MY FAVORITE PART OF IT WAS WHEN ONE OF THESE CASINOS WAS ABOUT TO GO UNDER, HIS FATHER GOT SOMEBODY TO BUY, $3.5 MILLION WORTH OF CHIPS AND LEAVE THEM ON THE TABLE. WHAT A CONTRIBUTION.>>THIS SELF-MADE MAN STUFF — POLITICAL TYPE DESCRIBED THE ELDER GEORGE BUSH AS HAVING BEEN BORN ON THIRD BASE AND THINKS HE HIT A TRIPLE. THAT APPLIES IN SPADES TO DONALD TRUMP. [LAUGHTER]>>ALSO, THE PIECE MAKES VERY CLEAR THEY PLAY VERY FAST AND LOOSE, TO BE POLITE, WITH THE LAW. THE TRUMPS ALWAYS SEEM TO FEEL THE RULES DO NOT APPLY TO THEM. EVEN DURING THE CAMPAIGN, ONE OF THE DEBATES WHEN HE WAS TALKING ABOUT NOT PAYING TAXES HE SAID, THAT MAKES ME SMART. NO, THAT MAKES YOU A CHISELER. IF YOU BELIEVE AS I DO THAT LOUIS BRANDEIS GOT IT RIGHT WHEN HE SAID TAXES ARE THE PRICE WE PAY FOR A CIVILIZED SOCIETY, THEN THIS MAN IS NOT PART OF CIVILIZED SOCIETY.>>THERE WAS A PART OF THE REPORT WHERE THEY CROSS THE LINE BETWEEN EVADING TAXES, AVOIDING TAXES.>>ONE OF THE THINGS I THOUGHT WAS INTERESTING ABOUT TRUMP’S RESPONSE TO THE SERIES, HE SAID, OK, NONE OF IT IS TRUE, IT IS ALL FAKE NEWS. THAT IS EXPECTED. HIS REAL POINT WAS THAT HE THOUGHT IT WAS “BORING.” THAT IS A SIGNAL TO ALL HIS BELIEVERS THAT THIS IS REALLY HARD STUFF, THERE IS NOTHING TO SEE HERE, THIS IS DULL, A LOT OF PAPERWORK.>>DON’T BOTHER READING IT.>>RIGHT, IT IS HARD.>>BECAUSE IF YOU READ IT, YOU MIGHT GET A LITTLE ANGRY WITH WHAT I GOT AWAY WITH. SOMETHING YOU PEOPLE CAN’T DO BECAUSE YOU DO NOT HAVE THAT KIND OF MONEY AND THOSE TYPE OF ACCOUNTANTS.>>ONE THING I THOUGHT WAS INTERESTING, TRUMP TRIED TO, WHEN HIS FATHER WAS LOSING IT AND ABOUT TO DIE, HE TRIED TO GET THIS CODICIL IN THE WILL CHANGED SO HE GOT THE MONEY AND NOT HIS SIBLINGS. HOW MUCH DO YOU HAVE TO KNOW ABOUT WHAT A CHISELER THIS GUY IS?>>HIS SISTER IS A FEDERAL JUDGE AND IT SOUNDED OR SUGGESTED SHE MAY HAVE BEEN KNOWINGLY PART OF A PHONY OPERATION IN SOME OF THIS STUFF, INCLUDING THE CODICIL. SHE STOPPED IT BUT BEFORE THAT, THERE WAS SOME RIGMAROLE SHE WAS INVOLVED IN. THE OBVIOUS FOCUS IS DONALD TRUMP HIMSELF. ALL THIS SELF-MADE MAN STUFF IS JUST BALONEY, AND THAT IS A VERY POLITE WORD. HE HAS HAD ONE FAILURE AFTER ANOTHER, WHETHER IT WAS HIS CASINOS, FOOTBALL LEAGUE, STEAKS, WINE –>>ON THE OTHER HAND, HE DID GET ELECTED PRESIDENT.>>YES HE DID, I HAVE TO EMPHASIZE, WITHOUT A PLURALITY. BUT HE WON — THAT IS A GIVEN, OUR SYSTEM IS WHAT IT IS. HE DID NOT HAVE THE GREATEST VICTORY IN HISTORY, AS HE CONSTANTLY TELLS HIS CROWDS, AS I THINK HE DID AGAIN THE OTHER NIGHT IN MISSISSIPPI. BY THE WAY, MISSISSIPPI. THERE HE IS MOCKING THIS WOMAN WHO HAS A CREDIBLE ALLEGATION OF HAVING BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, AND THESE JERKS ARE SITTING BEHIND HIM, JUST LAUGHING IT UP LIKE IT IS THE FUNNIEST DAMN THING SINCE “THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES.” IT IS OUTRAGEOUS. THE ONLY WORD THAT CAME TO MY MIND WAS DEPLORABLE.>>SPEAKING OF WHICH, WE ARE TALKING BEFORE THE VOTE ON JUDGE KAVANAUGH. HAVE WE LEARNED ANYTHING FROM THIS EXPERIENCE, FROM THE NOMINATION PROCESS AND CONFIRMATION PROCESS?>>I THINK CLYDE IS RIGHT. THAT APPEARANCE IN MISSISSIPPI WAS ONE OF THE MOST DEPRESSING THINGS I HAVE SEEN. WE DO NOT EXPECT DIPLOMACY FROM DONALD TRUMP ANYMORE. THERE WAS A GROUP OF WHITE MALES BEHIND HIM LAUGHING AND MAKING FUN OF HER. SHE SAID ON THE STAND THAT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HURT HER THE MOST WAS THE SOUND OF LAUGHTER, PEOPLE LAUGHING AT HER. I CAN TELL YOU, I DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WITH KAVANAUGH, BECAUSE THAT VOTE WILL BE LATER PROBABLY SATURDAY. IF HE IS CONFIRMED, I THINK YOU WILL SEE WOMEN BY LEAGUES AND LEGIONS AT THE POLLS.>>VOTING WHAT?>>I THINK THEY WILL HAVE TO VOTE DEMOCRATIC. I DO NOT SEE MANY REPUBLICANS MOVING TO THE OTHER SIDE AT ALL. THEY ARE JUST QUIET, BASICALLY.>>THANKS TO CLYDE HABERMAN AND ELEANOR RANDOLPH FOR JOINING ME. “CODA,” COMING UP NEXT. ♪♪>>DID A COLORFUL AND CONSPICUOUS 6’5″, BOW-TIED POLITICIAN WHO WROTE 18 BOOKS SOMEHOW FAIL TO LEAVE THE IMPRESSION HE DESERVED ON AMERICA’S POPULAR IMAGINATION? THAT’S THE QUESTION A TIMES REVIEWER SAYS IS POSED BY A NEW DOCUMENTARY TITLED “MOYNIHAN.” IT’S A PROFILE, OF COURSE, OF THE FORMER UN AMBASSADOR AND SENATOR FROM NEW YORK, DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN. AND IN AN ERA LACKING IN POLITICAL HEROES, AND LONG ON CYNICISM, IT’S A FILM THAT’S WORTH WATCHING. AND ONE YOU SHOULD GO SEE. YOU DON’T HAVE TO AGREE WITH EVERYTHING MOYNIHAN SAID OR THE BLUNTNESS WITH WHICH HE SAID IT, BUT WHAT A DELIGHT TO BE REMINDED OF AN UNCONVENTIONAL, COURAGEOUS, CURIOUS, COMMONSENSICAL PUBLIC OFFICIAL WHO NOT ONLY WROTE BOOKS, BUT READ THEM. IT WAS MOYNIHAN WHO REMINDED US THAT EVERYONE IS ENTITLED TO HIS OWN OPINION, BUT NOT TO HIS OWN FACTS. WHO WAS PRESCIENT ABOUT THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION AND OF THE BLACK TWO-PARENT FAMILY. WHO SUGGESTED THAT SINCE WE HAVE A CENTURY’S SUPPLY OF HANDGUNS, WHY NOT RESTRICT THE SALE OF BULLETS? MOYNIHAN EMBODIED TWO CHARACTERISTICS MISSING IN CONGRESS TODAY, A SPIRIT OF COMPROMISE AND A SENSE OF HUMOR. HE WAS FIRST ELECTED BY CHALLENGING JAMES BUCKLEY, WHO REPEATEDLY DISMISSED HIM AS PROFESSOR MOYNIHAN. TO WHICH MOYNIHAN, WHO WAS, INDEED, A PROFESSOR, MUSED, “THE MUDSLINGING HAS BEGUN.” IF HE SET THAT HIGH A BAR ON CAMPAIGN ORATORY, HE ALSO CAUTIONED THAT SOCIETY HAD BECOME NUMB TO ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOR, THAT IT HAD REDEFINED DEVIANCY TO TAKE FOR GRANTED TOO MUCH CONDUCT THAT HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN STIGMATIZED. HE WARNED THAT THE ISSUE OF RACE HAD BECOME SO DANGEROUSLY OVERHEATED THAT THE RHETORIC COULD BENEFIT FROM A PERIOD OF BENIGN NEGLECT. BUT THE GOVERNMENT STILL HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY TO CONFRONT THE CONSEQUENCES OF RACISM. “DOES NOT MEAN REDUCING EFFORTS,” HE SAID. “NOT AT ALL. BUT IT DOES MEAN TRYING TO CREATE SOME EQUIVALENCE BETWEEN WHAT GOVERNMENT CAN DO ABOUT CERTAIN PROBLEMS AND HOW MUCH ATTENTION IT DRAWS TO THEM.” HE HELPED DRAFT LYNDON JOHNSON’S LANDMARK SPEECH AT HOWARD UNIVERSITY THAT UNVEILED AN AMBITIOUS CIVIL RIGHTS AGENDA AND ALSO A PLATFORM BASED ON FREEDOM OF OPPORTUNITY. AND HE LATER SOUNDED THIS WARNING AGAINST CUTBACKS IN WELFARE — “IN THE 50 YEARS SINCE THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT WAS SIGNED, WE’VE NEVER HAD A TIME THAT SLOWLY BUT SUDDENLY, WITH MUCH GREATER FORCE, THE COUNTRY IS DECIDING THAT WE’RE SPENDING TOO MUCH MONEY ON CHILDREN.” AT THE SAME TIME, THOUGH, HE ALSO CAUTIONED THAT HIS OWN DEMOCRATIC PARTY HAD, “REWARDED THE ARTICULATION OF MORAL PURPOSE MORE THAN THE ACHIEVEMENT OF PRACTICAL GOOD.” MOYNIHAN ALSO PLACED CONTEMPORARY CATASTROPHES IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE. WHEN PRESIDENT KENNEDY WAS ASSASSINATED IN 1963, THE COLUMNIST MARY MCGRORY LAMENTED WHAT SHE CALLED THE END OF CAMELOT. “WE’LL NEVER LAUGH AGAIN,” SHE SAID. TO WHICH MOYNIHAN REPLIED, “HEAVENS, MARY, OF COURSE WE’LL LAUGH AGAIN. IT’S JUST THAT WE’LL NEVER BE YOUNG AGAIN.” FOR “THE NEW YORK TIMES” AND CUNY-TV, I’M SAM ROBERTS. ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪

2 comments

  1. Sam! You didn't think it was abuse when they were forcing her into a room? Only after he covered her mouth to prevent screaming? Please raise your consciousness.

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