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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Fiscal Cliffhanger; Washington Behaving Like Spoiled Children?; Could Syrian Government Unleash Chemical Weapons?
Aired December 4, 2012 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks. Good evening, everyone.
We begin tonight, as we do every night, "Keeping Them Honest." Looking for facts, not offering opinions or playing favorites. We're not supporting Democrats or Republicans. You can find that on other cable channels. Our goal is just reporting, real reporting, trying to find the facts and the truth. Calling out hypocrisy.
Tonight we're one day closer to the fiscal cliff and not one iota closer to a deal to avoid it. Now, on January 1st, four weeks from today, automatic tax hikes and spending cuts kick in with potentially serious consequences for virtually every taxpayer in America. And there's been zero progress on a deal. Zero.
"Keeping Them Honest," though, the American people clearly want some sort of a compromise. Polls show they want results but the two sides are still far apart on the issue at the heart of the debate, whether the wealthiest Americans should pay more taxes than they do right now.
Now the people you elected to get things done simply are not getting it done, not even close. But maybe we should not be surprised, because in a CNN/ORC poll taken a few weeks ago, 67 percent said Washington officials would behave like spoiled children in fiscal cliff discussions. Only 28 percent said they'd behave like responsible adults.
With that in mind, here's what the key players, the grownups, have said in just the past 24 hours. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The math, it doesn't work.
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: His proposal was so outlandish, I don't think we should go back to the table until he puts something there that we can work with.
SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: We're not going to twist ourselves into contortions to appease a vocal minority.
OBAMA: What I'm not going to do is to agree to a plan in which we have some revenue that is vague.
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: Republicans have proven to be willing to be held accountable. Democrats have not.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We look forward to working with the president when he decides to get serious.
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: We're looking for solutions and it doesn't seem at least from the president's proposal that he is at all serious about finding the solution.
JOHNSON: His last two budgets, so unserious.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: What is this man talking about? Mr. Speaker, what the heck are you talking about?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So not only is there no sign of progress, there aren't even any formal negotiating sessions scheduled that we know of. And lest you think this is all public posturing while there are backroom deals being hammered out right now, congressional aides say that is simply not happening. In fact, even when President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner were in the same room together like they were last night at the White House holiday reception for Congress members, they didn't even speak. The president was asked about that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Speaker Boehner was here at the White House last night for a Christmas party. The two of you didn't even speak. What's it going to take to get the two of you in a room to hash this out?
OBAMA: Well, Speaker Boehner and I speak frequently, and I think the issue right now --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So when? When will the two of you sit down in a room?
OBAMA: You know, I don't think that the issue right now has to do with sitting in a room.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As I mentioned, the American people want the people they elected to sit down together and work it out. A new Gallup Poll shows 62 percent want government leaders to compromise on the fiscal cliff. Just 25 percent said they should stick to their principles. So why is it that this Congress and this White House can't seem to get together and compromise on a deal?
Well, it certainly isn't the first time Republicans and Democrats haven't seen eye-to-eye on an important issue but the players in this debate seem to be almost allergic to budging even a little bit.
Republican Senator John McCain says it hasn't always been that way and it's time for both sides to sit down together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's time now to sit across the table from one another rather than me saying what I could accept and wouldn't accept, why don't we have the president and our leaders, Republican and Democrat, sit across the table the way they did with Bill Clinton, the way they did with Ronald Reagan, and the way you get things done in Washington, rather than saying hey, would you stick with Grover Norquist or would you not or would you address entitlements or not.
I believe it's vital that we address the entitlements, who are the elephant in the room, but that would be up to the people who would be sitting across the table from each other. We cannot go over this fiscal cliff, no matter what people on both ends of the political spectrum say.
I believe that there was a popularity poll in case you missed it where now members of Congress rank just above car sales people and I'm a great admirer of car sales people, you know. It's not even astonishing and it angers me beyond belief, even journalists rank higher than members of Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Former Senate majority leader George Mitchell knows what it's like to be in the middle of the debate. He joins me now.
Senator Mitchell, you more or less have been in John Boehner's shoes. You're a congressional leader hammering out a tax and spending cut deal with the president of the opposing party. How is what we're seeing now different than what you experienced two decades ago?
GEORGE MITCHELL (D), FORMER SENATOR MAJORITY LEADER: It's similar in terms of the issues, the positions of the parties have been that way for a long time. It's different in several respects. First, when I was there, it was the president who've made the no tax pledge. President Bush the first, as you'll recall, made a very famous no tax pledge, which he eventually backed off of.
In this case, it's the Congress. The Republicans of the Congress specifically, who have made the tax pledge, and the president who is trying to get them to break it.
Secondly, the numbers are very much reflecting the passage of time. We were very concerned because we thought the budget was going to be -- the deficit was going to be about $150 billion. That shocked everyone into action. Then, unlike now, there remains some degree of bipartisanship. There was comity, there was discussion, even as we battled over the budget, we worked together in a bipartisan way on many other issues. You didn't have the total polarization that you have today.
COOPER: I mean, you -- when you were elected Senate majority leader, I understand one of the first people that you called was the minority leader, Senator Dole.
MITCHELL: That's right. I called him right away, I went to see him almost immediately, and I said to him, look, you've been here a long time, I'm relatively new, these are very tough jobs in the best of circumstances, and if we don't have some degree of trust between us, they will be impossible jobs. So I said to him, I want to tell you how I intend to behave toward you and to ask that you behave towards me in the same way.
And we agreed on the most basic of things. I told him I would not surprise him, that's important in the Senate. That he would always have time to think about his response. I wouldn't criticize him personally. I wouldn't try to embarrass him. We shook hands. He was delighted and in the six years that we served together, I as majority leader, Bob Dole as minority leader, never once did a harsh word pass between us, although we differed on many issues, we debated vigorously on the floor of the Senate, but it was not personal and we had dinner a couple of times a week to talk about the issues and the problems that we had, and life in general.
I think that's missing now, unfortunately.
COOPER: So, I mean, who do you -- I don't know if blame is the right word, but I mean, how do you account for this idea that compromise is a dirty word in some quarters? Is it Tea Party? Is it extremes in either party? Who is it?
MITCHELL: I think it's a combination of many factors, and I'm not an expert on this. I don't pretend to have all of the answers. But first, you now have redistricting which means that the vast majority of House members are elected in safe seats so the crucial election is not the general election, it's the primary election, and as we know in primaries, there's low participation, which gives a hugely disproportionate power to the rigid ideologues, the extremes on both sides. That makes it very difficult.
Second is the overwhelming amount of money, of all of the judicial mistakes that have been made in history by Supreme Courts, few in my judgment will history record as being more unwise and wrong than the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, which took a situation already reeking with too much money and just poured tons of it, more into it. And so for members now, it's just a mad money chase all the time, which I think is demeaning to everybody and very, very unfortunate. So it's a combination of factors. Many others, but those are some of them.
COOPER: So, I mean, look, you've helped negotiate peace in Northern Ireland. You've worked on peace in the Middle East. How does the problem here get fixed?
MITCHELL: Well, I think in the end, in democracies it's fixed only by the people. The word democracy is a combination of two Greek words, demos, the people, cracy, the ruler. In the end, people get what they want. People complain about negative advertising but as you know very well, Anderson, the polls show --
COOPER: It works.
MITCHELL: The analysis showed consistently that it works. They're moved by them. People complain now about partisanship but one of the fundamental reasons is that the public, individuals like all of us, are capable of holding and advocating contradictory views at the same time. We all want them to work it out but we want them to work it out in a way that brings about a conclusion we like.
And so it's tough on the politicians but that's the challenge of leadership, to reconcile the conflicting demands of their constituencies with the needs of the larger society. I think it can be done. I think that an agreement on the fiscal cliff is really possible because I think both sides have an incentive to do it and do it right.
COOPER: You think going over the cliff is unacceptable?
MITCHELL: Well, I think they will end up taking steps to make it less of a cliff and more of a little hill or a slope, if you will, but I think they should reach an agreement and I hope that -- look, the Republicans have now been branded rather clearly as obstructionist. The polls show a majority of Americans think if we do go over the cliff, it's their fault because they've dedicated themselves to one thing only and that's preventing Obama from getting anything done.
They need to shed that label. They've got enough problems in the demographic changes in our society. On the other hand, the president while in a strong position wants to get something done. History and the American people are not going to judge him on the basis that someone else kept me from doing it. They're going to judge him on the basis of what did he get done, and this can be done for the sake of the country in a way that does not irrevocably shatter anyone's principles but represents a common sense compromise, good for the country, and therefore, good for both sides.
COOPER: Interesting. Senator Mitchell, appreciate your time. Thanks.
COOPER: You heard Senator Mitchell there say Republicans need to shed the obstructionist label. Two of them are joining me right now.
CNN contributor Erick Erickson, editor in chief for RedState.com, and Republican strategist Rich Galen, former press secretary to Newt Gingrich and Dan Quayle.
Erick, you say Republicans are spending too much time trying to look reasonable but since they're, and I'm quoting you, going to get the blame no matter what happens, they might as well dive. Why is compromise a dirty word?
ERICK ERICKSON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, REDSTATE.COM: Well, because we've had 17 debt and deficit commissions since 1982 when the national debt was $1 trillion. We're now at $16 trillion and neither side, Republicans or Democrats, want to talk about spending. We're having a conversation about taxing in Washington and we're not having a conversation about spending. The Republicans and Democrats alike designed the fiscal cliff. It's a series of bipartisan compromises and I think it's kind of foolish to think that this group of congressmen and senators is going to come up with a way out of something they themselves designed.
COOPER: Well, Rich, I mean, you worked for a Republican speaker who went up against a Democratic president over these spending issues. Back then the face-off didn't turn out all that well for your party. Obviously very difficult era.
Do you agree with Erick's take? I mean is the right strategy for Republicans is stick to their guns, forget about compromise?
RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No. I really don't, and Erick is one of my favorite people. We talk a lot. But I think that -- and I did work for the Speaker Gingrich during the shut-down fight in '96, and it did not work out well for Republicans. The president has a much bigger bully pulpit than a speaker does and Gingrich's bully pulpit was pretty big back in those days.
But I think at some point, Republicans in the House have to -- and I think Boehner is trying to look for ways to do this, Speaker Boehner, that when you're in the majority, you actually do have a responsibility to help govern. When you're in the minority it's easy. You vote no and go out and play golf. But when you're in the majority, you do have a responsibility and I think that's what Boehner is trying to do with -- both within his conference and a little bit broader, more broadly, within the capitol building.
COOPER: Erick, I mean, didn't -- all during this presidential election, we heard from both Republicans and Democrats saying look, this is a clear choice between Romney and between Obama, and it was very clear on Obama wanted tax raised for the highest income Americans. Didn't the American people make that choice in voting for him, the electoral college and the popular vote? So isn't it incumbent on Republicans to at least accept some upper income tax raise there?
ERICKSON: I think that the American public voted for the status quo. They voted for the gridlock that they had before the election. And I think it's a little foolish of the American people to think they're going to get something different based on what they voted for. You know --
COOPER: You think they want the status quo? ERICKSON: -- people locked in the House largely for redistricting. Well, I mean, they voted for it. Whether they wanted it or not. To think that these people are going to change long-held habits based on one election, I think is a little bit silly. We're going to have gridlock in Washington and frankly, I think gridlock is a good thing, not a bad thing. It keeps Congress from taking away more liberties.
GALEN: Well, and the other thing, Anderson, is that when you look at the members of Congress, overwhelmingly, they were re-elected running on whatever they were running on, and for the Republican incumbents, who ran for the most part very successfully for re- election, they're saying exactly the same thing.
I said I was not for these tax increases and my constituents voted for me and I think that adds to what Senator Mitchell was saying. That's another reason why it's so hard to get people to get back together.
COOPER: So, Rich, do you see everybody going over the cliff?
GALEN: Yes, I do.
GALEN: Unfortunately. I'm not for it. But I was much more confident a couple of weeks ago than I am now. I think it may well be that they bail out. I wrote a column a couple -- mullings, a couple of weeks ago saying that they're pretty smart and rather than kicking the can off the cliff, that they may fill it with helium and sail it over to the road on the other side. That's possible. But I think at some point, cooler heads are going to have to prevail and they're going to have to get to this.
But it's not -- it's not a simple thing. I mean it's not just ideology on each side. I mean we're looking at a real reduction in the U.S. GDP, in the U.S. economy and if the U.S. economy slows down, dramatically, that spreads like wildfire across the rest of the world. So it's not a couple of hundred thousand jobs in the U.S. We're talking about tens of millions of jobs around the world and in an unstable world, I think we have to look beyond --
ERICKSON: You know --
GALEN: Beyond ideology and get to a solution.
ERICKSON: Rich, I would take the Clinton tax rates in a heartbeat if I could get the Clinton spending rates. But neither side wants to talk about spending. And it's not a deal to me if they're not going to talk about spending. Same rates, tax rates?
GALEN: I agree with you, Erick. I think you're right.
GALEN: I think you're right. I wrote about that, too. But I think the president now, he's sort of signaled that he may be looking for some wiggle room here. Later this afternoon he said that he wanted the tax rate cut now and he would be happy to look at lowering them again, you know, in a bigger package, but I agree with you. I think we have to get serious about these spending cuts. I just applied for Social Security and I want mine.
COOPER: All right. Rich Galen, appreciate it. Erick Erickson, thanks.
Let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I'm tweeting tonight.
Just ahead, 21 months after Bashar al-Assad began killing his own people, the fighting is still raging in Syria. Now the rest of the world may finally be convinced things are critical there. Senator John McCain is asking what took so long. I'll tell you about what just changed. More from him ahead.
COOPER: Welcome back. You know for 21 months now, we've been asking you to look at the images that keep coming out of Syria, to watch the nearly unwatchable. And we know it can be mind-numbing. We understand the desire to look away. But we believe and we continue to believe it's imperative that the rest of the world bear witness to what's happening there.
ERICKSON: So again tonight, we ask you to look. It seems the possibility of Syria unleashing chemical weapons on its own people may finally have convinced Western powers that things are serious there.
NATO today approved Turkey's request for Patriot missiles to defend its borders as the civil war spills over. Now some of those missiles could come from the United States and, frankly, that raises a question for us.
Now this is not a program where we advocate war. What we don't understand is why it took the threat of chemical weapons to finally get everyone's attention. It's not as if all of a sudden things have gotten serious or just now, the dictator Bashar al-Assad might kill his own people. Fact is he's been doing that for 21 months now in the most brutal ways, 21 months where local activists say more than 40,000 Syrians have been killed, 40,000, men, women, children.
But now chemical weapons have raised the stakes, it seems, for the international community. Clearly it wasn't enough that 18 months ago we all saw what happened to a 13-year-old Syrian boy named Hamza. Opposition forces say he was captured by the government in a protest, tortured and killed, his body then returned to his parents. That clearly wasn't enough.
Neither was two months later in July of 2011, we reported on an alleged massacre in Homs, just one of a number of alleged massacres in Syria that we've reported on. Those are the bodies of children. Neither was seeing this child saved from a sniper attack.
Shooting at children. And just last night we showed you this.
Little kids obviously terrified after a rocket attack on their village. Plain old rockets, no chemical weapons.
How cold -- how could that not be enough, we asked.
It's a question Senator John McCain has been asking. We've talked to him repeatedly since the killings there began. I spoke to him earlier today.
COOPER: Senator McCain, do you know why the administration has chosen this chemical weapons as its red line and not, say, Assad's use of the air force against its own people more than, as you know, 40,000 Syrians have died so far in this conflict? Why is this the red line?
MCCAIN: I don't know why, Anderson, but I think it's important to note that Bashar Assad may interpret that as a green light for everything else. In other words, do everything up to but not including the use of chemical weapons. But at the same time, I do understand the concern about the use of nerve gas which is in their inventory, which depending on how heavily populated the area that they use it on, could result in unbelievable deaths that, you know, possibly in tens of thousands if you -- if they use the right kind of chemical weapon.
So I can understand the administration's concern but maybe they don't realize that they are also sending a green light to Bashar Assad that he can do anything short of that.
COOPER: What would it mean to try to stop chemical weapons from being used?
MCCAIN: I think it would have to be -- it would be very complicated. I don't think you could send enough American troops on the ground. I don't think that would be an option. You may have to try to take out these stocks from the air. We do know where a lot of them are. Frankly, I don't -- I've had a lot -- I've had significant military background but I'm not exactly sure how you would approach this problem.
You'd have to then -- I think if it's crossed the red line, you just have to go in and take out Bashar Assad and then worry about all these stocks and supplies of weapons of mass destruction.
COOPER: Take him out with airstrikes? With -- I mean, are you talking about troops on the ground?
MCCAIN: I don't know. If you took him out, then you could go in and secure these areas of stocks and probably with an international force, primarily probably Americans, but only to secure these areas, not to engage in fighting -- in any fighting or, you know, get enmeshed in the war itself. It's a difficult challenge.
COOPER: We understand the Obama administration is now considering arming the Syrian rebels, something you've advocated for a long time. Obviously in reaction to concerns the administration won't have any sway with the rebels should the Assad regime fall.
Our Arwa Damon has been inside Syria for more than about a week now. She's been talking to rebels who say they're angry at the international community for its inaction and won't tolerate meddling now.
Do you think there's anything at this point the U.S., its allies can do to try to repair that relationship? MCCAIN: I think we could establish a safe zone from which they could organize and operate. The other problem, as you know, is the dramatic infiltration over the last year or so of these jihadists, al Qaeda jihadist extremists from all over the Arab world. I mean you name a country and they've come in from there.
And unfortunately, some of the countries that are providing the weapons, those have gone directly to these extremists. Rather than to the moderate forces. And without a place to organize, to set up a government to do the things that are necessary to take over, they don't have that yet. And finally again, every day that goes by, the problem becomes more difficult, whether it'd be the weapons they were talking about, the chemical weapons, and the nerve gas or whether it be the influence of these jihadists or whether it be Bashar Assad deciding that -- as he has said publicly, that he's going to die there in Syria, and obviously there would be a lot of people that died with him.
COOPER: Senator John McCain earlier today.
Just ahead tonight, a law that bans a controversial therapy aimed at turning gay children and teenagers straight is being challenged on the First Amendment grounds. Is the ban in jeopardy? The legal issues ahead. Plus Dr. Drew Pinsky weight in. We'll be right back.
COOPER: The royal baby watch is on. Mom-to-be Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, spends a second day in the hospital. How she's doing and when she might go home when we continue.
COOPER: In California, a law that mainstream mental health groups and equal rights advocates have held as a milestone is under attack tonight. The law bans so-called conversion therapy or reparative therapy, a so-called treatment that claims to turn gay children straight -- and teenagers straight.
California's ban was scheduled to take effect January 1st but in the last 48 hours two federal judges have issued opposing rulings in separate lawsuits challenging the ban. Now one judge ruled that three plaintiffs will be able to continue offering the therapy until their trial is over. The other judge denied an injunction to a separate set of plaintiffs.
Both lawsuits, it's confusing, but both lawsuits claim that banning the so-called therapy violates therapists' first amendment rights. Keep in mind, nearly all mainstream medical and psychological associations say there's no solid evidence that any of these therapies work, while they also say they may be damaging.
We're talking about kids, teenagers who often don't choose this therapy for themselves. It's often chosen by their parents. Dr. Drew Pinsky has some pretty strong thoughts about it. We'll talk to him ahead.
But first, the legal issues, Mathew Staver is one of the lawyers challenging California's ban, he joins me along with senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
Matt, you argue this comes down to a first amendment issue. How so?
MATHEW STAVER, CHAIRMAN, LIBERTY COUNSEL: It comes down to a first amendment issue because it regulates the content of the message and not only the content, but the viewpoint with regards to same sexual attractions. You can't counsel to reduce or eliminate them, but you can counsel to affirm or accept them.
It's kind of like the marijuana case that came down where medical doctors could not counsel or recommend regarding the medicinal use of marijuana, but could counsel about the negative effects of marijuana and the Ninth Circuit court of Appeals where we're going to take this case found that that was unconstitutional first amendment.
COOPER: Is it a first amendment issue, though, or is it a medical issue? I mean, isn't the state allowed to regulate how medicine is practiced and if they say that this is bad medicine then don't they have the right to regulate it?
STAVER: Well, I think they have a right to regulate the entry or the educational or the other kinds of requirements to become a medical doctor or a counselor and that's what they do. We're not contending that that's the issue here. But they don't have a right to come into a subject matter of counseling and then license only one viewpoint on that same subject matter.
COOPER: Jeff, what about that? Is this a first amendment issue?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This is actually a hard case, I think, because it is true that physicians or anyone else can express any kind of opinion they want about homosexuality.
But it's also true that the state of California can regulate the practice of medicine, including telling doctors and any kind of care providers you can't mislead, give advice that will hurt patients.
They can't prescribe Laetrile to cure cancer because that doesn't work. What the State of California tried to do here is say that this kind of therapy is harmful, especially to children, and we as the state can stop it.
That I think is close to legal, but it is also true that physicians and therapists do have certain rights to express their opinion about what works and what doesn't, and the judge tried to navigate between the two of those.
COOPER: But is this ruling, Jeff, by the judge, I mean, the law, does it stop a therapist from speaking out against -- I mean, if they want to go on television and say being gay is bad or you know, against religious doctrine, it doesn't stop them from doing that. TOOBIN: Certainly not. No law could stop anyone from going on television expressing an opinion pro or con about homosexuality. What makes this case so hard is that the therapy is speech. It's easy to regulate giving injections or doing surgery because obviously there's no speech component to that.
But medical treatment that is by the use of speech includes both free speech and the practice of medicine, and that's what the State of California, they tried to navigate here.
COOPER: It does seem like what the APA is saying is that this ad, this practice, while there's not studies, there's not enough extensive studies that show the harm of it, that it adds to a stigma about being gay or about being a lesbian that is harmful.
STAVER: Well, certainly our counselors do not engage in stigmatization. In fact, what we have are clients that we represent minors. We have one that's been in counseling for 15 months, another about four months.
And as a result of the counseling, his own identity and self- esteem has improved, his anxiety and stress levels have decreased, his relationships with his friends and his family are being repaired.
And they're at a much more functional level than they were 15 months ago or even four months ago, for the other one so they are actually receiving benefits.
COOPER: But the idea that -- sorry, but what they're arguing is the idea that being gay is something you need to change, that it's something that is somehow a disorder that needs to be changed, that is stigmatizing it.
STAVER: They're not saying that this is a disorder and in fact, there's a lot of counseling that counseling involves where there is no disorder, but there's stress that happens in an individual's life. A counselor comes in to try to relieve that stress and these clients have the right of self-determination.
That's the age-old central core of counseling. When clients come in and they want to have a certain kind of counseling and whether we agree with it or not, but their idea is they want to counsel in a certain way that aligns with certain values, which may be religious or moral or other values, they have a right to that self-determination.
TOOBIN: But medicine, the regulation of medicine deprives patients of choices all the time. Just because you want a quack cure that you think might work doesn't mean you can get it. Because the state says we are not going to take the risk of jeopardizing patients who may be misled into taking quack cures. That's what California's doing here, isn't it?
STAVER: No, it's not. In fact, there's no other area, in fact, there's no case that we've been able to find in the area of counseling where the state has actually come in and said in this particular subject matter, we're going to allow only one viewpoint on this otherwise permissible subject matter.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Matt Staver, appreciate you both being on. Thank you.
I want to dig deeper now with Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of HLN's "Dr. Drew." We spoke a short time ago.
COOPER: So, Dr. Drew, when I interviewed people who claimed to be ex-gay, you know, when you really start to dig deeper and talk to them, they acknowledge for the most part, just about everyone I have ever interviewed, that they still have natural feelings toward people of the same sex.
They are just forcing themselves not to act on it, sometimes unsuccessfully, ultimately unsuccessfully. But they're basically just repressing themselves, which doesn't seem like a healthy thing to do.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST OF HLN'S DR. DREW: No. I would agree with you and I think most all professionals and certainly professional organizations would take that position as well. It's been my experience as well, Anderson, speaking to people who have been through this sort of thing.
Now, if they want to live like that, it's not our position to tell them they can't. But so much about this case people miss is about the right to practice this sort of stuff on kids.
And whether the state should protect kids from therapies and treatments that have not withstood professional standards, and that's really what is at issue here whether or not kids should be subjected to this.
COOPER: Because by and large, it's not the kids themselves saying I want to go through reparative therapy. It's by and large, it's kids who have expressed same sex attraction to, you know, mentioning it to their parents.
PINSKY: The family. That's right.
COOPER: The parents are the ones doing this.
PINSKY: That's where the rubber really hits the road here. If you look at same sex kids and the sort of problems they have dealing with their sexual orientation, it is about shame, it is about embarrassment, it's about disappointing their parents and not wanting to be the way they feel.
And then to have their family tell them that this needs to be fixed adds to their grief, adds to their misery, doesn't help them start to move forward, these issues, and of course, adolescents are exquisitely sensitive to these kinds of feelings and to undermine professionals' attempts to help them come to terms with this.
And to continue to pathologize them, that is what people are gravely concerned about. Unfortunately, we don't have the research to say precisely what the outcomes are going to be, but I think any reasonable person would look at that and go this is not going to have good outcomes.
It's not going to be good and certainly there are many reported people who have been through this will tell you it didn't work for them. It's been quite miserable.
COOPER: They point specifically to cases where they say it's been successful in kids.
PINSKY: Well, what they will say is that there is -- this is unsubstantiated. What they will say is that's a period of development where these sorts of interventions can be really helpful. That is completely unsubstantiated.
COOPER: It's interesting to me because we actually did this documentary on this thing called at the time the sissy boy experiment where this guy at that point was a doctoral student who went on to, continues to be a leading anti-gay advocate.
But he claims success on this young man who later went on to kill himself and in a lot of the research, a lot of people point to this reparative therapy on this young man who was under a pseudonym. But ultimately killed himself as a success story even though he killed himself.
PINSKY: Yes. Anderson, the unfortunate reality is here more research needs to be done so we can take an anecdote like that, an anecdote and contextualize it and say here are the risks and benefits.
For an adult that makes the decisions to go into these sorts of treatments or not, there are treatments that are dangerous. This may be one of them. That needs to be established in research. Until then, we certainly shouldn't be allowing kids to be exposed to these things.
COOPER: All right, Dr. Drew, thanks.
COOPER: Let me know what you think about this on Twitter right now. We're @andersoncooper.
In Egypt, protesters attack the presidential palace, breaking through the barbed wire, throwing chairs and other items at police. What they did to try to hold the demonstrators back, we have that coming up.
COOPER: What began as an altercation between two men on a New York subway platform, minutes later, one of them was dead when he was hit by a subway. Coming up, the shocking photos of the victim after he was pushed onto the tracks. The question tonight, why didn't anyone try to help lift him off the tracks? Let's talk it over with Dr. Drew Pinsky.
COOPER: There's a lot more happening tonight. Isha is here with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a violent showdown outside Egypt's presidential palace, police firing tear gas at anti- Morsi demonstrators who broke through a barbed wire barricade. At least 19 people are injured. This comes after an earlier attack today on the offices of President Morsi's political party.
Now a "360" follow, American software mogul, John McAfee on the run from police in Belize is in Guatemala and will seek asylum. He's wanted for questioning in the shooting death of his neighbor in Belize. McAfee's attorney confirmed the asylum request and denies he had anything to do with the murder.
Prince William visiting his wife, Katherine, today as she spends a second day in the hospital. News that the royal couple are expecting a child came as she was admitted yesterday for acute morning sickness. Buckingham Palace says the duchess could remain in the hospital for days.
Anderson we missed you on 360 yesterday. Today on "Anderson Live," we learned why.
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COOPER: I wake up in the middle of the night and it feels like my eyes are on fire, my eyeballs. I think, well maybe I have sand in my eyes or something. I doused my eyes with water. Anyway, it turns out I have -- I have sunburned my eyeballs and I go blind. And I went blind for about 36 hours.
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SESAY: OK, seriously scary stuff. It happened on a reporting trip to Portugal and you posted this pic on Instagram after a doctor's visit. Are you doing OK?
COOPER: Yes, I am. This has become a bigger news item than I thought. This is like Drudge report I saw this. Yes, I am. It was a freak thing. I was on the water and it was really windy and I wasn't wearing sunglasses and I burned my eyeballs, which I didn't even know you could do.
SESAY: This is what happens when I let you go round without a chaperoned. This is what happens.
COOPER: It's very true. No, I was very lucky and I got medical attention and I can see, I just -- I'm putting in a lot of drops. It will be a week or so, but I'm doing all right. So thank you.
SESAY: OK, we're pleased you're OK.
COOPER: Thank you. I appreciate that, Isha. Thanks.
Up next, what would you do if you saw this? A man about to get hit by a subway after he was pushed on to the tracks, the dramatic photo published on the cover of the "New York Post." The man was killed.
Now people are asking why no one tried to move him out of harm's way. We'll talk about the so-called bystander effect and whether that had anything to do with Dr. Drew Pinsky, next.
COOPER: Really disturbing story tonight. It started as an argument on a New York subway platform, ended with a man losing his life on the tracks and a city asking how those on the scene allowed it to happen.
The initial confrontation was caught on video, two men arguing there. Moments after this was shot, witnesses say the man on the right pushed the other man into the tracks. The suspect ran from the station.
Now, police say they're now questioning a man they picked up nearby that they identified after combing through surveillance video. A freelance photographer who happened to be on assignment for the "New York Post" captured this haunting photo seconds before the man's death.
That's the cover of the "Post" right there. You can see the man in the foreground there and the approaching subway train. Here's another photo from the "Post" web site showing the victim on the tracks with the train when it was farther away.
A lot of people are asking tonight why the photographer didn't try to help the man instead of taking photos. The "Post" says the photographer wasn't strong enough to lift the victim off the tracks so he was trying to use his camera's flash to try and alert the train's driver to stop.
According to reports, there were others on the scene as well, others on the platform. Question is, why didn't they try to get the victim off the tracks, either? A bystander did perform CPR on the scene to try to save the man's life.
Let's talk it over with Dr. Drew Pinsky. He's back with us. So Dr. Drew, when I saw these photos and I see other people on the platform, I think, you know, why didn't somebody try to intervene.
And there are probably things we don't yet know about this case. But does it seem like kind of the classic case of the bystander effect where the presence of others hinders an individual from intervening?
PINSKY: That is absolutely what it is. I hate to think of it as hindering. There are many aspects of human behavior and human psychology that sort of operate underground, so to speak, against the way we like to think about ourselves. But one of the things that have been frequently established is that this bystander effect, which is that if there's one person there, you're more likely to help than if you are part of a group. Counter intuitive, we don't think we would be that way, but in fact, we are.
If you are trained and you are a responder, you may able to step out of that group. In fact, people frequently do and are able to start responding and that may break some of the effects of the bystander influence. But the fact is people tend to blend into a crowd and operate within the function of a crowd and if the crowd isn't responding, they don't respond.
COOPER: Also, again, there are probably not studies on this, but there's this YouTube effect where everybody just sort of stands there and takes pictures of fights rather than getting involved.
I want to show our viewers this photo of when he first fell on the tracks, it's clear the train isn't close to him, it doesn't seem like there wasn't time to help. His wife I believe reported he had been drinking before he left the house. Why do you think people still chose to stand by?
PINSKY: Yes, let's give people some benefit of the doubt and say that perhaps there was an oncoming train, we can't really assess based on -- we have all stood in subway stations and know you can feel the wind coming, you hear the train.
It could have been a really scary circumstance for somebody to jump down on to those tracks, but I'm like you, betting that the probability is there was some bystander effect here and here's the message to people out there.
Prepare for a bystander effect. Just because we have that psychological tendency doesn't mean we have to give in to it.
COOPER: Also, the photographer whose pictures are in the "Post" is coming under a lot of criticism, people saying that person should have done something rather than take pictures. The photographer says he was trying to use the flash to alert the subway driver.
I have been in situations where, you know, I have taken pictures of things and then chosen to put down the camera and try to intervene, but it is -- I mean, you know, it's a very case by case situation.
PINSKY: It's almost unthinkable, though, Anderson, that somebody would rather than step in, pick up and take pictures. Have we gotten to that place where we are so objectifying of our experiences that it's more about the pictures we're taking.
And the way we're projecting those images than dealing with the reality of the human experience in the moment. I shudder to think that that's in fact what's going on. I hope it was a helpless situation that was -- that people would have loved to have intervened but just simply didn't feel they could.
COOPER: Dr. Drew, appreciate you talking about this. Thanks. PINSKY: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Let us know what you think again on Twitter @andersoncooper. The "Ridiculist" is next. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Time now for the "Ridiculist." Tonight, we get an update on the guy who got Mitt Romney's campaign logo tattooed on his face. Yes, that guy. His name is Eric. He lives in Indiana. He's a professional wrestler and amateur philosopher at least when it comes to the reasons behind tattooing what turns out to be a losing logo on his face.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's something I believe in. Lot of people said you shed blood for the party. You're a Republican hero. I love it. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I know I did all I could for my candidate and my party.
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COOPER: That was a couple weeks ago. That's when Eric left a permanent mark in our hearts. He bravely faced down his critics, turned the other cheek when people questioned the wisdom of that face tattoo. He even promised Jimmy Kimmel he had no regrets whatsoever and that tattoo would be with him for all eternity.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you considered morphing your tattoo into something else, like a butterfly or something?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long will you keep the tattoo?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the rest of my life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really.
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COOPER: Yes, the rest of his life. Fast forward to now. He's totally getting that tattoo removed. That's right. Our hero has changed his mind. He's getting to be you can't even trust the word of a professional wrestler with a face tattoo anymore. Why the about- face?
Is Eric worried the tattoo might impede the acting career he's now thinking about? No. Has he decided that face tattoos in general perhaps send the wrong message? Nope. All you have to do is look at the other side of his face to see that's not it at all.
Is it because Romney lost the election? No. It's because Eric is starting to think that Romney is a sore loser.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The change of heart comes post-election when Mitt's come out saying, Barack Obama, he bought votes. I would have won the election if he wouldn't have bought the votes. That's the logo of a guy who just makes excuses.
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COOPER: So between the change of heart and all the interviews he's doing and the aspiring acting career, some people are saying that it's possible, just possible, that Eric is doing all of this just to get attention.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They couldn't be more correct. Of course, who gets a tattoo on their face and isn't looking for attention?
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COOPER: Very thought provoking although perhaps not universally true. Like maybe if somebody got a tattoo on their face that said I'm shy. In any event, if it was attention he was looking for, he definitely got it although the Romney tattoo will soon fade into nothing but a cheeky memory, Eric's place on the "Ridiculist," that I promise you, is permanent.
That does it for us. See you again one hour from now, another edition of 360 at 10:00 Eastern. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.