All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 9/15/17 The Atlantic: The first White President
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: September 15, 2017
Guest: Andy Slavitt, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Janet Napolitano, Josh Dawsey,
Charles P. Pierce
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You look at, you
know, really, what`s happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people have
actually written, Gee, Trump might have a point.
HAYES: The President backtracks again on Charlottesville and jumps the gun
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I never think it`s helpful for
anybody to just speculate.
HAYES: Tonight, President Trump`s returned to form and why he may be
changing his tune on DACA. Then –
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think ESPN needs to
stand by the standard that they have set.
HAYES: As the President, himself goes after an ESPN analyst. My exclusive
interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates on why he calls Trump the first white
President. All that and the newest last-ditch effort to ends ObamaCare.
TRUMP: Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Donald Trump is still
Donald Trump. After a week of stories about his bipartisan pivot working
with Chuck and Nancy on a short-term budget deal and on possible
protections for undocumented immigrants who are brought to the U.S. as
children, today the President reverted to form, responding to an explosion
in the London Transit System of firing off some tweets well before all the
information was in. “Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These
are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must
be proactive!” that drove public rebuke from British Prime Minister Teresa
May who said it wasn`t helpful to speculate on an ongoing investigation.
The President also took the opportunity to make a plug for his travel ban
which is still tied up in court and (INAUDIBLE) before the Supreme Court
soon. And he tweeted the travel ban into the United States should be far
larger, tougher and more specific, but stupidly, that would not be
politically correct! His knee-jerk reaction to the attack in London, which
has since been claimed by ISIS stands in sharp contrast of the President`s
handling of other incidents unconnected to Islamic terrorism, including the
bombing in early August of a mosque in Minnesota, which the President has
yet to comment on at all and the violence in Charlottesville, to which he
responded with a rare note of caution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said
was correct. So I don`t want to go quickly and just make a statement for
the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You want to know the facts, don`t want to go quickly, don`t want to
get out ahead of the information, says the man who tweeted after the bomb
this morning. And despite having triggered, the worst crisis of his
Presidency by blaming both sides in Charlottesville, both white
nationalists and the protesters who opposed him. Yesterday the President
once again reiterated that same position.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: You look at, you know, really, what`s happened since
Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying – in fact, a lot of people
have actually written, Gee, Trump might have a point. I said, you`ve got
some very bad people on the other side, also, which is true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The other side. Well, the President appears to have changed his
mind about DACA, now favoring protection to the young undocumented
immigrants who deportation he himself set in motion and now willing to do
it without funding his border wall. The about-face seems to have been
driven more by politics and personalities than by a real change of heart.
According to Politico, after feeling that Republicans in Congress have
largely failed him, Trump has died decided that he will work with whoever
can give him wins. This morning he was tweeting about chain migration, a
conservative talking point on immigration.
And later, his re-election campaign sent out a fundraising Texas supporter
telling them contribute $2.00 if you want all caps the wall. Janet
Napolitano was charged with implementing DACA as President Obama`s Homeland
Security Secretary. She`s now suing the Trump administration over its
decision to end the program. Secretary Napolitano, I want to start with
you on the London reaction as someone who ran DHS. What do you think of
Theresa May`s comments on the President`s statements on Twitter were
inappropriate in the midst of an investigation?
JANET NAPOLITANO, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I
think the Prime Minister was correct. I think the President acted
precipitously and got ahead of the facts and didn`t act as a – as a good
ally and a supporter of Great Britain at a time like this. This is a time
when our country should be working together, not pointing fingers.
HAYES: You should know, there are dozens of injuries in that attack. So
far as yet, I believe no fatalities. Here`s something that Keir Simmons
said, who is in London. People at Scotland Yard tell me, they interpret
this as an attack on London`s Policemen and women by the President of the
United States. I want to ask you this, put yourself in a position of being
at DHS after say a bomb goes off in the U.S., and the Prime Minister of
England saying, the FBI had a person in their sights. How – I mean, would
you react to that?
NAPOLITANO: Negatively. Like any human being would. The notion that
somehow are you at fault for not preventing an act of this sort is
certainly going to not foster good relations and not foster that spirit of
unity of effort that we need so much in these kind of cases.
HAYES: You`re now suing the President over the ending of DACA which is
something that`s in motion. People should be clear about this. As the
negotiation is ongoing in the sort of legislative effects, that is – that
is going along. What is your case for the lawsuit?
NAPOLITANO: Our case is that by rescinding DACA, the President violated
the Administrative Procedures Act. He violated due process clause of the
United States Constitution. He made the wrong decision and he did it
HAYES: You – it appeared when the President first made this announcement
and then pivoted very quickly to the possibility of a deal that was
tantalizingly close. It also appears to me like the President and his
people have moved the goal post on that recently. What is your sense of
what the state of play is on this issue that I know is very close to you
since you were overseeing its implementation?
NAPOLITANO: Well, I think the state of play is confusing in Washington
D.C., having sent the Attorney General out to make a very categorical
statement that only Congress can save DACA. The President then tweeted
that if Congress didn`t acted, he would. We hear about a supposed
agreement with the Democratic leadership in the Congress and I hope if such
an agreement is reached, it is put into legislative language quickly, so
that all of this uncertainty for these 800,000 young people brought here
through no culpability of their own, that that uncertainty can be lifted
from them. In the meantime, we`re proceeding with our court case.
HAYES: I want to ask you about some reporting about that meeting that
happened the other night at the White House with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck
Schumer. And it was a moment, according to people in the room, where Nancy
Pelosi sort of had something to say. And I want to read this to you
because I imagine that you have been in similar situations. As Pelosi, the
only woman at a table of 11 trying to make her point, the men began talking
over her and one another, do the women get to talk around here? Pelosi
interjected, according to two people familiar with the exchange. There was
at last silence, she was not interrupted again. Have you found yourself
from that situation?
NAPOLITANO: I have several times. And I`ve made similar comments.
HAYES: Do you think that ultimately there is a solution that can – that
basically the timeline for the DACA expiration gives enough runway for
there to be a permanent solution?
NAPOLITANO: I think the permanent solution can come one of two ways. One,
it could come via judicial order. And that`s what we`re seeking or it
could come via Congress and that`s going to take an act of political will
by the leadership and Congress to just get it done.
HAYES: All right, Janet Napolitano, thank you for joining me.
NAPOLITANO: Thank you.
HAYES: Josh Dawsey is White House Correspondent for Politico who`s been
reporting behind the scenes on the President`s outreach with the Democrats.
This is my favorite anecdote, Josh, about an explanation for why he`s
turning away from the column on Ryan. Basically, he finds them boring and
un-relatable. In recent weeks, Trump has complained in private that it`s
difficult to have any sort of relationship or even make small talk with
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He`s told staff he finds Speaker
Paul Ryan whom he`s dubbed a boy scout, dry as well, but the two a have
some rapport. How is that a player?
JOSH DAWSEY, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: True. So the President
is someone who cares a lot more about personal chemistry than political
ideology. In a lot of ways he` malleable. So someone who can come in and
do the back-slapping, the small talk, what did you think of Fox last night?
What did you think of what you saw on a sports game? As someone who can
relate to him and talk in terms that he understands and ways that he
understands has a lot better luck with him than someone who can`t.
And that`s why Chuck Schumer I think exploited in a pretty sophisticated
terms. He`s been able to talk to Trump. Two guys from New York, they`ve
known each other for a long time. Mitch McConnell is a pretty (INAUDIBLE)
fellow, often comes there with no cards. He`s very disciplined.
(INAUDIBLE) talking point. He doesn`t really say a world more than he
needs to. And as someone as the President who is you know, he was verbal
and is very, you know, in the kind of an oral tradition. He cares more
about the spoken word than anything. I think Mitch McConnell –
HAYES: That`s well said, he`s in the oral tradition. Yes.
DAWSEY: I think Mitch McConnell is inscrutable to him. I think, he can`t
understand how Mitch McConnell operates and he can`t understand how Chuck
HAYES: That`s relatable. How much are they freaking out about the base in
DACA? There are two ways to read this. One is, the base will swallow
whatever Trump dishes out. And the other is that they`re really worried
about rebellion and you are seeing in the e-mails and the text about the
wall, and maybe Sarah Huckabee Sanders sort of moving the goal post on
this, that they`re freaked about rebellion.
DAWSEY: Well, I think you saw a package of tweets this morning from the
President talking about chained migration, talking about making the travel
ban even tougher. Some of his comments, you know, cracking down, promising
a wall even though that kind of wasn`t a part of the deal when he talked to
Schumer and Pelosi. I think there was some concern there. You know, the
President famously said on the campaign trail, I can shoot someone in the
middle of Fifth Avenue and my supporters would still love me, as something
going on with those lines.
I think in some ways they`re testing that there. I think in the eight,
nine months of his Presidency, I think it`s been about eight, actually,
this is one of the more rebellious moments I`ve seen of his political base.
People who have been pretty reliable supporters coming out and saying, hold
on, wait, what are we doing? I mean, we reported this morning that this
Stephen Miller, one of his hard-line advisers was actually calling people
on the Hill and trying to figure out how to undermine this. This is one of
those deals where a lot of people are squirming who are traditional Trump
HAYES: There was some interesting polling today that show the folks that
have the highest approval rating for him are also the most opposed to DACA.
So there is a correlation in that really – the early Trump base that
powered him to a victory in the primary, who were this issue is central to
DAWSEY: Right. And you have, you know, a core group of his supporters, as
you say, Chris, who really care about this. This is you know, one of a
central issues, the wall, building the wall, strict – you know, more
tougher immigration reform, more border agents, more patrols, you know,
cutting down on people who come across the border. Sending people home who
are here illegally, roundups, no amnesty, and they care about that a lot.
I do think you see a broader polling that shows you know, a lot of the
country`s supports DACA. More than 50 percent I think supported pretty
wholeheartedly. And that`s something the President has reflected on
HAYES: All right, Josh Dawsey, much appreciate it.
DAWSEY: Thanks, for having me.
HAYES: Tonight Ta-Nehisi Coates joins me live in studio to talk about his
fantastic new Atlantic piece on Donald Trump and the white supremacy. And
it was a great day to have him here as the White House today escalated its
war against ESPN Anchor Jemele Hill. That story in two minutes.
HAYES: The White House is escalating its war on ESPN, of all things. Host
Jemele Hill is still trying to get her fired after she issued a series of
tweets on Monday about the President and his administration, including the
following, “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded
himself with other white supremacists. He is unqualified and unfit to be
President. He is not a leader. And if he were not white, he never would
have been elected.” Two days later the White House, itself, responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: I`m not sure if he`s aware but I think that`s one of the more
outrageous comments that anyone could make and certainly something that I
think is a fireable offense by ESPN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: After that, Hill issued a statement saying, “My comments on Twitter
expressed my personal beliefs. My regret is that my comments and the public
way I made them painted ESPN in an unfair light.” ESPN accepted that
apology, but the White House was back at it again today. The Press
Secretary stood by her position that Hill`s tweets were a fireable offense
and the President, himself, tweeted, “ESPN is paying a really big price for
its politics. Apologize for untruths.” Charles P. Pierce is a Writer At
Large for Esquire who this week had a great piece. His report (INAUDIBLE)
entitled White House`s Call for Jemele Hill`s Firing is Trip to Edges of
Crazytown. Get a sense of the take he has there. What do you make of all
CHARLES P. PIERCE, ESQUIRE WRITER AT LARGE: Well, I was – I was willing
to just give the whole thing a pass until it somehow hit the White House
podium. In which case, you know, I just thought the whole thing had gotten
insane. I have, you know, been ferociously trying to defend the ability of
people in journalism who worked for a large newsgathering operations to say
what they want on their personal social media platforms, without
consequence back in the workroom. I, myself, was somewhat of a victim of
that once. I think it`s a classic example of how what we now call the
mainstream press got caught black-footed by what social media really is.
And I think that to discipline somebody for something they do in their off
hours is, you know, one step away from having a giant company town.
HAYES: You – there seems to me that part of the issue here is that now
the White House is calling for this person to be fired and we should note
the irony here. I mean, this is President Obama, himself, when he was a
big T.V. star calling the president racist. He tweeted is Obama a total
racist? Also tweeted about the President Obama being racist multiple
times, right? So this is someone doing the exact same thing that they`re
calling a fireable offense when he himself as a T.V. star put that aside –
PIERCE: Well, yes, I don`t remember Josh Earnest asking NBC to fire Donald
HAYES: That`s right.
PIERCE: For the birther stuff when he works – when he was doing The
Apprentice. I just – you know, I don`t recall that. Maybe Josh did, I
don`t remember, it would be out of character.
HAYES: And once you get – it seems to me that once the White House is
calling for it, then ESPN cannot do it because now you`re up against some
very serious constitutional issues. And the President is calling for a
critic to be fired for a thing they said is critical, knuckling under that
is very dangerous.
PIERCE: I agree, and I think ESPN should have been much stronger in
pushing back on that particular issue. You know this is our – when it`s
our employee, we`re handling it internally. We are doing what we have –
we`re doing what we think is right. It`s none of your business, please go
back to worrying about the fact that North Korea is firing missiles over
Japan and that we have been hit by two major hurricanes in the past three
weeks. You have better things to do with your salary, Sarah Huckabee
Sanders than talking about this nonsense?
HAYES: Yeah, that – I think that`s a good point. Part of the issue here
for ESPN it seems is they`re now caught in the crossfire of the culture war
and they can`t escape it. I mean, they had – they had a whole thing with
Curt Schilling. Curt Schilling had multiple infractions, that you know, in
things he said – things he said on a talk radio show about Hillary should
be buried under jail somewhere, social media post. Ultimately after
several – we should be clear – several of these, he was let go. They`ve
got the Colin Kaepernick phenomenon and all the social currents of that
squarely in the thing they cover. They want desperately to avoid politics,
but ultimately they can`t, right? That`s their problem.
PIERCE: No, you – I mean, this is – this is a – you know in a
participatory democracy, you can`t avoid politics. If you do, you`re
failing as a citizen on an individual basis and are you failing as an
institution within the economy. Of course, they`re political. They have
to be political. And there has to be politics involved. You cannot
discuss Colin Kaepernick without discussing the politics of white
supremacy. And you cannot – you know, you cannot gain-say what Jemele
Hill said, although I agree with every word of it, you can`t gain-say that
without being involved with politics. So ESPN – I mean, ESPN is a huge,
an absolutely huge operation. It`s, you know, it`s a part of the Disney
Corporation which has a total of I think they made like $4 billion last
year. What are they afraid of? Are they afraid of, you know, the three
dolts on the die band and you know, Fox in the morning or Clay Travis or
Tucker Carlson? What are they so afraid of?
HAYES: Yes. It`s a good question. Charlie Pierce, great article, thanks
for joining us.
PIERCE: Thank you.
HAYES: Stick around because after the break, I`ll talk with an award-
winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates about this story and why he calls President
Trump the first white President. And if you`re on Facebook, be sure to
like the ALL IN page. Join the conversation in tonight`s open thread
(INAUDIBLE) right back with Ta-Nehisi Coates after this short break. Don`t
HAYES: A few days before ESPN Anchor Jemele Hill tweeted that the
president is a “white supremacist,” and that his rise is “a direct result
of white supremacy.” She shared on her Facebook page, Ta-Nehisi Coates`
widely talked about piece in the Atlantic tilted The First White President
in which Coates writes, it is often said that Trump has no real ideology
which is not true. His ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent
and sanctimonious power. In Trump, he states, white supremacist, see one
of their own. Joining me now is Ta-Nehisi Coates, who`s Atlantic piece was
excerpted from his forthcoming book, We Were Eight Years In Power, which
people should read if – from all of the reason, that to find the source of
that quote, which is chilling and unnerving, one of the favorite things in
the book. Good to have you here.
TA-NEHISI COATES, THE ATLANTIC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good to be here
HAYES: So, I want to start about the Jemele Hill thing just because I
think it literally direct a link. I think she was reading your article and
I`m not saying this came from you but she posted your article and she says
this thing which you know, we were joking about the fact that if you
publish this on the cover that one of the oldest magazines in America.
COATES: It`s fine.
HAYES: You get – you get, you know, people debate it but if you tweet it,
and you`re, you know, you`re Jemele Hill, then you might get in trouble.
COATES: Right. I don`t know what ESPN`s policy is, you know, in terms of
politics. I can`t speak –
HAYES: Right. Of course.
COATES: – of the appropriateness of you know, what will happen with her.
But I can speak to the offense taken versus Sarah Huckabee Sanders and now
you know, Donald Trump, himself. I mean, this is characters – and I said
in all of its truculent, you know, sanctimonious power. And this is what
white supremacist tend to do going back to days of slave owners who
insisted that in fact in the north was trying to subjugate them and turn
them into actual slaves. It`s always the white supremist who`s being
offended. So it`s in it that something`s being done. So I think it`s you
know, pretty characteristic in a form.
HAYES: I want to talk about that term white supremacist in a second. But
first, just layout – and there`s the concept of the piece which is that
Donald Trump is the first white President –
HAYES: – is a really gripping one. What`s the –what`s the basic idea?
COATS: Well, I wanted to attack the basic notion that whiteness is
ultimately about phenotype. That racist is actual real thing biologically
inherited thing instead of as the greatest (INAUDIBLE) actually an idea,
not a real thing, in fact. And so whiteness actually has to you know, come
from a certain place. And throughout American history, what it`s come from
is it negates in the blackness, the idea of not being a word I can`t say
here on air (INAUDIBLE) in the essay. And one of the fascinating things
about Trump is not so much that, you know, he, you know, has a history of
racism, has a history of being a white supremacist.
We`ve had other white presidents who are just like that, I don`t think
we`ve had other white presidents who checked white on the census form. We
never had a president who so much defied himself by the president that was
before him who just so happens to be our first black president. My
argument in the piece is in fact, you cannot actually have a white
president, the idea of have a white president without having a black
president before him much just as you cannot have a white American in this
country without having a black American.
HAYES: You say the ideology is white supremacy and you usually used this
term white supremacist. You used it here. It`s the one that Jemele Hill
used as well. And I want to make an argument for why that brings people up
HAYES: Which I think you know, right?
COATES: Right. I do.
HAYES: You know, that is a term that a lot of work has gone into, into
creating taboo around, sort of rightly, I think, right?
HAYES: So the conception in sort of common parlance is that is someone
(INAUDIBLE) the person who proudly proclaims their belief in the
inferiority of non-white people.
HAYES: You`re using it in a much more expansive sentence. What is that
doing? Why are you doing that?
COATES: Well, I think if you own a business that attempts to keep black
people from renting from you if you are reported to say that you don`t want
black people counting your money. If you say, you know, and not in report
it, you just come out and say, someone, can`t judge their case because
they`re Mexican. If your response to the first black president is that
they weren`t born in this country, despite all proof. If you say they
weren`t smart enough to go to Harvard Law School and demand to see their
grades, if that`s the essence of your entire political identity, you might
be a white supremacist. It`s just possible. I mean, I`m willing to have
that debate and hear the other side. But you might be. And I think with
Donald Trump, it`s quite a bit – I wouldn`t say George Bush is a white
supremacist. And I have a lot of problem with George versus policies. I
can make an argument of how they you know, affect black people in a
COATES: You know, I wouldn`t argue that he`s a white supremacist. I
wouldn`t argue that Mitt Romney is a white supremacist. Donald Trump is a
particular (INAUDIBLE) thing. I think that`s quite a bit of agonist at the
back of the charge.
HAYES: In terms of the essential core of what he is doing –
COATES: I don`t think he`s president without it. I think that`s the huge
difference. It`s not a side. You know, it`s not like Bush One for
instance with Willie Horton, which was bad, by the way, right, but not
necessarily definite. This is a thing I got to do in order to get over.
It`s the core of him. He began his career in birtherism. It wasn`t on the
way. That was the thing that got it started. That was what kicked it off.
You know, and so I think in that sense, he`s different.
HAYES: There`s a real question I think about – I think about sometimes
about Trump and I think about Ross Perot.
HAYES: And here`s what I think about it. I remember living through the
Ross Perot phenomenon and thinking there might – and there was all these
thing pieces that like the two-party system is broken apart forever. This
is a transformational moment in American politics, nothing will be the
same. And it turned out he would be an answer to the trivia question.
Like there was no Peronism. It was a sui generis phenomenon, right?
HAYES: And I wonder sometimes about Trump which the two paths lay before
us. Like, is he this transformational sort of hinge in American history
about the appeal of particularly white nationalism front and center or will
he be relegated to a kind of footnote?
COATES: I don`t know, I hope it`s the latter. I hope it`s the latter.
The arguments of the former though is, in fact, you know, as much as I say
that Trump is different, he actually is the culmination of a certain path
that the Republican Party chose, you know, from Nixon on and particularly
chosen how it interacted with Obama ever the last eight years, which says,
he has actual roots in something that you know, this is not a military
junta. This says something about the base of the Republican Party about
people who actually cast the votes. And that argues for something more.
Listen, my great fear Chris is that someone more confident, someone who
better understands Washington, will look at Trump and figure out and say,
oh, this is what I got to do. This is what I can get away with. You know,
that I think is the great, you know, is a really scary thing that can come
out of this.
HAYES: So I want to talk about the sort of the cause of the Trump win in
sort of relationship to your article.
HAYES: Because I think one of the things – one of the things you talk
about in the article and you have sort of a section where you talk about
this sort of obsession with the white working class, particularly.
HAYES: And you sure to layout this case like the reason Trump is President
is because of white people because he won every category. So it`s like he
won them geographically, he won them by income, he won them by education
level, by gender, et cetera. But there`s this part that struck out to me,
right? You said Trump won white women plus nine and white men plus 31.
And then you say he won white people with college degrees plus three and
white people without them, 37. And I read that in the piece when you
making this point about like, let`s just think about this as whiteness.
But I saw the difference between 3 and 37, and my mind was like, well,
there is something going on there.
COATES: There is something going on there.
HAYES: there`s something like – this obsession with the white working
class or white non-college it`s called like there is a numerical basis for
COATES: Right. There is but what I always say is that there is – what I
have been saying is that there is a tendency to pay attention to one
adjective more than the other. As I argue in the piece, white people in
this country, white working class in this country in terms of their votes
are not you know, remarkable in terms of their working classness, but in
terms of their whiteness, that`s what puts them in league with everybody
else. You`re right. Yes, more white working class people with them but
black working class didn`t do for him at all. Latino working class people
didn`t go for him – I mean, obviously, some did, but the majority didn`t.
You don`t see that same sort. It`s the whiteness that`s similar across the
board that goes across class, that goes across gender and goes across
education. That`s what`s different. So the argument is not that you know,
among some, you know, certain group of, you know, white people you can`t
find more supporters. Yes, that`s definitely true, but what`s the thing
that`s most common? It`s the whiteness, that`s what`s most common, not the
workingness, not the fact of being a member of the working class.
HAYES: There`s this question about this sort of Obama-Trump voter. And
that is the kind of – people say this all the time when you`re – I know,
you`re shaking your head already. I want you to respond to that, because
actually you get some interesting terrain there.
Stick around. More Ta-Nehisi Coates after this break.
HAYES: Back at the table with Ta-Nehisi Coates.
People – so, this article you wrote I think is in the context of a
conversation that`s been happening about the – why Trump won, for lack of
a better question.
And there are these sort of – it`s like one of those arguments that the
thrusts and counter-thrusts have been sort of gamed out several steps, like
if you`ve been in like in an Israel-Palestinian discussion or an abortion
one, like people have the–
And one of the counters – one of the sort of counter moves is when you say
this was about white supremacy, the power of whiteness, people say, well,
what about Barack Obama beating Mitt Romney? What about Barack Obama
beating John McCain. And what about the – it`s somewhere int he
neighborhood of 8 million people that voted for Barack Obama and then
turned around for Donald Trump, like how could race be the thing that`s
COATES: It`s like saying because Jackie Robinson integrated MLB, MLB was
no longer racist.
The fact of one black person being extraordinary and therefore accomplishes
something is not to the credit to the obstacle that they had to conquer.
Do you understand the fact that you have to be a highly educated lawyer, a
particularly gifted politician, and accomplish something and someone who
has no career at all in public life can do the same thing, that`s a
statement. Racism works by raising the barrier for certain people and
lowering the barrier considerably for other people.
The test always is go through a list of things that Donald Trump has said
from, you know, effectively bragging about sexual assault, just on the
down, just take anything on any day, just randomly look at his Twitter on
any day and say, what would happen if Barack Obama had said that? Just ask
yourself. And if you can construct a world in which Barack Obama can get
away with saying all of those things and being president, you are better
than me, because I don`t have those powers of
HAYES: It`s not even – I mean, you make this point in the article that
the mind is brought up
short before one can get to the common factual of a tape leaking of Barack
Obama saying, you just grab them by the, and they let you do it because
are you are a star and being elected president. It`s not even a–
COATES: He couldn`t be senator.
HAYES: He would never–
COATES: I mean, come on. It`s not even possible, you know what I mean?
And so the notion that, oh.
HAYES: But to get back to those voters that are like – model the minds of
those voters for me, right, because I think that`s the thing, right?
Because people want to say, well, but they voted for a black man. They did
COATES: But racism isn`t global. It doesn`t mean that, you know, in all
cases I will go for the white person, that`s no what it means. You know,
it doesn`t mean that in no case can no black person ever convince me of
anything, it`s like if I answer to somebody, you know, which is different.
It doesn`t mean I don`t hear from any black person.
HAYES: It`s not entirely dispositive on a decision.
COATES: No. No, no, no. No. And probably no bigger tree or prejudice–
HAYES: Or a system.
COATES: –as it is.
I always talk about, you know, France, before the Nazis are coming, before
they shipped off X number of Jews, god knows how many. They have Leon
Bloom as prime minister. I mean, does that mean there was no anti-Semitism
in France? No one would ever make that case, you know.
HAYES: So then the next question.
COATES: And had Hillary won, I would not then make the case that sexism
was somehow banished from the United States. I mean, you just wouldn`t do
that, that wouldn`t be how the argument would work.
HAYES: I guess one of the next questions is, you know, I think in one of
the things you are writing, which I think is really powerful, but can be
kind of a bummer, if you don`t mind my saying, is a kind of historically
inflected fatalism about race.
HAYES: As a kind of – the sort, it`s like the devil we wrestle with over
and over again as opposed to the mountain we climb and ascend ever closer
to perfection, like in your work, and in this article, it`s like it`s just
there all the time. And like you climb away, and it grabs you and you get
back down the pit.
COATES: That`s life.
HAYES: But then the question becomes, like, what – OK, fine, right – so
that`s the world we have and Donald Trump, you see, cracked open the amulet
to sort of like use this power of this appeal.
HAYES: Now what?
COATES: You struggle against it. I mean, that – life is always a
problem. In every epoch of history, life has always been a problem.
And this particular epoch of history, in fact, our problems are a lot
better than most people`s.
But it`s still a problem. And so, you know, this notion that by pointing
out that white supremacy is at the core of this country, always has been,
that you can`t imagine this country without a particular strain of anti-
black racism, but that somehow is a bummer – and I don`t mean this about
you personally, but I think it reflects a kind of immaturity of the mind,
of the intellect, because idea is unless you are telling me some sort of
fairy tale or bedtime story in which you know Prince Charming conquests at
the end and everything is OK, I don`t want to hear from you. And that`s
HAYES: Right, but–
COATES: Life`s a problem.
HAYES: I totally agree. But then there is like a practical question. And
I know – and you and I have had this question off air. So, this is
something we talked about. And you – I think you know say, look, I`m not
a political organizer, I`m not running for office. I`m not the person who
is going to – but in a very real sense, it`s like, OK, then what would?
The question then becomes a durable multiracial collision in a country that
has a rising non-white population and a percentage of the white people that
feel seriously under threat. There is then this really front and center
question of like, OK, what do you do with that to avoid Donald Trump?
COATES: Politicians have to do the best they can out of it. You know, I
think I am – as you know, I had my share of criticisms with Barack Obama,
but I think, you know, throughout the book, it
what`s clear is that I have some understanding what he`s actually wrestling
with. Do I expect him to come out and be me? No. No, I don`t, not at
all. But my job is not his job.
And I think there is a class of writer that begins to write as though they
are a senate aide. It`s very important not to do that. It`s very
important to be able to be out there and say the things that
politicians can`t say.
I can`t do my journalism the way Barack Obama or Bernie Sanders or Hillary
Clinton do their
politics. That would be a dereliction of my duty.
HAYES: But it seems to me there`s another layer here, which is to find a
way to talk about – you know, I understand why the genre of the plight of
the white Trump base is fatiguing to peopl. Like, I understand why that is
But it is also the case that there are huge swathes of white working-class
America where it is bleak as hell. I mean, 60,000 people died from opioid
last year, the overwhelming majority of them white. You know, you`ve got -
- you know, we were down in McDowell County in West Virginia, the idea that
like America is already great down there just seems preposterous, right.
And so there is this question of like how do you talk to that in a way that
is not alighting whiteness and its power, but is real about, like –
because I think what ends up being the message that people hear is like, is
you are doing okay because you are white.
COATES: Right. No, and that`s not what I`m saying at all. I`m saying
that even within our language, when we say something like white working
class people are suffering x, y, z. Implicit in that is that white people
shouldn`t be going through that.
COATES: That something about being white should somehow make you immune to
COATES: Right, that that adjective is the story.
HAYES: Right. Because if you say–
COATES: And I`m I saying that there are a number of writers that get
something out of that fact.
HAYES: What do you mean by that?
COATES: Well, I mean, it gives them a kind of moral high ground, a
relationship to a victim that they don`t have with black people in the same
way, and an ability to relate in a way they can`t necessarily, the fact of
whiteness gives them the ability to relate in a way they can`t necessarily
to say black people in the inner city. There are obviously policy
implications from that, or at least rhetorical
implications from that.
I don`t want to allied (ph) that fact. I don`t want allow my insistence
that folks focus on the force of white supremacy to allied (ph) the fact of
any group, anywhere suffering. But I also don`t want to endorse the notion
that whiteness should somehow give you immunity to the kind of suffering
black people have been enduring since we got here in 1619.
HAYES: Yeah, that`s – I think that`s really well said. Because it is
true, there is something really true in the colonel there about this idea
that when – that the frame – the conceptual frame of the white working
class is that there is something wrong here.
COATES: Right. Right, right.
HAYES: Something has gone awry.
COATES: Something has gone awry.
HAYES: That these people are in this situation in a way that`s not there
if you go up to the Bronx and you report on opioid overdoses.
COATES: Right. And what I try to argue – when I try to make in that
piece, one of the subtle arguments that we`ve been doing this for a long
time, it`s older than you think, this notion.
HAYES: There is some amazing historical stuff on this.
I`m going to give away this little – I`m going to give away this little
spoiler for the book, which people should really pick up, that quote, “we
were eight years in power.” What does it come from?
COATES: It comes from 1895. I believe that`s the year South Carolina is
rewriting the constitution to basically strip black people of their last
vestiges of electoral power and the franchise. . And Thomas Miller, who
was a congressman during the reconstruction era says we were eight years in
power. We, you know, set up a – you know, a jail system, education
system. We basically reconstructed the state. We did a great job
governing. Why would you strip us of power? We don`t understand at all.
And implicit in Thomas Miller`s inquiry was the notion that black people –
that somehow white people were interested in seeing black people doing a
And in fact DeBois– W.E.B. DuBois`s great retort to that was if there was
anything that South Carolina and that era feared more than bad negro
government it was good negro government. And I think that quote has a lot
to say about what we just saw over the last eight years.
HAYES: You and I have had a long running conversation about that moment in
history, particularly in the wake of the election.
HAYES: The moment of reconstruction and the redemption that followed. And
the reason I think that you and I have been both been talking about it is,
it`s a moment where the kind of idea of inexorable progress, it just
doesn`t work, it`s – instead it`s like Atlantis, it`s a civilization that
gets built under the sea and then disappears.
HAYES: What do you think that moment has to teach us about this moment?
COATES: I think it has to teach us the great tragedy of abandoning the
courage of our morals. That was – it`s very sad, you know, because after
reconstruction, for, you know, a century afterwards, it was thought as this
kind of failed, you know, sort of thing that because black people weren`t
moral enough or weren`t ready for the electoral franchise it didn`t
succeed. And you can`t help, but wonder what this country would have been
if we had found the fortitude to stick with it, to continue the long war.
And I think – you know what I am going to argue even more than having
something to say
about race, I`m going to have something to say to us about climate right
now. I`m getting out of my wheel house right now and I`m going to be a
little dangerous here, because I think like the thing is in the face of a
great catastrophe, you know, folks were able to show a level of moral
leadership and do something truly, truly revolutionary, it would have been
unimaginable 15 years, you know, and I think – you know, as much as I
write about race. I think about climate is the urgent thing right now,
right now, right now, you know what I mean, it`s like right in our face
that we`re seeing.
And if ever there was a time for that kind of, you know, urgency and that
kind of action, it really is now.
HAYES: It also makes me think about how much this moment, these two
presidencies, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, will be fought over and
contested 100 years hence. The story of which was a good president will be
the armor and the weapons that people use in the battle over the role that
supremacy will play in America.
COATES: You know what, I don`t think there is going to be much debate 100
years from now, I just don`t.
HAYES: In which direction?
COATES: I think – let me very clear, I think people will look at us and
say they lost their mind.
HAYES: Right. All right. Ta-Nehisi Coates.
COATES: Thanks, man. Thanks for having me back.
HAYES: If you haven`t read, go read his piece “The First White President
in the Atlantic” right now. It`s excerpted from his forthcoming book “We
Were Eight Years in Power.”
Ahead, just when you thought Obamacare was safe, Republicans launch a last
ditch effort to replace. We`ll give you the details ahead.
Plus, Steve Mnuchin just can`t seem to help himself, so he`s tonight`s
Thing One, Thing Two next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, the trip that keeps on giving. Last month,
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his new wife Louise Linton traveled to
Kentucky on the government plane, a visit Linton infamously celebrated with
an Instagram photo in which she hashtaged her luxury clothes before
unleashing a condescending tirade toward a woman who dared criticize her.
In addition to stopping at the Louisville Chamber of Commerce, Mnuchin and
Linton had plenty of fun during the trip, touring the gold at Fort Knox and
viewing the solar eclipse from a prime location.
And that prompted the Treasury`s office of inspector general to review why
it was Mnuchin had used a government plane. And now Mnuchin has offered up
an incredible explanation for why his solar eclipse viewing on a taxpayer
funded trip was no big deal. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claims it was no big deal that he
and his wife flew to Kentucky on a government plane where they toured the
gold at Fort Knox and viewed the solar eclipse from a great location,
prompting a review by the Treasury offices – Treasury`s office of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: When I got there, the staff had
actually intended that we watch the eclipse on the roof of Fort Knox. And,
you know, people in Kentucky took this stuff very seriously being a New
Yorker in California is like the eclipse, we got there is like really, I
don`t have any interest in watching the eclipse. We never went on the
roof. I didn`t stay for the optimal time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Wait a second, so Steve Mnuchin says only people in Kentucky had
some of the best views in the country cared about the solar eclipse.
I`d just like to say I`m a New Yorker, and I can tell you even here in New
York, where the view wasn`t quite as good, people went nuts for the
eclipse. I was out there in my glasses taking it in. There`s my colleague
Rachel Maddow among the throng too. Even these randos managed to get in on
Indeed, all across the city, New Yorkers poured out of buildings to look up
and the sky and share a communal, New York, and American experience whether
wearing our hashtag #eclipsesunies or not.
HAYES: Believe it or not now, there is a last ditch – a new last ditch
effort to kill President Obama`s signature legislative accomplishment
program before a rapidly encroaching deadline in the U.S. Senate.
Obamacare is already currently at this very moment being sabotaged by the
administration, which has slashed funding for outreach efforts to help
people, especially those with low
incomes, navigate the exchanges and enroll in insurance.
And then people who do manage to sign up for coverage next year can expect
to pay more out-of-pocket. The CBO found the president`s threats to cancel
government subsides for low income enrollees are pushing up premium cost
And then there is what`s happening in the Senate, where Republicans still
haven`t given up trying to repeal and replace Obamacare. Previous
Republican attempts to dismantle the ACA this year of course sparked
months of protest, but the most recent major attempt in late July crashing
after that famous moment when John McCain gave a dramatic thumbs down on
the senate floor in the middle of the night.
But now, get this, there is yet another last ditch desperate plan in the
works, this time from Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill
Cassidy of Louisiana, but because there is a September 30th deadline to
pass anything with just a majority vote in the Senate, Republicans now have
less than three weeks to try to once again hustle it all through.
Andy Slavitt ran the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid under President
Obama. He`s closely following the latest Republican health care efforts.
Let`s start with this, it`s called Cassidy-Graham. What is the bill?
ANDY SLAVITT, FRM. ACTING ADMINISTRATOR CENTER FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID:
Well, the bill is actually a lot like the prior Republican repeal bills
we`ve seen. It does three major things. It kicks people off of coverage,
so I think when it`s all said and done, 10 years from now we would see
probably something over 30 million people losing coverage. It takes away
those valued protections that the ACA brought, protections against
preexisting condition cuts so it allows people to charge a lot more for
people who are sick, which is not what America bargained for. And the
third thing it does is it cuts deeply into Medicaid. It ends Medicaid
expansion, it replaces it with a bloc grant, and puts a cap on care for
seniors, on care for kids and people with disabilities.
HAYES: This sounds a lot like the a, both iterations of the house version
of the bill, the one
that failed and the one that passed. It sounds a lot like every iteration
I heard of the Senate bill, including one that didn`t pass. It sounds like
it`s roughly in the same framework.
SLAVITT: It is, but it has a secret trick to it, Chris. And that trick is
that they are – one might ask, well, how are they going to get the votes
this time? They didn`t get the votes last time. What they are doing is
they are taking the money that is paid out from the federal government to
states and Medicaid. And they`re re-balancing it. They`re paying –
taking enormous sums of money out of
states like California, New York, Massachusetts and Maryland – you might
notice that they are blue
states – in order to spend them in states like Arizona and Nevada and
South Carolina and West Virginia and Alaska, all states that have senators
that they need.
And that rejiggering is going on in back room conversations as we speak and
we`re getting word of it. And it`s – that`s really how they plan to get
HAYES: So, can they – do they have the votes for this?
SLAVITT: Well, as of now they claim they have close to 48 or 49 votes.
HAYES: That`s a lot.
SLAVITT: And three on the hook.
HAYES: That`s a lot.
Now, I think – we`ve got to remember, 45 Senators who would vote for a
blank piece of paper that said repeal the ACA. So, you got that out of the
gate. And then the question becomes can they get there with the other five
And that`s where these funds come in. They`re taking the funds that are
historically been paid into blue states to pay for low income people and
they`re saying because you expanded Medicaid, because you tried to cover
more people, we`re going to take money away from you and give it to states
And of course those are the red states who senators they need.
HAYES: That is really perverse.
So, it`s basically saying to the states that expanded Medicaid we are going
to rebalance the ledger here and equalize the funding, so you don`t get any
extra special money because you tried to – you expanded Medicaid. And
that ends up being a direct transfer largely of blue states to red states.
SLAVITT: That`s exactly right. And in fact, I had got someone who had
drafted this bill to talk to me and explain the formula.
It also does is it takes a sum of money that they call secretary`s
discretion, what I`ve been told. And that basically means that as the
secretary, or as Cassidy or Graham sit down with a Senator or governor and
say what would it take to get you on board, they can manipulate the formula
real-time. So, they have a real shot at getting the zombie bill passed.
HAYES: So, what next, then? I mean, they have got three weeks. What do
you see happening?
SLAVITT: Well, as of today, we heard that leader McConnell instructed the
CBO to take the children`s health insurance bill and the – any other work
that CBO is working on and put it at the
back of the line so they are taking kids` health care and putting it at the
back of the line and saying repeal is the thing you should work on first.
So what will have to happen is they`ll get a score from CBO and then
they`ll have to go through what is called a birdbath, which is as you know
and I think probably most of your viewers know, is a
process where the parliamentarian decides what is allowable and what`s not.
They barely have enough time to do it, but they believe they have got
enough time to get it done. And the beauty of the time from their
perspective is they can send it over to the House take it or leave it.
HAYES: I can`t imagine – I can`t believe that the same ridiculous process
where they try to hustle something under with no hearings, no
deliberation, no regular order, they are now trying for what is the fourth
of fifth time.
Andy Slavitt, thanks for being here.
SLAVITT: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts
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