Today scientists in South Africa announced that the omicron variant of COVID-19 appears to spread twice as quickly as the delta variant. Omicron now makes up two-thirds of all new cases in South Africa after the variant was reported there on November 23rd. The parents of Ethan Crumbley, the Oxford High School shooting suspects are now fugitives of the law. They have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Authorities are now conducting a manhunt for James and Jennifer Crumbley.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: It has been a week. It has been a whole week. Whew. That`s going to do it for us for now. See you again on Monday. Now it`s time for THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL. Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. And remember that Supreme Court argument that seems like a week ago, it was of course in the middle of the week.
MADDOW: Yes, Wednesday.
O`DONNELL: One thing that I was struck by at the time and haven`t gotten a chance to comment on until tonight`s show, is the fact that in that 90 minutes or so, they never discussed, never had a discussion of rape and incest. And that Mississippi law makes no exceptions at all for pregnancies that are the result of rape and incest.
We`re going to correct that tonight. We have Professor Michelle Goodwin joining us tonight. She wrote that extraordinary op-ed piece in "The New York Times" about this very point in these abortion laws that are coming in now with no exceptions at all for rape and incest pregnancies.
MADDOW: It is one of the most harrowing, harrowing elements of it, even in the -- of all of these politics, even in the abstract. But in the specific, in the personal specifics of it, it is inescapable and terrible.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and Justice Barrett`s scenario that she sketched out about, you know, there`s not much difference between getting an abortion at some point in the pregnancy or just giving up the baby after carrying that pregnancy all the way to term, giving it up through adoption, the example she was giving, of course, was not of a little girl who was the victim of rape and incest.
It`s always this hypothetical woman. It`s always a woman that is -- that is in these scenarios. It`s never the 12-year-old girl. And there are those cases that this Supreme Court seems to have absolutely no sensitivity to.
MADDOW: And it`s, I mean, and you just look at it through the other side, you know, turn the telescope the other way around. What she`s talking about, as if it`s blithely no big deal to say to women, oh, the solution to this is to drop the baby at the firehouse. I mean, what she`s saying is that it is the proper role of the government to force a woman who has been raped, to force her to carry the rapist`s baby to term for nine months and give birth to it.
That is the government will force you to do that and you will have no other choice. The idea that it`s some sort of benign thing that will just happen on its own unless we intervene is -- I find it bewildering. I mean, much about these debates I find bewildering, but it`s just impossible.
O`DONNELL: Well, Professor Goodwin has much to say about it. She`s going to do that later in our hour.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Well, at this hour the search continues tonight for James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley, who are the parents of Ethan Crumbley. That student at Oxford High School in Michigan who is now accused of murder and terrorism after shooting and killing four students and injuring seven other people.
The parents refuse to turn themselves in today as their lawyer promised that they would after the Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald outlined her case of four counts of involuntary manslaughter against the parents, against James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley.
KAREN MCDONALD, PROSECUTOR, OAKLAND COUNTY, MICHIGAN: James Crumbley purchased a Sig Sauer 9 mm model SP2022 from Acme Shooting Goods in Oxford, Michigan on November 26, 2021. A store employee confirms that Ethan Crumbley was present with James at the time of the purchase. Per statute, James Crumbley completed ATF form 3009A -- 5309A.
On or about November 26,`21 Ethan Crumbley`s social media posts revealed photos of the semi-automatic handgun along with the caption "just got my new beauty today" including an emoji with hearts, "Sig Sauer 9 mm. Any questions I will answer." Subsequent to the purchase of that weapon, one of Jennifer Crumbley`s social media post on about 11/27/21 read, "Mom and son day testing out his new Christmas present."
On November 21, `21, a teacher at the Oxford High School observed Ethan Crumbley searching ammunition on his cellphone during class and reported the same to school officials. Jennifer Crumbley was contacted via voicemail by school personnel regarding the son`s inappropriate internet search. School personnel indicate they followed that voicemail up with an e-mail but received no response from either parent.
Thereafter, Jennifer Crumbley exchanged text messages about the incident with her son on that day stating, "LOL, I`m not mad at you, you have to learn not to get caught." On November 30, `21, the morning of the shooting, the next day, Ethan Crumbley`s teacher came upon a note on Ethan`s desk which alarmed her to the point that she took a picture of it on her cellphone.
The note contained the following. A drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words "The thoughts won`t stop, help me." In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet with the following words above that bullet "blood everywhere." Between the drawing of the gun and the bullet is a drawing of a person who appears to have been shot twice and bleeding.
Below that figure is a drawing of a laughing emoji. Further down the drawing are the words, "My life is useless." And to the night -- right of that are the words, "the world is dead." As a result, James and Jennifer Crumbley were immediately summoned to the school. A school counselor came to the classroom and removed the shooter and brought him to the office with his backpack.
At the meeting, James and Jennifer Crumbley were shown the drawing and were advised that they were required to get their son into counseling within 48 hours. Both James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to ask their son if he had his gun with him or where his gun was located and failed to inspect his backpack for the presence of the gun which he had with him.
James and Jennifer Crumbley resisted the idea of then leaving the school at that time -- of their son leaving the school at that time. Instead, James and Jennifer Crumbley left the high school without their son. He was returned to the classroom. When the news of the active shooter at Oxford High School had been made public, Jennifer Crumbley texted to her son at 11:22 -- I`m sorry, at 1:22 p.m., "Ethan, don`t do it."
The gun recovered from the shooter at the school after the shooting was the same gun that was purchased by his father, James Crumbley, on November 26th, 2021, in the presence of his son. Based upon foregoing, the Oakland County prosecutor`s office requested and received -- authorized -- we charged four counts of involuntary manslaughter as to James Crumbley and four counts of involuntary manslaughter as to Jennifer Crumbley.
O`DONNELL: When she took questions from reporters, Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald left no doubt about how she feels and how she thinks we all should feel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCDONALD: I am angry. I`m angry as a mother. I`m angry as the prosecutor. I`m angry as a person that lives in this county. I`m angry. There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent. And yes, there was a perfectly executed response and he was apprehended immediately and we have great law enforcement and good training. But I said before, four kids were murdered. And then seven more injured. So, yes, I think we should all be very angry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Let`s go to MSNBC correspondent Shaquille Brewster who is in Oakland County, Michigan tonight. Shaquille, what is the latest at this hour?
SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lawrence, I`ll tell you, that manhunt for those parents is well under way. It involves the FBI. It involves the U.S. Marshals. It involves the county sheriffs. And we know that this is a manhunt that started as that press conference was happening. As those charges were being filed against the parents, that`s when the county sheriff`s office started their search for the parents.
And according to the attorneys for that couple that you`re looking at right now on the screen, according to the sheriff, there was some contact between the attorney and the Sheriff`s Department as recently as Thursday night. There was some plan for if there was a charging decision, the attorney would hand over that couple to the authorities.
However, the attorney now says that over the course of the morning, there was a loss of contact or that`s coming from the Sheriff`s Department, that there was a loss of contact between the attorney and that couple.
Later this afternoon and now we start to hear conflicting information, later in the afternoon, the attorney says that their couple is not fleeing. That their clients aren`t fleeing. That they simply left the state out of their own concern for their safety, but were returning to the state for the arraignment.
The arraignment was scheduled for 4:00 p.m. and they just simply never showed up. So, as of this point, the couple, now suspects, now fugitives in the words of law enforcement. They`re still on the run. They have not yet been apprehended and there is an active search under way for them.
O`DONNELL: Shaquille Brewster, thank you very much for that live report. Really appreciate it.
BREWSTER: You got it.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. And joining us now is David Hogg. He is the co- founder for March for our Lives, and David Hogg is of course a survivor of one of the worst school shootings in our history in Parkland, Florida.
David, let me begin with the victims here, Hannah St. Juliana, 14 years old. Tate Myre, 16 years old, Madisyn Baldwin, 17 years old, Justin Shilling, 17 years old. They are all dead.
Their dear friends at the high school are living -- who are still with us are living with that agony that they are all dead. As you know, those students at the school are in a state of shock. What do you know about what they are experiencing and what they will be experiencing?
DAVID HOGG, CO-FOUNDER, MARCH FOR OUR LIVES: The unimaginable, Lawrence, frankly. Every community is different. Every person is affected differently by this. I can tell you that the only way having, you know, even yesterday, I received a DM from somebody who has, you know, had a relative that went through the shooting there, and I actually talked to them just about, you know, what happens in the aftermath of these things.
And frankly, there is nothing right to be said. The only thing that I can think about is how can we prevent these horrible incidents from happening in the first place because there is really no way to recover for really anyone, because there`s nothing that can change these things in the first place besides preventing them.
O`DONNELL: David, the last time you were on this program, you talked about the fact that as we were speaking, there were future victims out there who didn`t know at that time that they were going to be going through this, either going through what you went through as a survivor or people out there who were going to be dead as a result of the next incident like this.
That`s certainly the case tonight, that there are future victims out there in communities around the country who don`t know now that they are waiting for this to happen.
HOGG: Yes, there are. And it`s heartbreaking, Lawrence, doing this work with young people across the country. What`s really been devastating for me to see is in 2018, you know, when we started at in the wake of the Parkland shooting, which is one of the largest youth movements in American history. People told us, that`s great that you`re marching, but you need to vote, so we did.
We went out and voted at the highest rate ever in a nonpresidential midterm in American history and then the highest rate ever in 2020. And still what we`re seeing is that the movement isn`t broken. It`s our government that is deeply, deeply broken right now because we can`t even protect our own kids, for god`s sake.
It`s unbelievable. And I think what we need to realize with this is simply being sad about it. As heartbreaking as it is, it isn`t what`s going to change this because if that was the case, these things would have ended a long time ago. They would have ended way before Parkland.
People need to be, frankly I think, enraged and have righteous indignation about the fact that these things continue happening and realize that, you know, the reason why these things don`t happen in other countries isn`t because there aren`t bad guys in other countries. It isn`t because there aren`t necessarily, you know, people that have bad intentions in other countries.
It`s because it`s a lot harder for people to get weapons like happened recently or even at my high school in those countries for those individuals. It doesn`t prevent everything, but we see these laws do work better in place.
We need serious action from the Biden administration. We need serious action from Republican senators to break through the filibuster that is actively killing our children, that is killing our parents, that is killing our friends and family every day across this country.
O`DONNELL: David, we`ve seen -- we`ve now seen this Christmas season version of it. He was using his Christmas present that his parents decided he should have, this homicidal child with homicidal fantasies, given this gun as a Christmas present. His mother laughing about it with him when he gets caught searching for ammunition when he was at school. She says to him in a text, "you have to learn not to get caught." That`s what this mother, who is on the run tonight, thought the lesson was.
Let`s listen to what the prosecutor said today about charging parents in these situations, saying she absolutely doesn`t believe that this is always the parents` fault, but this is what she said about this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCDONALD: I am by no means saying that an active shooter situation should always result in a criminal prosecution against parents. But the facts of this case are so egregious, reading this document, looking at it, reading the words "help me" with a gun, "blood everywhere." This doesn`t just impact me as a prosecutor and a lawyer. It impacts me as a mother.
The notion that a parent could read those words and also know that their son had access to a deadly weapon that they gave him is unconscionable and I think it`s criminal. It is criminal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David, what was your reaction to that?
HOGG: I completely agree with that. In this instance specifically, it seems to me, based off the evidence that they talk about, that it is egregious. But, you know, Lawrence, one thing I would say especially to parents that are out there, because frankly young people already know this across the country. We know that we`re in danger every day in our schools and our communities on a daily basis.
But I think every parent out there frankly should be terrified and know that there is no community right now in America that is safe from this issue. We have kids that are dying in their schools and in their communities on a daily basis. And we have leaders that are frankly not doing their job near enough to the point that they can`t even protect our young people.
They can`t protect, you know, our family members, and we all need to be enraged about that because what -- I can`t believe is that we see so many parents show up at school districts around the country enraged about the fact that their child needs to wear a mask in school, but we don`t see anywhere near the same energy parents, you know, showing up necessarily as much as they should for the fact that their child could be killed in their classroom at any moment in any community.
Remember, Parkland was the safest community, one of the safest communities in Florida before 2018. And that`s why many, many parents had their children going there. This is a threat to every community no matter how wealthy or affluent or what your community looks like. It is -- it doesn`t matter.
Every community is impacted by this and we all should be deeply concerned about this and calling our legislators, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, whoever it may be, because frankly none of them are doing their job as well as they should be right now.
And Senate Republicans especially should be ashamed of themselves because this is not a Democratic or Republican issue. This is an American issue that few other -- basically, no other high income country has to deal with. Even the ones that do have guns as a major part of their culture don`t have this issue.
And Americans need to come together and realize that this is a unique issue that our country faces that can be solved. And we need to call on Senate Republicans to be part of the moral majority, as they`ve talked about being part of in the past, which is frankly hilarious considering how that is so clearly not the case, considering what happened with, you know, with basically every piece of gun violence prevention legislation in my lifetime. It`s horrific and we need to act.
O`DONNELL: David Hogg, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. We always appreciate it.
HOGG: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, in the 90 minutes of arguments on abortion in the Supreme Court this week, they did not spend a single minute discussing rape and incest even though the Mississippi law before the court bans abortion in cases of rape and incest.
And so, the little girls whose lives would be made much worse by the Mississippi law were ignored by the Supreme Court of the United States. Law professor Michelle Goodwin did not forget those little girls in her analysis of the issues before the court. Michelle Goodwin was once one of those little girls and she will help us see what the Supreme Court is about to do to them. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: They never talked about it. Not once in 90 minutes. They didn`t have a discussion about the pregnancies that result from rape and incest when the Supreme Court was hearing arguments this week about a Mississippi law that would outlaw all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy including pregnancies that are the result of rape and incest.
Rape and incest were completely ignored by the Supreme Court justices who are considering taking away American women`s right to abortion services. But they did find time to talk about adoption. Here is Justice Amy Coney Barrett suggesting that there`s no real need to terminate pregnancies if after carrying a pregnancy to term and giving birth, the mother could then terminate her parental rights by putting the baby up for adoption.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
AMY CONEY BARRETT, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It doesn`t seem to me to follow that pregnancy and then parenthood are all part of the same burden. And so it seems to me that the choice more focused would be between, say, the ability to get an abortion at 23 weeks or the state requiring the woman to go 15, 16 weeks more and then terminate parental rights at the conclusion.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The state requiring the woman to carry the pregnancy and then terminate parental rights through adoptions. Opponents of abortion like Amy Coney Barrett don`t think that sounds unreasonable at all, but how would that sound even to them, the opponents of abortion, if we change just one word? How would it sound if it said the state requiring the girl to carry the pregnancy?
Or what if we picked specific cases, real cases of real tragic and horrific suffering and said the state requiring the 12-year-old girl to carry the pregnancy and then terminate her parental rights? The Amy Coney Barrett side of the argument never uses the word "girl" to describe who needs abortion services in this country. Michelle Goodwin teaches constitutional law at the University of California.
And then in a "New York Times" op-ed piece she writes this. "Like a military draft, the state has coercively conscripted rape and incest survivors to endure one more tremendous burden. To take another devastating physical and mental hit. To tie their lives to those of their rapist. This time it is state lawmakers who strong-arm their bodies into service. This draft -- the pregnancy draft -- is warfare at home and the state leaves its girls on the battlefield to fend for themselves."
The Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices were not willing to frame any of their hypothetical questions around rape and incest pregnancies of little girls. But that is what they are going to be ruling on. What happens to those little girls? Those justices do not dare acknowledge the existence of those little girls who become pregnant through rape and incest.
Michelle Goodwin`s op-ed piece is titled "I was raped by my father and abortion saved my life." It is the single most important article published in this latest round of the national discussion about abortion. It is an astonishing piece of writing that ranges from the tragically autobiographical to the scholarly analysis of the law.
In the essay, Michelle Goodwin reveals, "It was the early morning of my 10th birthday the first time that I was raped by my father. The shock was so severe that I temporarily went blind before I began the fifth grade a few weeks later. The physiological suffering that I endured included severe migraines, hair loss and even gray hair at 10 years old. At age 12 I was pregnant by my father and I had an abortion. Before we got to the doctor`s office, I had no idea that I was pregnant. My father lied about my age and the circumstances of my pregnancy informing the doctor that I was 15 and that I had been reckless with a boyfriend. Nobody ever wants to write about such experiences exposing intimate aspects of one`s life, revisiting traumatic aspects of childhood, yet the lack of compassion and the hubris that underlie the Mississippi and Texas legislation deserve a response. With those laws, the state has in effect forced girls to carry the burden of its desires, forcing many of them to risk their health and even risk death by remaining pregnant."
Joining us now is Michelle Bratcher Goodwin. She is the chancellor`s professor of law at the University of California Irvine and the author of "Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood."
Professor Goodwin, I have to ask, were you surprised that in that 90 minutes there was not once, not once, a mention of, a discussion of, a real discussion and exchange about rape and incest and little girls?
MICHELLE BRATCHER GOODWIN, LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA IRVINE: Unfortunately, I was not surprised that this was lacking in the questioning from the justices themselves, that it was an issue that was not raised. But what is so horrific is that both in the Texas law and in the Mississippi law, there are no exceptions for instances of rape or incest. And so it`s quite ironic that given that that was very specific in these laws, that the justices didn`t address it at all.
O`DONNELL: You write in your piece about your own experience. "My father`s predations were hidden behind wealth, social status, and his acting the part of the committed and attentive parent. I attended elite schools in New York City, studied ballet at a renowned academy and took private violin and tennis lessons. My father never missed a parent-teacher conference." And I think in that sentence and others in your piece we have to realize there`s no way of knowing who this kind of thing is happening to.
GOODWIN: That`s absolutely right. So when the Texas governor, Governor Abbott says I`ll just be tough on crime and we`ll just get rid of the rapists, many Americans think about that as the creepy guy driving around in the white van that`s all sealed up. And what we fail to pay attention to is that these are phenomena that happen throughout our society, across all socioeconomic strata.
And that these are fathers that are doctors, that are lawyers, that are in legislatures, and that may be judges themselves. And this is the disconcerting part.
And I think if we actually look at the way in which some judges have ruled in cases involving incest is quite striking, the very limited sentencing that some of these fathers get.
O`DONNELL: Professor, one of the things that I was feeling was that certainly the Republican-appointed justices have no comprehension of and no curiosity about the real lives of little girls and women who do not have financial resources, who do not have choices in life generally, never mind in their particular states, the choice of abortion services.
GOODWIN: That`s right. And I think it`s really important to read Judge Carlton Reeves` lower court opinion in the Mississippi case. So the reason why it has not gone into effect is that there is a judge, Judge Reeves, who wrote a stunning opinion with wonderful footnotes identifying how harsh Mississippi has been as a state to the interest of women and specifically the interest of black women.
Let`s be clear that states like Mississippi and Texas have amongst the highest maternal mortality rates in not just the United States, in the entire world. There was a time just a few years ago that Texas was considered the most dangerous place in the developed world to even be pregnant.
Fannie Lou Hamer (ph) famously spoke about the Mississippi appendectomy, referring to 11 and 12-year-old girls who were forcibly sterilized, black girls, in the state of Mississippi. So it`s really hard to take seriously these states saying that their efforts are out of love and care when in fact that`s never really been shown in the arc of history in those states regarding black women and girls or generally any women who happen to be vulnerable and poor in those states.
O`DONNELL: It seems if the court rules in the way it seemed to be leaning, toward in effect overturning Roe versus Wade, that what Roe versus Wade at this point is -- at this point protecting in America are the rights of poor women, women who don`t have significant means, who live in Republican- controlled states, who will then change the laws and restrict abortion or ban abortion completely.
The wealthy women in those states will easily be able to travel to other states that provide abortion services. And of course, the big Democratic states will preserve abortion rights as they have them now.
And so a majority of the population, actually, will be living under Democratic state governments that preserve all of Roe and more. And so it`s really at this point the protection that was being debated really in the Supreme Court was really just a protection of women who don`t have the means to create their own choices in these situations.
GOODWIN: That`s right. And that`s really why the choice framework, though really important, is more illusory than real. That`s because for very poor women, it`s very difficult.
Let`s be clear, in Mississippi there is only one abortion clinic that remains in that state. It`s a deadly proposition to carry a pregnancy to term in that state. And even more generally, a person is 14 times more likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term than by terminating it.
So we have to look clearly at what these states are doing. Given the data that we already know, the high death rates, the expense and cost, the various wait times and other things that have been imposed in many ways this is not just a health risk, but it`s life and death for a number of women. And we`ve not been serious and direct about that.
And the judges who are involved in these cases in the legislatures have not really been called on the carpet to not only look at what happens to girls but also to look at their life and death scenarios in the United States.
I want to share one thing, and I know we`re tight on time, but the United States ranks 54th in the world in terms of maternal health and safety. It`s safer to give birth in Bosnia or Saudi Arabia than the United States. So these laws in many ways are a deadly proposition.
O`DONNELL: Professor Michelle Goodwin, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We`re going to post a link to your article, which is the must-read article in this subject that I really want everyone to see.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.
GOODWIN: Thank you so much for having me.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, more states today announced confirmed cases of the new coronavirus variant. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: First of all, Mr. President, your voice sounds a little different. Are you ok?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m ok. I have a test every day to see, a COVID test. I`m checked for all the strains. What I have is a one and a half-year-old grandson who had a cold who likes to kiss his pop. And he`s been kissing -- anyway. But it`s just a cold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today scientists in South Africa announced that the omicron variant of COVID-19 appears to spread twice as quickly as the delta variant. Omicron now makes up two-thirds of all new cases in South Africa after the variant was reported there on November 23rd. The number of cases is appearing to double approximately every three days.
Today Pennsylvania, Nebraska, New Jersey, Maryland and Louisiana were added to the list of what is at least now ten states that have identified cases of the new variant.
Today Dr. Anthony Fauci said this about community spread of the new variant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR: There`s community spread. And once you have community spread, then you`re going to be seeing cases popping up all over the place because they`re under the radar screen, because we know from delta that a substantial proportion of cases can be without symptoms and can spread to another person even if you don`t have any symptoms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today the Labor Department announced that the United States added 210,000 new jobs in November. The unemployment rate plunged to 4.2 percent from 4.6 percent as more than 1.1 million Americans said they found jobs last month. The labor force participation rate increased for the month to 61.8 percent, its highest level since march 2020.
Yesterday the White House reported that 2.2 million vaccine doses were administered in a single day, the highest one-day total since May of this year. The Associated Press reports vaccinations are up. Coronavirus deaths are down.
The number of people newly applying for unemployment benefits is lower than it`s been in more than half a century. And Biden has recorded record job creation numbers. He`s also managed to get two major pieces of legislation -- the coronavirus relief package and the infrastructure bill passed, with the third leg of his domestic spending agenda approved by the House."
David Rothkopf in a new "USA Today" column titled, "Biden is a boring president; that`s ok because he`s also a competent leader" writes, "What is important or valuable is not often what makes the best television or produces the most clicks on the Internet. Sometimes the best work of our leaders do is dull or slow or complicated, too nuanced or arcane to produce 64-point headlines or breaking news chyrons.
In this, presidents are a lot like airline pilots. While hired because they can handle emergencies when they arise, often when we notice them least, they`re doing their best work."
Joining us now David Rothkopf, foreign affairs analyst and columnist for "USA Today" and "The Daily Beast". He is the host of Deep State Radio podcast. And Kurt Andersen, "New York Times" bestselling author. His latest book is "Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking Of America".
And David, boring is good is a general rule for presidencies.
DAVID ROTHKOPF, "USA TODAY": Absolutely. You know, I think we had enough of reality shows. I think we had enough of keeping glued to Twitter, waiting for the next disaster.
This president has created more jobs than the last three Republican presidents added up. He put through a bill early in his term, a rescue package that has got the economy back and on its feet. We had record growth in the second quarter. It`s continuing on.
He just passed an infrastructure bill that`s the biggest one we`ve done in 50 years. He`s passed a whole host of measures that have undone what Trump did. He`s got us reengaged with the international community. Along the way he ended the longest war in American history.
That sounds pretty good to me. But he`s keeping his head down and working and not waving his hands around. And so there`s some people out there in the media who are kind of disappointed and wish he were making a bigger show of it. I`m perfectly happy with the fact that he`s making a better show of it.
O`DONNELL: Kurt Andersen, is it possible that the news media simply doesn`t know how to cover a normal presidency now?
KURT ANDERSEN, AUTHOR, "EVIL GENIUSES": I think the news media and some fraction of Americans are entirely habituated to an exciting superstar president. Whether it`s the Donald Trump kind, the unprecedented and singular Donald Trump kind, which David alluded. Or frankly a Barack Obama or a Bill Clinton or a Ronald Reagan. Most of our presidents in most of our lifetimes had been -- had bigger star power than this guy does.
Now yes, there is a withdrawal, I think, certainly on the part of the media from the Trump presidency where it`s constantly exciting because it`s always action. It`s riveting entertainment, which is what he is, right?
He is a guy who is, for all of his other nominal businesses, was always in show business. And -- he knew how to do that as president and did it continuously.
And so I think the (INAUDIBLE) anymore is (INAUDIBLE) the people get up and say yes -- like I said is boring. This isn`t any fun. And some of them probably genuinely feel, even consciously feel, that they are no longer an exciting show.
You know, for 60 years, more and more and more, presidential politics especially, and then all politics, thanks to cable news and many other things, is a kind of genre of entertainment. And here we are.
O`DONNELL: David, you watch presidencies in a way that is different from most people out there in the grandstands. How would you teach someone to watch a presidency?
I guess I would suggest that they watch it from the point of view of their own personal interests and ask if their lives are getting better, if they think the country is safer, if they think the economy is going better.
After all, you know, the president is not there, to pick up on what Kurt is saying, to entertain us. The president is there to provide service. You know, Donald Trump was not big on this idea, I don`t even think he understood the idea of public service.
But Joe Biden realizes that his job is to respond to the needs of the American people. And frankly, you know, he faced the COVID crisis, an economic crisis, a racial crisis in our cities, a crisis in our international standing when he took over the job.
And he just said, look, I`m going to get in, keep my head down, you know, have my team focused on providing results to people. And I think if folks look at what he`s providing them, through infrastructure, through this upcoming BBB package, they`re going to say, that`s what I`m looking for, and I can do without the entertainment.
O`DONNELL: David Rothkopf and Kurt Andersen, thank you both very much for joining us. And I really appreciate it.
ROTHKOPF: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up on this program over the years you`ve already watched one girl grow up to be a medical student. And tonight, you`ll meet another who is on the same track. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Rachel Mtambo is a 14-year-old high school student and she is a better student than I ever was because she is not at all intimidated by physics.
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RACHEL MTAMBO, KIND FUND SCHOLAR: I like physics because when I grow up I would like to be a medical doctor. Physics is one of the sciences that is required to reach that goal.
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O`DONNELL: And that`s the reason I am not a medical doctor. There was a brief shining moment in college when I wanted to go to medical school, but the first pre-med course I took crushed me and I dropped out of the course in about two weeks.
Rachel Mtambo is a much more determined student than I ever was. She has to be to get through high school in Malawi where the girls high school graduation rate is less than half the boys` high school graduation rate.
That`s why the KIND Fund provides scholarships for girls to attend high school in Malawi where public high school is not free. Rachel Mtambo lives with her grandmother and two brothers. Her grandmother could not afford high school tuition for her so we provided a KIND Fund scholarship for Rachel.
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MTAMBO: This scholarship is a big relief. It is an answer to my needs. I was facing problems for my studies but all that is sorted. I am thankful.
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O`DONNELL: I began the KIND Fund to provide desks for schools in Malawi. KIND stands for Kids in Need of Desks. After the first few successful years of desk deliveries, thanks to your support, we added high school scholarships for girls. KIND is a partnership with MSNBC and UNICEF.
You can make a contribution in any amount as a gift for someone on your holiday gift list. And UNICEF will send them an acknowledgment of your gift. You can contribute any time at LastWordDesks.msnbc.com.
Since I first mentioned the KIND Fund this week at the end of Tuesday night`s show, you have already constricted $257,432 just this week. And that guarantees that thousands more children will be able to sit at desks in classrooms for the first time. And that thousands more girls like Rachel will be able to graduate from high school.
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MTAMBO: The importance of being in school for us girls is that you become knowledgeable of so many things in life. A person who has not been to school does not know how to live an informed life. My country is poor and if a girl child is educated, opportunities to do more in terms of development are high.
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O`DONNELL: Rachel is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Joyce Chisale (ph), who received a KIND Fund scholarship in high school and is now studying medicine at the University of Malawi. And there is a selfie from Joyce.
Joyce told me when I met her in high school in Malawi that she wanted to be a doctor and now she is well on her way. Joyce had been sent home from her high school because she could not afford the school fees and when we met I told Joyce that she would never have to worry about that again thanks to your generosity.
Now that Rachel Mtambo has a scholarship, she is hoping that more girls can follow in her footsteps.
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MTAMBO: I used to face problems like school feels and others which would have made me drop out. But UNICEF has been very kind to me. The opportunity is rare and I know that many people are in need of the same. All I can ask is for well-wishers to consider helping those needy so that they, too, can pursue their education.
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O`DONNELL: And that is Rachel Mtambo`s LAST WORD tonight.
We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: And here is tonight`s LAST WORD from President Joe Biden.
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BIDEN: Today`s news means that unemployment rate has now fallen by more than two percentage points since I took office. That`s the fastest decline in a single year on record and it`s about three times faster than any other president in their first year in office.
The number of people claiming unemployment has fallen from 18 million when I took office to 2 million this week -- another record drop.
All told, in the first ten full months of my administration the economy has created 6 million jobs, a record for a new president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Thank you for joining us this week.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.