Hardball | February 11, 2013
>>> a bold headline on the cover of the new republic this week. the republicans, the party of white people , and it's an art -- by the way, its art is clever ode to the beatles' album, the white album . in this article the author investigates the root of a phenomenon he's been covering on "hardball" and we've been covering, the increasingly white male isolated republican party . he says it's derived from the political strategy of the pre- civil war pro-slavery vice president john calhoun of south carolina . he writes, quote, this is the politics of nullification, the doctrine nearly as old as the republic itself that holds that the state singly or in concert can defy federal actions by declaring them invalid or simply ignoring them. we hear the echoes of nullification in the venting of anti-government passions and also in campaigns to starve government, curtail voter renl stration, repeal legislation, delegitimize presidents. the sam town is with me tonight. he's editor of the "new york times" book review and willie brown is the former san francisco mayor . thank you so much, sam , and mr. mayor, thaup as well. sam , this is amazing. i love trying to find out our roots politically. i wish i could do a television show, in fact, where every time there's a news story take us back to where it all started, and did you here so beautifully. we have people like rick perry and all across the south mouthing phrases like secession and nullification and it all goes back to those fights they had in the house and the senate in the 1850s , but you have now pointed out this is now the stripe, sort of the road map the republican party has been taking since way back when.
>> well, yes, chris. and great to be here, great to be here with the mayor. there's a terrible historical tragedy and paradox here. in the 1950s as i say in the piece you read, republicans looked pretty good on civil rights under eisenhower, the brown decision, the central high and little rock where he did the tough thing and sent the troops in, and we had the first modern civil rights act . it wasn't great, it wasn't what lbj gave us, but it was somethi something. not one republican voted against that bill. think about it, what's happened. i'll tell you what happened, the conservative movement was born right then, and they decided the road not taken, they were not going to be pro- civil rights . they were not going to defend the rights of citizenship and economic justice and integration of african-americans in the south. no, they were going to side with the southern oppressors, and who was the great philosopher king of that argument? john c. calhoun . what happened? two things. first of all, the party which could have led the way on civil rights , the party of lincoln, turned away from it. also, they gave us this legacy of nullification, as you say. this nullifying government that we see today.
>> you know, i thought, willie, mayor brown, i thought the smart thing in your piece i had never read before, mr. mayor, and i liked it about the piece in sam 's article, was the fon confluence, a lot of libertarian thinking from barry goldwater , leave me alone , i don't like government. that got tied in states right. if you're an enemy of federal power you're on my side. a weird sick marriage between leave me alone and let's get together and nullify civil rights .
>> that's essentially what the republican party stands for even today, as a matter of fact. in sam 's piece, however, i think there should be a reference to the fact that during the nixon administration in reality the whole business of set asides, the whole business of what happens with reference to the philadelphia plan , all of that came because a guy named george schultz working for nixon put that together, and the republicans had a golden opportunity at that moment to really grab the leadership that lincoln had provided and by today willie brown may very well be saying positive things about the republicans.
>> let's put that to sam . not only that, not only did they create basically affirmative action with the philadelphia plan , the screw the eye tish, italians, and their unions, they were up to trouble in some extent, going after the union leaders and they're locked out. unless you're nephew of a kid you're not getting a job there. moynihan gave nixon credit for ending the dual school system . how could they be going in that direction and at the same time playing the southern strategy with strom thurmond and those boys?
>> that's why the great gary wills said richard nixon was the last liberal and there is a reference, willie brown is right, there should have been more, in a longer piece there would be more on that, on the philadelphia plan , but, yes, affirmative action , a phrase originated in the kennedy years, was seized on by the nixon administration . hey, daniel patrick moynihan said about nixon , this guy is not trying to undo the great society, he wants to outdo it. and what happened? ideologues within the conservative movement turned against nixon .
>> well --
>> women --
>> let me go to willie brown . i know nixon . i'm not necessarily a nixon hater by any means. he was a member of the naacp in the '50s. pret friendly with whitney young , getting to know martin luther king ahead of the kennedys. and then becomes a totally mean guy in terms of electoral politics , hooking up with strom thurmond figuring he was going to grab what was left of the segregationists in the south when they were dispointed with the democrats. what happened to this guy?
>> i think sam 's piece clearly indicates that not only would a politician like nixon find it convenient to go in that direction for potential success, but politicians generally, chris, all of us tend to want to move in a direction that points to success. in sam 's piece he talks about how kennedy clearly moved away from where he was as a liberal in massachusetts to try to make sure he didn't get tubed as he had been on the vice presidential nomination when he sought the presidential nomination . so we politicians are not like the moral standard on this issue.
>> okay. sam , great piece. boy, you put a lot of work into these pieces. that is one heck of a piece of work . it should be a book. why don't you just blow it up and call it a book.
>> thanks so much.
>> i think it's fabulous.
>>> up next, the man who shot osama bin laden is going to -- actually his writer is going to be here, the guy who covered this story. we still don't know what his name is but we got the whole story from a great reporter who interviewed him. this is really going to be great journalism coming up here. this is "hardball," the place for politics. the patient, presented with