Friday News Roundup - Domestic

Transcript for: 
Friday News Roundup - Domestic

MS. DIANE REHM

10:06:56
Thanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. President Obama and Republican challenger Romney battled in a contentious town hall debate on Tuesday. The FBI foiled the plot to blow up the New York Federal Reserve Bank. And new home constructions surged to a four-year high in September. Here with me in the studio for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup: Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, Susan Page of USA Today and Jerry Seib of The Wall Street Journal.

MS. DIANE REHM

10:07:32
I do invite your participation. Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Send us your email to drshow@wamu.org. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. And happy Friday, everybody.

MR. CHRIS CILLIZZA

10:07:50
Good morning.

MR. JERRY SEIB

10:07:50
Morning, Diane.

MS. SUSAN PAGE

10:07:51
Good morning.

REHM

10:07:51
Good to see you all. Chris Cillizza, what do you see as the fallout from the second debate?

CILLIZZA

10:08:01
Democrats who were very nervous, and I would say somewhat rightfully so, after President Obama's -- lethargic is probably being too nice to President Obama -- poor, surprisingly poor performance in the first debate. I think Democrats after this debate felt significantly better. President Obama was much more aggressive.

CILLIZZA

10:08:22
He took the fight to Mitt Romney in a number of issues, including his record as governor of Massachusetts, including his comments about the 47 percent, including, interestingly enough, Libya, which we thought would be a potential weak spot for President Obama, that wound up being, I think, a pretty good moment for him. My sense in watching the debate, Diane, was that if you were a partisan and you like Barack Obama, you thought he won. If you're a partisan and you like Mitt Romney, you thought he won.

CILLIZZA

10:08:52
If you were an independent or an undecided voter, which there are very few of -- but there's still few out there this close to the election -- you saw two people who are running to be the next president of the United States basically bickering like school kids. That's not true. Yes, it is. You're breaking the rules. No, I'm not. And my guess is not a lot of minds that weren't already made up got made up.

REHM

10:09:16
Susan.

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10:09:17
Well, I think that's right. I mean, as the first debate was Romney's and a knockout, this was maybe Obama's on points, so not a terrible night for Mitt Romney, but a much better night for President Obama. And, you know, one thing that surprised me about this was we're used to town hall forums in presidential elections being more civil, courteous. You know, you're talking to the audience. You're trying to be responsive to the voters who are sitting right there on that stage. That wasn't the kind of debate we saw.

CILLIZZA

10:09:47
Exactly.

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10:09:47
We saw the most combative sort of language and the look of the debate where they were walking around the stage, invading each other's spaces, talking directly to each other, asking each other questions, which they weren't supposed to do under the agreement their campaigns had worked up beforehand, pointing fingers at each other. It was -- you could have turned off the sound on this debate and you would have known what was going on.

REHM

10:10:08
Jerry Seib, what about the effects of the women in binders comment?

SEIB

10:10:15
Well, I think it's not so much just the women-in-binders comment. I think it is the reality that -- and this was starting to emerge just before the debate, and it's bust out big time after the debate. It is that a lot of the campaign attention is going to be focused on women in the last two weeks. Why -- while it's Barack Obama's biggest area of advantage, he has -- in our last national poll, he has a 16-point edge among women nationally. But when you boil that down to likely women voters, it's less. And it seemed to be eroding a little bit.

SEIB

10:10:44
White men are a big bloc of the Republican Party and a big bloc that seems solidly for Mitt Romney. Hispanics seem locked in for Barack Obama. Young voters are locked in to the extent they show up for Barack Obama. So where's the playing field? The playing is going to be women, particularly suburban women who are still somewhat in play.

SEIB

10:11:01
I think everybody on the Obama side jumped on the binders-full-of-women comment because it helped them say that Mitt Romney is not as friendly toward women in the workplace as he says he is. And as this campaign has always said, his record shows. But I think that's just an indicator of where the target audience is going to be for the last two weeks.

REHM

10:11:18
Susan.

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10:11:18
I think that's right. And we're all watching what happens with women voters. You know, women, as a group, tend to tune in later to the election. They don't pay attention early on. They pay attention at this point or just at the point the debates begin. And President Obama has had a big advantage among women, but there had been two polls that showed it even or all but even. The Pew Research Center poll that came out 10 days ago had women 47-47.

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10:11:40
And the USA Today/Gallup poll of the 12 battleground states had President Obama with just a single-point edge among women. Now, these -- both these polls, I mean, there are other polls that show Obama continuing to have an edge among women, but that is clearly where we see movement in the electorate.

REHM

10:11:54
Just to let listeners know, we're going to do a show on Monday on polling, how it's done, the differences in national polls, the smaller polls, try to get an understanding of really what those polls mean. Chris Cillizza, what about Candy Crowley? She was criticized by conservatives primarily for her on-the-spot fact-checking on the Libya question. And before you answer, let's hear how that exchange went.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

10:12:34
The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror. And I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

GOV. MITT ROMNEY

10:12:47
I think interesting the president just said something which is that on the day after the attack, he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror. You said in the Rose Garden, the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration.

OBAMA

10:13:00
Please proceed.

ROMNEY

10:13:01
Is that what you're saying?

OBAMA

10:13:02
Please proceed, governor.

ROMNEY

10:13:03
I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

OBAMA

10:13:10
Get the transcript.

MS. CANDY CROWLEY

10:13:11
He did, in fact, sir. So let me -- called it an act of terror in the Rose Garden. He used the word...

OBAMA

10:13:15
Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

CROWLEY

10:13:18
He did call it an act of terror. It did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You're correct about that.

REHM

10:13:32
And now let's hear President Obama in the Rose Garden the day after the attack.

OBAMA

10:13:41
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.

REHM

10:13:50
So, Chris Cillizza, what do we make of those exchanges and Candy's comments?

CILLIZZA

10:14:00
Sure. Again, so much of this -- I feel like I keep coming back to this, but so much of this, Diane, depends on the partisan lines through which you see things. President Obama, on the technical point, was correct. He did, as you heard, use the phrase acts of terror. Now, Republicans say, well, he was talking broadly about it. This was not specific. Now, he was talking about Benghazi, but he was not talking specifically about the Benghazi attacks. Again, some of this is kind of partisan semantics.

CILLIZZA

10:14:32
I wrote, and I really firmly believe this, that moderators, Candy included -- and I'll say just for people who know, she is a friend of mine. I know her. I've known her, you know, for a while now. I think she's a really great reporter, and I thought she did a very credible job. Moderators are in something close to a no-win situation in these debates.

CILLIZZA

10:14:52
They've become an issue in each of the three debates -- Jim Lehrer in the first debate, Martha Raddatz in the VP debate and now Candy -- because these debates are litigated by the campaign lawyers to within an inch of their lives in terms of what you can and cannot do. The candidates don't abide by the rules that their campaign set up and so you -- they put the moderators in these extremely difficult positions.

CILLIZZA

10:15:17
I thought Candy, in the moment, did exactly what she should do, which is say, on the technical point, Barack Obama did, in fact, use the phrase acts of terror the next day in the Rose Garden, but his White House was sending very different signals. There was a lot of mixed signals, the origin of was this a YouTube clip or was this a planned attack, all those sorts of things.

PAGE

10:15:38
You know, as Chris knows, while there's a memorandum of understanding negotiated between the two campaigns, Candy Crowley, the moderator should not sign that. They're not party to it. Neither is the Commission on Presidential Debates.

SEIB

10:15:46
Right, right.

REHM

10:15:48
That's an important point.

PAGE

10:15:50
The moderator is sort of like the captain of an airplane, right? In the end, it's up to that person to kind of steer the conversation. And you saw Jim Lehrer get criticized for not asserting himself enough. You saw criticism of Candy for doing that fact-check on the spot. You know, I thought they both did good jobs and jobs -- with the vision that they had for how the debate would go. I think, in fact, all three of the debates we've had so far, I would really praise the moderators for good performances in difficult roles.

REHM

10:16:17
Jerry Seib.

SEIB

10:16:18
I agree with that. I think it's a no-win position. You know, and everybody who writes about this campaign knows that the closer you get to Nov. 6, the more polarized the viewing public, the reading public becomes. And almost anything that's said or done becomes the subject of some partisan attack. No matter how neutral you try to be, somebody doesn't see neutrality in what you try to do. That's true if you write, as I do, a newspaper column. It's true on steroids if you're moderating a debate before 67 million people.

REHM

10:16:46
OK. Let's move on. Ohio, the early voting decision. Chris.

CILLIZZA

10:16:53
Sure. Important, I think, often overlooked and very important. So this -- the Supreme Court this week basically affirmed a lower court ruling that overturn the idea that what Ohio had promised to do was get rid of early voting several days before the election for a lot of people and really leave it only to military folks. The explanation for that was, look, we have to get ready for Election Day. It's a huge day. We're overwhelmed as it is. We simply can't do it.

CILLIZZA

10:17:25
But the Obama campaign and Democrats, more broadly, said this is not -- you can't just say only certain people can early vote. They -- obviously Democrats rely heavily on early voting, cast as a victory for the Obama campaign. Basically, the lower court said, you can't do this. You have to extend the early vote rights to everyone involved. And that means that more people who are likely to support Barack Obama will now be able to vote in those few days running up to the election.

REHM

10:17:52
Jerry, could that ruling change the outcome in Ohio?

SEIB

10:17:56
Well, I think almost anything could change the outcome in Ohio at this point. It's, you know, it's close. It's probably not as close as some other swing states, say, for example, Virginia where I can't tell -- I can't see any light between the two candidates. But it's close enough. And if you think back to 1984 when Ohio decided the election, it was a few hundred thousand votes. That's not much in a state of Ohio's size.

SEIB

10:18:15
I will say, though, that I think this -- in Ohio and in other states, it's going to be a test this year of the notion, which Chris just correctly said, which is that normally early voting benefits Democrats more than Republicans. In the Ohio special election over the union -- public union vote, Republicans actually did quite well in early voting. So we'll see.

REHM

10:18:34
Jerry Seib of The Wall Street Journal, Susan Page of USA Today, Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post. Short break. And when we come back, talk of the economy.

REHM

10:20:04
And before we move on to the economy, last point on what's happening in Ohio, Susan.

PAGE

10:20:13
Well, Jerry made the point that Republicans have been working hard in Ohio to do better on the early vote. And the first numbers out of Ohio indicate they're doing that. You know, four years ago, Democrats had an advantage of 20 percentage points when it comes to early voters in Ohio. So far, they have an advantage of seven points. Now, they're still up with the early voters, but that's not nearly the gap that we saw four years ago.

REHM

10:20:33
Interesting. Jerry, let's turn to the economy. There are some really good news out there right now.

SEIB

10:20:40
Well, the best news of the week was on housing, which actually looks finally poised to actually lead the economy out of the vestiges of the recession as opposed to hold it down in the vestiges of recession. There was a 15 percent jump in September in housing starts -- new housing starts. And new housing permits also went up to a four-year high as did housing starts. And that is an indication of, I think, what is happening more broadly in housing, which is that finally the bottom seems to have been reached.

SEIB

10:21:09
You know, for five years, people have been looking for the bottom and saying, you know, when does it start to spring back up? Well, this represents a spring back up. But I do think you have to say that -- the word that keeps coming to my mind when I see all the economic statistics of the last few months is gradually. Things are gradually getting better. Housing is still with -- even with these numbers is gradually getting better. The employment picture is gradually getting better. Consumer confidence is gradually getting better.

SEIB

10:21:33
You know, in political terms, that's obviously better for the Obama administration than the alternative, but it's not the shot back up that they had once hoped for in 2012.

REHM

10:21:42
Susan.

PAGE

10:21:42
You know, the timing is pretty good for President Obama. And that just as people are actually casting their votes, they're feeling a little bit better about the direction of the country and the state of the economy. I have to say there are some storm clouds on the horizon because as soon as this election is over, whoever's elected president is going to have to deal with this fiscal cliff.

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10:21:58
And if they failed to deal with it with the spending cuts and the tax hikes that are part of that agreement that Congress made some time ago, some economists believe that would tip the country back into recession. That continues to be a big concern.

REHM

10:22:11
And the president said this week he would block any legislation that would not include tax hikes.

CILLIZZA

10:22:20
So one of the huge points of emphasis for President Obama, since he was elected, has been a repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. He has backed down twice in the past on sort of holding the line on that in order to get some other things that he would like. This veto threat, Diane, would seem to suggest that the time, in his mind, has come, and he basically said this week nothing -- no deal.

CILLIZZA

10:22:52
He is willing to go over the fiscal cliff. He's willing to let sequestration, as Susan mentioned, this package of tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts. He is willing to let that happen in January if any deal that is produced out of Congress does not include the rollback of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent.

REHM

10:23:12
And what that would mean would be an increase for 90 percent of the households across the country in their tax rate.

SEIB

10:23:22
Right, which is not good for the economy, obviously, but, on the other hand, you know, I think it's possible that you could split the baby here, that you could have a lame duck session in which there is an agreement not to do the across-the-board spending cuts, that there is some compromise on that, but that everybody agrees to let the tax cuts go up. Why? Because then Congress comes back -- a new Congress comes back and gets to negotiate a tax cut next year.

SEIB

10:23:45
And I think there is some thinking in the White House that that may be the scenario. Now, I would -- I just hasten to add that the question there is, how spooked will the financial markets be if that happens? If you raised everybody's taxes and it's -- as you suggest, Diane -- it's almost everybody's taxes go up on Jan. 1, that's not a good thing to do in the face of a still weak economy.

REHM

10:24:03
So you've got business leaders asking both Congress and the White House to make sure something gets done.

PAGE

10:24:11
Right. A letter from 16 of the nation's largest financial services firms sent this week just warning that they need to not go off the fiscal cliff. And -- but one question I have -- I don't know, Jerry, what you think about this is. What's going to be -- is it a different political situation? Say, President Obama wins a second term. You still have a Democratic-controlled Senate. You still have a Republican-controlled House. Is the dynamic of that different? Does it lead itself to a real deal that they were unable to get to before?

SEIB

10:24:39
Well, that's the question. And if it's a status quo election -- and that's what you just described -- it's hard to see what's different in that dynamic. You know, why would it be easier to do the deal now than it was before? Excuse me. I think the answer might be that everybody agrees that we should really do tax reform in the new Congress. And that might be the magic or looks that makes everybody get pass this and look forward to doing something more substantive.

PAGE

10:25:05
You know, that reminds of that old, you know, the -- all those lessons from Donald Rumsfeld.

PAGE

10:25:11
And one of Donald Rumsfeld's lessons was if you can't solve a problem, make it bigger.

SEIB

10:25:15
Yeah.

PAGE

10:25:15
And this would be an example, that if we can't solve this problem, make it bigger to reform the entire tax code. Maybe that's the way out of this.

REHM

10:25:21
Chris.

CILLIZZA

10:25:21
Well, they did. The thing that always worries me is that I remember in the run up to the debt ceiling debate when it was actually a very similar run up, which was we had a bunch of CEOs writing letters to Congress and the White House saying, please don't do this. It would be incredibly detrimental to the market. I always assumed, well, they'll get it done before the absolute last minute because they know that the stark circumstances that await them if they don't.

CILLIZZA

10:25:47
What happened? I mean, you basically had everything but the crash in a game of chicken. You know, we -- they narrowly avoided one another, but you saw -- and I would say politically and economically -- certainly, politically, you saw both parties just can take a brutal hit for that. And that lingers in my mind as I think about this because normally, I would think, well, they'll get it done because they do not want these across-the-board cuts. They do not want this tax increase for 97 percent people.

CILLIZZA

10:26:15
But to Jerry's point and to Susan's point, if nothing big changes, if President Obama is reelected with 290 electoral votes, if Republicans gain two seats in the House and Democrats even narrow a majority, if Republicans still control -- the Senate rather, if Republicans still control the House, I don't know what's different now than what was different the last two years that we saw a total gridlock on everything.

SEIB

10:26:42
Just one footnote: We are -- have ignored the most incendiary part of this mix, which is the fact that the debt ceiling has to go up early next year as well. Even Republicans, who I think can finesse the spending cuts or the tax increases part by saying, well, we're still going to fix this next year, have to cope with the idea that a lot of people in their party don't want to raise the debt ceiling. And that raises the default spectrum, which was the other mix in the...

CILLIZZA

10:27:03
Yeah, yeah.

SEIB

10:27:04
...sort of the witch's brew of last year, and we're going to be back there early next year as well. And that's very, very scary to markets, even more so than the debate over taxes and spending.

REHM

10:27:12
Susan.

PAGE

10:27:13
And, you know, having talked about what happens if President Obama wins a second term, we should probably mention, what happens if Mitt Romney wins a first term and he faces a Republican House, but one that's probably more conservative and aggressive than he is and a Democratic-controlled Senate? And what are the -- what does that add up to when it comes to this fiscal term?

SEIB

10:27:30
But in the short-term, that one's easier, I think, because then everybody in Congress agrees. We're just going to kick the can down the road six months and give the new president time to come up with a plan.

CILLIZZA

10:27:37
Mm hmm. Yeah.

REHM

10:27:38
All right.

SEIB

10:27:38
And I think that gets us past the short-term crisis more easily, actually.

REHM

10:27:41
Let's go to a state that allowed early voting yesterday. To Tom in Dayton, Ohio. Good morning to you.

TOM

10:27:51
Good morning.

REHM

10:27:52
Go right ahead, sir.

TOM

10:27:54
The one thing I thought everybody would be talking about in that debate was when Romney more or less admitted he's going to take tax deductions from the middle class.

REHM

10:28:09
Like what specifically, sir?

TOM

10:28:14
He said to pick a number, and he picked $2,500. And then he said, you can use that on any deduction you want.

REHM

10:28:23
Now, I think the figure he actually used was $25,000.

SEIB

10:28:28
Twenty five thousand, yeah. This is an interesting thing, and it is the Romney campaign's answer to the question, well, if you're going to lower everybody's tax rates, how are you going to not rob the treasury of money so that the deficit goes up? The answer is, as Gov. Romney said, well, we're thinking about a cap on deductions. Everybody can take the deductions they have now but only up to a certain amount of money. He threw out the $25,000 figure.

SEIB

10:28:52
But the caller Tom is right. For some taxpayers, that means they wouldn't have as many deductions as they have now. They would have a lower rate but less in the area of deductions, and they might be paying more in taxes. That's true, but that's also inevitable if you're going to do what Gov. Romney says, which is lower rates, but make it revenue neutral. Some win, some lose in that formula.

CILLIZZA

10:29:10
And...

REHM

10:29:10
And there are an awful lot of people worried about that mortgage deduction, Susan.

PAGE

10:29:16
Right, although he hasn't said he'd take away the mortgage deduction.

REHM

10:29:18
No.

PAGE

10:29:18
But the problem that Gov. Romney has had is that he has not explained how we would achieve this goal of lowering rates while keeping it revenue neutral. And he said in the first debate that he wouldn't reduce the share that wealthy Americans are -- so anybody hasn't explained how that would happen.

REHM

10:29:36
And another question on that very point from Tim in Carlisle, Pa. Good morning.

TIM

10:29:44
Good morning. Yeah. I was thinking the same thing. Twice during the presidential debates, Gov. Romney has said, pick a number. And I'm surprised that President Obama didn't come back and say, no, Gov. Romney. You pick a number. This is your plan. Tell us what the number is, and tell us what it means to the middle class. And, oh, by the way, tell us that it won't be continually going down in future years.

REHM

10:30:07
Chris.

CILLIZZA

10:30:08
Yes. Tim, I think, highlights exactly what many Democrats would like President Obama to do. And I think President Obama has tried, actually -- certainly in the first debate -- to say, you haven't provided many specifics to your tax plan. Here's what I think it would do. Gov. Romney has made a very calculated, strategic decision to say, I am not the president of United States. I am not going to bind my hands unnecessarily before I am elected and before I get the full picture of where we stand fiscally.

CILLIZZA

10:30:40
I think he may believe that, but I think a lot of it is borne of political calculation. Diane, he knows if he says, look, here are the 10 things we're going to do, that nine of them will be picked -- well, actually, let's not be pessimistic -- 10 of them will be picked apart by the other side. And he does not want to do that. He wants to keep the spotlight on President Obama and what President Obama has done, not what Mitt Romney will do.

REHM

10:31:05
All right. To Blairstown, N.J. Hi, Betsy.

BETSY

10:31:10
Hi, Diane. Thank you for taking my call.

REHM

10:31:11
Sure.

BETSY

10:31:11
I love the show.

REHM

10:31:12
Thanks.

BETSY

10:31:13
I have two questions. First of all, I'd like to forget about the binders of women and have the press follow up on why, after 25 years as a business leader and job creator, Mitt Romney didn't have the names of sharp business women in Massachusetts, just tripping over his tongue as he tried to get down all the names, why he needed that in the land of MIT and Harvard and having 25 years of experience in business. Was he elected in 1950? Why was this so hard for him to come up with what was the...

REHM

10:31:45
OK. And your second point.

BETSY

10:31:48
OK. My second point is, when you hold yourself up as a job creator in this kind of environment and there's only 1 percent of the population that bears the burden for the military intervention of America in the world, I'd like to know, when Gov. Romney's been in business and the businesses that he's created and invested in, what are their policies towards veterans? What are their policies toward people who served in the National Guard?

REHM

10:32:10
All right. OK. Susan.

PAGE

10:32:13
You know, I'm just guessing that Betsy is not a Romney voter, it sounds to me. I would say one of the most damaging things I thought for Gov. Romney in the whole exchange about women is that it did seem like out of another era. I mean, I think it did seem as the point that Betsy makes, and she makes an interesting point on policies towards veterans. And I don't know the answer to that.

REHM

10:32:33
But doesn't the response on women go back to the Mormon Church, where the focus is that women stay in the home? And perhaps that was his thinking, that, you know, he has surrounded himself with a lot of men, and women are in the home. Somebody is going to call me out on that, and that's fine. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's go to Houston, Texas. Good morning, Gary. You're on the air.

GARY

10:33:13
Good morning. I just wanted to mention something about the first debate. I love your show. Gov. Romney, at the beginning of the show, as best as I remember, said that he would be getting rid of NPR. And he said, I like Big Bird. And he spoke to Jim Lehrer and said, I even like you, but we'll be getting rid of NPR. And I believe that's tantamount to announcing, before 67 million people, to someone that they're going to be fired. And I'll leave it at that.

REHM

10:33:47
All right. Actually, what he said was he was going to get rid of funding for public broadcasting and that that included Big Bird. He said, I love Big Bird. Do you want to comment, Susan?

CILLIZZA

10:34:03
Well, I...

REHM

10:34:04
Chris.

CILLIZZA

10:34:05
Just very, very quickly. I mean, I think this is one of these things where it draws a lot of attention because of the Big Bird reference. But as many people have pointed out, getting rid of what Mitt Romney proposed getting rid of is not going to add one side up to the other side in terms of what he is proposing and not raising rates.

REHM

10:34:21
In money terms.

CILLIZZA

10:34:22
He's not -- I mean, it's infinitesimally small.

REHM

10:34:23
443 million for the corporation...

CILLIZZA

10:34:28
Right.

REHM

10:34:28
...for public broadcasting.

PAGE

10:34:29
It's -- Bush makes it more of a symbolic...

CILLIZZA

10:34:31
Right, exactly.

REHM

10:34:32
Yeah, exactly.

PAGE

10:34:33
...gesture, yes.

REHM

10:34:34
Exactly. Let's talk about this bomb plot against the Fed in New York. Jerry Seib.

SEIB

10:34:44
Well, 21-year-old Bangladeshi national, who is a recent immigrant to the U.S., got in -- got caught in a -- whether it was entrapment or not will be an interesting conversation, but was interested in conducting a terrorist attack, got hooked up with what turned out to be FBI undercover agents at Internet chat room. They pulled him out into -- basically flushing out the plot, which is going to involve 1,000-pound bomb parked outside the Federal Reserve of New York headquarters in down -- in lower Manhattan in New York.

SEIB

10:35:16
He tried to detonate that bomb with a cellphone that obviously wasn't connected to anything, was arrested. And there's now been a second arrest in the case, somebody in San Diego who is said to be engaged in the plot with the young Bangladeshi. And the questions are many and fascinating. Among them are was this young man sent here to do terrorism, or did he simply arrive here and decided that it would be a good idea, now that I'm here, to do something on behalf of jihad?

PAGE

10:35:44
And this is like the script of a movie, you know...

REHM

10:35:47
Sure is.

PAGE

10:35:48
...and the scene of this guy thinking he had just parked a van filled with explosives, going a few blocks away, dialing a cellphone to detonate it over and over again, only to have the FBI agent show up and arrest him. I mean, it's chilling. Now, there is criticism, by some, of the law enforcement tactics. They say it -- that there are people who talk about terrorism, but they would never have the wherewithal to put a plot together without the help of these FBI informants. That may be true, but I've got to say I'm glad these informants are there...

SEIB

10:36:17
Yeah. Yeah. No doubt.

CILLIZZA

10:36:18
It's remarkable.

PAGE

10:36:18
...to stop these attacks.

REHM

10:36:19
You know, I find myself wondering how many plots are out there and how many potential FBI saviors might be out there as well.

CILLIZZA

10:36:30
This is not the first time a situation like this where an informant tips off the FBI, and they kind of infiltrate this plot and ultimately kind of make it fizzle. I totally agree with you, Diane. I mean, I do think we are, you know, removed by more than a decade now from Sept. 11, 2001, but I do think that this is a reminder that regardless of who the president of the United States is on Nov. 7, this is a reminder that we do remain a major target. And, you know, I echo Susan's point of thank you so much to the folks who wind up doing this. It is -- I mean, it is literally out of a spy novel.

REHM

10:37:10
And would the funds for the FBI, along with everything else in government, be cut if we go off the fiscal cliff, Jerry?

SEIB

10:37:22
Well, presumably. It's a formulaic equation.

REHM

10:37:24
Exactly.

SEIB

10:37:25
Defense gets cut 50 percent of the amount, and domestic programs take the other 50 percent.

REHM

10:37:29
I sure hope they do something. Short break here. And when we come back, we'll talk certainly about the Boy Scouts and about Lance Armstrong. Stay with us.

REHM

10:40:04
And here's an email from Sharon in Ohio, who says, "I'm not hearing citizens complaining about the economy here. I don't hear about a lot of foreclosures in Northeast Ohio. Plants are opening up, auto plants expanding." True, Jerry?

SEIB

10:40:24
Yeah, and that's, you know, Ohio is an interesting case, and people wonder why is President Obama doing relatively better in Ohio than some of the other swing states. Well, part of it because, A, the economy's doing better in Ohio. The unemployment rate is lower there than other places. And, B, at least part of that has to do with the fact that some GM plants and some Chrysler plants are running at pretty good steam, and that is, I assume, one of the reasons he is getting a little more credit on the economy than -- in Ohio, than in other places. Annoying to Republicans but that's what's going on.

REHM

10:40:53
To Howard County, Md. Good morning, Cathy.

CATHY

10:40:57
Hi. I just wanted to mention something that I read in The Blog yesterday that apparently Romney has never hired any women at Bain Capital in the history, I guess, it's happened at certain level in the history of the firm.

REHM

10:41:14
Can't confirm that, Jerry.

CILLIZZA

10:41:15
No, I can't. I'd be -- I mean, to be honest, she said at the top level of the firm, and I think that maybe -- if there is truth to it, it's probably that. But I would say Mitt...

REHM

10:41:24
Somebody ought to look into that.

CILLIZZA

10:41:25
...Mitt Romney is pushing back very aggressively. He had a web video out earlier this week, Diane, with -- featuring a number of women who served in his cabinet, worried, I would say, about fallout from the debate and possibly losing what we were talking about earlier, losing that -- the women's vote.

REHM

10:41:39
Served in his cabinet as governor.

CILLIZZA

10:41:41
As governor of Massachusetts, not in Bain.

REHM

10:41:42
OK.

CILLIZZA

10:41:43
But saying he was a great boss, he understands women, you know, I mean, they're clearly very cognizant of the dangers here.

REHM

10:41:49
All right. To Lebanon, N.H. Hi there, Bill.

BILL

10:41:54
Hi.

REHM

10:41:56
Hi. Go right ahead.

BILL

10:41:58
Yes. I read in an editorial on the General Science this morning, and in it, the author talks about the fiscal problems he calls national security with capitals is about the economy innovation and so on. And at the end, he gives an admonition to citizens to demand a higher standard and -- for people to get out there and push their legislators to be more open to compromise and get away from the push of the political parties.

REHM

10:42:41
Susan.

PAGE

10:42:41
You know, I think that's a great point. I think a lot of Americans would agree. You do see some places trying to make an effort in that regard. I'm thinking of Maine where there -- they may well elect an independent candidate to the U.S. Senate or California where they've made some big changes including changes -- the change in the primary system to open primaries with the idea that it would keep all the congressional districts from being so polarized Republican and Democrat.

PAGE

10:43:06
Just one other point since Bill is calling from New Hampshire, if you want to know how close this election is, you'll only have to look to New Hampshire. It only has four electoral votes. Where was the president of the United States yesterday? He was in New Hampshire because those four votes, electoral votes, can make the difference in this election.

REHM

10:43:22
All right. The Ohio unemployment rate fell to 7 percent in September. Also, Virgil wants to make a correction on the federal bomb plot suspect. He was here on a student visa, he was not an immigrant. So we need to watch our word says Virgil. Let's talk about the Boy Scouts. Decades of recruits detailing allegations of sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts finally released this week. How come now?

CILLIZZA

10:44:04
It had been a long-running request by a number of newspapers: The Portland Oregonian, The New York Times, The Associated Press. Diane, what you have is over 1,200 cases from 1960 through 1985. I struggle to even kind of -- I don't know the -- and this analysis is needed, but I have two, you know, I have a 3 1/2-year-old son, and I have a 3-month-old son. And to read even some of the news stories -- I certainly didn't read the 1,200 accounts here. But to read even some of the news stories that have been produced off of these reports is just -- just, just awful.

REHM

10:44:43
These files, Susan, go back to 1920. They were kept for internal use to bar suspected molesters from rejoining the organization. Many files include graphic descriptions of abuse by young victims. Suspected abusers from all over the country are named in the files but never reported to police or charged with a crime.

PAGE

10:45:19
So reminiscent of the Catholic Church and the stories and the fallout we've had for a decade and more from a similar story from the Catholic Church, and what a betrayal. I mean, betrayal not only by the scout leaders who abused boys but by the leaders of the Boy Scouts who failed to take appropriate action to protect the kids in their troops.

REHM

10:45:39
So what are the legal ramifications for Boy Scouts of America?

SEIB

10:45:45
Well, I think that the -- one of the reasons the files didn't emerge earlier was precisely because of, I assume, fear about the legal ramifications. You know, the -- I think the issue at the moment in a legal sense is likely to be that so much time has passed that it's very hard to know what you can do in a courtroom. But I actually personally think that's less important than having the issue out on the table for public view.

REHM

10:46:05
Absolutely. You've got doctors, lawyers, politicians and policemen accused and many about to face public exposure for the first time. Let's go to Dallas, Texas. Charles has a comment. Good morning.

CHARLES

10:46:25
Good morning, Diane. Thanks for having me on.

REHM

10:46:26
Sure.

CHARLES

10:46:27
I think that since the Boy Scouts are based here in Dallas, here in Irving, it has been a travesty that for years and years and years they have discriminated against having gay, either scout leaders or gay members, as scouts. But now we're finally going to find out who the perpetrators of the -- abusers were. And most statistics show that family members and 90 percent of the perpetrators are heterosexual, not gay. So I'd like to find -- learn and have this rumor debunked that it's gay men who were the sexual perpetrators within the Boy Scouts.

REHM

10:47:11
Well, we are going to hear, I'm sure, lots more about this as we go forward.

CILLIZZA

10:47:18
I would just add, Diane, you know, it is remarkable -- Susan makes the Catholic Church point and, as a practicing Catholic I will sound my agreement there. And I thought this quote -- I'm reading from an L.A. Times story, this quote from Boy Scouts National president Wayne Perry, "There have been instances where people misused their positions in scouting the abused children, in certain cases, our response to these incidents in our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient."

CILLIZZA

10:47:45
I just -- you -- you're talking about 1,200 document -- I feel like it's, in many ways, my and my parent's, my wife's frustration with the Catholic Church of -- misunderstanding the depth of the problem here. I mean, you're -- this is not isolated incidents. I understand lots of people are in Boy Scouts, and we're not talking about 75 percent of them. But you're talking about a large number of people whose lives have been changed forever for the worse.

REHM

10:48:12
OK, couple of things. The Boston Globe reports that Gov. Romney did not have any women partners as CEOs of Bain during the '80s and '90s, that women started to break into the upper echelons of the firm after it started a hedge fund called Brookside in 1996. Today, four out of 49 of the firm's managing director in the buyout area are women. Just a little clarification there. Let's talk about Lance Armstrong. He has resigned from his position at Livestrong. Nike dropped him. He's been living with doping charges for years and denying them. What changed, Susan?

PAGE

10:49:13
Well, what changed was documents released by the United States Anti-Doping Agency that made such a persuasive, overwhelming case that put him at the center of doping for the entire U.S. team. Such...

REHM

10:49:28
How could that be?

PAGE

10:49:29
And, you know, you talk about heroes. Lance Armstrong was a hero, not just because he was an athlete but because he fought back against cancer in such a brave way. I think a real disappointment here about this.

CILLIZZA

10:49:39
And I would just add Livestrong raised -- has raised over $500 million for cancer.

REHM

10:49:43
And they all think he...

CILLIZZA

10:49:44
I mean, that money -- the great thing about it is that money -- regardless of Lance Armstrong and his past accomplishments, that money will hopefully continue to come in.

REHM

10:49:51
Chris Cillizza of The Fix, a Washington Post politics blog, and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's go now to Knoxville, Tenn. Good morning, Steve.

STEVE

10:50:08
Good morning. Let me first say that I'm a fan of your show.

REHM

10:50:12
Thank you.

STEVE

10:50:13
I always enjoy it on Friday mornings. I do want to call you out as you said on your comments about Gov. Romney and his Mormonism. I do feel like that's too broad of a stroke to paint his views on women as being necessarily covered by the Mormon Church, any more than if we would have paint a broad picture of President Obama and his relationship to Rev. Wright or to other politicians who are Catholic and the fact their political views don't always reflect the Catholic dogma.

STEVE

10:50:49
I just feel like it's too broad of a brush and without really asking the candidate's opinion on how those religious views may have affected that issue. I think that to imply that is unfair.

REHM

10:51:03
I certainly take your point that I was using a broad brush. However, we are looking at what the Mormon Church prescribes as far as women's place. And it certainly is in the home. These numbers tell us something. Thanks for your call. I appreciate it. Newsweek is announcing they'll cease publishing of print magazine starting next year. How in the world did Newsweek get to this place, Susan?

PAGE

10:51:41
Well, they got to this place because the whole media landscape is changing in such dramatic ways. When I first came to Washington, the news magazines had a kind of a franchise of offering...

REHM

10:51:50
Absolutely.

PAGE

10:51:51
...perspective and context in the behind-the-scenes story. And that is something that all of us now try to do and not just at the end of the week but in every day's coverage. So that the role of the news magazines got kind of usurped, I think, by blogs, by websites, by newspapers and a tough transition. It's founded in 1933. It's going to be -- I'm sorry to see printed issue go.

REHM

10:52:16
Some people are saying that Tina Brown made some questionable decisions here, Jerry.

SEIB

10:52:22
Well, look, we've all made questionable decisions in our business. I think the point really is the broader one that Susan made that the landscape and the historical trends had moved against newsweeklies. I mean, you know, the idea which launched Time and Newsweek and other newsweeklies was that at the end of the week or the beginning of the next week, you could go back and fill people in on what happened the week before. I mean, in a 24/7 news cycle, that seems a quaint idea. I guess it would be one way of putting it.

SEIB

10:52:46
I mean, the world just moved away from them. It's moved away from all print, and we're all dealing with that. But that kind of approach in particular so Time and Newsweek and U.S. News have all been looking for the formula that gets beyond the idea that launched them in the first place. And it's really hard.

REHM

10:53:00
I wonder -- I kept wondering when I heard the announcement whether had Sid Harman lived, whether we'd be in the same place, Chris.

CILLIZZA

10:53:13
Certainly, he passed away very shortly after buying it, I would say, from The Washington Post Co. where I work. You now have Barry Diller and -- on the business side, Tina Brown on the editorial side. I would say just in defense of Tina Brown, who I never -- I think I met once in my life -- to lay the failure of Newsweek at Tina Brown's feet is to misunderstand the scope of change that we are undergoing as an industry. I'm not sure there's anyone who could have turned Newsweek into -- or any newsweekly.

CILLIZZA

10:53:46
It's just -- Jerry points it out, just the culture of how people consume news and what they want has just drastically changed in a very short period of time.

SEIB

10:53:55
By the way, it's worth pointing out that deciding that you're going to continue to publish online is not to go away.

REHM

10:54:00
Right. Absolutely, absolutely.

CILLIZZA

10:54:00
Right.

SEIB

10:54:00
I mean, that's where we're all headed anyway. And the real question for people in media in general, in the news industry in particular is, how do you make that transition? But to go there is not to die. To go there may be the way to live, and that's the test right now.

REHM

10:54:14
But think about older people who have not gotten online, Jerry. Think about...

SEIB

10:54:22
They could still buy The Wall Street Journal.

REHM

10:54:23
They could still buy The Wall Street Journal.

SEIB

10:54:25
There's an 800 subscription number.

REHM

10:54:26
They could still buy USA Today...

SEIB

10:54:28
I'm happy to help them.

REHM

10:54:28
...and The Washington Post.

SEIB

10:54:30
And they do. You're right.

REHM

10:54:31
Do you think that The Washington Post could be headed in the same direction?

CILLIZZA

10:54:37
No. Certainly, not in any near term, Diane, because I think there will always be, look -- The Washington Post still -- have we lost circulation? Yes. I think that's true with basically -- well, most daily newspapers. We still have a large circulation and huge penetration in D.C. market. I can't imagine kind of with where we are fiscally in the newspaper and media industry. Generally, we would walk away from hundreds of thousands of paid subscribers any time soon. That said, I spend 99.9 percent of my time writing for the Web.

REHM

10:55:11
Susan.

PAGE

10:55:11
I would say five years ago, we would not have been able to imagine where we are today...

CILLIZZA

10:55:15
Right. Agree.

PAGE

10:55:16
...in terms of we all carry around iPads and read those. And I think five years from now, 10 years from now, I see no reason why the change won't be just as remarkable.

REHM

10:55:24
All right.

CILLIZZA

10:55:24
And the pace of it, I think, is the key. It's exponential.

REHM

10:55:26
To Indianapolis. And, Kevin, you're going to get the last call, Kevin.

KEVIN

10:55:32
Well, thank you, Diane. I really love your show.

REHM

10:55:35
Thanks.

KEVIN

10:55:36
I have always admired and appreciated the depths and breadth of your topics. My question is back to Boy Scouts of America. My understanding is they released records for 1965 and 1985. But what about the last 25 years, and what's going on in just recent times?

REHM

10:55:55
Don't know.

CILLIZZA

10:55:56
From what I understand, 1960 to 1985 are the documents that were released. It raise -- I can't imagine, given what has been shown in those documents, that there will not be increased pressure to release what's happened in the last 27 years.

PAGE

10:56:12
And in some of those cases, the statute of limitations may not have run out its course.

REHM

10:56:16
Susan Page, Jerry Seib, Chris Cillizza, thank you all so much, as always.

CILLIZZA

10:56:22
Thanks, Diane.

SEIB

10:56:23
Thank you.

REHM

10:56:25
And thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.

ANNOUNCER

10:56:28
"The Diane Rehm Show" is produced by Sandra Pinkard, Nancy Robertson, Denise Couture, Susan Nabors, Rebecca Kaufman, Lisa Dunn and Megan Merritt. The engineer is Toby Schreiner. Natalie Yuravlivker answers the phones. Visit drshow.org for audio archives, transcripts, podcasts and CD sales. Call 202-885-1200 for more information. Our email address is drshow@wamu.org, and we're on Facebook and Twitter. This program is a production of WAMU 88.5 from American University in Washington, D.C. This is NPR.
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