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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  January 2, 2017 8:00pm-9:01pm PST

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>> i may be a little grayer than i was eight years ago, but this is what a feminist looks like. >> it was obams new high court that ushered in america's biggest social change in decades. june of 2015, the supreme court ruled gay marriage was legal. >> amazing. it's incredible. to be granted all these years, all these years. >> and now we all get -- >> all get marriage equality. >> today should also give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple, often painful, real change is possible. shifts in hearts and minds is possible. >> obama knew this shift was possible because he had made it himself. >> i believe that marriage is the union between a man and a
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woman. >> the most progressive president in a generation had dragged his feet on gay marriage. advocates felt betrayed. many suspected obama's reluctance was a political decision, reflecting his sense of just how much change the country could digest. >> what do we want? equality. when do we want it? now! >> instead of pushing gay marriage, he had quietly made smaller strides. first obama signed a hate crime bill that protected gays. two years later, he repealed the "don't ask, don't tell" policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. >> never been more proud to wear my uniform and represent this country than today. >> it was not obama but joe biden who forced the issue of gay marriage out of the political closet. >> as more and more americans become to understand what this
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is all about is a simple proposition. who do you love? who do you love? and will you be loyal to the person you love? >> days later, obama followed and became the first president to support gay marriage. >> it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that i think same-sex couples should be able to get married. >> it would be three more years before the supreme court made it a fundamental american right. and that is something donald trump seems to have no argument with. >> it was already settled. it's law. it was settled in the supreme court. it's done. >> but a trump court could well reverse that right as well as the now 43-year-old decision roe vs. wade. the high court's importance to the legacy of barack obama could not be overstated. after the death of antonin scalia, obama nominated merrick garland.
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but republicans refused to even consider him. so the court became a casualty of the harsh political divide that's dogged the obama years. an eight-person panel split evenly along ideological lines. the issue that became the biggest victim of that split, immigration. unable to get any legislation through congress, the president issued an executive order to keep millions of people from being deported. but when that order was argued before the supreme court, the eight justices divided along party lines, of course. >> this is part of the consequence of the republican failure so far to give a fair hearing to mr. merrick garland, my nominee to the supreme court. >> as with guns, the executive order had become his only way to get things done. >> to those members of congress
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who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where congress has failed, i have one answer. pass a bill. >> near the end of his presidency, barack obama returned to springfield, illinois, where his career began. >> thank you. >> to reflect on his commitment to social justice. >> there's always been a gap between our highest ideals and the reality we witness every single day. we have fought wars and passed laws and reformed systems and organized unions and staged protests and launched mighty movements to close that gap. >> springfield is where obama first announced his run for the presidency. >> i am ready to take up the cause and march with you and work with you. >> and, of course, springfield is the home of obama's hero, abraham lincoln.
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>> because lincoln made that decision not to give up, because of what he set in motion, generations of free men and women of all races and walks of life have had the chance to choose this country's course. what a great gift. the long brown path before me leading wherever i choose. the east and the west are mine. the north and the south are mine. all seems beautiful to me. i need to promote my new busi can make that business cards? business cards, brochures, banners... pens? pens, magnets, luggage tags, bumper stickers. how about foam fingers? like these? now, get 15% off making your company stand out.
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staples. make more happen.
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barack obama has always been
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known for his cool, calm and steely eyed in the face of adversity. his foreign policy in many ways has been no different. a disciplined approach to american power that avoided big, messy wars while training a laser-like focus on terror groups like al qaeda to deadly effect. >> the united states has conducted an operation that killed osama bin laden, the leader of al qaeda. >> usa! usa! >> and yet, the cool commander in chief of the last eight years presided over the collapse of syria and the birth of isis. which gets us to a man with a much different temperament. >> i would bomb the shit out of
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them. >> how did one lead to the other? to understand why, you have to go back to the beginning of this story. chicago 2002. >> when i look out over this crowd today, i know there is no shortage of patriots or patriotism. ♪ >> little known illinois state senator spoke at a protest against the bush administration's plans for a war in iraq. >> i don't oppose war in all circumstances. what i do oppose is a dumb war. >> that speech in 2002 is why barack obama became president. nine days later, hillary clinton and 76 other senators -- >> the joint resolution is passed. >> -- voted to give president bush the authority to go to war in iraq. >> it is a vote that says
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clearly to saddam hussein, this is your last chance. disarm or be disarmed. >> back up right now. >> by 2008, the iraq war was seen as america's worst foreign policy debacle since vietnam. in the primary against hillary clinton -- >> i was opposed to iraq from the start. >> -- senator obama never let voters forget that he had been on the right side of history. >> i don't want to just end the war, but i want to end the mind-set that got us into the war in the first place. that's the kind of leadership i intend to provide to the united states. >> senator, that's a clear swipe at you. >> really? >> i've come to speak to you about how the war in iraq will end. >> less than six weeks after he was inaugurated, he told the
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troops his plans for withdrawal. >> i intend to remove all u.s. troops from iraq by the end of 2011. god bless the united states of america. semper fi. >> president obama not only wanted to get america out of iraq -- >> thank you, sir. >> he wanted america to learn from the war and rethink its role as a global superpower. >> thank you. >> we are the most powerful country in the world, but even a country this powerful has some limits and some constraints. and we have to be judicious in the ways that we use that power. this isn't an abstract proposition. we send 23-year-olds, and they lose limbs. and some don't come back. >> obama also wanted to apply that logic in afghanistan. >> fire! >> his generals wanted a large
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new surge of troops. but he insisted on something smaller. >> he took on this idea that the commander in chief is not the commander in chief. that somehow the commander on the ground should be the person who gets everything he needs as determined by him. >> and he demanded a deadline. >> a time frame. >> for when the troops would come home. >> our troop commitment in afghanistan cannot be open-ended. >> consider this. in january 2009, there were 175,000 troops in afghanistan and iraq. as of december 2016, there were
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around 15,000. but barack obama was no peacenik. he had a dramatically different approach to war compared with his predecessor. instead of fighting terrorism with large armies, he would rely on a different technology. it would change the very nature of war. the armed drone. >> never before in american history has an american president had the technology and the legal authority to hunt down any person anywhere on the face of the earth and kill them. >> there was a surreal selection process that became known as the kill list. >> they would have bios and pictures of these people. some came to be called sort of baseball cards of terrorists. and a decision was made to put them on the list or not put them
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on the list. >> carrying out the campaign of killing was the president's cia director leon panetta. obama gave him plenty of latitude. when panetta wanted to dramatically expand the cia's fleet of drones in pakistan, the president, over the objections of his staff, told panetta the cia gets what it wants. >> it was a u.s. drone that fired -- >> u.s. drone strike killed -- >> believed to have taken out -- >> al qaeda's second in command has been killed by a u.s. drone strike. >> drones got the job done. >> reported drone strike. >> it's a major blow. >> al qaeda's senior leadership was decimated. >> the joke became that they once again killed the number three guy in al qaeda. >> president obama had become the drone president. >> very controversial drone program. >> -- has been killed. >> killed. >> killed in a drone attack. >> have you opened a pandora's box?
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people will use your precedent and say the americans under obama did it so we're going to use drones. is that the new world we're likely to enter? >> i recognize the danger of an antiseptic war from a distance that starts looking like a video game. >> it's a video game that is all too real. >> the death toll now appears to be 15. >> many innocent lives have been taken by accident. >> nationwide rallies against u.s. drone attacks. >> the president tightened the rules of engagement. >> our preference is always to detain, interrogate and prosecute. >> but drones continued to be an essential weapon in his arsenal. >> there are bad guys out there, and one of your jobs as commander in chief is making
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sure you keep the american people safe from those bad guys. >> the most important bad guy on president obama's list was osama bin laden. the cia believed it had him in its sights at a compound in abbottabad, pakistan. >> he has a very distinctive look. he's tall, lanky. and his gait is very deliberate. so it was something that had struck me that, when i saw it call it instinct or whatever, i said, yeah, i think that's him. >> but identifying him was by no means a slam dunk. >> the odds that it was bin laden were probably 50/50. >> failure of the mission could easily have cost the president his job in 2012. but in the end, he decided to move forward. >> and it was emblematic of
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presidential decision-making. you are always working with probabilities. and you make a decision not based on 100% certainty but with the best information that you've got. >> obama and his team watched the operation from a cramped conference room in the white house. >> i was sitting here in my windbreaker. gates was there and hillary. and we were essentially watching what was happening in realtime. it's here where we observed, for example, that one of the helicopters got damaged in the landing. >> a chopper carrying the troops had suddenly spun out of control as it tried to land. obama's presidency rested in the hands of a helicopter pilot. >> i was thinking that this is not an ideal start. >> but the pilot managed the landing. the elite commandos ascended the stairs of the compound and found
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their man, making history for them and the president. >> on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al qaeda's terror, justice has been done. >> it was the high point of barack obama's presidency. >> usa! usa! >> but it proved to be a temporary high. ♪ my home sweet home >> three years later, the united states watched as a new terror group, more brutal, more radical, and more effective than al qaeda swept through syria and iraq. capturing major cities, enslaving local populations,
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attracting thousands of followers. >> any attempt by you, obama. >> and beheading americans. >> will result in the bloodshed of your people. >> it gave donald trump an opportunity to hammer at obama's foreign policy. >> he founded isis, and i would say the co-founder would be crooked hillary clinton. up next -- barack obama's biggest bet. faced with a new american revolution -- >> can you hear us now? can you hear us now? >> the twists and turns to obamacare when we return.
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over 1,000,000 californians have gotten something that's been out of reach for far too long: health insurance. how? they enrolled through covered california. it's the health insurance marketplace where you'll find a range of plans from leading health insurance companies that offer you the best combination of quality, rates, and benefits. and, through covered california, you may get financial help to pay for coverage. to get covered, you've got to get going. open enrollment ends january 31st. visit today.
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kill the bill. kill the bill. >> no more obama. >> summer 2009. >> afro-lennonism coming to you on a silver platter. >> i have the right of the government not to control my health care. >> across the country, a grassroots rebellion gets ugly. the target -- barack obama. >> why don't i have freedom? because we elected somebody that wants to take our freedom?
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>> enraged by bailouts, now the right went ballistic over health care. >> why don't they take the health care being forced down our throat? >> the president was undeterred. >> i'm not the first president to take up this cause, but i am determined to be the last. we used a lot of political capital on health care. and the reason is simple. we're the only advanced nation on earth that didn't make sure that every person had affordable health care. >> when you consider that presidents have been trying since teddy roosevelt to get health care passed, fdr was hoping to do it, jfk. >> no matter how hard the road, what history will record is that obama got it done. but that achievement that seven presidents attempted, once thought impossible, is now at risk. >> it's over for obamacare. >> this is the story of the epic battle to pass obamacare. >> congratulations, mr.
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president. >> it began just days into obama's presidency. it was a big bet that he could do something that seven presidents couldn't. >> yes. >> in the middle of an economic -- >> yes, it was a huge bet. >> a bet many wanted to place somewhere else. >> he had half a dozen big domestic policy goals that were fighting for attention. >> the president of the united states. >> first, obama took his case to the very people he knew would try to kill it. >> let there be no doubt, health care reform cannot wait. it must not wait. and it will not wait another year. >> when we were discussing health care, he said, what are we supposed to do? put our approval rating on the shelf and admire it for eight years or draw down on it to try to get important things done for the country? >> this was a unique alignment for the stars for one party. a democratic president, a big majority in the senate, a decent
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size majority in the house. >> knowing what he faced from the republican opposition, the president who ran as a government outsider surrounded himself with political insiders. >> it was the opportunity to do things nobody had the political will to do before. >> rahm emmanuel, an arm-twisting dealmaker. he had rapidly ascended the democratic leadership in congress. he knew the hill. and he knew health care. >> some value having gone in the clinton white house, saw where it went wrong from the inside. >> emmanuel and obama knew they needed congressional buy-in this time. they decided congress should write the bill. >> i just want to make sure i don't get in the way of all of you moving aggressively and rapidly. >> and there were others obama needed on his side. the special interests. insurance companies. big pharma. the doctors associations.
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>> karen represents america's health insurance plans. >> we understand we have to earn a seat at the table. >> he wanted the very groups that had killed health care reform in the past inside the room now. in march 2009, he brought them all to the white house. >> we kept every one of those but one at the table. >> all of the groups here need to stay involved. >> they all made demands. obama made deals. >> none of these groups are doing this out of the goodness of their heart. they're negotiating. they want the best deal possible. >> he compromised on the thing that was most sacred to him, the individual mandate, that every citizen buy health care. the idealistic candidate had become a steely eyed pragmatist. obama pushed lawmakers to pass a bill and fast. >> you get the impression they're trying to jam something through congress. >> which is clearly designed for a government takeover of our health care system. >> but by august recess, there was no vote. >> get off of me!
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>> capitol hill lawmakers went home to angry constituents raging at town hall meetings. >> the wave of angry mobs. >> the protester came to the town hall meeting today with a gun. >> things are getting physical. >> universal health care is a big fat no. >> the tea party had found its moment and its cause. republicans began running away from health care. so did many democrats. many white house advisers thought it was time for obama to do the same. >> he turned to his legislative director and said, phil, what do you think the chances of passing this? he said, depends on how lucky you feel? the president just says, i'm a black guy named barack hussein obama, and i'm president of the united states. i feel lucky every day. >> but this is the time, now is the time. >> and then a huge loss to the country lit a new fire under the president. >> happening now, the lion of the senate, ted kennedy succumbs to brain cancer at the age of 77.
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>> realized how important he get this done because it was something senator kennedy had been fighting for decade. >> may he rest in eternal peace. >> i return to speak to all of you about an issue that is central to that future, and that is the issue of health care. >> obama took the unusual step of going back to congress. >> i still believe we can act. >> but the ugliness of the fight followed him in. >> the reforms i'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. >> you lie! >> a republican congressman had called the president a liar. >> i couldn't imagine that happening to another president. >> there was another problem. obama would need 60 democratic senators for a veto-proof majority. and the 60th seat was up for grabs in massachusetts. it had been assumed ted kennedy's seat would go to a democrat.
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it was, after all, massachusetts. but suddenly, a republican named scott brown was surging. >> i thank the people of massachusetts for electing me. >> that was the death nail for health care because he was the 60th vote. >> a year of his presidency was gone. political capital spent, and barack obama was staring at a likely defeat. >> there are people who think that if obama had been more of a schmoozer that maybe people like you were too partisan that somehow he needed to reach out. >> just one golf game away from singing kumbayah. give me a break. >> desperate, obama changed gears. first, he apologized to the country. >> i take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the american people. >> then he barnstormed for the bill. across america and in congress. >> i may not be the first president to take up the cause of health care reform. i am determined to be the last. >> yes, we will. >> freedom.
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>> yes, we will. >> freedom. >> and he made more concessions, giving up the public option, which would have created a government insurance program that would have competed with private companies. >> we ended up having to wrestle this thing to the ground in a way that was less than ideal from my perspective. >> finally, march 21, 2010. >> on this vote, the ayes are 219, the nays are 212. the motion to concur in the senate amendment is adopted. >> for decades, they've been trying to do it. it has now been done. >> without a single republican vote, the bill passed. the white house celebrated. >> i asked the president, how does this night compare to election night? he said, there's no comparison. election night was all about getting to tonight. this is why we work so hard. >> days later when president obama arrived in the east room to sign the bill into law, vice president joe biden summed up the moment. >> this is a big deal. >> and a big bet that paid off.
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>> thank you, everybody. please have a seat. >> of course, the republicans vowed to keep fighting. >> we are resolved to have this law go away. and we're going to do everything we can to stop it. >> kill the bill. kill the bill. >> the fight against obamacare has gone on ever since. and there is no question the program has real problems from broken promises -- >> if you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan. >> -- to soaring premiums. >> obamacare premiums will rise an average of 22% next year. >> but 20 million people who were uninsured now have health care. can it survive? >> i think president obama should apologize for obamacare. >> but, for now, the foundational idea that every american has the right to basic health care stands as barack obama's signature achievement. >> the big question is, at the end of somebody's presidency, do people feel that their lives were better? there's a certain sense in which having accomplished something that presidents before you tried
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to get and is a fundamental right for americans, that's a big thing. ♪ this is shishmaref, alaska, just south of the arctic circle and about as far west as you can go in the continental united states. >> about 15 years ago, the people of a small 1,000-year-old oceanfront hunting village noticed something odd. >> barack obama spoke about the town in his first major speech on climate change in 2006 as a young senator. >> ice that had surrounded and protected their village began to grow slushy and weak. >> obama had read about the troubles of shishmaref in a "new yorker" article. soon the village itself began to
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disappear. chunks of land sheered away, and home after home was destroyed by storms that grew stronger and stronger every year. >> the story of the village that disappeared is by no means isolated, and it's by no means over. >> obama saw in shishmaref a frightening future if global warming continued unabated. >> the climate is getting warmer, and if you think of us being in a car where we're speeding towards a cliff, we're starting to try to tap on the brakes. if we do what we need to do over the next 20, 30, 40 years, then it's a manageable problem. if we don't, it will not be. >> are you prepared to take the oath, senator? >> i am. >> he came to the white house committed to stopping the car from going over the cliff.
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>> i barack hussein obama -- >> and laid out a bold agenda to do just that. >> now america has arrived at a crossroads. >> his stimulus bill included lots of money for clean energy. van jones was the obama white house's green jobs guru. >> it's impossible to overstate how important climate change was to the obama administration in the first year. >> but obama's bold agenda was soon stymied by a recalcitrant congress. by a chorus of climate change deniers. and by the fact that americans just did not care about climate change. it was ranked the 11th most important issue during the 2008 election out of 12 options. so the president decided to
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fight climate change on his own. in december of 2009, at a climate conference in copenhagen, obama displayed his determination to play a major role on this issue on the global stage. >> good morning. >> as hillary clinton later explained in a democratic primary debate -- >> president obama and i were hunting for the chinese. >> she and president obama found themselves chasing beijing's delegation at that conference. why? >> we knew we had to get them to agree to something because there will be no effective efforts against climate change unless china and india join with the rest of the world. >> when the american delegation found out about a secret meeting between china, india and other developing nations, they sent out a search party, found the meeting, and the president and
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secretary of state crashed it. >> are you ready for me? or do you guys need to talk some more. it's up to you. what do you think? are you waiting for me or -- >> no, no. >> my guys got in just like your guys got in. >> no, no. >> my guys got in just like your guys got in. this is a joint meeting. my guys get in or we're leaving the meeting. >> it may have been undiplomatic. but according to clinton, it led to a breakthrough. she says the deal forged in that room put them on the road to future progress. back at home, though, there was little progress on climate. ♪
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so as the first term turned into the second, obama tasked his team with getting america on the right track in the face of a once again hostile congress. >> president obama from the very beginning had the power to do something about climate change. he didn't want to do it. i want to work through congress. >> mr. speaker, the president of the united states. >> obama put the legislative branch on warning in his 2013 state of the union. >> but if congress won't act soon to protect future generations, i will. >> congress did not act. >> clean air, clean water. >> obama did. in the summer of 2015 -- >> there is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change. >> obama took aim at one of the key causes of climate change. >> right now our power plants are the source of about one-third of america's carbon
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pollution. that's more pollution than our cars, our airplanes and our homes generate combined. >> the president's clean power plan would set new limits for the first time on how much smoke those plants could spew. and forget congress. this was a unilateral executive action. the audience at obama's announcement may have applauded. >> it's all about coal. >> but from other quarters -- >> fight those who believe they -- >> -- the reaction was anger. >> our nation's coal miners provide affordable, reliable electricity that continues to power america. >> and the anger wasn't contained to coal. president obama's old law school professor and mentor laurence tribe, who it must be said was representing a coal company, had compared obama's tactics on climate change to nothing less than -- >> burning the constitution of the united states. >> those who would argue that any actions i've taken have been contrary to my legal powers are
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wrong. and we've taken it really seriously. and i make no apologies for it. >> despite the president's confidence, the clean power plan hasn't gone into effect. more than two dozen states sued to stop it. the supreme court ordered the implementation delayed until the appeals play themselves out. and now, president-elect trump has vowed to rescind it. but what will he do with obama's signature climate achievement, the paris agreement? in december of 2015, in the city of light, 196 nations agreed by consensus to limit the planet's warming to two degrees celsius. that's a threshold many scientists believe will prevent
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disaster. >> of course, it took a long time to reach this day. one of the reasons i ran for this office was to make america a leader in this mission. >> and america is now undoubtedly a leader. perhaps the leader on climate change. clean energy is a vast and growing american industry. and more than 100 countries have signed on to the paris agreement which went into legal effect just four days before the 2016 presidential election. >> if 20, 30, 50 years from now we look back and we say we dealt with this in a serious way, i'll be happy to say that that was one of my proudest achievements, even though i didn't do it by myself. >> as for shishmaref, the alaskan island that was disappearing a decade ago, the world's actions appear to have come too late.
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in august of 2016, the villagers voted to leave the ravaged island and move to the mainland. but will others be saved by the progress made under president obama? maybe not because president-elect trump has said he believes climate change is a hoax. he's vowed to bring back the coal mines and to cancel u.s. participation in the paris agreement. with the xfinity tv app,
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>> it was the answer heard around the world. >> i would. >> then senator obama had been thrown an un expected question from an ordinary american. >> this is the cnn/youtube debate. would he meet without preconditions with the leaders of iran, syria, venezuela, cuba and north korea? >> i would. and the reason is this. that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration, is ridiculous. but if we -- >> thank you very much, everyone. good night. >> viewed today, the statement might not seem extraordinary. but in 2007, it was practically revolutionary to say that an american president would speak to strong men like iran's ahmadinejad and north korea's kim. >> constitute an axis of evil. >> two-thirds of then-president bush's axis of evil.
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>> certainly we're not going to just have our president meet with -- >> hillary clinton pokes holes in obama's argument on stage that night, and the reviews were pretty unanimous. obama's answer was naive. >> are you kidding me? those are the last people i'd meet with in my first year. i'd never meet with those guys. >> but obama's strategist david axelrod says the future president was adamant on a phone call with staff. obama told them -- >> we're not backing off at all. i actually think that was the moment when he found his voice in that campaign because he realized that he was bringing a point view of that nobody else was going to bring. >> that voice continued when he
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was inaugurated. >> we will extend a hand, if you are willing to unclench your fist. >> iran in 2009 was a nation with a very tightly clenched fist. >> this is a country that had been hostile towards us and we had been hostile towards for decades. >> but after just two months in office, obama decided to try something new on this old enemy. >> today i want to extend my very best wishes to all who are celebrating nowruz around the world. >> nowruz is the persian new year. >> for nearly three decades, relations between our nations have been strained. but at this holiday, we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together. >> veteran middle east reporter robin wright was in iran when obama's message was delivered. >> it was electrifying the impact it had on people who
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believed for the first time maybe the americans were really serious about a dialogue. >> those hopes for a dialogue became fears about a confrontation just six months later. obama, along with france's nicolas sarkozy and the uk's gordon brown, made a stunning announcement. iran had been keeping an explosive secret. >> the islamic republic of iran has been building a covert uranium enrichment facility for several years. >> this was one of those gotcha moments. and it was a worrying sign because it indicated iran had a much more advanced program. >> the crisis had an up side. it brought the world's most powerful nations together. the united states, germany, the united kingdom, france and china and russia were now all determined to stop iran from getting a nuclear weapon. there were fits and starts, talks and negotiations but little progress to show until 2013.
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an auspicious year. the year the team that would crack the toughest issue in world politics all came together. >> congratulations, mr. president. >> it was the year that president obama was inaugurated for the second time. and john kerry, a vietnam war vet and advocate of diplomacy, took office as the new secretary of state. it was the year that the relatively moderate hassan rouhani was elected the seventh president of iran. and named the american educated mohammad javad zarif as kerry's counterpart. >> the credentials and personal history of these four men was pivotal in pulling it off. it is doubtful that if any of the four had been different that we really would have gotten to this point. >> the importance of that chemistry began to be clear in september 2013. it was the annual meeting of
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world leaders at the united nations in new york. secretary of state john kerry -- >> the united states and iran have not had their secretaries of state or foreign ministers talk in decades. >> but that was soon to change. >> we'll bring you in. we'll bring you in. >> after a multilateral meeting where kerry and zarif sat next to each other, the two diplomats went to another room at the u.n. for what was supposed to be just a meet and greet. it turned into much more. >> a little room on the side of the security council. no windows. just the two of us in a very small space. i think taking stock of each other and of the situation. >> the planned brief encounter turned into a 30-minute serious conversation. >> i have just met with him now
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on a side meeting. >> we stressed on the need to continue these discussions to give it the political impetus it requires. >> these were the highest level talks between the united states and iran in decades. and iran in decades, but that record didn't last long. >> it was just a 15-minute phone call but 34 years in the making. >> highest-level conversation between the two nations since 1979. >> an historic conversation as obama picked up the phone and called rouhani, the first dialogue between an american president and an iranian leader since jimmy carter. since jimmy carter spoke to the last shah of iran. >> i believe we can reach a comprehensive solution. ♪ ♪ >> over the almost two years of negotiations that followed, there were disbelievers about the deal abroad -- >> such a deal does not block iran's path to the bomb, such a deal paves iran's path to the bomb. >> -- at home in the united states --
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>> i just don't understand why we'd sign an agreement with a group of people who, in my opinion, have no intention of keeping their word. >> -- and in iran. [ chanting ] ♪ ♪ >> even the negotiators, themselves, weren't sure that they could get to the finish line. >> have you reached an agreement? >> well, i think it's fair to say that we're hopeful. >> thank you, everybody. thank you very much. >> it was one moment when i visited with my counterpart and i just asked him pointblank, i said, are you sure you guys really want to try to get this done? because i'm not sure you do based on where we are. >> but in the end, both sides did want to get it done. and on july 14th, 2015, a deal was struck. >> this moment has been a long time coming, and we have worked
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very hard to get here. >> that hard work almost didn't pay off. congress tried to block the deal. >> order, please. >> in the end, the opposition failed, and in january 2016, the nuclear agreement with iran went into effect. >> what we were able to accomplish has been remarkable and even our most severe critics cannot argue with the fact that without launching a bomb, without initiating a war, we've been able to remove an enormous threat. >> but now it is all in jeopardy. >> the nuclear deal is a disaster. >> will donald trump rip up the deal? national security adviser susan rice says that would be a terrible idea. >> to scrap it when it's working would put us outside of the bounds of what is an international agreement so it's
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a win/win for iran. our allies and partners are furious at the united states and their nuclear program can proceed unabated. it doesn't serve our interests. next up, my thoughts on the legacy of barack obama.
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♪ ♪ in may 2010, "time" magazine tells us barack obama invited a group of america's most distinguished presidential historians to dinner at the white house. he was searching for ideas, examples and lessons from his predecessors.
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but as the conversation progressed, "time" reported it became clear to several in the room that obama was most interested in the accomplishments of ronald reagan. reagan on first glance was an unlikely role model. an arch-conservative, actor turned politician, better known for his anecdotes in humor than analysis and intellect, but obama saw that reagan had been a transformational president. >> go forward, america, reach for the stars. >> someone who, as he said while campaigning in 2008, had changed the trajectory of america in a way that richard nixon did not and in a way that bill clinton did not. clearly, that was obama's aspiration as well, to change the trajectory of america. did he? if i'd been taking stock in mid 2016, the case would have been overwhelming. >> the bill is passed.
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>> the obama administration passed new universal health care, it fundamentally reshaped america's energy policy to combat climate change and fuel a green energy revolution. it enacted the largest reorganization of the financial industry since the great depression. >> here we go. it's done. >> and most of this happened in the first 18 months. but, of course, all that is in jeopardy. donald trump has vowed to erase the obama presidency. some of it he can easily erase. other parts might prove more indelible. 22 million people are on obamacare. clean energy is now a huge american industry with millions of jobs. >> we must come together as nations -- >> obama's foreign policy focused on diplomatic solutions, wary of military interventions and nation building, reflects the mood of the country. but on the whole, many of his policies will be under pressure and could be rolled back entirely.
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how did this happen? when looking back at presidents like johnson or fdr, it's clear to sustain a long legacy, you need not just to get elected president but to forge a political coalition. johnson and roosevelt had congressional majorities that lasted. obama is an intensely charismatic politician, but he was not able to build a political base underneath him. in fact, during his eight years, the democratic party has suffered a historic series of defeats at the state and national levels, putting them in the worst position they have been in since the 1920s. was that obama's failure? a lack of political skill, perhaps, though it is equally likely that the currents were stronger than one person could shift. in recent years, america has gone through enormous economic, technological, political and cultural changes and some parts of the country, there has been a backlash to that change and to an african-american president. it remains unclear whether the country was ready for obama's vision.
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the most dramatic bet he made was health care. he spent the first few years of his presidency and all his political capital on passing it, and i would argue even if trump finds a way to repeal and replace it, remains a historic achievement. obama did what seven presidents failed to do. he made health care a fundamental right. it is the signature achievement of a consequential president. but presidential legacies also exist above and beyond laws and policies. we remember john f. kennedy for energy, vitality, elegance and intelligence he brought to the white house. and in that sense, obama has left an indelible mark. he and his family occupied the white house with dignity, grace, and good humor. he ran an administration that was largely scandal free and did it all the while under a
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microscope. because he looked different. in a sense, america made a big bet in electing barack obama as its first african-american president. and with respect to his personal character and intellect, most of the country believes it was a bet that paid off. i'm fareed zakaria. thanks for joining us. >> good evening, thanks for joining us. we begin the program and the year with breaking news, on new evidence linking russia to the computer hacking, even as president-elect donald trump know its downplaying the notion. and on the search for a gunman who took 39 lives at a turkish nightclub on new year's eve. authorities today releasing photos of the suspect, one of them taken from this video which began making the rounds late