Below is a transcript of the April 13, 2014 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included: Sen. John McCain, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Katie Stallard, Michael Eric Dyson, Tavis Smiley, Evan Wolfson, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Peter Baker, Leigh Gallagher, Frank Rich, and Michael Gerson.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation , breaking news overnight from Ukraine, and we'll honor two monumental anniversaries---50 years apart, that brought out the best in America. Ukrainian forces and Russian militants are at a standoff in Eastern Ukraine after dangerous overnight developments. We'll have the latest from Ukraine and we'll talk to Senator John McCain about what this means. Then we'll ask Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn and Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings about HHS Secretary Sebelius' resignation AND the controversy over equal pay for women. 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, where are we on civil rights today? We'll have highlights from the Civil Rights summit at the LBJ Library in Austin, and our own summit with Tavis Smiley from PBS, Nikole Hannah-Jones of ProPublica and the Atlantic, Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University and Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson. And we'll look back at the Boston Marathon attack, one year later. Plus we'll have an all star panel of analysts. 60 years of news because this is Face the Nation. Good morning again. Yesterday, pro Russian militants seized police stations in eastern Ukraine, there is chaos and confusion as Ukrainian officials say that gunfire were exchanged. Katie Stallard of Sky News is there, she filed this report for Sky News by phone.
KATIE STALLARD: We are in the center of Slavainisk, and we've just been at the police headquarters, which remains firmly in the hands of those armed protestors, they are opening carrying AK 47s, pistols and holsters on their hips and they remain firmly in control of that building. They are reinforcing their barricades. There was new delivery of tires, while we were filming. They have also filled sandbags and secured them with barbed wire and they are preparing to defend themselves. People are walking in the streets, there is a crowd in front of the police headquarters, cheering "Well done," cheering on the men who are inside. Chanting for a referendum, and chanting Donesk and Crimea are with Russia
BOB SCHIEFFER: And we are joined now by Senator John McCain, who was recently in Ukraine and more recently was sound asleep, when we got a hold of him at 6:00 this morning and told him about these developments and asked him to join us. Senator, thank you very much for coming in.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you, Bob.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Is this the tipping point for something here, what's going on here? What's going on?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: I think it's a result, very frankly, of our result to enact anything really meaningful and important as a result of Vladimir Putin's encrosion (SIC) and annexation under Crimea, which was predictable. And what he's doing now is predictable. The question--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think he's behind this? These--(OVERTALK)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: --of course. There's no doubt in anybody's mind, even though he would with a straight face tell the world's press that it was people who bought uniforms and went into Crimea. I mean, this is--
BOB SCHIEFFER: The State Department seems to agree with you on that.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: Of course. I mean, there's without a doubt. The question is now what do we do and what does he do? It's obvious that he is encouraged by the fact that we sanctioned a few people and suspended him, didn't even throw him out, of the G8. And unless we act with firmness and strength, including beginning in my view with giving Ukrainians some weapons to defend themselves and some very, very severe sanctions that may cost our European friends and us something financially in the short term. But the other thing is the Ukrainians will fight. They didn't fight in Crimea and probably not. But if he starts moving in further encroachment in this way into Eastern Ukraine, they will fight. We ought to at least, for God's sake, give them some light weapons with which to defend themselves. So far, this administration's not only not done that, but they won't even share some intelligence with the Ukrainian government. I can tell you from my conversations with people in the government, they feel abandoned by us. And rightfully so. This is shameful.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Military officials estimate that the Russians have close to 50,000 troops we're told now on the Ukrainian border. They say those forces could move in less than 12 hours if they chose to. Satellite photos showing Russian jets parked tip to tip, wing tip to wing tip, and tanks and infantry fighting (?) trucks lined up in fields. Do you think-- (OVERTALK)
BOB SCHIEFFER:--they're actually going to move in to Ukraine?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: I think he's weighing the cost/benefit right now. The options that he has, continue fomenting this discontent. Which, by the way, every day that goes on prevents the government in Kiev from making the changes and reforms, an election coming up. He's already dislocating and disturbing them and their ability to restore the economy. But one is to continue this and have kind of a de facto autonomous area. The others go all the way to Kiev, some believe that. The other scenario is to go south and go across to Moldova, where he has 1,400 Russian troops already in Transnistria of thereby making Ukraine a land-locked country. His actions will be gauged by our reactions. But he's obviously with all his troops amassed there, he is keeping those options open. And for us to keep talking about off-ramps, look, right now he's going full speed ahead down the freeway. And there's no tangible evidence of him having to pay a significant penalty. And by the way, severe penalties of sanctions can have an effect on their economy. They have a very fragile economy. It's the 13th-largest. It's a gas station masquerading as a country. So there are many actions we can take. But so far, there's been a lot of talk and no action. Remember what Lenin said? "The capitalists will hang themselves. And we'll sell them the rope to do it." Well, two former chancellors have justified and apologized for Putin's takeover of Crimea. So we've got to lead. And where is the president of the United States? Shouldn't the president of the United States be speaking forcefully and strongly? And didn't the president say if they carried out further actions, there would be further sanctions? So far, we haven't heard anything.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, the secretary of state said there will be additional consequences if they don't deescalate. But what--
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: But they haven't deescalated. In fact, they have now fomenting, using their GRU, secret service, special forces people thatare fomenting this discontent. People in Eastern Ukraine don't want this, even though they are leaning sort of pro-Russian. They don't want this kind of thing. They want a government of Ukraine. And unfortunately, I can tell you from talking to them, they feel we are not giving them the support that they need.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, thank you so much. We know you're headed back into that territory later today. Many thanks.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And back at our capitol, a lot of the same old same old. Republicans and Democrats fighting over equal pay for women and there was talk about the resignation of health and human services secretary Kathleen Sebelius. We're going to talk about that now first with Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. She's in Nashville this morning. Congresswoman, thank you for joining us this morning. While you were in New Hampshire yesterday with a lot of the Republicans who are thinking about running for president, was there any consensus among them about what the resignation of Katherine Sebelius (SIC) means? And is it going to quiet the controversy over Obamacare?
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: No, it's not going to quiet the controversy, Bob. I think it's quite the opposite. What it has done is to elevate some of the concerns. Burwell is an interesting choice. And I think there are many of us and probably a bit of a growing consensus that they know they've got a math problem with Obamacare. And the numbers are not going to work out so that the program is actuarially sound. And they're going to have to have somebody to kind of spin the numbers. And this is something with Burwell coming from O.M.B., I think they're expecting her to be able to do for them. How many of these seven million people have paid? How many actually signed up and paid and completed the process? How many got subsidies? How many are on Medicaid? How many are young? You know, if those numbers don't work out exactly right, they've got a big funding issue on their hands.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, will Republicans still run on repeal and replace? Or will they offer something different? Or will they try to fix this system that we now have?
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: I think what you're going to see is a continue to repeal it and replace it. Now we know we're not going to get it off the books until this president is out of office...
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about this--
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: Sure.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --debate over equal pay for women.
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: Sure.
BOB SCHIEFFER: There was a lot of debate on that last week. Finally, Republicans blocked it in the Senate. Are Republicans against equal pay for women? And is that going to be a good political issue in these coming midterm elections?
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: You know, I find-- this "war on women" rhetoric just almost silly. It is Republicans that have led the fight for women's equality. Go back through history and look at who was the first woman to ever vote, elected to office, go to Congress-- (OVERTALK)
BOB SCHIEFFER: But why did the Senate Republicans then block this?
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: Well, because the legislation was something that was going to be helpful for trial lawyers. And what we would like to see happen is equal opportunity and clearing up some of the problems that exist that are not fair to women. We're all for equal pay. I would love for women to be focused on maximum wage. And I have fought to be recognized with equality for a long time. A lot of us get tired of guys condescending to us. But, you know, I gotta tell you, one of the things that we need to do is look at access to capital, small business owners that are female. That is their number one problem is access to capital. We need to also look at regulations, how that is affecting them. Obamacare has been very unfair to women. We hear a good bit about this. Women are the primary health care consumers in the country. 80% of all health care decisions are made by women, whether they're for their family or elderly relatives that they're caring for. And by the way, the White House paying women 88 cents for every dollar that a guy earns in--
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: --comparable positions. They need to go clean up their own act first.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, we have to stop there. There's so much news this morning, Congresswoman. We'll get the other side of this from the Democrats. But thank you.
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: Thank you.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And joining us now, Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, who has come down from his district in Baltimore this morning. Congressman, thank you for--
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Good to be with you, Bob.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --being here. What about this? Marsha Blackburn says that Republicans are actually for equal pay for women. But yet, it was blocked in the Senate by Republicans. What's going on here?
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: I respectfully disagree with my colleague. Keep in mind, Bob, that White women are making 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. African American women and Hispanic women, 64 cents and 54 cents respectively. There's something absolutely wrong with that picture. I have not seen them leading. As a matter of fact, they seem to be very much against it. And for the life of me, I cannot understand why.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me go back to Katherine Sebelius (SIC) and her resignation. You heard Marsha Blackburn say, and she was at this conference of this group of Republicans, many of whom were thinking about running for president. She says this is not going to change anything. What was the impact of her resignation?
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Well, I think, first of all, I'm glad that Secretary Sebelius was able to accomplish all the things that she set out to do. Keep in mind, she was with the president from the very beginning of doing what no president has been able to do in over 50 years. That is bring health care to people who did not have it. She's accomplished what she had to accomplish. She set a goal of seven million signed up for private health care. She got 7.5 million. Three million others expanded Medicaid. She's accomplished a lot with regards to health care disparities, women's health. And she has brought us, Bob, closer to an HIV/AIDS free generation than anyone. So she's accomplished a lot. And now she hands the baton off to a wonderful public servant, Sylvia Burwell of O.M.B.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think that Obamacare is going to be an anchor, a rock around the neck of Democrats running this fall? It is, by every poll still very unpopular.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Yeah, I think that we have to go out there and argue the moral issues, Bob. And I've said that all the time. I've never ran away from Obamacare, because I see in my district (and I have a very diverse district) people who have been helped by it. And the idea that we now have gotten rid of preexisting conditions, which was affecting millions upon millions of Americans, stopping them from getting insurance. I think that's very significant. We have got to look at the good things. And we've got to go out there and make it clear that it's something good for America.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Is your sense of it that the problems with this system (not the disastrous rollout, I mean, that's over, but the problems with the system itself) is it your sense that those have more or less been smoothed out? Or will there be more problems ahead?
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: I think that they have been smoothed out. When it comes to the website, the website was a significant problem. That goes back to Sebelius. She was able to, even with all of that and with opposition from the Republicans, she was still able to achieve the 7.5 million goal. And again, Bob, I think that it's going to be fine. And I think as far as the website situation, it will be a footnote in history.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Congressman, so good to see you again.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Good seeing you.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And we'll be back.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Seldom do four presidents wind up at the same place but that's what happened last week at the LBJ library in Austin, where former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush joined President Obama to reflect on the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Here are some of their thoughts
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
Jimmy Carter: We are pretty much dormant now. We kind of accept self-congratulations about the wonderful 50th anniversary, which is wonderful, but we feel like: "you know, Lyndon Johnson did it, we don't have to do anything anymore. So I think too many people are at ease with the still existing disparity.
Bill Clinton: These divisions, and the lack of a spirit of coming together, put us back in the dust bin of old history. We have too many current challenges to waste a day trying to recreate a yesterday that we're better off done with. We have too many challenges to waste any opportunity to work together to deal with them.
Bush: Let me focus on one fact that is uncomfortable even to contemplate. According to the most recent testing, the average reading score for a white student at age 13 is about the same as an African-American at age 17 - that's a four-year, four-grade achievement gap. In an economy where higher skills are ever more necessary, that is scandalous. In a nation dedicated to equal opportunity, that is scandalous. Among the political heirs of King and Johnson and Dirkson and Humphrey, this should be a national scandal, demanding action.
President Obama: The story America is a story of progress. And that's true because of men like president Lyndon Baines Johnson... man -- born into poverty, weaned in a world full of racial hatred -- somehow found within himself the ability to connect his experience with the brown child in a small Texas town; the white child in Appalachia; the black child in watts. As powerful as he became in that oval office, he understood them. He understood what it meant to be on the outside. and he believed that their plight was his plight too; that his freedom ultimately was wrapped up in theirs; and that making their lives better was what the hell the presidency was for.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BOB SCHIEFFER: And to talk about all of it, we have assembled our own little summit on civil rights. We're joined by Nikole Hannah-Jones of Pro Publica and The Atlantic, Georgetown University's Michael Eric Dyson, plus Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, and out in Los Angeles, PBS's Tavis Smiley. Nikole, I want to talk to you first, because you've done some recent research on this. Do you think George Bush is right? Is this a national scandal that we face here at the reading scores amongst Black African Americans is still so much than it is among Whites? And what is to be done about that?
NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES: Well, I've spent the last year focusing on re-segregation and really what integration did for our country. And what it did in terms of education and Black students was it greatly narrowed the achievement gap.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So are you saying we are re-segregating our schools? Is that what you've found?
NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES: Absolutely. I mean, you can look at the demographic data. I've particularly focused on the South, which has become the most integrated region of the country, because of federal action and court orders. And you are seeing that once districts are released from their court orders, they do start to take actions that re-segregate. And as that re-segregation has happened, the achievement gap has widened.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Michael, what's your take on this summit that we just had here and what Nikole has just said?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Well, the summit is extraordinary. To talk about Lyndon Baines Johnson, 50 years afterwards. Here, John F. Kennedy gained in death what he didn't necessarily earn in life, a burnished reputation for the achievement of civil rights. But the so-called redneck president from Texas did more for Black people, I would argue, than any president since Abraham Lincoln. He joined the figure I in 2000 called "the greatest American to ever live" Martin Luther King Junior in a kind of fellowship of common ideals, along with many others. But the civil rights leader and the president joined together to forge connections that were both prophetic and also politically savvy to forge difference and democracy in this nation. The tragedy is we have come down from that mountain. The Supreme Court has said that the very means by which we have achieved justice in terms of voting rights is a significant symbol that we no longer needed. That kind of logic is askew. So what we need to do is to recuperate and regenerate the same kind of prophetic passion that L.B.J. and M.L.K. had together.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Tavis Smiley, what's your take on where we are today on equality?
TAVIS SMILEY: I think it's fair, Bob, to say that it's a mixed bag. There are some Americans who are gaining ground and other Americans who are losing ground. It's as if the American house is putting out the welcome mat for some groups, but still posting "no trespassing" signs on the lawn for other groups. I sense that our nation, back to what President Carter said on tape a few moments ago, that there is a sort of fundamental fairness for (UNINTEL) that has afflicted too many of our fellow citizens. As Dr. Dyson was just intimating, for Dr. King and others in the movement, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act were the starting line. It was not the finish line. So that 50 years later, we need to have a conversation, Bob, not just about civil rights, C-I-V-I-L, but about silver rights, S-I-L-V-E-R. That is to say, economic rights, economic freedom. Black folk lag behind in every leading economic category, 50 years later, even in the Obama era. And the bottom line is this. If you don't have economic freedom, you really aren't free. So that poverty then becomes a sort of new slavery. So the time has come for us to have a conversation again, not just about civil rights and celebrating that 50 years later, but how do we get on, Bob, talking about economic rights for all Americans?
BOB SCHIEFFER: I had the chance to be at the civil rights summit in Texas last week and it was a breath taking monument to courage--one of those times you remember why you're proud to be an American. But when I realized Tuesday is the anniversary of the Boston bombing...it reminded me that on our worst days we also see America at its finest..We can never forget the heinous crime but more important to remember are the great acts of heroism that day. These are scenes that need no words, pictures that need no captions, It is sometimes lost in today's selfish political discourse but these pictures show us that the courage we have seen so often in the struggle for equal rights and throughout our history is still a part of us, what makes us the country we have always been. And if we choose, the country we will always be. We'll be back in a minute.
Bob Schieffer: Some of our stations are leaving us now, but for most of you we'll be right back with a lot more Face the Nation, including more of our civil rights panel and our political panel--plus one of Washington's greatest happenings. Stay with us.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Welcome back to Face the Nation and our civil rights discussion. We're here with Nikole Hannah-Jones of Pro Publica and The Atlantic, Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown. His latest book is I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Junior. And Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Mary, plus PBS's Tavis Smiley. He's in L.A. this morning. His upcoming book is Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's Final Year. Let me just start with you, Evan. So now it's gay rights. Is that the next chapter of the civil rights struggle that's been going on for so long?
EVAN WOLFSON: Well, I wouldn't call it the next chapter. I think it's part of the same struggle. I think what the struggle, as President Obama said, that the Civil Rights Movement did so much to lay the foundation for and President Johnson's work and Dr. King's work and all the millions of unsung heroes was to create an America that's a more perfect union for everybody. And gay people are part of that everybody. But as we've just all heard and said, we're not done with any of these fights on any of these fronts that overlap anyway. And, you know, my blood boils when I see voter suppression. The assault on women's access to contraception that we're debating that. So it's not a matter of this or that or that. Civil rights is about the America we want for everybody, where everybody can participate and contribute.
BOB SCHIEFFER: George Bush was talking about closing the achievement gap. Nikole, what does that mean to you?
NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES: I just find it interesting that we have so much discussion about closing the gap, without discussing that one thing that has been proven through history to close the gap, which is integrating Black and high-poverty students into middleclass White schools. And the reason that works is we know separate has never been equal in the history of this country. It's no more equal today than it was 50-60 years ago. The resources follow White and middleclass students. And when you separate Black and Latino and poor students from those resources, you get an achievement gap. It's not rocket science, I guess.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Absolutely. And I think that those punishing disparities have to be acknowledged. If you've got a $90 to $100 million school out in suburbs and you've got zoological experiments and, you know, high-speed internet access, you're going to have one outcome. If you've got schools where there's barely any running water, you're going to have another outcome. And also the devotion of resources is not just material, but it's also emotional, it's also financial to be sure. But it's also a kind of intellectual expression of empathy for those students. And I think unless we address what Tavis Smiley talked about, which is the extraordinary poverty. You've got a 14% Black unemployment rate. You've got extraordinary escalating rates of poverty for those who are concentrated in urban arenas. And on top of that, you've got tensions between other groups who are so to speak fighting for those limited resources. I was glad to hear you talk about the fact that we're in it together. I have challenged African American people to deal with the homophobia that prevents understanding and empathy with other groups. And I'm glad to hear you talk about, as well, we've got to challenge, as Robert Raven did among LGBT people to talk about how the fact is we've got to devote those resources, especially the kind of legitimacy that White male gay folk have to issues of civil rights, as well. It's a both/and not an either/or.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me go back to Tavis. Do you think in general, Tavis, that President Obama has done enough for African Americans?
TAVIS SMILEY: I think the short answer is, Bob, that I can get to Washington from Los Angeles a lot faster than I can get from Washington back to Los Angeles, because coming to D.C., I've got a tailwind pushing me. Coming back from D.C. to L.A., I've got a headwind obstructing me. President Obama clearly has had a headwind for most of his presidency. And yet, his racial agenda has been almost nonexistent. He has not respectfully done as much as he could have done, even with the obstruction. As I intimated earlier, African Americans, even in the Obama era, lag behind in every single leading economic indicator category. So I think the lesson of L.B.J. is that you've got to be willing to take a risk. You've got to be willing to make this issue a priority. And since I'm talking about presidents, at the risk of being politically incorrect, I was happy to hear Former President George W. Bush say what he said. But that statement about the soft bigotry of low expectations vis-à-vis the education gap cannot be disconnected from his policies. And that's, again, the message of L.B.J. 50 years later, Bob. That we have to have corrective policies that help level the playing field. Dr. King, even after the passage of the Civil Rights Act and after the passage of the Voting Rights Act was not satisfied. As Dr. Dyson knows, he talked about after all his work at the end of his life, Bob, that he fretted that we had integrated into a burning house. He challenged us all to become firemen. So that was the beginning. It was not the end. And presidents have to push policies that help disadvantaged people come up.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, now, George Bush did put No Child Left Behind into effect. That was a bipartisan bill that had support from Senator Kennedy, from George Miller in the House, one of the most liberal of the Democrats in the House. Do you feel that was a success? Or it's now the Congress can't find a way to fund those programs now. What do you think the impact of that was?
TAVIS SMILEY: It's a good question. The reason why there's still conversation to this day, still infighting about No Child Left Behind, is because it was so imperfect in so many ways. It may have been well-intentioned going in. But the way it got implemented and so the debate continues today about whether or not this program was successful or not. I think, quite frankly, it did not measure up. Never mind the intentions. The bottom line is that, you know, education has got to be a major priority. But you can't side always as the Bush administration did, if not always certainly too many times. You can't side, Bob, with the rich and the lucky. You can't side with the powerful over the privileged and somehow think that magically the field is going to get leveled. Dr. King once again put it this way that progress does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability. We have to be intentional about this. And if we're not intentional vis-à-vis our public policy debates, then these groups disenfranchised are never going to catch up.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Nikole, let me go to you. You have a fascinating article coming out in The Atlantic this week about what you talked about earlier, about what you feel and what you found to be the re-segregation of some schools. What do you think is the most important thing that let's just say the administration, the Congress could do right now?
EVAN WOLFSON: And I would just say part of the reason we've seen this shift on gay people and support for the freedom to marry is because gay people have been able to come out of the closet. Non-gay people who support gay people who are part of a family with gay people have spoken up and told their stories. And it's bridging those gaps, showing the common connection that has enabled America to now come to majority support for the freedom to marry in a relatively short period of time, because that conversation and that reducing the separation and isolation has had that effect. And, you know, one of the real inspirations for me out of this summit was in addition to the challenge to keep going was that people can do it. You know, it's easy to get very despondent and frustrated and fearful for the future of the country. And yet, we also have these examples from our history that we can come together and we can do better.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What do you see on the horizon? Are there any court cases we ought to be looking for? What's the situation-- (OVERTALK)
EVAN WOLFSON: Well, just this week, we began a wave of cases that have now reached the federal appellate courts in which couples who've been denied the freedom to marry have challenged it. We won ten out of ten lower court federal rulings over the last few months. We just began arguments in the tenth circuit. And there will be several others still to come as we make our way hopefully to the Supreme Court to bring the country to national resolution.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: And, you know, what's interesting too, talking about the shifting of a paradigm, but also the shifting of an atmosphere. L.B.J. had a booming economy, number one. So that the Great Society was funded by an optimism in the economy that simply is not present now. And number two, he had the privilege as a White male to go to some of these senators, not only the privilege as a White male, but also his experience as a legislator, to go in there and say, "Look, I'm going to collar you. And you better do the right thing." The obstructionism that Mr. Smiley referred to in regards to President Obama has been so complete that it has discouraged even the inclination to do the right thing. The--(OVERTALK)
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: --is necessary and right. But we've got to talk about the broader atmosphere, as well.
BOB SCHIEFFER: It could not have been worse than the Southern Democrats who tried to block--
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: No doubt about it. But what I'm suggesting to you is that when they did the poll about the inclination of the American public to support it, that was much higher than expected, number one. But number two, I'm not saying the resistance wasn't there. But I'm saying that Barack Obama faces, in this case, you know, some resistance that L.B.J. didn't.
L.B.J. knew, explicitly, that White supremacy was the predicate for the resistance. We can't even mention that now, that some of the resistances Barack Obama is facing now is racially based. And the racial bases of the resistance for those who call it out are seen as somehow playing the race card. That's not to deny at all or nullify what Tavis Smiley said in terms of challenging this president to step up to the plate and articulate a vision that is both holistic and comprehensive, that is transformative for African American people in the same way that L.B.J. did. But it would be also ignoring the historical and political context to deny the resistance that Barack Obama faces in a way that we can't even publicly articulate and examine as a matter of consensus.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, well--
EVAN WOLFSON: And, of course, it's not all on the president. We have to do the work too.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: We have to do some stuff, as well. No doubt.
BOB SCHIEFFER: That's a very good way to end this. Thank you all very much for a fascinating discussion. We'll be back with our political panel in just a minute.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And back now with our political panel. Peter Baker covers the White House for the New York Times. Michael Gerson used to work in the White House for George W. Bush. He's now a columnist for the Washington Post. Leigh Gallagher is the editor of Fortune Magazine. And we're also joined by Frank Rich of New York Magazine, who is in the CBS News Broadcast Center in New York this morning. Peter, you were at this civil rights summit in Austin. It was kind of what I would say a remarkable event.
PETER BAKER: No, it is. And it's amazing here we are 50 years later that this is in fact something that Republicans and Democrats agree on. These divisions of that time have faded. You had four presidents different parties get together. But what didn't come up as much is how to go forward. You did a panel on education which talked about that. But President Obama chose to use his remarks mainly about L.B.J., to talk about his heroism in the face of opposition, but not to translate to today's politics.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, I'll tell you what I found interesting about that. The White House in many cases has been very resentful when people have compared Barack Obama to L.B.J. and said he just didn't have the expertise that L.B.J. had. And we need L.B.J. And then a lot of the L.B.J. people in the old days wondered, "When is Barack Obama going to finally mention the name Lyndon Johnson in public?" Which, of course, he did, and went on at some length about it.
PETER BAKER: Well, and in some ways--
BOB SCHIEFFER: What's the inside story on all that? What happened here?
PETER BAKER: Well, he does resent this. He resents this idea that he's being compared to L.B.J. In his view, it's a very different situation. L.B.J. had very large Democratic majorities, even after losing dozens of seats in the House, still had a large majority. President Obama has a Republican House and so on. But he overcame that to give a very unvarnished and very glowing testimonial to President Johnson. And in some ways to rebut his critics, I think. He was trying to say, "Look, I get that. But just like he encountered resistance to Medicare. I've encountered resistance to the Affordable Care Act." And he talked about being a relay swimmer, somebody who moves things along without necessarily achieving them all in our own time. And we should be happy even if we get half a loaf, at times.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let's talk about what's going on in Washington now. And that is, again, Katherine Sebelius (SIC) has left. Frank Rich, do you think this is going to have impact, the resignation of Katherine Sebelius. We heard Republican Marsha Blackburn say, "Nope, we're still going to try to replace Obamacare. We're still going to try to repeal it. It may take awhile." Where do you see this controversy going? Because there's no question. Maybe they have gotten this thing worked out. And maybe they haven't. We'll find out. But it's going to be a political load, I think, for some Democrats who are running for office in the South, come November.
FRANK RICH: Sure. First of all, I think the Sebelius resignation means absolutely nothing politically and perhaps structurally even to Obamacare. It'll be forgotten soon. And we'll have a fight over her successor, sort of a dog and pony show in Congress for Republicans to hold Obamacare over the coals once more. But the political equation for this year remains unchanging. We have an electorate that votes in midterms, that is very heavily tilts Republicans, as it did in 2010, when it gave the Democrats a shellacking. It's White. It's older. It's male. The Republican Party has to get that base to the polls. It's really about disliking Obama or even in some cases hating Obama more than Obamacare. So if it weren't Obamacare, it would be something else. If Obamacare were repealed tomorrow, it would still be the anti-Obama campaign, because that's what gets the base out. Obamacare itself, my guess is it will become more and more settled law after this election. The Republicans are not going to repeal a law and replace it, since they can't replace the things that people love the most like young adults being covered by their parents, preexisting conditions, and all the rest of it. So this is a political show that will go on through the midterms. The Democrats may well have a shellacking again. And then we'll move on from it.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What do you think? Do you agree with that, Michael Gerson? You used to work for a Republican president.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, Leigh, let's talk about Sylvia Matthews Burwell. She was over at O.M.B. She does come with pretty good credentials. Do you think she's going to have a tough confirmation?
LEIGH GALLAGHER: I don't think so. I mean, she has a stellar resume, Harvard, Oxford, Rhodes scholar. We've gotten to know her at Fortune through her work at the Walmart Foundation and for the Gates Foundation. And, of course, she spent many years in the Clinton administration working as Robert Ruben's chief of staff and was very instrumental in getting us out of the debt crisis in 1995. And she was unanimously confirmed for O.M.B. just a year ago. So I think this is as safe as it gets. That said, the war rages on. We don't know what's going to happen. But everyone is saying wonderful things about her from Larry Summers to Senator McCain and everyone in between. So things look favorable.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let's talk a little bit about this whole issue of equal pay for women. Here you have Marsha Blackburn said, "No, we're leading the fight for equal pay for women." But Republicans blocked that in the Senate. A lot of people think the administration, Frank Rich, pushed this issue knowing they couldn't get it passed, but they thought it'd make a great issue in the coming campaign. What's your sense of that?
FRANK RICH: I think you're right. I think that's right. That said, what Congressman Blackburn said is incredibly disingenuous, when she talks about how the Republicans have led on women's rights. She's right when she's talking about Republicans, sort of pre the Phyllis Schlafly era, they were indeed champions of the suffragettes movement. Many cases, including the Bush family and the Goldwater family, were involved with the founding of chapters of Planned Parenthood. But this hasn't been true for decades. And clearly, they're on the defensive. And the Democrats are going to use every issue they can involving women to keep them on the defensive, because they know how it worked in the last election. And they know how quickly Republican office holders are to say ridiculous things. You know, there have already been a couple of congressmen, who have more or less supported Todd Akin's views since January, since that election, even after the Republican Party made a big show of sort of having sensitivity training for its members to stop talking about rape and contraceptions in stupid and offensive ways. So yeah, the Democrats are going to goad them. And there we are.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Leigh, every survey shows that women are outperforming men at every level from the third grade on up. I think we now have more women in law school than men. We now have more women in medical school, if memory serves, than men. And yet, we still find this disparity. Women make 70 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Are those figures, well, they're right obviously, but what do they actually mean?
LEIGH GALLAGHER: Well, they're a little misleading, for one reason. So this is not an all things being equal statistic. It's not like "For every man in this job that makes X, the woman makes X minus 10% or 20%." It's not all things being equal, because all things are not equal. And what really is happening here and the biggest reason for the gap (there is a gap) is because the different choices that men and women make as they accelerate in their careers. This is most namely the choice for women to have children, which no matter what, whether you're a senior executive at a Fortune 500 company or whether you're an hourly worker, everywhere in between, if a woman wants to do that, it indisputably is going to disrupt her trajectory. And that is something that we have no dealt with. And that is what is the biggest issue. You see this in the data. The wage gap widens in industries that reward long hours, things like finance or law or industries that have overtime. And it's narrow at the younger generation. Women in their 20s to 30s, let's say. There's much less of a gap there, because fewer women have left yet. So this is the issue. This is what we're not dealing with.
MICHAEL GERSON: I just think, though, that we can't just look at this from the perspective of professional women. Republicans have a real problem with single women, many of whom are near poverty. And I think answering some of those concerns really need to be part of the Republican response on these issues. They don't really speak to working class concerns, people that depend on a working, you know, programs that meet their needs. So I think there's a bunch of different elements to this problem. And Republicans are not addressing several of them.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Peter, yesterday, there was a big gathering of kind of Republican wannabe presidential nominees up in New Hampshire. And Donald Trump managed to mention Jeb Bush and it brought boos from the crowd. You know, he talked about how Bush had talked about how immigrants who come to this country, they're not committing a felony. It's an act of love. They're trying to come and help their family. Do you think, at this point, that Jeb Bush is the leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination?
PETER BAKER: Very interesting. Yeah, I was down at College Station last weekend when Jeb Bush spoke and he made those comments. And, you know, he seems much more interested today than he did, say, three months ago, five months ago--
BOB SCHIEFFER: That's my sense of it.
PETER BAKER: --six months ago, right? And all the people around him seem to be moving in that direction. But what he said was, "I want to get in only if I can avoid the vortex." Well, Donald Trump just showed him what the vortex will be like, right? And he's trying to lay out a predicate, saying, "If I run, I'm going to do it on my own terms. I'm going to do it on the issues I've cared about like immigration. Things that don't necessarily sell well in a Republican primary." He may find that's not something that's going to work well for him.
BOB SCHIEFFER: One thing for sure, it's a wide open race on that side.
PETER BAKER: Yeah, very much so.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I want to thank all of you. And we'll be right back with a little report on cherry blossoms.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, that's it for us today. And we have saved the best news for last. Washington's cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Which means (at least we hope it means) that our long winter is finally over. That's our own Norah O'Donnell leading the celebration, as the grand marshal of the annual cherry blossom festival parade. There were times this winter when we thought this day would never come and the snow and the rain would never end. But with fingers crossed, we think it is finally done. We think. We hope. Thanks for watching Face the Nation.