msnbc | November 17, 2012
>>> over 70.
>> you're suggesting everybody step aside ?
>> i'm simply saying to delay younger leadership from moving forward --
>> i think what you'll see -- and let's for a moment honor that's a limit question. although, it's quite offensive.
>> all right. minority leader nancy pelosi was asked about that interesting exchange she had with luke russert . this is what she said this morning.
>> all right. having some technical difficulties there. again, leader pelosi there. her age t, the question about it. is it a legitimate issue to discuss? i want to bring in our brain trust panel. again, to tell you what pelosi did say in that interview, he said, i was amused, i was surprised at the response of my colleague because they were very offended by that. the interviewer say, not you at all? she says, well, for me, i laughed. she laughed at the time. it was a little tense. let me ask you this. when people are looking at congress saying, hey, it's not working, they're not working together, is it a legitimate we do ask?
>> you should talk about changing the leadership, but it's not based on their age. it's based on how effective or not effective they are. i would say nancy pelosi is someone who's completely ineffective and shouldn't be there any longer no matter whether she was 35, 50, or whatever age she is now. age is not a matter. it's how effective they are.
>> talk about the efficacy, talk about their age. if you look at the fortune 500 , the average ceo age is about 50.
>> right. i actually want to go back to the question itself. the context in which the question was raised was just really sexist. that's why it was so offensive. men in congress , men in positions of leadership in general are never asked to step aside simply because of their age. that question was directed at her. no one has asked mitch mcconnell the same question. there are lots of leaders who are men in congress --
>> in their 70s.
>> well into their 70s, who weren't asked that same question. i think that there's an assumption because she's a woman that she should back up and step aside . i complete disagree. when she was leader pelosi , when she was the speaker of the house , she was actually extremely effective, more so than we've seen others in the last couple of decades. i think that we should be talking, of course, about impact, about quality of leadership, and that that is distinct from age. it also should be distinct from jepdser and havi er gender.
>> i want to bring chris on this. what's your thought so far?
>> it's a totally legitimate question that should be asked of men, women, republicans, democrats. it's both about senior citizenhood and seniority. nancy pelosi , whatever her chronological age, has been in congress since 1985 . it's a system that rewards survival. any organization, you know, media, politic, fortune 500 , wants a mix of ideas, ages, generation as.
>> the average age in the house and the senate is quite high. not talking 30s or 40s.
>> there's a political dimension . if you're a party trying to appeal to a cross section of the american public, you know, you want to show people involved at all levels with power of various generations. i think you also get a better policy mix when you have people in congress in positions of authority who know what it's like to be 30 and struggling, who know what it's like to be 50 and facing retirement. right now, you know, the power is all about survival and age, whether it's senate, democrat, republican, congress . it's seniority.
>> so in effect, we're talking about term limits , an issue we should be discussing. someone shouldn't be in congress or the senate for 20, 30, 40 years. you're right. it makes their views not as fresh as someone who just started a business and now is ele elected, someone who just struggled and now is elected. i think there's a point to that. again, it's not a chronological age issue. it's how long have you been in the same job? are you stale?
>> that goes to a bigger conversation too of the demographic makeup of congress and whether it's truly representative of the demographic makeup of america. as we look at congress , it's not. whether we're talking about age diversity, whether we're talking about ethnic diversity, race diversity, whether we're talking about gender parody, i would say there are voices missing that reflect the experiences of all americans across the board. so if we're going to have this conversation, we've got to have the conversation in a very authentic way that gets to the heart of, what does america look like? are our officials actually representing who you are, what we embody, and what our views are?
>> a smart party on either side wouldn't necessarily impose term limits or a strict quota system but would set up leadership competitions that require more than just raising money --
>> investments in development as well. training.
>> in nancy pelosi 's case, her party has gotten trounsed in the house two times running. to me, it's a surprise she's coming back there irrespective of her age.
>> let's not go down that road yet. we'll do that? another segment. i want to switch gears and talk about what the president is doing at the moment. he's touring asia . meeting with some key leader in that area. an historic trip for him. he'll spend the next three days visiting myanmar and cambodia. chris, i want to go to you first on this. what's the significance of this trip? we obviously have china as a major concern from many parts of the united states . not only business.
>> sure. you know, we want to develop allies in the region who are philosophically and physically, you know, in different places than china. you know, it's of enormous historic significance that the president is going some of these places for the first time. almost all of them emerging from long, autocratic regimes. and he's talking about spreading democracy through a presidential visit and not an invasion. you know --
>> and part of that, talk democracy, president obama is defending his trip to myanmar saying that it's not an endorsement of the government there. when we look at that, he will be meeting with a democratic super star or rock star there in asia because of what she represents for democracy. what is his role? what should he be getting done? why is this trip happening now, do you think?
>> well, i think that he's doing what he set out to do, which is really pushing a positive conversation about human rights , about democracy and affirming the small changes that we're seeing. he's underscored the fact that so much more needs to be done. but i think that what we're seeing in burma, is it's been a year and a half, two years of such a rapid transition we're seeing, such a rapid kind of switch to thinking about democracy, that he believes the united states ' role is to foster that and encourage that. that's what he's doing. that's why for the first time in over 20 years he's appointed an ambassador there to continue to have these conversations and make sure in that region we rely on so much for the future of our economic security that we are creating positive relationships, affirming relationships that are not just stoked in adversarial interchanges.
>> but he is going to be there, but on the flip side to this argument would be this country has a whole host of human rights violations . how does the leader of the free world balance that out here?
>> i don't see a problem with him going. i think he's doing the right thing. is the timing maybe a little off considering what's going on? maybe, but the trip was obviously planned. you can't do anything about that. maybe he'll have to cut it short depending what happens in the next few hours. there's going to be more reforms happening in china now. it's important for the united states to assert its influence across that southeast asia region and say, china's not the only player here. we were the major player there in the '50s, '60s, '70s. we're coming back around, and we are the major power to be dealt with, especially as these economies go back up and are building themselves. myanmar is a huge opportunity. a country three times the size of australia.
>> okay. stand by. more on the president's trip to asia