Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe to the newsmakers line.
During the third hour, McCabe speculated how the testimony of George Floyd’s brother Philonise will be received later today on Capitol Hill while Congress discusses the fate of police in America.
Leahy: We are joined by our good friend, national correspondent, and veteran Washington journalist Neil McCabe. Good morning Neil.
McCabe: Good morning Michael. Glad to be with you.
Leahy: The big question for you is did you get your Kente cloth scarf from Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer? (Laughter)
McCabe: We’ve certainly learned from the media that we are not supposed to create photo ops using religious imagery (Leahy laughs) and religious rituals. Please. There is no place for religion in photo ops.
Leahy: Unless of course, it’s something that the Democrat hoi polloi are promoting.
McCabe: Right. The big thing today Mike is that the House is going to have its first in-person hearing today with the brother of George Floyd. So the question is how robust of a demonstration it will be. What will it be like? Will there be security in the Capitol that’s sufficient?
Leahy: What do you think is going to happen?
McCabe: I’ve been in some of these hearings where you’ve literally had hundreds of police with the zip ties and the wagons ready to load people up and of course there’s always code pink. But I’ve never experienced anything close to what we’ve seen.
When you consider the mayhem and chaos that has been in the cities. So it’s really going to be a test for the Capitol Police. You’ve got to wonder if the D.C. National Guard is going to be there. Armed or unarmed. I’m on my way to the Capitol now so I’ll see for myself. It’s very tense. And I know that staffers are kind of nervous about how it’s going to play out.
Carmichael: Neil, this is Crom Carmichael. So you are saying that George Floyd’s brother is going to testify before Congress in an open hearing? Is that what you are saying?
McCabe: Yes. Sir.
Carmichael: When that happens in something like this does that mean that he’ll be testifying and members of each party will be asking him questions?
McCabe: Right. Typically it’s a five-minute rule usually. For sometimes for special hearings that we saw during the impeachment, they would give people 10 minutes. Or the Democrats and Republicans have a block of 30 minutes that they can sort of divvy up. We saw during the impeachment that members would defer to Jim Jordan and give Jim Jordan their time. All of the things being equal, when you go into the hearing it’s five minutes each side.
Carmichael: Ok. But he wasn’t there when the incident with the police happened. So is he there to testify what his brother thought about things? What do you think the purpose of the testimony is? The reason I’m asking is that we all know that black children’s chances of getting quality education are just terrible.
And based on some of the videos I’ve seen of George Floyd kind of doing a video talking to the video camera and talking to black youth, I would think that he would want black children to get a better education. And I’m wondering whether or not Republicans could inquire with his brother whether or not they’ve ever discussed that.
And if they did I wonder if the brother would think that George Floyd would want education reform because the incidences of black children getting a terrible education are huge. In fact, the chances of a black child from a low-income family in one of these big cities of getting a quality education may be one in 20, or one in 30. And the rest are getting a terrible wrap. I wonder if the Republicans could use this as an opportunity to get the kind of reform that the Black Lives Matter people originally wanted? What do you think?
McCabe: Oh, just bless your heart. What a wonderful sentiment.
Carmichael: You going to call into the Bless Your Heart line? (Laughs)
McCabe: None of that is going to happen of course.
Carmichael: Why not? Why wouldn’t Republicans…
McCabe: There are two reasons. One is the back and forth of the five minutes back and forth. Two and a half minutes and three minutes is taken up by some long-winded question. It’s impossible to establish any kind of rhythm because each side is playing its own narrative.
And the other problem is which is really related to the first problem is that each of these congressmen needs to produce a sound clip that can play in their local media market. So they are all going to be talking about whatever the national headline is. And the national headline is what’s going on with the police?
Leahy: What will the Democrat narrative be today Neil?
McCabe: I think it’s going to be about how George Floyd was someone who was rebuilding his life. And that life was cut short by the brutal acts of this police officer. And so I think the greater argument is that this is something that’s replicated over and over again. And so that’s the systemic problem. And that’s what needs to be addressed. And that’s why we need the federal government to get involved and rebuild these police departments.
It’s going to be a tough trick. It’s really something Eric Holder and Barack Obama were doing. A sort of federal government taking over police departments either through consent decrees or agreements. And then we’ll see how that plays out. Some people would cynically say that it is a power grab and that it’s an attempt funnel more money to people who are allies of the Democratic Party. But I’m not a cynical guy.
Leahy: No, you are not. What will the Republican narrative be Neil?
McCabe: I think the Republican narrative is going to be that we understand that this is an individual case that happened and we are willing to look at problems. But the Republicans are on the back foot here. We saw yesterday that the White House sent Mark Meadows chief of staff and Jared Kushner who is the senior advisor of President Trump.
Both those men were sent to Capitol Hill to negotiate the surrender of the White House on the police brutality issue. You have cops standing up and people standing up. But expecting probably President Donald Trump would be backing them. But that’s not going to happen. So the Republicans on Capitol Hill are kind of in a quandary there.
Leahy: That’s very interesting. And a little bit disappointing if that’s what’s going on behind the scenes.
McCabe: I think it would help if the president could get back on the road. And when he’s back on the road and in these rallies he can read the audience. There is no script. So he plays how the audience is reacting and then he comes back to the White House where he says hey, I’ve just conducted a focus group with 15,000 people in Western Pennsylvania and this is what they think. But that process if you want to call it a process has been cut off by COVID. So really in a way the president is flying in the clouds right now. He doesn’t have his compass and his chart.
Carmichael: He announced he’s going to restart his rallies.
McCabe: He’s going to get back on the road.
Carmichael: But it is my great hope that the Republican House members use this hearing as an opportunity to actually have the kind of reforms that will in fact help members of the black community. Because the root cause of the problem is not racism as Condoleezza Rice has said. She said there is racism but education gives everybody a fighting chance.
Leahy: Neil be safe up there today and give us your report.
McCabe: Take care guys.
Leahy: Neil McCabe, our national correspondent and brave intrepid reporter going up to cover the hearings today up on the Capitol. Be safe Neil.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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