Week In Review With Daniel Schorr
AUDIE CORNISH, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Im Audie Cornish in for Scott Simon.
And Im joined now by NPRS senior news analyst Dan Schorr for a look back at the week in the news. Hi, Dan.
DANIEL SCHORR: Hi, Audie, and welcome aboard.
CORNISH: Thank you. So, Dan, what kind of week has it been?
SCHORR: Well, its been a week of the aftermath of the great earthquake in Haiti. And then there were a couple of seismic events in politics, one of them in Massachusetts, the other one in the Supreme Court.
CORNISH: Lets talk first about Haiti then. This week we started to see aid being distributed in the devastated capital of Port-au-Prince.
CORNISH: But there are still tens of thousands, I mean if not hundreds of thousands of Haitians in need of basic necessities. So, whats next for Haiti? What do you see?
SCHORR: Well, first of all, whats next is more of same in trying to approve the delivery of aid to these poor, benighted people. Then therell be hundreds of thousands apparently trying to get away from Port-au-Prince. And then comes the big thing, the big reconstruction which will take us into the next century perhaps. But this is not going to be a short term thing.
CORNISH: But, Dan, how long do you think it will be before people lose interest in whats going in Haiti?
SCHORR: Well, thats the important question. What is very interesting is that the manuscript has already have taken this all to front page, theyre going to have all these other big, big stories, and this question of the next few weeks or so there may be more of that.
Americans are very good in moments of crisis, but they dont like to stay very long with the same subject. And so, Im afraid were going to get increasingly - people say, yeah I know, I gave already help and so on, why are they not all fixed up already?
CORNISH: On the topic of the changing political landscape here in the U.S., the outcome of the special election in Massachusetts this week certainly caused some consternation in Democratic circles here in Washington.
SCHORR: So he stole a furniture.
CORNISH: Yeah, Republican Scott Brown was elected on Tuesday to the Senate. Hes already visited the Capitol.
SCHORR: Well, thats right, thats right. And hes having a profound effect when you consider this just one senatorial election. And the question now has he put now the spike into the health care bill? Is he going to be responsible for more Republican victories in the election next November? Its unbelievable what this one election has done so far.
CORNISH: And then there is also this significant Supreme Court ruling that happened this week which would effectively open the door for unlimited spending by corporations and labor unions in political campaigns. So, how do you think this ruling will also affect the elections moving forward?
SCHORR: Well, it undoes a century of policy about trying to diminish the effect of money in politics. All of a sudden quite massively, it will be a lot of increase of money in politics with all that goes with that. The idea of, you know, you give a lot of money to somebody and then you have a friend in the Congress or a friend in the White House and so on, and what I do know is that, you know, a large part of the country is upset about this. And I think will be hearing more about it. I think theres a chance that efforts will be made in Congress to attenuate the effect of this.
CORNISH: Now, with all that weve discussed, I want to talk about President Obama and his agenda going forward. I mean this week also marked his first year in the presidency. What is the president facing as he starts his second year?
SCHORR: Well, hes facing more and more trouble. But whats very interesting, I remember back in 1995 when President Clinton also faced a great many Democratic losses in the previous off-year election and he said I am relevant. The president is relevant, especially an activist president, he said. And he went to come back. And before his term was over, he had gotten a lot done.
All right, this president goes out to Ohio and makes a big speech in which he says Im going to go on fighting, gives a long, long speech again about, explaining about health care and what he wants, and that wants the core principles of health care saved. He sounds a little angry, he sounds as though hes not giving up. He says Im fighting for the people and I imagine this is going to be a long fighting.
CORNISH: But during the campaign, President Obama talked a lot about bipartisanship, and it didnt exactly work out the way he had planned. What do you see for that effort, going forward?
SCHORR: Well, the president tries very hard to get bipartisan support and he didnt get very much bipartisan support in his first year. The question is, if he doesnt get it, what does he do? Well, I think that in general he will settle for almost anything he can get.
CORNISH: Mr. Obama is also continuing his offensive against the big banks. And last week, he was criticizing the fat cat bankers...
CORNISH: ...and proposed a tax on bank assets.
CORNISH: This week, he proposed rules that he says would limit risky investments by banks. Now why is the president going after them with such vengeance?
SCHORR: Well, because I think he likes to go after them with a vengeance. You know, historically, the bankers are always a good target for a populist president or a populist politician. And so, having been in trouble in a whole lot of other fronts, Im sure the president finds it great fun to pick on the bankers.
CORNISH: Is this an issue that you think voters care about as much as, say, health care or the economy?
SCHORR: I think so and, in some ways, even more. You can see a banker, you are to go home, you talk about bankers, you know what youre talking about. The other things tend to become rather theoretical for a great many Americans. It is very hard to explain what is really involved in health care, whats really involved in issues like global warming. Whereas bankers, you can look at them and say, oh, I hate you.
(Soundbite of laughter)
CORNISH: Now, finally, NBC Television Network is paying $45 million to get Conan O Brien to walk away from The Tonights Show...
CORNISH: And in its place, theyre bringing back to the hosts seat, Jay Leno.
SCHORR: Yup. I guess now I can sleep at night.
(Soundbite of laughter)
CORNISH: NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr. Dan, thank you.
SCHORR: My pleasure.