Rita Dove's poetry career has spanned more than forty years. During that time she won a Pulitzer Prize and became the first African-American poet laureate of the United States. Now she's released a new edition of collected works. Rita Dove on a life lived in verse.
Protests continue in Missouri over the shooting death of Michael Brown. A federal appeals court clears the way for same-sex marriages in Virginia. And the nation mourns the deaths of actors Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. A panel of journalists joins Diane for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
- Alexander Burns senior political reporter, Politico.
- Olivier Knox chief Washington correspondent, Yahoo! News.
- Susan Page Washington bureau chief, USA Today.
How Have Shootings Impacted Our Relationship With Police?
On the Aug. 15 news roundup, our panel of journalists explored how incidents like the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri have impacted Americans’ relationship with and trust in police.
Watch the discussion below.
Watch Full Video
Watch video of our panelists’ round up of the week’s top news.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Protests over the shooting death of Michael Brown are calm after the Missouri Highway Patrol takes over policing in Ferguson. A federal appeals court clears the way for same-sex marriages in Virginia. And the nation mourns the deaths of actors Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall.
MS. DIANE REHMJoining me for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup: Alex Burns of Politico, Susan Page of USA Today, and Olivier Knox of Yahoo News. I invite you to be part of the program. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send us an email to email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. Welcome, everybody.
MS. SUSAN PAGEGood morning.
MR. ALEX BURNSHi, Diane.
MR. OLIVIER KNOXMorning.
REHMGood to see you all. Well, we've just learned the name of the officer who fatally shot Michael Brown. His name is Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the Ferguson, Mo. Police Department. They have not identified his race, but we assume, because there are only three out of 56 police officers who are black on that force, we assume he's white. How could this have happened, Susan?
PAGEHow could this shooting have happened? That's the terrible first instance, a week ago, last Saturday. Then how could the response have been so excessive by law enforcement on the streets of Ferguson to tear gas peaceful protestors, to shoot rubber bullets, to train high-powered rifles on people who are marching in the streets? It looks like the state has stepped in, yesterday, put new law enforcement people in charge, a more peaceful night last night. But the pictures that we've seen the last few days are just reminiscent of the worst of the Civil Rights protests in the 1950s and '60s.
REHMOlivier Knox, the town really just totally erupted. You had break-ins to stores. You had tear gas. You had rubber bullets. You had everything imaginable.
KNOXThat's right. And, you know, there were Molotov cocktails thrown at the police. There was a lot of civil unrest. But as Susan points out, the really stark images are the ones of police looking more like people out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than American society. I spoke this week with someone who used to serve out SWAT -- was on a SWAT team who used to serve out Drug Enforcement Agency warrants who said to me, this is really simple.
KNOXYou send war on drugs police into a demonstration setting, and this is what you get. And that's why they're so heavily armed. And that's why there are so many clashes. And that's why they're so heavy-handed because these are folks who have cut their teeth not on managing protests but on doing drug raids.
REHMAnd, Alex Knox, (sic) where have all these weapons come from?
BURNSWell, this is something that's been covered increasingly over the last year, just that when you have the volume of government purchases of heavy arms, like of the kind that Olivier's describing, they tend to end up getting used somewhere. And when they rotate out of the military, they tend to rotate into local police departments. It really is an astonishing amount of weaponry and really a responsibility for restraint that ends up falling on the shoulders of these local law enforcement officials.
BURNSAnd, to Susan's point, it's just an incredible failure of local and state authorities that this even rose to the level of a national controversy with the president of the United States and the Justice Department weighing in. You have, unfortunately, incidents of violence between police and unarmed young black men with some regularity. And most of them don't end up resulting in massive riots and national controversy.
REHMAlex Burns of Politico, and indeed remember that you can watch a live video stream of this program since it is Friday morning in our first hour. I look forward to hearing your calls, your questions, comments. Why don't we have more details about this as yet, Alex?
BURNSWell, that's entirely on the -- at the feet of the local police department. The fact that it took almost a week to even identify the officer involved in this controversy, let alone to get confirmation that there hasn't been disciplinary action taken, it's really hard to imagine that happening in a bigger city with a more aggressive media and a police department used to being under scrutiny. But it does give you a sense of, you know, you don't want to speculate too much about sort of the internal culture of a police department.
BURNSI have never been to -- I don't know that I've ever been to the state of Missouri, to be honest, let alone Ferguson. But where you have a police department thinking it's acceptable to take six or seven days to even get out this much information, it might give you some clues as to how the lax accountability, you know, culture of lax accountability that would allow an incident like this to exist in the first place might take hold.
PAGEYes. I think that's right. And when the name was released this morning, the police chief declined to answer more questions although we have nothing but questions about the conflicting accounts of what happened when Michael Brown was killed and the response of law enforcement since then.
REHMBecause you've got several eyewitnesses who have come forward, saying they say Michael Brown put his arms up, that he was not resisting. On the other hand, there have been conflicting reports that police have implied but not said that there was a struggle going on.
KNOXRight. We've seen sort of leaked accounts from inside, from the police sympathetic side of things, saying, wait, no, no, there was a scuffle. He refused an officer's directions. One of Michael Brown's friends says, you know, Brown was unarmed, not hostile, and just declined to get on the curb when the officer told him to. It's amazing to me that police has waited this long to make sort of a formal statement of what they know thus far. But, as everyone's observed already, it doesn't sound like they've got exactly an ironclad culture of accountability in Ferguson.
PAGENow, one of the -- here's an interesting thing that's happened since then. It's the uniting of public opinion and political opinion on this issue. I mean, you really see -- you know, we live in a world and in a town where the two sides seem to never agree with each other on anything. On this, you have people in the left and the right saying very similar things about what happened, about the police response, about the militarization of this conflict.
PAGEAnd I thought one of the most interesting things I read this week was by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul who is, you know, quite conservative, a libertarian senator, the son of Ron Paul, who, in an op-ed that he wrote for Time magazine, said, you know, when I was Michael Brown's age, I could have sassed off to a police officer in a similar situation, and I would not have expected to be shot.
REHMWell, I think that that may be the only good side that comes out of this is a national conversation on how police treat individuals, whether there are racial differences in how police approach a white man as opposed to a black man.
KNOXWell, and this comes sort of parallel to the Justice Department denouncing that it's going to do a sweeping review of police tactics on everything from interactions with people with mental illness and minority communities to whether police ought to be wearing body cameras to sort of monitor enforcement tools.
KNOXWhat the Justice Department has said is it's been just an awfully long time since anyone's done comprehensive review of how we enforce the law. And while, in some larger cities, like the New Yorks and the Los Angeleses of the country, you know, you do have a fairly sophisticated, heavily scrutinized police department. There are an awful lot of towns like Ferguson where you just haven't had, you know, scrutiny from a higher level in an awfully long time.
PAGEAnd yet President Obama come out yesterday and talk about this briefly from Martha's Vineyard, and interestingly, I think, also is the role that Atty. Gen. Holder has been taking. He has, in the second term, really been stepping forward on some issues that didn't get much attention in the first term.
PAGEAnd one of those is race, and one of those is reform of some criminal justice issues on which we see, again, some of these unusual alliances of right and left in saying that we ought to address whether prison sentences are excessive. We ought to address some of these issues. And so I think that's been also one of the interesting things, maybe one of the more positive things to come out of this terrible tragedy.
KNOXBut in terms of assessing the militarization of police departments around the country, you know, the last time Congress voted to maybe curb some of the program, that proposal went down by an overwhelming majority. I talked to people on the Hill yesterday that said there's just this cross-cutting jurisdictions. It's not clear who would take the lead. And it's not clear that there's anything approaching a consensus that the equipment is to blame as much as the training.
KNOXThat said, my colleague Liz Goodwin, dug through what's called the Defense Department's 1033 Program, which is the program that gets all this hardware in the hands of local and state police. And police departments in St. Louis County, she said, have received six Humvees, 12 M16s, and a bomb diffusing robot. And, you know, about 20 percent of state and local departments had SWAT teams in 1980. It's closer to 80 percent or higher now. But there's not a ton of consensus that the equipment is to blame. The training, though, that's probably going to come up.
REHMYeah. And whether, you know, this small town of Ferguson, Mo. becomes the lightning rod to change to a really close examination of police tactics around the country and racial attitudes from police toward young people.
BURNSI think that's right. And I think that what we need to be a little bit careful about in sort of proclaiming a consensus here is that we haven't seen the potential for a backlash yet. So far, all we know is that an 18-year-old black kid is dead, apparently unarmed and not sort of physically confrontational with the police. We haven't seen the officer out there. We haven't seen the officer's family.
BURNSWe haven't seen their relatives going on television to talk about how he's a decent man who was doing a -- you know, you can see the next wave of this coming. And we, sitting in Washington, D.C. or in a lot of other places, have the luxury of looking at this from a position of relative safety, that crime is not necessarily a massive issue in our own neighborhoods. When you start to hear the voices of people chiming in who may have a harder line view on law enforcement, that's when I think we'll really see where the debate goes.
REHMAlex Burns, he's senior political reporter for Politico. Short break here. I know we'll have lots of your comments, questions, throughout the hour. And you can see all of our guests. Go to drshow.org.
REHMAnd welcome back, continuing on the story about Michael Brown and his death in Ferguson, Mo. There have been police reports that, in fact, he was caught stealing cigars. And that's what prompted the confrontation. The police have also suggested that he was trying to get at the policeman's gun. But, Susan, it's interesting. During the break, you were talking about how this got turned around within 24 hours.
PAGEYou know, a lot of people criticize when it comes to this, but I think someone who deserves some praise is the Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson who was announced just yesterday as taking over law enforcement operations there by Gov. Nixon. You know, we saw him. He's from the community. He grew up there. We saw him going out and talking to protestors, marching with them, listening to them...
PAGE...pulling back some of the military equipment, right.
REHM...and pulling back all that, yeah.
PAGEAnd the situation is not, I'm sure, diffused, but the situation is so much better than it was before he took over.
REHMAnd that his training, that, in fact, he teaches at the university there, so no surprise that -- and we must say he's African-American, so there was some perhaps simpatico there and greater trust. That is part of what's been lost in policing and the community all around.
KNOXYeah, and probably not dousing a crowd with pepper spray and rubber bullets and those wooden -- they look quite painful, the little -- those shots that fire these little wooden pellets, you know, not telling everyone, back off. I really like the image of the police marching on the demonstrators and saying, you must go home, your right to assembly is not being infringed, as though, you know, telling them that was -- made it all OK.
KNOXBut obviously, you know, the tactics are very different. As I said before, you put -- my sources say, look, if you put the war on drugs cops in a situation where they're doing crowd control, the result is almost always going to be a disaster. And so you shift to this new approach. It does shift a lot of the conversation back to what happened on that night, who's right and who's wrong and the rest of it as opposed to, you know, why is a scene out of Iraq playing out in middle America?
REHMExactly. And I'm sure we'll learn more over the weekend about details on the shooting and the police response. We will be doing a full hour on this on Monday. Let's turn to Hillary Clinton and the manner in which she managed to distance herself from President Obama's foreign policy this week, Alex.
BURNSSo we've just come out of, I think, probably the most important week in the 2016 campaign so far. And it's actually not that early to be using that kind of language. Hillary Clinton gave an interview to the journalist Jeffrey Goldberg where she delivered some really pointed words about the president's foreign policy saying that I don't do stupid stuff, which is sort of a White House catch phrase, is not a vision for global security and the...
REHMNot an organizing principle.
BURNSAnd in some ways, I think, actually, you know, both sides are really, really eager to tamp down the negative fallout from this. I think in some ways the acidity of her critique has been understated, that, if you actually go point by point, she is criticizing the administration's approach, not in so many words, but criticizing the substance of their approach on Israel, on Iran, on Syria.
BURNSYou know, she didn't get to North Korea, but you figure that maybe that's the next one down the list. You saw this sort of really aggressive effort to de-escalate things from both the Clinton side and the Obama side. Nobody wants to have, you know, a protracted spat between the president and the former secretary of state, as Democrats see it, the current president, and the next president. But clearly there's a substantive gap in how the two folks view the issues and a political gap in terms of what their interests are going forward.
REHMAnd also this morning on the front page of The Washington Post, the Clintons inviting a very prominent Hispanic to lunch and indeed to dinner, Susan.
PAGEMr. Castro, the new secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the former mayor of San Antonio and the brother -- his twin brother serves in Congress, so very prominent Hispanic politicians, rising stars in the Democratic Party. But it's not really a surprise. It's not really news that the Clintons are trying to lay the groundwork for a presidential run. I think all of us would be quite surprised if she doesn't end up running for President.
PAGEAnd when she does, we should get used to weeks like the one we had this week because the fact is, when they ran against each other in 2008, they had different world views. Now, that got kind of masked when she was serving him as secretary of state. But the fact is they see the world in different ways. She has -- she backs a much more traditional, hawkish, muscular view of the world than President Obama does. And that was really in stark relief in this quite interesting interview that came out.
KNOXYeah, and, I mean, what was interesting too is that a lot of these criticisms were not nearly as sharp in her book, right. She just wrote a book about her experience in the administration that hints at some of the divisions. We all knew about some of the divisions. She wanted to arm "moderate" rebels in Syria. He stood against it.
KNOXWe knew some of these tensions. We didn't know that she'd come out and say, don't do stupid stuff. I should say the White House version is not radio-friendly. The word stuff is not used. But she really lit into him. And what's interesting is the response has been to say, well, this is a calculated break from the president.
KNOXAs I keep telling people -- and as I may have said on this show before -- with her name recognition and her roots in the Democratic Party and her husband and her access to all this money, she's a shoo-in to be the nominee in 2008. (sic) She doesn't seem to have really learned the lesson in 2008 when she lost to Barack Obama in large part because she was a hawk, in large part because she voted in favor of the war in Iraq and he said he wouldn't have.
KNOXIt's really interesting -- if this was a calculated week, I should just get out of covering politics because it looks like such a mess. You know, the president's former adviser David Axelrod lit into her on Twitter tying it back directly to her vote on the Iraq war.
KNOXThen you have this sort of embarrassing setup where they talk about hugging it out at an exclusive, exclusive, beyond exclusive party on Martha's Vineyard. I feel like...
REHMGiven by Vernon Jordan for his wife.
BURNSYou weren't there?
REHMYou were there, I gather.
KNOXIn spirit. Yeah, in spirit. No, I'm definitely in the 99 percent. No, it just seems -- it's like learning how to dance by learning all the wrong steps first. It was just a terrible week for these folks.
PAGEYou know, let me disagree with you in part. One is that this is a different world landscape than it was in 2008, right. In 2008, the country thought, boy, if we could only get out -- if only we hadn't gone into Iraq and if we could only get out of there and Afghanistan, things would be good. Now we've had six years of President Obama in charge, and there are lots of problems around the world. So people might have a slightly different attitude about what is the right approach to take as you move forward.
PAGEOne other point is, when she called the president to say she didn't mean to attack him, she did not back off, so far as we know, any of the points. She's not backed off on the substance of what she said on that interview in any way. She hasn't said she was misquoted or misunderstood. She said she didn't mean it as an attack.
KNOXWell, and she walked into this interview -- we should say Jeff Goldberg is best known for his coverage of foreign policy and specifically the Middle East. So, I mean, I think that part of it may have been calculated in that she knew she was going to be asked about this stuff.
KNOXBut to Susan's point, you know, you look across the -- and obviously polls can change a lot. If you look across the public polling landscape and you don't see a 180-degree turnaround on things like military intervention overseas, you know, the public is still -- actually, the public's even more resolutely anti-intervention than it was. The president gets really bad grades now on foreign policy, which is a bit of a change.
REHMBut isn't that weird? The president is doing what the people agree he ought to be doing, which is not intervening. And yet he gets the lowest marks possible.
BURNSBut, you know, I think it's sort of the foreign policy equivalent of these polls that show people think the government spends too much money, but they don't want it to cut any of the government services that they take advantage of, that they want to see a balanced budget but don't want to raise taxes.
BURNSYou know, in foreign policy, they don't want American troops on the ground in Iraq. They don't want -- Politico did a poll on this a couple months ago -- don't want the U.S. to be more engaged in Syria, in Ukraine. But they also don't want to turn on their television every day and see this image of a world on fire.
BURNSAnd I think at the end of the day, that's the calculation, if there is one, that a candidate like Clinton would be making in this situation and that you see candidates, potential candidates on the Republican side -- folks like Marco Rubio or Rob Portman making, is that, yeah, the country is in an anti-interventionist moment. But at the end of the day, historically, voters do tend to want -- tend to vote for a president who they can imagine sitting in a situation room and saying, yeah, fire the rockets.
PAGEYou know, I totally agree with you. I think if you look at -- the Americans are always against intervention. I mean, that was true in World War II, for instance. That was true before the first Gulf War. But they are receptive to American leadership, and they want a sense -- they do feel -- I think Americans do feel that the United States has a role to play in the world and that that is not -- that role is not going well right now, whether you look from Russia to Israel.
REHMHow would Joe Biden have reacted to this week to comments that President -- if he were running today, how would he position himself, Olivier?
KNOXWell, as the vice president, he'd have a much tougher job breaking with the president, I think. But he also has -- and I -- sorry to split the baby here, but he'd also have an easier job in the sense that we know from his decades in public service where he stands on some fairly hot-button foreign policy issues. We know that he talked years ago about Iraq fracturing into three ethnically distinct sections, possibly under some kind of federal banner, but maybe not.
KNOXThat looks to be what's happening now, unless this national unity government really gets off the ground. So we know he's got a record of criticizing things. He's been described at some length in Robert Gates' book, the former secretary of defense. He's been described in Hillary's book. So we do have a sense of him as being more fully formed.
KNOXYou know, this notion that voters want someone who's ready to fire the rockets, sure. And the way that President Obama figured that -- squared that circle in a way, it was by saying that he would launch an operation inside a country like Pakistan to take out Osama bin Laden, a policy that, by the way, was widely ridiculed by Republicans as insane. Why would you send troops without an ally's permission, et cetera, et cetera? So there is a way...
BURNSRepublicans and Joe Biden.
KNOXRight. Yes, that's right. I'm sorry. So there is a -- then that actually would have made me think about it, but -- so there are ways of doing this. I just don't think that describing, you know, interventionism by another name is really the ticket for Hillary here.
REHMIt's going to be interesting to see whether she is the inevitable candidate and if Joe Biden holds back or if their differences are so great that the two might go at it together. Do you see any possibility of...
PAGEI think Joe Biden wants to run for president.
PAGEAnd so I wouldn't rule that out. And while I think Hillary Clinton is the -- end up being in an incredibly powerful position going into this nomination fight, things happen.
PAGEAnd she will not get it without being challenged by somebody.
REHMSusan Page, she's Washington bureau chief with USA Today. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And speaking of elections, any surprises this week in the primaries, Olivier?
KNOXI don't know about surprises. I think, you know, we're seeing the chessboard being set for a really interesting last stretch. I think the gubernatorial race in Wisconsin with Scott Walker and Mary Brook, I think that's going to be completely fascinating to watch, especially when you think of his likely ambitions for 2016. I think that's going to be fascinating.
KNOXI think that it's going to be interesting to see whether a wealthy businessman can tangle with Al Franken who won really narrowly. And I think just generally it's going to be very interesting to see how all these folks who came in in the Obama wave in 2008 survive in 2014.
REHMWe should say that the police have just released surveillance images of Michael Brown. It looks as though he is intimidating -- that's the mildest word I can use -- intimidating someone, perhaps the store owner, within that shop, and this clearly before the confrontation with police. You saw the images as well.
PAGEI do. And we're eager to know more. I mean, I think all of us, after seven days of this, would like to know more about what happened and what the police know and everybody's version of the truth. That said, regardless of what happened in that store, the police reaction to the peaceful protests after the killing of Michael Brown, you have to say that was excessive, regardless of what happened in that store.
REHMAll right. Let's talk about Michael Bloomberg's candidate, Alex Burns.
BURNSSo this was maybe the most interesting primary of the week. And it came out of the Milwaukee County Sheriff's race. So there's a first time for everything, that you had an incumbent Democrat African-American, close ally of the National Rifle Association, so that's a rare combination anywhere, least of all in the upper Midwest. And this guy, David Clark, sort of became famous among gun advocates for running an ad as share of urging people to arm themselves because 911 alone is not good enough.
BURNSSo you can understand why somebody like Michael Bloomberg would sit up and take notice of that. His -- he contributed nearly $200,000 to a campaign to take this guy down in the Democratic primary. That money was spent over a period of about 72 hours at the end of the race. So you can just imagine what that does to a really small scale election.
BURNSClark survived by, you know, a really narrow margin, 52 percent of the vote, probably in large part thanks to crossover voting from Republicans in open primary. As soon as Bloomberg got engaged, the NRA did too. And you saw digital ads. You saw sort of phone calls and other sort of traditional grassroots campaign tactics deployed to say, tell Michael Bloomberg to stay out of Milwaukee.
PAGEWhich is the same thing that happened in Colorado in a previous election where the Bloomberg and the anti-gun -- the gun control advocates got involved in a big way. And it became an issue that was a problem for the people they were trying to elect.
REHMSo the primary season winds down. How does it look for Republican incumbents? Is the GOP civil war still in effect, Susan?
PAGEWell, you didn't have those high profile cases where a Republican incumbent senator gets knocked off by a Tea Party movement conservative who seems to be a much weaker general election candidate. That's happened in the last two cycles. That didn't happen this time. Where there were Tea Party challengers, the incumbents managed to do pretty well against them, learned some lessons maybe from the sad experiences of their colleagues in 2010 and 2012.
PAGEYou now, I think the Tea -- and so some people look at that and say, well, the Tea Party is really -- has really ebbed in influence. I think that's incorrect. I think what's happened is the Tea Party has had huge influence on where establishment Republicans stand, think they have succeeded in making the Republican Party much more conservative than it was before they came on the scene.
REHMDo you agree, Olivier?
KNOXI do. And if the Tea Party were a real political party, meaning it had its separate officers and its separate slates, then you might say, you know, the parties exist to win elections. So that they haven't won a bunch of them this time is bad news. But, as Susan points out, it's absolutely the case that they have had a huge impact on where the establishment stands, what the establishment is (unintelligible) policies.
REHMOlivier Knox, chief Washington correspondent for Yahoo News. You can see all of our guests if you go to drshow.org. We'll be right back.
REHMAnd welcome back. We're still talking about all the events going on in this country. Let's open the phones now, 800-4433-8850, to Lucille in Brooklyn, N.Y. You're on the air.
LUCILLEHi. Many of us were disturbed by the militarism of the police in Ferguson. I believe it's a microcosm of something larger. For over 30 years, we've been living under aggressive right-wing corporate and political militarism. And the bullying on the right, whatever form it takes, must be pushed back on.
REHMAny comments, Olivier?
KNOXYou know, I think -- Susan brought up Rand Paul earlier, and I think that -- and I'm going to keep connecting these two things. But Rand Paul has been a really interesting critic of the war on drugs. I think you're seeing a real backlash when -- we've seen it through, you know, marijuana legalization in this country. I think this might be another part of it against, you know, police militarization.
KNOXYou've seen it in a much large -- much smaller scale, sorry, response to SWAT team raids in individual homes, you know, the baby killed by the stun grenade, for example, things like that. I think you're seeing sort of, across several fronts, a real pushback on what has been American policy for the last 50 years.
REHMAll right. To George in St. Louis, Mo. You're on the air.
GEORGEHello, Diane Rehm. Pleasure to be on.
GEORGEI'm a first-time caller, longtime listener.
GEORGEMy worries are we have a lot of this emphasis on non-lethal weaponry that is standard for police officers. And I'm just kind of seeing, why is this not being switched over to that being their primary weapon and go away from this barbaric, you know, point and shoot and kill, you know, kind of idea of protection for the officer? And I'm just not seeing, like, I don't know about the training police officers have, but, you know, why don't they come out and say, you know, we have all these ethical classes, all these ethical tests that we need to, you know, give the officer?
GEORGEAnd when we sit down with them, we tell them, hey, you know, you're not going to be like no one's going to like you. Everyone wants your help. Nobody's going to like your help. Nobody's going to like you when you're there. You know, this is going to be the rest of your life if you're making this a career. You need to think about this.
REHMYeah, it's what you were talking about, Olivier, during the break. The officers could have used a Taser, something else short of a lethal weapon.
KNOXAnd this is why we need to know what the circumstances were of the shooting.
KNOXIt's maddening, you know, as reporters, looking at all of these -- all these unknowns and wondering what really happened on Saturday night, wondering whether, in fact, that was even an option for the officer. We don't know.
REHMAnd to Joe in Richmond, Va. Hi there. You're on the air.
JOEHi, Diane. Yeah, your last guest just kind of hit the nail right on the head. Nobody really knows what truly happened under the circumstances. I tend to -- one, I think NPR broadcast a couple of days ago on "Morning Edition." The kid reached inside a cop car. Well, people need to understand there are certain things in life you don't do, one of which you don't reach inside a cop car.
JOEYou do that, the cop has a legal right to shoot you, whether you're armed or not. And, you know, one other question I got is, my understanding is these kids were out after dark, which is, question one, what are you doing out after dark in the first place? You know, and then you don't disperse when the police ask you politely to disperse. What do you expect is going to happen?
REHMWell, you don't expect to be shot and killed, that's for sure.
PAGEYou know, Joe, I think all of us believe that police officers have really difficult jobs and require lots of training and put themselves at risk for the community and appreciate that. But, you know what, 18-year-olds are going to be out after dark. I mean, I think it's realistic to think that's not going to happen.
PAGEAnd keep -- you know, also, kids are going to misbehave, I mean, hopefully not in really criminal ways, but I think that's just the reality. So the question is, how does that get handled in a way that maintains order for the community but doesn't end up with a situation like we see today in Ferguson?
REHMLet's go to Arlington, Va. Adam has a comment. You're on the air.
ADAMHi, Diane. Thanks for taking my call.
ADAMI just think there's a very strong need in this country for police officers to be wearing body cams. There have been so many tests in other cities where the amount of complaints against officers have dropped dramatically by them wearing the cameras, half because the officers are acting better knowing because they are being watched and half because there's no need for people's complaining since they know -- I'm sorry, complain incorrectly when they know that there's video evidence of what they did. It seems like a win-win for everyone and can avoid these kinds of situations.
BURNSYou know, I think the -- I think you hear a lot of voices speaking up in that sort of vein. I think that one of the challenges in sort of the body camera debate is a lot of the same people who are now saying that we should look at police officers having body cameras are people who are also generally suspicious of sort of other forms of domestic, street level surveillance. So, you know, why not just have London-style closed-circuit television cameras everywhere?
BURNSBecause then all of us will be on our best behavior. I think that there's clearly a great demand for more oversight of the way police officers are trained, the way they behave day to day on the street, interacting with ordinary people. I think that the body camera debate is going to -- that's a long road.
PAGEBut, you know, it's interesting. It just uses the technology we see around us every day, you know, the ability for one of the reporters who was arrested in Ferguson to videotape his own arrest.
PAGEYou know, so...
PAGESo it's one of the ways to tap new technologies. It seems -- I mean, I think, to a lot of people, would make a lot of sense.
BURNSWell, and when I say London-style closed-circuit television cameras, I mean, I don't mean that as a throwaway line, right? Maybe we should have a debate about that. I think that when you do end up with a broad review of the way policing is conducted wall to wall, everything ends up being on the table.
BURNSAnd you don't know where the conversation ends up.
BURNSRight. And, you know, we got to talk about baby steps here.
BURNSA lot of police departments and a lot of states actually forbid the recording of police officers on duty in public places. There's an ongoing case featuring a former White House photographer who got in a lot of trouble for taking photos of police on duty in public places. So whatever it is we're doing, it's going to be baby steps. You know, they already have those dashboard cameras. I don't know what the science tells us about how people behave at traffic stops now that we have those dash cams. But whatever it is, whatever the technological response is, it's going to take a while.
REHMAll right. Let's go to Scott in Indianapolis. Hi. You're on the air.
SCOTTHi. Thanks for the chance to make a comment. A couple quick things. For someone who's a big Obama supporter like myself, I was very discouraged by Hillary's trivializing his foreign policy approach as being simply don't do stupid stuff. He's obviously more sophisticated than that. And I think he's the best thing to happen to the White House in years. I was angry enough that I even emailed Joe Biden's office to please run.
SCOTTAs a second kind of corollary to that, I'm not sure why biographers, pundits seem to want to glum on to the concept of a foreign policy doctorate as though every situation is the same. There can be equally terrible things going on in the world, some of which we can do something about, some of which we can't. So this idea that you need a single unifying concept for how you approach situations, to me, I think, is just silly. I appreciate it. Thank you.
PAGEYou know, we should just make it clear, Scott, that it wasn't Hillary Clinton who said don't do stupid stuff was Obama's mantra. It was President Obama who has said that. And people around President Obama at the White House who described that as kind of the -- his approach to things, like why he wouldn't have gotten into the war in Iraq. But to certainly take your point that it's not -- there's not like a one-size-fits-all kind of foreign policy.
PAGEAnd that's one of the things that makes it so demanding and difficult for presidents when they get into the office to handle all the crises around the world that are disconnected. I mean, what do we have this week? We've got the Ebola virus. We've got Russia still causing trouble in Ukraine. We've got Israel and Gaza...
REHMAll that's in the next hour.
PAGEAnd we've got people who are trapped on a mountain in Iraq. There is not one approach that works to deal with all those things.
BURNSBut that's not -- but that's not what foreign policy doctrines are. You know, Monroe doctrine is unbalanced. We are in charge of the western hemisphere. You know, we had Truman, we have Reagan. We had the idea that our overarching policy goal was to contain the Soviet Union or roll it back. Those are two different kinds of doctrines. These are not one-size-fits-all. They are, as Hillary put it and as the president put it, organizing principles, not hard and fast rules.
REHMNow, right to John in Ann Arbor, Mich. Hi. You're on the air.
JOHNHi, Diane, just wanted to say I really appreciate your show. You're an oasis in a radio wasteland.
JOHNSo keep up the good work.
JOHN(unintelligible) comments. One, I believe that we will see the Michael Brown situation, at least in the media, play itself out as people run to their own political corners. It will be similar to Trayvon Martin with them disparaging the young man's character, starting to hear things about that already. Secondly, I voted for Bill Clinton, but I'd have a hard time voting for Hillary. She has such a sense of entitlement coming from her camp.
JOHNAnd for her to criticize the president, the best thing that happened to her, I mean, all the things that she said to him -- said about him during the campaign, and he ended up giving her the job of secretary of state, which helps her credibility, and then for her to turn around and criticize him, I think that's a definition of ingratitude. So that's my comment.
REHMIt's also the name of politics, ingratitude.
PAGEThe -- but, you know, John makes such a great point in this line that Hillary Clinton is going to have to walk if she runs for president...
PAGE...because she needs to keep the support of people like John who are Obama supporters, but she also needs to describe how she would be different from President Obama. I think she -- I think political analysts believe that it is not a successful formula to run to be President Obama's third term. She needs to run to be Hillary Clinton's first term. And that's going to involve, in some ways, putting some distance between them.
REHMYou know, there is some other news out there, revised congressional districts in Florida. Talk about those, Olivier.
KNOXWell, Florida has given us, over the years, a lot of really interestingly-shaped congressional districts, you know, gerrymandered districts really designed to affect the outcome, designed to have either more Republicans elected or more Democrats. Florida legislators on Monday did sort of an 11th-hour fix to a couple of districts in north and central Florida. They moved about 370,000 voters around into different districts.
KNOXThat's, to me, the court-decided deadline. It doesn't look like it's really going to resolve the dispute that people who brought the lawsuit in the first place aren't happy. The Democratic voters are not happy and were looking at an August 20 hearing to hear the latest arguments.
BURNSAnd that hearing, by the way, is six days before Florida's 2014 primary. So if you're talking about a state that just doesn't have its act together in terms of how it conducts its election...
REHMIt goes back to chads, hanging chads.
PAGEYou know, here's one thing that's interesting to me. In 2010, the voters in Florida voted to take the politics or some of the politics out of redistricting, to make the districts make more sense. And what happened in this case was the political system totally undermined the intent of voters there. And the judge said, you know, you've schemed to not do what voters told you had to do. And he's trying to enforce that.
BURNSYou know, part of the problem with that initial referendum that put this law in place -- this was funded by a sort of out-of-state good government folks. Michael Bloomberg among them. The language of this law says that you cannot draw a district with the intention of advantaging one party or one candidate. Well, it's sort of impossible to draw districts without, one way or another, advantaging somebody.
BURNSSo this case isn't just important for 2014. It's about whether seeing -- whether redistricting reform is enforceable, period.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." I must say the news of Robin Williams' suicide on Monday was shocking. And yesterday we learned he had Parkinson's disease. Susan.
PAGEYou know, one thought I had was this outpouring of people saying -- people who didn't know Robin Williams but so appreciated his work. It had that kind of "It's a Wonderful Life" feeling, like if he only could have seen that...
PAGE...would that have helped him deal with the depression that clearly was weighing on him so much? Another thing I learned this week -- I didn't know this -- was that depression can be an early indicator of Parkinson's disease. There's a correlation. Scientists and doctors now think that may be related to changes in the brain that relate to what then happens with the development of Parkinson's.
REHMAnd the fact that how we, as commentators, reporters, report on suicide, we really have to be very careful.
KNOXYeah, I didn't know this. But there's a fairly solid body of social science that says that reporting the methods, especially, like, a step by step of the methods used in celebrity suicides actually has an impact down the line and actually results in more suicides. And I had never heard that before. And so you've seen a lot of people try to dial back on providing details of Robin Williams' death.
REHMAnd, of course, Lauren Bacall died this week as well. However, she was 89 years old. She was on this program back in 2005, and we are trying to put that program together so that we might be able to rebroadcast it next week. She was still a beauty no matter how old she was. And that voice of hers was absolutely extraordinary. Maybe you're too young, Alex, to have seen...
BURNSNobody's too young for Lauren Bacall.
REHMOh, good. Tell me your reaction.
BURNSOh, I think, I mean, it makes you think of all your favorite in "To Have and Have Not" and "The Big Sleep" and the -- and one thing that I didn't know -- you know, I knew that she was politically engaged. I knew that she raised money for candidates. I don't think I realized sort of the depth of her career as an activist going back to, you know, campaigning for Adlai Stephenson and at the age of 23, so pretty brassy for 23, joining on with a group to protest the House on American Activities Committee.
PAGEBrassy is such a great word for her.
PAGEShe was a brassy dame.
PAGEAnd don't we all hope that people will say that about us?
REHMWell, she was 19 years old when she went on to appear with Humphrey Bogart. He obviously fell in love.
KNOXAnd the interesting thing -- I went back and looked at some of the reports and some of the descriptions of "To Have and Have Not," and something I didn't know about her was that her famous the look, you know, the sort of steely beauty, she had to affect that because she was so nervous about being on screen with Humphrey Bogart. I've watched "To Have and Have Not" a few times. One thing that does not come through is the idea that Lauren Bacall is nervous.
REHMIs shy or nervous. But he clearly fell head over heels because he was already married and left his wife for Lauren Bacall. Well, we shall miss them both, and such a sad way for Robin Williams to go. So many people loved him. Alex Burns, senior political reporter with Politico, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today, Olivier Knox, chief Washington correspondent for Yahoo News, have a great weekend, everybody.
REHMThank you for listening, all. I'm Diane Rehm.
ANNOUNCER"The Diane Rehm Show" is produced by Sandra Pinkard, Denise Couture, Susan Casey, Rebecca Kaufman, Lisa Dunn, Danielle Knight, Allison Brody, and Alexandra Botti. The engineer is Toby Schreiner. Natalie Yuravlivker answers the phones. Visit drshow.org for audio archives, transcripts and podcasts. Call 202-885-1200 for more information. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And we're on Facebook and Twitter. This program comes to you from American University in Washington, D.C. This is NPR.
Most Recent Shows
New research shows medical error is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 250,000 people a year. Why there are so many mistakes, and what can be done to improve patient safety.
Donald Trump becomes the apparent GOP nominee after John Kasich bows out of the presidential race. Guest host Derek McGinty talks with experts for analysis of the news.
Coral reefs are crucial to the ocean's ecosystem, providing sustenance to a quarter of marine life. Today, more than one third of the world's reefs are deteriorating. What's causing coral reef destruction and possible new remedies to address it.