Morning Joe | January 25, 2013
>> so kelly, what's going on with panetta's order and the president and women in combat ? are you hearing any disseptembnt from the hill?
>> really, no. what we are hearing is just the question of can it be done in a way that will ensure that there's still the kind of unit cohesion and efficiency, the physical standards in certain kinds of units be maintained. but i think there's been a sense from both sides especially on the armed services committee who look at these issues up close that the time has come and that it's not a battle they're going to fight or they don't even see really a reason to. i think in part knowing that if they put trust in the commanders to do it in a way that makes sense and allows for this sort of career advancement that women in the military have not been able to have access to because they weren't in these kinds of jobs, i think that there's pretty smooth sailing for this.
>> but richard , there will be, obviously, limits, correct? for certain assignments that women can do based on physical ability?
>> well, i think there are physical limits for everyone in a combat position. i don't think that's particularly different.
>> if i can interrupt you, it is. there's a reason why there are no women in the nfl. there's a reason why there are no women in major league baseball . there's a reason why there are no women in, you know, most male-centered professional sports . there is a difference physically between men and women . can we still say that in 2013 ?
>> you can't assume that every man is ready and capable. you may be, playing in the nfl.
>> i don't assume that. i only want men that can meet the standards. i think this is very important, richard , because i just -- i hope the pentagon thinks through this in a way that doesn't put american lives at risk because the one thing that keeps men in combat right now fighting, as i've heard my entire life from veterans who have been there, it's not the flag. it's not the great idea of american democracy. it's your buddy next to you. and they leave no man. and if women are in combat, they will leave no woman behind. and the question is, will that, in any way, jeopardize the safety of men and women that are going to be fighting now in the future?
>> yeah, joe , i just think we've moved beyond that, right?
>> i hope not. i hope not, richard . we're talking about people's safety. move beyond what?
>> yeah. the point is, everyone has to pass physical tests. just because you're a man doesn't mean to say that the physical tests are any different. and they won't be any different for a woman either. you have to have extreme levels of physical capability to be in a combat zone given the nature and the professionalism. and yes, the spirit of the american military . all i'm saying is we've moved beyond the idea that somehow that spirit is confined just to men. the idea that you would leave no man behind is also something that women in these combat zones also exhibit. and that's why people are comfortable with it.
>> exactly. but steve, there is a difference. there is a difference physically, for the most part, in what men are able to accomplish and what women are able to accomplish out on a battlefield, on a football field , around a track. again, this is not shocking. this is not open to debate.
>> just going back to your point --
>> and by the way, i just want to be very clear because i'm sure people are freaking out right now, i'm not saying i don't want women in combat . women can be in combat, but i be damned, if we find out that the pentagon is lowering standards for politically correct reasons, then you know what? then the blood of the dead americans in future battles will be on their hands. that's what we've got to make sure doesn't happen.
>> look, i'm not even sure it's lowering standards. if you take a 120-pound woman who passes every test, she's incredibly physically fit.
>> in better shape than me.
>> you get hit with a bullet somewhere in your 200 -- we're not going to talk about it --
>> no, i'm 230 pounds. let's use mika who's probably about 125, 130 pounds.
>> and incredibly fit.
>> in much better shape than me. and you guys are out on the battlefield and you get hit, how does she drag you back?
>> whereas if she gets hit, i can throw her up on my shoulder, and we can keep running forward. this is a very important conversation that i've got to say i'm really surprised we haven't heard discussed a lot more. i heard you guys --
>> i understand the hypotheticals that you guys are putting out there, and i guess that, you know, that makes sense as a concern. again, to richard 's point, what they're not saying is that every woman should be allowed into combat. they're saying restrictions on women in combat should be lifted. no offense to mika who's not here, she can't lift someone like joe . they're going to put someone who can handle the responsibilities. now, i understand --
>> can i be really honest with you? i have not met a lot of women in my lifetime that could lift me or guys who are 6'4", 220, 230 pounds.
>> not that many women will end up in combat. hold on, let me just finish. because the whole important point of this is that there was a restriction that was discriminatory. and the important point is that they have lifted it. yes, the execution of the new policy matters. and if it's poorly executed, of course it will be upsetting. it's a valid and important thing that they lifted that restriction. i think it matters.
>> i totally agree with you. and then the other point i'd make on your side, it is no longer about 250-pound guys with shields and spears going at each other. a lot of it is mechanized.
>> we don't have horses and bayonets.
>> excuse me?
>> we don't have horses and bayonets as obama said.
>> vehicles in the combat zones that are in the front lines that don't involve having to pull 240-pound guys.
>> that's what, again, i hope this is done in a way that deals more with combat readiness than it does effectiveness. i am not suggesting for a second that women aren't as capable of leading or running or i think in some ways more capable of leading and running. not just a unit but the air force , the marines. i've got no problem with women , generals and admirals. again, i just want to make sure, harold ford , that this is tailored as tightly as possible to what is best for the armed forces and not what's best for some political agenda in washington, d.c.
>> it's my understanding -- and i hope everybody takes what you're saying in the vein in which you are expressing it which is how do you ensure we're not compromising anything. i think that's a legitimate question. if you look at the way this was voted upon, i think all of the joint chiefs , it was a unanimous vote. i would imagine all of these things were considered and perhaps as this decision is elaborated upon, these details will come out even more. so there's a greater understanding. i don't think anyone disagrees with the decision. but i think there's a legitimate question, and you've asked it. i imagine it will be answered more fully in the coming days.
>> a lot of industries -- and not just the military -- are male dominated. it never works in reverse. it's never that there's a female-dominated industry that is opening up its gates to men and we start asking --
>> so what? we've gone well beyond that. no one is saying men aren't so and so enough to be a nurse.
>> no, but patients will call them a doctor before they would identify them as a nurse.
>> but we're not questioning -- i'm being sincere, we're not questioning a man's ability to be a nurse just because he's a man. we're not saying he's too big to handle the responsibilities of nurses.
>> sam, i think really the point is fair that there are physical differences, on average, between men and women in terms of size and strength and all that, and we have to recognize it. remember also, there's one other piece of this that is important, which is part of this is recognizing women who are ready in combat.
>> with the ability to get combat pay, combat recognition, promotions, things like that.
>> the women who are battle ready in afghanistan i think the number is 152.
>> there's a profile on the page of "the new york times" of a woman that said when the bullets started flying, nobody was asking what gender i was. again, i'm sure there are people out there that will want to take what is being said this morning by me and try to twist it around. and you enjoy that if that helps you ease. i'm concerned about the safety not only of the men in combat but the women in combat in the future, and i hope --
>> so are they, joe , because many of them are young mothers and they're not going to want to put themselves in a job where they don't feel as capable. so part of this is opening a door, but it doesn't mean every woman in uniform, even the most fit and the most skilled will want each of those jobs if they themselves feel there's something about that role they feel they won't be able to perform just for their own self-interest of surviving and getting home to their own young kids. what you're talking about here is certainly worthy of being pursued and will be, but i don't think we should lose sight of the fact that not every woman in uniform wants these same jobs all at the same time.
>> right. and by the way, i want to make sure we understand here, because we have these conversations ten years ago where, you know, some 75-year-old men on the armed services would say, well, you know, the emotions of a woman, once a month, blah, blah, blah.
>> so we're past that.
>> we're past that. we're talking about physical combat and what you can do in afghanistan when you have to drag a wounded buddy out.
>> i thought the important point is that none of us could carry you.
>> well, i don't think there are a lot of people around here that could carry me. quickly before we go to break, we want to talk to richard on the other side of the break on. a new poll is showing now that a majority of americans have a favorable view of president obama 's gun-control proposals. while the government has come out against the plan, the numbers are pretty stark. 53% are favorable. 41%, unfavorable. more interesting as you go into the poll, the favorables are much more intense than the unfavorables. which means that we've heard for some time, richard wolffe , you know, the gun owners are so intense, and they're the ones that are going to always make phone calls and they're the ones that are always going to be engaged. in this poll and i'm sure we'll see it in other polls, a majority of americans are more intense about passing some sane gun regulation than are those small groups of people that are going to fight the political death over assault weapons and being able to have high-capacity magazines.
>> a couple of things. first of all, if you break down the individual proposals, the support is even higher, right? universal background checks , you get way higher than 50%. and those numbers reflect the president's own favorability right now which says this is the moment when he can actually push this through because his own numbers are so high. the other part of it is that the grass roots that you're talking about have not been organized to date. and that's where you're seeing the impact of people like moveon.org or bloomberg's money or even if it comes to pass, the obama campaign 's, you know, evolved state, if they can get their act together, then they can be a counterweight to the very successful, very organized nature of the nra's grass-roots operation. but this is favorable territory if they can thread the needle for people like joe manchin .
>> the numbers are overwhelming. you have joe manchin who's now coming together, has a bipartisan bill out we'll be talking about. he's together with senator kirk out of illinois , a republican, talking about universal background checks . again, this is something that stands anywhere from 85% to 92% approval rating. the nra is still against it. we'll see if any republicans are still against it, too. steve, i'm going to -- since mika 's not here --
>> oh, god.
>> my breakfast has just arrived. and i'm going to prepare, and i'm going to make it even harder for a woman to carry me from combat. and we'll be right back. when we come back, we're going to be talking to mary matalin . i'm very excited about that. she likes munchkins as well. "fortune's" leigh gallagher, "the washington post 's" eugene robinson and actor victor garber . up next, mike allen with the top stories in the "politico playbook." first here's bill karins with a check on the weekend forecast. bill, i hope the forecast is as sweet as this munchkin going down.
>> need a little powdered sugar on top of that, too.
>> sugar all the way through.
>> this one's for you, mika .
>> good morning, everyone. snow is on the way. it's already snowing in chicago this morning. much of illinois and indiana breaking out in light snow and eventually working to the east coast . this is not a blockbuster storm. it's large in size but weak in intensity. many areas from the great lakes to the ohio valley , you'll get a fluffy dusting to two inches during the day today. the only area i'm a little concerned with is our friends down in the deep south . we have the potential for ice. freezing rain from areas just outside of memphis to the mountains of tennessee, the smokies, also north of atlanta, the mountains of georgia. be careful. we could have icy problems out there later today . again, not a lot of snow. d.c. , richmond, raleigh, up to philadelphia, possibly one to two inches. that's about it. it's a very cold morning, as advertised. look at northern new england , still with negative windchills. today's forecast, again, the light snow is the story. also rainy weather for arizona. as we go through your weekend, we get rid of this storm. still chilly but not as bad. we actually begin to warm things up. i think saturday's really the last day of the cold spell for the northern plains and new england. by the time we get to sunday, even minneapolis gets up near freezing. new england heads back up into the upper 20s, low 30s with some sunshine. my only concern, if you're in iowa or illinois on sunday, you could have a little mini freezing rainstorm that we'll have to deal with. again, the story on this friday, some light snow heading across the country. later on this afternoon and tonight, washington, d.c. , getting another coating of snow. you're watching " morning joe " brewed by starbucks. [ female announcer